“Biblically correct” child abuse?

I really like this comment from detroitus (see What would Newton do??)

There is a prayer that I used to know as a christian. Tons of people know it but few actually comprehend it I think. “Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the thing I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the WISDOM to know the difference.” News flash! REALITY is one of the things YOU CANNOT CHANGE!

It’s so relevant because those who attack science today are basically trying to change reality – to fit their preconceived beliefs. That’s the nature of the creationism/intelligent design argument.

That’s OK, you might say. People believe weird things. We just have to accept that as part of accepting that beautiful variation characteristic of all life – not just human life.

But the sad thing is what this does to our children. When children are denied access to science, to an understanding of reality, that is immoral. It’s a form of child abuse.

We should think of this when we hear news of creationists attempts to introduce their material into New Zealand’s school science classes (see Culture wars come to New Zealand). And what about those children who are educated in ‘faith school’? Or those home educated? What guarantee is there that they are not being denied access to a good education in science?

Have a look at this short video showing a “biblically correct” museum tour for home-schooled children in the USA (thanks detroitus for the original post). Doesn’t it make you angry?

Creationists Pollute Young Minds at Museum (9 min).

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168 responses to ““Biblically correct” child abuse?

  1. Thanks for the plug! You know, to this day I can’t watch that video without getting all twitchy…

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  2. When I first heard Dawkins say that religious indoctrination of children is a form of child abuse I thought he’d gone off the deep end a bit but when you see it in action there’s really no other word for it.

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  3. That video just makes all the skin on my body crawl. I grew up with people like this. I desperately wish there were a way to hold them accountable for what they did to me and others. >(

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  4. This is how the stupidity virus spreads.

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  5. I think it takes more faith to believe that we evolved, and thought and our incredibly complex nervous system just “became”, than to believe in a creator. Why is this so concerning to people? There are two sides to every coin, and this is the other side of the evolution coin. Don’t be so intolerant and naive. Rachael, you were taught creation, but I’m assuming you decided that evolution was the truth. Can’t these kids do the same? Let them know about both sides and make their own decision.

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  6. What makes me mad is how the majority of young earth creationists and old earth evolutionists BOTH seem to religiously ignore fact in favor of fiction that favors their own preconceived ideas. Science is not the perfect “end all” solution for answering all of life’s questions. However, it is an amazing and effective tool for understanding the physical world in which we live when used correctly.

    It seems to me, that if the Judeo-Christian idea of God as creator is indeed truth and reality, then religious faith should never be in conflict with scientific fact. Instead, any points of cognitive dissonance between the two should point to a limited understanding of scientific truths, a misinterpretation of spiritual texts, or both.

    Just as well, if the Judeo-Christian idea of God as creator is indeed NOT truth and the universe came into existence by some other “intelligent design” or by chance, how will science exclusively prove or disprove such a seemingly philosophical question. It cannot. If science did exhibit the ability to disprove the idea of God, wouldn’t we want to know?

    In my opinion, both the atheistic evolutionist and young-earth creationist that are in fear of their ideas being proven wrong are irrational and reacting to phobias.

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  7. joelnafziger your appeal “Let them know about both sides and make their own decision” is surely shown empty by this video which shows children being ‘immunised’ against science by giving them lies and a sneering criticism of honest human endeavor. It’s just brainwashing.

    Symonta, ignoring ‘fact in favor of fiction that favors their own preconceived ideas’ is of course only natural. But, in the end, the actual test of scientific theory is truth – it gets mapped against reality. That’s when preconceived ideas have to be given up. Science is doing this all the time. That’s why scientific knowledge is so dynamic and useful.

    This doesn’t happen with the fundamentalist religious approach of creationism. In fact adherents are specifically encouraged to ignore the truth of reality for the faith of the preconceived (and usually pre-imposed) ideas.

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  8. Just my 2c, or whatever its supposed to be these days (!)

    Firstly, I haven’t watched the video—my bandwidth is a bit pokey and so I rarely watch video. (So much for Xtra’s claims, etc., etc.)

    A point I’ve made elsewhere on the blogosphere (forget where!) is that it seems to me that at least one aspect of this is about the parents being frightened that they will “lose” their children if they are different to them. Most parents have the sense to know that they have to let their children find their own path (within obvious limits, of course).

    As an unrelated example, I’ve heard of a few Deaf parents in the USA claiming to want their children to be Deaf, too in a pretty dogmatic way. (Capital-d Deaf is used to indicate “culturally” deaf, in that they use sign language and consider themselves to be a “cultural” group.) In principle, if these parents’ deafness is genetic, they could screen their embyros…

    Getting back to the subject, the point is, its a selfish attitude from the parents really, even if its a human one in its own way.

    Groups like this, including fundamentalist teachings given to children, tend to try be divisive, to create an “opposition” and set the children against this. (Believe or not, among a few, there are “evil hearies”!)

    Quite apart from setting sides in an antagonistic way, they restrict the child’s opportunities to suit the parents, rather than the children. Of course, they’ll “justify” it as being “best for the child”; but honesty (to me) would suggest they really mean “be like me”.

    Its understandable to want your children to be like you, but what’s asked, I think, is that they be allowed to chose where they fit in the larger culture (western society, that is), and not to force them to be a particular niche within that culture.

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  9. Religion Ahhh…never been more people killed in the world than any other reason…religion…ahhh what a wonderful thing…patrolling the world’s population for us… keeep it up killers! Ironic isn’t it…religion..this wonderful thing….that so many have died for..I can only imagine a God that does nothing more than weep for what we’ve made of his glory… **sigh**

    Peace.

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  10. Pingback: Dominic Bnonn Tennant » Education and child abuse

  11. Child abuse, Ken? It’s hard to respond reasonably to such unreasonable nonsense. Nonetheless, I’ve tried.

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  12. “News flash! REALITY is one of the things YOU CANNOT CHANGE!”

    I beg to differ. I am continually creating my own reality every single day.

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  13. Ken and company are neither open minded nor lovers of liberty. They are totalitarian in their worldview. Like the former Soviet Union and China under Mao they will try to remove all vestiges of religion. And they will replace it with what? The nihilism of materialism, where man has no inherent value, and no hope? Here the state must become god and the individual must conform to the whole or be discarded – or at least be re-educated… And if they want to know how a godless society would function all they have to do is look at the former Soviet Union and China where millions were slaughtered who refused to conform. Accusing the Christian parent of child abuse is the first step toward their atheistic utopia…

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  14. In response to Barry, many have died for the “glory of the motherland”, and I agree, for religious “endeavors”. How many have died due to Communism’s failings? I’m not talking about murdered, but starved to death? Had a horrible life in poverty? Stood in line for hours for a loaf of bread? To some, there are worse things than death, so please don’t generalize the large amounts of suffering that have happened in the world as being directly due to religion.

    I could say that atheism is a form of religion. Their “god” is their belief in their own autonomy. Communism is followed like a religion. Hedonism’s god is pleasure. I think we should be more worried about the starving and murdered Africans who can’t protect themselves from their inept governments than kid’s being taught that we were created rather than evolved.

    If you look up the word religion in the dictionary, it’s not just limited to a deity and faith. It is also defined as a set of beliefs. What do you believe in?

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  15. James:

    Science, done properly, can’t be totalitarian by definition; religion doesn’t have to be, but it can.

    Maoist and Soviet approaches to statehood have nothing to do with science. You appear to be confusing totalitarian regimes with atheism, and atheism with science. None of these three equate.

    I gather Domininic runs his blog along totalitarian lines: he’s installed himself as “dictator” and censors at will. Ironic, don’t you think?

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  16. Heraclides,

    Who are the ones calling our teaching of creation to our children “child abuse?” Atheists… And if they really do believe it is child abuse then they should support the state in removing these children from the parents home. And re-educate them. So here we have atheists using a scientic theory to make a moral judgement, one that would, if logically followed, remove said children from christian homes. Don’t tell me it doesn’t follow Heraclides…

    Like I said, men like Ken hate liberty, and the proof is in his article.

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  17. James:

    I don’t think you’re understanding Ken’s article properly. He’s against the idea that children are forced to believe one thing or another. I think that he’s saying that children should be exposed to both religion or science.

    I believe that science is an intellectual way to explain the way the universe works. It isn’t its aim to prove or disprove God or creation, we just want to understand the way the universe works. Religion is our worship of a greater force or being (depending on your religious preference) that teaches us and provides a way for us to become better people. (usually)

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  18. James, I can’t speak for Ken but I consider myself a “man like Ken” in much of my thinking and I can assure you I don’t hate liberty. What I don’t like is when children are taught as fact something that is demonstrably incorrect. Where they are indoctrinated rather than educated. Indoctrination is far from liberty.

    Liberty is what Ken seems to be driving at here and you’ve been disingenuous in turning the point around to make it seem as if it were people like us who hate liberty. I can imagine exactly the same argument being used by a Muslim if we were to criticise their form of indoctrination by way of schooling children in radical Islamic madrasas. Would you agree that the indoctrination of Muslim children is a form of child abuse?

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  19. James:

    “So here we have atheists using a scientic [sic] theory to make a moral judgement”

    Aside from smearing everyone with the same brush, you’re mixing things up… its got nothing to do with “using a scientific theory”.

    Killpack:

    Personally, I’d add a twist to this: you’d don’t need a belief in “greater being or force” to have sound morals or a sensible “life-code”.

    You could even philosophically argue that those who “require” this are weaker in that they need to make themselves subservient to, or look up to, some (imaginary) thing in order to “do the right thing”, rather than be able to do this without a “crutch”. As a purely practical matter, if they need this and provided they don’t impose it on others-—including their children–then, then I could possibly live with it. In this case, they’d only be placing the limitations, or what-have-you, on themselves. But placing this on others, especially those who are powerless to choose is a best dodgy and at worse abusive. (James: can you see how this has shades of totalitarian behaviour?)

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  20. Thank you for this post

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  21. Dominic and James – you have gone off at tangents. Why not address my actual statment: “When children are denied access to science, to an understanding of reality, that is immoral. Its a form of child abuse.”

    I am concerned that many children suffer abuse which can’t be classified in the normal way (physical or sexual) and is therefore often ignored. I discussed this in Psychological and religious abuse of children which refers to the experience of Jill Mytton.

    And I do stand by my idea that denying children access to science and reliable knowledge is a form of abuse. It’s a power relationship.

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  22. Ken,

    First, if it really is child abuse then people like you should be doing all you can to have the state remove these children from the home. If you are not doing this then you don’t really believe your claim. Go to the civil authorities and make your claim – I know darn well if I saw a case of child abuse I would. Two, in your little materialistic world what duty do any of us have to truth? What imposes that duty? And why should we accept your subjective judgement of what is immoral or not immoral – based on what?

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  23. Aside from smearing everyone with the same brush, you’re mixing things up… its got nothing to do with “using a scientific theory”.

    You could even philosophically argue that those who “require” this are weaker in that they need to make themselves subservient to, or look up to, some (imaginary) thing in order to “do the right thing”, rather than be able to do this without a “crutch”. As a purely practical matter, if they need this and provided they don’t impose it on others-—including their children–then, then I could possibly live with it. In this case, they’d only be placing the limitations, or what-have-you, on themselves. But placing this on others, especially those who are powerless to choose is a best dodgy and at worse abusive. (James: can you see how this has shades of totalitarian behaviour?)

    First Heraclides, of course it has to do with a scientific theory, that is what this thread is all about. These parents do not buy the theory of evolution and are teaching their kids creationism – that is the secular sin Ken based his premise of child abuse on. And if it really is child abuse then you guys really need to get the state to remove these children, which would be totalitarian in nature.

    As fas as your second point. Who cares what “you could live with?” Why should I accept your opinion on any of these matters?

