Miseducation by the creationists


Watch this appalling video of homeschoolers misusing the Denver museum to promote creationism. Aside from the general pattern of lies from the tour guides, two things jumped out at me.

The really awful pedagogy. Over and over again, the creationist says some stock phrase and then pauses, waiting for his kids to fill in the missing word. This is simply demanding rote learning. Similarly, he leads the kids in asking a good question — “how do you know?” — while training them to ignore any answers. Right there on the wall is a description of radiometric dating methods, for instance, and they turn their back on it.

Then there is the twisted logic. T. rex has big sharp teeth; they know, though, that he was a vegetarian, because “if this creature was designed to eat meat from the very start, what would he have to do until Adam and Eve sinned, and death entered the world? What would he have to do? Fast and pray for the Fall.” Oh, and of course, he then says, “Is that likely? Everyone look at me and say…<pause>no. Try that with me…no.”

This is child abuse. Those kids are getting their heads stuffed with ignorance.

At least this news report is unsympathetic.

(via Sandwalk)

Comments

  1. says

    “…think like creationists…” Dude, that’s not thinking. The antonyms of thinking are: irrational, stupid.

  2. Carlie says

    And for everyone who has come over here wondering what all the fuss is over Expelled and their ilk, here it is. This is what we’re dealing with. This kind of crap, peddled as God’s Honest Truth, coming out of the mouths of thousands of pastors, parents, and yes, teachers, all over the country. And hundreds of thousands of kids are soaking it up, well along their way in training to ignore science any and every time it suits them. Antibiotic-resistant diseases? Don’t exist. Global warming? Scientists don’t know what they’re talking about. Lack of evidence for any demonstratable mental or physiological differences between ethnic groups? Scientists are the ones with the evil agenda, trying to make everyone seem the same, ignoring what we really know to be true.

    It’s all part and parcel of the same problem. That’s why we get so upset. There are people in this country actively eroding science at every turn in this country, and they have been growing more numerous and more powerful for the last 30 years, and it needs to be stopped.

  3. Kseniya says

    “Is that likely?”

    LOL. Oh, the foundations upon which this “wisdom” has been erected. Good lord. I think I need to stop reading some of these threads for a while…

  4. severalspeciesof says

    PZ,
    After viewing this, my question is: “And Nisbet wants you to what?????”

  5. Eric says

    OK, there are several problems for the creationist…

    Let me see: honesty, integrity, intelligence, etc.

  6. Mark B says

    It was kind of funny when the interviewer asked them why dinosaur bones were never found in the same strata as humans. It’s clear that they at least did a little preparation, instead of giving the creationists a forum for spouting their talking points. Hopefully, this will become a trend for mainstream reporting about creationism.

  7. Rav Winston says

    I used to be a schoolteacher. I think a part of me died after watching that video.

  8. Andres says

    Actually, the comment about the vegetarian T-rex, and the whole question about how there were no carnivorous animals before the Fall, is an interesting one. Does it mean that the lions, wolves et al were all redesigned after the Fall to be able to hunt and digest meat?

  9. says

    Ssshhhhh!!! Quiet, Quiet! Didn’t you get the memo? You’re not supposed to be pointing out the lying, poor schooling, brainwashing, and the potential for one of the victims to one day be president. Instead, it’s supposed to be somehow framed by the pros. Now quiet everybody! Quiet! Quiet!

  10. says

    That’s what they do, of course, they drum into kids’ heads to pass every conclusion by their “understanding of the Bible,” so that better methods won’t even begin to get a grip on thier minds.

    It’s not always so devastating when the kids nevertheless do learn science and how to think through evidence, because then the obvious problems arise in many of their minds. But this will discourage them from studying science in the first place (home schoolers are notoriously badly educated in the sciences), and for those who largely miss learning science, there’s little way for them to comprehend our positions by anything but a prejudicial manner.

    And yes, the “questioning” that they bring up is just the sort of “skepticism” and “openness” that Expelled is promoting. “Question science,” just be sure to insist that religious bias is every bit as deserving of respect as are our judicial and scientific standards for using evidence.

    I hate to say it, but most home schooled children had probably be best written off as damaged goods. Most (not all, of course) are home schooled precisely in order to prevent their learning anything other than rote swill.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

  11. Kseniya says

    Carlie, yes! And yes again! This is what a guy like Olson doesn’t get: it’s not that he, personally, is responsible for the decline of science education, it’s that he’s part of a moment that is incrementally and intentionally undermining it. His counter-argument, which states that creationism and faith-based anti-intellectualism can’t be in any way responsible for declining science scores because “most science teachers are evolutionists,” misses the point entirely.

  12. Dustin, OM says

    I suppose the tour skips the museum’s computer demonstrations of natural selection.

    It still baffles me that there could be creationists in Colorado — it takes a special kind of moron to live in a place where you can find everything from trilobites to dinosaurs literally in your back yard and still declare that the world is a few thousand years old.

  13. says

    I noticed that the reporter was brave enough to not just question the idea of it but go the next step and break their arguments down. Most reporters would have presented one side of the story and not wanted to touch the claims made for fear of offending the people who’s beliefs are supported by those claims…this is a good sign.

  14. Patrick Albers says

    These people are so silly. Ignoring facts and spreading some well manufactured propaganda onto children. I feel sorry for them.
    What would a creationist do if an educated person comes along while they are “teaching” the chrildren and would do somethin like this…

    Hey kids, have you ever seen a bird with teeth? … No? How would it look like if a bird would have teeth? It would look silly, wouldn’t it? … Yes. That would be very bad design. Now everybody say “bad design”… “BAD DESIGN”. Yes kids. So why is it, that bird have no teeth, but they have the genes to grow teeth, although they don’t use these genes? It’s because of evolution. Bird have a common ancestor who had teeth. Within the process of evolution bird lost the use of teeth and now they don’t have them, but they still have the genes. This is just one proof of evolution. Now everybody say “proof of evolution” … “PROOF OF EVOLUTION”. Good kids… Now would you like to pray or would you like me to buy you some ice cream?

    hehe ;-)

  15. says

    Cue the “moderate” Christians crying “Don’t judge us by these idiots. Not all Christians are nutjobs”.

    Yes, yes, I know, not all of you believe the earth is 6,000 years old. You still think that some dude healed the sick with magical powers and then came back to life after being crucified and soon will travel back to earth and save you all from us heathens. But at least you don’t think the earth is 6,000 years old.

  16. Carl says

    Such blatant irony! It makes me sick! “Say it with me, ‘how do you know?'” Gee, that’s a good question!

  17. Ric says

    PZ said: Then there is the twisted logic. T. rex has big sharp teeth; they know, though, that he was a vegetarian, because “if this creature was designed to eat meat from the very start, what would he have to do until Adam and Eve sinned, and death entered the world? What would he have to do? Fast and pray for the Fall.” Oh, and of course, he then says, “Is that likely? Everyone look at me and say…no. Try that with me…no.”

    Twisted logic indeed. I think I’ll use this as a perfect example of rationalizing for my critical thinking class.

    A clear thinker would say, “That is indeed not likely, and thus it calls your Garden of Eden origin story into question.”

  18. deerjackal says

    I’ve gotten to the point where I can laugh at most creationist nuttiness, but whenever there’s kids involved, I seriously want to bawl. To preach to the choir, steering them away from critical thinking / logic sets them up for failure on so many fronts. Child abuse is the perfect label.

  19. James F says

    800-year-old people and plant-eating carnosaurs. Weapons-grade stupidity. I did find it encouraging, however, that the museum curator grew up in a YEC household and came to his senses.

  20. says

    The religious bigots have been doing this for centuries. That there are millions of athiests in the world and millions more people who accept evolution even while being Christian shows the indoctrination process is not as successful as you’d think. Indeed, some of the best advocates for atheism were raised in fundamentalist Christian homes.

  21. says

    Ok, these guys are lying and they KNOW it. They do.

    And if they have to lie for their beliefs, they must have very little faith because they’re faith is weak.

    So they’re lying twice over.

    Really disgusting.

  22. Don says

    They seemed to be baffled by even simple arithmetic.

    Earth six thousand years old… six or seven generations of 800 year old people between Adam and Noah …. uh,…

  23. Ian says

    I’ve just realized that I’ve been living in the Denver area almost two years now, and I haven’t yet been to the museum! Now I’ll definitely have to take a trip.

  24. amygdala says

    This made me furious. This is as bad as exposing kids to porn. There simply has to be a way these idiots can be legally stopped. Let them spew their senseless drivel among themselves, but don’t pump this garbage into the minds of kids.

  25. Kcanadensis says

    Disgusting. It really is a kind of child abuse. (And, as pointed out, abuse of a perfectly good museum!)

  26. raven says

    How well does this indoctrination stick?

    Just guessing but the brighter among the kids might well wake up someday while reading an article on the latest fossil find or space telescope discovery and go WTH?

    Why is our government spending billions on land and space based telescopes to see back to the Big Bang when it never happened and the earth is only 6,000 years old?

    Couldn’t this money be better spent on welfare for homeschooled creo kids who never learned enough to be employable?

    We call this, setting up your kids to fail.

  27. MyaR says

    They can’t even get their OWN theology right — “We believe Jesus is our creator”. My friend’s awesome reply — “maybe the creator of their church’s landscaping, but I think he has an accent on the u.”

    But yeah, this pisses me off — teaching children how to NOT think by pretending to teach them how to actually think. Fortunately, for some of us this backfires, because we miss the cues and think we’re actually supposed to think. So we do, and we really do learn.

  28. Christian says

    Twisted logic indeed. I think I’ll use this as a perfect example of rationalizing for my critical thinking class.

    A clear thinker would say, “That is indeed not likely, and thus it calls your Garden of Eden origin story into question.”

    It seems this guy’s just another “Palmstroem“:

    And he comes to the conclusion:
    His mishap was an illusion,
    for, he reasons pointedly,
    that which must not, can not be.

  29. Ian says

    Earth six thousand years old… six or seven generations of 800 year old people between Adam and Noah …. uh,…

    Er, I imagine the assumption is that they reproduced well before they reached 800, just as people today reproduce around 20 or 30, not 80.

  30. says

    LOL! so NO ANIMALS eat MEAT? or did god change ALL animals that can eat meat after the fall? If god changed animals after the fall to eat meat… my head hurts. :-(

  31. MandyDax says

    “How do you know?”

    ?!

    READ THE FUCKING SIGNS!! They’re there at the exhibits to explain just that. I look at these adults who are leading the tour, and they say these crazy things, and it suddenly dawns on me that they actually believe what they’re saying. I may have to call in sick after watching that. I feel so sorry for these children.

  32. biology teacher says

    I almost cried when I saw this! Those poor kids will never learn how to think for themselves when they’re stuck into their little Bible-bubbles!!! Ugh – it makes me ill. When I teach evolution (which is the foundation of the biology curriculum as far as I’m concerned and my favorite topic) I encounter a few kids every year who simply choose not to believe it…but, naturally they can’t articulate a decent argument to support their perspective because they can’t think for themselves!!!! Poor things….

    I am so glad I discovered this blog! It’s like a little atheist oasis I can visit and remind myself that I’m not alone!!! Thanks PZ!!

  33. says

    Wow……I agree, it is a good sign that the curator outgrew the YEC upbringing. Another irony is that these guides will keep on using the medicines and food developed through scientific methods (and yes, evolutionary concepts) and use gas processed from oil deposits millions of years old and not even think about it. Think any of those kids has a chance working at a large energy company if they think the world is 6,000 years old?

  34. firemancarl says

    Yep, despite the idiocy taught by the YEC guys, some of those kids are going to think for themselves and when they do…

    You suppose the mom that was quoted as saying she believes everything in the bible really feels that way when her man wants some lovin?

  35. raven says

    OT but related. Looks like some xian fundies are in trouble for killing their kids. The kids in the museum are the lucky ones, so far. FWIW, this happens frequently, though I can’t give any numbers on it. Most don’t get reported and most docs who have been through the court order process don’t try it more than once. It is too depressing and usually futile.

    Oregon prosecutors review girl’s death, faith-healing law
    3/22 5:54 pm

    OREGON CITY, Ore. (AP) – Prosecutors are reviewing the death of a 15-month-old girl a medical examiner says could have lived if she had been treated with antibiotics, but was not because of family religious beliefs.

    The Oregonian newspaper quoted Dr. Christopher Young, a deputy state medical examiner, as saying that Ava Worthington died March 2 at home from bacterial bronchial pneumonia and infection.

    the newspaper said that if prosecuted, Ava Worthington’s parents would be the first members of Oregon City’s Followers of Christ, a fundamentalist Christian denomination, to face charges for failing to seek medical treatment for a gravely ill child as required by a 1999 law.

    When The Associated Press called the number listed for the church today the person who answered hung up.

    The church came to Oregon early in the 20th century. When members become ill, fellow worshippers pray and anoint them with oil. Former members say those who seek modern medical remedies are ostracized.
    Oregon prosecutors review girl’s death, faith-healing law

  36. Larry says

    #11

    It still baffles me that there could be creationists in Colorado — it takes a special kind of moron to live in a place where you can find everything from trilobites to dinosaurs literally in your back yard and still declare that the world is a few thousand years old.

    Ah, come on, its easy to ignore this kind of stuff if you shut your eyes and put your fingers in your ears, all the while shouting “Gawd did it!”.

    mmm, kay?

  37. Tosser says

    The teacher actually makes the students repeat that fossils are “boorrrriiinnnnggggg.” Does the teacher also say that Shakespeare and algebra are boring? Sickening. They’re conditioning kids to be ignorant.

  38. alickn says

    Oh dear. This is disgraceful. Mr. Jack and Mr. Carter – lying for jesus – your choice. Lying to children – shame on you.

  39. Sastra says

    Creationist:
    “I’ve chosen to believe the God of the Bible. The evolutionist has chosen NOT to believe the God of the Bible. So we’ve both CHOSEN to believe — both matters of FAITH.”

    Right here is a chink in their armor, a little bit of cognitive dissonance which I think can be exploited.

    Fundamentalists tend to be very authority and discipline oriented. You do what you have to do, whether you like it or not. Things are what they are, whether you like it or not. You don’t make them real and you don’t make them go away just because of what you want. It doesn’t matter what you want. Relativism is wrong — we don’t all have our own “truths.” There’s just one reality, one truth — and you have to buck up and take it. You don’t get to decide.

    They believe this. But because of the nature of their belief system, they also have to parrot the “everything is faith” mantra. We choose our beliefs according to what we want to be true. We all do it. Every time, for every thing. You can’t be sure of anything, so pick what you want to have “faith” in. It always comes down to choice. It comes down to what you want to decide.

    Those two views do NOT work together. It’s very inconsistent to try to hold both. They may try to shove that conflict aside temporarily by framing it as everyone deciding whether or not to obey God — instead of whether or not to believe that there is a God — but that doesn’t hold together and they eventually realize it. They want to have their Discipline Cake and at the same time they want to make every belief a matter of choosing your personal preference.

    No can do. Call them on it.

  40. Will E. says

    Think any of those kids has a chance working at a large energy company if they think the world is 6,000 years old?

    Sure, why not? Cognitive dissonance is the creationists’ stock in trade–especially if there’s money to be made. One of those kids might even grow up to be president!

  41. tyaddow says

    And how do we know God created birds? It says so in the Bible. And how do we know the Bible is true? It says so in the Bible. What do we call this, children? Say it with me: circular reasoning.

    Irony is so old hat.

  42. alickn says

    Oh dear. Mr. Jack and Mr. Carter – this is disgraceful. Lying for jesus – your choice. Lying to children – shame on you.

  43. says

    Even Christianity Today‘s reporting is clearly not favorable to Mathis and his anti-PR tactics for Expelled. It isn’t much of an article, not reporting anything new, but the headline and the immediate summary give the bad flavor that this wretch of a movie is getting outside of the looniest crowds:

    REEL NEWS
    Expelled Expels Darwinist
    Evolutionary biologist and avowed atheist Richard Dawkins attends screening of ID documentary, but his colleague got booted.
    http://www.christianitytoday.com/movies/news/blog-080324.html

    The only other interesting bit for the up-to-date in this article is that they make an erroneous report on Stein’s lobbying for Florida’s “academic freedom” bill, but it’s an error that largely gives the essence of Stein’s BS:

    Meanwhile, Stein screened his movie in Florida earlier this month to support legislation mandating that creationism be taught in public schools, where he was praised by conservative politicians and local churches alike.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

  44. Forrest Prince says

    (paraphrasing) “And what changed your mind?” the reporter asks of the curator. “Empirical evidence” he replies.

    Empirical Evidence. A notion anathema to the minds of these bone-headed creationist neanderthals (with apologies to neanderthals). Empirical evidence is used in shaping the theory to fit the facts, i.e. the scientific method. Warping, ignoring, slandering, explaining away the facts in order for what little is left to fit the “theory” of creationism is how these dummies play their game.

    Nauseating. And yeah, I agree: a form of child abuse. Not prosecutable, unfortunately. Maybe some day.

  45. Adam Nelson says

    When I first saw this video, it literally made me ill to my stomach, just like all the other creationist drivel I’ve watched before. However, something dawned on me this time, when the scientist at the museum said that despite the indictrination these kids receive, some of them will learn to think for themselves.

    I realized there that these kids believe such stupid things (like the kid who said that the world was an “asteroid bajillions and kabillions of years old” or the boy who said “all the damage… the world would just fall apart”) that when just presented with the real, un-corrupted evidence of the natural world, they might even come to revile the people who told them such stupendous lies. I mean, if they wanted kids to refuse “Darwinism”, they could at least come up with more than a half-assed explanation of science.

    It’s like the kid I saw in the DI museum video who wanted to become a biologist solely to “disprove Darwinism.” Let them try.

  46. True Bob says

    Eeesh. That was difficult to watch – I had to stop it and come back later.

    BC Tours? More like BS Tours.

    What is really bizarre to me is how blinded they are to their biases (maybe that’s because I’m blinded by mine). I think I’d want to shadow them and make corrections aloud. At least, loud enough for the kids to hear.

  47. James F says

    #47

    It’s like the kid I saw in the DI museum video who wanted to become a biologist solely to “disprove Darwinism.” Let them try.

    It’ll never work. Our Global Darwinist Conspiracy™ stops every single paper that tries to disprove evolution. I’ve lost track of all the research manuscripts from the Discovery Institute that I’ve rejected.

    /sarcasm *HEADDESK*

  48. Brad says

    Comment #43 beat me to the dripping irony with regards to the “for the bible tells me so” explanation for birds being designed as such.

  49. Dutch Delight says

    Sweet, if I ever join a creationist class i’ll know how to ace any test with “how do we know” questions.

  50. says

    if this creature was designed to eat meat from the very start, what would he have to do until Adam and Eve sinned, and death entered the world? What would he have to do? Fast and pray for the Fall.” Oh, and of course, he then says, “Is that likely? Everyone look at me and say…<pause>no. Try that with me…no.

    What. A. Fucking. Douche.

    So, Mr. Bible Genius, what did these undeniably non-vegetarian creatures do before the Fall?

    If I were there, I would have showed him how interesting fossils can be by embedding a fucking trilobite in his skull.

  51. jimmiraybob says

    Posted by: firemancarl

    Yep, despite the idiocy taught by the YEC guys, some of those kids are going to think for themselves and when they do…

    You suppose the mom that was quoted as saying she believes everything in the bible really feels that way when her man wants some lovin?

    I’m willing to bet she compromises when the children get a little older and a little more independent. A real test of this conviction will be when she has a chance to set the first stone hurtling toward the unruly child. Of course, there’s always the possibility that the husband stones her first. Apparently, the curator’s parents lacked complete conviction in the inerrant nature of the Bible – at least I saw no obvious indentations.

  52. Ian says

    If I were there, I would have showed him how interesting fossils can be by embedding a fucking trilobite in his skull.

    Centuries later, his corpse is exhumed. Creationists then decide that he must have died in the flood.

  53. tacitus says

    Ugh. Makes me want to weep. Those poor kids were being force fed a butt load of lies.

    However, Nightline did mess up the 800 year generation thing. You don’t count generations by life span, you count them by the average age gap between parents and children (about 25 years today). So, in terms of Biblical mythology, there is no real problem in having seven generations within a couple of thousand years, since the seventh generation could have been born within a couple of hundred years of Adam and Eve.

    Of course, it’s all just a myth anyway, but I can imagine the creationists watching jumping on this point and saying it proves how untrustworthy the whole piece was.

  54. xcdesignproponentsists says

    It’s painful to watch. Some of these kids will continue to believe this force-fed garbage till they are adults. It wouldn’t be surprising if they apply the same kind of pseudoscientific thinking to other areas as well. “Drink this. It’s natural. It can’t do you any harm.”
    A few of them might become intelligent design proponents.
    If we’re lucky, a few of them will eventually break the spell and see this creationist misinformation for what it is.

  55. Don says

    #31

    That might seem reasonable to you or I, but Genesis is clear that Noah was 500 before his first offspring.

  56. says

    Reality must just scare the living crap out of these poor bastards. I mean, really. This isn’t learning. This isn’t even close to learning. This is reinforcing stupidity and creating a herd of kids woefully unqualified to function in the real world. After all, you can only take that “Magic man did it” nonsense so far before you wind up completely intellectually crippled.

    This is definitely child abuse, and it’s sickening. I think I learned more by Fifth Grade than that potatohead giving the “tour” seems to have learned in his entire life. This kids aren’t being taught to function in the real world. They’re simply being taught that it’s fine and dandy to live in a delusional little bubble of fantasy and easy answers.

    These idiots deserve to be mocked openly again and again. They should be humiliated. Their children should weep, and the parents should stop and consider joining the real world before it kills them. If you believe the Flintstones is a documentary, then you should live in a box beneath a bridge where you belong and let other, more rational people assume your place in society.

  57. chaos_engineer says

    Sigh, that’s not even a good rationalization. Why not just use this argument:

    “Here’s a picture of an orchid blossom that looks like an insect. It’s such a close resemblance that real insects will try to mate with it (and pollinate the plant in the process). Before the Fall, birds weren’t allowed to eat insects, but they would have been allowed to eat the blossoms of this plant. Did they do this? That’s a logical conclusion! Could bigger orchids have had triceratops-shaped blossoms? I don’t see any reason why not! And might T.Rexes have eaten them? Well, duh! And would there be evidence of those orchids today? Maybe, but they might have gone extinct during the Flood! And is it this hypothesis theoretically testable but not falsifiable? Yes to both! And does that make it as close to science as Creationism can ever get? Absolutely!”

  58. Epikt says

    Brownian, OM:

    If I were there, I would have showed him how interesting fossils can be by embedding a fucking trilobite in his skull.

    You know, this kind of in-your-face defense of rationality–the refusal to play the supine framing game–needs its own descriptive terminology. My vote’s for “Gonzo Rationalism.”

  59. Patrick says

    Here I thought I had to turn to BBC if I ever wanted to see these hacks taken to task. By the standards of American news media that is a downright scathing indictment of complete idiocy. Forget Expelled, schoolchildren need to see that video. There is something humorous about the lies being so outrageous that even children have trouble even imagining the creationist fantasy. Clearly these morons haven’t been around much if they think adolescents, particularly adolescent boys, don’t know enough about dinosaurs to know that they didn’t live a couple thousand years ago. Unless things have changed radically since I was a child, the average young boy can name more dinosaur facts than anyone this side of a paleontologist. They can certainly tell you that the T-Rex ate meat and top it off with dozens of other meat eaters. Try and tell a child that dinosaurs were prissy vegetarians that scampered about Eden and you just lost a convert. No offense to vegetarians.

    Of course…it’s best that these walking anachronisms aren’t around adolescents or any people between the ages of 0 and 800.

    On a final note, is it weird that the only thing that made me smack my head against my desk was the math in the 800 year generation discussion? It’s mind-blowingly retarded to even discuss but people living 800 years likely wouldn’t have 800 year generations any more than generations occur every 70 years in the modern day. I’d certainly hope that anyone who honestly believes people used to live to 800 has never bred and doesn’t know what a generation is.

  60. says

    But the truly sad thing is that you can multiply this group of kids by a factor of many thousand (home schooled christian kid, private school kids, etc.) before you can understand the true scope of the problem. Anti-science is flourishing, it’s a boom industry.

  61. rea says

    T. Rex must have been a vegetarian, otherwise he would not have been able to eat before the fall, these people tell us.

    Does that mean that it’s a sin to eat meat? Are these people militant vegetarians as well as creationists?

    And what do they make of New Testament passages that have Jesus eating met?

  62. says

    You know, this kind of in-your-face defense of rationality–the refusal to play the supine framing game–needs its own descriptive terminology. My vote’s for “Gonzo Rationalism.”

    In the hearing for the TRO the judge awarded against me, the lawyers for that evangelical church called it ‘evidence’.

  63. says

    No mention of the appalling math from the oh-so-neutral reporter, though, of course. A new generation doesn’t start after a person dies. Generations overlap. That inconvenient truth seems to be lost on the reporter and, well, everyone else here.

  64. Darby says

    Lyin’ fer Jesus!
    Lyin’ fer Jesus!
    Let’s lie to children fer Jesus today!

    (To Waltzing Matilda)

    If you ever get near a group like this, you might want to sing a little tune…

  65. Rick Schauer says

    I watched this on tv last night. The part that got me was the one mother of these kids saying the bible is true and so is their interpretation of it.

    Aren’t laws about fraud or child abuse applicable here?

    Irony is, it makes complete sense to these people to worship an angry, jealous, vengeful god who’s all powerful but still had to sacrifice his only son due to a small sin oversight. Nutty!

  66. says

    That inconvenient truth seems to be lost on the reporter and, well, everyone else here.

    I see, I say I see the li-ight! dsmvwld has opened my eyes to the Tru-uth of the conspiracy! Hallelujah!

    Seriously, don’t you Christians have some Indians to torture, or something?

  67. Louis says

    {comment deleted by author}

    The above comment has been deleted by the author, a scientist, because it violates the Nisbet-Mooney Accords of 2008.

    This is something of a shame because the post contained a) the answer to solving the problem of creationists which will not only keep creationists happy, but also moderate religious people and scientists, b) the solution to climate change, and c) the secrets behind having a really big penis/thick lustrous hair/weight loss/cellulite removal/general body image problems/removing unsightly skin blemishes/etc.

    Apologies. Please feel free to slip merrily into a second Dark Age because we are afraid to upset people.

    Louis

  68. Ian says

    #71: The generational issue has only been mentioned about three times already. Maybe you should actually read the comments before you criticize them.

  69. pjb says

    If this creature was designed to eat meat from the very start, what would he have to do until Adam and Eve sinned……..

    I had to stop watching. I was only introduced to scienceblogs a few weeks ago, and I had no idea how awful fundamentalist distortions really are. It is literally giving me indigestion just thinking about the 2 minutes of the video I actually did watch. Where do you even start if you wanted to fix that kind of garbage? I’m going to have nightmares about this. PZ, does this stuff ever stop giving you a stomach ache after you’ve seen enough of it?

  70. Kseniya says

    I would have showed him how interesting fossils can be by embedding a fucking trilobite in his skull.

    Uh, sorry Brownian, but wouldn’t that be two trilobites?

  71. says

    #71: The generational issue has only been mentioned about three times already. Maybe you should actually read the comments before you criticize them.

    Posted by: Ian

    And it was ignored or laughed off every time.

  72. says

    I have to give it to the new reporters though, they certainly didn’t cut anyone any slack. I like the curator’s responses too. It’s depressing people are doing this to the kids, but at least some will come out alright. I myself used the term “survival of the fittest” as a platitude not related to evolution in front of my religious father when I was eleven. I didn’t even know what it meant when I said it, but his reaction was enough to make me look it up!

  73. says

    Uh, sorry Brownian, but wouldn’t that be two trilobites?

    It takes two?! Damn you, abstinence-only sex education, damn you all to hell!

  74. chaos_engineer says

    Does that mean that it’s a sin to eat meat? Are these people militant vegetarians as well as creationists?

    It’s not that it’s sinful, it’s just an article of faith that nothing died before the Fall. So nothing could have been eaten except for the parts of plants that can regenerate. (Fruits and leaves, but no root vegetables.)

    The only way meat-eating would work would be if animals could regrow missing tissue pretty quickly, and if they had no pain receptors so they wouldn’t mind if you took a bite out of them. But that’s silly.

    No, wait a minute, that’s not quite as silly as the triceratops-shaped orchids I suggested earlier in the thread. I’d like to switch my theory to this one, please.

  75. says

    Geez, my memory’s getting bad now at 45, what would it be like at 400 (middle age)??? Plus, no post-it notes back then to leave myself messages…..

  76. pough says

    Ever since Dawkins talked about the Lord Privy Seal thing, I’ve been noticing it and it’s driving me crazy. Near the start of this video (0:47 or so), when the narrator explains how the tour is a Christian thing, they slowly focus on a stained glass window of what looks like Jesus on a privy, balancing balls like a trained seal.

  77. True Bob says

    Oh my word, dsm is exactly right! The BIG issue here is not that cheeses cries when children are lied to, but that a TV reporter/staff doesn’t understand how generations work! What a cover-up! Scandalous!

    dsm, what have you to say about the circular reasoning the BS tours presenters used?

    /expecting cricket sounds/

  78. says

    And it was ignored or laughed off every time.

    Sigh. Here’s what Patrick wrote:

    On a final note, is it weird that the only thing that made me smack my head against my desk was the math in the 800 year generation discussion? It’s mind-blowingly retarded to even discuss but people living 800 years likely wouldn’t have 800 year generations any more than generations occur every 70 years in the modern day. I’d certainly hope that anyone who honestly believes people used to live to 800 has never bred and doesn’t know what a generation is.

    So whaddaya want?

  79. HP says

    And all this time I thought fasting and prayer were pious virtues. So much for Yom Kippur. Or is this just more blatant anti-Semitism from the Christian Right?

    The correct answer, of course, is that any large therapod dinosaur in a state of uncorrupted grace would gladly spend its time in fasting and prayer, meditating on the greater glory of God. Fasting and prayer are how all obligate carnivores express their gratitude to their Creator. That creationists find this “unlikely” speaks more to the weakness of their own faith.

    It’s a known fact that dinosaurs are among the most righteous of the tetrapods. Even their names are in Latin.

  80. vlad says

    “A new generation doesn’t start after a person dies. Generations overlap.” Well technically generation are a completely man made construct of quantizing a continuum. I’m still not sure how any of this makes the slightest justification for people living to 800 years.

  81. Steve says

    Jackasses. If there was no death and suffering in the Garden of Eden, animals wouldn’t need to eat at ALL. What are they gonna do, starve to death?

    Herbivores provide just as much as problem for the Creationists as obligate carnivores do xp

  82. Ian says

    And it was ignored or laughed off every time.

    Posted by: dsmvwld

    I didn’t see a single response laughing it off. The only opposing response I see period was #61, which raised a valid point. And how can you know that it was ignored? How exactly do you distinguish “ignored” from “read and accepted without further comment”?

  83. says

    People like these give us normal homeschoolers a fucking bad name. I swear, not ALL of us were homeschooled because our parents wanted to fill our heads with creationism instead of biology. I didn’t have a whole lot of formal-type science units before college, but between PBS (especially Bill Nye the Science Guy!), National Geographic, and Discover Magazine, I learned a whole lot about science.

  84. Ken says

    Just watched the video. Those guys should not be allowed near any children and should be charged with child abuse.

  85. chuko says

    I feel pretty good about this article really. I already knew that millions of kids in the US are being systematically taught willful ignorance, so seeing another example doesn’t really make me cringe, but isn’t it great to see a reality-based look at the issue by mainstream media?

  86. Greg Peterson says

    St. Paul has donation supported zoo, Como Zoo. A female orangutan was born around Christmastime, and I’ve gone a few times to track her growth–and because she’s so damn cute. Each time I’ve gone I have been gobsmacked by the incredibly stupid things parents tell their children. It’s not just putting a mystery “ng” sound at the end of orangutan, or calling them monkeys. Many parents try to use the primate house to make direct statements about creation vs. evolution. Any child from toddler on up knows that when she’s looking at the baby orang, she’s looking at a slightly fluffier relative. The parents making the most of the small differences while dismissing the overwhelming similarities remind me of the sick old joke about the husband in bed with a mistress who when caught by his wife insisted he was not cheating on her, and then asking, “Who are you going to believe, me or your own eyes?”

  87. vlad says

    “I swear, not ALL of us were homeschooled because our parents wanted to fill our heads with creationism instead of biology.” The obvious question would be why are people home schooled. There are some legitimate reasons for home schooling but only if it’s done properly. With the exception of bad local schools or disabled children I can’t see legit reasons to home school.

  88. Kseniya says

    No mention of the appalling math from the oh-so-neutral reporter, though, of course. A new generation doesn’t start after a person dies. Generations overlap. That inconvenient truth seems to be lost on the reporter and, well, everyone else here.

    (How conveniently you overlook comments #33, #59, and #67.)

    Yes, obviously, generations overlap. Therefore, it’s impossible to use the ages of the characters from the stories in accurately computing the age of the earth, which is a very inconvenient truth – one of many – for those YECs who believe they can.

  89. AJ Hawks says

    Wow, I happened to be dosing my lunch time insulin while watching this, and had a hard time not stabbing my eyes out with the syringe.

    They hurt my brain. It physically hurts.

  90. Dan says

    I always thought that evolutionists/atheists were sensible, rational types.

    What I see in these comments is a lot of a) irrational, unreasonable, ridicule, and b) considerable ignorance of what Christianity is actually about.

    Surely you don’t think that these Christians are a) representative of all Christians, and b) necessarily teaching their kids as Christ intends?

    It’s so easy to ridicule extremists and to label all Christians as such.
    I’m sure you’d have issues with some extreme evolutionists, just as many Christians disagree with some Christian sects and extremists. We all have our nutjobs.

    If you really want to take issue with what Christians believe (or should believe), try taking issue with scripture itself, rather than with those who might not necessarily have the clearest understanding of scripture.

    Why waste your time getting all excited and making yourselves feel smart when you’re just tearing down a straw man?

  91. durakje says

    @ #104

    Dude, about time you showed up. We’ve been waiting for you since comment #16.

  92. Greg Peterson says

    Dan, if you trust rationality enough not to be that kind of Christian, why don’t you trust it enough to be no kind of Christian at all? I know quite well what Christianity “really is,” as I have a degree in biblical studies and worked for Billy Graham, then progressed through a series of ever-more “moderate” denominations until it became clear to me that to salvage my intellectual integrity, I could not be a Christian at all. Rather than accuse us of tearing down straw men, why not present your best, most solid case for your Christianity, and let’s see how well THAT holds up to reason? I can tell you from experience–some of it initially rather painful, much of it eventually blissfully liberating–that you don’t EVEN have straw. You have castles in and of the air.

  93. Jonathon says

    OK, I tried. I made it through the first 30 seconds of the video before my head exploded.

    BC Tours? “Biblically-Correct” tours? Give me a freaking break.

    Miseducating children is outright child abuse, and the Denver museum should have shown the “guides” the door when they started preaching creationism. A real tour guide, one who actually knows the material, should have been substituted so that the children could hear the real story – even if it conflicts with the religious indoctrination that passes for “home schooling”.

    It almost equates to having a white supremacist take a group of children to the Holocaust museum and then give a tour explaining how all of the exhibits are wrong and that no Jews were killed and that the Holocaust is just liberal propaganda.

    Those poor children. My heart breaks for them. What will these children do when they grow up? They are so sheltered, so indoctrinated that I fear they won’t be able to function in society once they reach adulthood. No critical thinking, no doubt – just accept what you’re told and believe what we tell you. How can people STILL be so stupid?

  94. RamblinDude says

    chaos_engineer:

    The only way meat-eating would work would be if animals could regrow missing tissue pretty quickly, and if they had no pain receptors so they wouldn’t mind if you took a bite out of them. But that’s silly.

    No, not silly at all! By jove, you’ve got it! The meat eaters did eat meat before the fall, but the animals they ate didn’t die from it! (Those godless scientists can chew on that theory as much as they want and they still won’t be able to kill it. hehe)

  95. Ryan F Stello says

    If you really want to take issue with what Christians believe (or should believe), try taking issue with scripture itself, rather than with those who might not necessarily have the clearest understanding of scripture.

    Even if you don’t self-identify with the freaks that this post is aiming at, you still have an expectation that scripture is important for understanding.

    Why on Earth would you suggest that atheists/evolutionists (your labeling) look into scripture if, as you acknowledge, your own people can walk away with ‘misunderstandings’?

    Other than, I dunno, your own feelings of righteous ‘understanding’…

  96. AJ Hawks says

    @Dan #104
    I can’t speak for everyone, but I personally am aware that they do not represent Christianity as a whole. However, they are doing great harm to the Christian image. I can dislike these fools for what they are, and not generalize it to the few (unfortunately quiet and unknown) good.

    The reason this stuff angers me so much is I’ve seen the result. For 2 years I dated a girl who grew up going to private Christian schools (seventy day adventists, VERY into the literal bible stuff).

    For 2 years I tried to show her the wonders of science and reason and the errors in her ways, but by the time I’d met her, at age 24, it was too late. I realized that if I were to succeed in convincing her of evolution and the big bang and carbon dating and dinosaurs, her entire world would collapse and it would literally destroy her.

    That is abuse. She is an intelligent girl whose mind was poisoned beyond recognition.

    And that’s what they’re doing to these young children.

  97. Ted says

    I remember two years ago for my intro-EvoDevo class at the University of Denver when we took multiple field trips to this Prehistoric Journey exhibit at DMNS. We spent hours and hours over multiple trips over multiple quarters studying the exhibits, taking exhaustive notes, following our professor’s guides and notes, and writing up our observations. To see this excellent museum being pissed on by ignorant delusional fanatics to advance religious dogma is patently offensive. So I say a giant “thank you” to Dr. Monahan @ DU for his hard work in advancing actual science on us hapless undergrads who weren’t bio majors.

  98. David Marjanović, OM says

    800-year-old people and plant-eating carnosaurs.

    Ain’t no carnosaur. Is more closely related to the birds than to the carnosaurs. Allosaurus is a carnosaur, Tyrannosaurus is not.

    ——————-

    They can’t even get their OWN theology right — “We believe Jesus is our creator”.

    Either that, or it’s a trinity thing, or both.

    ——————-

    I thought the T. Rex’s teeth weren’t rooted for tearing meat,

    Where did you get that nonsense from?

    etc.

    What?

    ——————-

    BTW: theropod.

  99. David Marjanović, OM says

    800-year-old people and plant-eating carnosaurs.

    Ain’t no carnosaur. Is more closely related to the birds than to the carnosaurs. Allosaurus is a carnosaur, Tyrannosaurus is not.

    ——————-

    They can’t even get their OWN theology right — “We believe Jesus is our creator”.

    Either that, or it’s a trinity thing, or both.

    ——————-

    I thought the T. Rex’s teeth weren’t rooted for tearing meat,

    Where did you get that nonsense from?

    etc.

    What?

    ——————-

    BTW: theropod.

  100. says

    In response to some of the comments about homeschooling: I chose to be homeschooled in high school because I wanted to finish high school more quickly so I could escape the situation I was in. I had math and science textbooks with Bible verses in them, which were just a continuation of the dinosaur books I read as a child that said the same things this tour guide did. In spite of the craziness, I managed to get a decent education and escape to the real world. In the end, my homeschooling experience laid the seeds of my rejection of creationism and therefore Christianity, because I learned to research things on my own whenever I was curious about them.

    All that being said, there are parents who use homeschooling as an excuse to try to brainwash their children into being little automatons. But there are parents who try to do that without homeschooling as well, and I think that homeschooling makes very little difference in the effectiveness of the propaganda. An environment where kids are only exposed to church-approved information can actually result in kids who reject religion entirely, because eventually they encounter reality. When you’ve been told repeatedly that you have to believe in creationism or your faith makes no sense, and then you find evidence that creationism is false, many people end up rejecting the religion and everything that goes along with it as well. Which I can’t help but think is a good thing.

  101. David Marjanović, OM says

    seventy day adventists

    What, seventy-day adventists exist, too? Or was that a typo?

  102. David Marjanović, OM says

    seventy day adventists

    What, seventy-day adventists exist, too? Or was that a typo?

  103. JimC says

    If you really want to take issue with what Christians believe (or should believe), try taking issue with scripture itself, rather than with those who might not necessarily have the clearest understanding of scripture.

    Scripture itself? I hate to tell you this Dan but scripture is only as usuable as the person reading it. Is an infallible bible in which no one can agree on virtually anything any better than a fallible one?

    Your version is no more correct than there take in a theological sense. The final barometer is reality. That which matches reality is likely correct.

  104. David Marjanović, OM says

    I had math and science textbooks with Bible verses in them, which were just a continuation of the dinosaur books I read as a child that said the same things this tour guide did.

    :-o

  105. David Marjanović, OM says

    I had math and science textbooks with Bible verses in them, which were just a continuation of the dinosaur books I read as a child that said the same things this tour guide did.

    :-o

  106. Mark B says

    I thought the T. Rex’s teeth weren’t rooted for tearing meat,

    I hadn’t heard the part about the teeth, but Paleontologist Jack Horner says that certain charactistics of the T Rex point to it being a scavenger instead of a predator. It’s interesting, but it’s one of those minor controversies in science that creationists will misunderstand as invalidating science.

    My god! Scientists can’t even agree on T. Rex’s diet! Therefore they are wrong about evolution. Or some sort of crap like that. In fact, debates like this are good for science, but antiscientific nutcases are incapable of seeing that.

  107. Dan says

    durakje #105, Thanks! I’m glad you missed me!

    Greg #106, regardless of whatever case I can present, one way or another, it all comes back to the beginning.
    The Christian, the evolutionist and everybody else still have to deal with the fact that, at some point, something came out of nothing. If this point can’t be rationalized, then the atheist or evolutionist is just as justified in believing in a chance chemical reaction as the Christian is in believing in a Creator.

    If you really want my incomplete and flawed take on Christianity, it’s not about following laws, it’s not about teaching our kids that evolution is wrong, it’s not about judging anyone who doesn’t believe what we believe to be ‘evil’ and declaring them to be ‘destined for hell’.

    In fact, all that stuff (and much more of what Christians practice) is arguably anti-Christian.

    It’s about – as Christ states – firstly loving God, and secondly loving your ‘neighbour’ (your neighbour being pretty much everyone)

    I’d say it’s not loving your kids to brainwash them into irrationally believing that evolution is ridiculous and ‘bad’.
    It’s not loving anyone to brainwash them about anything.
    I don’t read of Christ brainwashing people. In fact it was almost the opposite – much of Christ’s teaching was ‘this is how it is’ – ‘it doesn’t make a lot sense’ – ‘like it or lump it’.