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  24. James, I can’t speak for Ken but I consider myself a “man like Ken” in much of my thinking and I can assure you I don’t hate liberty. What I don’t like is when children are taught as fact something that is demonstrably incorrect. Where they are indoctrinated rather than educated. Indoctrination is far from liberty.

    Liberty is what Ken seems to be driving at here and you’ve been disingenuous in turning the point around to make it seem as if it were people like us who hate liberty. I can imagine exactly the same argument being used by a Muslim if we were to criticise their form of indoctrination by way of schooling children in radical Islamic madrasas. Would you agree that the indoctrination of Muslim children is a form of child abuse?

    We all indoctrinate our kids in one way or another Damian. And believe me in this age of information kids do get other opinions. As long as I’m not teaching my kids to physically harm others (I teach them just the opposite, see my indoctrination teaches them to love all men, even their enemies) then neither you nor the state has any buisness in my affairs. And you people do hate liberty, you don’t believe I have the liberty to raise my children as I see fit. And if you would have the state remove my children for teaching them orthodox christian faith then you have a totalitarian mind set.

    As far as Creation being demonstrably incorrect. Is the theory of evolution falsifible? Can you be sure that it won’t be falsified tomorrow?

    Let me quote Karl Popper on the subject:

    Although in science we do our best to find the truth, we are conscious of the fact that we can never be sure whether we have got it….In science there is no “knowledge,” in the sense in which Plato and Aristotle understood the word, in the sense which implies finality; in science, we never have sufficient reason for the belief that we have attained the truth.…Einstein declared that his theory was false – he said that it would be a better approximation to the truth than Newton’s, but he gave reasons why he would not,even if all predictions came out right, regard it as a true theory.

    Popper Selections, edited by David Miller; Princeton University Press, 1985; p. 90, 91, 121.

    Popper Selections, edited by David Miller; Princeton University Press, 1985; p. 90, 91, 121.

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  25. [Ken: feel free to delete this, if you think that its too off-topic.]

    Dominic,

    I’ve given plenty of time for you to publish my post on your blog, so I’ll presume you’ve censored it. The first portion of the original (lightly edited) was posted to James above; the remainder is in the blockquote below. What is so offensive about it that you needed to censor it?

    After I submitted this, I read your, lets call it “censorship criteria”. To me it reads “if your post doesn’t suit me, I’ll delete it.” Well, OK, but why not say it up front without the charade? Its obvious you are setting it up so that you can delete what doesn’t suit your ideology: you’re not fooling anyone with the “scholarly discourse” bluster.

    My own inference from this is that you can’t face alternative views. Feeble sort of scholar that’d be… (Or, more accurately, not a scholar at all.)

    Anyway, here’s the remainder of the original, unedited. I’d be curious to know what in this prompted you censoring it:

    DBT & others:

    In my view, forcing rigid, narrowly-defined, world-views on kids comes down to selfishness of the parents: they’re too frightened to let them see “other” views in case they become different to them, and hence will “lose” them.

    Religions of the creationist kind are “anti-science” and they do seek to replace reality with an alternative tied to enforcing a closed code for life.

    Religious teaching can cause emotional abuse, its very well documented. Among other things, try reading the many accounts of those who grew up in these settings, but later moved outside them: there are plenty of them on the WWW. They’re quite revealing.

    The people that abuse children often do it because they think its right to them. If your world-view is so narrow, how are you to judge?

    On a more specific note, If you respect thinking, you respect all intelligent thinkers, not dismiss some with silly phrases like “morons”. This comment illustrates that you don’t respect thinking, you want it restricted, limited, to your closed world view.

    I have to admit I find it hilarious how your logic is almost exactly upside-down on so many points.

    With the last sentence excepted, what’s the issue?

    As a clarification to readers here, the penultimate paragraphs refers to DBT trying (vainly) to make out that his crowd are “even-handed” because they “analyse” various writers from “both sides”, except that in writing this he gloriously praises those that favour him, no make that suit him, and in the same paragraph calls Gould and Dawkins “morons”. You can disagree with others’ arguments, but to call people names, shows a clear ad hominem approach…

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  26. James:

    As Ken put, you’re going off at a tangent, working on a “creation v. evolution” angle, which I believe wasn’t Ken’s point and it certainly wasn’t mine, nor relevant. Our objections aren’t based on evolution, after all none of us have even mentioned it.

    “Who cares what “you could live with?” Why should I accept your opinion on any of these matters?” By the same line of argument, why should you restrict your childrens’ opinions? Why should they accept your opinion on any of these matters?

    [the rest of this post is off-topic:]

    You seem to think there is some kind of a creation story v. evolutionary theory “war”, there isn’t.

    Evolutionary theory wasn’t developed to oppose the creation story, it was developed as part of a larger effort to provide a better explanation of the world around us. That it happens to “show up” the creation story, is only a problem if you cling to rigidly to old ideas.

    “Is the theory of evolution falsifi[a]ble?” Of course. Falsifying a theory isn’t particularly hard if its flawed, all you have to do is show something that contradicts it. A species developing spontaneously from nothing, for example.

    In your references to Popper, you seem to misunderstand the difference between falsifying something (relatively easy) and a “perfect” proof of something, which is what Popper was referring to in the portion you quoted.

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  27. James @22,23,24
    It sounds to me as if you are relying on some post modernist sophistry here. Stating that “we all indoctrinate out kids” is completely missing the point. There is a clear difference between teaching children how to observe and understand reality vs attempting to withdraw their access to information about reality.

    I see the type of indoctrination being performed in the linked video as akin to “foot binding” for the mind. I think that the intent of the parents and participants is also important here. In this case I suspect that the motivations of the two “instructors” is probably financial. In keeping with what seems to be a large part of the American evangelical movement. As far as the parents are concerned, I suspect there are a range of forces at work here. I don’t doubt that some sincerely believe that they are doing a good thing for their kids, perhaps protecting them or some such thing, but to my mind, this just exposes the moral bankruptcy of some of these religious movements that instills in people a fear of knowledge and the universe we find ourselves in.

    Just to be clear, I have no problem with people who can successfully compartmentalise their religion enough to not to need to restrict their kids access to information.

    Also, to be clear. I don’t in the slightest, care what you indoctrinate your kids with, as you state, that is the parents prerogative, but I would suggest that you are not doing them, or the world any favours if you are doing anything like in the linked video.

    And on the falsefiability point, I think you have missed the point. This is the strength of science. The fact that Darwin’s theory of natural selection could be disproven and it has not been is one of things that gives it weight. That it has also made useful predictions is another. I can’t recall that anything in the bible has stood up to the same level of testing. Creation stories are a prime example.

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  28. As Ken put, you’re going off at a tangent, working on a “creation v. evolution” angle, which I believe wasn’t Ken’s point and it certainly wasn’t mine, nor relevant. Our objections aren’t based on evolution, after all none of us have even mentioned it.

    Heraclides you are joking right? Then what is the abuse here if it not the parents teaching their children biblical creation instead of accepted evoluntionary dogma? If your objection is not based on this, in Ken’s blog above,then what is it based on? Be exact please.

    “Is the theory of evolution falsifi[a]ble?” Of course. Falsifying a theory isn’t particularly hard if its flawed, all you have to do is show something that contradicts it. A species developing spontaneously from nothing, for example.

    In your references to Popper, you seem to misunderstand the difference between falsifying something (relatively easy) and a “perfect” proof of something, which is what Popper was referring to in the portion you quoted.

    And Popper’s point was that we shouldn’t take these things as “truth.” They may or may not correspond to reality in the end. In other words, you can not be sure that the theory of evolution is true. So why get upset when people question it? It could in fact be overturned tomorrow…

    “Who cares what “you could live with?” Why should I accept your opinion on any of these matters?” By the same line of argument, why should you restrict your childrens’ opinions? Why should they accept your opinion on any of these matters?

    I will teach my children what I choose. It really is none of your buisness or the state,s, as long as I’m not compelling them to physically harm others. And they are free to reject my teaching as they grow older. Which often happens when kids leave christian homes…

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  29. DBT & others:

    In my view, forcing rigid, narrowly-defined, world-views on kids comes down to selfishness of the parents: they’re too frightened to let them see “other” views in case they become different to them, and hence will “lose” them.

    Religions of the creationist kind are “anti-science” and they do seek to replace reality with an alternative tied to enforcing a closed code for life.

    Religious teaching can cause emotional abuse, its very well documented. Among other things, try reading the many accounts of those who grew up in these settings, but later moved outside them: there are plenty of them on the http://WWW. They’re quite revealing.

    The people that abuse children often do it because they think its right to them. If your world-view is so narrow, how are you to judge?

    This is unreal Heraclides. On what basis do you judge any of this as “wrong?” Again, why should we accept your opinion on any of this? From where comes your authority on these matters?

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  30. It sounds to me as if you are relying on some post modernist sophistry here. Stating that “we all indoctrinate out kids” is completely missing the point. There is a clear difference between teaching children how to observe and understand reality vs attempting to withdraw their access to information about reality.

    I see the type of indoctrination being performed in the linked video as akin to “foot binding” for the mind. I think that the intent of the parents and participants is also important here. In this case I suspect that the motivations of the two “instructors” is probably financial. In keeping with what seems to be a large part of the American evangelical movement. As far as the parents are concerned, I suspect there are a range of forces at work here. I don’t doubt that some sincerely believe that they are doing a good thing for their kids, perhaps protecting them or some such thing, but to my mind, this just exposes the moral bankruptcy of some of these religious movements that instills in people a fear of knowledge and the universe we find ourselves in.

    Just to be clear, I have no problem with people who can successfully compartmentalise their religion enough to not to need to restrict their kids access to information.

    Also, to be clear. I don’t in the slightest, care what you indoctrinate your kids with, as you state, that is the parents prerogative, but I would suggest that you are not doing them, or the world any favours if you are doing anything like in the linked video.

    And on the falsefiability point, I think you have missed the point. This is the strength of science. The fact that Darwin’s theory of natural selection could be disproven and it has not been is one of things that gives it weight. That it has also made useful predictions is another. I can’t recall that anything in the bible has stood up to the same level of testing. Creation stories are a prime example.

    See Nick, all you or any one here has offered is opinion. Why would it be wrong to teach children myth for instance if it brought them life long comfort and hope? Is there any objective standard that states otherwise? Or is it simply your subjective opinion? If there is no God what moral duty do we have to “truth?”

    Obviously if you are a materialist you would have to believe that the material process is what caused god believers to be this way in the first place. This god belief may in fact be necessary for survival. Theist may in fact be helping the species to survive by passing this belief down to their children. We know what unbrided atheism looks like from the last century – perhaps we instinctively know that widespread non-belief is not a good trait for survival…

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  31. James @30

    Aha, i see it now, the red pill blue bill argument. Take this dosage of myth and you can live forever protected from reality. I don’t have any moral objections to that mindset (i’m as partial to a bit of blissed out existence as the next person) , but there are a couple of big flaws in the reasoning:

    1) Reality is reality regardless of the mythology that you believe in. Your ability to exist will at some stage require interaction with reality.
    2) There does seem to be some level of innate curiosity in the human make up. I know for myself anyway that I would not be able to maintain the level of self delusion that you are advocating.
    3) You might well miscalculate the level of dosage with nasty side effects. The world is littered with people who have been scarred by their upbringing. Heavy dosages of Catholic guilt for example have been known to really mess some people up. Rather than providing comfort and hope, the opposite occurs when people cannot rationalise the observed differences between their mythology and the reality they see around them.
    4) Some of the biggest users of these indoctrination techniques against their children don’t seem to be preaching a philosophy of love (as you have advocated in your previous post), but having seen docos like the jesus camp, seems to be training hatred and fear of others (other religions, sexual orientations etc..)

    We could of course peer deeper into our own navels with relativist philosophical arguing, materialistic viewpoints, analysis of who is to blame for which historical tragedy etc… but as Heraclides has pointed out, that is somewhat off the point. I still don’t see the justification for wilfully messing with your children’s access to information. In my experience, most parents want their children to have the best possible access to information and options in life, regardless of how religious they are. Something to do with the survival of the gene perhaps? :-)

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  32. If that was MY museum i’d kick them out, or at least bar them from doing their unofficial tours. The kids could stay, but the adults really should know better, whether they ‘believe’ in evolution or not. I suppose its different over in America since y’all are big on freedom of speech, and i do think these people have a right to say what they think..but the way they go about it- in public- isnt really helping their side. Being THAT disrespectful of the exhibits in public is not exactly ‘moral’ or a great example to set to the kids, nomatter what is being said.

    Im sure if one of us went to a creationist ‘museum’ and started a similar tour, laughing at models of humans and dinosaurs playing happily together, we would be thrown out before you could say ‘darwin’.

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  33. James @30

    Aha, i see it now, the red pill blue bill argument. Take this dosage of myth and you can live forever protected from reality. I don’t have any moral objections to that mindset (i’m as partial to a bit of blissed out existence as the next person) , but there are a couple of big flaws in the reasoning:

    1) Reality is reality regardless of the mythology that you believe in. Your ability to exist will at some stage require interaction with reality.
    2) There does seem to be some level of innate curiosity in the human make up. I know for myself anyway that I would not be able to maintain the level of self delusion that you are advocating.
    3) You might well miscalculate the level of dosage with nasty side effects. The world is littered with people who have been scarred by their upbringing. Heavy dosages of Catholic guilt for example have been known to really mess some people up. Rather than providing comfort and hope, the opposite occurs when people cannot rationalise the observed differences between their mythology and the reality they see around them.
    4) Some of the biggest users of these indoctrination techniques against their children don’t seem to be preaching a philosophy of love (as you have advocated in your previous post), but having seen docos like the jesus camp, seems to be training hatred and fear of others (other religions, sexual orientations etc..)

    We could of course peer deeper into our own navels with relativist philosophical arguing, materialistic viewpoints, analysis of who is to blame for which historical tragedy etc… but as Heraclides has pointed out, that is somewhat off the point. I still don’t see the justification for wilfully messing with your children’s access to information. In my experience, most parents want their children to have the best possible access to information and options in life, regardless of how religious they are. Something to do with the survival of the gene perhaps?.

    Nick,

    First, I know many who take a literal view of Genesis. And they are doing quite well. Good jobs, nice homes and large happy families. So they are dealing with reality just fine. I grew up Catholic (I’m not anymore) and that guilt helped prevent me from steating, harming others, getting drunk every night sleeping with every other chick I ran into. It helped keep me faithful in marriage and taught me respect for my fellow man. So your points simply do not follow. As for the “Jesus Camp” many of us Christians also found that quite disturbing.

    On a personal note, I could have home schooled my son, but I didn’t. I wanted him exposed to the culture at large. This worked out ok except when he hit highschool where he was exposed to widespread drug abuse, alcohol abuse, porn and sexual promiscuity. And peer pressure can be quite powerful on a young mind. Thankfully, by the grace of God, he got through those years relatively intact.To be quite honest I do not see a lot of good in popular culture or “reality” as you would have it.

    But again, if we believe false things about reality it is because the material process has caused said false beliefs. And these false beliefs may be necessary for survival.

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  34. dailylifejournal

    One of the problems that people have on both sides of the evolution versus creation arguments is that they neither understand science or religion. Science is the study of the physical world. This involves both observation, theory and experiment. A theory that can not hold up to rigourous examination and experiment is nothing but an unproven theory. The problem with evolution is that those who hold to it don’t seem to understand this. As long as it can not be proven it is just a unproven theory. When you extend religion to science, in the same manner, it is nothing but another unproven theory.
    The postulates of religion have just as much right to the domains of “science” as any other theory. Why are the evolutionists getting so uptight about presenting another theory about the origin of our universe? As long as it is presented as a theory and not as proven it has just as much right to be examined. Truth is truth . If what you believe is true it will stand up against rigorous examination. The main proponents of evolution are not experimental scientists but just theorists looking for evidence to support what the already hold as absolute truth. The problem with creationists is that many of them approach science in the same manner. Both sides need to divest themselves of their preconceptions as they examine the evidence. Let the students in the schools examine the scientific evidences for the origins of the earth, hear all the theories and come up with their own conclusions. Both sides need to quit preaching their theories to students and let them think.

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  35. James @33

    Its good to hear that things have worked out well for you and your friends. Unfortunately this is not the case for all. I have met many drug/alcohol using promiscuous people who were raised with religion. (A little hint here about my point of view, some of these people are the nicest people I have ever met.) In my experience, what pulls people through these dangerous life experiences is most often the maintenance of good social contact with others and some level of economic ability to exist. Homelessness often seems to be a very big barrier to cross.

    But, again, I think this is all beside the point. Science does not cause substance abuse or promiscuity.

    Then again, perhaps sex education is related to this issue. Often it is the religious groups that try to restrict the availability of information to kids regarding sex, condom use etc… The strength of feeling around this issue can somewhat occlude the facts, but as I understand it there has been some statistical indications that the ostrich just say no approach of “teaching abstinence” is worsening the rates of pregnancy and STDs in some bible belt areas in the states, but regardless of that, I haven’t seen any evidence that the christian mythology reduces these rates.

    On your last point. You are not really doing your argument any favours by trying to invoke natural selection to support christianity. I can accept that internal motivations (or belief systems) could be advantageous for survival in certain situations, but you are pre supposing what belief systems these are. I think if you look around you, you might see people that are motivated by all sorts of different things. From the simple (but essential) sexual drive, through to very intellectualised personal philosophises. I personally think that this is great, which is why I am arguing for teaching kids how to learn and interact with reality rather than hide from it.

    I would hazard a guess that the driving forces of most religious people are as diverse as any other grouping of people. Its just that unfortunately, it seems that in some cases, the mythology has opened up some trigger points that can be skillfully played for political and financial gain by unscrupulous opportunists. But then again, maybe the ability to be manipulated is a human trait rather than a religious one, but one in which I think that the only answer is to expose & deal with the truth of reality, not to hide it.

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  36. Be alarmed, right wing Evangelical Fundamentalist Christians are posing as abused ill treated persecuted minority. If allowed to attain this disguise, they are hard to get rid of. It is not essential to their religion to put it in everyones face. I’m a lapsed Lutheran, but I do not reject the church totally but I advise identifying and confronting Born Again Fundamentalist Christians in the same way one would confront a Nazi, it’s the only way, they’ll be alright, they can do their thing in church and keep it there where it belongs. If it were not in your face you wouldn’t know and that’s OK today.

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  37. Thanks for the vid, really go to me so i did a mass of research into it and came to a well founded conclusion, they are ignorant. I added the vid and my own bit to my blog. Thanks again for not only quelling some day to day boredom but enlightening me to these kinds of people.

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  38. The truth is that it takes a lot more faith to believe in evolution than it does to believe in an intelligent creator. I can’t believe that our complex minds and bodies evolved from simple cells. It would be like saying a computer could assemble itself from pieces over billions of years. It’s impossible.

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  39. I would hazard a guess that the driving forces of most religious people are as diverse as any other grouping of people. Its just that unfortunately, it seems that in some cases, the mythology has opened up some trigger points that can be skillfully played for political and financial gain by unscrupulous opportunists. But then again, maybe the ability to be manipulated is a human trait rather than a religious one, but one in which I think that the only answer is to expose & deal with the truth of reality, not to hide it.

    Nick,

    In case you haven’t figured it out. If materialism is true then you have no control over what you believe. There is no immaterial mind or thought to influence the physical brain processes. All your thoughts and conclusions are dictated by non-rational neuron functions. And these are the direct result of the evolutionary process. In other words, if materialism is true, then nothing excapes the matrix, free will or free thought, are simply illusions. Your brain was determined by nature to fizz one way and my mind another – there is no right or wrong, false or true, it just is

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  40. Heraclides,

    I did indeed drop your comment on my blog, since it didn’t conform to the commenting guidelines. For the most part, I don’t publish anonymous posts, for reasons I briefly explain in the “censorship criteria” to which you link. I also don’t publish posts which just claim that my logic is upside down, yet notably fail to engage with it at any point. And lastly, I don’t publish posts by trolls—a broad term which includes people who are more interested in making a nuisance of themselves than engaging in adult discussion. People who, for example, accuse someone of deleting any posts on his blog which don’t suit him and then obfuscating this behind a comment policy. (In regards to this, please refer to the tedious and immensely long discussion in my recent article on the Trinity and identity. My commenting guidelines were created partly in response to that thread—in particular to ‘Havok’. Why would I want to publish comments by people who are so insincere about their intent that they write under such pseudonyms? I like to keep the quality of content on my blog high, so yes, I reserve the right to censor trolls who are more interested in showing off or making a ruckus than actually having an adult discussion. Don’t act so shocked—it’s a personal blog, not a highschool playground.)

    As regards your comment about respecting all intelligent thinkers: (i) the Bible describes non-Christians as fools by definition. That is, unbelievers deny the very source of wisdom and knowledge, and so they are foolish and stupid in the most essential way—regardless of how intellectually talented they may be in other areas. (ii) I think my comment about Dawkins is quite reasonable. I would consider a refutation of The God Delusion to be on the level of a Year 7 assignment. I would expect any of my own kids to complete such an assignment easily at the age of twelve (barring mental dysfunction, of course; and let it be noted that I am speaking hypothetically, since I have one child, a baby daughter, at the moment). I wouldn’t expect such a refutation to be of great detail or depth, of course—but that is hardly necessary. And I’m sorry, but if a supposed intellectual, one of the grand New Atheists, a professor and academic, publishes a highly successful book in which he labels God a delusion and tries to debunk Christian belief—if that book can be refuted by a twelve year old, then that “intellectual” is a moron; and so is anyone who thinks highly of his work. And I don’t respect the thinking of morons. Ad hominem isn’t invalid if it’s true and relevant; as it was in my comparison between Dawkins and Plantinga.

    Nick, you seem to be arguing for certain parenting methods over and against certain others on the basis of pragmatic concerns. But why should James accept such arguments when what is moral is more important than what is practical? Even the pragmatic argument you’re making presupposes and relies upon some other kind of morality.

    Regards,
    Bnonn

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  41. Dominic, I find this very interesting: “if that book can be refuted by a twelve year old, then that “intellectual” is a moron; and so is anyone who thinks highly of his work. And I don’t respect the thinking of morons.”

    I have an extremely clear memory that as a youngster (aged 10 to 12) I refuted the arguments of the Christian Bible. This was done in a discussion with other children after a Bible Class and church service. We came to the conclusion that no god existed and belief in a god was silly.

    I wonder who the “moron” was here.

    But seriously, the censorship Dominic imposes seems to be quite common with fundamentalist and pro-creationism blogs. I certainly have been banned from several (including Bill Dembski’s “Uncommon Descent” and Christian News NZ).

    I can’t help coming to the conclusion that people who wish to control discussion in this manner are going to hold a similar attitude towards the education of their children. It seems natural that such people will easily deny their children access to humanity’s modern scientific and other knowledge.

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  42. Science is not the issue here. My family homeschools and we have access to excellent curricula. We love science. My brothers especially have soaked science up. My 18 year old brother has done chemistry, biology, physics, and human anatomy. He scored 33 on the ACT, which is only three points short of perfect. The national average is 21. Now he is planning to study nursing, and I predict that he will have a much better science background than most of the other students. We love learning about the world and how it works. Isn’t that science? Science is the exploration of the physical world. The origin of the universe and the origin of life are theoretical, metaphysical, and untestable, and therefore they fall outside the realm of empirical science.