    I mean, if you’ve got a degree in biblical studies, you must have come across the idea that the Bible tells us that – for whatever inexplicable reason – it is God that choses us and changes our hearts and minds. So whether you agree with it or not, you must understand why people either believe in God or not.

    JimC #115, I’ve kinda addressed this above, and I guess you’re right – scripture is only as useful as the person reading it.
    But I guess nonetheless, it still stands; what point is there in critiquing a Christian who misrepresents Christianity? Isn’t it better to figure out scripture for yourself and then critique scripture? After all, where else will you find out what Christianity is all about?

    If you can’t do that, then what is the point in arguing at all?

    If you’re objecting to brainwashing of kids, then i’d strongly agree that brainwashing kids about evolution/creation is not biblical, and some evolutionists and atheists are equally guilty of brainwashing kids.

    “That which matches reality is likely correct.”
    Yes, but what two people agree on reality?

  108. BaldApe says

    “Sickening. They’re conditioning kids to be ignorant.”

    It’s called religion.

    Of course, anyone with the thinking skills to realize the Santa Claus story is implausible (IOW, an eight year old or younger)should reject these fairy tales, except that there is a strong tendency to believe what has been told to us by trusted adults in spite of evidence.

    Some of my Earth Science students could be standing on the Moon and still insist the Moon has no gravity because the elementary certified ignoramus who taught their eighth grade science class told them so.

  109. H.H. says

    Dan wrote:

    If this point can’t be rationalized, then the atheist or evolutionist is just as justified in believing in a chance chemical reaction as the Christian is in believing in a Creator.

    Uh, no. Wrong. When faced with an area ignorance, the reasonable person is not free to latch onto whatever fantastical explanation they choose. There is no current valid evidence of god’s existence, so it is never justified to use god’s existence as an explanation for a particular phenomenon. Your appeals to the god-of-the-gaps remain invalid and unjustified.

  110. Jon Merz says

    It’s child abuse, sure. But morons like these probably end up spawning more critical thinkers than sheep.

  111. says

    Dan, the point is that these people are abusing children by warping them in this way.

    I’ve read scripture, and spent a hell of a lot of time both in front of and behind the altar. The first 10 years of my education were spent in schools that taught classes on Christianity.

    But so have a lot of other posters here. Whatever your ‘Peace & Love’ version is (and mine was very similar to yours) it draws some of its inspiration from the bible, but it also requires one to ignore a whole hell of a lot. In the end, you’re not really left with much more than ‘I believe in this version of Christianity because I want to. These people would of course agree up to a point, differing only to add that you and I are both completely wrong, and yours and my children should be forced to be raised their ‘right way’, even if we disagree. They don’t give two shits for your interpretation, or mine, and they’re not interested in dialogue.

    In my opinion, people with beliefs like yours aren’t particularly problematic (and are probably, by most accounts, ‘good’ people), except for when you show up to defend the actions of wingnuts like these with your blanket assertion that struggling hard to pick ‘n’ choose verses from the bible in which to believe in the face of mounting evidence against doesn’t lead to dangerously self-deluded groups like this.

  112. JDP says

    Dan wrote:

    I always thought that evolutionists/atheists were sensible, rational types.

    What I see in these comments is a lot of a) irrational, unreasonable, ridicule, and b) considerable ignorance of what Christianity is actually about.

    Surely you don’t think that these Christians are a) representative of all Christians, and b) necessarily teaching their kids as Christ intends?

    It’s so easy to ridicule extremists and to label all Christians as such.
    I’m sure you’d have issues with some extreme evolutionists, just as many Christians disagree with some Christian sects and extremists. We all have our nutjobs.

    If you really want to take issue with what Christians believe (or should believe), try taking issue with scripture itself, rather than with those who might not necessarily have the clearest understanding of scripture.

    Why waste your time getting all excited and making yourselves feel smart when you’re just tearing down a straw man?

    Let’s talk about this, Dan.

    I am a student. I just completed my BA at University of Colorado and will be continuing with a graduate degree in systematics in the fall. As an undergraduate, I spent about 4 years or so working with the Denver Museum as a student researcher and volunteer. I know that museum like the back of my hand, I’ve collected some of the specimens which have found their way into temporary exhibits there, and I have worked closely with both DMNS paleontologists (specifically, Bryan Small) and volunteers for several years now. I am proud to call these people my friends.

    Now, I’ve seen what these Creationist tour groups do there. They do not simply walk their students around and tell them stupid things based in stupid religion. They verbally (and sometimes even physically) assault docents, and sometimes even verbally assault the researchers there.

    Now, these docents are not mean people. Most of them are very nice retired individuals who volunteer their time to help make the museum a nicer place and help people get the most out of the exhibits. A few are high school students who want to be involved in their community. None of them are getting paid for this service, and they end up sitting around most of the time, helping people find the restroom, find a specific exhibit, or helping people whose children pitch a fit. They often read up on the subject in their spare time so they can be of more help in those rare events that someone is actually interested.

    So what do these creationist tour groups do? They come in and they verbally assault these people. They prompt their children to verbally assault these people. They treat these very kind folks who are dedicating their time to helping their community like absolute trash. It’s gotten so bad that the volunteer docents have been instructed to get staff as soon as one of these individuals appears. I’ve personally seen these sorts of situations time and time again, and I’ve seen these people, when a professional scientist takes time out of their busy schedule to answer their questions, respond with nothing but vitriol.

    These creationist groups are not harmless. These creationist groups are disgusting filth who prop up their weak faith by attacking kind-spirited old men and women who are donating their time as a service to their community. The concern here is not Christianity, it is the fact that these vicious bastards feel the need to not only lie egregiously to their children, but to verbally assault people who are doing a service to their community.

    If you can think of a reasonable excuse to rally a bunch of children to gather around a 75 year old woman and catcall about how she’s going to go to hell for teaching children about dinosaurs, I’d really like to hear it.

  113. Markus says

    Diane Rehm on NPR today had a home school discussion. I didn’t hear the first half, but it did sound like a fairly decent conversation. Of course after one of the pro-home schoolers on the board had explained what a splendid job she had done with reaching all the benchmarks for her children, they have a caller call in and go off on how home schooling is such a great thing for Creationism. Man, the one day I actually had my cell phone with me in the car but didn’t have time to call in..

  114. gravitybear says

    From the video, the christian at the end said that choosing to believe in something and choosing not to believe in something are equivalent positions.
    So if your neighbor believes in fairies that make shoes in the middle of the night and you say he’s crazy and you show him the payroll records from a shoe factory, you are just having a philosophical difference of opinion.

    Is that right?

  115. Dan says

    Brownian #122, Sorry – I think you’ve got me wrong – I actually stated that I believe that what these people are doing is arguably anti-Christian and unbiblical.
    Hardly defending their actions, I think.
    What I was objecting to was tarring all Christians with the same brush.
    Also, I’m not sure where you get the idea that I’m ignoring the reality of hell.

    JDP #123, As above – sorry to be ambiguous, I’m not defending their actions. I guess there are two points I’m trying to make.

    1) These people do not represent biblical Christianity. Sorry for not making that clearer in my comments.
    2) I struggle to have any respect for evolutionists and atheists who a) respond to such actions as if they were representative of all Christians (this is ignorance), and b) respond in such a irrationally and vengeful fashion as to really paint themselves as being no different to these ‘Christians’.

  116. vlad says

    “If you can think of a reasonable excuse to rally a bunch of children to gather around a 75 year old woman and catcall about how she’s going to go to hell for teaching children about dinosaurs, I’d really like to hear it.” Wow never though I’d be on this side of the argument but. He’s not suggesting that the behavior posed by Nutbags can or should be justified. He’s only saying that just cause a person says they are Christian doesn’t not mean they are anti evolution or anti science nor will they support the behavior of these half literate idiots.

  117. Kseniya says

    JDP (#123) you rock.

    I’d like to make it clear to our readers that JDP’s comment starts with about five paragraphs down, with this:

    Let’s talk about this, Dan.

  118. James F says

    Ain’t no carnosaur. Is more closely related to the birds than to the carnosaurs. Allosaurus is a carnosaur, Tyrannosaurus is not.

    Looks like I was going by the outdated definition back from when I was a lad – thank you for edifying me! Although I’m sure these creationists would argue that Allosaurus was also herbivorous.

    And by the by…do creationists argue that Homo neanderthalensis and the other extinct species of the genus Homo were blinked into existence separately from Adam and Eve, along with all the other animals? Did they get along with Adam and Eve, or was it kind of an uncomfortable Geico caveman situation?

  119. says

    I actually stated that I believe that what these people are doing is arguably anti-Christian and unbiblical.

    I know you aren’t actively defending these people Dan, and we know all Christians aren’t the same. (Hey, even PZ used to be one, but not like these.) But spare us your indignities. If you’re on the side of science, then join in the fight against stupidity like this. Saying that wingnuts like this aren’t representative of your brand of Christianity may help you sleep at night, but it doesn’t do a lick for those who’ve suffered under a faith-based ruling elite in the US and elsewhere.

  120. CJO says

    These people do not represent biblical Christianity.
    This must be a true Christian! Tell us, Dan, how do you know other true Christians when you see them?

    After all, characters like FL come around here and Panda’s Thumb all the time, claiming that acceptance of evolution is the litmus test; that their “true” Christianity needs to be propped up with just the type of enforced ignorance seen here. What is your “biblical” response?

  121. James F says

    #124 JDP: The docents are assaulted? Possibly even to the point of battery? As disgusted as I was by the video, this is completely unacceptable. Where is security? Why are these groups not banned? Sounds like a great time for a little YouTube video journalism to me.

  122. raven says

    JDP;

    They verbally (and sometimes even physically) assault docents, and sometimes even verbally assault the researchers there.

    JDP, thanks for posting some more info. The situation is worse than even the thread video.

    Those fundies aren’t there to teach their kids about creationism. They are there to teach them to hate and fear outsiders. Damn straight, this is child abuse.

    As I posted at the start of the thread, they can get a lot worse. Here on the WC, there is a continual parade of faith healer parents who let their kids die of easily and routinely treatable diseases. Looks like Oregon may begin prosecuting them for child abuse. In California, it is considered child abuse to withhold medical care from minors.

    Dan has half a point. These aren’t Xians per se, they are fundie Death Cultists with only a vague resemblance to run of the mill Xians. Most of the 78% of the US population identifying themselves as Xian would be as horrified as any atheist.

    He loses it by conflating evolution, atheism, and religion. Evolution is a scientific theory and has nothing to do with religion. Calling people Darwinists or evolutionists makes as much sense as calling people gravitists or Newtonians. Probably some acceptors of evolution don’t treat their kids right, people are people. But at least they are doing it because they are bad parents rather than as part of destructive cults who believe god told them to.

  123. says

    Probably some acceptors of evolution don’t treat their kids right, people are people. But at least they are doing it because they are bad parents rather than as part of destructive cults who believe god told them to.

    “Hey, Abraham, where are you taking Isaac?”
    “Uh… God told me to have a barbeque…”

  124. Dan says

    Brownian #133,

    I don’t see it as a battle of science vs. Christianity.
    I’m not a scientist, but I’ve yet to find any ‘science’ that has explicitly refuted scripture. I guess I’m also on the ‘side of science’, but you don’t need to be on the side of science to fight against this sort of stupidity.

    CJO #134,

    I’m not necessarily saying I’m a ‘true’ Christian and these others are ‘false’. No Christian is a perfect Christian – just because I don’t camp in museums for the purpose of attacking everything inside it doesn’t mean there aren’t other areas of my Christian life in which I’m deficient.

    But the crux of the point is this – no Christian is able to, by force of will or reason, make any other Christian (or anybody else) believe (or not believe) in anything.
    That’s not what the Christian is called to do. That’s my biblical response.

  125. vlad says

    “but it doesn’t do a lick for those who’ve suffered under a faith-based ruling elite in the US and elsewhere.”
    Again wasn’t expecting to see it this way. I’d actually disagree here’s why. When someone wants out of a community of wing nut bible thumper (like my old Sunday school priest) the gentler the transition from nutty to normal the better. If you have had it drilled into you (brain washing) that all non Christians are bad evil and want your soul your not going to trust them. Even if you know that your teachings are wrong human mind doesn’t let go of fear easily. So if you are eased into a science based view of the world by someone who happens to wear a crucifix (out of habit, occasionally) I see no harm. Someone who answers a question of faith not 1) How can you buy this dribble or 2) How dare you question GOD your going to hell, but with 3) Don’t know I like to believe there is but here’s the difference between faith (what I or you may believe) and science (what we know)science will explain our world and it comes first.

  126. JDP says

    As far as I know, there’s only been one situation where there was a threat of violence, and I’m not entirely clear whether it came to blows. I heard about it over coffee several years ago, but I’m not sure how good my memory is. What I’ve seen personally has just been verbal assault. Security can’t really do anything when these people verbally abuse the docents. As it stands, these people are acting unethically, but within their rights. The museum can’t touch them, and trying to throw them out would not only get the museum sued, but would probably making things difficult for the city as well.

    These people are shits, but they’re smart shits. They know exactly how far they can legally go, and they know that they can legally go far enough to be extremely emotionally abusive and teach children to do the same.

  127. benji says

    They fucking pricks should be ashamed…

    It is SO sad… so ridiculous. I just feel like crying over this…

    BUT THE ANGER IS SO STRONGER!!!

    And they’re homeschooled, so we can barely hope that they will ever change their minds. Let’s hope so.

  128. Dan says

    Sorry raven #136,

    I wasn’t intentionally bundling up evolution, atheism, and religion. I did use evolution and atheism side-by-side in a couple of places, as atheists and evolutionist often agree in the areas I was discussing.

    Evolution is a scientific theory and has nothing to do with religion. Calling people Darwinists or evolutionists makes as much sense as calling people gravitists or Newtonians. Probably some acceptors of evolution don’t treat their kids right, people are people. But at least they are doing it because they are bad parents rather than as part of destructive cults who believe god told them to.

    I agree.

  129. says

    Dan,

    I don’t see it as a battle of science vs. Christianity.

    And it doesn’t have to be.

    With responses by both Dan and Vlad, this is boiling down to a ‘where do the moderates fit in’ kind of discussion, which I think is a fascinating one, but one on which I’m still not sure where I stand. I for one, actually don’t have much of a problem with moderates, though (since I was one, once) I think their thinking in religious matters is usually a little sloppy. However, c’est la vie. And if moderates were all that there were in the realms of religion, we probably wouldn’t be having this discussion.

    But what I’d like to see from the moderates is less “But, but, I’m not like that”, and more “Hell, yeah! These tools are ruining both science and my God’s reputation–let’s get them the hell off of our schoolboards and away from our legislatures!”

  130. Sastra says

    Dan #127 wrote:

    1) These people do not represent biblical Christianity. Sorry for not making that clearer in my comments.

    Dan, this is an argument you cannot make to non-Christians, because outsiders cannot determine who is, and who is not, a heretic. We can try to rule on whether or not someone makes it into a broad, general definition (i.e. is someone still a “Christian” if they reject the resurrection, the atonement, and the existence of an historical Jesus?) But we cannot simply look to see which side we like better, and pronounce their theology sound.

    If we did that, then the “truest” Christians would be the ones who are the MOST like secular humanists, and the “false” Christians would be the ones who are most like the people giving the tour. But it is unlikely that the truth of a religion should be judged by how much its morals and beliefs stand on their own merit, without the supernatural justification. Without the God and supernatural stuff, it’s a “philosophy of life.”

    As an atheist, I am no more equipped to figure out which type of Christian is more “representative” of what God really wanted the Bible to mean than you are equipped to decide whether it’s the Shiites or the Sunnis who are best obeying Allah.

    2) I struggle to have any respect for evolutionists and atheists who a) respond to such actions as if they were representative of all Christians (this is ignorance), and b) respond in such a irrationally and vengeful fashion as to really paint themselves as being no different to these ‘Christians’.

    We’re not stupid. We know that many, many Christians are not Biblical Young Earth Creationists. How could we not? But I refuse to call these people “false Christians” — which is what it seems you want. They are “Christians really bad at science.”

    Some of the responses on this thread are a bit vicious and over the top for my tastes, but people are venting. Deal with it. When they actually physically attack someone, let us know.

  131. Jason says

    My favorite part:
    After the creationist lies about the age determining methods used, the reporter says “Then [the creationists] turn their backs to a display nearby explaining carbon dating.”
    HA! I like this reporter.

  132. says

    For the record Dan, your willingness to engage openly and honestly on this post greatly distinguishes you from many of the more religious commenters here. (And make no mistake, a lot of the regulars here are theists, too.)

    It is really appreciated.

  133. waldteufel says

    Christianity and all other religions depend primarily on fear born of ignorance. The survival of Christianity therefore depends utterly on keeping the masses ignorant and fearful.

    When you convince someone that you have the key to their immortal soul, you have ’em by the balls.

    Therefore, these Christian fundies have as their main goal to raise ignorant, fearful, and obedient children who will grow up to be ignorant, fearful and obedient adults.

    These ignorant, fearful and ignorant adults then vote the way their pastors tell them.

    The bastards leading these tours want a world in which the police can show up at your doorstep on Sunday morning to demand why you aren’t in church . . . . .

  134. CJO says

    But the crux of the point is this – no Christian is able to, by force of will or reason, make any other Christian (or anybody else) believe (or not believe) in anything.
    That’s not what the Christian is called to do. That’s my biblical response.

    Seems short on the “Biblical.” To wit:

    “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15)
    “Go ye therefore and teach all nations” (Matthew 28:19).

  135. says

    If both evolution and creationism are matters of faith then evolution takes about as much faith as believing the sun will rise tomorrow and creationism requires as much faith as believing there are elves in my pants.

  136. lytefoot says

    Now… this annoys me. It drives me just as nuts when people I agree with argue against straw men. There was a moment in the video when they were talking about how long men supposedly lived before the flood… and it cut away to a blackboard writing “800 years x 6 generations = 5400 years”. This is frankly stupid. People now live for about 60 to 80 years… yet we say that a “generation” spans about 20 years of time. Why? Because people REPRODUCE BEFORE THEY DIE. Duh.

    A skilled biblical literalist would be able to give you an exact timeline of the generations immediately following Adam–that’s how the creation of the earth was dated to 4004 BC to begin with. They would be able to tell you in what year the flood occurs. This is not the problem with the argument; it is not *A* problem with the argument. It’s a straw man, it’s not an inconsistency if you bother having the slightest notion of medieval theology, and the fact that the two jokers in the film didn’t have a better answer ready only shows that they’re incompetent in their field as well as in science.

    By arguing against the wrong point, people hurt our case. That interview was biased in a way we wouldn’t let the bad guys get away with for a second.

  137. James F says

    #140 JDP wrote:

    These people are shits, but they’re smart shits. They know exactly how far they can legally go, and they know that they can legally go far enough to be extremely emotionally abusive and teach children to do the same.

    We need to bring out the big guns. Flying Spaghetti Monster preachers in full pirate regalia.

  138. Dan says

    Brownian #143, Hell yeah!

    “Hell, yeah! These tools are ruining both science and my God’s reputation–let’s get them the hell off of our schoolboards and away from our legislatures!”

    I can say that. It’s just that it wasn’t really the point I was initially making.
    Although I’ve never really considered myself to be moderate.

    I guess I probably don’t have as clearer picture of how things are in the States, as I’m a New Zealander.

    Sastra #144, sorry (I seem to be saying this a lot!), if you take another look at my comment #138, I’m not saying that these are ‘false’ Christians – I shouldn’t have put that last ‘Christians’ in quotes.
    Someone can be a ‘true’ Christian yet behave in an un-Christian fashion (Christians call that ‘sin’) and I am certainly in no position to judge one way or the other.

    My apologies to all – I’m not being very clear.

  139. cureholder says

    I grew up as one of these children. I was taken to the museums in Chicago and Indianapolis and given the same brain-washing of testing everything science said against the bible, and throwing out the science if it conflicted.

    When the tour guide teaches them to ask “How do you know?” I would bet that (in the film on the cutting room floor) there is at least one child who kept that question in mind and shouted it the next time the guide gave a biblical “fact.” I was that kid in my group, and the response was, “The bible says so.” Critical thinking skills being what they are at age six, I don’t know that it occurred to me to ask what basis there was for believing the bible. But I sepnt my whole childhood mimicking the ignorance, asking questions that pissed them off, and trying to live up to the “moral” code my fundamentalist captors taught me. I was stuck in that mode until well after college.

    So rest assured, there is at least some hope that at least some of these children will escape. (Dawkins, in “The God Delusion,” puts the figure around one percent among those who stay with it until age eighteen.) For the most part, though, these kids will grow up to be just like the adults, have five to eight kids of their own, and perpetuate the ignorance.

    And they ALL vote.

  140. Bently says

    Has anyone done a study of these home schooled kids and the chances/percentages that they are either victims or products of incest?
    I ask (not to insult or insinuate) because, without the social interactions of the outside world, it seems the ‘perfect’ setting for such insular abuse. In fact, the whole philosophy seems to support and perpetuate the practice.

  141. jimmiraybob says

    lytefoot @ #151

    I put two links above @ #126 that show timelines. The first is a Christian reconstruction of “history” from Adam to Noah showing the generational overlaps. Since I’m in no way a scholar in this area a printout helps me keep score.

    The second generally includes this Biblical timeframe compared with other reality-based history.

  142. Dan says

    Brownian, #146, no problem.
    I find it pretty tricky to get my head around many aspects of evolution; it’s something I want to know more about.

    CJO #148, yes.

    “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15)
    “Go ye therefore and teach all nations” (Matthew 28:19).

    But what is the gospel? What exactly should Christians teach?
    Paul says “When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling.” – 1 Corinthians 2:1-3.

    Paul came to preach the testimony of Christ’s death and subsequent resurrection, and what it means to sinners. He didn’t brainwash, indoctrinate, philosophize or exercise any sort of superior wisdom. It wasn’t a battle of wits.

  143. JDP says

    Vlad-

    The issue here is that these people are working with a scriptural basis, and they do believe they’re doing God’s Will. I don’t really care whether or not you would personally do this, or whether you would personally look the other way, or whether you would personally protest. The issue is that when this sort of thing comes up, the first response of many Christians is “well, not all Christians are like that.” The proper response is “this sort of thing is unacceptable. They should not treat children like this, and they should not treat people working in the service of their community like this.”

    What I get from the statement “this is not scripturally supported” is that plenty of folks would think this sort of behavior was just fine and fucking dandy if it was scripturally supported. It’s not.

    It’s unethical, period.

    It’s dishonest, period.

    It’s abusive, period.

    It’s disgusting, period.

    It shouldn’t matter whether or not God would say so.

    Until moderate Christians recognize a universal set of ethics that do not rely on an appeal to a divine authority, we’re going to continue to consider them apologists for these nutjobs.

    By the way, Christians are hardly an oppressed minority in the US. Please remember this next time you try to pull a persecution complex with me.

  144. True Bob says

    Dan, thanks for your commentary.

    As you might imagine, most theists who pop in here are generally vitriolic and closed to dialogue.

    As was mentioned, yes, we know there are many kinds of christians. And many of us are at least fairly familiar with various holy books.

    Now, for the topic of the thread:
    What is most appalling for me, at least, is that these liars and fact-manglers want their distortions in our public schools. It’s gets way beyond “look at the silly YECs at the museum” to “they want to teach my kids what?! So when we see this kind of coverage, we are pleased that a bunch of charlatans get some exposure, and also dismayed that they are so manipulating their children (knowing that’s what they want to do to ours).

    A tangential topic also arises. We have discussed what kind of role do “moderate” christians (or other theists) have to play? Should they sit idly by (seems the default) while these loonies rant (implied endorsement) or should they screech “Heresy!” themselves and stone these guys? (OK, not really, but I hope to illustrate the at there is a spectrum of engagement, and AFAIK, almost nobody but atheists and scientists get worked up about IDiots – at least no institutions of religion weigh in). Not being a theist, I would hope more moderate xians would try to reign in the kooks. I do not see this, though. :(

  145. John Mark says

    When I was a freshman in high school, I went to a Christian “intellectual summer camp” called Worldview Academy, where Bill Jack was one of the main speakers. We learned all about the basics of the non-Christian religions and views and why they are all stoopid. IIRC, there was a trip to the Museum of Natural History there in Raleigh that Jack led, I bet it looked about the same as the one in the video. I was too busy trying to convert heathens on the street by showing them how they were breaking the Ten Commandments.

    That “How do you know?” question is one of Jack’s main things, part of a list of “killer” questions that’s designed to help understand a worldview and then destroy it. Of course, we never did ask them of him regarding Christianity and creationism. The other questions, for those interested, are “What do you mean by that?” “Where do you get your information?” and “What if you’re wrong?” They’re good questions, but they’re only applied in one direction.

    Dan, I’ve gotta disagree with you about them not being “true Christians.” From WVA’s website: “Worldview Academy is a non-denominational organization dedicated to helping Christians to think and live in accord with a biblical worldview so that they will serve Christ and lead the culture.” This is a very prevalent mindset among conservative Christians; I’ve been swimming in it since I was born.

    Here’s a link that shows Jack’s questions in action:

    http://www.probe.org/worldview–philosophy/four-killer-questions.html

    One of my favorite parts is where they say that their own website is a trustworthy and legitimate for information.

  146. NickD says

    As a scientist I found (like many others) that video was literally sickening, but be glad because many of you will have not felt the terrifying anguish that I feel as a Christian knowing that those children will grow up and bitterly abandon their faith because of this sham. It will damage these people mentally and create hate in them towards other people(look around). I have often wanted to give up being a Christian, not because of science, but because of being associated with this creationist foolishness. I cannot, because I know God; he loves me and so I love them, but I will condemn their dogmatism. Hate will not work.

    With regards to creationism, I ask why there is such a shortage of Jewish creationists – it is afterall a Jewish creation mythology which these Christians defend. Judaism is a mature faith and they full well know that the truth of the creation myth cannot be uderstood literally.

  147. Marc says

    JDP: That’s terrible!

    What you folks need is an evolutionary biologist to go off like Buzz Aldrin vs. that moon-landing denier.

  148. RobotaholiC says

    PZ Myers and Richard Dawkins are my heros for sure. They’re always busy, on the move, involved in so many things -standing up for the truth. :)

  149. CJO says

    …what it means to sinners.

    Well that’s just it, ennit?
    You’ve got everlasting life in the Kingdom on the one hand, and just a little thing called eternal suffering on the other.

    It’s hardly coercive at all. Moreover, when this grisly scenario is put before impressionable children, it is brainwashing, because they believe in fairy tales and things that go bump in the night scare them.

    Finally, with Paul, read between the lines a little, man. It’s clear he was involved in not a few battles of wits. He wasn’t clarifying points on which there was general agreement. He was trying to forge consensus where there was doctrinal confusion and, one supposes, strong opposition from various rivals. The early church was no picnic, as the writings of 3rd-century heresiologists will attest. It was a jungle out there.

  150. Dan says

    John Mark #160; Sorry, as I clarified in a previous comment, I didn’t mean to imply that they are not ‘true Christians’; I kinda got myself a bit tangled there. Rather, what I meant was that I didn’t believe their approach to be biblical, nor an appropriate display of Christian love.

  151. says

    If both evolution and creationism are matters of faith then evolution takes about as much faith as believing the sun will rise tomorrow and creationism requires as much faith as believing there are elves in my pants

    Tatarize, those aren’t elves.

  152. Bride of Shrek says

    Fake blonde soccer mums who have brainless ideas about the world yet are able to reproduce make my toes curl. The smugness of her christianity was emanating from her in waves. If she’s happy to have her child taught this shit it makes me wonder what other crap she’s homeschooling them with.

  153. True Bob says

    Yes, Bride, you need a permit for a car, a boat, a gun. But no qualifications required to rear a child.

  154. raven says

    I would hope more moderate xians would try to reign in the kooks. I do not see this, though. :(

    The perennial question. Where are the moderate Xians? Playing Sherlock Holmes, I went and asked a few. With 78% of the US population calling themselves Xian, everyone knows a few.

    1. They aren’t happy about and don’t like the fundies much. Bama, a fundie polling organization, says that 49% of the US population is “sick and tired of the fundies telling everyone else what to do.” Do the math, at least 40% of those are….other Xians.

    2. What can they do? Fire up the tanks and jet fighters and have another 400 year long battle? There really isn’t much they can do except vote wingnut Dominionists out of office.

    3. Sectarianism and Dogma are out among mainstream protestants. Well educated, successful adults aren’t buying it anymore. Polls show that people change churches often without worrying about minute differences in what Mark 5:16 really means. They don’t really think it is very Xian to rant and rave about fundie wingnuts so they just ignore them and hope they go away.

    4. The clergy letter project has over 12,000 ministers who support evolution and getting more all the time.

    This isn’t a definitive answer, small sample size and my impressions. Worth what you are paying for it.

    They are out there, they don’t like what is happening, and they vote.

  155. Dan says

    CJO #164;

    One way or another, no one – creationist, evolutionist or anyone – can empirically prove exactly why we’re here or how we got here. There’s a whole bunch of uncertainty.

    In that case, could it not be considered crueler to be told you’re nothing more than a souped-up monkey than to be told that you are the special and unique creation of a God who loves you?

    I guess I’ve just asked “What if you’re wrong?” question. But then I’m more than happy to answer that same question.

  156. JDP says

    What you folks need is an evolutionary biologist to go off like Buzz Aldrin vs. that moon-landing denier.

    Absolutely not. These people are looking for an emotional response. They’re essentially schoolyard bullies. They point, call people names, and repeat insults in singsong until their opponent explodes. The solution is really to wait until these people cross a legal line and then nail them to the wall. Until then, thick skins.

  157. raven says

    Going to have to repeat myself. These fundies aren’t at the museum to teach creationism. A museum would be the worst place to do it, assuming (big if) the kids know how to read.

    They are there to teach the kids to hate and fear science, scientists, and outsiders.

    This is the 21st century and the USA and our civilization runs on science. Really, who made the internet and computers possible so anyone can even read this?

    Abusive, and they are setting their kids up to fail. Whatever they do when they grow up isn’t going to require much in the way of skills, education, or thought.

  158. True Bob says

    In that case, could it not be considered crueler to be told you’re nothing more than a souped-up monkey than to be told that you are the special and unique creation of a God who loves you?

    Except that’s not all. Let me put it as I see it:

    In that case, could it not be considered crueler to be told you’re nothing more than a souped-up monkey an amazing result of billions of years of evolution, are related to every other living thing on the planet, and have parents who love you very much than to be told that you are the special and unique creation of a God who loves you but will cause you infinite agony for all time if you don’t do what you’re told?

    Hmm, seems a different choice to me, Dan.

  159. Hank says

    I couldn’t disagree more. We have a fairly good picture of both biological and cosmological evolution.

    The atoms that make up our bodies and environment have been moving around in the universe for billions of years and for a brief moment they come together to form us. We are literally stardust. Hardly a souped-up monkey!

  160. CJO says

    If I’m wrong (i.e. evolution is false and the events narrated in the bible actually happened) then I am a prisoner without hope in a toy universe presided over by an insane demiurge.

    It would still be a lie to tell little Timothy, “you are the special and unique creation of a God who loves you.”

    And, anyway, what do you have against monkeys?

  161. H.H. says

    In that case, could it not be considered crueler to be told you’re nothing more than a souped-up monkey than to be told that you are the special and unique creation of a God who loves you?

    Souped-up monkey? The stupidity of that phrase aside, Dan, it’s like this. We have evidence that you are descended from apes, just like the rest of us. It’s a fact. On the other hand, there is zero evidence that there is a creator or that he considers you special. Regardless of how pleasing you find the latter sentiment, or how “cruel” you find the alternative, your emotions don’t come into it.

    As far as whether or not scientists ask themselves if they could be wrong, yes, Dan, they do. Just by practicing science, by giving oneself over to the method, scientists are testing their assumptions and taking the chance they might be wrong. That’s what the scientific method is for. It’s designed to eliminate personal biases. Science is applied skepticism. It’s the opposite of faith, which embraces personal bias and wishful thinking as sources of knowledge. Faith functions by means of the same errors of cognition science seeks to eliminate.

    Science works by looking for ways to prove its assumptions wrong. Faith works by looking for anything to prop itself up. Guess which has the better track record when it comes to getting things right?

  162. firemancarl says

    Ya know, becuase of this fucktard, I am gonna spend a lot of time at the Museum of Arts and Sciences with my children this summer.

  163. says

    “We’re trained to think like evolutionists. We need to think like creationists, mmkay?”
    Mmmkay. Drugs are bad. And if you do drugs you’re bad. ‘Cause drugs are bad.

  164. says

    If it helps, I take my 4 1/2 year old daughter to that museum on a regular basis and she’s fascinated and curious by the exhibits and the signs near each.

    Sadly, the cretins and yahoos of BC Tours use that same curiosity to squelch the thinking of children.

  165. says

    Don’t these people reality that making T.Rex an herbivore (which his digestive system wouldn’t allow) wouldn’t eliminate death. Plants are alive too.

  166. DanioPhD says

    I guess I’ve just asked “What if you’re wrong?” question. But then I’m more than happy to answer that same question.

    Yes, Dan, by all means, go ahead and lay Pascal’s Wager on us. We’ve never heard that one before. And just in case you haven’t heard very many skeptical rebuttals to the “If I (the believer) am wrong, I’ve lost nothing” link in that chain, this presents some of the many downsides quite nicely.

  167. Sue Laris says

    I find Dan to be just as much a dishonest shit (and obvious preening troll) as the typical creationist, and just as much a proof against any secondary benefits of Christianity (as opposed to the Xianity of the clip).

    Can one of the decent people responding to him tell mehy isn’t he simply, and shortly, refuted and then ignored for being a trolling fuckwit?

  168. Dan says

    True Bob #175 – Yeah. My comment was rather ill-conceived, wasn’t it. I guess there are countless versions and variations of that comparison.

    Hank: #176 – Hmm… I can’t help thinking that I’ve swum out of my depth here.
    Dust or monkeys, what is our purpose? Aren’t we only going to be eliminated, or at least out-classed by the next evolution?

    CJO #177; If the biblical account were true, then the bible would be true, then it would be true that God actually loves His creation and doesn’t want us to suffer. I don’t really have anything against monkeys.

    H.H. #178;
    Yeah – that was a pretty stupid thing for me to say.
    I wouldn’t disagree that there is evidence that we are descended from apes, but that doesn’t make it fact.
    We didn’t see it happen and I’m pretty sure we can’t reproduce it – that’s too much uncertainty for me.

    Just to be clear, I’d also say that while there is evidence for creation, we weren’t there, and so I’m not prepared to state creation as fact, either.

  169. Ian says

    Yes, Dan, by all means, go ahead and lay Pascal’s Wager on us. We’ve never heard that one before. And just in case you haven’t heard very many skeptical rebuttals to the “If I (the believer) am wrong, I’ve lost nothing” link in that chain, this presents some of the many downsides quite nicely.

    That link totally neglects the possibility that the believer is half right and winds up in the hell of some other religion for believing the wrong thing.

  170. Dan says

    DanioPhd #183.
    Surely you must know that everything in that cartoon is crap?

    Sue #184.
    I’m not quite sure what I did to deserve that? Could you be a little clearer on exactly what I’ve said that you have a problem with?

  171. John Mark says

    Dan, Bill Jack and the WVA crew have solid Biblical backing for all the stuff they do. It makes it quite difficult for more moderate Christians (such as yourself?) to explain it away.

    “Dust or monkeys, what is our purpose? Aren’t we only going to be eliminated, or at least out-classed by the next evolution?”

    Our purpose is to make our lives as enjoyable and happy as possible.

    “then it would be true that God actually loves His creation and doesn’t want us to suffer”

    Except for all those people that God is planning on damning to hell for something they can’t control. Whoops.

    (I need to learn to do the “quote” tags in html…)

  172. DanioPhD says

    That link totally neglects the possibility that the believer is half right and winds up in the hell of some other religion for believing the wrong thing.

    True, it’s not explicitly addressed, but I think the last frame, with multiple deities and the text “Wager then, without hesitation that He exists” sort of implies it.

    Aren’t we only going to be eliminated, or at least out-classed by the next evolution?

    Dan, this statement reveals that you have, indeed, ‘swum out of your depth’. I don’t mean that in a snarky way, truly I don’t, but it’s clear that you lack a good, factual grasp of evolution theory. You seem to be thinking of it more like the ‘evolution’ of newer better versions of software or something, and this is not at all the case. I would really encourage you to avail yourself of the bounty of resources on line or in your local library. It is well worth the time and effort to needed to understand the nuanced, often messy, but no less wondrous for all that, Theory–with a capital T–of Evolution.

  173. H.H. says

    Wow, Dan, did you really use the “you weren’t there” (http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CA/CA221.html) and evolution can’t be replicated (http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CA/CA220.html) arguments? Because those are common creationist misunderstandings. You’re rapidly circling the drain here.

    Men are sent to the electric chair on evidence more uncertain than the extremely conclusive evidence we have for common descent. Your doubts are not reasonable doubts.

    Perhaps you just aren’t aware of what the evidence entails? If that’s the case, you really should stop pretending that your personal ignorance is shared by the rest of us and start asking for resources to catch up.

  174. True Bob says

    John Mark, to do the block quote, at least here, the delimiters are carets (? – “greater than” and “less than” symbols – my poor brain fails me), and the magic word is “blockquote”. Like this:

    [blockquote] and [/blockquote]

    but with the little arrow dealies.

  175. Rey Fox says

    “I wouldn’t disagree that there is evidence that we are descended from apes, but that doesn’t make it fact.
    We didn’t see it happen and I’m pretty sure we can’t reproduce it – that’s too much uncertainty for me.”

    It’s as much fact as is relativity and plate tectonics and things like that, and yet I’m sure you accept those without question. Evolution is only different in than that it maybe hits closer to home with regards to dealing directly with the body of living organisms that includes ourselves. Do you accept that other species evolve and have evolved?

  176. DanioPhD says

    Ooh, pwned by the robust “everything is crap” gambit. Ok, try this, then. I’m still operating on the assumption that you are a well intentioned, quasi-concern troll, but my faith in you is faltering, Dan.

    John Mark, use the carat signs “< " and " >” around the word “blockquote” to start, and same carats around “/blockquote” to end.

  177. Sastra says

    Nick D #161 wrote:

    As a scientist I found (like many others) that video was literally sickening, but be glad because many of you will have not felt the terrifying anguish that I feel as a Christian knowing that those children will grow up and bitterly abandon their faith because of this sham.

    For all their complaints about how atheists are just “playing into the hands of the creationists,” those who criticize the approach of Dawkins and PZ seem to ignore that the opposite can also be said: by insisting that evolution and Christianity are not compatible, creationists are playing right into the hands of the atheists. I would think that if anything would galvanize liberal Christians to get out there and fight creationism, it would be the realization that the real issue under direct attack isn’t evolution, or even science in general — it’s the viability of Christianity.

    Teach a generation of public school students that evolution leads to atheism — but, hey, don’t worry — evolution isn’t true after all. Then sit back and let scientists continue to use the theory of evolution for 5, 10, 25, 50 years, and let it get worked deeper and deeper into every branch of our understanding till anyone who denies it is considered a nut by pretty much everyone. Now — how many Christians are left?

    Hey, great strategy, Bible-Believing Christians. Talk about shooting yourself in the foot.

    Religious scientists like Nick D are not stupid. They don’t read Dawkins saying things like “Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist” and go “well, then evolution couldn’t have happened.” No, they go “I better get out there!I better tell them that you can believe in God and evolution, too!” Lots and lots of them, with their religion at stake and a fire under them.

    Which is what Nisbet and Mooney presumably want. Hey, maybe PZ is really just their shill.

    Now that would be a really cool conspiracy.

  178. DanioPhD says

    Oh shit, clearly I don’t know everything about HTML tags, as I can’t get the carats to appear in this post. On a standard keyboard they are what you get when you hit SHIFT comma and SHIFT period, respectively.

  179. Dan says

    John Mark #188;

    Our purpose is to make our lives as enjoyable and happy as possible.

    As is equally the case with my understanding of our purpose, there are a whole bunch of ethical implications. Is ‘our’ a collective or individual reference?

    I know you probably know this, so I’m not trying to insult your intelligence but the bible says that if we repent and believe we will have life?

    DanioPhd and H.H. #189 and #190.
    Look, I’ll be honest – I don’t know much of evolution beyond what I’ve learned in school, and have read of in the odd book or website. And so I’m not prepared to die on any of those hills just yet.
    I’d love to learn more about evolution, so any resources you can recommend would be greatly appreciated.

    Rey Fox #192. I’d say I believe that each animal was created according to its kind as per Genesis 1:21, so no, I wouldn’t accept that other species evolve and have evolved. Natural selection, on the other hand, I accept. We have different colors, beak sizes, leg lengths, etc. of all kinds of animals. But I’ve yet to see something change from one kind to another.

    Blockquotes work like this: <blockquote> Quote </>

  180. revmonkeyboy says

    I grew up with the crap that “tour guide” is forcing on those children. I do call it child abuse, they are deliberately attempting to remove the child’s ability to understand how cool the real world is. It really does disgust me. I have no problem if adults “choose” to ignore reality, “choose” to be ignorant, and “choose” to live as mentally crippled bronze age barbarians. I just wish they would not attempt to force it on children. That kind of behavior is criminal. These people should be glad that the kind of illness they have could easily die out like polio.

  181. True Bob says

    Danio*, the carets won’t appear here. I seem to recall someone (Brownian?) getting them to appear in exactly this context, but I can’t make it happen.

    Persnickety remark: carat refers to purity of metals, caret is an upward pointed chevron. And my brain has no other word for the sideways chevrons.

    *danio rerio?

  182. DanioPhD says

    Dan,

    The Talk Origins site is a great place to start. They have an extensive, well-referenced FAQ section.

    Okay, how do you get the carats to appear in your post? Not that I foresee a need to know this, beyond telling other people how to do block quotes, etc., but I’m clearly out of MY depth in this regard ;-) and I’m irritated that I can’t figure it out

  183. Dan says

    My response to the cartoon (#183) and Sam Harris’s ‘The Empty Wager’ is something like this:

    In the way that I was asked by a commenter not to lump evolution, atheism and religion together, I can likewise ask that Christianity and religion not be lumped together.

    I’d agree that both the cartoon and Harris’s rebuttal of Pascal’s Wager apply to religion.
    But religion sucks, and is possibly the worst thing that has ever happened to humanity.
    It’s almost certainly the worst thing that has happened to Christianity.