    A creationist can be just as good a scientist as an evolutionist. We can know as much about the world as an evolutionist, and we can still love and enjoy that knowledge. The only difference is that we filter this knowledge through different philosophical lenses and form different theological (either the existence or the absence of God) beliefs. This difference should be respected by both sides. Evolutionists need to admit the difference between theoretical and empirical science.

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  43. Home schooling in the Southern States in America is destroying public education on which a civil secular society was based, It’s a plague and being hardline with the social conservative is the solution. They will have Child brides like the FLDS in Texas if somebody doesn’t just start dealing harshly with them.Kick them out, send them to Russia if needed, it’s a plague on civilization Fundamentalism is bad in all non Christian cases, why would it be better with Christians?

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  44. I can’t help coming to the conclusion that people who wish to control discussion in this manner are going to hold a similar attitude towards the education of their children. It seems natural that such people will easily deny their children access to humanity’s modern scientific and other knowledge.

    Ken, that’s the point. It is none of your buisness what we deny or give our children on the education front. Should we give them porn? Tell them how good gay marriage is? How homsexuality is perfectly moral? That they should sleep with any number of partners before marriage? Where does it end?

    I’m so glad to live in the US with the First Amendment:

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

    Thought police like you Ken scare me…

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  45. I have an extremely clear memory that as a youngster (aged 10 to 12) I refuted the arguments of the Christian Bible. This was done in a discussion with other children after a Bible Class and church service. We came to the conclusion that no god existed and belief in a god was silly.

    Ken, this really just reinforces my point. Intellectual credibility is relative. I remember doing the exact same thing as you at the age of 17 (I wasn’t always a Christian). But if I, at the age of 25, published a book which presented arguments for Christianity which were so jejune that an untrained twelve year old could have thought of them, or even a poorly trained 17 year old, then the chances are that (as an educated adult apologist) I’m a bit of a moron. It’s even worse if I’m an academic who’s well advanced in years. What you’re basically saying is that Dawkins’ intellectual peers are untrained pre-teens. Well, I agree. If he himself were an untrained pre-teen, publishing The God Delusion would probably make him a bit precocious. But he’s not. He’s a middle-aged professor. So it makes him a moron.

    As regards online censorship, I can’t speak for the policies of others, but it’s hardly an exclusively Christian phenomenon. Neither does it necessarily reflect some kind of insidious motive; in fact, I think it’s quite fair to say that it’s generally done in an effort to keep the signal to noise ratio at a reasonable level, and comment streams reasonably short. I don’t censor opposing comments which add something to the discussion on my blog. I think I’m actually fairly lenient, in that I’ll allow a discussion to continue even when it’s obviously going nowhere, on the basis of respecting a commenter’s past contributions and so on. But I do censor anonymous or (generally) pseudonymous comments, because taking public responsibility for one’s words frequently distinguishes serious discussion from drivel. It’s not a hard and fast rule; it’s just a useful guideline. If you want any Tom, Dick or Harry to be able to post whatever tripe they want on your blog, that’s your prerogative; but then, why don’t you publish insurance spam or link referrals? Everyone has a standard for discourse; some people just set it higher than others. Anyway, I think the fact that you “can’t help coming to the conclusion that people who wish to control discussion in this manner are going to hold a similar attitude towards the education of their children”, and that they would “deny their children access to humanity’s modern scientific and other knowledge” is a poor reflection on your inference skills.
    Bnonn censors comments on his blog which don’t meet certain criteria which, on his own testimony, are intended to help distinguish productive and scholarly discourse from unproductive trolling.
    On the testimony of one or two people who have tried to post a comment on his blog which violated those guidelines, and who otherwise have no knowledge whatsoever of the kinds of discussion which goes on there, it looks more like he arbitrarily censors whatever doesn’t suit his ideology.
    The latter testimony is more trustworthy.
    Whatever is true of his attitude in blogging must be true of his attitude in parenting.
    Therefore, when educating his children, he arbitrarily censors whatever doesn’t suit his ideology.
    Mmmhmmm…

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  46. Hrmm, sorry, that should have been an ordered list, but it looks like you censor the use of the ol tag q;

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  47. Dominic,

    I’m not a troll and never have been. Bit of a straw man labelling attempt, I think. Just because someone uses an alias, doesn’t make them a troll. I did state my views concisely because it’d take forever otherwise; if think I’m being tart, you’re wrong. I guess you just can’t face my views. You have to have a one-sided “argument” at your blog. Poor scholar, you… ;-)

    Your “name thing” for censorship (and that is what it is) is very, very silly. As I wrote earlier, its a transparent excuse for you to flag away anything you can’t handle. Repeating myself again, real scholars listen to what is said not who said it.

    What’s really pathetic about isn’t so much that you do it, like I wrote before of course you can; the pathetic bit is the trying to pretend its something else.

    “Don’t act so shocked” — another straw man line, just like James tried to foist on me earlier :-) Let people speak for themselves… I’m not “shocked”, I think its pathetic. Silly, childish, gormless, very unscholarly, babyish, get the drift?

    Unlike any real scholar, you wave away any else’s coment with “non-Christians as fools by definition”, an empty catch-all dismissive. Its little name games, schoolboy taunt stuff and just as hollow. The ultimate in ad hominem, “just so” arguments.

    James:

    You raised the evolution angle, not us. Don’t impose it on me, please. I already explained my position earlier.

    “And Popper’s point was that we shouldn’t take these things as “truth.” You’re slightly abusing his point, actually. But never mind, that’s another sideline. What I was saying is this isn’t falsifibilty, they’re different things.

    “So why get upset when people question it?” I’m not; trying to suggest I am is a strawman effort… ;-) I’ll let you know if I’m pissed off myself :-)

    “Again, why should we accept your opinion on any of this?” And, again, why should anyone accept your’s? Why should your children? Its a empty line to offer: tit-for-tat statements can always be played the other way.

    I think you’re over-reading my position, by the way.

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  48. Dominic,

    You’re continuing to dismiss someone based on a label, a “name”, not what they said. What age he published this, that or the other is irrelevant. Or his IQ. Or his job. Or what awards he has won. What people say are what matters. The line of argument not the person.

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  49. Heraclides, I don’t think you’re a tart; I think you’re a troll. And your latest comments reinforce that view. You continually name-call and assert rather than interacting with reasons and arguments. Every time you comment here I become more thankful that I denied your attempt to comment on my own blog; even though I would have originally let you if you’d posted under a less obviously troll-intended pseudonym than ‘Somebody’.

    I’m going to reiterate just once for the record, as my policy is not to feed trolls, and this is off-topic in any case, so I won’t be responding to you again unless you make a substantive argument: the comment record on my blog speaks for itself. Representing me as being interested only in having a “one-sided argument” is manifestly fallacious in light of the comment streams for some of my recent and not-so-recent articles. It’s also manifestly fallacious in view of the fact that I am continuing the discussion here, rather than refusing to be drawn into further debate following my “one-sided argument”. You’re welcome to disagree with the criteria I use for publishing or rejecting comments, but that is a different issue than claiming that I “flag away anything I can’t handle”. Similarly, while I agree that real scholars listen to what is said, rather than who is saying it, this is irrelevant to my reasons for rejecting most anonymous or pseudonymous comments—which, as I’ve already stated, and as you have so adequately demonstrated (thank you) are largely related to (a) the likelihood of a comment being made with sincerity or not; and (b) to the fact that I prefer the appearance on my blog of discussion between reasonable and responsible adults than nameless nobodies.

    As regards the issue of non-Christians being fools by definition, again, rather than taking the time to interact with the Christian position you would rather pooh-pooh it as vacuous ad hominem. This is the attitude of a troll who is not interested in real discussion. My comments about the intellectual nature of non-Christians were a summary of a number of complex and nuanced doctrines affecting a range of topics in Christian thinking—in particular epistemology, anthropology, and how these relate to apologetics. Like a good troll, you dismiss this in favor of a snide comment and some intellectual posturing. Which is why I won’t respond to you again.

    Regards,
    Bnonn

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  50. Phoebe – let me say I am not condemning home schooling, in itself. It may well, in some cases, be better than the alternative public schooling or faith schools. I suspect the issue is quite complicated.

    However, what I am condemning is the withholding of knowledge from children – and the sneering put down of science evident in this video. I think that is immoral.

    Unfortunately, you may well be an example of the consequences of withholding or misrepresenting knowledge. (You seem to indicate that you were/are home schooled).

    Evolutionary science is an enthralling, exhilarating and fast moving area. I explain in Evolution – a theory or a fact? that this science covers facts, theories and ideas. All science is like that. There is an incredible, and growing, amount of empirical evidence involved in evolutionary science.

    For you to imply that evolutionary science is “theoretical, metaphysical, and untestable, and therefore they fall outside the realm of empirical science” indicates that you have been either misinformed or yourself willingly exclude the truth.

    Personally, I would do a bit of reevaluation if I found that I had been misinformed in this way.

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  51. Dominic,

    Hahaha :-) (not at you). I wrote being tart”, I didn’t write I am a tart!! Unintended joke I know, but funny all the same.

    I am not a troll, I’m not trying to throw “flames”. I wouldn’t be writing this if I was and I didn’t name-call. I did cheekily write “poor scholar, you…”, but appended a wink for a good reason: I wanted you to see it was a friendly poke. My guess is that you’re reading your own tone into my posts.

    “assert rather than interacting with reasons and arguments.”
    I told you before I write often concisely; that’s not “asserting” in the manner you’re making out here.

    As for the latter portion of this phrase, you haven’t provided me with anything on Ken’s subject matter to interact with! You won’t let me on you blog, so that’s out. Here all your content is addressing your policy on your blog and whatnot with one exception that I did address. Your first two posts are basically just links to your site; your later ones are focused on excusing your blog policies and calling me a troll; where you do raise something you refer to your blog, which you censor… The only thing left is your references to “intelligent thinkers”, which I did respond to. So, in practice I have responded to the only thing from you that I am able to!

    You have’t addressed the actual points I raised, yourself by the way.

    “unless you make a substantive argument” I already have, but you haven’t addressed it. Instead you’ve called me troll, etc, etc.

    Most of your criticisms of me aren’t justified and in fact can be directly reflected back on yourself in much the same tit-for-tat way that I pointed out to James. By way of example, you can play your last paragraph “backwards”, figuratively speaking. One reason that I mention this is if you can play an argument backwards like that, the argument is essentially “empty”, just a fancier version of name-calling.

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  52. On the question of comments censorship policy:

    I only weed out spam (including obvious persistent automatic posting to advertise books, etc). However, one could imagine racist and similar stereotypic abuse to be a reasonable moral criteria for censoring (as it might be a legal criteria in the print media).

    Bnonn, your stereotypic labelling of a whole class of people as ‘fools’ could well come under such criteria.

    It certainly does not represent rational debate.

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  53. Ken, given that I have explained what I mean by the term “fool”—that is, someone who denies the source of wisdom and knowledge—I don’t see how this constitutes abuse which can be likened to racism. You seem to have a very strange, blanket view of what constitutes abuse. I’m not calling unbelievers fools with the intent to insult them, but with the intent to explanation something; and it is an entirely reasonable explanation given the presuppositions of my worldview. I understand that you will find it unreasonable given your own presuppositions; but that suggests that we should examine our respective presuppositions to see whose are justified. You seem to just label anything you disagree with as abuse, regardless of whether it is actually abusive, or just wrong in your view. You would seem to consider it abuse if I even spoke out against homosexuality as a sin, for example; regardless of whether I did it hatefully or violently or in a reasoned, earnest manner.

    Regards,
    Bnonn

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  54. Bnonn (Am I right to call you by your second name?):

    “given that I have explained what I mean by the term “fool”—that is, someone who denies the source of wisdom and knowledge”

    You can be called a fool using the same argument, played back at you: “You deny science as a source of wisdom and knowledge, therefore you are a fool.”

    As I mentioned before, arguments that can be played backwards by simply substituting the players involved are empty.

    “I’m not calling unbelievers fools with the intent to insult them, but with the intent to explanation something”

    Its clear your objective really is a third one: to write others off by labelling them in ad hominem fashion. It reads as an “explanation” to self-justify “we don’t have to listen to them” by labelling people whose arguments don’t suit you as “fools.” Look at what people say, don’t just dismiss them, surely?

    You tried to dismiss me out of hand earlier. In my original post to you, I didn’t try dismiss you out of hand, I wrote what my objections were. See a difference?

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  55. Zealot: How do we know?

    Me: Well, you can’t possibly expect children to endeavor to find out when you are instilling into them the notion that all science is a fairy tale, rather than engage their curiosity for a realistic explanation.

    The museum director was very kind to allow them to tour unmolested. I wonder how charitable those Christians would be if a few scientists set up shop outside of their churches and casually dismissed their ignorance.

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  56. These clowns have “chosen” to lie about science, and to lie about my Christian faith. Child abuse it is, indeed.

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  57. Its so weird that you would call that child abuse.

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  58. In response to Barry, many have died for the “glory of the motherland”, and I agree, for religious “endeavors”. How many have died due to Communism’s failings? I’m not talking about murdered, but starved to death? Had a horrible life in poverty? Stood in line for hours for a loaf of bread? To some, there are worse things than death, so please don’t generalize the large amounts of suffering that have happened in the world as being directly due to religion.

    Oh, the irony is strong with this one!

    Included in those who “died due to Communism’s failings” we must include several distinguished biologists, Darwinists, murdered outright by Stalin, or sent to the Gulag where they died of “other causes.”

    The totalitarians never see themselves as totalitarians. How can we distinguish the tactics of the creationists who, against science, label evolution as “lies,” and the Stalinists who did the same? The creationists don’t have the power to jail people summarily. Yet.

    How to distinguish the corrupt science of the Stalinists from the corrupt science of the creationists? Both claim authority from revelation, both fail to work in the lab — it’s much tougher to distinguish.

    What would these creationists think if their neighbors started leading Stalinist tours of their churches? “Look, kids: See how these religionists are deluded, how they miss the signs that their activities are corrupt and oppress the poor . . .” No trespassing signs would be up in a flash. Police would be called. Suits would be threatened.

    Oh, the irony!

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  59. Oops. My apologies. Forgot to append my name to the immediately previous “Anonymous” remarks.

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  60. @59:

    Wouldn’t make any difference to what you said ;-)

    Have to jump in, as it illustrates my point a little :-)

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  61. Pingback: Teach evolution at your peril « Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub

  62. Ken, you are too worried about Christians chucking your Darwinian mythology (Atheistic belief)to the trash,while you ignore how Darwinism/Atheism condones “Child Murder”.

    Here are some choice Singer quotations on the subject which I get from his books Rethinking Life and Death and Writings on an Ethical Life.

    On how mothers should be permitted to kill their offspring until the age of 28 days: “My colleague Helga Kuhse and I suggest that a period of twenty-eight days after birth might be allowed before an infant is accepted as having the same right to life as others.”

    On why abortion is less morally significant than killing a rat: “Rats are indisputably more aware of their surroundings, and more able to respond in purposeful and complex ways to things they like or dislike, than a fetus at ten or even thirty-two weeks gestation.”

    On why pigs, chickens and fish have more rights to life than unborn humans: “The calf, the pig, and the much-derided chicken come out well ahead of the fetus at any stage of pregnancy, while if we make the comparison with a fetus of less than three months, a fish would show more signs of consciousness.”

    On why infants aren’t normal human beings with rights to life and liberty: “Characteristics like rationality, autonomy and self-consciousness…make a difference. Infants lack these characteristics. Killing them, therefore, cannot be equated with killing normal human beings.”

    Check this out….

    Atheism and Child Murder

    http://atheisticviolence.wordpress.com/atheism-and-child-murder/

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  63. Zacedwards, you seem to be confusing atheism/Darwinism with the opinions of an atheist/Darwinist.

    Atheism is the belief that there is no God. Period. You can derive your own conclusions about how to live after the fact but there is no creed, no holy book, no mantra that an atheist has to follow.

    “Darwinism” (presumably you mean the theory of evolution by natural selection?) is a scientific observation about how life develops. That’s it.

    Because neither atheism or the scientific observation of evolution have nothing to say about how we should live they can’t take credit for the actions (either good or bad) of people who happen to subscribe to them.

    Christianity, however, does have a set of instructions on how to live and behave depending largely on your interpretation. You seem to be confusing what is fundamentally the lack of a belief and what is merely a scientific observation like any other as religions in their own rights.

    If you have a problem with Singer, take it up with him or others who have similar opinions.

    Nice try though.

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  64. You raised the evolution angle, not us. Don’t impose it on me, please. I already explained my position earlier.

    Heraclides, Ken said:

    But the sad thing is what this does to our children. When children are denied access to science, to an understanding of reality, that is immoral. It’s a form of child abuse.

    But what is his example of the “science” being denied? Well theory of evolution – that is what the video is about. And what is the false understanding of reality? Creationism! You can’t divorce this from his point – that parents who teach their creationism instead of evolution are practicing a form of child abuse. I’m glad you don’t agree with Ken, but that is Ken’s position…

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  65. Because neither atheism or the scientific observation of evolution have nothing to say about how we should live they can’t take credit for the actions (either good or bad) of people who happen to subscribe to them.

    Damian if you understand Singer, then you know that his point is that human beings have no more inherent worth than any other animal. Man in a godless universe is no more important than a cow. Of course logically he is correct. This does follow from the basic premises of atheism. If there is no God then there is no objective or independent ground for man’s worth and dignity. We can assign subjective worth to each other, but again that is subjective to the person – the man who denies that worth and kills thousands for his own personal gain has done nothing wrong,or irrational in a godless universe. He might as well have killed a thousand house flies…

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  66. There is a broader picture, James. “Science” is just knowledge derived in a particular way. You narrow to evolution, presumeably because that’s your axe to grind. I’ve see equally unfounded stances on (parts of) geology, astronomy, etc., even physics.

    “I’m glad you don’t agree with Ken, but that is Ken’s position…” No and let me speak for myself, please. I agree with Ken, but placed a slightly different emphasis on my posts by trying to track back to what I considered to be one of the underlying reasons behind people doing this kind of things to kids. I didn’t change anything about what they did, which is what I’d have to do to disagree with Ken.

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  67. @65: Just because atheists prefer to use logic, doesn’t mean they lack morals. Anyway, this is off-topic again.

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  68. James,

    I am sure all parties to the debate share a sense of frustration as the points go whizzing past missing the intended targets, but perhaps there is a chance that we can at least get a glimpse of each others view on the topic at hand. That is, the morality of restricting your kids access to scientific information and process (in particular evolutionary science).

    One of the beauties of a scientific approach is that you can learn things about yourself and others that perhaps can help bridge these kind of gaps.

    In particular, I think that evolutionary science gives us some insight (much needed) into the basis of morality in humans. Explaining morals as being absolutes dictated by a man in the sky described in a book written by quite a few people and interpreted by quite a few more others doesn’t really cut it for me.

    Personally, I see one of the most common underpinnings for moral sensibilities is a strong sense of empathy for others that I think most humans share (do unto others as you would have them do unto you etc… perhaps in your terms). Now science (and in particular evolutionary science) can begin to provide some interesting explanations as to why that is and how it has come about. For example Richard Dawkins describes in one of his books (I think the blind watchmaker) some really interesting research into optimal success strategies to “The prisoners dilemma” (see here if you don’t know much about that) in an evolutionary model. Interestingly, repeatedly, one of the most successful and stable strategies involves co-operation/sharing with others and punishment of people (players in the above context) that repeatedly take advantage of others. Does this sound at all familiar?

    To spell it out, what I am suggesting here is that perhaps a strong sense of Empathy for others is a successful trait under natural selection as it allows humans together to achieve optimal outcomes. On the flip side, some other traits can also lead to stable outcomes (perhaps selfishness in the Nash equilibrium sense). I would interpret some of these traits as evil or amoral but these also could have some success in a world of natural selection.

    Now for an attempt to use the above to bridge the gap between us a little. Theorising further, if we accept a central role for empathy in the formation of moral attitudes, perhaps this gives us some insight into the wildy differing points of view of the question at hand. On the one side, I see the beauty and the power that the scientific process and explanations give us to explain our universe and ourselves and find it abhorrent that people would try to restrict this knowledge from others (because my sense of empathy is telling me how that would feel). On the other hand, a person with a deep seated creationist bent is perhaps not receiving the same empathetic cues as to how horrific this is. If you can’t see how this would hurt yourself, it must be very hard to see how this can hurt others.

    Further to this, I will try and explain one of the reasons why religion and the bible have no use to me, but I can maintain respect for people who do find some use.

    I think that there are embedded in a lot of religious texts\interpretations some quite key and useful morals about good ways to live as a human (and also some extremely questionable ones). I see these religions and their various books etc.. as attempts to at least codify some of these rules for easy consumption. They are not however the source of this. Human nature is (being an extremely complex combination of differently evolved traits and behaviours probably with a fair amount of emergent behaviours thrown in the pot).

    Most of what I have seen on that side however, suffers from the lack of any rigourous attempt to explain anything, so in my view is not very useful. I can understand these issues much better by getting to know myself and my nature and the nature of others (as I am a Human), and illuminating that process with as many different experiences as possible and by learning about the hard won scientific facts and theories.

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  69. Oops my attempt at a link in the comment above was a bit pathetic. Try this

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  70. Ok, I give up. No link.

    Ken: is it possible to have a preview option on the comment with WordPress and your site? I find that this can help a bit when figuring out how to use these things.

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  71. And, as I think it might not be clear enough. In my last paragraph, I am referring to the religious view as suffering from a lack explanations.

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  72. I have corrected the link Nick. But good point. I’m not sure that WordPress.com has a preview option but I will check it out and raise it with support as, I agree, it is very useful for such situations.

    Lie your comments on origins of morals – it’s a fascinating area of research.

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  73. Ken, If your talking to support, there is also an irritating issue with page refreshing. I’m finding that WordPress pages are cached for ages, so I invariably have to go to the page, then reload it again to get the correct current contents. Its quite confusing as the pages effectively “travel back in time”! (My guess is that this is an HTTP expiry issue and the HTTP header isn’t set up for the pages to expire within a short amount of time; that said, I’m too lazy to check…! :-) I wanted to ask this myself, but you seem to have to have a blog with them to talk to support.

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  74. Theorising further, if we accept a central role for empathy in the formation of moral attitudes

    Nick, I don’t think James is likely to accept that at all. Moral attitudes involve a perception of duty, as he has pointed out. How does empathy entail duty?

    The conscience has a central role in the formation of moral attitudes; as does, for the Christian, the propositional moral content of the Bible. Empathy is itself a moral attitude; but it is not the cause of moral attitudes.

    Regards,
    Bnonn

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  75. I’ve noticed the refresh issue too. But it only seems to be on hosted WordPress sites. My site uses WordPress but I host it myself and it doesn’t seem to have the same issues.