  184. Martian Buddy says

    BC Tours? “Biblically-Correct” tours? Give me a freaking break.

    They really call themselves that?! The irony is so sharp, it could be used to cut open portals to other worlds.

  185. Ginger Yellow says

    “What can they do? Fire up the tanks and jet fighters and have another 400 year long battle? There really isn’t much they can do except vote wingnut Dominionists out of office”

    How about writing op-eds in major newspapers or going on TV promoting reason and bashing fundamentalism? Instead 90% of the articles explicitly by “moderate” religionists bash the likes of Dawkins and Dennett for their “militancy”. At best they’ll say the “militant atheists” are “as bad as the fundamentalists”. Even if this were true, it’s the very opposite of finding common cause against the fundamentalists.

  186. raven says

    Aren’t we only going to be eliminated, or at least out-classed by the next evolution?

    We can hope, can’t we. The next species in our lineage will be our children. Or more likely some indeterminate future generation.

    Evolution takes time. H. erectus was around for 1-2 million years. They aren’t exactly gone, they evolved into….us.

    Humans 100,000 years from now could be smarter, long lived, and less prone to mental illness and violence. Who knows?

    Dan knows zero about evolution, less than a high schooler.

  187. DanioPhD says

    True Bob @#199

    Persnickety remark: carat refers to purity of metals, caret is an upward pointed chevron.

    D’oh! Sorry about the spelling error. I couldn’t think of a better word for them either, but ‘sideways chevrons’ would have been a better choice.

    *danio rerio?

    Sir! How dare you besmirch my genus with a lower case ‘d’?! But yeah, that’s the one. :-)

  188. True Bob says

    In Dan’s defense, at least he’s asking questions, and appears to honestly answer when he no longer gets the flick. Unlike the True Trolls, who are not open to dialogue, get snotty, project left and right, then bail out.

  189. Dan says

    DanioPhd #201: Thanks! I’ll get reading.

    The carats are greater-than and less-than signs.
    To get a less-than to appear, you type an ampersand ‘&’ followed by ‘lt’ followed by a semi-colon. So &-lt-; without the hyphens. The great-than is the same, but with ‘gt’ instead of ‘lt’.

    Cheers!

  190. Lurky says

    In that case, could it not be considered crueler to be told you’re nothing more than a souped-up monkey than to be told that you are the special and unique creation of a God who loves you?

    Nice job loading the question, Dan.

    Here‘s a decent answer for the question “What if you’re wrong?”.

  191. True Bob says

    Danio, I used to keep them, but I never had much luck. My small schools would dwindle away, as if they were killing each other off. Pah, they are food anyway. What I really want are some pushy South/Central American Cichlids.

  192. DanioPhD says

    *headdesk*
    Ah, ‘greater-than’ and ‘less-than’ signs. The mental clouds are parting. Math was never my strong suit. Thanks, Dan.

    Ok, I’ll bite: How is ‘Christianity’ not a ‘religion’?

  193. Dutch Delight says

    One wonders how these kids will cope when they discover the real world. Are faith based initiatives going to pay for the damage to society these people might cause while resolving their silly worldview with reality?

  194. Mark B says

    to display the less than symbol:

    <
    type &lt;

    and the browser renders it as left angle bracket.

    the greater than symbol:

    &gt;

    which renders in the browser as > [the right angle bracket].

    Google ‘HTML entity’ if you’re interested in this subject. Preview plays havoc with all of this character escaping so hopfully I didn’t mess it up.

  195. says

    Funny how they accuse others (Teh Gays, for example) of “indoctrinating” children. Yet look what they do–and in such an underhanded way! Sick, sick, sick.

  196. biology teacher says

    RE: Vegetarian T Rex:

    Why is it OK for plants to be killed to keep T Rex alive before the fall if there was no such thing as death? Which also makes me wonder why vegetarians have no problem killing plants for food, when they are surely just as alive as animals. But anyway….if there was no death before that dumb broad Eve ate that piece of fruit, did everything just soak up the sun and photosynthesize? Maybe T Rex’s teeth are just pointy little solar panels!

  197. Beth says

    Someone asked why anyone would homeschool. I do it for many reasons. Because my kids have time to be kids, running around outside exploring, building with their Legos, acting out stories, playing with their friends etc. Because we can do all sorts of extracurricular activities that we wouldn’t have time for with homework. Because my kids have time to follow their passions – one of which currently for my seven year old is evolution. Yes we have covered all sorts of aspects and she is enthralled with the entire concept. Not many first graders in traditional school are getting steeped in evolution. Because my son who is bright and has mild dyslexia, and my daughter, who is precocious, can both learn at their own rate without comparing themselves constantly to other children. Because my husband and I can be the primary (but not only) influences in their life at a time when they need it. Because I can guide them through the good and bad things that happen and teach them how to weather the storms. Because I enjoy their company. Because we have time together as a family as well as time for friends and outside activities. Because we can visit museums and vacation when it is cheap and uncrowded. Because my children are not into the latest fashion and are not sexualized prematurely. And finally, because my children are thriving, growing and loving learning and they embrace the world with child-like optimism. This is not to say that traditionally schooled kids can’t have most of the above either – I just think it’s much easier when you homeschool. Sorry, just had to put in a plug for an amazing thing which is all to often only portrayed as done by really conservative, small-minded, fearful people. Back to lurking.

  198. raven says

    RE: Vegetarian T Rex:

    The usual explanation is that T. rex ate coconuts. This won’t kill the tree after all.

    However, fundies never make the connection that this itself is infanticide, baby eating. Coconuts are just embryonic coconut trees.

    Ask the fundies but don’t expect a sensible answer.

  199. Dan says

    DanioPhd #213;

    I’m sure you’ve heard this before.
    I guess according to one definition it is a religion, at least as far as it is a belief or a system of beliefs.
    At its core, Christianity has no prescribed practices or rituals that are necessary or are prerequisites for being a Christian (to be saved), except to repent and believe.
    Once saved, however, out of gratitude, the Christian devotes their life to serving God, through obedience to His commands. Failure to obey – while is still has serious consequences – does not jeopardize one’s salvation or one’s Christianity.

    Given that we’re commanded to go and share the gospel in love, if we’re legalisticly telling people that to be a Christian, you have to do this or that (or not do that or that), then that is not Christianity, but is religion. Nothing can be added to the gospel. While we’re commanded and expected not to murder, steal, hate, etc (sin), adherence to these laws does not gain us any sort of merit.

    I’m not sure of any other religion where no practice is required.

    I hope I’m making sense here.

  200. Kenny B says

    I just want to say that I consider Sastra’s comments in #44 very insightful.

    “There is just one reality, one truth – and you have to buck up and take it.”

    This really is a key part of fundamentalist thinking. In fact, I think it’s how I actually got out.

  201. Cara says

    I can guarantee one thing about these kids–at least a few of them, despite all efforts and propoganda to the contrary, will become atheist. That’s not the best of news, but perhaps it lessens one’s despair.

    I spent my first eight years of ‘education’ in a private, southern baptist school. I am now working on my masters in biology and am atheist; my brothers and many others i know from the school are also atheist, often vehemently so in reaction to what we went through then. Looking back on it, i can clearly see the transition from a blindered, bleating, fingertips-in-ears creature to what i am today…at some point the disconnect between the lines we were fed and the information from other sources became too great to be ignored and we made a choice. I wish i’d known enough to try to bring others along with me.

    I do think if science education were better in public schools (private schools…ugh, i despair), children would be more engaged and better at critical thinking and questioning, which is integral to being able to detect bullshit from one’s ‘superiors’.

  202. Ginger Yellow says

    “I’m not sure of any other religion where no practice is required.”

    Pastafarianism?

  203. Carlie says

    I think Dan is showing a perfect example of how to be a theist and engage here without being a troll who wants to make people throw rotten apples. Yes, a lot of what he’s saying is stuff that some of us have gone over time and time again, but he’s being open, stating what his knowledge base is, and seems amenable to listening what people have to say about it. I find that quite refreshing, and I would like to hear what he has to say after he goes and does a little background research on evolution.

    Dan, going back a ways in the thread, one thing to keep in mind when we talk about whether or not certain creationists are representative of “True Christians” is that many of us here come from conservative fundamentalist religious backgrounds. Some of us grew up in the thick of it, some people here had religious training up through seminary. So it’s not just a matter of seeing a few crazy people and labeling them as “Oh, that’s what Christians must be like”. For some of us, that’s the only kind of Christianity we ever knew to begin with. I know when I hear moderates saying “Well, that’s not at all what most Christians are like”, I go “Wha?” because from my experience, that’s exactly what all the Christians I ever knew were like. It rings just as hollow for me to hear that ‘most’ Christians take the Bible as allegory as it does for, say, a Boston Methodist to hear that ‘most’ Christians believe every word in the Bible is factually true. When you see so much vitriol against things like the subject of this post, please keep in mind that a lot of that vitriol isn’t a just a knee-jerk reaction to something we think is weird, but to something that affected people very deeply and personally throughout their lives.

  204. JohnnieCanuck, FCD says

    Baby coconuts, Raven?

    Couldn’t have been. Before the fall there was no death for anything and no sex. That would include coconut trees. Imagine how soon paradise would have become overcrowded if all those organisms were having teh sex. Don’t try to tell me every plant and animal was practising contraception in the Garden of Eden. That’s just heresy.

    Just as He gave Adam and Eve reproductive organisms they were never supposed to use, those trees weren’t supposed to tango with the insects, either.

    Just what Plasmodium falciparum and Variola major were doing before Adam’s script writers laid the blame on Eve, I don’t know. Maybe they were in a commensal relationship with coconuts, waiting for the fall.

  205. JCE says

    Yes that hurt to watch. Hurt even more when kids raised like that got to first year zoology with the mindset intact and I had to look them in the eye and deal with it. Fortunately a good chunk of them that make it that far have learned to think, as the curator did.

    Dear fundies (of whatever religious alignment) who do stuff like this:

    1. One of these days your children are going to enter the nigh-inevitable rebellious adolescence phase. They may also have wised up and/or been laughed at enough by their peers into thinking outside your horrible, stagnant little box. On top of the usual real or imaginary things to be angry with you about, add the fact that they will know that you LIED to them and made them look stupid (on youtube yet!). I would feel sorry for you if I didn’t feel sorrier for your kids and their future instructors. A lot of your children are going to hate you for this. Really.

    2. There’s a lot of evidence in favour of an old earth and changes in life through time. If it is all put there by an omnipowerful practical joker and made to look old even if it isn’t, don’t you think you had better go along with the joke? Went to a lot of trouble, yanno and, if that book y’all like so much is anything to go by, then he/she/it does not react well to people who don’t play along. Best to go along with the joke and nod sagely when looking at the big carnassials and the transitional fossils in the nice museum. It was a nice museum, wasn’t it? Think you’d be that tolerant if someone like me stood up in church one day to contradict everything you said?

    3. Asking the rational population to treat you seriously when you pull stuff like this on your own kids is just a tad unreasonable. Not that reason is your thing. I get that. It worries some of us a lot that people with access to WMDs (real ones) are not focused in the real world and care more about life after death and the rapture than in making life good now and tomorrow.

    I will now call my immediate ancestors (still in pre-fossil stage and thus available without the aid of woo/magic) and thank them for being who they were instead of what I just saw. It reminded me that it is wonderful to be able to respect one’s parents.

  206. LL says

    On the bright side, while watching this episode of Nightline, I was paying close attention to the faces of the kids on this tour, and I’m positive I saw a couple of the older (12-13) year old kids with the classic “This guy is full of crap” smirk on their faces. Made me smile. The rest of it upset me terribly, though.

  207. says

    Mark Twain’s “Diaries of Adam and Eve” cover a great deal of the territory of this debate. There’s a particularly charming section in which Eve writes about how nice the tiger’s breath is from the strawberries it ate…

    There’s a great description of how, when Eve eats of the tree of knowledge, Adam witnesses the horrible carnage that ensues when all the animals realize that they should eat eachother.

    I highly recommend it – it’s actually a beautiful love story and suitable for children. Oh, and give them “The Mysterious Stranger” too..

  208. waldteufel says

    When many of these kids grow up, they will become educated, and they will find out that their parents and pastors were lying to them about the methods and findings of science.
    Their pasty-faced and empty brained parents will scratch their heads and wonder what happened to their compliant, docile little pumpkins . . . . . . .

    Some of these kids won’t make it. They’ll continue the line, and pass ignorance and superstition to the next generation.

    But some . . . .some will break out and they’ll be O.K.

    The kids that do grow up, become educated, and realize the bullshit that was foisted on them will become resentful, and their poor dumb parents will never figure it out.

  209. Julie Stahlhut says

    They can’t even get their OWN theology right — “We believe Jesus is our creator”.

    I sometimes wonder if any of these people have EVER read any of the Bible except for Genesis. I’m not even religious myself, and I want to bang my head against the wall in response to their ironic but awesome THEOLOGICAL ignorance.

    At any rate, I lasted about a minute and a half into the video. My husband and I were eating some snacks at the time, and I didn’t want to throw up on the couch.

  210. James F says

    #217 Beth:

    If only you were representative of all parents who homeschool their children, this country would be a much better place. Thank you for stating your position so eloquently – may others follow your example!

  211. Zarquon says

    They can’t even get their OWN theology right — “We believe Jesus is our creator”.

    I sometimes wonder if any of these people have EVER read any of the Bible except for Genesis. I’m not even religious myself, and I want to bang my head against the wall in response to their ironic but awesome THEOLOGICAL ignorance.

    This isn’t theological ignorance on the creationists side, the believe that the Nicene creed bit about “through Him all things were made” means that Jesus is their creator. There’s more to the belief than that, and it’s as daft as any other bit of theology, but it’s not ignorance.

  212. Arthur Thomas says

    Why does no one seem to question bluntly, why lying is necessary and justified to present and defend one’s viewpoint? I have read many excellent rebuttals to creatinist presentations, but there seems to be a reluctance to point out to the creationists that if the viewpoint had any validity to it at all, they would not need to lie about what they believe.

    There is no rational counter when someone says “I believe ….” I have finally realized that it is not possible to change the mindset of someone by presenting rational arguments to him if he has not reached that position rationally.

    A.R. Thomas

  213. MelM says

    “We believe!”, “We believe!”, they say. The stronger word “claim” could be used but it isn’t.

    Well, religion is just a belief.

    The idea that science is cognitively no better than religious bullshit is highly destructive–destroying 2500 years of struggle to get religion out of science. I find something else sinister here; the concept “reason” is rejected without even being mentioned. They know what thier enemy is.

  214. John Mark says

    Dan #197 wrote:

    As is equally the case with my understanding of our purpose, there are a whole bunch of ethical implications. Is ‘our’ a collective or individual reference?

    (By Zeus, it works!) For right now, as I figure it out for myself, it’s individual. My dear mother is under the impression that atheists/agnostics (those who are trying to get rid of God) have no basis for hope and for being alive, and I’m quite happy to find a way to prove her wrong.

    Someone above (#227/230) mentioned how kids will detest their parents for the lies they tell, and I’m definitely going through that phase right now. I’m one of the childrenz from a conservative Christian homeschooling family (K thru 12, baby) who has now gone agnostic (so far). Not to say that my parents are “pasty-faced and empty brained”, they are damn smart and did very well in homeschooling myself and my two siblings. I’m just unhappy with how Christianity/creationism impacted my schooling and my thoughts on pretty much everything. I am only recently finding my way out of it (and this blog and these comments have been a great help, btw).

    Dan #220:

    At its core, Christianity has no prescribed practices or rituals that are necessary or are prerequisites for being a Christian (to be saved), except to repent and believe.

    The book of James says it different: “What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him?…faith without deeds is dead.” Also, baptism is required as a sign of faith and Jesus commanded that whole communion thing.

  215. mothra says

    T. rex and coconuts- source of endless ‘angels on the head of a pin’ discussions. What is the tensile strength of a tooth versus structural failure pressure needed to break a coconut? Did anyone(organism) ever slip or fall or bleed. Are cells alive? As I mentioned about 6 months ago- coconuts contain plant embryos. So, by creo definitions either plants or embryos are not alive. Creos protest research on stem cells, and cellular stage embryo abortion, so , they have decided that embryos are alive- and plants are not. Where do coconut trees come from, i.e. were all the coconut trees that would ever be, created at once- never to have descendents? Or, are trees just another ‘resurrection story’? Embryo dies to develop into a dead tree. . . returning now from crazyland.

    We are not ‘evolved from apes’ we ARE apes, we share a common ancestor with the genus Pan- the chimps. Dan may not know that there were many homonid species, those in the genus Homo include: H. sapiens, H. neandrathalis, H. ergaster, H. habilis, H. heidlbergensis, H. antecessor and probably others I’ve forgotten. All that is required is ONE other to disprove creation myths. Last time I checked there were at least 20 described hominid species [cue creo chorus for nebraska and pildown man]. Apply same reasoning to ‘sun stood still over the battlefield of Gideon’ or ‘mustard seeds are the smallest seeds.’ About ‘souped-up’ monkies- I like Thomas Huxley’s answer to Bishop Wilberforce- look it up Dan.

  216. Nick K says

    When many of these kids grow up, they will become educated, and they will find out that their parents and pastors were lying to them about the methods and findings of science.

    Many commenters have pointed out that they too grew up being taught creationism, and rejected it only once the evidence to the contrary became overwhelming.

    I’m not as sanguine. These kids are not simply being taught creationism. They are being taught how to look evidence squarely in the eye and reject it. That’s different than simple naïve creationist teachings. It’s far closer to “We’ve always been at war with EastAsia” type of mental programming. It’s far easier to de-program simple creationist teachings than it is to de-progam a trained ability to avoid cognitive dissonance. I think the people running these tours have figured this out.

  217. Leigh says

    Some of you have asked questions of Dan. Here are my answers.

    @CJO (#134): “This must be a true Christian! Tell us, Dan, how do you know other true Christians when you see them?”

    They’re not fucking bugnuts, for starters.

    @Brownian (#143): But what I’d like to see from the moderates is less “But, but, I’m not like that”, and more “Hell, yeah! These tools are ruining both science and my God’s reputation–let’s get them the hell off of our schoolboards and away from our legislatures!”

    Consider it said. I belong to several organizations whose purpose is exactly this. I also post regularly at a number of Christian sites and have frequently made exactly these points.

    @Sastra (#144): “If we did that, then the “truest” Christians would be the ones who are the MOST like secular humanists, and the “false” Christians would be the ones who are most like the people giving the tour.”

    Yeah. What she said.

    @TrueBob (#159): “Not being a theist, I would hope more moderate xians would try to reign in the kooks. I do not see this, though. :(”

    We’re trying. Because we’re too nicey-nice, we don’t get much airtime. We need to be quoted, OFTEN, saying that these idiots are 1) liars, 2) fucking bugnuts, and 3) heretics. I will admit that, now that my high from “Expelled from EXPELLED” is over, I am damned angry. My posts on other sites are starting to reflect this. Whereas before I always tried to be the voice of sweet reason, now I’m becoming the voice of fed-up, pissed-off reason.

    @Raven (#170): “They are out there, they don’t like what is happening, and they vote.”

    Thanks, Raven. The organizations I belong to are trying hard to encourage moderate Christians to be more outspoken. I’m going for militant, myself. Kind of a gonzo moderate.

    @Sue Laris (#184): “Can one of the decent people responding to him [Dan] tell mehy isn’t he simply, and shortly, refuted and then ignored for being a trolling fuckwit?”

    Several others have pointed out to you exactly why. I’ll just content myself with telling you that, given that Dan’s obviously been trying to actually communicate with you, you are just a asocial fuckwit.

    Dan, let me invite you to join us on Beliefnet in the Origins of Life thread. There are numerous well-educated folks there, many of them atheist but also many Christians, who delight in explaining evolution to novices.

  218. says

    I don’t know if anyone will see this comment, but I want to say that the “generations” calculation at the beginning really bugged me. Judging by the Biblical account (no, I don’t believe in it), those people who lived for 800 years were reproducing (creating new generations) throughout their lives, not right at the end. The way to answer transparently fallacious reasoning is not with MORE transparently fallacious reasoning.

  219. arachnophilia says

    yeah, that bugged me a bit too. especially since the bible actually gives ages for when the patriarchs sired the next generation. pretty accurate counts can be made of just what the creationists are claiming with rather simple arithmetic.

    and if they were caught totally off gaurd by even that transparently fallacious reasoning (although 1000 years between adam and noah is actually pretty close, the exact number is 952 years), imagine what they’d do if you asked them about all the dating contradictions in the bible. what always amuses me is that ignorance of the bible is a requirement for creationism — anyone who actually studied the text would come to the conclusion that it’s not be trusted on matters like that.

  220. VB says

    The museum should ban them for making a profit on there site for lying to and abusing children.

    I mean come on this is sick. The tour is claim everything in this entire museum is a conspiracy! Science is a Conspiracy tour of the science museum!!! oooo where can I sign up for that tour! oh yeah and sign my kids up too.

  221. VB says

    The museum should ban them for making a profit on there site for lying to and abusing children.

    I mean come on this is sick. The tour is claim everything in this entire museum is a conspiracy! Science is a Conspiracy tour of the science museum!!! oooo where can I sign up for that tour! oh yeah and sign my kids up too.

  222. Michael X says

    Leigh,
    If you haven’t, you need to befriend Scott Hatfield, Post haste. You may yet make it 3 believers I’ve ever personally encountered that are worth their salt by not only being intelligent, but connected to reality.

  223. says

    Scientific discoveries don’t rhyme with biblical facts (for example the age of the earth is 6000 years old vs 4,5 billion years according to science)

    So science, reason and logic have PROVEN that the bible contains errors,

    which subsequently proves that the bible isn’t the word of god,

    but shows that the bible is written by (quite ingnorant) people 2000 years ago. As anyone already knows whose head isn’t brainwashed by religious dogma.

    Kris Verburgh

  224. says

    Amanda Gefter, Opinion Editor for New Scientist has written a detailed account of the Q&A after a screening of Expelled she attended. Classic example of creationist misdirection. Not only is Mathis planting his own staff to ask questions but he also resorts to name calling and threatening to expel members of the audience who don’t ask ‘nice’ questions. Fascinating reading!

  225. Hipparchia says

    The J-word?

    I am not a native speaker of English. I’ve always believed word so unmentionable to be referred to by its initial means that same word is somehow shameful or naughty…

  226. True Bob says

    Hipparchia,

    And so it is! Really though, shouldn’t they consider it a name? BLASPHEMERS!!!1!

  227. CalGeorge says

    Proving once again that, yes, and despite all evidence to the contrary, it is possible to see the hand of God in everything.

    Where are they headed next, the Grand Canyon?

    The science museum should permanently ban those jokers from the premises.

  228. vlad says

    “By the way, Christians are hardly an oppressed minority in the US. Please remember this next time you try to pull a persecution complex with me.” Huh, when did I suggest that they are an oppressed minority.

    “Given that we’re commanded to go and share the gospel in love, if we’re legalisticly telling people that to be a Christian, you have to do this or that (or not do that or that), then that is not Christianity, but is religion.” Um, you lost me here completely. Christianity is a religion.

    As far as the moderate response to the extreme nut bags. I’m not sure what you are looking for. I’m all for flogging these idiots for several reasons. The second I get permission I’d love to jam a tube charge up Felps’ ass. Until I get the ability to do so without doing 15-25 I’ll stick with asking these idiots question and watching them have melt downs. The perfect litmus test for moderate vs nut bag is their response to questions.

  229. vlad says

    “While we’re commanded and expected not to murder, steal, hate, etc (sin), adherence to these laws does not gain us any sort of merit.” Um, you sure about that. So where does it say that you don’t actually have to adhere to the laws of Christianity to be saved?

  230. Hematite says

    I think most of you missed the sentiment of Dan’s post (way back at #104), which I paraphrase as “These guys are nuts! Proper Christians don’t act this way! Don’t use these crazies as a straw man to attack decent Christians!” – a sentiment that I remember feeling in my early days on teh intarwebs.

    When I first started reading about the creationists and their (frighteningly successful) assault on the teaching of evolution in American schools I was amazed, I couldn’t imagine anything like that happening in New Zealand. I assumed that it was some backwoods fundies loading a school board to get their way – an isolated incident. My mind still boggles that things like the posted video can actually happen in the modern world.

    I’m not Christian, but I have been aware of Christian thought and philosophy for a long time for various reasons. My experience of the local Christianity is that they are wonderfully accepting of the fact that Bible vs. Science = Science Wins. Rationality is the order of the day, but Christian tradition still informs morality and culture. Our local religious hero is Lloyd Geering (read it, it’s good value) who largely reduces Christianity to Christ’s teaching: Don’t be an asshole. As an atheist, I consider this to be Christianity Done Right. Now, Geering is from the liberal fringe, but I suspect that kind of thing is what Dan means in his post about ‘what Christianity is really about’.

    Dan – sorry if I’m putting words in your mouth, I feel that as a fellow countryman and seasoned evolutioniser I can foster some understanding here. I hope I’m not misrepresenting you.

  231. Jood42 says

    Fossils are “boring” because they’re made of “dead things”.

    AWESOME. These people should rewrite all our textbooks.

  232. Jood42 says

    Fossils are “boring” because they’re made of “dead things”.

    AWESOME. These people should rewrite all our textbooks.

  233. JimC says

    Um, you sure about that. So where does it say that you don’t actually have to adhere to the laws of Christianity to be saved?

    It’s the primary aspect of the biblical stories although not without some contradiction.

  234. Carlie says

    Where are they headed next, the Grand Canyon?

    Silly CalGeorge, they cut their teeth on the Grand Canyon! That’s where they started, and so far no one’s been able to get their “alternative” interpretation book removed from the Park Service-run gift shop, last I heard.

    malcontent, please don’t give up on those kids. Some of them might see reason yet.

  235. ktpinnacle says

    They’ve been offering their “services” since 1988, and they still can’t offer a decent reply to some of the basic questions asked by ABC News.

    Wonder if they were told that their tours were free whether they’d be so interested in spreading the word.

    “BC Tours! Spreading Ignorance Since 1988!”

  236. ronhohn says

    If god created everything in the universe then he must have been some kind of sadist. Otherwise why did he create cockroaches and gophers?

  237. Iain Walker says

    Dan (Comment #171):

    One way or another, no one – creationist, evolutionist or anyone – can empirically prove exactly why we’re here or how we got here. There’s a whole bunch of uncertainty.

    By their very nature, no empirical explanation can be “proven” with absolute, 100% certainty. However, that does not mean that all empirical explanations are equally uncertain. Some are confirmed by the available evidence to a high degree, some are disconfirmed by the evidence, while the evidence for or against others may be inconclusive. And some explanations may simply not be testable, even indirectly, in which case the question of evidential support doesn’t even arise (as Wolfgang Pauli put it, such explanations aren’t even wrong).

    In that case, could it not be considered crueler to be told you’re nothing more than a souped-up monkey than to be told that you are the special and unique creation of a God who loves you?

    Setting aside the rhetorically loaded manner in which you characterise these respective positions, the answer is no – for the simple reason that the former explanation (or the non-caricatured version of it) is at least consistent with the evidence, while the latter has no evidential support whatsoever (assuming that it’s a testable or even a coherent hypothesis in the first place). Cruelty would be pretending that the latter has just as much evidential support or explanatory value as the former, which is simply untrue.

    I’m assuming of course that we would both consider misleading people to be a form of cruelty. Maybe you feel that it’s more cruel not to tell people comforting stories, although frankly, in this context “cruelty” and “comfort” are pretty much in the eye of the beholder. Personally, I’d rather be a “souped-up monkey” than the special creation of some arbitrary, unaccountable authority that expects obedience to its dictates as its automatic right, no matter how “loving” it claims to be. Sorry, but the authoritarian universe postulated by theism really doesn’t hold any appeal for me. So even if the two competing claims were equally uncertain, I would consider the theist claim to be the crueller and more degrading (or to put it another way, I unhesitatingly affirm my preference for the ape).

  238. Kampah says

    Dan,

    Your particular definition of Christianity still states you derive your faith from the Bible, mainly the New Testament. And yet there are a whole lot of symbolisms and contradictions in the New Testament. Does your particular brand of Christianity take the virgin birth literally? His resurrection of himself or others? If not, what makes you choose not to take some aspects literally? Certainly not the bible itself. That just proves that you DON’T get your morality and belief from the Bible, you just pick and choose using your own morality. Which is good, because I wouldn’t want you hoping you’ll be healed of an amputated limb. There never was an amputated limb healed by Jesus, I wonder why? Peace :)

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  240. Satu says

    Religious indoctrination of children should be criminalized and actively discouraged by Unicef. Considering how widely the religious extremism is spreading even in the developed countries, it is not very likely to happen.

  241. Bud says

    Where are the remains of the humans that died in the flood? I mean, didn’t God flood the earth because he was pissed off at humans? Why do we find animal remains (like sea turtles – who died in a flood?) but not human remains as well?

    Just sayin’

  242. Aquaria says

    People like this give homeschoolers a bad name. For a variety, some of us have little choice but to homeschool, and museums are wonderful resources for us. I can’t name the number of times I took my son to our local natural history museum, the Witte (San Antonio), and let him explore and ask and learn. The staff was extremely helpful, especially since we had the luxury of going during the day, when few other people were there. So much information, so much to thrill and amaze, and these creobots besmirch it all with their ignorant, revisionist garbage!

  243. says

    NOt only were they full of it they were treating these children like a flock of sheep… Oh. Scratch that. They were condescending even to the adults. The math was my favorite part. Age times generation= more years than their little theory can hold. Ha!

    Okay kids, this may be a good time for the “J” word. all together now-
    Jawbreaker!
    No.
    Jam!
    No.
    Jolly!
    No!
    Jiggy!
    NO.
    Jagged!
    NO!
    Jump!
    NO! NO! NO! WHY ARE YOU KIDS SO IGNORANT ABOUT CREATION?! Jesus!

  244. Aquaria says

    Don’t worry. The fundie stuff doesn’t take hold very much or well, or at least not always. My cousin married a fundie minister and turned fundie herself. She was one of the fundie homeschoolers. Her oldest son decided to pull the “learn biology to disprove evolution” tactic. After a semester of college biology, he was starting to waffle. A year later, after taking more advanced biology courses, he accepted evolution. By the time he graduated, he was an atheist, much to his parents’ horror. They disowned him. My mother talks to him periodically, and it’s just heartbreaking that he feels like religion matters more to his parents than he does. Sometimes, he jokes that maybe it would have been better if he’d said he was gay–they would have tried to “save” him, at least. Or tried harder, anyway.

  245. CJO says

    There has never been doctrinal unity among Christians. Dude wasn’t even cold in the ground (or not! who knows?) before his disciples were bickering over who said what and when. These nutjobs have as much claim to “Christ’s teaching” as anybody else, because nobody knows exactly wtf it was.

    If you buy into the reconstructed Q source and sayings out of Thomas as reflecting actual utterances of Jesus, you worship a radical peasant revolutionary to whom the ethical standards of a bunch of Gentiles would be completely irrelevant. (And, it should be said, to whom modern evolutionary theory would be deeply troubling.) All the modern pieties are so much projection and cherry-picking. Like all mumbo-jumbo, you make of it what you will. I can agree that “just be cool, dude” is a much more palatable ethos than “remain willfully ignorant lest you burn in hell,” or “God hates queers.” I simply reject the notion that it has the endorsement of any historical figure of note. Why not just be cool?

  246. Blondin says

    One way or another, no one – creationist, evolutionist or anyone – can empirically prove exactly why we’re here or how we got here. There’s a whole bunch of uncertainty.

    In that case, could it not be considered crueler to be told you’re nothing more than a souped-up monkey than to be told that you are the special and unique creation of a God who loves you?

    If by “why we’re here” you mean “what is our purpose” then I would ask, “who says we have a purpose?”

    Even if I grant that it might be nicer or better to be a special, unique creation of god than an ape/monkey descendant, what has what I like or want or prefer got to do with the truth?

    You want the Universe to have a purpose? You want life to have meaning? You can want all you like and like all you want; it still doesn’t make it true.

    The Universe seems neither benign nor hostile, merely indifferent (Carl Sagan). I’m going to go with how it seems rather than insist that its the way I want it to be.

  247. Dan says

    Sorry I’ve been a bit quiet – busy at work and all that.
    I guess the comments of this post aren’t necessarily the best place for a discussion such as this. (In fact the internet itself is not the best place for any sort of discussion).

    Hematite #255; The funny thing is, I wouldn’t consider myself a liberal or even a moderate. I’m of a reformed theological background, and would consider myself to be quite theologically conservative. I just hate to accept things blindly, and have always questioned everything – as the bible encourages us to do.

    Kampah #265; I believe in the virgin birth. I believe that Christ died and rose again on the third day. I believe that Christ raised others from the dead.
    I believe that God caused the sun to stand still at Gibeon so that Joshua could complete his battle in daylight.
    If we want to get out all the labels, then I’m also a Young Earth Creationist; I believe there was a global flood.

    The thing is, I came to these conclusions largely by myself. I never recall having them rammed down my throat by my parents or by church leaders. Sure, I’ve read the Bible a wee bit, but of my own volition.
    And since I came to these conclusions by myself, I really don’t feel the need to ram them down the throats of other people.
    And since I came to these conclusions by myself, I’m quite ready to stand corrected on any of them.

    There are a few reasons I don’t feel the need to convince others of these truths (I see them as truths; you may not) are:

    1. I figure that most of them are in the bible so anyone else can read them if they want to,
    2. if God is sovereign and omnipotent, then He doesn’t need me or my pitiful efforts to defend Him, but more importantly:
    3. these things just aren’t that important.

    What is important, however, is Christ and the gospel. Christ is the overarching thread of all scripture; New Testament and Old. And more important than just preaching the gospel is living the gospel; living as Christ lived. So instead of pissing people off by being a close-minded know-it-all, I try to love them. I try to share time, meals, possessions, my family, my life with them. That is what Christ did – that is what Christ would have me do.

    I realise now that it was a mistake for me to get involved in this discussion, as I’m way out of my depth and only ended up saying dumb stuff in my ignorance (souped-up monkeys? sheesh!)

    I’ve started looking through the resources I’ve been recommended in comments above.
    I got looking at speciation, and the predominant theory, BSC, seems to have some acknowledged flaws particularly in the area of delimiting species. The examples of speciation provided don’t contradict scripture as far as I can tell, as it seems they all produce variations that are within their own ‘kind’, as per Genesis 1:21.

    I guess I need to read a lot more yet. Thanks for your help

    I better dash! Seeya!

  248. Slaughter says

    From “The Sopranos,” Season 6:

    Christopher: What’s he saying? There were dinosaurs back with Adam and Eve?
    Tony: I guess …
    Christopher: No way. T-Rex in the Garden of Eden? Adam and Eve would be running all the time, scared shitless … but the Bible says it was paradise.

    Best explanation I’ve heard for saying that Genesis is bullshit.

  249. mothra says

    @275. Dan, there are MANY theories of speciation. Each one emphasizes a different aspect of the diversity of life we observe. The BSC is not perfect, neither is a cladistic theory, or strict anagenesis or molecular phylogenetics- guess why?? Because species were and are evolving and in different groups of semi-species, species, metaspecies, we see differing stages in the evolutionary process of speciation and different theories highlight these. Species are made up of populations and each population does not share completely the same history.

    Here is some fascinating reading for you- Look up the names Felix Sperling, and J. M. Scribner in conjunction with North American Swallowtail butterflies. Incidentally from these start points you can trace the molecular phylogeny of the whole family of Swallowtail butterflies. Just read the discussion portions of each article, return and we’ll discuss ‘kinds.’

    The old creationist retreat into ‘kinds’ is ‘kind of sad’ Dan. Here is another example: The Hawaiian honey creepers, one subfamily of 40+ species of birds evolved in the Hawaiian islands. What is a kind- would you call it a subfamily, a genus, a species?? In this case if you lump above the subfamily level you include maybe one fourth the worlds birds under one ‘kind.’ Any discrimination of kinds below that and there is evolution of Hawaiian birds. If you choose to call ‘bird’ a kind, then you have to deal with a whole group of Aviraptor/Maniraptor dinosaurs (not to mention Archaopteryx). The overall point here is: speciation is one aspect of evolution. Evolution is a fact. Any creation story which does not account for this fact is a myth (of course a creation story can be a myth for other reasons). As a Christian you cannot, with honesty, take the bible literally. Once you have that (obvious) conclusion, you have no choice but to also raise you voice against the dishonesty, thuggery, and child abuse practiced by a significantly large minority of Christians.

  250. maphead says

    Thank god for the USA and ABC. Best reporting we get on the old rabbit ears – good to see it on the web. Thanks for the post.
    See “Jesus Camp” on DVD to get another view into the ‘because god said so’ realm.

  251. Dan says

    Mothra #278;

    Well, saying something is a fact doesn’t make it so, which is why I was looking for some observable examples.
    Based on the FAQs at TalkOrigins, speciation was given as an observable example of evolution.
    While speciation has produced new species, the new bird is still a bird, the new butterfly is still a butterfly.
    I understand that by extrapolation over thousands or even millions of years, speciation might conceivably cross ‘kinds’, but that is not something we can observe.

    [An aside: As far as I understand it, new genetic information doesn’t already exist or we’d see it coming out in subsequent generations, so the changes come about by mutation. It seems from what I’ve read that beneficial mutations are just a very small percentage; most mutations are benign or harmful. I was also interested to read that cells have a DNA repair system that can correct gene mutations; it would be interesting to know if the DNA repair system can discriminate between beneficial and harmful mutations. My uneducated guess is that it can’t, since it has no idea whether a mutation is beneficial or harmful (can it do controlled tests over time) just that it is a mutation – different to the expected pattern. Man, it’s some amazing stuff!]

    Speciation is provable, but you can’t – by extrapolation and prediction – say that cross-kind evolution is a fact.
    Based on what I’ve read so far, the fossil record, comparative anatomy, genetic sequences, geographical distribution do indeed lend support to the theory of evolution, but then I’ve also seen the same evidence used in an equally-convincing fashion to lend support to the theory of creation.

  252. CJO says

    I’ve also seen the same evidence used in an equally-convincing fashion to lend support to the theory of creation.

    No, you haven’t. You’ve perhaps seen practiced apologists wave their hands frantically when presented with evidence for evolution and since they were telling you what you wanted to hear, you gave them a pass.

    But if we’re talking a “theory of creation” that comes with chapter and verse references, includes a story about an old man and a big boat, and claims that the whole shebang is about 6-10,000 years old, sorry to break it to you, but every single instance of empirical observation ever conducted goes against it. Various extremely weak forms of ID and what is called theistic evolution can claim the same evidentiary support as evolution. But all they do is add a layer of theological shoegazing onto the theory; they add nothing to its explanatory power whatever.

    Read up the thread a bit, and take your own advice. You have a lot to learn. It may be hard, but try to do your reading with as open an attitude as possible. What I mean is, come to explications of the evidence without your preconceptions; think only “if I didn’t already think I knew the answer, which way would this evidence lead me?” If you have the courage and the intellectual honesty to do so, you will see that it is not a matter of conflicting beliefs, but of a solid inference versus wishful thinking all too often bolstered by outright lies.

  253. Catherine says

    The pure ignorance of the “teachers” or “tour guides” was astonishing. Why would you tell a group of kids that fossils are boring because they are dead? Why would you say that the Bible, a book written by a bunch of narcissistic misogynists is a better resource for natural history then a scientist?

    This video made me want to punch the tour guides. They had such self-contented, shit eating grins on their faces. The comment about hitting their heads in with a fossil was a bit extreme, but not too far off the mark if you ask me.

    Sham on those parents for feeding that crap to those poor kids. That is totally child abuse.

  254. DanioPhD says

    Dan, I first want to echo the several other commenters who have commended you on your civility and openmindedness here. I think it’s fair to say that most of the Christians, particularly the Biblical literalists, who turn up on this blog have one of two things to say:
    Either, “I know I’m right and I’ll weep when you all are burning in hell” or the rather more odious “I know I’m right and I’ll laugh when you all are burning in hell”. There are a few notable and refreshing exceptions, but as far as I know you are the first self-admitted YEC who has not come in toting a flamethrower, so thanks for that.

    Now to the science bit, I see that CJO has already posted eloquently on much of what I was going to say–that it would be ideal if you could put aside your preconceptions and try really hard not to attempt to fit the new scientific information you are learning into the biblically-derived paradigm. Particularly when you talk about ‘convincing’ evidence, it would be great if you could be rigorous about making that judgement. A clear understanding of the scientific method is critical here. What constitutes ‘convincing evidence’ in the eyes of the scientists who generated the data about which you are now reading? How were the experiments designed? What were their alternative hypotheses, etc. How does use of the scientific method help convince scientists, and others, of the mechanisms of natural phenomena like evolution?

    Finally, is the burden of proof that you apply to new science information about the natural world equal to that which you apply to your interpretation of the biblical source of this information? I know it’s difficult, but impartiality will benefit you tremendously here.

    I apologize for sounding like such a schoolmarm. I’m a science educator/researcher by trade, and it’s hard to prise that pedagogue hat off my head, especially on this topic. Cheers!

  255. mothra says

    Dan, you are spouting the creationist talking points. No new genetic material- check the archives of this blog for starters. Also, I walked you through the ‘kind’ example to illustrate that a word must have a meaning to be useful, i.e. to do work. The application of the word ‘kind’ anywhere when dealing with biological organisms has ramifications- I illustrated these with the bird example. A bird is still a bird- no, birds are deeply embedded within the Dinosauria and there are numerous transition forms within the Carnisaurs to the birds and from birds to the Carnisaurs. Either you apply the term ‘kind’ as reflective of some level in taxonomy- at which point there are implications or you don’t- and your argument is without merit/meaning.

    I called evolution a fact because it is. Gravity is a fact because it is. The theory of Evolution and the theory of relativity explain these phenomena, respectively. That is what theories do- they explain observations about the real world and they have predictive power to explain possible future observations. Experimentation is about designing tests to see if the expected observations are in fact observed. Evolution passes these tests- we find transition forms all the time: in molecules, in gene sequences, in chromosome arrangements, and between species. On a technical note, any species that is not the endpoint in a lineage is a transitional form by definition.

    If you applied the same standard of evidence to the Christian (or any) religion that we as scientists require for acceptance of a theory, you would have no religion. However, I am not on a diatribe against religion per se but, a biblical literalist can ultimately only do harm to others whereas an honest Christian could do a great deal of good.