    Perhaps it’s an attempt to get their stats up ;)

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  76. Bnonn, in your worldview, are species other than humans capable of moral attitudes? Yes or no?

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  77. You say that empathy is a moral attitude. Perhaps you have a different definition of empathy that goes out of its way to exclude animals?

    I think of empathy as the ability to perceive the feelings of another being – often this relates to suffering.

    If a rhesus monkey was willing to forgo food (even when very hungry) because it could see that a fellow monkey was receiving shocks every time it accepted food would this qualify as empathy?

    If you think not, perhaps you should give me your definition of empathy.

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  78. Sorry, perhaps I wasn’t clear in my comment to Nick. I was identifying empathy, as a moral attitude, with the duty we feel to obey the golden rule. I don’t believe a monkey feels a moral obligation or duty to obey said rule; that does not exclude him showing empathy, though.

    Regards,
    Bnonn

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  79. RevSpinnaker

    Here’s a couple interesting thoughts I’ve developed in this whole creationist-evolutionist debate. In Christ’s time there were no ultrasounds and intrauterine photographs. Microscopic photos of the fetus growing in the womb clearly show phases of rudimentary gills and later… tails. That means at one time, in all of our lives, we all had tails on our bodies. You had a tail, I had a tail, even Jesus had a tail!

    Now consider the latet secular hypothesis in quantum physics known as the ‘string theory’ which defines absolute matter and energy in ‘eternal’ terms. It also describes the possibilities of ‘parallel universes.’ At times, the theory goes, these separate universes can overlap or intersect. Thereby, the miracles of the Bible, perhaps even creation itself, could be the result of the intersection of parallel universes.

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  80. I don’t think we should equate (‘identify’ ) empathy with “duty”. I think it’s useful to recognise several moral/ethical intuitions or feelings. “Duty” may be more related to “guilt” than “empathy”.

    Whatever, there is interesting research on the evolutionary origins of moral/ethical intuitions/feelings for our species. We also appear to have some overlap with other species here as well. Even some animals relatively distant (in evolutionary terms) from us (e.g. birds) appear to have some moral intuitions related to the “golden rule.”

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  81. RevSpinnaker, you might find current research in the “evo devo” area fascinating as it is related to genetic control of embryo development. Sean Carrol has a good book on this. Apparently the same genes are utilised by a whole range of species – hence the similar stages of development. It is the different switches turning gene expression off and on at different stages and in different parts of the developing organism which produces the different body forms.

    Whatever the status of “string theory” (which at this stage is just an unproven, untested idea) any explanation for “miracles” must start with actual evidence. Myths and stories are just not good enough for scientists to spend time on issues like this.

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  82. I don’t think we should equate (’identify’ ) empathy with “duty”. I think it’s useful to recognise several moral/ethical intuitions or feelings. “Duty” may be more related to “guilt” than “empathy”.

    I wasn’t equating empathy and duty. I was talking about our duty to be empathetic. And yes, of course duty is related to guilt. When we fail to do our moral duty, we feel guilty. The problem for you is that duty implies normativity, which just has no place in evolution. Evolutionary “ethics” is a contradiction in terms. You’re trying to explain a prescriptive phenomenon using a descriptive discipline. Yet another example of scientists having very strange and overly ambitious ideas about their ability to understand reality scientifically. I can’t help thinking that it’s because they’re simply ignorant of philosophy.

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  83. [I wrote this earlier, then came back to it. Several posts have since crossed it, but in the interests of time I'll let it stand as it was written.]

    Nick:

    Thanks for that post. I had a thought to head in the same direction myself, but stopped thinking it was letting people focus on another topic, effectively allowing them to avoid the issue at hand. (In my experience this is a “standard” Creationist cop-out: shift to another topic to avoid facing the one put to them.)

    Bnonn,

    I know you are pretending to ignore me since trying to label me a troll when I’m not; I presume having said that you’re stuck with it or falling on your sword, so to speak, but at least read this:

    Firstly, the only people using the word ‘duty’ are James and you, Nick didn’t. I believe his post doesn’t imply it either.

    In writing this, I believe you’ve actually missed the point about the prisoner’s dilemma: it doesn’t involve “duty” to the other(s), “moral” or otherwise. The behaviour arises from winning survival strategy for the individuals. You can think of it as unselfishness for a selfish reason.

    There are recent experiments that suggest monkeys (or apes, I forget which) will act in “cooperative” ways, if its in their interest. If you google around you should find this work, it was pretty widely published.

    RevSpinnaker:

    Regards your example of embryo development and evolution: there are many wonderful examples of this sort of thing. There are examples of animals that grow rudimentary version of others limbs (i.e. besides tails), etc., only to not use them or “resorb” them (figuratively speaking). This latter aspect of developing something, but not using it or later “removing” it, flies in the face of a creation concept: you don’t build an external garage, demolish it, then build and internal-access one in the house. You just don’t bother with the external garage at all.

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  84. http://dummidumbwit.wordpress.com/2008/07/28/a-tragedy-in-the-unitarianuniversalist-church-caused-me-to-think/

    I may seem excessive but we had a religiously based shooting here and I posted on it and look who commented on it, that is who is hiding behind the religious right here in America

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  85. Bnonn:

    You seem to revise your position a lot ;-)

    “I was identifying empathy, [...], with the duty we…” (omission of subclause for clarity)”

    and later:

    “I wasn’t equating empathy and duty.”

    Apart from trying to speak for him, this has the problem that the word normativity implies “should” be. Should be from what? Your religious texts? If “empathy” (do note the quotes; see below) is adaptive, i.e. promotes survival, then there is no need for a “should”.

    “Evolutionary “ethics” is a contradiction in terms.” I believe you’re reading literally, what has been written figuratively and thus mixing it up ;-)

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  86. Actually, I don’t think Bnonn has understood (or chooses not to understand) the points I made. I suggest that he re-reads them.

    If humanity cannot use evidence and reason to investigate the evolutionary origins of our moral/ethical intuitions then I don’t think there is any way that Bnonn’s “philosophy” can. (If Bnonn thinks there is then no doubt he will tell us about it)!

    However, the fact remains that humanity is making progress in understanding such issues (and, yes, this is only a beginning). And we are doing this using evidence and reason – not mythology.

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  87. However, the fact remains that humanity is making progress in understanding such issues (and, yes, this is only a beginning). And we are doing this using evidence and reason – not mythology.

    Of course Ken, I would question how “reason” is even possible in your worldview. Let me repost my points to Nick:

    In case you haven’t figured it out. If materialism is true then you have no control over what you believe. There is no immaterial mind or thought to influence the physical brain processes. All your thoughts and conclusions are dictated by non-rational neuron functions. And these are the direct result of the evolutionary process. In other words, if materialism is true, then nothing excapes the matrix, free will or free thought, are simply illusions. Your brain was determined by nature to fizz one way and my mind another – there is no right or wrong, false or true, it just is…

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  88. James @88

    I think that you are confusing materialism and determinism there James. Current models of the interaction of particles at small scales are not quite so deterministic, more probabilistic (for example quantum electro dynamics) yet are still based on observations on the material universe.

    Also, I don’t think determinism precludes any of the things that you say that it does. I am rue to get into this, as I don’t think this is going to be a productive avenue for discussion for us, as in my experience philosophical discussions like this are only ever productive if all parties have an agreed context for discussion. Otherwise, valid subjective arguments can always be made as counters to opt out of the point in question. I think that it is highly unlikely that we will find an agreed context for this.

    But, one point here that you are missing. Your last sentence states that there are no absolute right or wrongs in a deterministic model. I think that this is perhaps true for all models. There are however rights and wrongs for parts of the model, and these do not need to be only at the individual levell. Even in a deterministic environment, you can state whether specific events or actions are good or bad for individuals or groups of individuals or even species even if they have no innate or absolute good or badness.

    Also, at the end of the day, it really makes no difference whether the universe is totally deterministic, or not. Even under Newtonian physics it is accepted that you are going to need infinite precision of information to make infinite precision of prediction. As with anything, people will operate as they do anyway, and it matters not a jot whether their actions are the result of predetermination (nature and nurture) or free will (where does that come from anyway?). I think using determinism as a ground for anything or/not is one of the philosophical opt outs I mentioned above.

    Again, this is one of the great things about science. We can actually observe objective reality and theorise in a testable way, so this is one of the ways that science trumps philosophical navel gazing (as enjoyable as it can be in the right scene and setting).

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  89. Having just reread my post above.

    Perhaps the ever present opt outness of philosophical debates is one of the reasons that people love using these arguments when commenting on blog postings like this. You can never be proved wrong in this sort of argument, so it is not necessary to have any degree of rigour to your point of view. With scientific argument, the potential for being wrong (demonstrably) is always present. Perhaps that, and the fact that it takes a hell of a lot of work to understand some of the science enough to even comment on it. This barrier to entry is obvious with comment such as: I don’t understand how something complex can evolve through natural selection, therefore it doesn’t happen.

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  90. If materialism is true then you have no control over what you believe. There is no immaterial mind or thought to influence the physical brain processes. All your thoughts and conclusions are dictated by non-rational neuron functions. And these are the direct result of the evolutionary process. In other words, if materialism is true, then nothing excapes the matrix, free will or free thought, are simply illusions. Your brain was determined by nature to fizz one way and my mind another – there is no right or wrong, false or true, it just is…

    You’ve got it backwards. It’s the “non-materialists” who have this problem, especially when they argue that all of our morality, conscience, genius, and so on, grow from God-given intellect.

    More seriously, how thoughts arise from a material process is one of the most delicious mysteries in science. We need to keep reminding ourselves, we don’t even have a good definition for what consciousness is, let alone a good bead on where thoughts and free will come from.

    So, don’t let your religion stop you from asking the great questions of science the way the intelligent design advocates do. There is no theory, not even a good hypothesis, for how thoughts arise. That’s true for those who claim there is a spiritual world as well as materialists. Scientists are properly agnostic about the issue, though, and you do neither them nor yourself a favor when you suggest against the facts that something controls those thoughts. There is not a shred of evidence to support that claim.

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  91. Bnonn, in your worldview, are species other than humans capable of moral attitudes? Yes or no?

    This is another area where the literalists and creationists do astounding soft-shoe acts and tap dances to get around Christian theology.

    Science demonstrates well that there is no brain function in humans that we cannot find in other animals — including codes of morality. As a general rule, animals are much more moral than humans (there is very little war in the rest of the animal kingdom, for example, and even in those other species famous for murder, there is much less of it than in humans).

    Scripturally we have a conundrum. Can animals go to heaven? Ecclesiastes 3.17-21 suggests humans simply cannot know, but that it would make sense since animals and humans are made of the same stuff. The literalists will crawl out of the woodwork to tell us that we cannot interpret THOSE verses literally. Heh. I don’t have the Ummim and Thummim to tell which verses are literal and which not, in such a fashion. Creationists all become Mormons equipped with the magical lenses at such times. It’s humorous.

    But in traditional Christianity — which, again, must be separated from creationism — God is known to use animals as tools of His work. Jewish and, later, Christian theologians held early on that when God uses an animal, such as Balaam’s ass, or the fish that swallowed Jonah and delivered him to Ninevah, that animal will go to heaven. To do otherwise would be an unconscionable rip in the fiber of mercy and justice of God.

    Well, if animals can go to heaven, don’t they have to have some moral sense? The ancients yelled at their students that God made hell for kids who asked such questions, but as the students ran away, they’d note under their breath that the clear implications are that animals have moral sense.

    But what part of theology will creationists NOT sacrifice in their rush to deny science?

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  92. Look, I would say that the fact that human remains and dinosaur remains are not found in the same fossil layer is a LARGE problem. Not just an issue. How come there aren’t any cave paintings of dinos? Surely if the planet was only 6,000 years old there would be some kind of human record of them. Hell, civilization is older than that! Oh wait, that required science too.