  256. Robert Madewell says

    The girl with the kercheif made me cry. She’s being raised into a misogynistic society, telling her that she must submit to men. She’ll probably grow up to marry a kid she meets at bible school then have 5-10 kids herself. She’ll probably never work outside the home, never go to a real college, and never know the true potential that a women can have. All because her church family sees women as subservient to men. Sad really. Of course I may be wrong, but I’m not. I’ve seen it happen so many times.

  257. alicesprings says

    i think the guy in teh blue pants is sporting a woody at 1 minute 48 seconds … seriously icky!

  258. alicesprings says

    dan, at #171, says: “could it not be considered crueler to be told you’re nothing more than a souped-up monkey than to be told that you are the special and unique creation of a God who loves you?”

    advocating belief in god on the basis that it is “crueler to be told you’re nothing more than a souped-up monkey” than to believe in the rumored “god who loves you” is really scraping the bottom of the barrel.

    if christians are so confident in their belief systems, why do they feel so compelled to go way out on that shaky limb and attempt to “prove” no other belief system could possibly be reliable? in the end, if god made it all, god made it all. if “he” didn’t, clearly we haven’t lost anything.

    and while we’re on the subject of deciding what is factually accurate on the basis of what we perceive to be “crueler,” i’m declaring that “early morning” is ten a.m. that five or six a.m. stuff is just way too cruel for me. hmm, could be a new game … what in your reality do you declare to not be so just because you deem it “cruel”?

  259. Dan says

    Sorry alicesprings – that statement was hastily and unthoughtfully constructed; if you read my more recent comments, I’ve already acknowledged it was a dumb-ass thing to say.

    And I totally agree with you – I don’t need to go out on a limb to ‘prove’ what I believe. See #275, the second item in the numbered list about half-way down the comment.

    I get up at 4:45am.

  260. alicesprings says

    dear dan:

    i hope you are not still feeling that “it was a mistake for [you] to get involved in this discussion.” it is my belief that you have proven through your posts that you are a very capable swimmer in these particular depths.

    just always remember that there is a big difference between what you fantasize having for eat when you’re laying on your back on the lawn in the sunshine and the reality of what’s in the pantry once you get back in the house. sure, i would love me some new york pizza but where i live the best i can do is domino’s. no matter how many times i’ve been told “it’s all pizza,” i’m sorry but i have to still insist that it’s just not.

    p.s. thank you very much, pz myers, for another interesting post and comment thread!

  261. Dan says

    Hey thanks, alicesprings!;
    Well, maybe it wasn’t a mistake, but it hasn’t really been constructive. I’m still weighing up whether it’s worth my time and effort getting stuck into the mountains of reading and discussion required to actually get anywhere in reaching any sort of a solid belief in evolution.
    If you’re ever in Auckland (soon to be Zürich), my wife makes an excellent pizza!

  262. Hematite says

    Dan,

    I wouldn’t consider myself a liberal… I just hate to accept things blindly, and have always questioned everything – as the bible encourages us to do.

    …since I came to these conclusions by myself, I’m quite ready to stand corrected on any of them.

    Depends what definition of ‘liberal’ you’re using :) That’s definitely the right attitude to take.

    I wish I could offer you some great advice about how to understand evolution. I guess the thing that threw me the most when I was getting into this is the realisation that certain creationists are willing to outright lie about evidence for evolution. Talking points like “no transitional forms” and “evolution does not add genetic material” are lies often repeated by creationists who certainly know better.

    From your posts above, I think you might be stuck on a notion of ‘kinds’, and transitions between kinds, and whether kinds are the same as species. One of the more interesting (to me) problems in biology (taxonomy?) is how to define what a species is, and the problems that arise with various definitions. This messiness sits well with evolution and poorly with deliberate design. I am not a biologist so please correct me if I say something dumb ;)

    It is tempting to define a species as a group of individuals that can mate and produce offspring. It seems like a natural definition… except that horses and donkeys can mate to produce mules, and horses and donkeys are different (but related) species both genetically and at a casual glance. Anyway, mules are sterile so perhaps we should say “a species is a group of individuals who can mate to produce reproductively viable offspring”. There are other problems though – really big dogs and really little dogs can’t produce viable offspring together because of size problems, even though the genetics work and either should be able to procreate with medium sized dogs. We don’t want to say that big dogs and little dogs are different species. It gets worse, there are related animal populations that could interbreed with each other in the wild, they just don’t want to because of differences in colouration and mate attraction behaviour. Are they the same species or different ones? The ultimate awkwardness is, in my opinion, ring species. Try this link for starters.

    I think ring species are fantastic. Of course they don’t disprove creationism (since it is not falsifiable) but they are either well explained by evolution or a sign that The Creator has a sense of humour, depending on your outlook.

  263. Kseniya says

    I think ring species show us, in an easy-to-understand graphical form, how evolution works on populations. The extension of the ring through space is an analogy for the extension of a population through time. I wonder if anyone has ever been able to determine whether or not contemporary H. sapiens could reproduce viable (and fertile) offspring with one of our direct ancestors of 200,000 years ago?

  264. says

    @Dan: “Well, maybe it wasn’t a mistake, but it hasn’t really been constructive. I’m still weighing up whether it’s worth my time and effort getting stuck into the mountains of reading and discussion required to actually get anywhere in reaching any sort of a solid belief in evolution.”

    Dan, let me invite you again to our Origins of Life discussion over at Beliefnet. We have some great science teachers who can (and will) give you a primer on this stuff. We “evilutionists” over there are always delighted to find someone who’s truly seeking information and who wants to engage in civil discourse at a more basic level (on the science). Many of us evilutionists are Christians, and I think you might find the atmosphere over there a little more more laid-back — whereas there are many heavy hitters here who are at a level far above you and me on the science.

    The link to our forum on Beliefnet is here. I post as Colossians3_12 there, and you can click on my name for my homepage.

  265. BC says

    In the future, when this form of ‘education’ is standard, the U.S. won’t *need* elections. People will be told who they need to lead them.

    Of course, the downside is that the U.S. becomes a human backwater that has sadly degenerated, bypassed by the rest of humanity.

  266. BC says

    What disturbs me the most, even more than the lost potential of each of those children, is that this only serves to reduce what America is and can be. People like this will make the term ‘America the Great’ nothing more than a historical term.

  267. True Bob says

    Dan,

    To go somewhat off-topic here, I wanted to make a point about the age of the universe.

    From all our observations, over hundreds of years, light is really really fast. Nothing physical can get past that speed. Through astronomy (I know, I know, evil Phil’s place), we observe that distances across the universe are heyuuuge. These observations show that the universe is nearly 14B years old. It boils down to rate X time = distance.

    In order for the universe to be actually only 6 – 10K years old but to appear billions of years old, any creator would have had to place all the objects in the universe spaced apart, and would have to pre-position their images – i.e the light coming from these galaxies and objects would have had to be placed between them and us. Then they all (objects and images/light) would have had to start moving, all at once. This would have to include pre-placing effects like gravitational lensing, red shift, dark matter, etc.

    Now, why would a benevolent creator make a universe that appears billions of years old, but is actually under 10K years old? Isn’t that a deception? Why would our loving god want us misled like that?

    Or perhaps some people would like others to believe in a young universe. I don’t know, because I accept a 13+B year old universe but not any gods.

    Anyway, it’s something in a different discipline to ponder.

    Regards, Bob

  268. Iain Walker says

    Dan (Comment #275):

    it seems they all produce variations that are within their own ‘kind’, as per Genesis 1:21

    A couple of observations about “kinds”:

    Firstly, creationists seem to use the term “kind” to mean pretty much anything they want. But in order for the term “kind” to have any meaningful application, you need to be able to specify some criteria for assigning organisms to one kind rather than to another. So if you have two organisms, on what basis would you assign them to the same kind, or to different kinds?

    Secondly, Genesis doesn’t actually rule out evolution from one kind to another. It simply speaks of organisms reproducing after their kind (e.g., “Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind” – Genesis 1:11, KJV). All that means is that when an organism reproduces, its offspring will belong to the same kind as the parent. But the same is true from the perspective of evolutionary biology. Take two consecutive generations within any evolutionary lineage, and both the parent and daughter generations will comprise members of the same species. However, the species of which they are both members may change over longer generational sequences, without ever changing the basic fact that consecutive generations will belong to the same species.

    To put it another way, for any value of n, Generation(n) and Generation(n+1) will be the same taxon (i.e., taxonomic group – species, “kind” or whatever). However, it does not follow from this that for each and every value of m, Generation(n) and Generation(n+m) will be members of the same taxon.

    So the references in Genesis to organisms reproducing “after their kind” are actually quite consistent with evolution.

  269. Kseniya says

    Leigh, I might pop over there myself. Iain, good point about “after their kind” being consistent with scripture and with evolution. That, and Bob’s comments about the age and size of the universe and the enormous values of time and distance they imply, tie in with some things I was thinking about last night and which I wrote about at some length. I hesitated to post this lengthy, non-technical view. but what the heck. PZ can warn me about spamming, and I’ll be more careful the next time. :-D

    Species concepts do vary. The most extreme version that I’ve been exposed to supposes that there is no such thing as a species, that every living thing is part of a continuum of living things that covers the entire globe and some 3 billion years. Or is it 4 billion… This concept doesn’t seem very useful to taxonomists, but it does offer a way to conceptualize common descent.

    Dan, I don’t know if you’re still with us, but this might interest you. Maybe it applies to you, I don’t know. You’re obviously bright and open-minded, but given that you’re a young-earther, it might.

    My opinion on why so many people have a problem accepting (actually, grasping) the ramifications of the theory is that it’s very difficult for the human mind to truly comprehend the scope of what the theory, in its essential elegant simplicity, attempts to encompass: Series of events which occured over huge spans of time covering hundreds of millions, even billions of years; reproductive events beyond counting; the power of natural selection and the profound effect that many tiny heritable changes, accumulated over hundreds of thousands, millions, tens of millions, even hundreds of millions of years, can have on populations of organisms.

    The process that creationists like to call “macroevolution” does, at a glance, seem highly unlikely! How can a fish turn into a bird? An absurd question, and yet… a fair question. The answer? It doesn’t. A fish doesn’t “turn into” anything. And we ought to try to decrease our focus on the word “fish” – it doesn’t mean quite as much as we think it does. It’s a classification we use to help us distinguish a myriad of ectothermic aquatic vertebrates from other, variably and continuously less-similar creatures. “Kind” isn’t cast in stone unless fossilization has occurred. :-)

    Again – a fish doesn’t “turn into” anything; it stays a fish. We begin to address the question by generalizing the reality: Any organism that manages to reproduce has made an approximate copy of itself.

    Creationists claim there are no transitional forms? Bah! Every organism is transitional! It’s just a matter of degree. I am a transitional form between my parents and my as-yet-unconceived children. We will resemble each other, for sure, but none of us are identical. What does this imply?

    I now offer Stoopid Mathematical Thought Experiment #1:

    Imagine a species, Xeniasaura (the most hospitable of the hadrosaurs). Imagine that Xeniasaura emerged during the Cretaceous around 74 million years ago, and presumably lived until the famous mass extinct event that occurred some 9 million years later.

    Imagine that 1000 years represented 200 generations of Xeniasaura. Let us say, arbitrarily, that we can expect up to a 1% change in Xeniasaur physiology every 200 generations covering roughly 1000 years. (Remember, my educated friends, this is a stupid arithmetic thought experiment aimed at simple-minded folk such as… well, such as myself!)

    Imagine that a good-sized group of Xeniasaura wandered off from its original population to form an isolated population of Xeniasaura. Let’s call it Population A.

    Therefore, Population A might exhibit a noticeable change in physiology – up to a “10% difference”, whatever that means – over the span of one million years and 200,000 generations. Another population (the original population, or another isolated population) might show substantially less change. As with any such change, its scope depends on the number and nature of heritable variations that occur, and the effect of natural selection on the proliferation of those variations in the population with each successive generation.

    After another million years, Population A could have changed another 10%, making it as much as 20% different from the original population from which it has been isolated for two million years. Two million years! That’s 400,000 generations!

    And, remember, the changes are small – up to only 1% change every 200 generations. On average, then, each generation is at most only .005% different from its parents. That’s what I call “microevolution” – but my oh my, those tiny changes can add up.

    Can.

    Not must.

    Not will.

    Can.

    Remember: evolution is about branching, not about parallel lineages of unrelated species serially giving way to their successors and descendants. This is why it’s important to understand not that Population A necessarily “turns into” some other “kind”, but that a population is likely to diverge, to some unknown extent, from other populations from which it is isolated.

    After five million years (and one million generations!) Population A could be as much as 50% different from the original population. Are they even the same species anymore? If we were lucky enough to find the fossil remains of any members of Population A, would we recognize them as the remains of Xeniasaura? Probably not. But it depends on what the changes are. Maybe their limbs are longer. Or shorter. Or neither. Maybe their teeth (and diets) have changed. Or not. Maybe their scales have become feathers or fur. Or not. Maybe they’re larger. Or smaller. Or smarter; or not. There’s no necessary trend toward anything in particular other than towards being as viable as possible according to the (possibly changing) demands of the environment.

    After nine million years, unknowingly on the brink of violent extinction, Population A could now be as much as 90% different from the original population. Could they possibly be the same species, or even the same “kind” as their forebearers in the original population? If they’ve changed that much, then almost certainly not – and yet, when exactly did this population cease being Xeniasaura and commence being… whatever it is we humans one day decide to call them? It’s impossible to say.

    Anyways, I hope this illustrates something about the power of accumulated change, and how the scope of evolutionary history exceeds our ability to fully comprehend the spans of time over which these processes occur. We tend to think of a decade as a long time. A century is more than a lifetime. Even a single millenium is difficult to grasp in terms of our own immediate experience. And, as you can see, a millenium is just a blip on the larger timeline.

    Ask yourself this: Why are Mesozoic life forms so noticeably different from contemporary forms? Why don’t we occassionally see populations of radically different megafauna (say, something like a stegosaurus, or even a megatherium or smilodon) suddenly appearing in Alabama, Columbia, or Vietnam? If God is out there making stuff, why don’t we see this, or anything even remotely like it? EVER?

    One more thing. It’s not up to the observations to prove the theory. It’s up to the theory to explain the observations. Does the theory explain the observations? Yes. The lack of a perfect fossil record, though inconvenient, means nothing. The significance of the fossil record is that we haven’t found anything that the theory can’t explain – no Cambrian rabbits, no Carboniferous chimpanzees. When the theory fails to explain a new set of facts, the theory will be broken. In one hundred fifty years and counting – which covers millions of person-hours of scientific inquiry in biology, physics, chemistry, geology, paleontology, anthropology, molecular biology, and so on – that has not yet occurred.

    I trust my more learned friends will gently smack-down my commentary if I’ve said anything mind-numbingly stupid. :-)

  270. Kseniya says

    Oops, I did make mind-numbingly stupid errors in arithmetic. That’s what I get for composing at 3 a.m. and not checking the basics in the morning! Sigh.

    Well, adjust the numbers as needed (make that up to .01% change per 200 generations) – the concept is the same.

    One might ask, “Hey – where did our hypothetical Xeniasaur come from in the first place?” That’s another fair question. Well, what we call Xeniasaur is our classification of a the remains of an organism that lived some 74 million years ago. The remains exhibit enough differences from other known organisms that we give the creature its own name.

    But what is the fossil, really? It’s the record of a single instance of an organism that once existed along the continuum of the evolutionary branch to which the organism belongs.

    The fossil record isn’t a catalog of “kinds”, it’s a series of snapshots of the larger continuum of life. Unfortunately, over-reliance on the fossil record tends to create the illusion of completely discrete species and hard, immutable lines between them, of unchanging “kinds” that come and go between well-defined points of creation and extinction. That’s a far cry from what the theory of evolution predicts.

  271. Dan says

    True Bob,

    Despite the fact that an omnipotent Creator God could do anything, I have read a theory of the creation of stars and other stuff in the universe that can fit young-earth timescales. I think it was in a book called Starlight and time by physicist Russell Humphreys. I just found a brief description. As you’d expect, many secular scientist contradict the theory, but it’s interesting nonetheless.

    Kseniya,
    I can’t necessarily disagree with macroevolution, nor with any of the associated concepts.
    But as you say, it’s up to the theory to explain the observations.
    While the theory of evolution provides a plausible explanation of what we observe, so does creation. Both have holes, and that’s really only because we don’t have a full record of exactly what happened, and we can’t reproduce history.
    So, no matter how much science or faith you throw at either explanation, no one can be proven correct and the other wrong.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’ve yet to find something that scripture can’t explain. But because this all comes down to just me, my understanding and what I choose to believe, I don’t feel I have any right or obligation to convince anyone else of what I believe in this area.

    Rampaging through museums and ramming stuff down peoples throats is, I believe, contrary to what Christ would have us do.

  272. says

    Has someone marched through YouTube and removed these videos? This one and three others which were an interview with Margaret Atwood have all been removed since their posting.

    T

  273. Kampah says

    Dan: I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’ve yet to find something that scripture can’t explain.

    Sigh…

  274. DanioPhD says

    While the theory of evolution provides a plausible explanation of what we observe, so does creation. Both have holes, and that’s really only because we don’t have a full record of exactly what happened, and we can’t reproduce history.

    And the voices of a thousand Forensic Scientists cried out at once…and then fell silent.

    Dan, the scientific evidence for evolution, for a 4.5 billion year old earth, for a 13 billion year old universe, etc. is overwhelming. Do we have complete knowledge of every single miniscule event that happened during every nanosecond of the past 14 billion years? Of course not, but that does not negate the big, factual reality that it did indeed happen. In contrast, there is but one single piece of ‘evidence’ for special creation: A highly edited compilation of stories from the Bronze age of human civilization. Do those two bodies of evidence truly seem equivalent to you?

    No one can force you to take on new information that may challenge your world-view. But at least be honest with yourself about your reasons for not giving scientific evidence even as much credence as the scripture that has informed your thinking to this point.

    No one here is asking you to justify your beliefs. Just to put them in context with reality, as illuminated through scientific inquiry.

  275. JimC says

    While the theory of evolution provides a plausible explanation of what we observe, so does creation

    No creation doesn’t, at least not in the nominal form. The evidence matters and there simply isn’t any for the creationist point of view.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’ve yet to find something that scripture can’t explain

    Lets take the question from the video. Why aren’t humans and dinosaurs found in the same strata?

  276. JImC says

    I believe that God caused the sun to stand still at Gibeon so that Joshua could complete his battle in daylight.
    If we want to get out all the labels, then I’m also a Young Earth Creationist; I believe there was a global flood.

    The thing is, I came to these conclusions largely by myself. I never recall having them rammed down my throat by my parents or by church leaders. Sure, I’ve read the Bible a wee bit, but of my own volition

    Dan,

    Your a nice guy but you read abit like a doofus. How did you conclude the earth stood still during the battle?

    What evidence allowed this conclusion?

    The same for a global flood?

    I mean seriously aren’t you just deluding yourself here and demeaning any concept of ‘truth’ you claim to hold? Aren’t you in fact making yourself into a dishonest individual?

    many secular scientist contradict the theory

    No not secular scientists, real scientists following the evidence and not coming in with a preconceived dogma.

  277. Leigh says

    @Kseniya (#299)

    Great post (a little slipup in math is easily corrected)! Please do join us at Origins of Life . . . this would be a very valuable contribution. One of the chief problems we have with seekers of good will is trying to help them grasp the enormity of the time frame we’re talking about. Not the YECs, of course — we have to address them with geology and astronomy, and bless their hearts, they don’t have enough firing brain cells to comprehend even the simplest explanation. We Christians also attempt Biblical exegesis with them, which goes over equally poorly since they’re convinced we’re not True Christians(TM).

    Still, we can but try, for the cause is just. Many, many folks lurk over there, and we’re very aware that in truth we’re primarily addressing them. I believe it’s best to go to people where they are — which makes Beliefnet a more fertile field for educating fencesitters than is Pharyngula. (No disrespect, PZ — this is one of my best resources!)

    Alternatively, may I have permission to cross-post (with full credit to you and a link back here, of course)?

  278. Rey Fox says

    “While the theory of evolution provides a plausible explanation of what we observe, so does creation.”

    Creation explains nothing. Poof, goddidit. Where’s the mechanism? Where’s the creator? Why are species this way instead of that way? Evolution explains how processes that we know to exist (heritability, differential survival of offspring, etc., to say nothing of the advances in genetics that we’ve made since Darwin’s time) can produce the diversity of life that we see today. Creation assumes the existence of some god being for which we have no evidence, bringing life forms into being by some process that we’ve never observed. The deficit in the plausibility of either idea is obvious.

  279. JIMC says

    We Christians also attempt Biblical exegesis with them, which goes over equally poorly since they’re convinced we’re not True Christians(TM

    Leigh,

    With all due respect they may be correct on the biblical exegesis. Trying to put the biblical perspective into the theory of evolution makes both a convoluted irrational mash and does neither any favors.

    This is not to say one can’t understand the reality of evolution and neatly seperate it from a Christian faith as obviously many do. One wonders if any of these conflators have really thought about what they are combining though and what it actually means.

  280. David Marjanović, OM says

    Looks like I was going by the outdated definition back from when I was a lad – thank you for edifying me!

    It’s not a matter of definition – before 1992, Allosaurus and Tyrannosaurus were indeed thought to be close relatives.

    Hank: #176 – Hmm… I can’t help thinking that I’ve swum out of my depth here.
    Dust or monkeys, what is our purpose?

    Why should we have one? What makes you think terms like “purpose” are even applicable?

    Aren’t we only going to be eliminated, or at least out-classed by the next evolution?

    Evolution does not, I repeat: not mean “progress”. There is no “higher” or “lower”.

    You say there’s evidence for creation. What is it? I can’t think of any…

    I’m not sure of any other religion where no practice is required.

    I’ve never seen this as a definition for “religion”. What about “belief in something supernatural”?

    Besides, as you know, not every Christian became a Protestant when Luther nailed “sola fides” to that cathedral door. That’s because the New Testament, while saying faith alone is necessary and sufficient for salvation, also says faith and good works are required, and says works alone are enough, and says words are enough. Different denominations pick & choose different verses.

    (In fact the internet itself is not the best place for any sort of discussion).

    In my experience this is completely wrong! :-)

    I believe that God caused the sun to stand still at Gibeon so that Joshua could complete his battle in daylight.

    What. You are a geocentrist?!?

    —————

    Whatever. Please define “kind”. I bet you can’t. You see, biologists have spent centuries trying to define “species” — there are now at least 25 species concepts out there, and, depending on the species concept, there are between 101 and 249 endemic bird species in Mexico! No wonder some think “species” is a wholly artificial term just like “genus” or “family” or “order”.

    What would stop evolution from, given enough time, producing new “kinds”? Wouldn’t that take a miracle?

  281. David Marjanović, OM says

    Looks like I was going by the outdated definition back from when I was a lad – thank you for edifying me!

    It’s not a matter of definition – before 1992, Allosaurus and Tyrannosaurus were indeed thought to be close relatives.

    Hank: #176 – Hmm… I can’t help thinking that I’ve swum out of my depth here.
    Dust or monkeys, what is our purpose?

    Why should we have one? What makes you think terms like “purpose” are even applicable?

    Aren’t we only going to be eliminated, or at least out-classed by the next evolution?

    Evolution does not, I repeat: not mean “progress”. There is no “higher” or “lower”.

    You say there’s evidence for creation. What is it? I can’t think of any…

    I’m not sure of any other religion where no practice is required.

    I’ve never seen this as a definition for “religion”. What about “belief in something supernatural”?

    Besides, as you know, not every Christian became a Protestant when Luther nailed “sola fides” to that cathedral door. That’s because the New Testament, while saying faith alone is necessary and sufficient for salvation, also says faith and good works are required, and says works alone are enough, and says words are enough. Different denominations pick & choose different verses.

    (In fact the internet itself is not the best place for any sort of discussion).

    In my experience this is completely wrong! :-)

    I believe that God caused the sun to stand still at Gibeon so that Joshua could complete his battle in daylight.

    What. You are a geocentrist?!?

    —————

    Whatever. Please define “kind”. I bet you can’t. You see, biologists have spent centuries trying to define “species” — there are now at least 25 species concepts out there, and, depending on the species concept, there are between 101 and 249 endemic bird species in Mexico! No wonder some think “species” is a wholly artificial term just like “genus” or “family” or “order”.

    What would stop evolution from, given enough time, producing new “kinds”? Wouldn’t that take a miracle?

  282. Kseniya says

    Dan: “I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’ve yet to find something that scripture can’t explain.”

    Understood. And you won’t, as long as your central hypothesis is “My omnipotent creator god can do anything in space and time.”

    Ask yourself this, though: Could a careful reading of scripture have predicted that evidence of the existence of a creature like Tiktaalik roseae would be found in the Devonian sedimentary rocks of the northeastern-most island of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago?

    Existing paleontological knowledge viewed through the lens of evolutionary theory did predict such a find, which is why scientists went looking for it in rocks that represented a fairly specific location in geological space-time. And guess what? They found it, way up north in what could only be described, if you’ll forgive the expression, as “a God-forsaken place.” :-)

    None of this speaks to the existence or non-existence of a deity, by the way. This is not a religious issue, it’s a scientific one. The point is, there’s no reason to force yourself to choose between understanding the ToE and believing in a Creator. The discarding of the ToE in favor of some unfalsifiable hypothesis supposing special creation, however… is a unnecessary self-imposed intellectual constriction.

  283. Leigh says

    @Jimc (#310): “With all due respect they may be correct on the biblical exegesis. Trying to put the biblical perspective into the theory of evolution makes both a convoluted irrational mash and does neither any favors.”

    I should have been more explicit . . . what we typically try to do is to steer them away from literalism, which I believe to be a particularly dangerous form of eisegesis (church-talk for “getting it wrong”). The understanding that I, in common with the big majority of Christians on Origin of Life, have of Genesis is entirely metaphorical.

    I agree that conflating the ToE and the Bible makes for a “convoluted irrational mash.”

    You can see us making this exact point in this thread yesterday.

  284. Kseniya says

    Leigh:

    Alternatively, may I have permission to cross-post (with full credit to you and a link back here, of course)?

    Oh geez! I’m sorry, I missed this query when I read through the comments earlier. I don’t really care about credit, but if my name’s on it (which it would be, here) the errors would be sort of embarrassing… LOL… It needs a bit of cleanup in any case. Sure, post a link back here if you like, or I’ll clean it up a little and post it over there on whatever forum you think is best. It’s no big deal either way. Let me know which you prefer.

    Also… I’m sure there must be pieces already written (and proof-read, and error-checked) that cover the same ground… I dunno, but someone here probably knows! :-)

  285. Dan says

    David,
    Re: the faith/works thing; I’d be grateful if you could point me to the passage of new testament scripture that says that works alone are enough.
    James says that faith without works/good deeds is dead. He doesn’t say that works/good deeds are required for salvation, but rather that works/good deeds are required to demonstrate faith.
    Works prove the faith, so you can say that if there are no works, then it is likely there is no faith.
    Paul and James both agree that salvation is by faith alone.
    Anyway – this is rather left-of-topic.

    I wouldn’t consider myself to be a geocentrist, or even a modern geocentrist, but I would say that the earth is positioned at, or relatively near to, the center of creation. Anyway, the incident at Gibeon doesn’t necessarily presuppose geocentricity, does it?

    What would stop evolution from, given enough time, producing new “kinds”?

    Chances are, anything new would fit into an existing kind, wouldn’t it? After all, we’ve got all sorts of various structures and mechanisms; legs, wings, eyes, digestive systems, poisons, electromagnetic sensitivity, ears, and we see all sorts of combinations of these things.

    What sort of creature would you conceive that evolution might hypothetically produce, given more millions of years?

    I mean, a microbe is not going to become a fish is not going to become a bird – evolutionists and creationists can both agree on that. So what will happen?

  286. Leigh says

    Kseniya, I would be thrilled if you’d cross-post to Origins of Life. Our resident “voices of reason” have done some great work, but we all could use another perspective and some fresh teaching. It’s a fertile field for missionary work of the rational kind.

    And btw, if anyone’s interested, my take on exegesis (and a reality check for those proposing creationist hypotheses) is here at post #52.

  287. Kseniya says

    Ok Leigh, I’ll pop over there when I get a chance. I’d like to check out the joint anyways.

    Regarding teaching, I’m hardly qualified. As you’ve said, there are some heavy hitters here. My knowledge of evolutionary biology could fit into one of their thimbles. I mean, if they had thimbles. Which they may not. Umm. Never mind that. Perspectives, though – I’ve got. :-)

  288. Kseniya says

    “So what will happen?”

    Your guess is as good as mine, Dan. When we talk about “predictive power” we’re not talking about precognition.

    The only thing that’s really certain is change. Whatever changes may occur, and whatever forms those changes may produce, well… only time will tell.

  289. DanioPhD says

    Anyway, the incident at Gibeon doesn’t necessarily presuppose geocentricity, does it?

    In a literal interpretation, that’s exactly what it presupposes: that the sun, on a normal, non-battle day, is in motion across the sky from the perspective of an observer standing on the (stationary) earth. Hence when god causes the sun to stand still–as opposed to halting the rotation of the earth–to prolong the day, you have a clear inference of geocentrism.

    I’m unfamiliar with the term ‘the center of creation’. The earth is certainly not in ‘the center’ of any identifiable astronomical/physical arrangement.

  290. David Marjanović, OM says

    Anyway, mules are sterile

    Mules are usually sterile…

    I wonder if anyone has ever been able to determine whether or not contemporary H. sapiens could reproduce viable (and fertile) offspring with one of our direct ancestors of 200,000 years ago?

    Nobody has tried, and I can’t think of a way this could be found out. Paleontologists are AFAIK always restricted to the less interesting species concepts: “if they look similar enough, they’re the same species” (or “if I can tell them apart, they’re separate genera; if I can’t, they’re separate species”).

    People like this will make the term ‘America the Great’ nothing more than a historical term.

    THE
    BIG
    ONE

    — Michael Moore

    I trust my more learned friends will gently smack-down my commentary if I’ve said anything mind-numbingly stupid. :-)

    You haven’t.

    I should probably mention that Megatherium and Smilodon have died out without descendants and would still be very easily recognizable if they hadn’t, but that doesn’t change anything about your beautifully explained argument.

    Unfortunately, over-reliance on the fossil record tends to create the illusion of completely discrete species and hard, immutable lines between them

    Not if you work on something that actually gets fossilized in reasonable numbers, like diatoms! Google for “speciation in the fossil record” and read Benton’s paper. Or wait for tomorrow when I can look for the link myself.

    Re: the faith/works thing; I’d be grateful if you could point me to the passage of new testament scripture that says that works alone are enough.

    I will, though about 10 or 11 hours from now at the earliest. There’s not just one, BTW, there are several.

    I would say that the earth is positioned at, or relatively near to, the center of creation.

    What, if anything, do you mean by “center of creation”? Do you even need to mean anything by it — considering the evidence against the universe having a center at all?

    Also, the Earth moves around the Sun, the Sun around the center of the galaxy, the galaxy toward the Andromeda galaxy, and the whole Virgo supercluster… ask a cosmologist, I’m outta here :o)

    Anyway, the incident at Gibeon doesn’t necessarily presuppose geocentricity, does it?

    When the sun stays still in the sky viewed from Earth so that the day takes longer, it certainly does.

    Unless you interpret it to mean that the Earth stood still, which would have the same effect, but that’s not what the text says: it says the sun stood still.

    As you can imagine, this verse was cited a lot against Galileo.

    I mean, a microbe is not going to become a fish is not going to become a bird – evolutionists and creationists can both agree on that.

    Given enough time, it certainly can happen. It’s just highly improbable that the exact same thing will happen again.

    What we agree upon is that such changes don’t happen from one generation to another, or even across a million generations. But a hundred million generations are another thing…

    I notice you didn’t even try to define “kind” :-)

  291. David Marjanović, OM says

    Anyway, mules are sterile

    Mules are usually sterile…

    I wonder if anyone has ever been able to determine whether or not contemporary H. sapiens could reproduce viable (and fertile) offspring with one of our direct ancestors of 200,000 years ago?

    Nobody has tried, and I can’t think of a way this could be found out. Paleontologists are AFAIK always restricted to the less interesting species concepts: “if they look similar enough, they’re the same species” (or “if I can tell them apart, they’re separate genera; if I can’t, they’re separate species”).

    People like this will make the term ‘America the Great’ nothing more than a historical term.

    THE
    BIG
    ONE

    — Michael Moore

    I trust my more learned friends will gently smack-down my commentary if I’ve said anything mind-numbingly stupid. :-)

    You haven’t.

    I should probably mention that Megatherium and Smilodon have died out without descendants and would still be very easily recognizable if they hadn’t, but that doesn’t change anything about your beautifully explained argument.

    Unfortunately, over-reliance on the fossil record tends to create the illusion of completely discrete species and hard, immutable lines between them

    Not if you work on something that actually gets fossilized in reasonable numbers, like diatoms! Google for “speciation in the fossil record” and read Benton’s paper. Or wait for tomorrow when I can look for the link myself.

    Re: the faith/works thing; I’d be grateful if you could point me to the passage of new testament scripture that says that works alone are enough.

    I will, though about 10 or 11 hours from now at the earliest. There’s not just one, BTW, there are several.

    I would say that the earth is positioned at, or relatively near to, the center of creation.

    What, if anything, do you mean by “center of creation”? Do you even need to mean anything by it — considering the evidence against the universe having a center at all?

    Also, the Earth moves around the Sun, the Sun around the center of the galaxy, the galaxy toward the Andromeda galaxy, and the whole Virgo supercluster… ask a cosmologist, I’m outta here :o)

    Anyway, the incident at Gibeon doesn’t necessarily presuppose geocentricity, does it?

    When the sun stays still in the sky viewed from Earth so that the day takes longer, it certainly does.

    Unless you interpret it to mean that the Earth stood still, which would have the same effect, but that’s not what the text says: it says the sun stood still.

    As you can imagine, this verse was cited a lot against Galileo.

    I mean, a microbe is not going to become a fish is not going to become a bird – evolutionists and creationists can both agree on that.

    Given enough time, it certainly can happen. It’s just highly improbable that the exact same thing will happen again.

    What we agree upon is that such changes don’t happen from one generation to another, or even across a million generations. But a hundred million generations are another thing…

    I notice you didn’t even try to define “kind” :-)

  292. David Marjanović, OM says

    I forgot to mention Occam’s/Ockham’s Razor. There must be a nice Wikipedia article on it that Dan needs to see. Science has two pillars: any hypothesis must be falsifiable (“if I were wrong, how would I know?”), which means it must be possible in principle for evidence to exist that contradicts and thus disproves the hypothesis; and if two or more falsifiable hypotheses are compatible with the same evidence, Ockham’s Razor chooses between them — the one that requires the fewest additional assumptions is preferred (till it is falsified). If you just assume enough miracles, YEC explains everything* just as well as ordinary scientific theories — but each miracle is one more than the latter require, so it loses.

    * Well. It’s half past 2 at night, so it’s not like I had made an exhaustive analysis of this. I have also ignored the two contradictory creation stories in Genesis.

  293. David Marjanović, OM says

    I forgot to mention Occam’s/Ockham’s Razor. There must be a nice Wikipedia article on it that Dan needs to see. Science has two pillars: any hypothesis must be falsifiable (“if I were wrong, how would I know?”), which means it must be possible in principle for evidence to exist that contradicts and thus disproves the hypothesis; and if two or more falsifiable hypotheses are compatible with the same evidence, Ockham’s Razor chooses between them — the one that requires the fewest additional assumptions is preferred (till it is falsified). If you just assume enough miracles, YEC explains everything* just as well as ordinary scientific theories — but each miracle is one more than the latter require, so it loses.

    * Well. It’s half past 2 at night, so it’s not like I had made an exhaustive analysis of this. I have also ignored the two contradictory creation stories in Genesis.

  294. amphiox says

    An incorrect but useful scientific theory is far preferable to an un-useful piece of philosophy (or theology, as un-useful ideas aren’t scientific theories by definition).

    By providing testable hypotheses to guide further research, a scientific theory leads to the accumulation of new knowledge, even if it is completely wrong in its specifics.

    Every good scientific theory provides a mechanism for its own destruction, by leading research towards and beyond the boundaries of its explanatory power.

  295. Iain Walker says

    Dan (Comment #301):

    While the theory of evolution provides a plausible explanation of what we observe, so does creation.

    Sorry, but this is the farthest thing from true.

    Very simply, to say that hypothesis H explains observation O, is to say that it can be demonstrated that we would expect to observe O (rather than some other state of affairs) if H is true. I.e., that it is demonstrable that O is an expected consequence of H (as opposed to our observing something other than O).

    So what observations does creationism actually explain? What are the expected observable consequences of the “hypothesis”? The answer is: not very many. It’s too vague. Creationism is consistent with too many different states of affairs for it to have any genuine explanatory power. For instance, it’s consistent with humans having hair, or humans having feathers, or humans having scales. Because of this, there’s nothing about creationism that explains why humans have hair as opposed to feathers or scales.

    Evolution, on the other hand, makes sense of this with the idea of common descent. Humans and other animals with fur/hair are descended from a common ancestor, and so share a lot of the same hereditary characteristics. Similarly, animals with feathers are also descended from a common ancestor, hence their shared characteristics. However, fur and feathers arose after the two groups diverged from their common ancestor. Consequently, you don’t see mammals (including humans) with feathers or birds with fur.

    Creationism simply doesn’t supply a context in which observations like this make sense. From a creationist perspective, there’s no reason why humans shouldn’t have feathers, other than an arbitrary decision by a mysterious creator, who could just as easily have decided otherwise.

    This is just a specific instance of a more general point, that evolution explains – and creationism fails to explain – the patterns of diversity of living things. If you tote up the similarities and differences between organisms, they fall naturally into a nested hierarchy – i.e., particularly similar organisms can be grouped within larger groups based on more general similarities, which in turn can be grouped into larger groups based on more general similarities still. This is exactly the pattern you would expect to see if these organisms were related by common descent. As populations split apart and diverge, they acquire new characteristics (or lose old ones) independently of one another, and these gains and loses are passed on exclusively to their descendents. Consequently, you get these nested clusters of characteristics (e.g., fur combined with lactation in mammals, or feathers combined with the distinctive avian respiratory system in birds).

    Just to be clear about this, evolution doesn’t necessarily say that any particular characteristic (e.g., fur) is specifically expected to correlate or with some other particular characteristic (e.g., lactation). It simply says that whatever characteristics we find in organisms, they will tend to cluster together in this nested manner. The observation being explained here is not so much the individual characteristics as the patterns in which those characteristics tend to be found. But from a creationist standpoint, there is no particular expected pattern to the similarities and differences between living things at all, because creationism simply doesn’t have anything to say about this.

    This is just one single example of an aspect of the natural world where evolution provides an explanation (because it has specific observable consequences) and creationism fails to explain anything (because it has no consequences relevant to the observations in question). The list of such examples, however, is very long indeed.

    Oh, and in those cases when creationism does make claims that have specific consequences (e.g., in flood geology), those consequences invariably turn out not to correspond with what we observe.

    So please, don’t try and claim that the theory of evolution and the claims of creationism have equal explanatory power. They don’t.

  296. Iain Walker says

    Re comment #323:

    “specifically expected to correlate or with some other particular characteristic”

    should of course read:

    “specifically expected to correlate with some other particular characteristic”

    D’oh.

  297. David Marjanović, OM says

    […] So please, don’t try and claim that the theory of evolution and the claims of creationism have equal explanatory power. They don’t.

    Great explanation.

    ———————-

    Now to the Biblical contradictions. Let’s ignore the Old Testament, which obviously never says faith in Jesus is required for anything. The New Testament says salvation is by faith alone 10 times, but apart from this it also proclaims…

    Righteousness as a necessary condition:

    Matthew 5:20
    Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.

    So perhaps salvation by faith, but not by faith alone.

    Words as necessary and sufficient condition:

    Matthew 12:37
    For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.

    Note that Matthew contradicts himself here: first righteousness exceeding that of the scribes and Pharisees is necessary, then words alone suffice.

    Acts 2:21
    Whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

    Endurance all the way to the end of the world as necessary and sufficient condition:

    Matthew 10:22
    And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.

    Matthew 24:13
    But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.

    Mark 13:13
    And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.

    Matthew contradicting himself again. And just wait for Mark…

    Not judging as a sufficient and forgiving as a necessary condition:

    Matthew 7:1-2
    Judge not, and ye shall not be judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.

    Luke 6:37-38
    Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven: Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.

    OK, maybe that’s not about salvation, but about life on Earth… so maybe I can spare Matthew yet another accusation of contradiction…

    Works as necessary and sufficient condition:

    Matthew 16:27
    For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works.

    Matthew 19:17
    If you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.

    Matthew 25:21-46
    Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

    Matthew contradicting himself some more, for real this time.

    Luke does not contradict himself, if we kindly ignore 6:37-38, though perhaps that’s because he touches the question only once:

    Luke 10:26-28
    He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou? And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself. And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.

    Love may or may not be a work, but it sure isn’t faith.

    Then let’s skip the Gospel of John (see below) and turn straight to Paul. The Letter to the Romans preaches salvation by faith alone no less than four times, and contains two additional verses (3:20, 4:2) that tell us that whatever is necessary or sufficient for salvation, it isn’t works — but it nevertheless contradicts itself by containing this passage:

    Romans 2:5-13
    But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; Who will render to every man according to his deeds: To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile: For there is no respect of persons with God. For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law; For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.

    The Second Letter to the Corinthians is entirely on the side of salvation by works alone:

    2 Corinthians 5:10
    For we must all appear before the jugment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.

    2 Corinthians 11:13-15
    For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.

    Same for the Letter to the Philippians:

    Philippians 2:12
    Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.

    And for the First Letter to Timothy, although only a single work alone is sufficient here:

    1 Timothy 2:14-15
    And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing.

    Peter agrees on salvation by works alone:

    1 Peter 1:17
    […] the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work […]

    And so does the Revelation to John:

    Revelation 2:23
    I will give unto every one of you according to your works.

    Revelation 20:12-13
    And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.

    Revelation 22:14
    Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life.

    Pretty unambiguous. (Well. Revelation 14:12 does mention explicitly that the saints have faith: “Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” But perhaps the faith wasn’t necessary and is just a nice addition — who knows… Doesn’t really sound like it was optional, though. But then, Revelation 14:3-5 mentions that the saints are virgins: “And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth. These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb. And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God.” Is that necessary after all?)