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  93. No evidence of coexistence of humans and dinosaurs? No problem – we’ll just manufacture the evidence – as in the photo (Fake footprint.) or the associated article (Rock solid proof?).

    And these people have the cheek to talk to us about morals!

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  94. Nick, I think you are missing my point. Even if some form of indeterminism is true on the sub atomic particle level that would not solve the problem. It does not change the fact – that there is no immaterial mind or thought that can interact with or mitigate the physical brain processes. “You” – whatever “you” is, has no control over what you believe, what you accept as evidence or what you reject as evidence. Or how you interpret said evidence. How you use or don’t use logic, etc… It is still determined by the underlying non-rational physical events.

    This is much more than navel gazing Nick. It goes to the core of human rationality. In your materialistic world the immaterial content of a proposition or inference can have no effect on the following conclusion(s). Rational inference based on immaterial content is impossible. One set of non-rational neurons simply triggers another set of non-rational neurons, so on and so on… Immaterial content plays no effecting role in the process.

    Yes we can reason and theorize, but the atheist can not account for how that is possible. The Christian can. The materialist will have to show how the non-material content of a proposition can effect the physical brain process and it’s conclusions. But once he has done that he has abandoned strict materialism (since he has ceded the point that non-material mental states exist). And if he can’t – my point stands – rationality (arguing from non-material premises to conclusion) is impossible. This is a either/or situation.

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  95. Hello cravensworld,

    You said: How come there aren’t any cave paintings of dinos? Surely if the planet was only 6,000 years old there would be some kind of human record of them.

    I am ambiguous about the age of the earth or the mode of creating that God may have used. But there certainly does seem to be “dino” cave drawings and depictions in ancient art.

    http://www.genesispark.com/genpark/ancient/ancient.htm

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  96. Ed, I’m concerned that others reading your comments will be taken in by your authoritative tone, and not realize that it does not reflect either the extent or the grounding for your alleged knowledge on this topic; so let me briefly reply:

    1. I’m not sure what you mean by the term “literalist”. I could be described as an inerrantist, but a literalist would (presumably) be someone who interprets all of Scripture literally, regardless of grammatico-historical considerations. Thus you are already caricaturing my own position. (i) If you’re doing it consciously, then you’re just trolling; (ii) if you’re doing it unconsciously then you’re being very dishonest in pretending to refute a position you don’t even understand.

    2. I’d suggest finding a good commentary on Ecclesiastes; it is not a simple book, and your “exegesis” reflects that. Again, either (i) or (ii) above applies.

    3. Again you caricature my position by suggesting that I am beholden to some arbitrary “traditional Christianity”—whatever that is. But if you knew anything at all about Christian theology or history, you’d know that creationists are generally conservative Protestants, and that conservative Protestants generally hold to the doctrine of sola Scriptura. Thus, you wouldn’t be smugly suggesting that creationists are throwing out some kind of authoritative and overarching theology when we disagree with whatever “traditional Christianity” you have in mind. See item (1), points (i) and (ii). Indeed, your statement that “This is another area where the literalists and creationists do astounding soft-shoe acts and tap dances to get around Christian theology” is itself astounding. What is this homogeneous “Christian theology” to which you refer? Do you actually know anything at all about Christianity? Because you don’t seem to, and really, it’s dishonest to make these sorts of statements, knowing full well that you’re talking out your proverbial. If you knew the slightest thing about creationism you’d know that it was driven by theology—and a theology that is certainly Christian, and defensibly so.

    Regards,
    Bnonn

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  97. “If you knew the slightest thing about creationism you’d know that it was driven by theology—and a theology that is certainly Christian”

    So – most NZ Christians reject creationism (NMR Research).
    Many of the the scientists most vocal in their criticism of creationism are Christian (people like Catholic Ken Miller do excellent work in this area).
    NZ Pastor Frank Ritchie’s series of postings coming out for evolutionary science (e.g. I am a Christian who Believes in Theistic Evolution).
    And there are many, many other cases one could refer to.

    Bnonn, I believe that these people are the more authentic voice of modern thinking Christianity than you are.

    On the other side we have Bill Dembski calling for “bloodletting” (Holy war!) as a reaction to his fellow Christians who accept evolutionary science. Are you siding with him?

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  98. Bnonn, I believe that these people are the more authentic voice of modern thinking Christianity than you are.

    Well you’re welcome to believe what you like, Ken, but what reasons do you have for this belief? Against what criteria do you identify an “authentic voice of modern thinking Christianity”; and what justification do you have for those criteria?

    Regards,
    Bnonn

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  99. Only to make the ton.
    Bnonn, re-read my comment for your answer. I have no wish to pursue this further by debating theology (which I have little respect for) with a minority adherent. (You can debate the number of angels on the head of a pin, or the colours of the Emperor’s new clothes, with your own mates).
    And I guess your silence means you do side with Dembski in his holy war.

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  100. Well Ken, I have re-read your comment in search of the elusive answer. I see some possibilities, but nothing stands out that I think you’d want to sign your name to:

    So – most NZ Christians reject creationism (NMR Research). Even assuming that most New Zealand Christians are Christians in more than name (ie, even supposing that they actually are Christians), this doesn’t say anything about how authentic their theology of origins is. At best you would be arguing ad populum, which is of course fallacious. At worst you’re just begging the question.

    Many of the the scientists most vocal in their criticism of creationism are Christian (people like Catholic Ken Miller do excellent work in this area).
    Your example contradicts what it’s supposed to prove. Catholics are not Christians; their theology is very far from an authentic Christian voice. Christianity is defined by the Bible, and Catholicism violates that definition flagrantly. Similarly, for the record, Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses are not Christians. What people call themselves, and what they are, do not necessarily correspond. However, even assuming that your statement is true despite your poor example, again it provides no evidence in favor of these people being a more authentic voice of modern Christianity than I am. An authentic voice of Christianity is a voice which accurately reflects what the Bible defines Christianity to be. You seem to have decided that scientists, in this case, are more likely to do this than theologians. Given how very poor scientists are at pretty much anything except science, though, this seems like a dubious conclusion at best. And your example bears that out.

    NZ Pastor Frank Ritchie’s series of postings coming out for evolutionary science (e.g. I am a Christian who Believes in Theistic Evolution). I know Frank. I’ll be honest: he’s a nice guy, but he’s a theologically inept pastor in a theologically inept church tradition. But even if his theology arguably reflects the Bible accurately, so does mine—”arguably” being the operative word. You’d have to assume your own conclusion to say more than that some Christians who oppose creationism appear to have just as authentic a theology as me.

    None of these cases that you cite actually so much as suggests that they are the more authentic voice of modern Christianity. In fact, they manifestly are assumed as such. So I must confess to being fairly bemused if you really think that in these cases, which you claim are example of authentic Christian voices, there consist criteria and justification for that claim.

    As regards Dembski, I didn’t think that your jejune dichotomizing of the various views warranted a response; any more than I would think being labeled a terrorist on the basis that I disagreed with Bush’s “War on Terror” warranted a response.

    Regards,
    Bnonn

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  101. Your example contradicts what it’s supposed to prove. Catholics are not Christians . . .

    Shades of the Grand Inquisitor! One of my objections to creationism is the way creationists insist that God must act only as they say, or He cannot be God. One wonders if creationists think God listens to them when they make such demands.

    Bnonn says Christianity is defined by the Bible. Creationism is not contained in the Bible. Do creationists know what they talk about?

    Scientists don’t claim to have an accurate voice about the Bible — they observe nature. Christians regard nature as a testament of God, a second testament, an accurate testament from God’s own hand. One might question an observation, but one must produce a replicable counter observation to make the questioning stick. If nature presents a case counter to what creationists claim the Bible says, who is wrong, the creationist, or God’s creation? Which one is closer to God’s intent, the one who interpolates and interprets everything, or the one direct from God’s hand?

    So long as creationists reject God’s creation as God’s creation, we’ll never find common ground to discuss.

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  102. Ed, this will be my last response to you so long as your continual shrill misrepresentations continue. I don’t like to feed trolls; but again, I’m concerned that others reading this might be either ignorant or undiscerning, and thus not recognize your comments for the nonsense they are.

    1. Creationists do not insist that God must act only as they say. They insist that God has acted in the ways which he has revealed; and that revelation cannot reasonably be interpreted in a way consistent with evolution.

    2. Creationism as a general thesis is an accretion of biblical doctrine and scientific controversy. However, the accretion could not occur were it not the case that creationism is, at its core, a doctrine: it is a theology of origins. This being the case, it is derived directly from the Bible. Whether it is correctly derived or not is arguable; but that very fact means that you cannot simply dismiss it as being “not contained in the Bible”. If you believe it is not contained in the Bible, you are welcome to argue the matter; but it’s simply obscurantism to claim without argument that it isn’t in there—thus implying that creationists don’t know their own Scriptures and don’t have any reasons for believing what they do. Yet another strawman you’ve built.

    3. You appear (willfully?) oblivious to the fact that “evidence” is merely data interpreted. Thus, you beg the question against the creationists when you say ask, “Which one is closer to God’s intent, the one who interpolates and interprets everything, or the one direct from God’s hand?” The creationist would say that the “one” which is “direct from God’s hand” is in fact the biblical testimony to a recent (earth-relative) creation, of a nature which precludes evolution; and that the “one who interpolates and interprets everything” is the secular scientist, who views and construes the empirical data according to his secular, materialistic presuppositions—including the presupposition of an ancient earth.

    Regards,
    Bnonn

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  103. Dale, if you are reading this I’d just like to point out at this juncture that this is where philosophy unfettered by the cruel chains of reality can lead…
    ;)

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  104. Shrill misrepresentations? And your labeling of most Christians as not Christians, you harsh attacks on Catholics, Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses, etc., were just you playing patty-cake? Pot, mirror. Say hello.

    1. Nature is what God has revealed. Nature manifests evolution. You dismiss it. QED.

    2. I’d love for you to tell us where the Bible says the Earth is less than 4.5 billion years old, or where it authorizes any part of creationism doctrine. I’ve read the book, and it’s not there. I agree that creationism is a derived theology. Alas, it’s not derived from any Christian scripture. I can dismiss it as not contained in the Bible because, as you show here, your claim isn’t really defensible. So, when we point out that the creationism King has no clothes, generally creationists go off in a huff about how they are being treated unfairly. After you drummed the rest of us out of the faith, 1.5 billion of us, I don’t have much sympathy for such a claim.

    3. Evidence is not “data interpreted.” Evidence is the data, each datum comprising another chunk of evidence. You may choose to interpret the evidence one way, and that would be fair; creationists generally choose to try to ignore most of it, which is the only semi-rational way to make a case. Evolution has been observed in real time, in the wild, and in the lab, dozens of times. We have hundreds of examples of evolution in human history, and we have corroborating evidence from several different branches of science. Rather than discuss that, however, creationists make all sorts of odd claims, such as your claim that the Bible comes from the hand of God, when that’s precisely the opposite of Christian theology for the past 2,000 years, and Judaic theology prior. You’ve confused the Bible and its creation with the Qur’an, or the Book of Mormon, both of which make claims to have been dictated divinely, whereas the Bible makes no such claim on its own (several of the Prophets explicitly deny such a claim) and traditional Christianity has always acknowledged the issue, and the facts.

    And then, just to make your superiority to all other faiths clear, you label science works as “secular,” though most of the stuff you criticize was done by Christians, many in the bosom of the church itself (oh, yeah — you don’t recognize most of Christianity . . . it’s consistent, but it’s a foolish consistency).