    Faith and works as necessary conditions each and as sufficient together, though it’s only implied, not made explicit, that faith is necessary:

    Matthew 7:21
    Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

    You have mentioned James 2:17 (“Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.”) as meaning that works are a symptom of faith, a rather inevitable consequence (the exact opposite, interestingly, of John 3:19-21, see above); but let’s read the context.

    James 2:14-19
    What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.

    Got that? James openly mocks the idea of salvation by faith alone: the devils believe and are not saved, so that alone can’t be it. And James isn’t even done yet:

    James 2:20-26
    But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way? For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

    This needs no comment.

    (Which shall not stop me from commenting anyway upon the fact that James contradicts Paul here:

    Romans 4:2-5
    For if Abraham were justified by works he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.

    BTW, Paul also ascribes more wordly blessings upon Abraham as being due to faith alone:

    Romans 4:13
    For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.

    I’d call for a celebrity deathmatch if Paul hadn’t already contradicted himself in that very same letter.)

    Faith and baptism as necessary conditions each and sufficient together:

    Mark 16:16
    He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.

    Mark contradicting himself (see above).

    Mercy and what seems to be baptism as necessary conditions each and sufficient together, though one might speculate on causal connections between the two:

    Titus 3:5
    Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.

    Words and faith as necessary conditions each and sufficient together:

    The Letter to the Romans already contradicts itself — here’s a third opinion in the same letter:

    Romans 10:9
    If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

    Mind you: it’s not enough if you believe, you also have to say it.

    Predestination as a necessary and sufficient criterion:

    Calvin, too, had a Biblical basis for his abhorrent doctrine:

    Matthew 22:14
    For many are called, but few are chosen.

    Romans 8:30
    Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.

    Yep, Matthew and Romans yet again.

    Poverty as a more-than-necessary condition:

    Matthew 19:23-24
    Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

    Matthew, unsurprisingly.

    The utter mess that is the Gospel of John:

    To be fair, I haven’t counted if John contradicts himself more often than Matthew or the Letter to the Romans, but be that as it may, John contradicts himself all the time:

    John 3:3-7
    Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.

    John 3:16-18
    For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

    John 3:19-21
    And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.

    John 3:36
    He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

    John 5:24
    But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.

    John 5:29
    And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.

    John 6:37
    All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.

    Salvation by being born again (which Southern Baptists seem to believe means “telling everyone who wants to hear it, and then some, that you are born again”, but that seems to be ignoring 3:4 and 3:5), faith alone, faith which is a symptom of works, faith alone, faith which is a symptom of works, works alone, and what seems to be a combination of predestination and faith (perhaps faith due to predestination, or the other way around, who knows), in this order. Neat. Note especially the switch from 3:18 to 3:19.

    Verily, verily, Dan, I say unto thee: There is no Biblical literalist, no, not one.

    (And I say unto me, I should have gone to bed three hours ago. Now that is eternal truth.)

  298. David Marjanović, OM says

    […] So please, don’t try and claim that the theory of evolution and the claims of creationism have equal explanatory power. They don’t.

    Great explanation.

    ———————-

    Now to the Biblical contradictions. Let’s ignore the Old Testament, which obviously never says faith in Jesus is required for anything. The New Testament says salvation is by faith alone 10 times, but apart from this it also proclaims…

    Righteousness as a necessary condition:

    Matthew 5:20
    Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.

    So perhaps salvation by faith, but not by faith alone.

    Words as necessary and sufficient condition:

    Matthew 12:37
    For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.

    Note that Matthew contradicts himself here: first righteousness exceeding that of the scribes and Pharisees is necessary, then words alone suffice.

    Acts 2:21
    Whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

    Endurance all the way to the end of the world as necessary and sufficient condition:

    Matthew 10:22
    And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.

    Matthew 24:13
    But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.

    Mark 13:13
    And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.

    Matthew contradicting himself again. And just wait for Mark…

    Not judging as a sufficient and forgiving as a necessary condition:

    Matthew 7:1-2
    Judge not, and ye shall not be judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.

    Luke 6:37-38
    Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven: Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.

    OK, maybe that’s not about salvation, but about life on Earth… so maybe I can spare Matthew yet another accusation of contradiction…

    Works as necessary and sufficient condition:

    Matthew 16:27
    For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works.

    Matthew 19:17
    If you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.

    Matthew 25:21-46
    Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

    Matthew contradicting himself some more, for real this time.

    Luke does not contradict himself, if we kindly ignore 6:37-38, though perhaps that’s because he touches the question only once:

    Luke 10:26-28
    He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou? And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself. And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.

    Love may or may not be a work, but it sure isn’t faith.

    Then let’s skip the Gospel of John (see below) and turn straight to Paul. The Letter to the Romans preaches salvation by faith alone no less than four times, and contains two additional verses (3:20, 4:2) that tell us that whatever is necessary or sufficient for salvation, it isn’t works — but it nevertheless contradicts itself by containing this passage:

    Romans 2:5-13
    But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; Who will render to every man according to his deeds: To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile: For there is no respect of persons with God. For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law; For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.

    The Second Letter to the Corinthians is entirely on the side of salvation by works alone:

    2 Corinthians 5:10
    For we must all appear before the jugment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.

    2 Corinthians 11:13-15
    For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.

    Same for the Letter to the Philippians:

    Philippians 2:12
    Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.

    And for the First Letter to Timothy, although only a single work alone is sufficient here:

    1 Timothy 2:14-15
    And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing.

    Peter agrees on salvation by works alone:

    1 Peter 1:17
    […] the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work […]

    And so does the Revelation to John:

    Revelation 2:23
    I will give unto every one of you according to your works.

    Revelation 20:12-13
    And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.

    Revelation 22:14
    Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life.

    Pretty unambiguous. (Well. Revelation 14:12 does mention explicitly that the saints have faith: “Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” But perhaps the faith wasn’t necessary and is just a nice addition — who knows… Doesn’t really sound like it was optional, though. But then, Revelation 14:3-5 mentions that the saints are virgins: “And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth. These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb. And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God.” Is that necessary after all?)

    Faith and works as necessary conditions each and as sufficient together, though it’s only implied, not made explicit, that faith is necessary:

    Matthew 7:21
    Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

    You have mentioned James 2:17 (“Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.”) as meaning that works are a symptom of faith, a rather inevitable consequence (the exact opposite, interestingly, of John 3:19-21, see above); but let’s read the context.

    James 2:14-19
    What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.

    Got that? James openly mocks the idea of salvation by faith alone: the devils believe and are not saved, so that alone can’t be it. And James isn’t even done yet:

    James 2:20-26
    But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way? For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

    This needs no comment.

    (Which shall not stop me from commenting anyway upon the fact that James contradicts Paul here:

    Romans 4:2-5
    For if Abraham were justified by works he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.

    BTW, Paul also ascribes more wordly blessings upon Abraham as being due to faith alone:

    Romans 4:13
    For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.

    I’d call for a celebrity deathmatch if Paul hadn’t already contradicted himself in that very same letter.)

    Faith and baptism as necessary conditions each and sufficient together:

    Mark 16:16
    He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.

    Mark contradicting himself (see above).

    Mercy and what seems to be baptism as necessary conditions each and sufficient together, though one might speculate on causal connections between the two:

    Titus 3:5
    Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.

    Words and faith as necessary conditions each and sufficient together:

    The Letter to the Romans already contradicts itself — here’s a third opinion in the same letter:

    Romans 10:9
    If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

    Mind you: it’s not enough if you believe, you also have to say it.

    Predestination as a necessary and sufficient criterion:

    Calvin, too, had a Biblical basis for his abhorrent doctrine:

    Matthew 22:14
    For many are called, but few are chosen.

    Romans 8:30
    Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.

    Yep, Matthew and Romans yet again.

    Poverty as a more-than-necessary condition:

    Matthew 19:23-24
    Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

    Matthew, unsurprisingly.

    The utter mess that is the Gospel of John:

    To be fair, I haven’t counted if John contradicts himself more often than Matthew or the Letter to the Romans, but be that as it may, John contradicts himself all the time:

    John 3:3-7
    Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.

    John 3:16-18
    For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

    John 3:19-21
    And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.

    John 3:36
    He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

    John 5:24
    But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.

    John 5:29
    And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.

    John 6:37
    All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.

    Salvation by being born again (which Southern Baptists seem to believe means “telling everyone who wants to hear it, and then some, that you are born again”, but that seems to be ignoring 3:4 and 3:5), faith alone, faith which is a symptom of works, faith alone, faith which is a symptom of works, works alone, and what seems to be a combination of predestination and faith (perhaps faith due to predestination, or the other way around, who knows), in this order. Neat. Note especially the switch from 3:18 to 3:19.

    Verily, verily, Dan, I say unto thee: There is no Biblical literalist, no, not one.

    (And I say unto me, I should have gone to bed three hours ago. Now that is eternal truth.)

  299. Kseniya says

    David: Wow.

    (Confession: I got all fluttery when I read “beautifully explained argument”…*g*)

  300. amphiox says

    I would just like to point out that the YEC conjecture of a 6000y or so age for the earth isn’t in the Bible. It was derived by some archbishop trying to calculate the age using various information in the Bible, so it’s just an interpretation. Not literal “word of god” at all.

    If I could be as generous as I possibly could to the creationist/ID viewpoint, I would say that an intelligent agency could be part of a legitimate scientific theory, but said theory would have to make certain proposals regarding the nature of the postulated intelligence, with regards to motives, capabilities, limitations, etc. Then we could make predictions based on these conjectures as to what kinds of things this intelligence might have chosen to design, and how it might have gone about designing them, and compare these predictions with observations from the real world. But this kind of intelligent design theory, although scientifically legitimate, would only displace evolutionary theory if it could explain everything evolution already explains equally well, and also explain new observations that evolution cannot explain.

    Now, if the ID crowd is willing to make this kind of proposal, then we could have a legitimate scientific discussion with them. I’m guessing it would be a short one.

    But I’m not holding my breath on this. I like my oxygen too much.

  301. DanioPhD says

    Marvelous Marjanovic strikes again! Woot! David you are (I presume) the MAN! That was amazing, and I am totally saving it for future reference. Thank you for this, and for all you add to my knowledge base.

    Amphiox:

    …but said theory would have to make certain proposals regarding the nature of the postulated intelligence, with regards to motives, capabilities, limitations, etc. Then we could make predictions based on these conjectures as to what kinds of things this intelligence might have chosen to design, and how it might have gone about designing them

    *Gasp* but…but, Egad! That would be presuming to know the mind of GOD!

    *stands back and awaits lightening strike*

  302. David Marjanović, OM says

    David: Wow.

    I simply started here and here and got carried away. :-)

    I also overlooked at least one interesting quote, it turns out:

    1 Corinthians 6:9-10
    Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.

    Lack of bad works as a necessary criterion of salvation.

    And I was tired enough to mention, as skepticsannotatedbible.com does, that the saints are not simply virgins but virgin males according to Revelation 14:3-5. Fits nicely with predestination, har har.

    And I closed a blockquote tag too early…

    ————

    And yes, I am male. I’m using my real name – how else could I constantly boast about my Syst. Biol. paper? :o)

    ————

    (Confession: I got all fluttery when I read “beautifully explained argument”…*g*)

    “The most hospitable of the hadrosaurs” is a phrase that I, as a nerd, find really touching :-}

  303. David Marjanović, OM says

    David: Wow.

    I simply started here and here and got carried away. :-)

    I also overlooked at least one interesting quote, it turns out:

    1 Corinthians 6:9-10
    Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.

    Lack of bad works as a necessary criterion of salvation.

    And I was tired enough to mention, as skepticsannotatedbible.com does, that the saints are not simply virgins but virgin males according to Revelation 14:3-5. Fits nicely with predestination, har har.

    And I closed a blockquote tag too early…

    ————

    And yes, I am male. I’m using my real name – how else could I constantly boast about my Syst. Biol. paper? :o)

    ————

    (Confession: I got all fluttery when I read “beautifully explained argument”…*g*)

    “The most hospitable of the hadrosaurs” is a phrase that I, as a nerd, find really touching :-}

  304. john says

    You know what is sad… That all of you on this site lack even the smallest understanding of just what the bible IS. And you know what’s even sadder than that? It’s that what you know of the bible you’ve learned from idiots who find their way onto bad ABC news shows precisely because they are idiots. In short, most of you on this site have learned your Christian theology from moronic pawns used to reinforce your own faith dogma about the stupidity of Christianity. A suggestion: Truly search the Orthodox Christian tradition of The Way of Christ and you will begin to realize that NEVER was the bible used to date anything. It is not history as the enlightenmnet thinkers, the founders of this nation, meant history to be. It is simply the text that tells us who God is. That’s it. But you wouldn’t know that because you are content to create a straw man. I would bloviate too if my faith told me nothing about why I am on this earth. About purpose. Neitzche understood this well. He thought through the faith of science, lived it in a way most of you don’t, and that is why faith in the mind, in reason alone, ends in suicide, in Nihilism and a hope in nothing but a will to power. See, most of you have polluted your pristine science with all kinds of pagan and quasi-Christian dogmas in order that you may live with some degree of hope. Neitzche didn’t; he was brave enough not too, but too arrogant to abandon his new faith before it destroyed him. And that is where the west is headed as well. This is clear. And this blog and others like it are clear evidence for it. Pride goeth before the fall, but it also keeps proud people from truly searching for truth. Search.

  305. says

    So, then, john, please explain why we, the inhabitants of Professor Myers’ personal blog are to blame for the fact that pious, perfidious morons claim to speak for the totality of Christians everywhere, and why we are to blame for the fact that the aforementioned morons also claim that the Path to/through Christ is to reject the evidence of reality (including the evidence of “descent with modification”) and embrace one’s own ignorance and stupidity, calling that “faith”?

  306. JimC says

    john,

    Let me be the first to say that you are pretty funny for a clueless individual who of course KNOWS the bible better than everyone else.

    Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.

    There is another part to this that says as some of you where but you have been santified by Jesus. Thats only the opening volley above.

  307. says

    JimC, is it just me, or is it an alarming trend that many Christians appear to embrace the idea that “thinking is the Devil’s hobbyhorse” with great enthusiasm?

  308. spurge says

    “It is simply the text that tells us who God is. That’s it.”

    No. It is a book written by men claiming to know something about a god.

  309. Rey Fox says

    “It’s that what you know of the bible you’ve learned from idiots who find their way onto bad ABC news shows precisely because they are idiots.”

    You mean those archaeologist idiots who keep finding more stories from biblical times? What idiots they are for just stopping their search with the texts that were approved by the Nicene Council! Gosh!

    “Truly search the Orthodox Christian tradition of The Way of Christ”

    Eastern Orthodox? HERETIC!

    “I would bloviate too ”

    Would?

    “if my faith told me nothing about why I am on this earth. ”

    First of all, faith is bunk. Second of all, actually looking at the world tells us a lot about the world, which I think should count for something. Third, why are you so hung up on purpose? Be excellent to each other and party on, dudes.

    “and that is why faith in the mind, in reason alone, ends in suicide, in Nihilism and a hope in nothing but a will to power.”

    What is why faith in the mind, in reason alone, ends in suicide, in Nihilism and a hope in nothing but a will to power?

    “Search.”

    We search. We just don’t chain ourselves to one old book when we do it.

  310. says

    “It is simply the text that tells us who God is. That’s it.”

    Wrong, stupid. You’re thinking of the Rigveda. That’s the book that tells us who the gods are.

  311. David Marjanović, OM says

    You know what is sad… That all of you on this site lack even the smallest understanding of just what the bible IS. And you know what’s even sadder than that? It’s that what you know of the bible you’ve learned from idiots who find their way onto bad ABC news shows precisely because they are idiots. In short, most of you on this site have learned your Christian theology from moronic pawns used to reinforce your own faith dogma about the stupidity of Christianity.

    Tsk, tsk. Most of us were Christians before our deconversions, and many of us have read the Bible cover-to-cover with their own eyes. (For some this was the reason for their deconversion.)

    A suggestion: Truly search the Orthodox Christian tradition of The Way of Christ and you will begin to realize that NEVER was the bible used to date anything.

    It shouldn’t have been. But it has been. And the morons in the video eat this up.

    That’s it. But you wouldn’t know that because you are content to create a straw man.

    I, for one, responded directly to Dan’s comments above, which I’m sure you have read.

    I would bloviate too if my faith told me nothing about why I am on this earth. About purpose.

    And if you lacked faith in general, what would you do then?

    Neitzche understood this well.

    Nietzsche (pronounced NEE-cheh; the z is just there for fun) had no idea what he was talking about. He failed to understand that science is built on a lack of faith — a lack of trust in our own ability to find the truth. This is why scientists constantly try to disprove their own and everyone else’s hypotheses, why peer-review exists, why not just the conclusions but also the data and the methods must be published, and so on. If you have faith in science, you don’t know how science works.

    Science is not a quest for truth. It is a quest to identify all that is wrong.

    See, most of you have polluted your pristine science with all kinds of pagan and quasi-Christian dogmas in order that you may live with some degree of hope.

    Care to explain? I mean, by definition, a dogma isn’t science, so that’s a very heavy accusation you’re directing at us.

    And that is where the west is headed as well. This is clear.

    Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

    And this blog and others like it are clear evidence for it.

    How?

    Pride goeth before the fall, but it also keeps proud people from truly searching for truth.

    If you found the truth, how would you find out that what you had found was the truth? By comparing it to the truth, which you don’t have?

    And what pride are you seeing here?

    Search.

    We search the searchable and ignore the unsearchable…

  312. David Marjanović, OM says

    You know what is sad… That all of you on this site lack even the smallest understanding of just what the bible IS. And you know what’s even sadder than that? It’s that what you know of the bible you’ve learned from idiots who find their way onto bad ABC news shows precisely because they are idiots. In short, most of you on this site have learned your Christian theology from moronic pawns used to reinforce your own faith dogma about the stupidity of Christianity.

    Tsk, tsk. Most of us were Christians before our deconversions, and many of us have read the Bible cover-to-cover with their own eyes. (For some this was the reason for their deconversion.)

    A suggestion: Truly search the Orthodox Christian tradition of The Way of Christ and you will begin to realize that NEVER was the bible used to date anything.

    It shouldn’t have been. But it has been. And the morons in the video eat this up.

    That’s it. But you wouldn’t know that because you are content to create a straw man.

    I, for one, responded directly to Dan’s comments above, which I’m sure you have read.

    I would bloviate too if my faith told me nothing about why I am on this earth. About purpose.

    And if you lacked faith in general, what would you do then?

    Neitzche understood this well.

    Nietzsche (pronounced NEE-cheh; the z is just there for fun) had no idea what he was talking about. He failed to understand that science is built on a lack of faith — a lack of trust in our own ability to find the truth. This is why scientists constantly try to disprove their own and everyone else’s hypotheses, why peer-review exists, why not just the conclusions but also the data and the methods must be published, and so on. If you have faith in science, you don’t know how science works.

    Science is not a quest for truth. It is a quest to identify all that is wrong.

    See, most of you have polluted your pristine science with all kinds of pagan and quasi-Christian dogmas in order that you may live with some degree of hope.

    Care to explain? I mean, by definition, a dogma isn’t science, so that’s a very heavy accusation you’re directing at us.

    And that is where the west is headed as well. This is clear.

    Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

    And this blog and others like it are clear evidence for it.

    How?

    Pride goeth before the fall, but it also keeps proud people from truly searching for truth.

    If you found the truth, how would you find out that what you had found was the truth? By comparing it to the truth, which you don’t have?

    And what pride are you seeing here?

    Search.

    We search the searchable and ignore the unsearchable…

  313. David Marjanović, OM says

    I forgot to mention that there’s a reason why, of all the hundreds of contradictions that the Bible contains, I picked the one on salvation. For example, this contradiction won’t make anyone lose sleep, except maybe people who try very hard to be literalists: (emphasis added)

    2 Samuel 6:6
    And when they came to Nachon‘s threshingfloor, Uzzah put forth his hand to the ark of God, and took hold of it; for the oxen shook it. And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzzah, and God smote him.

    1 Chronicles 13:9
    And when they came unto the threshingfloor of Childon, Uzza put forth his hand to hold the ark, for the oxen stumbled. And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzza, and he smote him.

    People who don’t believe they are literalists can simply brush this difference aside as meaningless in the grand scheme of things, as in “the Bible teaches the way to go to heaven, not the way the heavens go”.

    Or this:

    Exodus 34:1
    And the LORD said unto Moses, Hew thee two tables of stone like unto the first: and I will write upon these tables the words that were in the first tables, which thou brakest.

    Exodus 34:27-28
    And the LORD said unto Moses, Write thou these words: for after the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with thee and with Israel. And he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water. And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments.

    Well, whether God writes the second set of 10 commandments himself or dictates them to Moses, what difference does that really make?

    But even on important things, even on the most important issue of all — eternal bliss vs eternal damnation –, the Bible contradicts itself, and that not just once, and not even just between different books. To live with these contradictions you have to get very far from a literalist, so far that it probably becomes indistinguishable from picking & choosing.

  314. David Marjanović, OM says

    I forgot to mention that there’s a reason why, of all the hundreds of contradictions that the Bible contains, I picked the one on salvation. For example, this contradiction won’t make anyone lose sleep, except maybe people who try very hard to be literalists: (emphasis added)

    2 Samuel 6:6
    And when they came to Nachon‘s threshingfloor, Uzzah put forth his hand to the ark of God, and took hold of it; for the oxen shook it. And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzzah, and God smote him.

    1 Chronicles 13:9
    And when they came unto the threshingfloor of Childon, Uzza put forth his hand to hold the ark, for the oxen stumbled. And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzza, and he smote him.

    People who don’t believe they are literalists can simply brush this difference aside as meaningless in the grand scheme of things, as in “the Bible teaches the way to go to heaven, not the way the heavens go”.

    Or this:

    Exodus 34:1
    And the LORD said unto Moses, Hew thee two tables of stone like unto the first: and I will write upon these tables the words that were in the first tables, which thou brakest.

    Exodus 34:27-28
    And the LORD said unto Moses, Write thou these words: for after the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with thee and with Israel. And he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water. And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments.

    Well, whether God writes the second set of 10 commandments himself or dictates them to Moses, what difference does that really make?

    But even on important things, even on the most important issue of all — eternal bliss vs eternal damnation –, the Bible contradicts itself, and that not just once, and not even just between different books. To live with these contradictions you have to get very far from a literalist, so far that it probably becomes indistinguishable from picking & choosing.

  315. john (the guy who is asking you to think) says

    Let me try this: When I want to study the efficacy of the scientific method I should go back to those who claim it efficacious in the first place. I should, if I’m serious, study those first scientists, maybe going all the way back to the Greeks… I should, in fact, search for the truth of science within the tradition of science and rational thought. Shouldn’t I? I mean I shouldn’t start my study by reading the writings of St. John Chrysostom or St. Basil or even Christ. Right? I simply ask that those of you (and it’s pretty much everyone on this blog) who want to learn about what Christ teaches about time and truth and creation start with the teachings of those people who in fact bear the tradition of Christ. Believers of Christ pre-date the formation of the bible. The tradition of Christ, The Way, pre-dates the bible. Protestants have made an idol of the Bible, and you conveniently bash away at the idol. Sorry, but if you want to really know that which you rail against, you must do a lot more than watch ABC news. Sorry. Your unwillingness to go to a monastery, to Mount Athos, to sit in prayer for hours at a time, to pray the majesty of the Christian monastic tradition in many ways speaks of your dogmatic dedication to your own faith. In short, again, until you actually KNOW the thing which you so faithfully aim to demolish, you risk hubris. I don’t claim to know everything about science, but I have spent more than 30 years attending and teaching in an educational system that teaches its adherents to think rationally, scientifically. (And to claim that our system doesn’t do this is to simply deny reality). How many of you can say that about practicing ancient Christianity? How many of you have even spent one year at a monastery, training your minds in the Way of Christ as opposed to the way of the world? Really, this is my argument. You are too content with your world, and it blinds you to truths you can’t even imagine. Truths beyond what we can see, beyond what we can touch. Come one, how can you deny that you are bound by your precepts, by your dogmas any more than I am? Go. Go to Athos (and that you don’t know what it is makes my point exactly). We traditional Orthodox Christians live everyday in your world of objective truths. Your revolution won (da, who can’t see that). But before you as an individual soul claim victory, I only ask that you endeavor to learn just what it is that you have destroyed. It’s not asking much.

  316. says

    Sounds good, John.

    As long as you agree to set aside your blinders and spend at least one year as a Hindu Sannyasi striving for moksha. Then you must spend at least one year meditating on the Buddha’s Middle Path (some familiarity with spoken and written Pali is a must). Once you’ve done at least these, then, if you truly consider yourself a scholar of both this world and others, you must then convert to Jainism, and thus through application and study immerse yourself in the oldest spiritual teachings we know of.

    I only ask that you endeavor to learn just what it is that you have denied. It’s not asking much.

  317. MartinM says

    Let me try this: When I want to study the efficacy of the scientific method I should go back to those who claim it efficacious in the first place. I should, if I’m serious, study those first scientists, maybe going all the way back to the Greeks…

    …why?

  318. windy says

    See, most of you have polluted your pristine science with all kinds of pagan and quasi-Christian dogmas in order that you may live with some degree of hope. Neitzche didn’t; he was brave enough not too, but too arrogant to abandon his new faith before it destroyed him. And that is where the west is headed as well.

    The west will have a stroke and die of pneumonia and possibly syphilis?

    PS. If Nietzsche was the consummate scientist, where’s all the original research?

  319. says

    john, you do realize that the monks of Mt Athos are infamous for barring just about everyone from entering the peninsula compound, right? And, what do you have in mind for the women who inhabit this blog, or did you forget that the Athos monks forbid any female, human, or animal, save for hens, from ever approaching the peninsula?

    Having said that, john, how exactly does praying all day is better at solving the question of whether whales descended from Indohyus or from Sinonyx, rather than, say, examining and comparing the aforementioned fossils with fossil whales?

    Furthermore, you failed to explain why we, the inhabitants of Professor Myers’ personal blog are at fault for the fact that pious, perfidious morons claim to speak for the totality of Christians everywhere, and why we are to blame for the fact that the aforementioned morons also claim that the Path to/through Christ is to reject the evidence of reality (including the evidence of “descent with modification”) and embrace one’s own ignorance and stupidity, calling that “faith”.

    Or am I to (rightly) assume that you are nothing more than yet another boring, and long-winded concern troll who feigns piety?

  320. DanioPhD says

    *Sigh* John (the guy who is asking us to think…of things we have long since discounted as bullshit):

    You didn’t read the Courtier’s reply, did you?

    When I want to study the efficacy of the scientific method I should go back to those who claim it efficacious in the first place. I should, if I’m serious, study those first scientists, maybe going all the way back to the Greeks… I should, in fact, search for the truth of science within the tradition of science and rational thought. Shouldn’t I?

    No. The scientific method is something that most everyone has used successfully in his or her life, in the current era. We don’t need to research its origins. We can see ample evidence that it works splendidly every day in the here and now, although from a historical perspective it is a fascinating topic.

    I simply ask that those of you (and it’s pretty much everyone on this blog) who want to learn about what Christ teaches about time and truth and creation

    Er…how can I put this? I’m not sure how you arrived at this supposition, but ‘pretty much everyone on this blog’, host included, has about as much interest in ‘learning about what Christ teaches’ as we do in counting the hairs in PZ’s beard. It just doesn’t matter. You can cry ‘straw man’ all you want, but at bottom it is all a fairy tale. The specific brand of magic you believe in, as opposed to Dan or the Pope Benedict or Reverend Wright or whomever, is completely and utterly irrelevant.

  321. john (the guy who is asking you to think) says

    Brownian you wrote,

    < >
    It is interesting that you choose the pursuit of moksha as an endeavor worthwhile for the pursuit of Truth. Thank goodness, you are getting it. It’s how I got it while living in a mud hut in Mali, with practicing Muslims… It is the beginning of True knowledge. But what you are advocating is folly to most on this site, and probably folly to you too. Be real. You don’t think my pursuit of moksha will bear fruit… Do you? Truly? If you really do, we are on the same page because it is The Way of Christ that is important, not just the Book of Christ. And in many ways the pursuit of Moksha is similar to The Way of Christ. In fact, the book is often unecessary for the pursuit. Prayer is not. So good, we are in accord. Or are we? Do you really believe we can find Moksha or Christ through the ascetic practice of prayer? Or, do you really believe that there is no Truth, and that objective scientific study is simply the best we can do in a complicated world? Because if it is the latter, you have finished searching, and your cynical response (about learning Pani) reveals your hate for the search. Which is it?

  322. windy says

    How many of you can say that about practicing ancient Christianity? How many of you have even spent one year at a monastery, training your minds in the Way of Christ as opposed to the way of the world?

    How large a percentage of Christians has done that?

  323. True Bob says

    John, reject all these crappy materialist trappings and go pray. IOW, quit using teh intertoobz (and any other conveniences provided through science – you know, meds, TV, phones, automobiles, etc).

  324. says

    So, john, why aren’t you answering my question about how prayer will help us find out whether or not whales are descended from Indohyus or from Sinonyx?

  325. john (the guy who is asking you to think) says

    This is a serious question for Danio…

    If the pursuit of truth is not relevant (and by the way, the pursuit of truth is EXACTLY what spawned the modern incarnation of what you call the scientific method, it just didn’t just sort of happen, innocuously, just like that)… then WHAT IS RELEVANT? Whale fossils? You want me to get all jazzed up about whale fossils? I mean, for most of us dumb people your love of whale fossils sounds alot like the counting of lots of little dirty hairs on someone’s face. So… What is relevant? Me. Just me and my world, my little world of my little facts with my little hopes for a future that ends irrevocably in a sad and stench filled death? If it ain’t a hope for authentic life, for Truth, what is it? But polemics aside… What is relevant if it ain’t the pursuit of truth?

  326. Don says

    ‘Go to Athos (and that you don’t know what it is makes my point exactly)’

    Cheeky sod.

    BTW, is that an open invitation? Just anyone can spend some quality time on Athos?

  327. john (the guy who is asking you to think) says

    For Stanton:

    Look, you aren’t at fault for other people’s ignorance, only your own. And so I ask you again, what have done in the way of searching Orthodox Christianity and the tradition of the Way of Christ? I’ve lived in this very scientific society for my whole life, soaked it up daily, loved it’s benefits and questioned its foundations. In many ways I’ve lived in the monastery of modern life. What have you done to live in the monastery of the tradition of the Way of Christ? And please don’t say watched the stupid video from ABC that set all this in motion in the first place. See… as crazy as it sounds, I just really think that my tradition, my family, my past has something to offer. I think, crazily enough, that’s exactly what you think about yours. Problem is, I don’t think you even believe your precepts about the way the world is are precepts at all. I think you really believe they are true. Not just identifiable in the material world, but true and to be adhered to because they are good. Am I wrong? I mean, otherwise, why all the fear on this site?

  328. spurge says

    Your not asking us to think.

    You are asking us to buy into your particular brand of nonsense.

  329. says

    john, how to put this in words you can understand…

    Scientists and science-enthusiasts are interested in understanding how the observable universe functions. Biologists, in particular, are interested in understanding how Life works.

    In your rantings, you are demanding that we replace scientific inquiry with prayer and asceticism, while at the same time, refuse to demonstrate how prayer and asceticism are superior to scientific inquiry and investigation of the world.

    So, in other words, please demonstrate how piety will help scientists discover the inner-workings of Life and the Universe better, or please be quiet and go away.

  330. john says

    Come on… you didn’t even answer. Cheeky sod. What’s that? Wait, I know what that is, it is the core of Humanism and the religion people like to call science. It is the cynic. It is cynicism. I’m cool with that. I spend lots of days just tearing stuff up in my mind. It’s a good way to get rid of energy, and that nagging question about what life is for. Voltaire did it the best though. Good ole fun Voltaire, the real daddy of modernity, don’t you think?

  331. says

    Your not asking us to think.

    You are asking us to buy into your particular brand of nonsense.

    Hence my observation that Christians, especially like john, are taught to think that “Thinking is the Devil’s Hobbyhorse.”

  332. says

    I spend lots of days just tearing stuff up in my mind.

    Given from your rantings and non-answers, it sounds more like you’ve been having a series of minor strokes that have resulted in brain damage.

    Unless, of course, you can explain to us why Science is a religion of cynics and explain to us why piety is better than scientific inquiry for solving problems and finding information.

  333. says

    John, though you suspect me (accurately) of facetiousness, it is your equation of moksha with Christ that is truly facetious. For you either believe in Christ as a god and thus deny all other gods and religious practices which commune with those gods or none at all, or you practice spiritual colonialism in which you’ve got it right and all those silly darkies and Orientals and Eskimos and Mayans are all praying to Christ–they just don’t know it, the silly savages. You can’t have it both ways.
    From what you’ve written, it sounds like the latter: you’re diving into that shallow pool that is New Age spirituality–which proudly proclaims its offensive vapidity under the banner “We’re all praying to the same God”–and co-opting much more ancient traditions of theological thought and tradition in a selfish attempt to bolster your own belief. Been there, done that.

    But the truth is, you were not praying with those Muslims in Mali, any more than you will be when you bow your head tonight. You were praying to your Orthodox Christ, and they were not.

    And I’ll let you in on another secret: ascetism isn’t the path to Truth; but it can be a path to some truth. Accept that, and maybe you’ll get somewhere in your search. But you’ll never get anywhere, especially as an ascetic, with the hubris you carry as a shield.

    I don’t wish to continue this conversation with you, mostly because you haven’t yet said anything that’s of use to myself or anyone else here about religion, science, Christ, or ascetic traditions, and you don’t seem likely to do so anytime in the near future.

    But I do detect a note of sincerity in you, and for that reason, I do wish you the best in your search. I hope you find some of the things you are looking for.

  334. DanioPhD says

    This is as serious an answer as I can muster for John(tgwiaytt)

    If the pursuit of truth is not relevant (and by the way, the pursuit of truth is EXACTLY what spawned the modern incarnation of what you call the scientific method, it just didn’t just sort of happen, innocuously, just like that)… then WHAT IS RELEVANT?

    Depends on what you mean by truth. I prefer my ‘truth’ to be evidence-based and naturalistic. Discovering as much as I can about the natural world brings perspective, knowledge, and indescribable joy to my life. That’s what does it for me. Your mileage may vary.

    Whale fossils? You want me to get all jazzed up about whale fossils?

    Well, I’m not the one who brought up whale fossils, but yes, the story of whale evolution that these fossils tell is a truly fascinating one. It is a pity that your obvious disdain for science prevents you from appreciating the beauty of the story–not just of the evolutionary events, but the way in which the transitional fossils were discovered and identified–but it’s really no skin off my ass if you’re not ‘jazzed up’.

    What is relevant if it ain’t the pursuit of truth?

    As I do not remotely consider that anything like ‘truth’ is associated with any version of the bible, any characters therein, or any proponents thereof, I really can’t overstate the degree to which your particular path to ‘truth’ is irrelevant to me. However, I sincerely hope that your death is neither sad nor stench-filled.

    Cheers.

  335. john (the guy who is asking you to think) says

    Stanton:

    Why go away? Why so much anger? Look, your question is all wrong. When you say, “Inner Workings of Life” do you mean, like, my glands? Or maybe like atoms? If that is what you mean, I’m all for it. Go for it. But if you just look at the posts you can clearly see that that’s not what people are really after. It’s clear. They are after this very simple piece of high ground, “What we find is what is true about the inner workings of life.” If we don’t find it, it ain’t true. It can’t be posited. It can’t be trusted. You can’t disagree with that, can you? You’ve never found a soul, and so you discount it. But my question is, why discount it? Why dismiss what you don’t find? Aren’t you supposed to simply assert what you DO FIND? Isn’t that the beauty of science, positing based on what you do find? But in only ten minutes on this site, my first blog ever by the way, the words nonsense, stupidity, fairy tale, and many others have all been used to describe things you’ve never found. I mean, that’s odd isn’t it. I believe in God, you haven’t found God, and so I’m stupid. Weird. See, that goes back to my earlier point… You don’t just study the material world, goo goo gaa gaa pretty pretty… You study it in order to find truth, and then attack other truths because they fail your dogmatic tests. How can you not see this. Go back and read the blogs. It’s clear. If it was as you say, I’d have no qualms. You find material truth and I pay attentionl. But how dare you discount a universe of of life within, a universe of the soul, just because YOU haven’t found it. And this without ever friggin’ trying! It is hubris par excellence. Come on, work with me here….

  336. says

    Oh, and John, for the record, for all of your discussion about Voltaire and Nietzsche and ‘precepts’ and ‘Truth’, what you are trying to address are the positions of realism and anti-realism in the philosophy of science. (Essentially, you are accusing us of being realists who are unaware of the anti-realist position. We are not, for the most part. If anything, I suspect many here are positivists.)

    I get the feeling you think you’re somehow being novel and clever by mentioning such things. You are not.

  337. says

    Among other things, you have demonstrated that you are not interested in studying Life, whether with glands or with fossils, and you have also demonstrated that you are not interested in demonstrating to anyone how piety is superior, or even useful to scientific inquiry, especially since you have the gall to claim that Science is a “religion of cynics.”

    But how dare you discount a universe of of life within, a universe of the soul, just because YOU haven’t found it. And this without ever friggin’ trying! It is hubris par excellence. Come on, work with me here….

    So the burden is on you, john, to explain to me why this “universe of the soul” is necessary to understand fossil and living organisms, and is even more important than even actually studying fossil and living organisms.

    And if you do not feel like doing this, please leave because you are wasting everybody’s time with your own hubris and nonsense.

  338. john (the guy who is asking you to think) says

    Okay, I’m done. I’ve got to feed my children. But I’ll say this… Philosophy of Science is exactly what I wanted to hear, because that is exactly what it is: One of many philosophies about life. A universe of unknowns is no more known because of the invention of the idea that truth can be found in the study of materials.

    That is both comforting and telling I think.

    Also, just for the record, I am no more a universalist than you are an Orthodox Christian (for you Brownian). I simply respect the method of asceticism. The modern world hates it (as is clear on this very modern site). I only ask you to consider it the next time you post ABC news doing a hatchet job on what they (and you) want us to believe is Christianity. That’s fair. Right?

  339. says

    john is turning into a boring troll.

    Actually, no, john isn’t turning into a boring troll: he was a boring troll with his very first post.

    If I had a penny for every troll that came marching into Professor Myers’ blog who accused us of being awful materialist bastards who commit the heinous crime of practicing critical thinking skills/accepting the evidence of reality/”being evil materialists,” I would have enough money to bribe Oprah into ghostwrite my books for me.

  340. says

    But how dare you discount a universe of of life within, a universe of the soul, just because YOU haven’t found it. And this without ever friggin’ trying! It is hubris par excellence.

    No, that’s skepticism. And I dare say you practice it too, since you undoubtedly act as if some entities don’t exist without even trying to look for them. (When is the last time you flayed a slave alive to Xipe Totec, hmm?)

    In fact, hubris par excellence is assuming that because we haven’t found the soul you think you have, that we haven’t tried to look.

    But, whatever helps you sleep at night, I guess….

  341. says

    I’ll say this… Philosophy of Science is exactly what I wanted to hear, because that is exactly what it is: One of many philosophies about life. A universe of unknowns is no more known because of the invention of the idea that truth can be found in the study of materials.

    That is both comforting and telling I think.

    Science is not a philosophy, or would you care to explain why you would trust your pastor to perform open heart surgery on you in a church?

    Also, just for the record, I am no more a universalist than you are an Orthodox Christian (for you Brownian). I simply respect the method of asceticism. The modern world hates it (as is clear on this very modern site).

    And yet, you refuse to demonstrate to use WHY WE SHOULD RESPECT ASCETICISM OVER SCIENTIFIC INQUIRY

    I only ask you to consider it the next time you post ABC news doing a hatchet job on what they (and you) want us to believe is Christianity. That’s fair. Right?

    That leads back to my original question of why we’re to blame because pious morons have elected themselves to speak for Christianity without the expressed consent of the majority. A question that you did not bother to address.

  342. john says

    Wait, one more for Stanton:

    Why so much anger? Can’t we just all get along?

    Okay, an answer (I already answered it above, but what the heck)…

    You wrote:
    < >

    Plato said you can’t understand a flower without understanding the idea of beauty. You can understand the stem of a flower in relationship to it’s roots, but to KNOW a flower one must KNOW beauty. I believe that all of your efforts to understand the whale fossil is for naught IN AND OF ITSELF. The natural world is OF something… Even if you and I disagree about what, we can’t disagree that it is OF something, FROM something, BECAUSE of something. So, good, sure, go and study the living world for answers about the living world… it’s cool. I appreciate it. It’s neat. But to truly understand what a whale is is to come to know what LIFE MEANS. and that answer, about what life means is found using the tools of the ascetic, not the scientist. So I guess my answer is this: The universe of the soul is where you will find the complimentary truth about whales that will allow you to KNOW about whales in a way that is TRUE. In the same way you can study my bones, you’ll never know me without entering into that place where science has no power, no place. You can know why I am sick, but knowing me takes much more than the study of material facts. ANd I believe knowing me, a whale, a flower in its entirety takes prayer, meditation, humility, solitude, silence.

    And one last thing… why do I have to leave now. Why do people keep telling me that. It seems like this is a club. Or a congregation. How do I join?

  343. windy says

    I simply respect the method of asceticism. The modern world hates it (as is clear on this very modern site).

    LOL. Grad school or field research, anyone?

    I only ask you to consider it the next time you post ABC news doing a hatchet job on what they (and you) want us to believe is Christianity.

    So Christianity = asceticism. Riiiiiight. Do you guys play the bagpipes a lot at mount Athos?

  344. negentropyeater says

    John,

    you say, “I believe in God, you haven’t found God, and so I’m stupid. Weird.”

    You should also consider those, who have an open mind for the existence of God and whatever it may mean, but do require more than a “personal impression and longing” and a few unverifiable miracles as a justification for this hypothesis. If you are convinced “à priori” that this is the correct hypothesis, how can you ever acknowledge that you have searched for the truth ?

  345. says

    Among other things, john, you are confusing aesthetics with asceticism, and in your latest bout of New Age garbage, you still refuse to demonstrate why prayer and asceticism is more important than science and scientific inquiry in studying Life. If you prefer going to places where science has no power, does that mean that you prefer to take your children to a spiritualist should they come down with bacterial pneumonia? Or does that mean that you prefer to trust surgery to your pastor, rather than a licensed surgeon?

    And I ask you to leave because you continue to waste our time with your nonsense and your rantings. AND you do not want to explain to us why we are to blame for the fact that a minority of pious morons have chosen themselves to speak for the totality of Christianity.

  346. john (the guy who is asking you to think) says

    Negen…

    Fair enough. I think that is true. One must search without the a priori. So let me ask you this: Can one find out things that are true using non-scientific, ascetic means? In other words, is there a non-scientific method for finding out things that are true?

    And if yes, what? And if not, then haven’t you gone with an a priori (as you say), and ruled out loads of really cool truths? And another thing, why do people keep saying mean things about me being a troll? And what is a concern troll anyway? And come on, I’m moderately interesting even if you are all going to burn in a really, really hot hellish place. ANd who says that anyway? Your site is filled with people saying that Christians say you are all going to burn in hell? Who says that right to your face? My tradition thinks people who say things like that are funny? In fact, the first ones to burn in hell are the monks who tell me I’m going to burn in hell. So stop saying things like that. See… that’s interesting. THink of it as the little Orthodox Christian tidbit of the day. Do I get to join yet? (Oh and Negev I’m responding to some earlier love bits from above… sorry)

  347. Will E. says

    But to truly understand what a whale is is to come to know what LIFE MEANS. and that answer, about what life means is found using the tools of the ascetic, not the scientist. So I guess my answer is this: The universe of the soul is where you will find the complimentary truth about whales that will allow you to KNOW about whales in a way that is TRUE.

    I’m reminded of the old Saturday Night Live skit with Phil Hartman as Frank Sinatra: “Once more around, pal. Sounds like pops and buzzes from here.”

  348. says

    And if yes, what?

    Among other things, john, you have not bothered to show us a non-scientific method for finding out things that are true that works.

    Furthermore, I repeat:

    Why we are to blame for the fact that a minority of pious morons have chosen themselves to speak for the totality of Christianity?

  349. spurge says

    john,

    You are a troll because you repeat the same things over and over again and ignore almost every question put to you.

  350. john says

    Stanton:

    Why I got to leave? YOu can just skip my little delectables if you want. Gosh. Plus, I answered you… unfortunately you didn’t read it. I’ll cut and copy for you from above.

    …So I guess my answer is this: The universe of the soul is where you will find the complimentary truth about whales that will allow you to KNOW about whales in a way that is TRUE. In the same way you can study my bones, you’ll never know me without entering into that place where science has no power, no place. You can know why I am sick, but knowing me takes much more than the study of material facts. ANd I believe knowing me, a whale, a flower in its entirety takes prayer, meditation, humility, solitude, silence.

    Stanton, why you hatin’ on me so much? I answered, and still you don’t want me discussing these issues. I’m out, I think it’s clear I’m not wanted around here anymore. But man, there’s a lot of anger in this joint. For real. Do you guys drink beer? Monks do. You should think about it. Or at least a little chocolate before bedtime. Something. Man o live… Who loves ya!

  351. ConcernedJoe says

    John (the guy..) I cannot stay away from making a short comment:

    Religion, asceticism, “The way..” all in my mind are selfish deadends — mental masturbation. Utility maybe for the client – big MAYBE.. but a net drag on progress and utiities for humankind and most worldly things in general.

    It is a selfish game plan. Taken on its face value it produces nothing .. except maybe some feel good good works selfishly done for some “higher reward.”

    Most people I know – engineers, scientists, educators, mechanics, etc. have a drive to do better .. discover NEW things – move outside the self and limiting boundaries and dogma – they want to serve others .. their purposes — survival, pride, honor, devotion, caring, empathy.. all may have an internal reward component but that reward cannot be the end all else failure is in the works. No basically the endevours exist for ultimately non-selfish purposes. Those in the mystic camp have no need to serve.. not really. Think about it.. good works debatably necessary in the Guides .. and even if done are a way to a selfish reward.

    And John – there is no Truth – no magic Way.. no final Revelation — and certainly no Saviour .. that is what makes life worth living. At least for those that except that it is not all about “me” and my relationship to some unseen, unheard, mystical entity – who if exists is a BIG PRICK. Oh and BTW if you want to discover things about life you really have to taste life life to the fullest.. at least to the extent you have the boldness for.. to me contemplating belly-buttons is like so so boring.

    John – you may say the same about me — but you make no sense to me at best – and worse .. your view is so — well — to be kind selfish. Oh it is is not? Tell me WTF praying all day and night in some cave to discover your Truth does for the kid with cancer. But I do not expect you to get my drift.. nor do I expect you to see how every piece of the discovery puzzle we find and understand in context (e.g. whale evolution) helps make the grander picture clearer.

    I give up.

  352. Kseniya says

    Eastern Orthodox? HERETIC!

    Hey now. As a second-generation descendent of former members of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church, I must object.

    Really, though. These “Protestant” and “Catholic” heresies are for the birds.

    And this without ever friggin’ trying!

    Tsk. What assumptions you make, John.

  353. negentropyeater says

    “In other words, is there a non-scientific method for finding out things that are true?”

    Well it depends what you are talking about. If for example, you are asking yourself what is the history of our planet and of the universe, I don’t see how you can go about it without Science. If you are asking “is there life after death ?”, we will never know unless we find evidence. Some people may “hope” that there is, but that is just hope. It doesn’t mean it is the truth. Same thing goes for the concept of “special human soul”.

    So, if “finding God” means having hope, why not ? If praying means concentrating strongly on something so as not to loose hope, the same. Believing that one can have in that way a personal relationship with the creator of the universe is also fine, but until science has found a way to explain how this works in actual fact, I reserve te right to say that it is just faith, and not the truth.

  354. says

    To quote spurge,

    You are a troll because you repeat the same things over and over again and ignore almost every question put to you.

    Stanton, why you hatin’ on me so much? I answered, and still you don’t want me discussing these issues.

    How to put this in words that you understand?

    You’re Greek?

    Then, in that case,

    Κατέληξα στο συμπέρασμα ότι είστε ηλίθιος επειδή δεν μιλάτε παρά μόνο τις αηδίες, και ότι αλαζονικά απαιτείτε να υποκύψουμε κάτω στις αηδίες σας σαν ήταν οι λέξεις του Θεού. Θα άλλαζα το μυαλό μου εάν καταδείξατε πραγματικά πώς η ευσέβεια και ο ασκητισμός είναι ανώτεροι από την επιστημονική έρευνα, αλλά, είστε απρόθυμοι να κάνετε αυτό. Έτσι, έως ότου αποδεικνύετε σε με πώς από τον κόσμο, και από όλα τα θηλυκά σπονδυλωτά εκτός από για τις κότες θα με βοηθήσει να καταλάβω την εξέλιξη φαλαινών καλύτερα από μελετώντας τα απολιθώματα φαλαινών, διαβάζοντας τα βιβλία ή πηγαίνοντας στο σχολείο, παραμένω σταθερός στην κρίση μου ότι είστε ηλίθιος.

  355. Kseniya says

    And I believe knowing me, a whale, a flower in its entirety takes prayer, meditation, humility, solitude, silence.

    Or twelve hours and a tab of acid.

    You speak of hubris, yet seem to KNOW all of us well enough to know how “afraid” we are, to know how little work anyone here has done in pursuit of the Truth (capital “T” thank you very much.) Feeling any dissonance yet, John?

    No?

    It is true that the “idiots” on TV don’t represent all Christians – but they claim to. It’s a problem. For Christians.

    And one last thing… why do I have to leave now. Why do people keep telling me that. It seems like this is a club. Or a congregation. How do I join?

    You don’t. You can’t. This is a public blog. There’s nothing to join. It’s a little like A.A. (You know: Ascetics Anonymous.) You’re a member when you say you are. There are no fees or requirements. Knock yourself out.

  356. john says

    Okay, so I didn’t leave yet… How about one more.

    To Concerned Joe:

    Look, I am talking specifically about the attitude found on this site that all things not proven scientifically deserve scorn. I don’t hate that some guys found some variations on a cure for cancer. That’s good. But a cure for cancer in no way changes the really important reality: Death is coming. And that leaves me with a seriouis question: What is this life for? None of you on this blog have even tried to answer that question. That’s interesting, but sensible because it demands a certain amount of non-empirical gesticulation. But here’s the cool secret, most of life demands a whole boatload of non-empirical gesticulations… hell, the totality of life is mostly non-empirical in that most of life remains unknown because most of life takes place in this thing called the soul. It will never be understood by the empiricists. So i mean, why can’t it be both, the scientists of the material world and scientists of the spirit world working together to know Truth? Oh wait, I know why… Because to acknowledge a truth beyond the material world is in fact to UNDERMINE THE FOUNDATIONS OF THE RELIGION CALLED SCIENCE. And still, I’m waiting for my answer Stanton: Is there truth beyond the natural world? Or is what is real only found in what we can study scientifically? Waiting in space, yours truly…. Beer man.

    The Guy Not Invited to the Party.

  357. Sastra says

    john (the guy who is asking you to think)#375 wrote:

    So let me ask you this: Can one find out things that are true using non-scientific, ascetic means? In other words, is there a non-scientific method for finding out things that are true?

    Depends on what kind of things you mean. If you are talking about factual truths, then acetic meditation and contemplation has not been show to work for that. Science itself doesn’t give us Truth-with-a-capital-T either, because it’s findings are always tentative. Its methods work on the assumption that any person or any conclusion might be mistaken. That is why science has given us the most reliable and predictable knowledge we humans have so far — on questions of physical facts. There’s no record that mystics have ever been successful here.

    If you are talking about special truths of the soul or whatnot, we cannot know if there are ‘non-scientific means’ for discovering these, because if the method is non-scientific then it has no checks and balances: it cannot be corrected if wrong. Even a person who has a mystical experience and suddenly just ‘knows’ that there are 8 dimensions of spirit can only be as certain as their own self-confidence tells them to be.

    As for ‘truths’ about aesthetics, or feelings, or meaning — these are not scientific questions. They are not grand, universal, absolute factual Truths of the Cosmos, either. Meditation may help you appreciate the beauty of a flower, but it will not tell you that it IS beautiful, in itself, and that if someone likes another flower better then they are WRONG. Beauty (and meaning) is the ability to appreciate, to relate the world outside of us to ourselves.

    Science gives us insights into how we got to care about what we care about, but neither science — nor non-scientific acetic means — will tell you what we must care about. At best, they inform us.

  358. negentropyeater says

    John,

    you say, “In the same way you can study my bones, you’ll never know me without entering into that place where science has no power, no place.”

    What makes you so certain about this ? First, do you think that a computer that would know the exact configuration of all the atoms in your body wouldn’t also know what you think ? What makes you so certain that there is something beyond the material world and not discoverable or interpretable by science ? Science is only a few hundred years old, are we already finished with it ?

    And don’t forget that “emergence” is a something that science will describe in more precise ways as we learn, so why reject methodological naturalism ?

  359. says

    Like I said, john is an idiot, especially since he considers Science to be a religion (without explaining why), and considers it inferior simply because it was never meant to examine or study things outside the natural world.

  360. john says

    Hey Stanton, not bad… But I’m not Greek. Just a convert. One of those. Yep.

    Look, I’m guilty when it comes to hubris. You are right. I have spent too much time in my first blog situation. I’m trying to win an argument… and that’s stupid. Hubris. You got it. I’ve taken too many liberties, too many shots, and none of them really do much of anything but incite the rational mind to fight back. Like a lawyer. So I’m done. Just hope that in the end the parts that weren’t ugly will not be dismissed by folks who read these words. For real. Visit Athos, the university of the soul. Peace out.

  361. says

    In the same way you can study my bones, you’ll never know me without entering into that place where science has no power, no place.

    So, then, if john were suffering from bone cancer, would he prefer to go to a doctor who is trained and certified to examine and treat patients with cancer, or would john prefer to trek to a Buddhist guru who lives alone on a mountain peak in the Nepalese Himalayas, instead?

  362. spurge says

    “I’m trying to win an argument”

    What argument?

    All you have done is make assertions and assumptions.

  363. Sastra says

    So i mean, why can’t it be both, the scientists of the material world and scientists of the spirit world working together to know Truth?

    Because science is humble. It proceeds slowly by constant cross-checking for errors. “Scientists of the spirit world” do not do this. They can’t.

    Pseudoscience is what we call it when someone wants to claim the respect given to science, but not undergo either the discipline or rigor in the process. Humility and pseudo-humility do not mix well.

  364. says

    So i mean, why can’t it be both, the scientists of the material world and scientists of the spirit world working together to know Truth?

    Because science is humble. It proceeds slowly by constant cross-checking for errors. “Scientists of the spirit world” do not do this. They can’t.

    Pseudoscience is what we call it when someone wants to claim the respect given to science, but not undergo either the discipline or rigor in the process. Humility and pseudo-humility do not mix well.

    Among other things, there are no such things as “scientists of the spirit world.”

    Oil and water mix better than true humility and pseudoscience, in fact.

  365. Dan says

    Man, this kinda raged out of control, didn’t it?

    David, #325.

    I totally recognise the considerable effort you went to in responding to my comment about faith/works. Respect.

    I am working on a response, but it’s not finished yet.

  366. Fr. Peter says

    Stanton,
    May I venture an answer to your question as to why peity (evsevia) and asceticsm (askitismos) will better aid you in finding meaning and truth – if you accept the use of the term – than scientific research, meaning research conducted exclusively with man’s logic?
    Man’s highest faculty is not his logic, which is given him to make his way through the material world, to know and understand it and to deal with it. Man’s highest faculty is his nous (the Greek term for intellect, but not as we usually understand it in the West). Man’s nous or intellect is his highest faculty, through which – if it is purified – he knows God or inner essences or principles of created things by means of direct apprehension or spiritual perception. Unlike the dianoia or reason, the intellect does not function by formulating abstract concepts and then arguing on this basis to a conclusion reached through deductive reasoning, but it understands divine truth by means of immediate experience, intuition of “spiritual cognition.” The intellect, thus understood, is the organ of contemplation/vision, the eye of the heart.
    Piety and asceticism in the Orthodox Christian context are expressions of love for the Person of God, Who revealed Himself to us – to humanity – again and again throughout history and in nature, but par excellence in His Incarnation. These are also means toward acquiring better vision of the principles of created things, of God, because they purify man and his “eyes of the heart.”
    Because we believe and know both by experience and by trusting Him Who Is that Truth is a person, the best way of obtaining knowledge of this Truth is through loving Him – Who is truth. But to love Him, we must know Him – as He is. To know Him as He is, we must see properly, that is, have clear vision.
    So, sitting and praying and fasting, etc., has this as its goal. Such asceticism is not unlike the scientist of the material world who struggles to purify his logic and his vision of the material world to see it better and understand it better and “love” it. The difference is that in the created world one gazes upon the Truth indirectly, whereas in the spiritual world one gazes upon the Truth directly – using the faculty that is given for that purpose – the intellect (nous). And Truth is a Person. And knowingly Him is a personal endeavor, a struggle, by means of love – i.e. asceticism and piety.

  367. spurge says

    “Such asceticism is not unlike the scientist of the material world who struggles to purify his logic and his vision of the material world to see it better and understand it better and “love” it.”

    I don’t think you have any idea what scientists do.

    Let me know when someone comes up with a cure for a disease by just sitting around and thinking about it.

  368. ConcernedJoe says

    John – I know you think you found something that floats your boat well; to that I say peace out. But when you say shit like this: “hell, the totality of life is mostly non-empirical in that most of life remains unknown because most of life takes place in this thing called the soul”, and merde like this: “Because to acknowledge a truth beyond the material world is in fact to UNDERMINE THE FOUNDATIONS OF THE RELIGION CALLED SCIENCE.” that makes us think you are idiot, lunatic, or liar. Or just a Troll shit stirring.

    Look if you said “I use spiritual devices and instruments to find some inner peace and to help better clear my mind of harmful distractions like anger, envy, etc., and just playing the science game does not work for me like those instruments do in that regard” I think most of us here would not only say – “to each his own” – but also maybe sincerely ask you about technique, and/or how you apply that peace to better thinking and action, etc.

    But you are not just telling us to chill out and smell the roses now and then, and that there is a Truth to love and loyality that transcends economics or test tubes let’s say (PS I am not saying they are supernatural – but they are “magical” and “wonderous”). Stuff we might all agree with you on. No, you are carrying it into woo-woo and backhandedly saying it’s your christ-way or the highway. There we say: bugger off.

  369. Fr. Peter says

    Dear Spurge,
    I said “not unlike the scientist of the material world”. “Not unlike”. that is, there is some similarity.
    1. Scientists both think AND act. So do ascetics – i.e. Christians who are living their faith. They don’t sit around and think about it. They are not philosophers. Their “philosophy” is quite practical and empirical.
    2. Many an ascetic has been shown and attested to achieving the cure of illnesses such as: pride, anger, sloth, etc. I don’t know of any material scientist who can boast of either having cured these illnesses in themselves or others (although they may exist). Certainly, though, their methodology is neither meant to cure these (very real) illnesses (of the soul) or even addresses them. Maybe since they can’t be measured materially they don’t exist? Or, perhaps because you haven’t met anyone who has cured them that means they are incurable?
    3. Has any material scientist claimed to be able to cure THE illness of illnesses: death? If someone does come up with a cure for cancer, will those who are cured of cancer, not die – eventually? So, which is more profound and worthy of our attention: a cure of cancer or a cure for death? And, yet, Christ and thousands of others who are like Him have claimed to have the cure for death. They claim to understand its cause, and have its cure. You may reject their claims, but if you are a true scientist and really interested in curing people of sickness, you owe it to yourself to thoroughly investigate both cures for pride, anger, etc. and for death.

  370. DanioPhD says

    Kseniya, unfortunately I think it involves something elaborate like splitting your soul and concealing the pieces in trophy-like objects. As you and I are, obviously, soulless, I think we’re screwed.

  371. says

    So, tell us, Fr. Peter, how do the monks of Mt Athos cure illnesses such as cancer, isosporaisis, malaria or antibiotic-resistant tuberculosis?

  372. Fr. Peter says

    Kseniya,
    The cure for death is the Resurrection. Do you know what death is? How it came to be? When it entered human experience? Perhaps you believe that ’twas always so. If so, then life is not only hopeless, it is also meaningless. And death is the cap to a meaningless existence. (If you are Russian, read Dostoevsky on this in the Brothers Karamazov – in the original Russian, preferably(!).)
    But, as we know and experience, man was not created in this state of deterioration and death. Death came by means of turning away from Life, Who is God Himself. It came by way of pride and arrogance. Life, Resurrection, came by means of humility and love. God Himself entered human history to restore man to his initial place – to communion with Life, with Himself.
    There is much more one could say and write. And, just as the scientific studies and manuals and research remain a closed book for one who has not been initiated and taught, so too do these mysteries of the “science of sciences” – the spiritual life – remain a closed book for those are uninitiated.
    The point, in this post, is: a true scientist will explore empirically all such claims and test experientially whether or not they hold up. He will not reject them out of hand because he doesn’t understand (yet) the method used to reach the conclusion. But, he will tentatively trust those experts in the field and follow experientially the course they took to reach their conclusions, to see if they are true, to see if he will reach them, too.
    And, with such claims – to have conquered death (the separation from LIFE, Who is God) – we are all called to test the waters, and see for ourselves.

  373. says

    It would be nice if every school group were tagged along with by a museum docent, who would interject, “Actually, that’s not true…” at every stop.

  374. windy says

    If so, then life is not only hopeless, it is also meaningless. And death is the cap to a meaningless existence.

    Please explain how life after death gives meaning to existence. If the life after death is finite, wouldn’t the same meaninglessness apply? If it’s infinite, how do you know that? (“it’s so much cooler that way?”)

    OK, let’s for the sake of the argument assume it’s infinite- how does that give it meaning? Because you’ll be there to remember all your past experiences? But in an infinite lifetime, you would either accumulate an infinite amount of new experiences, or be forced to relive the same experiences over and over. If you do expect to accumulate an infinite amount of new interesting experiences in the afterlife, isn’t your current life totally meaningless in comparison?

  375. says

    Fr. Peter, the brother of an online acquaintence of mine died a few weeks ago after a brief but severe illness. She had people all over the world praying for his recovery. I mentioned that people who are prayed for actually do worse than people who are not – maybe they realize how sick they are. She chose to believe differently. But “God said no.” So there is no experiential proof that a scientist can ask for. If the patient recovered, God would get the credit. If he died, oops, it was not to be. That kind of “Heads I win, tails you lose” logic makes it impossible to test divine intervention. No doubt there are meditations that can lead to oceanic feelings of oneness with the universe. I am for morality, kindness, generosity, and straight dealing. But we create gods to reinforce our own natural feelings of love, loyalty and fair play–not the other way around.

    Sorry if this is incoherent. Thanks for coming in and commenting. Maybe you can explain why Jesus’ parents were never named until 107 AD or why the story of apostles meeting Jesus after his death was a late addition to the scriptures. I’d say someone didn’t think the original was convincing enough or it didn’t jibe with the oral embellishments that were circulating by that time.

  376. David Marjanović, OM says

    Let me try this: When I want to study the efficacy of the scientific method I should go back to those who claim it efficacious in the first place. I should, if I’m serious, study those first scientists, maybe going all the way back to the Greeks… I should, in fact, search for the truth of science within the tradition of science and rational thought. Shouldn’t I?

    No, this is complete nonsense. Science is not a tradition. Science is a method. Here goes:

    1) Science cannot prove, only disprove. If a hypothesis predicts that certain things won’t happen, but we see them happen, the hypothesis is wrong. If it predicts certain things will happen, and we see them happen, then the hypothesis is not yet disproven — it might be correct, or there might be other hypotheses that make the same predictions. If a hypothesis does not make testable predictions at all, it cannot be disproven even in principle and is therefore outside of science.
    2) If several hypotheses make the same predictions that could in principle be but have not been disproven, those that require the fewest additional assumptions must be preferred (principle of parsimony — Ockham’s Razor). What else should we start from, after all? Maximum munificence?

    Science makes a single assumption, methodological naturalism: the universe is not too chaotic, miracles don’t happen so often as to make the universe completely unpredictable. Fortunately, this assumption is itself a scientific hypothesis. If it were wrong, we would have found out long ago: instead of everything falling down, stuff would unpredictably fall down, up, left, right, forwards, backwards, or not at all, at frequencies that would change unpredictably from one day to another, for example. So, the only assumption that science makes is being tested in every single observation (whether of an experiment or not) and still hasn’t been disproven… it looks fairly reliable so far. :-)

    Now, I do not deny that the history of science is interesting in itself. But the history of science is not science, and understanding it is completely unnecessary for understanding science.

    I mean I shouldn’t start my study by reading the writings of St. John Chrysostom or St. Basil or even Christ.

    Huh?

    (Apart from the fact that not a single letter has ever been claimed to have been written by Jesus.)

    Protestants have made an idol of the Bible, and you conveniently bash away at the idol. Sorry, but if you want to really know that which you rail against

    Have you even read this blog post?!? In this thread we are not arguing against Christianity as a whole, we are arguing against the Biblical literalism of the people in the video. Watch the video, if you can stomach it (I can’t).

    In other words: you have changed the topic and don’t even seem to have noticed.

    What is relevant if it ain’t the pursuit of truth?

    Truth? “What is truth?” What if solipsism is the truth? We cannot find that out.

    What is relevant, then, is the recognition and understanding of reality.

    that nagging question about what life is for.

    Nagging? It has never nagged me…

    Just tell me: Why did Napoleon cross the Mississippi? You can’t, because that’s a wrong question: not any particular answer, but the question itself is wrong. The question makes an implicit assumption that is wrong.

    What makes you think that life is for anything? What makes you think this concept is even applicable?

    But how dare you discount a universe of of life within, a universe of the soul, just because YOU haven’t found it. And this without ever friggin’ trying! It is hubris par excellence. Come on, work with me here….

    So… in which ideas should we believe without evidence, and in which should we not? (Some of them are contradictory, you see — it’s usually difficult to have two religions at the same time, for example.)

    But to truly understand what a whale is is to come to know what LIFE MEANS.

    Does it mean anything?

    Or is that a wrong question, and “mean” doesn’t apply to “life” in the first place?

    I get the impression you have never asked yourself this kind of question.

    And if life means something, for what reason do you think ascetic meditation can help us find that out?

    “à priori”

    Latin a (the form of ab used before consonants) means “away from”. French à is derived from Latin ad which means “to”.

    So let me ask you this: Can one find out things that are true using non-scientific, ascetic means? In other words, is there a non-scientific method for finding out things that are true?

    You have it all backwards.

    There is no reliable, repeatable method to find out if anything is true.

    There is, however, a reliable, repeatable method to find out if something is wrong: science.

    And John – there is no Truth – no magic Way.. no final Revelation — and certainly no Saviour

    Oh, there might be. Or I might be the solipsist. We just can’t find that out, so all these ideas are in reality useless.

    Look, I am talking specifically about the attitude found on this site that all things not proven scientifically deserve scorn.

    You don’t know what you’re talking about. Science cannot prove, only disprove.

    What is this life for? None of you on this blog have even tried to answer that question.

    You have not even tried to answer the question whether your question is wrong. You have simply assumed that it does. And you ask us think?

    hell, the totality of life is mostly non-empirical in that most of life remains unknown because most of life takes place in this thing called the soul.

    See, that’s yet another of your assumptions that you simply throw at us as if it were a well-understood fact. It isn’t. It’s just that — an assumption. An assumption that you need to justify.

    And still, I’m waiting for my answer Stanton: Is there truth beyond the natural world?

    You should ask the interesting question instead: if there is truth beyond the natural world, how could we find that out?

    scientific research, meaning research conducted exclusively with man’s logic

    You, too, are mistaken, Fr. Peter. Philosophy and mathematics are conducted exclusively with logic. Science requires observation; just thinking about a problem does not guarantee that we will recognize a wrong idea as wrong. “Argumentation cannot suffice for the discovery of a new work, since the subtlety of nature is greater many times than the subtlety of argument.” (Francis Bacon)

    And often the findings of science run completely counter to man’s logic. Just think of the theory of relativity and of quantum physics!

    Such asceticism is not unlike the scientist of the material world who struggles to purify his logic and his vision of the material world to see it better and understand it better and “love” it.

    Not at all. The scientist constantly struggles to disprove his (…never mind her…) ideas, and everyone else’s, by deducing predictions from them and observing whether those predictions are wrong.

    And, yet, Christ and thousands of others who are like Him have claimed to have the cure for death.

    Testing these claims is easy, but publishing the results is… somewhat difficult. That makes these claims impossible to evaluate — and therefore as useless as the Sumerian idea that everyone’s shadow, regardless of faith, works, mercy or anything, goes to the underworld to eat mud and live in depression for all eternity.

    Well, in the latter case we can at least investigate the presumed physical location of the underworld… with Christianity we can’t even do that! What good is an idea if we can’t find out if it’s wrong?

  377. David Marjanović, OM says

    Let me try this: When I want to study the efficacy of the scientific method I should go back to those who claim it efficacious in the first place. I should, if I’m serious, study those first scientists, maybe going all the way back to the Greeks… I should, in fact, search for the truth of science within the tradition of science and rational thought. Shouldn’t I?

    No, this is complete nonsense. Science is not a tradition. Science is a method. Here goes:

    1) Science cannot prove, only disprove. If a hypothesis predicts that certain things won’t happen, but we see them happen, the hypothesis is wrong. If it predicts certain things will happen, and we see them happen, then the hypothesis is not yet disproven — it might be correct, or there might be other hypotheses that make the same predictions. If a hypothesis does not make testable predictions at all, it cannot be disproven even in principle and is therefore outside of science.
    2) If several hypotheses make the same predictions that could in principle be but have not been disproven, those that require the fewest additional assumptions must be preferred (principle of parsimony — Ockham’s Razor). What else should we start from, after all? Maximum munificence?

    Science makes a single assumption, methodological naturalism: the universe is not too chaotic, miracles don’t happen so often as to make the universe completely unpredictable. Fortunately, this assumption is itself a scientific hypothesis. If it were wrong, we would have found out long ago: instead of everything falling down, stuff would unpredictably fall down, up, left, right, forwards, backwards, or not at all, at frequencies that would change unpredictably from one day to another, for example. So, the only assumption that science makes is being tested in every single observation (whether of an experiment or not) and still hasn’t been disproven… it looks fairly reliable so far. :-)

    Now, I do not deny that the history of science is interesting in itself. But the history of science is not science, and understanding it is completely unnecessary for understanding science.

    I mean I shouldn’t start my study by reading the writings of St. John Chrysostom or St. Basil or even Christ.

    Huh?

    (Apart from the fact that not a single letter has ever been claimed to have been written by Jesus.)

    Protestants have made an idol of the Bible, and you conveniently bash away at the idol. Sorry, but if you want to really know that which you rail against

    Have you even read this blog post?!? In this thread we are not arguing against Christianity as a whole, we are arguing against the Biblical literalism of the people in the video. Watch the video, if you can stomach it (I can’t).

    In other words: you have changed the topic and don’t even seem to have noticed.

    What is relevant if it ain’t the pursuit of truth?

    Truth? “What is truth?” What if solipsism is the truth? We cannot find that out.

    What is relevant, then, is the recognition and understanding of reality.

    that nagging question about what life is for.

    Nagging? It has never nagged me…

    Just tell me: Why did Napoleon cross the Mississippi? You can’t, because that’s a wrong question: not any particular answer, but the question itself is wrong. The question makes an implicit assumption that is wrong.

    What makes you think that life is for anything? What makes you think this concept is even applicable?

    But how dare you discount a universe of of life within, a universe of the soul, just because YOU haven’t found it. And this without ever friggin’ trying! It is hubris par excellence. Come on, work with me here….

    So… in which ideas should we believe without evidence, and in which should we not? (Some of them are contradictory, you see — it’s usually difficult to have two religions at the same time, for example.)

    But to truly understand what a whale is is to come to know what LIFE MEANS.

    Does it mean anything?

    Or is that a wrong question, and “mean” doesn’t apply to “life” in the first place?

    I get the impression you have never asked yourself this kind of question.

    And if life means something, for what reason do you think ascetic meditation can help us find that out?

    “à priori”

    Latin a (the form of ab used before consonants) means “away from”. French à is derived from Latin ad which means “to”.

    So let me ask you this: Can one find out things that are true using non-scientific, ascetic means? In other words, is there a non-scientific method for finding out things that are true?

    You have it all backwards.

    There is no reliable, repeatable method to find out if anything is true.

    There is, however, a reliable, repeatable method to find out if something is wrong: science.

    And John – there is no Truth – no magic Way.. no final Revelation — and certainly no Saviour

    Oh, there might be. Or I might be the solipsist. We just can’t find that out, so all these ideas are in reality useless.

    Look, I am talking specifically about the attitude found on this site that all things not proven scientifically deserve scorn.

    You don’t know what you’re talking about. Science cannot prove, only disprove.

    What is this life for? None of you on this blog have even tried to answer that question.

    You have not even tried to answer the question whether your question is wrong. You have simply assumed that it does. And you ask us think?

    hell, the totality of life is mostly non-empirical in that most of life remains unknown because most of life takes place in this thing called the soul.

    See, that’s yet another of your assumptions that you simply throw at us as if it were a well-understood fact. It isn’t. It’s just that — an assumption. An assumption that you need to justify.

    And still, I’m waiting for my answer Stanton: Is there truth beyond the natural world?

    You should ask the interesting question instead: if there is truth beyond the natural world, how could we find that out?

    scientific research, meaning research conducted exclusively with man’s logic

    You, too, are mistaken, Fr. Peter. Philosophy and mathematics are conducted exclusively with logic. Science requires observation; just thinking about a problem does not guarantee that we will recognize a wrong idea as wrong. “Argumentation cannot suffice for the discovery of a new work, since the subtlety of nature is greater many times than the subtlety of argument.” (Francis Bacon)

    And often the findings of science run completely counter to man’s logic. Just think of the theory of relativity and of quantum physics!

    Such asceticism is not unlike the scientist of the material world who struggles to purify his logic and his vision of the material world to see it better and understand it better and “love” it.

    Not at all. The scientist constantly struggles to disprove his (…never mind her…) ideas, and everyone else’s, by deducing predictions from them and observing whether those predictions are wrong.

    And, yet, Christ and thousands of others who are like Him have claimed to have the cure for death.

    Testing these claims is easy, but publishing the results is… somewhat difficult. That makes these claims impossible to evaluate — and therefore as useless as the Sumerian idea that everyone’s shadow, regardless of faith, works, mercy or anything, goes to the underworld to eat mud and live in depression for all eternity.

    Well, in the latter case we can at least investigate the presumed physical location of the underworld… with Christianity we can’t even do that! What good is an idea if we can’t find out if it’s wrong?

  378. Fr. Peter says

    Windy,
    Life after death – if by life we mean a simliar existence to this diseased and falled one most live now – would not give meaning to existence. However, life in communion with Life, that is, God, would and does. And this life – true life – begins now and never ends. It redeems and heals the brokenness of this fallen, sick existence.
    The ancient Christian experience and understanding is that no one will “cease to exist”, but that the separation of the soul from the body is temporary until the second coming and final judgement. What does this mean? It means that all – those who loved Life – God – and those who didn’t, will life eternally. But life for the first will be joy and love, a light that shines on them, whereas life for the latter will be sorrow and regret, a fire (their conscience) that burns. This will be of their own doing and not God’s will.
    So, yes, in and of itself the fact of its infiniteness doesn’t make it meaningful, per se. Or, rather, it doesn’t make it joyful.
    Monodo FCD,
    If this life were it, then God keeping him in this life longer (for all men die – that is, their soul is separated from their body, i.e. life is taken from them) would be an absolute good. But, since this life is not it, but is but the beginning of either an eternity of love or an eternity of regret, suffering and even death itself are means to an end, not ends in themselves. That is, recovering or not recovering is not an absolute good or evil. Only one thing in this life is “dirty” and “bad” (poor words in English): sin. What is sin? To miss the mark? What is the mark? Communion with God, Who is our Life. So, if in suffering and death, we see not the deeper, ultimate meaning of life, and cannot reach out to communion with Life, we sin – we miss the mark. This is the greatest tragedy and loss.
    The greatest virtue and love is to love Christ God for Who is, not what he does for us or does not do for us. Christ is our crisis, so to speak: and we will be judged not by him, but by our own embracing of Him or rejection of Him – Who is Truth.
    As for the questions of historical nature you raise, these are of an entirely secondary nature to the first questions you raised – existential questions. The “facts seem dubious to me, personally, but also neither her nor there, in the final count. For those who have experience of the reality of the incarnation today, in the lives of holy ones who are “little christs” and show forth His person, these are non-questions. Such questions arise when we don’t know God. Just as one who knows his parents need not bicker over their date of birth or mother’s maiden name or when their family tree was recorded, etc. Dwelling in their presence and feeling their mother’s loving touch and hearing her sweet voice is “proof” enough. God keep and show you His Love, dear souls.

  379. David Marjanović, OM says

    Oh man, I filled 6 1/2 screens again…

    If so, then life is not only hopeless, it is also meaningless. And death is the cap to a meaningless existence.

    And?

    I understand I’m supposed to feel bad about this, but I don’t see why. I enjoy my life, and I don’t appear to have been produced for a purpose — where’s the connection between these two facts?

    But, as we know and experience, man was not created in this state of deterioration and death.

    You neither know nor experience this. You believe it. Why don’t you get such basic terminology right?

    Death came by means of turning away from Life

    …which explains why only humans ever die…

    The point, in this post, is: a true scientist will explore empirically all such claims and test experientially whether or not they hold up. He will not reject them out of hand because he doesn’t understand (yet) the method used to reach the conclusion.

    This is not the case — all scientists use the same method (which I just explained), so all scientists understand the method all other scientists use to reach their conclusions. They may not be familiar with the data, or with the hypotheses that are currently being tested in that field, and learning about that may well require years of dedicated study — but they are familiar with the method.

    This is also why theology is not a science: it does not use the scientific method.

    What sense does it make to trust a supposed expert who doesn’t use the scientific method to reach his conclusions? If he has a better method, he would have explained that method long ago, and he would have explained why that method is better, wouldn’t he?

  380. David Marjanović, OM says

    Oh man, I filled 6 1/2 screens again…

    If so, then life is not only hopeless, it is also meaningless. And death is the cap to a meaningless existence.

    And?

    I understand I’m supposed to feel bad about this, but I don’t see why. I enjoy my life, and I don’t appear to have been produced for a purpose — where’s the connection between these two facts?

    But, as we know and experience, man was not created in this state of deterioration and death.

    You neither know nor experience this. You believe it. Why don’t you get such basic terminology right?

    Death came by means of turning away from Life

    …which explains why only humans ever die…

    The point, in this post, is: a true scientist will explore empirically all such claims and test experientially whether or not they hold up. He will not reject them out of hand because he doesn’t understand (yet) the method used to reach the conclusion.

    This is not the case — all scientists use the same method (which I just explained), so all scientists understand the method all other scientists use to reach their conclusions. They may not be familiar with the data, or with the hypotheses that are currently being tested in that field, and learning about that may well require years of dedicated study — but they are familiar with the method.

    This is also why theology is not a science: it does not use the scientific method.

    What sense does it make to trust a supposed expert who doesn’t use the scientific method to reach his conclusions? If he has a better method, he would have explained that method long ago, and he would have explained why that method is better, wouldn’t he?

  381. windy says

    Then why say ‘life is meaningless if death is the end’, if you really mean ‘life is meaningless anyway if you aren’t Christian’? To sound less bigoted?

  382. Fr. Peter says

    < >

    We can’t. That is why religion is man-made. And that is also why Christ did not come to establish a religion, nor is Orthodox Christianity a religion. And by religion here we mean man’s attempt to find, understand, interpret, honor God. If that is all there is – a one way attempt, upward – then it is all tragically futile and mistaken.
    So, we can’t find the truth out – on our own. It must be revealed to us. And, it was. That is what the incarnation of God is all about. That is why Christianity is totally set apart from every other claim on truth. It was folly to the Greeks to accept that God became man – Theanthropos. It was a scandal to the Jews. And it is apparently a scandal and folly to contemporary scientists. And, yet, it is the only answer to your question: is there truth beyond the natural world and if so how can we find it out? If God didn’t reveal it – Himself – to us, we would remain in darkness as to Who He – the Truth – is. Again, our crisis is Christ – if we take the time and have the humility to examine it.
    As for logic and science, the point there was to indicate that the “eye of the soul” – the nous/intellect – is not operating in modern scientific research. That is, that observation – yes – is interpreted exclusively with the logic and the organ of higher intellect is inoperative. Now, you can’t measure it, so a modern scientist may think it not there, but then again, that is not the only thing immeasurable that we accept as existing. The universe is also immeasurable – to us – and yet we are sure of its existence. (Sure, we venture guesses and maybe are even sure we have answer – for now. Time will pass and we will see more and understand more.) The problem is that if we don’t activate the eyes of the soul, reality is impoverished immeasurably so and immediately. . .

    < >

    If one tries to evaluate a phenomenon using an incorrect tool, he will have no success. Likewise, if you want to evaluate spiritual phenomenon using the logic, which is meant to examine material phenomenon, you will not meet with success. But, moreover, God is not an idea but a Person and a reality – as real, or rather more real – than you or I or any part of nature. But, to realize that, to “examine Him”, we must first recognize His existence, draw near to Him, seek Him out.

    If one is good-willed and ready, the signs are endless of His presence. Only one: Only last year this month a few hours south of here the incorrupt body of a holy man, Father Vissarion (www.mpc.org.mk/English/orthnews2.asp?id=1194) was discovered. He had reposed 15 years ago, his body was as if it was laid in the tomb last week. This same phenomenon and blessing has visited countless saints of the Orthodox Church. And, what’s more, you can find such an incorrupt saint in America – in San Francisco today. Saint John of SF, at the Geary Street Cathedral. In life God performed countless miracles through him. In death, He kept his body from corruption. A sign of the Resurrection.

    Forgive me, but I must sign off now. If you would like to learn more, you may want to listen to the following:

    http://ancientfaith.com/podcasts/postcards

  383. David Marjanović, OM says

    And it is apparently a scandal and folly to contemporary scientists.

    Not at all. There’s simply no evidence for it.

    Why do you keep making assertions when you don’t even try to back them up?

    As for logic and science, the point there was to indicate that the “eye of the soul” – the nous/intellect – is not operating in modern scientific research.

    Does it even exist? If you think so, why do you think so?

    But, moreover, God is not an idea but a Person and a reality – as real, or rather more real – than you or I or any part of nature. But, to realize that, to “examine Him”, we must first recognize His existence

    Just so? Without evidence?

    He had reposed 15 years ago, his body was as if it was laid in the tomb last week.

    Details and evidence, please.

    I especially notice you write “last week”, not “yesterday”. What about ordinary mummification processes? Simple dryness?

  384. David Marjanović, OM says

    And it is apparently a scandal and folly to contemporary scientists.

    Not at all. There’s simply no evidence for it.

    Why do you keep making assertions when you don’t even try to back them up?

    As for logic and science, the point there was to indicate that the “eye of the soul” – the nous/intellect – is not operating in modern scientific research.

    Does it even exist? If you think so, why do you think so?

    But, moreover, God is not an idea but a Person and a reality – as real, or rather more real – than you or I or any part of nature. But, to realize that, to “examine Him”, we must first recognize His existence

    Just so? Without evidence?

    He had reposed 15 years ago, his body was as if it was laid in the tomb last week.

    Details and evidence, please.

    I especially notice you write “last week”, not “yesterday”. What about ordinary mummification processes? Simple dryness?

  385. Fr. Peter says

    When one says “life is meaningless if death is the end” he means to say that if life ends there, in death, then everything is swallowed up in death. And that it has no ultimate meaning. It is an answer to a perception of life and death. It has been said by countless people, before and after Christ’s Incarnation. To “unpack” it as I did, explaining it that way, was not meant to pass judgment on anyone, of course, but to give the Christian understanding and larger picture. What does bigotry have to do with it? Is truth bigoted?

    For David,

    You may enjoy your life, and that is good, but it doesn’t translate into meaning and purpose, and yes, that should bother us. But, unless we realize from where we have fallen and what we have lost, we will never mourn our loss. Because of our ignorance of the blessed life of communion with God, and because we live a life more akin to the animals rather than to our Creator and God – in whose Image we were made – we don’t have compunction for what we’ve lost or for the lack of love we have for God and His Truth. Until one loves, one has yet to feel pain.

    I do know and experience it – but not on the level and in the way you allow for. Just as one who loves his wife and kids know and experience their reciprocal love – something which can’t be measured or rationally explained, only experienced and “known”. Again, you apparently want to shrink down our life to a very narrow existence.

    We are talking apples and oranges. You want us all to be on the same level – that of material scientists – and you allow no room for another kind of science – of the spirit – because you measure everything using your rational intellect. That is why you can’t accept the idea that there is another method you and material scientists have ignored which revels another level of truth – a higher, deeper level, that exists on a plane above the material world. It all has to fit into your little box. But, thanks be to God, life is not that small, dear friend. We are not the sum of our part, not the mass of our cells. Life is not restricted to the material world.

    Theology doesn’t use the scientific method used by the material sciences – but, again, science is not that limited, because our world and existence is not the limited.

    As for death coming when man turned away from life, that is a reference to the ancient belief that man fell first and dragged the animal kingdom and material world down with him.
    The irrational creatures cannot be blamed for the fall – that is the point. But, I suppose that is a point you aren’t prepared to accept, so we can put it aside.

  386. RamblinDude says

    Fr. Peter (and john),

    Revealed truths have been closed off to “material scientists” and others, too, such as yourselves, who have been led astray by the Maya that clouds the minds of the lowers vibrational orders. That which is transcendent is glorified and magnified within the soul-seat of being, the most private of one’s spiritual possessions and yet the most accessible, if you only knew. Infinity is within you and without you, and the only way to truly become one with “All-that-is” is to bow humbly before one’s “self” as the creator and destroyer of all things. For the creator and destroyer of all things is not One’s self!! Only by understanding that you are infinitely small will you understand your infinite bigness.

    If you are true followers of Truth, then you will not shun guidance from “He who’s vibrations both annihilate and create.” Open your minds and hearts to the truth! Followers of Zeus experience higher consciousness in a way that you will never know because you have closed your mind to the possibility that there is more to reality than your limited worldview. Why not give it a try? Worship Zeus, my friends and see for yourself the wonders of higher consciousness and fulfillment of the “infinite” soul. for you, and all of Zeus’ creations are but spittle flecks upon his holy beard–but divine spittle flecks, nonetheless, for did we not all eminate from that great orifice from which those vibrational forces did first emanate that did shape the very foundations of the universe? Know then that of salvation and revelation, Salvation is… … etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. (Hey, this is fun. And easy! I mean, it’s so much easier than science. Maybe you’re on to something…)

    I have to tell you, you just look silly coming in here and spouting off all this spiritual nonsense. I’ll bet very little of what either of you said is the result of your own insight. It’s all dogma created by other people, and you have latched on to it because you love the feeling that you’re deep and know really important things.

    You’re on a science blog, and you’re dealing with people who love science and get genuinely excited about learning how the world actually works. What you are interpreting as the close-mindedness of the “material scientists” is simply their preoccupation with the real world, and their purposeful resolve to not play silly games.

  387. DanioPhD says

    Fr. Peter, your latest post exemplifies the opinion of many Christians I know who seem, pardon the expression, hell-bent on distancing themselves from ‘mere’ animals, in defining themselves as special, chosen, better than all other life forms–god’s image and all that. To my eye, the comments you have posted here today are steeped in fear. Fear of mortality, fear of being reduced to, or thinking of yourself as, merely the sum of your biological parts, fear of the restrictions you perceive in contemplating nothing beyond the material world.

    You write as if your faith is a shield against this fear, but I have to question why? Why fear any of these things? Why, in your view are any of these realities so dreaded? What is your opposition to being an animal, kin to all other life on this planet–really, where is the ignominy in that truly awesome connection?

    I just find it remarkable that you can look upon the untempered glory of the natural universe and consider it in any sense to be ‘small’ in the absence of superimposing a supreme being over all. I read your words and I am overwhelmingly thankful for a scientific, rationalist worldview that allows me to appreciate the wonders of the universe so fully that it is wholly unnecessary to contemplate the existence of any omniscient, omnipresent, unseen, untestable entity. That I am free of these shackles, these foggy lenses through which you and so many others must see the world, is an utterly joyful thing.

    That said, I don’t begrudge you your beliefs. You have been very articulate about what they mean to you, and I can appreciate them in an academic sense. But please, I implore you to return the courtesy. Accept that many of us can live really truly happily, even purposefully, cherising the one, ephemeral, biologically-dictated time that we have on this planet. I get that you truly believe we are missing out, but I assure you, we are not. Peace.

  388. Fr. Peter says

    DanioPhD,
    You are free to select what you like and reject what you like. That is, you are free because you are created in the image of God, who is utterly free. And because he loves you, he will never impinge on your freedom – otherwise, it wouldn’t be love. And neither will I press on. Only this: celebrating the glory of man created in the image of God is not to disparage the animal world, by any means. God illumine you to see that, while creation is wondrous and beautiful and the works of a loving God, it should direct us to Him and not be an end in itself. Otherwise, we will end up resembling those pagans of old who bowed down before statues and emperors and idols, worshiping the creation instead of the Creator.

  389. DanioPhD says

    Malaria. Leishmaniasis. Ebola. Muscular Dystrophy. Cancer. ALS. Anencephaly. Alzheimers. Wondrous and beautiful creations indeed.

    Otherwise, we will end up resembling those pagans of old who bowed down before statues and emperors and idols, worshiping the creation instead of the Creator.

    And what if we did? Do the marvelous scientific, artistic, cultural and literary advances of these pre-Christian civilizations detract from human history in any way? Did their system of worship not appear as equally valid to them as yours does to you? Do you really see yourself as any different save for the specific dogma you cleave to?

    To be clear, we are not worshipping anything. We admire, we marvel, we respect. There is a difference. We have not substituted science for religion, although this seems to be a very common misconception. We simply do not have a need for religion at all. Religion explains nothing. It discourages questions and critical thinking. It is anathema to a life spent freely investigating the natural world. Yes, I know, you think this freedom itself is a gift from a loving god. But pitted against the complete absence of evidence of any god, loving or otherwise, this assertion appears hollow and baseless indeed.

  390. Laser Potato says

    “Otherwise, we will end up resembling those pagans of old who bowed down before statues and emperors and idols, worshiping the creation instead of the Creator.”
    ATHIESM DOES NOT WORK THAT WAY!!!
    Though, DanioPhD put it more succinctly than I ever could.
    What is it with fundies thinking anyone who isn’t Christian worships Satan?

  391. DanioPhD says

    What is it with fundies thinking anyone who isn’t Christian worships Satan?

    Worse than Satan: Nature!.
    (Note that I assiduously avoided mentioning cephalopods in this exchange :0)

  392. says

    Otherwise, we will end up resembling those pagans of old who bowed down before statues and emperors and idols, worshiping the creation instead of the Creator.

    ATHEISM DOES NOT WORK THAT WAY!!!
    Though, DanioPhD put it more succinctly than I ever could.
    What is it with fundies thinking anyone who isn’t Christian worships Satan?

    Among other things, the constant conflation of Science with Atheism, with being devil-worshiping, baby-eating pagans is one of the main reasons why I regard morons like Fr. Peter and john as being pious idiots.

    And it seems that I’m doomed to repeat this until I’m blue in my fingers, but, “If Atheism is a belief system, then “bald” is a hair color, “off” is a channel on the television, and “I don’t have a car” is a brand of car.”

    And Laser Potato, fundamentalists tend to think that way, given as how they’re taught from an early age to think that “Thinking is the hobbyhorse of the Devil.”

  393. windy says

    “worshiping the creation instead of the Creator”

    That reminds me of my old supposedly-neutral religious education book. ‘The pagans worshiped trees and rocks, until the much more advanced Abrahamic religions came along!’ (Illustration of one guy kneeling and extending his hands towards some vegetation; another guy kneeling and extending his hands towards the sky – oh yeah that’s much smarter) Unintentionally hilarious!

  394. el juan says

    Hey, that Fr. Peter was pretty smart. In fact, for the most part, nobody really addressed his main concern: Could there be a spiritual world filled with spiritual realities that none of you can understand because you are all using the wrong tools? Not to say that the scientific method is a “wrong” tool, just wrong for understanding a whole set of truths about the spiritual world. And Fr. Peter asked another real good question that no one bothered with: How does science cure let’s say laziness, or greed? Aren’t these worthy of a cure? One could make an argument that these sicknesses have done more damage than ebola or cancer ever could. Just wondering. Peace.

  395. Kseniya says

    They are worthy of a cure, yes. All the ills of human nature are worthy of a cure, because (IMO) humanity is worthy of the effort. Appeals to the supernatural are not required.

  396. DanioPhD says

    Could there be a spiritual world filled with spiritual realities that none of you can understand because you are all using the wrong tools?

    Why, sure there could. There could also be a giant pink teapot in orbit around Rigel, from which new baby galaxies issue every time it comes to a boil. I cannot, as a scientist, absolutely refute either of these scenarios. However, the complete absence of evidence that either one of these things are true, and the likelihood that the concept of a ‘spiritual world’ is just as much a human fabrication as the galaxy-brewing teapot thing I just made up, cannot be ignored. There is nothing about the conscious mind, the ‘soul’ or the ‘spirit’ that cannot be addressed by neurochemistry and behavioral science. And frankly, if this set of ‘truths’ of which you speak requires no evidence, or corroboration, or reproducibility, I can scarcely stomach using the word ‘truth’ in association with it, let alone consider it as a viable example of the ‘limits’ of science. Such untestable scenarios are posited and endorsed exclusively by those engaging in some form of wish fulfillment: I wish it to be so, therefore it is so, and no one can disprove it.

    How does science cure let’s say laziness, or greed?

    Science has a much better chance of understanding the basis of these and any other human behaviors you care to discuss than religion ever will, and if your inference here is that religion IS a cure for laziness and greed, et al, you should brace yourself for the coming shit-storm.

  397. True Bob says

    Cure for laziness = caffeine, cocaine, amphetamines…

    Cure for greed = conscience or death

  398. Owlmirror says

    That is, you are free because you are created in the image of God, who is utterly free. And because he loves you, he will never impinge on your freedom – otherwise, it wouldn’t be love.

    Bah. Stuff and nonsense.

    “Love” is a terribly overloaded word; it can refer to desiring a particular food or a car or some other plaything; to liking something and finding it very interesting, whether abstract or concrete; to patriotism; to sexual attraction; to familial bonds; to strong friendship. And sometimes it refers to combinations of those very different emotions; sometimes very odd combinations.

    If God exists and created us, then the closest approximation to God-love would be parental love.

    But this leads to a direct contradiction: If God loves us as a parent, then even if God wants us to be “free”, God nevertheless has no excuse for not speaking to us directly. There is no true parental love which involves not speaking to one’s children.

    Unless, of course, something else is going on. There have been those who have suggested that God loves us the way a gourmand loves potato chips…

  399. David Marjanović, OM says

    You may enjoy your life, and that is good, but it doesn’t translate into meaning and purpose, and yes, that should bother us.

    But why? Why should it bother us?

    And, more importantly, if it should bother us, does that show that it isn’t true? Of course not. That would be an argument from consequences — a logical fallacy.

    But, unless we realize from where we have fallen and what we have lost, we will never mourn our loss. Because of our ignorance of the blessed life of communion with God, and because we live a life more akin to the animals rather than to our Creator and God – in whose Image we were made – we don’t have compunction for what we’ve lost or for the lack of love we have for God and His Truth. Until one loves, one has yet to feel pain.

    Fine. Now your job is to show that we have indeed fallen, that we have indeed lost something, that there is indeed such a thing as blessed life of communion with God. You keep making so many assumptions apparently without even realizing that you need to test them.

    You see, you have fallen among the scientists. You simply cannot make unsupported assertions. You have to publish the data and the methods which you have used to arrive at your conclusions. Giving us just the conclusions is not enough — because it doesn’t allow us to arrive at your conclusions for ourselves, and because it doesn’t allow us to find out if you have made a mistake. As you will agree, everyone makes mistakes; science is founded on the observation that everyone makes mistakes.

    I do know and experience it – but not on the level and in the way you allow for. Just as one who loves his wife and kids know and experience their reciprocal love – something which can’t be measured or rationally explained, only experienced and “known”. Again, you apparently want to shrink down our life to a very narrow existence.

    We have read this “argument” so often before… Love can easily be demonstrated to be present by science. Even demonstrating that we love some people more than others can easily be demonstrated. I don’t think anyone who isn’t a solipsist has ever even tried to deny the existence of love (and I don’t think any solipsist has ever existed).

    The question, of course, is what love is. Neurobiology says that, being an emotion, it is ultimately a matter of brain chemistry. You seem to disagree. Why is that? Perhaps you should attend an introductory lecture into this subject?

    We are talking apples and oranges. You want us all to be on the same level – that of material scientists – and you allow no room for another kind of science – of the spirit – because you measure everything using your rational intellect. That is why you can’t accept the idea that there is another method you and material scientists have ignored which revels another level of truth – a higher, deeper level, that exists on a plane above the material world. It all has to fit into your little box.

    Not so fast. Science is indeed a narrow discipline; as I have explained above, it is forced to ignore untestable claims, even if they might be true. You argue that theology is outside of this, that it can deal with untestable claims — fine, then it is outside of science. You cannot simply change the definition of science.

    But, thanks be to God, life is not that small, dear friend. We are not the sum of our part, not the mass of our cells.

    Of course not. Everything is the sum of its parts plus the sum of the interactions between these parts plus the sum of the interactions between these interactions plus the sum of the interactions between those interactions plus… — or at least I have yet to see evidence that this explanation does not suffice for any observation. If you have some, please show it to us.

    (This is also why the oh so dreaded method of reductionism is used in science. Reductionism means that first we investigate the parts, then the interactions between the parts, then the interactions between the interactions, and so on.)

    Life is not restricted to the material world.

    Show me.

    Theology doesn’t use the scientific method used by the material sciences – but, again, science is not that limited, because our world and existence is not the limited.

    This is why theology is not a science.

    As for death coming when man turned away from life, that is a reference to the ancient belief that man fell first and dragged the animal kingdom and material world down with him.

    I thought so. But you have overlooked that you have erected a testable and therefore scientific hypothesis here: that death didn’t exist before humans existed.

    And that is not the case. Depending on your definition, humans have existed for seven or eight million years at most. We have direct evidence for death — fossils — that is over three thousand million years old, perhaps up to three thousand five hundred million.

    Before you deny these ages, please read this page.

    The irrational creatures cannot be blamed for the fall – that is the point. But, I suppose that is a point you aren’t prepared to accept, so we can put it aside.

    You are mistaken. If you can show me evidence that it is the case, I am of course prepared to accept it. (To be honest, though, I’d be very surprised if you had such evidence.)

    At this point, I’d like to remind you that you have made a second testable and therefore scientific claim (a dogma of Orthodoxy, as far as I know): the claim that the corpses of saints don’t rot. But when I questioned that claim and suggested alternative and much more parsimonious hypotheses to explain the same evidence, you did not even try to falsify them. You just ignored the issue. If you don’t come back and make me eat my words, I will be forced to continue considering your claim unsupported.

    Could there be a spiritual world filled with spiritual realities that none of you can understand because you are all using the wrong tools?

    Certainly.

    But giving us another set of tools and just saying that these are the right tools doesn’t make them the right tools — especially if, if those tools were also wrong ones, we couldn’t find that out.

    All claims require evidence. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

  400. David Marjanović, OM says

    You may enjoy your life, and that is good, but it doesn’t translate into meaning and purpose, and yes, that should bother us.

    But why? Why should it bother us?

    And, more importantly, if it should bother us, does that show that it isn’t true? Of course not. That would be an argument from consequences — a logical fallacy.

    But, unless we realize from where we have fallen and what we have lost, we will never mourn our loss. Because of our ignorance of the blessed life of communion with God, and because we live a life more akin to the animals rather than to our Creator and God – in whose Image we were made – we don’t have compunction for what we’ve lost or for the lack of love we have for God and His Truth. Until one loves, one has yet to feel pain.

    Fine. Now your job is to show that we have indeed fallen, that we have indeed lost something, that there is indeed such a thing as blessed life of communion with God. You keep making so many assumptions apparently without even realizing that you need to test them.

    You see, you have fallen among the scientists. You simply cannot make unsupported assertions. You have to publish the data and the methods which you have used to arrive at your conclusions. Giving us just the conclusions is not enough — because it doesn’t allow us to arrive at your conclusions for ourselves, and because it doesn’t allow us to find out if you have made a mistake. As you will agree, everyone makes mistakes; science is founded on the observation that everyone makes mistakes.

    I do know and experience it – but not on the level and in the way you allow for. Just as one who loves his wife and kids know and experience their reciprocal love – something which can’t be measured or rationally explained, only experienced and “known”. Again, you apparently want to shrink down our life to a very narrow existence.

    We have read this “argument” so often before… Love can easily be demonstrated to be present by science. Even demonstrating that we love some people more than others can easily be demonstrated. I don’t think anyone who isn’t a solipsist has ever even tried to deny the existence of love (and I don’t think any solipsist has ever existed).

    The question, of course, is what love is. Neurobiology says that, being an emotion, it is ultimately a matter of brain chemistry. You seem to disagree. Why is that? Perhaps you should attend an introductory lecture into this subject?

    We are talking apples and oranges. You want us all to be on the same level – that of material scientists – and you allow no room for another kind of science – of the spirit – because you measure everything using your rational intellect. That is why you can’t accept the idea that there is another method you and material scientists have ignored which revels another level of truth – a higher, deeper level, that exists on a plane above the material world. It all has to fit into your little box.

    Not so fast. Science is indeed a narrow discipline; as I have explained above, it is forced to ignore untestable claims, even if they might be true. You argue that theology is outside of this, that it can deal with untestable claims — fine, then it is outside of science. You cannot simply change the definition of science.

    But, thanks be to God, life is not that small, dear friend. We are not the sum of our part, not the mass of our cells.

    Of course not. Everything is the sum of its parts plus the sum of the interactions between these parts plus the sum of the interactions between these interactions plus the sum of the interactions between those interactions plus… — or at least I have yet to see evidence that this explanation does not suffice for any observation. If you have some, please show it to us.

    (This is also why the oh so dreaded method of reductionism is used in science. Reductionism means that first we investigate the parts, then the interactions between the parts, then the interactions between the interactions, and so on.)

    Life is not restricted to the material world.

    Show me.

    Theology doesn’t use the scientific method used by the material sciences – but, again, science is not that limited, because our world and existence is not the limited.

    This is why theology is not a science.

    As for death coming when man turned away from life, that is a reference to the ancient belief that man fell first and dragged the animal kingdom and material world down with him.

    I thought so. But you have overlooked that you have erected a testable and therefore scientific hypothesis here: that death didn’t exist before humans existed.

    And that is not the case. Depending on your definition, humans have existed for seven or eight million years at most. We have direct evidence for death — fossils — that is over three thousand million years old, perhaps up to three thousand five hundred million.

    Before you deny these ages, please read this page.

    The irrational creatures cannot be blamed for the fall – that is the point. But, I suppose that is a point you aren’t prepared to accept, so we can put it aside.

    You are mistaken. If you can show me evidence that it is the case, I am of course prepared to accept it. (To be honest, though, I’d be very surprised if you had such evidence.)

    At this point, I’d like to remind you that you have made a second testable and therefore scientific claim (a dogma of Orthodoxy, as far as I know): the claim that the corpses of saints don’t rot. But when I questioned that claim and suggested alternative and much more parsimonious hypotheses to explain the same evidence, you did not even try to falsify them. You just ignored the issue. If you don’t come back and make me eat my words, I will be forced to continue considering your claim unsupported.

    Could there be a spiritual world filled with spiritual realities that none of you can understand because you are all using the wrong tools?

    Certainly.

    But giving us another set of tools and just saying that these are the right tools doesn’t make them the right tools — especially if, if those tools were also wrong ones, we couldn’t find that out.

    All claims require evidence. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

  401. David Marjanović, OM says

    Unless, of course, something else is going on. There have been those who have suggested that God loves us the way a gourmand loves potato chips…

    It was not nice of you to give Fr. Peter nightmares.

  402. David Marjanović, OM says

    Unless, of course, something else is going on. There have been those who have suggested that God loves us the way a gourmand loves potato chips…

    It was not nice of you to give Fr. Peter nightmares.

  403. DanioPhD says

    Unless, of course, something else is going on. There have been those who have suggested that God loves us the way a gourmand loves potato chips…

    If the Old Testament is any indication, he’s particularly fond of the Barbecue flavored ones…

  404. MAJeff, OM says

    If the Old Testament is any indication, he’s particularly fond of the Barbecue flavored ones…

    So good you can’t have just one!

  405. RamblinDude says

    Could there be a spiritual world filled with spiritual realities that none of you can understand because you are all using the wrong tools?

    I don’t find this a wrong question or even out of place. I would go even a step further and add, “…or that none of you can even experience because you are using the wrong tools?”

    Given the enormous history of religion’s influence, and all the claims it makes, it makes sense to ask, “Is there anything to all of this?” My question to anyone who asks these questions, though, would be, “How sincere are you at finding out the answers?” Because if it’s the truth you want, and not just the security and comfort of a belief system, (with all the components of desire that that entails) you will investigate it all the way down. And that means examining everything from all angles, all the time, without accepting anyone’s, or anything’s, authority on the matter.

    It is the unwillingness for continued and relentless scrutiny (self and otherwise) that is, to me, the most disturbing thing about setting up faith as a goal to be achieved.

    How does science cure let’s say laziness, or greed? Aren’t these worthy of a cure?

    An interesting question. I don’t know how science would cure them, but I’m more interested in what your definitions of “laziness” and “greed” are. To me, accepting another person (or a book or religion) as an authority, and then letting them tell me what to believe, is the very definition of laziness. I would also characterize the desire to substitute play pretend for reality in order to reap “spiritual” rewards, as a definition of greed.

    A keen appreciation of science can help to cure both of these ills.

  406. Owlmirror says

    It was not nice of you to give Fr. Peter nightmares.

    Well, perhaps after I die, I’ll regret it. Forever.

    Still, I just can’t help wondering about these things. And of course, Rev. 3:16 is very worrying indeed, in its implications.

    Do fattened cattle tell each other that humans love them?

    Why does no one come back from Heaven to tell us how great it is?

  407. john says

    To David:

    Why is the test for truth (a testable claim as you say in your blog)based in the material world? Because you can see it? Because someone else can come behind and prove it wrong (using a method asserted as true)? Why is what is verifiable only that which is verifiable by the scientific method? Are you saying that anything not proven scientifically must be discounted as real? What of art? What of love, heretofore known as a secretion. Besides… no scientist really lives like this, verifying their love for their children by testing levels of secretion in the brain. It is exceptional thinking indeed to imagine that all truth is bound by a method so rarely employed by so much of humanity. How sad it must be for the billions who can’t read the journals necessary to verify that they are in fact happy, or sad or indeed loved. Aren’t some things simply known in that they are revealed to man? Death bad. Life good. Hunger bad, meat good. Why verify this? (And how boring) Isn’t the skepticism of science ultimately a defence against faith? A way to fight the unknown powers that be? And perhaps most importantly, isn’t the little childs question about what came before the big bang the most compelling question of all? The one question that surely you don’t believe you’ll ever verify? I mean, you don’t really believe you’ll use matter to study how matter came from, well, nothing? I mean that’s the most simple of philosophical quandaries, one very few in the scientific community really ever addresses. Something never comes from nothing, it can’t, and if you say it can, then how can you verify this using a method dedicated to the study of matter… of something? Or you might answer (and I suspect you will) that there was always something. Hmm. That sounds conveniently similar to the answer taught be, well, let’s say hundreds of millions of scientifically illiterate people for thousands of years. You know, the whole He was before time thing, begotten not made… I may be simple minded, but you must agree, that child will never truly know from where he comes reading your blogs, will he?

    Hey, and one other thing. When you say evolution is scientifically verifiable, do you mean it can be tested, like tested today? Seriously, this confuses me. What is being tested? Fossils? What are they being tested for? Dates? Similarities to other fossils? I get that, but is that a test for change over time that in any way can stand the rigor that you speak of in your earlier blog? How can you test change over time with objects that are static? That eludes me, but I know there is a scientific answer for it, or at least, a psuedo-scientific answer for it. Thanks for taking the time. Peace.

  408. guitarathiest says

    HAHAHAHA

    The creationist is complaining about circular logic…

    the irony is astounding!

  409. RamblinDude says

    Why is the test for truth (a testable claim as you say in your blog)based in the material world?

    David Marjanović, OM, and others, have already offered very good, qualified answers to your questions in this thread, but you’re not really here to learn, are you? You are here to convert. Hmm…imagine that, a person of faith who never seems to get it.

    And perhaps most importantly, isn’t the little childs question about what came before the big bang the most compelling question of all? The one question that surely you don’t believe you’ll ever verify? I mean, you don’t really believe you’ll use matter to study how matter came from, well, nothing? I mean that’s the most simple of philosophical quandaries, one very few in the scientific community really ever addresses. … Etc.

    There are people in the world who, no matter how often you try to explain how a jumbo jet is able to fly, will simply shake their heads and mutter, “But look how big it is! How does it get off the ground?” You are one of those people.

    Here’s a thought: try reading up on what science is, what it does, how it works, and get at least some understanding of the current discoveries and theories, first, before you try to critique it. Because honestly, your entire post is nothing but a compendium of reasons to feel irritation for the ignorance that results from prizing faith, what you proudly embrace as “revealed” knowledge.

  410. DanioPhD says

    If the Old Testament is any indication, he’s particularly fond of the Barbecue flavored ones…
    So good you can’t have just one!

    …Zeus, on the other hand, is really into Lays

  411. Fr. Peter says

    — < Love can easily be demonstrated to be present by science...The question, of course, is what love is. >>

    On the one hand it can easily be demonstrated to exist, yet on the other hand . . . we don’t know what it is exactly. Hmm. Sounds like either we havn’t done our homework or we are dealing with a reality that, in fact, eludes material science’s abilities.
    —————————————

    — Fine. Now your job is to show that we have indeed fallen, that we have indeed lost something, that there is indeed such a thing as blessed life of communion with God. —

    Answer: That is something that, 1) *I* can’t “show” 2) can’t be “shown” on a blog, 3) can only be shown to someone who sincerely wants to be shown it, 4) is his task to investigate (an investigation which takes time and loving devotion), 5) is shown to a humble heart, 6) is revealed by God to a seeking heart.
    However, there ARE witnesses and testimonies to both the falleness of this world and its restoration in communion with God. Thousands. They are those who manifested in their lives, often times in their very bodies, the effects of this communion with God. There are hundreds of such signs in the “Kiev Caves” monastery (in the Ukraine): incorrupt bodies of ascetics from the 12th-17th centuries. There is the humble bishop and miracle-worker Saint Spyridon who lived on Cyprus in the 4th century and whose incorrupt body is found today on the island of Kerkyira (Corfu). There is the incorrupt body of Saint Dionysios, an ascetic from the 16th century on the island of Zakynthos. There is Saint Gerasimos on the island of Cephalonia – also incorrupt. There is also the partially incorrupt skull of Saint John Chrysostom (4th century) on Mount Athos. I already mentioned two other contemporary signs of communion with God – the humble ascetic Vissarion who reposed 15 years ago and is incorrupt (see the link above for a news article on him) and Saint John of San Francisco, whose incorrupt body lies in the Russian Orthodox cathedral on Geary Street there (who reposed in 1966). These are all signs – even material signs – of the life of communion with God that they lived.
    These are for YOU to investigate – if you are truly interested in seeing how communion with God overcomes the laws of (fallen) nature and cannot be explained by material science. It is a mystery of the Presence of God in the world.

  412. john says

    To Ramblin Dude:

    To put it bluntly, neither David Marjovic, Stanton, you, or any other person on this blog has ever answered my question:

    Why is the test for truth (a testable claim as you say in your blog)based in the material world?

    The answer I’ve been given, and if you go back and read closely you’ll see, amounts to scientists telling me there are no other ways to knowledge but through verification using the scientific method (do you dispute this?). In short, scientists keep telling me that my faith is illegimate because it lacks criteria that can be verified. But that in itself assumes that legitimacy comes from scientific verification. This is exactly what people of faith do when they posit a belief in Christ. Exactly. And it is not rightly called circular logic as a blogger says above, it is faith. Yes, it is outside of logic, beyond logic, below logic whatever you want to call it. But science, like Orthodox Christianity, is founded on an assumption, a revelation if you will, that some things are true. Verification is what you trust. Ascetic practice is the means by which I hope to find truth. Why can’t you allow for this… why must it be so maligned, so derided? Is it because it challenges your belief that ALL truth is found in the verifiable study of matter? I mean the reactions on this site to honest discussion are eerily similar to reactions of zealous Christians to non-believers, to doubters, to pagans. The blind Christian zealots were wrong when they killed “heretics”, why is your hate and disdain for those outside your faith any different? Who can doubt that folks like those found on this site won’t one day very soon be that very scary class of priests who in times past burned non-believers at the stake? It wasn’t verified, it wasn’t proven, it must be abolished! And though I think you’ll find what I just said funny, many more than you know already feel the sting of materialism and the hatred of materialists (go and study the Russian Revolution for some good reading on just how lovely materialists can be to “idiotic,” “irrational,” “superstitious,” “out of touch and irrelevent,” believers. (Those are all things I’ve been called on this site). So go ahead and ignore the tone on this site, but you do it at your peril, and mine.

    And as for the Jumbo jet analogy… it doesn’t fly.

  413. RamblinDude says

    John,

    To put it bluntly, neither David Marjovic, Stanton, you, or any other person on this blog has ever answered my question:

    Why is the test for truth (a testable claim as you say in your blog)based in the material world?

    Here is a quote from David Marjanović, OM

    Could there be a spiritual world filled with spiritual realities that none of you can understand because you are all using the wrong tools?
    Certainly.

    But giving us another set of tools and just saying that these are the right tools doesn’t make them the right tools — especially if, if those tools were also wrong ones, we couldn’t find that out.

    All claims require evidence. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

    I am not a scientist, myself, but these are my thoughts on the matter.

    Why is what is verifiable only that which is verifiable by the scientific method?

    I’m not sure why that doesn’t answer itself. If it’s verifiable then it can be perceived, it impacts our physical senses, and you can make claims about it. If it manifests in the material world, it can be tested for validity. Just because the results may not fit into a test tube doesn’t mean that certain principles of investigation can’t be applied.

    Are you saying that anything not proven scientifically must be discounted as real?

    No. Of course not. But if it’s not able to be falsified, and you say it is real, then what is your evidence? All claims require evidence. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

    What of art? What of love, heretofore known as a secretion. Besides… no scientist really lives like this, verifying their love for their children by testing levels of secretion in the brain.

    Some may, I don’t know. There are all kinds of people in the world. How do you know that it isn’t secretions? Don’t you want to get to the “Truth”? Are you curious and willing to investigate it? The truth may not be something you care for, but that doesn’t discount the validity of the scientific method–which has cast serious doubt on nonmaterial explanations. In any case, no one has to remain in permanent hyper-analytical mode. Believe it or not, even scientists can appreciate beauty for its own sake, and can look up “in perfect silence” at the stars.

    It is exceptional thinking indeed to imagine that all truth is bound by a method so rarely employed by so much of humanity.

    Only testable “truth” is within the reach of science. Otherwise, “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” And the fact that the method is not employed doesn’t mean that it can’t be employed. That it remains misunderstood, and often feared, doesn’t invalidate the approach.

    Why create this artificial divide? There is the world—the universe, and us in it. Here we are, a bunch of humans imagining a spirit world and conjecturing about nonmaterial processes (or supernatural whatever). It’s still all us, in the material world, imagining things. Do you have some evidence that the supernatural is anything other than a product of imagination, a thought process that takes place in the material world? (What, feelings? If you’re not willing to allow the possibility that feelings are material in nature then you’re not really examining it from all angles.

    The answer I’ve been given, and if you go back and read closely you’ll see, amounts to scientists telling me there are no other ways to knowledge but through verification using the scientific method (do you dispute this?).

    I don’t know what you have been told. I’m not going to reread it all. “Knowledge” is a broad brush. I don’t know how many ways there are to obtain knowledge, but obviously people have learned things without purposefully applying the scientific method. If, however, you want to prove that you have knowledge, to a bunch of people who aren’t interested in playing silly games, then you better be able to back up your claim with something more than “Oh, I just know.”

    In short, scientists keep telling me that my faith is illegimate because it lacks criteria that can be verified.

    From the perspective of science, your faith is illegitimate (at least in a rational world) only if elements within it can be falsified. Many aspects of faith cannot be falsified–proven wrong. But if your beliefs are in contradiction to known facts–the way faith in the bible’s inerrancy leads to creationism and contradicts known facts about the world, then it can be falsified by the scientific method and evaluated as illegitimate by scientists.

    But that in itself assumes that legitimacy comes from scientific verification. This is exactly what people of faith do when they posit a belief in Christ. Exactly.

    I totally don’t get your logic here. You mean people of faith do exactly the opposite? Assume legitimacy from spiritual verification? Or feelings or whatnot that–they claim–cannot be measured scientifically? If I take your meaning, it’s not the same at all. Science and faith are exact opposites. Do People of faith scrutinize their belief in Christ? Examining it from all angles to see what is true and false? What is true within the false, and false within the true, and keep an open mind to the possibility that they may be entirely wrong? I don’t think so. There is very little to be equated about people who remain skeptical about everything, and people who cherish their belief system for the act of believing.

    Science is not a belief system, it is a method of investigation. (If you do not understand this, you do not understand science.)

    And it is not rightly called circular logic as a blogger says above, it is faith.

    Faith because…why? Having faith in the bible, and Christ, because the bible tells you to have faith, is indeed circular logic. (I don’t know exactly where your faith comes from, and I don’t feel like going back up and rereading everything.) If you say you “just know” with dead certainty then I’ll take you at your word. I don’t know what goes on in other people’s heads. All I have are my opinions about it. But if you keep making extraordinary claims without evidence, and/or your faith impinges on my world negatively then I may have very strong opinions about it.

    Yes, it is outside of logic, beyond logic, below logic whatever you want to call it. But science, like Orthodox Christianity, is founded on an assumption, a revelation if you will, that some things are true

    You have to start someplace. You exist. True statement or false statement? As you get deeper into the assertions about reality, assumptions become more tentative and less dogmatic–in science. That is the very reason why science is so very, very careful.

    Verification is what you trust.

    (Well, it’s what we go with until it gets falsified)

    Ascetic practice is the means by which I hope to find truth.

    And here we come back to asking, “What do you mean by truth?” It sounds to me like you are trying to find something that is beyond the material world. Why? Why this desire to escape the “truth” of the material world? Look, thought is a material process that takes place within the brain. This “Truth” that you are after is a product of thought. It’s an image created by thought. This ideal state of being, where one rises above the ordinary, is an abstract, idealized “thought”, a physical process. You have set your self upon a path, but the path is a physical process, because thought, itself, is a physical process. At the end of all your meditations and disciplines and ascetic trials, what have you got? Is it not what you were searching for all along? And when you find that happiness, divine spark, whatever, you will recognize it! “Ah! This is what I was after!” Church is a brilliant example of this. The organ music, the group singing, the praying and concentrating on the right images and thoughts, all calculated toward achieving a certain kind of feeling. It’s theater, not evidence. Very human, and very mundane, and very material–not “spiritual”.

    We humans are clever animals. We are imaginative and very capable. You will achieve what you set out to achieve. If you want to see Jesus, you will see Jesus. You want to see beautiful gardens of heaven, you will see the beautiful gardens of heaven. You search for inner peace, you find inner peace. It is obvious that people can concentrate on, and achieve, just about any kind of feeling they want. All you will have done is to accomplish a material goal that you have dressed up as “immaterial”. “The Truth” that you are after is nothing more than a construction of your own thoughts–or, more probably, someone else’s. Why not focus your attention on reality–as it is–without trying to escape from it into some other “reality”?

    What the real “Truth” actually is, is you chasing after “TRUTH”. (I’m not saying what is legitimate or appropriate for you or anyone else. I’m just pointing something out. To each his own.)

    Why can’t you allow for this… why must it be so maligned, so derided? Is it because it challenges your belief that ALL truth is found in the verifiable study of matter?

    I don’t think anyone is claiming that “ALL” truth is found in the verifiable study of matter. If there is “truth” beyond matter (physical world) then it is beyond science. But there are still obvious “truths”. All of the different, contradictory religions cannot all be true, for instance. And many of them don’t even need to be compared with other beliefs Many of these “Truths” have been tested and falsified (like creationism) and other aspects of Bible literalness.

    I mean the reactions on this site to honest discussion are eerily similar to reactions of zealous Christians to non-believers, to doubters, to pagans. The blind Christian zealots were wrong when they killed “heretics”, why is your hate and disdain for those outside your faith any different?

    What you are seeing is a mounting disgust and impatience from scientists, and people who love science (a serious minded, difficult and extremely careful method of investigation into the world as it is), for people who march into the arena of science and try to destroy it in the name of some god. No one cares if their faith is “falsifiable” or not. They are trespassing and trampling on an endeavor that has brought the world a deep understanding of nature, and astonishing technology–and they are pissing all over it in the name of faith. (They are also trying to get us blown up in some stupid ass Armageddon, and are trying to turn the country into a theocracy.) For the most part, all we see from these people is endless lying. It never stops. This is not an exaggeration. We have discovered, through hundreds of man hours of blogging, that people of “faith” tend to do no investigation, they just quote each other endlessly; they quotemine endlessly; when corrected, they don’t take the correction, they just keep on quoting each other and lying the same old lies, endlessly. It gets very tiring. (And you wonder why the word “faith” pushes buttons around here?) We see obvious willful ignorance on a daily basis. It’s like being in a Stargate episode where they go to a backwards planet full of superstitious people who want to kill the intruders because they’re afraid of their “magic”. Tempers get short.

    Who can doubt that folks like those found on this site won’t one day very soon be that very scary class of priests who in times past burned non-believers at the stake? It wasn’t verified, it wasn’t proven, it must be abolished!

    LOL. Don’t be so melodramatic. Yes PZ’s site is loud and pejorative, but if you stick around, you’ll see that he’s a pretty decent guy who is just trying to get people’s attention. He and most of the regulars here are actually very conciliatory to people who genuinely want to learn. If such an awful thing as you describe were to come to pass, it would no longer be science that rules; it would be human pettiness. Such a scenario is the exact opposite of a rational, critically thinking society. Human pettiness is something we must ever be on guard against. (It’s the reason the scientific method was invented!). It leads to arrogance and that leads to dishonesty, and that interferes with, among other things, science. (Not to mention human interaction at all levels)

    And though I think you’ll find what I just said funny, many more than you know already feel the sting of materialism and the hatred of materialists (go and study the Russian Revolution for some good reading on just how lovely materialists can be to “idiotic,” “irrational,” “superstitious,” “out of touch and irrelevent,” believers. (Those are all things I’ve been called on this site). So go ahead and ignore the tone on this site, but you do it at your peril, and mine.

    Let me be very clear. The goal of the so called “New Atheism” is to spread rational, critical thinking. It has become an imperative goal because irrational, uncritical thinking is tearing the world apart. Irrational, uncritical thinking has come under many banners: religion, materialism, Christianity, Islamism, Communism. Any belief system that is dogmatic, authoritative, suppressive, and antagonistic to questioning, is a problem. It stabs at the heart of a free society, and science. That is the very reason science is endangered today, and why this blog is so outspoken. In any case, we don’t want to take people’s religions away from them. Any rational person can see that that would not work, anyway. We want to educate, not suppress. This cause fear in people.

    And as for the Jumbo jet analogy… it doesn’t fly.

    We’ll see. But I do suggest you learn what it is that scientists really think (especially in the area of cosmology) from scientific sources. Live long and prosper.

  414. RamblinDude says

    Oh, I forgot to add that one of our messages is: people who don’t believe in invisible, supernatural beings also have a right to live in America.

    End of post, promise.

  415. AC says

    You may enjoy your life, and that is good, but it doesn’t translate into meaning and purpose, and yes, that should bother us.

    Incorrect – it does translate into meaning (if not purpose) for me. Who are you to tell me it doesn’t? If it doesn’t for you, that’s fine, but why should I care?

    …can only be shown to someone who sincerely wants to be shown it….

    Translation: Only when you have sufficiently altered your brain as to be susceptible to it can you see it. Well, what if I like my brain as it is?

    And it is not rightly called circular logic as a blogger says above, it is faith. Yes, it is outside of logic, beyond logic, below logic whatever you want to call it.

    The word is “irrational”. So let’s get down to business, shall we? The so-called truth you personally find in mysticism does not extend beyond your own cranium without a means of transmission. You came here to preach; that is your means of transmission. You admittedly have no other, because your mysticism requires rejection of an objective means in favor of irrational, emotional means. You prefer the latter over the former, and that’s fine for you.

    But what if I don’t feel what you feel? What if your words don’t move me? What if I simply see no value in mysticism and prefer to invest in empiricism, objective means, and the material world? Shall we agree to disagree?

    why is your hate and disdain for those outside your faith any different?

    Clearly you think we won’t do so. So I’ll make you this deal: If you agree to let science do its thing, according to its method, we’ll agree to let you do your thing, according to your mysticism. You can try to convince us that we’re missing a vital aspect of existence. You can invite each of us to personally explore your alleged spiritual world. You can even enjoy the benefits of science; we’re generous like that. The only thing you can’t do is interfere with our choices. For indeed, the only way to make us accept your mysticism, apart from proselytizing, would be to hack our brains. I hope we can all agree on the wrongness of that.

    Sound good? If so, how is this any different from the current state of affairs? I submit that what you sense from us as enmity is instead merely fatigue. None of this is new after all.

  416. David Marjanović, OM says

    And of course, Rev. 3:16 is very worrying indeed, in its implications.

    Hmmmm…

    To David:

    Why is the test for truth (a testable claim as you say in your blog)based in the material world?

    So I need to repeat myself a fourth time?

    It isn’t. It isn’t anywhere else either. There is no test for truth. There is only a test for falsehood — and that is the scientific method.

    Why is what is verifiable only that which is verifiable by the scientific method? Are you saying that anything not proven scientifically must be discounted as real?

    As I have told you several times now, nothing at all is really verifiable in the strict sense, and there is no such thing as scientific proof. Proof exists only in math and formal logics.

    What of art? What of love, heretofore known as a secretion.

    No, an interaction. A marvelously complex one indeed.

    Besides… no scientist really lives like this, verifying their love for their children by testing levels of secretion in the brain.

    Oh, so you’ve never heard of the science of ethology: the investigation of behavior.

    Aren’t some things simply known in that they are revealed to man? Death bad. Life good. Hunger bad, meat good.

    What is revealed about this?

    Isn’t the skepticism of science ultimately a defence against faith? A way to fight the unknown powers that be?

    No, it’s a way to deal with the fact that the person you can fool the most easily is you yourself.

    And don’t be so quick to assume that any powers be. :-)

    And perhaps most importantly, isn’t the little childs question about what came before the big bang the most compelling question of all?

    “Before” doesn’t apply to the origin of time. As to the cause… physicists are working at it. For example, the Big Bang could just be a quantum fluctuation.

    The one question that surely you don’t believe you’ll ever verify?

    Plenty of hypotheses about it are falsifiable, and many have been falsified. The question is thus within the realm of science.

    Something never comes from nothing, it can’t, and if you say it can, then how can you verify this using a method dedicated to the study of matter… of something?

    You’ll be surprised at the progress quantum physics has made in the last one hundred years. Google for “virtual particles” and for “Casimir effect”. The latter will really surprise you… Reality, you see, is stranger than fiction.

    Hey, and one other thing. When you say evolution is scientifically verifiable,

    Testable, not verifiable. Nothing is verifiable.

    do you mean it can be tested, like tested today?

    Sure. I’ve seen it happening with my own eyes.

    Seriously, this confuses me. What is being tested? Fossils? What are they being tested for? Dates? Similarities to other fossils? I get that, but is that a test for change over time that in any way can stand the rigor that you speak of in your earlier blog? How can you test change over time with objects that are static?

    Confusion is good. Confusion is the path to inquiry, and inquiry is the path to knowledge. (The apocryphal Gospel of Thomas says something surprisingly similar, BTW.)

    First, learn what technical terms like “fact”, “hypothesis” and “theory” mean.

    Then it will be obvious that fact aren’t tested — speculations, hypotheses and theories are. This is done in the following way: Examine the implications — the predictions — that the idea makes, and then look if you can make an observation that contradicts one or more of these predictions. If you succeed, the idea is disproven. If the idea doesn’t make predictions in the first place, it cannot be tested and is forgettable.

    The theory of evolution makes lots of predictions. For example, it was used to predict the finding of this here. Furthermore, it predicts that other things will never be found. Find a single Silurian rabbit skeleton, and it will be in deep trouble. I wish you the best of luck.

    That is something that, 1) *I* can’t “show” 2) can’t be “shown” on a blog, 3) can only be shown to someone who sincerely wants to be shown it, 4) is his task to investigate (an investigation which takes time and loving devotion), 5) is shown to a humble heart, 6) is revealed by God to a seeking heart.

    In other words, it requires assuming the conclusion a priori. Or what have I missed?

    Understand that this is not how science works. No matter how solid my faith that heavy objects fall faster than lighter ones, they still don’t (if air resistance is accounted for), even if I drop them. Reality is that which does not go away if I stop believing in it.

    There is also the partially incorrupt skull of Saint John Chrysostom

    The partially incorrupt skull?

    If I were Orthodox, I would consider it blasphemy to stretch the definition of “incorrupt” all the way to ridiculosity.

    Honestly, are you a satirist, out to ridicule the faith?

    These are for YOU to investigate

    Fine, I will try to find out more of them. But I used to think that “incorrupt” means “does not rot — stays in the state it had at death or perhaps a day later”. The way you use it, it seems “something remains at all — not all of it rots”. I expect to find a few bodies mummified by dryness and air circulation (there are remarkable cases of this in western Europe that nobody calls incorrupt or holy); I expect to find a few partial skeletons with some ligaments and some skin still present; I do not expect to find a single case where a body is even as well preserved as the formaldehyde-treated Lenin.

    See? I have made three testable predictions. :-)

    David Marjovic

    If you can’t read my name, copy & paste it like everyone else does. :-)

    go and study the Russian Revolution for some good reading on just how lovely materialists can be

    1) I know they called themselves materialists, but were they? They believed in “historical inevitability” — a metaphysical force. They believed in the infallibility of Marx, Lenin, Stalin — do I need to comment? Communism is just another religion, one without an afterlife except for Kim Il-Sung, but still a religion.
    2) Science makes (and constantly tests, as I have explained) the assumption of methodological naturalism, not that of metaphysical naturalism. If you don’t understand the difference, tell me, and I’ll explain it again.

    You have to start someplace. You exist. True statement or false statement?

    “Dubito — ergo cogito — ergo sum.” :-)

    We humans are clever animals. We are imaginative and very capable. You will achieve what you set out to achieve. If you want to see Jesus, you will see Jesus. You want to see beautiful gardens of heaven, you will see the beautiful gardens of heaven. You search for inner peace, you find inner peace. It is obvious that people can concentrate on, and achieve, just about any kind of feeling they want.

    A little girl once had a near-death experience that she describes in the same ways that the paradise of Islam is traditionally described. What is going on here, john? How is this possible?

    And where did that girl live?

    ——————————-

    Take-home message for john: Always keep asking yourself the question: If I were wrong, how would I know?

  417. David Marjanović, OM says

    And of course, Rev. 3:16 is very worrying indeed, in its implications.

    Hmmmm…

    To David:

    Why is the test for truth (a testable claim as you say in your blog)based in the material world?

    So I need to repeat myself a fourth time?

    It isn’t. It isn’t anywhere else either. There is no test for truth. There is only a test for falsehood — and that is the scientific method.

    Why is what is verifiable only that which is verifiable by the scientific method? Are you saying that anything not proven scientifically must be discounted as real?

    As I have told you several times now, nothing at all is really verifiable in the strict sense, and there is no such thing as scientific proof. Proof exists only in math and formal logics.

    What of art? What of love, heretofore known as a secretion.

    No, an interaction. A marvelously complex one indeed.

    Besides… no scientist really lives like this, verifying their love for their children by testing levels of secretion in the brain.

    Oh, so you’ve never heard of the science of ethology: the investigation of behavior.

    Aren’t some things simply known in that they are revealed to man? Death bad. Life good. Hunger bad, meat good.

    What is revealed about this?

    Isn’t the skepticism of science ultimately a defence against faith? A way to fight the unknown powers that be?

    No, it’s a way to deal with the fact that the person you can fool the most easily is you yourself.

    And don’t be so quick to assume that any powers be. :-)

    And perhaps most importantly, isn’t the little childs question about what came before the big bang the most compelling question of all?

    “Before” doesn’t apply to the origin of time. As to the cause… physicists are working at it. For example, the Big Bang could just be a quantum fluctuation.

    The one question that surely you don’t believe you’ll ever verify?

    Plenty of hypotheses about it are falsifiable, and many have been falsified. The question is thus within the realm of science.

    Something never comes from nothing, it can’t, and if you say it can, then how can you verify this using a method dedicated to the study of matter… of something?

    You’ll be surprised at the progress quantum physics has made in the last one hundred years. Google for “virtual particles” and for “Casimir effect”. The latter will really surprise you… Reality, you see, is stranger than fiction.

    Hey, and one other thing. When you say evolution is scientifically verifiable,

    Testable, not verifiable. Nothing is verifiable.

    do you mean it can be tested, like tested today?

    Sure. I’ve seen it happening with my own eyes.

    Seriously, this confuses me. What is being tested? Fossils? What are they being tested for? Dates? Similarities to other fossils? I get that, but is that a test for change over time that in any way can stand the rigor that you speak of in your earlier blog? How can you test change over time with objects that are static?

    Confusion is good. Confusion is the path to inquiry, and inquiry is the path to knowledge. (The apocryphal Gospel of Thomas says something surprisingly similar, BTW.)

    First, learn what technical terms like “fact”, “hypothesis” and “theory” mean.

    Then it will be obvious that fact aren’t tested — speculations, hypotheses and theories are. This is done in the following way: Examine the implications — the predictions — that the idea makes, and then look if you can make an observation that contradicts one or more of these predictions. If you succeed, the idea is disproven. If the idea doesn’t make predictions in the first place, it cannot be tested and is forgettable.

    The theory of evolution makes lots of predictions. For example, it was used to predict the finding of this here. Furthermore, it predicts that other things will never be found. Find a single Silurian rabbit skeleton, and it will be in deep trouble. I wish you the best of luck.

    That is something that, 1) *I* can’t “show” 2) can’t be “shown” on a blog, 3) can only be shown to someone who sincerely wants to be shown it, 4) is his task to investigate (an investigation which takes time and loving devotion), 5) is shown to a humble heart, 6) is revealed by God to a seeking heart.

    In other words, it requires assuming the conclusion a priori. Or what have I missed?

    Understand that this is not how science works. No matter how solid my faith that heavy objects fall faster than lighter ones, they still don’t (if air resistance is accounted for), even if I drop them. Reality is that which does not go away if I stop believing in it.

    There is also the partially incorrupt skull of Saint John Chrysostom

    The partially incorrupt skull?

    If I were Orthodox, I would consider it blasphemy to stretch the definition of “incorrupt” all the way to ridiculosity.

    Honestly, are you a satirist, out to ridicule the faith?

    These are for YOU to investigate

    Fine, I will try to find out more of them. But I used to think that “incorrupt” means “does not rot — stays in the state it had at death or perhaps a day later”. The way you use it, it seems “something remains at all — not all of it rots”. I expect to find a few bodies mummified by dryness and air circulation (there are remarkable cases of this in western Europe that nobody calls incorrupt or holy); I expect to find a few partial skeletons with some ligaments and some skin still present; I do not expect to find a single case where a body is even as well preserved as the formaldehyde-treated Lenin.

    See? I have made three testable predictions. :-)

    David Marjovic

    If you can’t read my name, copy & paste it like everyone else does. :-)

    go and study the Russian Revolution for some good reading on just how lovely materialists can be

    1) I know they called themselves materialists, but were they? They believed in “historical inevitability” — a metaphysical force. They believed in the infallibility of Marx, Lenin, Stalin — do I need to comment? Communism is just another religion, one without an afterlife except for Kim Il-Sung, but still a religion.
    2) Science makes (and constantly tests, as I have explained) the assumption of methodological naturalism, not that of metaphysical naturalism. If you don’t understand the difference, tell me, and I’ll explain it again.

    You have to start someplace. You exist. True statement or false statement?

    “Dubito — ergo cogito — ergo sum.” :-)

    We humans are clever animals. We are imaginative and very capable. You will achieve what you set out to achieve. If you want to see Jesus, you will see Jesus. You want to see beautiful gardens of heaven, you will see the beautiful gardens of heaven. You search for inner peace, you find inner peace. It is obvious that people can concentrate on, and achieve, just about any kind of feeling they want.

    A little girl once had a near-death experience that she describes in the same ways that the paradise of Islam is traditionally described. What is going on here, john? How is this possible?

    And where did that girl live?

    ——————————-

    Take-home message for john: Always keep asking yourself the question: If I were wrong, how would I know?

  418. David Marjanović, OM says

    The way you use it, it seems [to mean] “something remains at all — not all of it rots”.

    Fixed.

    I should return to this, though:

    That sounds conveniently similar to the answer taught be, well, let’s say hundreds of millions of scientifically illiterate people for thousands of years. You know, the whole He was before time thing, begotten not made…

    Suppose it can be shown that the Big Bang had a cause, and suppose that it can’t be shown that no known process can have been that cause. You will say this sounds conveniently similar to the story you have been taught. Yes, indeed it does. But it isn’t anywhere near that specific. It couldn’t rule out any religion with a creator, not even Jefferson’s deism. It couldn’t even rule out the idea that this universe is a computer simulation (compare the movie Matrix).

    There are always more possibilities than people think of. This is one of the reasons why science can disprove but not prove.

  419. David Marjanović, OM says

    The way you use it, it seems [to mean] “something remains at all — not all of it rots”.

    Fixed.

    I should return to this, though:

    That sounds conveniently similar to the answer taught be, well, let’s say hundreds of millions of scientifically illiterate people for thousands of years. You know, the whole He was before time thing, begotten not made…

    Suppose it can be shown that the Big Bang had a cause, and suppose that it can’t be shown that no known process can have been that cause. You will say this sounds conveniently similar to the story you have been taught. Yes, indeed it does. But it isn’t anywhere near that specific. It couldn’t rule out any religion with a creator, not even Jefferson’s deism. It couldn’t even rule out the idea that this universe is a computer simulation (compare the movie Matrix).

    There are always more possibilities than people think of. This is one of the reasons why science can disprove but not prove.

  420. David Marjanović, OM says

    The random quote that just appeared is by Bertrand Russell and dates from 1931, when very little was known about cosmology, and quantum physics was considerably less well understood than today. But it deals with matters of method, and that part is still up-to-date:

    Are we to infer from this that the world was made by a Creator? Certainly not, if we are to adhere to the canons of valid scientific inference. There is no reason whatever why the universe should not have begun spontaneously, except that it seems odd that it should do so; but there is no law of nature to the effect that things which seem odd to us must not happen. To infer a Creator is to infer a cause, and causal inferences are only admissable in science when they proceed from observed causal laws. Creation out of nothing is an occurrence which has not been observed. There is, therefore, no better reason to suppose that the world was caused by a Creator than to suppose that it was uncaused; either equally contradicts the causal laws that we can observe.

  421. David Marjanović, OM says

    The random quote that just appeared is by Bertrand Russell and dates from 1931, when very little was known about cosmology, and quantum physics was considerably less well understood than today. But it deals with matters of method, and that part is still up-to-date:

    Are we to infer from this that the world was made by a Creator? Certainly not, if we are to adhere to the canons of valid scientific inference. There is no reason whatever why the universe should not have begun spontaneously, except that it seems odd that it should do so; but there is no law of nature to the effect that things which seem odd to us must not happen. To infer a Creator is to infer a cause, and causal inferences are only admissable in science when they proceed from observed causal laws. Creation out of nothing is an occurrence which has not been observed. There is, therefore, no better reason to suppose that the world was caused by a Creator than to suppose that it was uncaused; either equally contradicts the causal laws that we can observe.

  422. RamblinDude says

    Hmmm…I keep learning about science on this blog.

    Good comments David Marjanović :- )

  423. Kseniya says

    Here’s another offering from the randomly-varying sidebar quote, selected for relevancy:

    “Could it not be said that it is improbable that we would have a universe in which life arose anywhere? One answer that might be given is that we do not know whether it is improbable or not. Judgments about a priori probabilities in such cases are arbitrary, and we have no evidence in this case of any relevant empirical probabilities.” ~ Michael Martin, Atheism: A Philosophical Justification, (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1990), p. 132

    And another:

    “Quantum events have a way of just happening, without any cause, as when a radioactive atom decays at a random time. Even the quantum vacuum is not an inert void, but is boiling with quantum fluctuations. In our macroscopic world, we are used to energy conservation, but in the quantum realm this holds only on average. Energy fluctuations out of nothing create short-lived particle-antiparticle pairs, which is why the vacuum is not emptiness but a sea of transient particles. An uncaused beginning, even out of nothing, for space-time is no great leap of the imagination.” ~ Taner Edis, Is Anybody Out There?

  424. john says

    David:

    You are thorough and well spoken (or written in this case). I appreciate that. And at times I am thankful for being a part of this conversation in that I am learning things I did not previously know. But I fear that in the end, you still do not understand that the thing you call, “falsifying the falsehoods” is so much more than the simple application of a method. That it is pure, if you will. As you have sent me off to consider new and unique scientific ideas (and I will), I beg you to read not only Dostoevsky and his novels, but his journal Diary of Writer and his other philosophical/ religious works. I am attaching a link with a very thoughtful article, though not all of it do I agree with. (http://www.utoronto.ca/tsq/DS/09/091.shtml)

    Lastly, you far too easily dismiss communism as a religion, and thus bad in your world view. Communists said things that exactly mirror things said by you in this blog. You sa emphatically, “There is no test for truth. There is only a test for falsehood — and that is the scientific method.” Communists (see Lenin on this), emphatically denied truth and instead elevated action as the only good in a society. They put away notions of right and wrong in favor of a will to power, a will to do. While I will grant you science and the scientific method (as you have shown me) do not necessarily operate on will, there is a clear notion that truth is irrelevant (as you clearly believe). In short, there is a relativism in both communism and scientism, if you will, that are of the same philosophical mother. And that mother of course is skepticism, an “ism” every bit founded on faith as Christianism, Buddhism or any other faith. But what is wrong with that? Why do you reject the idea that doubting everything, falsifying everything is, in fact, a method ground in an a priori faith statement? I mean why do you think science is different from Christianity in the first place? It starts with a different mother, a different question, to be answered a different way. One says trust only the senses, the other says trust only what you KNOW in your soul, the sixth sense if you will. ON one hand, your faith leads us to question, to act, to test, to falsify and so on. It gives us great material wealth. It is ground in action. My faith asks silence of us. Meditation. It makes us timid (I’d say humble), slow to move, slow to question. All things I imagine you’d find, well, irrelevant. But if you do find them irrelevant (and that was often a word used above)it is because you have rejected one faith for another. An not because you simply lucked up on something really cool. It is a movement in history, a march of believers (or better put rejectors), the dawn of a new day. And in the middle of it all is David Hume, the mac daddy of skepticism. He helps out with all of this by pointing out, “No one can persevere in it (a state of absolute skepticism) for more than a few hours.” There must be an additive, an a priori, and for us over here in faith land, it is clearly faith. And so what? It is in fact why so many scientists gravitate toward atheism (you don’t deny that this is in fact a faith, do you?) Athiesm satisfies man’s demand to root himself in truth, in something other than the falsification of everything (nihilism). And no, I don’t believe your response to my question about how scientists live. I do know that they don’t question their love for their child, relying instead on a study. Sorry. They don’t measure it, YOU don’t measure it in a lab. Sorry. You trust it, despite what the ethologists tell you. Sure, SOMEONE is measuring it, somewhere, out there, for a journal, for posterity, to give their life meaning, to give them something to do… but this is not the same as living it. It’s not how one LIVES. But bravo. A fair discussion is at hand, and I don’t think you called me even one name in the last exchange. That was nice, even if it is kind of fun being called stupid all the time. Don’t forget Dostoevsky. I know he is just a silly novelist, but I’d say he’s a lot closer to understanding human NATURE than let’s say an ethologist. Can that be falsified?

  425. john says

    For David: You said,

    Take-home message for john: Always keep asking yourself the question: If I were wrong, how would I know?

    Through the praxis of Orthodox asceticism… In short, if I practice that which has been given to me (no different than you practicing that which has been given you, the scientific method… you do believe it was given to you, bequeathed, passed down… right?), and I do it authentically, following all the right methods found within the tradition, there I will find how I was wrong. But of course, I will never find out if the ascetic method is wrong, any more than you’ll ever be able to test the scientific method using the scientific method. Sorry. In lots of ways, neither of us may ever know if we are wrong, ever. But for you, the whole wrong, right question seems incompatible with falsifying the falsehoods. I mean can you even say wrong? Don’t you mean not falsified yet?

    For David, take home assignment: Ask yourself how your a priori assumption is different than mine? Not in practice (yours is based in the material world, mine the world as a whole), but in essence, objectively, as a measure of truth?

  426. says

    Oh, look at the little theists trying to teach us. How cute it is that they try so hard, with their little faces all screwed up like that!

    A few observations which I have always found interesting about Christians:

    Their proselytisation efforts always follows the same pattern no matter which denomination, almost without exception:
    a) if recipient of boring speech is non-believer, blather about Him (the capitalisation is critical here for it Underscores the Importance of the Message);
    b) if recipient of boring speech is former believer, blame former believer’s denomination or lack of faith for former believer’s apostasy;
    c) fail to appreciate irony of main clause and subclause b);
    d) fail to appreciate implications of God who gambles on His Beloved Creation’s souls’ futures by allowing differential access to ‘correct’ denomination and ‘amount of faith’.

  427. Damian says

    John said:

    In short, there is a relativism in both communism and scientism, if you will, that are of the same philosophical mother. And that mother of course is skepticism, an “ism” every bit founded on faith as Christianism, Buddhism or any other faith. But what is wrong with that? Why do you reject the idea that doubting everything, falsifying everything is, in fact, a method ground in an a priori faith statement?

    John, this is simply false. There is nothing relativistic (any theory holding that criteria of judgment are relative, varying with individuals and their environments) about science. In fact, that is the whole point of the scientific method – it is the exact opposite of relativism.

    You seem to be confusing the fact that science can’t deal in truths – it really is possible that the sun won’t rise tomorrow (which it doesn’t do anyway, but let’s say that it does for the sake of argument) – with an ethical theory that states that moral values are relative to an individual. The values of science are objective (not influenced by personal feelings, interpretations, or prejudice; based on facts; unbiased), insofar as it is possible.

    I suppose that you may charge individual scientists with relativism, but even then, explanations have to fit with all of the known facts – both past and present – and have to follow the rules of logic. An explanation (and all aspects of how you have arrived at it) will then be scrutinized, criticized, and only accepted when enough of your peers agree that it is the best explanation for the known facts. If new facts come to light that don’t fit an explanation, the process may have to begin all over again. This is simply not relativism, by any definition.

    You are also hopelessly conflating several issues, which is terribly dangerous. No system of social organization is based entirely – or in many cases, even in part – on evidence, and communism certainly isn’t one of them. Conflating science with any other mode of thinking is doomed to failure.

    Skepticism is nothing like faith, either. Again, it is the exact antipathy, in that it demands evidence to be presented before it will accept that something has merit. How on earth can that be equated with faith? There is nothing else to it, either – no dogma, no ritual, nothing. There is no a priori reasoning with skepticism, because it was born out of evidence in the first place. In other words, the abject failure of accepting things without first making sure that it fit with evidence. You may say that both science and skepticism require basic level assumptions, but so does everything else. There aren’t any modes of thinking that require zero assumptions. The beauty of science and skepticism is that they require the minimum number of assumptions.

    John said:

    One says trust only the senses, the other says trust only what you KNOW in your soul, the sixth sense if you will. ON one hand, your faith leads us to question, to act, to test, to falsify and so on. It gives us great material wealth. It is ground in action. My faith asks silence of us. Meditation. It makes us timid (I’d say humble), slow to move, slow to question. All things I imagine you’d find, well, irrelevant. But if you do find them irrelevant (and that was often a word used above)it is because you have rejected one faith for another.

    You see, John, this is where you keep going wrong. First and foremost, you are going to have to show us where the soul is? I don’t believe that you, or anyone else for that matter, has one. So, I simply can’t accept that you do, and I am forced to believe that you are really talking about the senses that we do know that you possess. This is what makes science universal, and faith an essentially selfish act. I can share everything that science has found with all people, in all places, at all times. That simply isn’t true with faith. Well, good for you, I hope that it makes you happy. It is precisely useless to humanity, however.

    And you cannot even show us that your mode of thinking is worthwhile without taking advantage of the scientific method, can you? How would I know what benefits your faith leads to? Why should I even care if I am forced to take your word for it? Sure, you can say that we should take notice of you, as an example; but then, by doing so, we are placing the trust in our senses, and we cannot be sure that it is that aspect of your thinking that leads to the end result, can we? It could well be another aspect of your life that leads to you behave in a certain way. But how would we know, John? How do you know?

    If you think that there is merit in this kind of muddled thinking, you are welcome to it. We have 400 years of stunning success that can be narrowed down to our mode of thinking. I don’t believe that anyone can be a scientist or skeptic, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. But that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be one as often as possible. And we all are – even you. When you state that we aren’t skeptical about love, etc, that is false. We are constantly performing a version of science and skepticism in our own minds – evaluating evidence, looking for things that go against that evidence, trying to fit our ideas with the known facts. That is not to say that is it anything like as rigorous as the real thing, however.

    Indeed, the ironic thing about this discussion is that you are doing exactly that with your own thinking. I often wonder whether religious people would continue with there faith if they felt that it was detrimental to them. Some would, many wouldn’t, though. The probable reason why you continue to think as you do is because you have evaluated what your life is like while believing as you do, and have decided that it is positive. You have conducted your own experiment, without even knowing it. Again, it isn’t a particularly rigorous experiment, and we also know that our senses alone can lead us to the wrong conclusion, but it is a very primitive form of science.

    In that sense, science is a very human form of knowledge. All that we have done is to expand on it by trying to remove as much bias as we possibly can, and make it accessible to everyone, no matter what nationality, social standing, etc. Therefore, science, far more than faith, in fact, is simply an extension of what it means to be human.

    Think about that.

  428. RamblinDude says

    a) if recipient of boring speech is non-believer, blather about Him (the capitalisation is critical here for it Underscores the Importance of the Message);
    b) if recipient of boring speech is former believer, blame former believer’s denomination or lack of faith for former believer’s apostasy;
    c) fail to appreciate irony of main clause and subclause b);
    d) fail to appreciate implications of God who gambles on His Beloved Creation’s souls’ futures by allowing differential access to ‘correct’ denomination and ‘amount of faith’.

    E) work tirelessly to extract an admission from unbeliever that “everything” is, after all, faith.

    (I don’t believe I have ever seen an exception to this)

  429. Kseniya says

    E) work tirelessly to extract an admission from unbeliever that “everything” is, after all, faith.

    Right – which promotes a philisophical view that regresses to solipsism. Kind of ironic, eh?

  430. David Marjanović, OM says

    I am attaching a link with a very thoughtful article, though not all of it do I agree with. (http://www.utoronto.ca/tsq/DS/09/091.shtml)

    Thanks, I’ll read that later.

    —————————–

    Lastly, you far too easily dismiss communism as a religion, and thus bad in your world view. Communists said things that exactly mirror things said by you in this blog. You sa emphatically, “There is no test for truth. There is only a test for falsehood — and that is the scientific method.” Communists (see Lenin on this), emphatically denied truth and instead elevated action as the only good in a society. They put away notions of right and wrong in favor of a will to power, a will to do. While I will grant you science and the scientific method (as you have shown me) do not necessarily operate on will, there is a clear notion that truth is irrelevant (as you clearly believe).

    You still misunderstand. Firstly, I do not deny that truth exists. I do not even deny that we could be capable of discovering it. What I deny is the idea that, if we found the truth, we could prove that what we had found was in fact the truth.

    Secondly, I have tacitly used my own, very narrow, definition of “truth”, which is shared by some but by no means all people. I like to make a distinction between truth and reality. By “reality”, I mean the tangible world outside of my head, that in which argumenta ad lapidem work. In truth, on the other hand, argumenta ad lapidem are logical fallacies. The truth could be one of the following possibilities (among many, many others):

    — Solipsism.
    — The universe could be a computer simulation.
    — Theistic combination of the above: God is the solipsist, reality exists only in his mind, we are but thoughts of God.
    — Metaphysical naturalism: reality is truth, there is no truth behind reality.

    Science is completely incapable of distinguishing between these notions or of falsifying any of them, and so is every other purported method I have encountered so far. But, funnily enough, this doesn’t matter. I’ll explain this below.

    Unlike science, and in spite of the fact that it once called itself “Scientific Socialism”, communism does choose between these notions. (It claims to choose metaphysical naturalism, though it adds infallible prophets who write inerrant scripture, historical inevitability, and suchlike.)

    In short, there is a relativism in both communism and scientism, if you will, that are of the same philosophical mother. And that mother of course is skepticism, an “ism” every bit founded on faith as Christianism, Buddhism or any other faith. But what is wrong with that? Why do you reject the idea that doubting everything, falsifying everything is, in fact, a method ground in an a priori faith statement? I mean why do you think science is different from Christianity in the first place? It starts with a different mother, a different question, to be answered a different way.

    It is evident that you have thought long and hard about this issue, but, unfortunately, without noticing that you don’t know what science is. Science requires one single a-priori assumption: the assumption that reality is reasonably consistent. I have explained this above, although I didn’t explicitly mention two things:

    — By “reality” I mean reality and not truth (as “defined” above). If I’m the solipsist, science still works, as long as my imagination is coherent enough. You can of course argue that science is rather pointless in that case, but it still works.

    — By “reasonably consistent” I don’t necessarily mean “absolutely consistent”. It is no problem for science if miracles happen, as long as they stay rare enough.

    The funny thing is that this assumption is itself a scientific hypothesis! It is testable. And everyone tests it all the time. Just imagine what reality would look like if it were chaotic (I think I did that above): instead of reliably falling down, stuff would unpredictably fall in any direction or not at all, at frequencies that would change unpredictably over unpredictable time intervals. And this is not the case. Ergo, science works.

    Science really pulls itself out of the problem of axioms by its own bootstraps. :-)

    You might argue that science requires a second assumption: the assumption that reality exists at all, that there is such a thing as a fact. (Please read here what the technical term “fact” means.) And indeed, the most extreme of the postmodernists seem to have been silly enough to question this “assumption”. But reality does not need to exist in a very metaphysical sense. As explained above: if I’m the solipsist, then reality still has enough existence for science to work; science does not require metaphysical naturalism, it is not necessary that reality is truth. As usual, those postmodernists didn’t know what they were talking about.

    One says trust only the senses, the other says trust only what you KNOW in your soul, the sixth sense if you will.

    One says do not trust any conclusion that you cannot reliably reproduce no matter who drew it first, and even if that criterion is fulfilled, do not trust but test, or look for ways of testing that haven’t been imagined yet.

    The other says just assume the existence of a soul/6th sense/whatever and just assume that it has access to truth. Just so.

    I think the difference is clear enough.

    ON one hand, your faith leads us to question, to act, to test, to falsify and so on. It gives us great material wealth. It is ground in action.

    (I’d rather call it “hard work”… action, in the sense of Lenin’s famous letter that in effect said “I order you to seize power right now — we’ll think later about what we’ll do with it”, is something else.)

    My faith asks silence of us. Meditation. It makes us timid (I’d say humble), slow to move, slow to question. All things I imagine you’d find, well, irrelevant.

    Humility is also a requirement, and a frequent outcome, of science: after all, if you aren’t humble, you will sooner or later fool yourself.

    Being slow to question, however, is clearly a bad thing. Blind trust is one of the causes of… probably all wars, I think. But even without triggering Godwin’s Law, the point stands: in science, if you don’t question your results, your methods, and your data, and everyone else’s results, methods, and data, you will sooner or later fool yourself. You might also end up fooling other people in the process: Lysenko fooled Stalin into triggering yet one more famine…

    so many scientists gravitate toward atheism (you don’t deny that this is in fact a faith, do you?)

    It is an application of Ockham’s Razor: Sire, je n’ai pas besoin de cette hypothèse. Sure, we cannot prove that there is no god (very few self-described atheists disagree), but we simply don’t need the idea that any deity exists in order to explain any of our observations, so why should we hold that idea anyway?

    However, there could be faith involved in the idea that the principle of parsimony is applicable to this question in the first place. I don’t know if it is. I also don’t know how we could find out if it is. That’s why I’m an apathetic agnosticist: I don’t know, and I don’t care.

    That said, this is ultimately a matter of definition. Many of the atheists here would not hesitate to consider me one of their own, because they define atheism as the lack of belief in deities, not as the belief in the nonexistence of deities.

    And no, I don’t believe your response to my question about how scientists live. I do know that they don’t question their love for their child, relying instead on a study. Sorry. They don’t measure it, YOU don’t measure it in a lab. Sorry. You trust it, despite what the ethologists tell you. Sure, SOMEONE is measuring it, somewhere, out there, for a journal, for posterity, to give their life meaning, to give them something to do… but this is not the same as living it. It’s not how one LIVES.

    Correct.

    Instead, real people in real life apply Ockham’s Razor. :-) What looks like love either is love, or it is the result of a humongous conspiracy; the former hypothesis requires a lot fewer additional assumptions (about motive and means, for example) than the latter. :-)

    Yes, I am serious, even though I’m starting to giggle. :-)

    Don’t forget Dostoevsky. I know he is just a silly novelist, but I’d say he’s a lot closer to understanding human NATURE than let’s say an ethologist. Can that be falsified?

    I don’t know. I haven’t studied ethology, and I haven’t read anything by Dostoevsky — and given the sheer size of his books, I think you’ll understand that reading them is not my first priority. :-) Does he make any claims that are specific enough to be testable?

    —————————–

    Through the praxis of Orthodox asceticism… In short, if I practice that which has been given to me (no different than you practicing that which has been given you, the scientific method… you do believe it was given to you, bequeathed, passed down… right?),

    Right?

    Right?

    Wrong.

    It is of course true that I didn’t invent the scientific method, that I have learned about it by reading. However, it falls under “how stupid of me not to have thought of this myself”. As I have explained, it requires only a single assumption about reality, and this assumption is itself a testable hypothesis — so, the scientific method is directly grounded on reality.

    Now that I understand how the scientific method is derived, I can repeat this derivation anytime, with the same inevitable result every time. It’s just not new anymore.

    This is not something you can do with a religion.

    But of course, I will never find out if the ascetic method is wrong, any more than you’ll ever be able to test the scientific method using the scientific method.

    As explained above, the scientific method can falsify itself — by falsifying the hypothesis that is its only basic assumption: the hypothesis that reality is reasonably consistent. If reality becomes chaotic tomorrow, the scientific method will self-destruct.

    I mean can you even say wrong? Don’t you mean not falsified yet?

    You got confused here. I cannot say “right” and truly mean it, I can only say “not falsified yet”; but I can say “wrong”, which is short for “already falsified”.

    For David, take home assignment: Ask yourself how your a priori assumption is different than mine? Not in practice (yours is based in the material world, mine the world as a whole),

    …yours based on the assumption that the material world is not (the whole) truth; mine not requiring any assumption on this question…

    but in essence, objectively, as a measure of truth?

    It isn’t a measure of truth. It doesn’t claim to give access to truth. It’s a measure of falsehood. :-)

    —————————–

    BTW, Fr. Peter, why are there saints who are not incorrupt? St Nicholas of Myra, the Wonder-Worker, the man at the origin of Santa Claus, for example? Myra and that other city kept quarreling about who would get the honor of burying his bones, didn’t they?

    But since you already mentioned the “partially incorrupt skull” of that vile antisemite St John Chrysostom, I do not really expect an answer… nor do I expect an answer to the theological question of how faith by free will is possible if evidence exists…

  431. David Marjanović, OM says

    I am attaching a link with a very thoughtful article, though not all of it do I agree with. (http://www.utoronto.ca/tsq/DS/09/091.shtml)

    Thanks, I’ll read that later.

    —————————–

    Lastly, you far too easily dismiss communism as a religion, and thus bad in your world view. Communists said things that exactly mirror things said by you in this blog. You sa emphatically, “There is no test for truth. There is only a test for falsehood — and that is the scientific method.” Communists (see Lenin on this), emphatically denied truth and instead elevated action as the only good in a society. They put away notions of right and wrong in favor of a will to power, a will to do. While I will grant you science and the scientific method (as you have shown me) do not necessarily operate on will, there is a clear notion that truth is irrelevant (as you clearly believe).

    You still misunderstand. Firstly, I do not deny that truth exists. I do not even deny that we could be capable of discovering it. What I deny is the idea that, if we found the truth, we could prove that what we had found was in fact the truth.

    Secondly, I have tacitly used my own, very narrow, definition of “truth”, which is shared by some but by no means all people. I like to make a distinction between truth and reality. By “reality”, I mean the tangible world outside of my head, that in which argumenta ad lapidem work. In truth, on the other hand, argumenta ad lapidem are logical fallacies. The truth could be one of the following possibilities (among many, many others):

    — Solipsism.
    — The universe could be a computer simulation.
    — Theistic combination of the above: God is the solipsist, reality exists only in his mind, we are but thoughts of God.
    — Metaphysical naturalism: reality is truth, there is no truth behind reality.

    Science is completely incapable of distinguishing between these notions or of falsifying any of them, and so is every other purported method I have encountered so far. But, funnily enough, this doesn’t matter. I’ll explain this below.

    Unlike science, and in spite of the fact that it once called itself “Scientific Socialism”, communism does choose between these notions. (It claims to choose metaphysical naturalism, though it adds infallible prophets who write inerrant scripture, historical inevitability, and suchlike.)

    In short, there is a relativism in both communism and scientism, if you will, that are of the same philosophical mother. And that mother of course is skepticism, an “ism” every bit founded on faith as Christianism, Buddhism or any other faith. But what is wrong with that? Why do you reject the idea that doubting everything, falsifying everything is, in fact, a method ground in an a priori faith statement? I mean why do you think science is different from Christianity in the first place? It starts with a different mother, a different question, to be answered a different way.

    It is evident that you have thought long and hard about this issue, but, unfortunately, without noticing that you don’t know what science is. Science requires one single a-priori assumption: the assumption that reality is reasonably consistent. I have explained this above, although I didn’t explicitly mention two things:

    — By “reality” I mean reality and not truth (as “defined” above). If I’m the solipsist, science still works, as long as my imagination is coherent enough. You can of course argue that science is rather pointless in that case, but it still works.

    — By “reasonably consistent” I don’t necessarily mean “absolutely consistent”. It is no problem for science if miracles happen, as long as they stay rare enough.

    The funny thing is that this assumption is itself a scientific hypothesis! It is testable. And everyone tests it all the time. Just imagine what reality would look like if it were chaotic (I think I did that above): instead of reliably falling down, stuff would unpredictably fall in any direction or not at all, at frequencies that would change unpredictably over unpredictable time intervals. And this is not the case. Ergo, science works.

    Science really pulls itself out of the problem of axioms by its own bootstraps. :-)

    You might argue that science requires a second assumption: the assumption that reality exists at all, that there is such a thing as a fact. (Please read here what the technical term “fact” means.) And indeed, the most extreme of the postmodernists seem to have been silly enough to question this “assumption”. But reality does not need to exist in a very metaphysical sense. As explained above: if I’m the solipsist, then reality still has enough existence for science to work; science does not require metaphysical naturalism, it is not necessary that reality is truth. As usual, those postmodernists didn’t know what they were talking about.

    One says trust only the senses, the other says trust only what you KNOW in your soul, the sixth sense if you will.

    One says do not trust any conclusion that you cannot reliably reproduce no matter who drew it first, and even if that criterion is fulfilled, do not trust but test, or look for ways of testing that haven’t been imagined yet.

    The other says just assume the existence of a soul/6th sense/whatever and just assume that it has access to truth. Just so.

    I think the difference is clear enough.

    ON one hand, your faith leads us to question, to act, to test, to falsify and so on. It gives us great material wealth. It is ground in action.

    (I’d rather call it “hard work”… action, in the sense of Lenin’s famous letter that in effect said “I order you to seize power right now — we’ll think later about what we’ll do with it”, is something else.)

    My faith asks silence of us. Meditation. It makes us timid (I’d say humble), slow to move, slow to question. All things I imagine you’d find, well, irrelevant.

    Humility is also a requirement, and a frequent outcome, of science: after all, if you aren’t humble, you will sooner or later fool yourself.

    Being slow to question, however, is clearly a bad thing. Blind trust is one of the causes of… probably all wars, I think. But even without triggering Godwin’s Law, the point stands: in science, if you don’t question your results, your methods, and your data, and everyone else’s results, methods, and data, you will sooner or later fool yourself. You might also end up fooling other people in the process: Lysenko fooled Stalin into triggering yet one more famine…

    so many scientists gravitate toward atheism (you don’t deny that this is in fact a faith, do you?)

    It is an application of Ockham’s Razor: Sire, je n’ai pas besoin de cette hypothèse. Sure, we cannot prove that there is no god (very few self-described atheists disagree), but we simply don’t need the idea that any deity exists in order to explain any of our observations, so why should we hold that idea anyway?

    However, there could be faith involved in the idea that the principle of parsimony is applicable to this question in the first place. I don’t know if it is. I also don’t know how we could find out if it is. That’s why I’m an apathetic agnosticist: I don’t know, and I don’t care.

    That said, this is ultimately a matter of definition. Many of the atheists here would not hesitate to consider me one of their own, because they define atheism as the lack of belief in deities, not as the belief in the nonexistence of deities.

    And no, I don’t believe your response to my question about how scientists live. I do know that they don’t question their love for their child, relying instead on a study. Sorry. They don’t measure it, YOU don’t measure it in a lab. Sorry. You trust it, despite what the ethologists tell you. Sure, SOMEONE is measuring it, somewhere, out there, for a journal, for posterity, to give their life meaning, to give them something to do… but this is not the same as living it. It’s not how one LIVES.

    Correct.

    Instead, real people in real life apply Ockham’s Razor. :-) What looks like love either is love, or it is the result of a humongous conspiracy; the former hypothesis requires a lot fewer additional assumptions (about motive and means, for example) than the latter. :-)

    Yes, I am serious, even though I’m starting to giggle. :-)

    Don’t forget Dostoevsky. I know he is just a silly novelist, but I’d say he’s a lot closer to understanding human NATURE than let’s say an ethologist. Can that be falsified?

    I don’t know. I haven’t studied ethology, and I haven’t read anything by Dostoevsky — and given the sheer size of his books, I think you’ll understand that reading them is not my first priority. :-) Does he make any claims that are specific enough to be testable?

    —————————–

    Through the praxis of Orthodox asceticism… In short, if I practice that which has been given to me (no different than you practicing that which has been given you, the scientific method… you do believe it was given to you, bequeathed, passed down… right?),

    Right?

    Right?

    Wrong.

    It is of course true that I didn’t invent the scientific method, that I have learned about it by reading. However, it falls under “how stupid of me not to have thought of this myself”. As I have explained, it requires only a single assumption about reality, and this assumption is itself a testable hypothesis — so, the scientific method is directly grounded on reality.

    Now that I understand how the scientific method is derived, I can repeat this derivation anytime, with the same inevitable result every time. It’s just not new anymore.

    This is not something you can do with a religion.

    But of course, I will never find out if the ascetic method is wrong, any more than you’ll ever be able to test the scientific method using the scientific method.

    As explained above, the scientific method can falsify itself — by falsifying the hypothesis that is its only basic assumption: the hypothesis that reality is reasonably consistent. If reality becomes chaotic tomorrow, the scientific method will self-destruct.

    I mean can you even say wrong? Don’t you mean not falsified yet?

    You got confused here. I cannot say “right” and truly mean it, I can only say “not falsified yet”; but I can say “wrong”, which is short for “already falsified”.

    For David, take home assignment: Ask yourself how your a priori assumption is different than mine? Not in practice (yours is based in the material world, mine the world as a whole),

    …yours based on the assumption that the material world is not (the whole) truth; mine not requiring any assumption on this question…

    but in essence, objectively, as a measure of truth?

    It isn’t a measure of truth. It doesn’t claim to give access to truth. It’s a measure of falsehood. :-)

    —————————–

    BTW, Fr. Peter, why are there saints who are not incorrupt? St Nicholas of Myra, the Wonder-Worker, the man at the origin of Santa Claus, for example? Myra and that other city kept quarreling about who would get the honor of burying his bones, didn’t they?

    But since you already mentioned the “partially incorrupt skull” of that vile antisemite St John Chrysostom, I do not really expect an answer… nor do I expect an answer to the theological question of how faith by free will is possible if evidence exists…

  432. says

    I see john is still prattling on about how asceticism and navel-contemplation is superior to science…

    Has john produced any examples of how monks and other mystical ascetics have been able to cure diseases with their piety without the aid of godless science yet?