    There is no presupposition of an old Earth. It’s what nature manifests, especially through radioisotopes — God’s clocks, the most consistent rhythms of the universe and clocks that can be reset basically only in the hearts of stars. Once creationists get on that spiral of denying evidence and reality, denying the evidence from God’s hand becomes easier, and denying the rest of the brotherhood of Christ is just gravy.

    I sometimes wonder whether creationism isn’t a virus. Not only can one not reason a creationist out of that position, generally one can’t discuss theology with them, either. No common ground with reality, not even common ground with most of Christianity.

    And you call me “shrill?” Maybe you mistook my screams when you mashed my toes as a response.

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  105. I read this thread late last night; too tired then to make a coherent response & on coming back I see Ed has said much of what I would have done – nice one, Ed! But a couple of cents worth from me:

    Bnonn – to label others as ‘morons’ because they don’t share your personal theology would not be conducive to a reasonable discussion on many blogs. Nor is arguing with you, trolling per se. People here seem to have been remarkably forbearing :-)

    And way back at #34 – science doesn’t seek the ‘truth’ (that presupposes that we know what it is!) & theories (strong, predictive, testable explanations for a large body of data) can never be proven beyond doubt. (Stephen Jay Gould once said that the saying, the exception that proves the rule, should really be, the exception that probes the rule, because the exception is a test of a theory.) But people have been probing the theory of evolution for 150 years and have yet to falsify it. The person or people who did so would be a shoo-in for a Nobel prize.

    A good friend of mine, a deeply committed Christian & evolutionary biologist, has an aphorism that I’ll finish off with: Science is knowledge without certainty, while faith is certainty without knowledge

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  106. A good friend of mine, a deeply committed Christian & evolutionary biologist, has an aphorism that I’ll finish off with: Science is knowledge without certainty, while faith is certainty without knowledge

    Alison, this makes no sense. Knowledge, by definition, entails certainty since it is justified and true belief. And faith, as the Bible defines it, is a justified and true belief of the saving work of Christ. If your friend’s aphorism is intended to be serious, it again bears out my criticism of scientists being poor theologians and philosophers.

    Regards,
    Bnonn

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  107. Perhaps most commenters here don’t go back as far as I do so may miss my comparison. Which is that there is a strong parallel between the argument style of people like Bnonn and James here and that used by New Zealand Maoists in the 1960s and 1970s.

    They were the only true believers, everyone else was wrong (we were labelled ‘capitalist roaders’). And they had their theology to prove their arguments (Marxism-Leninism-Stalinism-Mao Tse Tung Thought). Of course you can’t “win” with these people. And they had their physical response anyway.

    There is a strong parallel between the excesses of fundamental religion and the fundamentalist Maoism of the “Cultural Revolution”. People who claim to know the ‘truth’ in this way can at worst be dangerous, but usually just come across as silly.

    Science, of course, is not concerned with such arguments – and shouldn’t be. They are diversions. The test of scientific theory is its mapping against reality – not against myth.

    It’s interesting, though, how inconsistent such people can be. They will criticise honest scientific endeavor for being ‘naturalistic’ or materialistic’ and reject findings on these grounds. Then they will resort to ‘materialistic’ evidence like the Genesis Park story to support their claim of the co-existence of humans and dinosaurs. (They seem to be blind to the irony that this is like using ‘The Flintstones’ as evidence).

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  108. Ken,

    Ken, did I ever claim the claim of the co-existence of humans and dinosaurs? Yet my link was valid, do what you will with it. But there is a deeper problem. You or course are pretty sure that you are right and that our belief is “myth.” And you hold that belief with as much certainty as we hold ours. Remember who in this debate has related the teaching of creationism to child abuse, and like I said – if you believe that is so you should be doing all you can to have the state remove these children from those homes. This is of course what Stalin, Mao, and other atheists tried to do – remove God belief from society. Did Bnonn or I ever suggest that the teaching of materialism is child abuse? No Ken, you fired the first shot here. You are a true believer.

    Finally, I have no problem with science. It gets some things right. What I have a problem with is it’s metaphysical assumptions. Especially the assumption of strict materialism. And what would follow, like: Morality being relative, there would be no objective or universal source for the laws of logic or rationality, which would make all our reasoning suspect. Human beings would have no inherent, transcendent worth. And it was the moral and worth questions that fueled men like Stalin and Mao – murdering millions to keep the state in order was not a evil thing, it was a necessary thing, perhaps a good thing. And you Ken have no argument against them. What they did was in keeping with the evolutionary model. The strong survived. And your moral opinion is no higher or more valid than theirs. That is where metaphysical naturalism, logically leads. Deal with it…

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  109. James, dear boy ;-), the purpose of science is not “to remove G-d belief from society”, its purpose is to apply a particular approach to working out how things work ;-) Any loss (not “removal”) of “G-d belief” is due to people choosing for themselves not to.

    One of the common practices of a number of religions, especially the those with a more “fundametalist” leaning, is to to create an artificial “the righteous” and “the enemy”. Its a useful ploy to bond (disaffected) people by setting up a fictional “common enemy” for them to rally against. Its the old nationalistic loyality card being played. Its ironic you refer to Maoism as being one of the “the enemy”, as it plays this card too, just as you do. I believe Stalin went a tad too far imposing himself on his own people and ended up with mixed loyalities for his trouble :-)

    Your posts treat “evolutionists”, “atheists”, etc., as “the enemy”. (Most) scientists don’t see creationism as an enemy in itself, but as a (sometimes annoying) distraction. The effect is that the “opposition” you refer to is largely coming from one side–your’s.

    However, this changes when creationists impose themselves on others, as in the example Ken referred to. If you impose yourself on others, you should expect resistance and that’s what you’re getting. Creationism isn’t science; trying to impose it on others as “science” is at best disengenious. Its ironic to see you referring to regimes that imposed themselves on others as examples of something other that what creationism is because this is exactly what these creationists are doing…

    Another irony is that creationism, like most religions, is usually treated as a bit of an oddity to be politely put up with (as Ken referred to in this post). But by creationists increasingly imposing themselves on others, they are actually setting themselves up to be opposed. If groups impose themselves on others, they really can only blame themselves if they garner opposition.

    BTW, your analogy of the Stalin and Maoist regimes with evolution doesn’t work if you place your own “regime” outside of your analogous “evolution”. Evolution works on all variations available to it. So to make the analog accurate, you’d have to throw creationism alongside Maoism, etc., as another variant that evolution would work with. This would, of course, make creationism “in keeping with the evolutionary model” in your words. And that, that, is wonderfully ironic…! :-)

    (Its just a lousy analogy, don’t get hung up on my pointing this out.)

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  110. Heraclides,

    It’s pretty basic – we have two worldviews (remember, I was not attacking science per-say but metaphysical naturalism). One worldview accounts for human rationality (the laws of logic being universal and object), the uniformity of nature (which is absolutely necessry for science), objective moral truths, and inherent human diginity. The other does not. And I take exception with the assumption that the scientific method is the only avenue for truth. We of course deny this since we believe that God, literally, has spoken. And that would be a more certain source of truth or reality. Now this brings me to this particular debate. Most of you assume that the theory of evolution contradicts a plain reading of Genesis one and two. And we, who take this more plain reading (and we may be wrong in our interpretation) are some how anti-science…

    But there are a couple of glaring problems – first there are no bare “facts” all facts are filtered through subjective minds, so there is the real possibility for error – even intersubjective agreement (though it helps) does not escape this – many people can be wrong about the same subject. Never mind how Hume’s problem of induction undermines the scientific method in general – but I won’t bring that up here ; ).

    The second problem is that our theories about the age of the universe or evolution may in fact be falsified tomorrow. Who knows? One or two facts could accomplish this. And since we have only partial facts on each of these subjects (there is probably more that we don’t know than we do know) do you really blame us for not jumping on the bandwagon? Especially given what is at stake?

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  111. <blockquoteIt’s pretty basic – we have two worldviews (remember, I was not attacking science per-say but metaphysical naturalism).

    Ah, well, then the creationist attack is misguided. Metaphysical naturalism is a philosophy, and it’s not the philosophy of science. You need to attack metaphysical naturalism, and leave science alone.

    Science uses methodological naturalism, and that works regardless the world view one may have — which is why Christians who developed modern science favored it.

    I suspect, however, that creationism also rejects that — which means, simply, creationism rejects science. You can argue the opposite, but I think it’s a weak case to argue.

    One worldview accounts for human rationality (the laws of logic being universal and object), the uniformity of nature (which is absolutely necessry for science), objective moral truths, and inherent human diginity. The other does not.

    Religion doesn’t try to account for that stuff? I think you have some definitional problems, and some difficulty with your view of what science is, what it does, and how it works?

    And I take exception with the assumption that the scientific method is the only avenue for truth. We of course deny this since we believe that God, literally, has spoken.

    There you go again. Science argues that scientific methods are good methods for determining reality. The difficulty here is that creationists seem to be after some “truth” and completely oblivious to reality. It’s not a world view problem so much as it’s a problem of divorce from reality. That divorce is an unintentional result of creationism — I hope it’s unintentional. Divorced from reality, the worldview simply doesn’t matter.

    Case in point:

    The second problem is that our theories about the age of the universe or evolution may in fact be falsified tomorrow

    Creationism’s ideas about the age of the universe and evolution have been falsified for 170 years. It’s not that science can be falsified but hasn’t been, it’s that creationism has been falsified, but creationists are too divorced from reality to deal with it. Reminds me of the state legislator who listened as a couple of interns discussed their physics class working on the “law of gravity,” and got excited about passing a repeal to the law of gravity. Epistemology can obfuscate when used by people who don’t know how to use it or who are divorced from reality, and creationists already struggle with perceiving what is real — any obfuscation is a real handicap.

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  112. Oh, and then this:

    And since we have only partial facts on each of these subjects (there is probably more that we don’t know than we do know) do you really blame us for not jumping on the bandwagon? Especially given what is at stake?

    Considering what’s at stake?

    Well, a cure for cancer is at stake. So are improved treatments for cancer. Creationism claims that almost all the science we use to treat and cure cancer, and which we rely on for finding new cures for other cancers, doesn’t work.

    Healing the sick, getting food and shelter for the poor, that’s what’s at stake, right?

    Why does creationism oppose those goals?

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  113. James @111
    I liked this bit, hopefully I get the tag right.

    Where are you getting your info on Gods laws from. The bible and the people that interpret it surely suffer from this same subjectivity issue. Or perhaps these laws are mainlined directly into your brain from the big fulla in the sky himself. If that is the case, I can recommend some pretty interesting drugs that will expose the subjectivity of that experience also :-) Why do you think hallucinogenics have been used by shaman from year dot. Those of us unlucky enough to have been affected by perception distorting mental illnesses (or even minor phobias) have an innate knowledge of how subjective things can be.

    The point here is that people can cope with this by constantly testing the consistency of our beliefs about reality with other sources of info. E.g. I don’t really like flying, but continue to do it as I can see the glaring discrepancy between my certainty that the plane will crash while I am in it with the statistics on airplane crashes. Can you see my point here? If I had the creationist attitude to conflicting data, I would never fly.

    This whole thing demonstrates what I was trying to say before about the futility of philosophical discussions without agreed context. Sooner or later someone will say that its all subjective anyway, which is impossible to argue against, but also makes the whole exercise completely without value.

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  114. Ok, I completely screwed the tag up. Try below:

    James @111
    I liked this bit:

    But there are a couple of glaring problems – first there are no bare “facts” all facts are filtered through subjective minds, so there is the real possibility for error – even intersubjective agreement (though it helps) does not escape this – many people can be wrong about the same subject.

    Where are you getting your info on Gods laws from. The bible and the people that interpret it surely suffer from this same subjectivity issue. Or perhaps these laws are mainlined directly into your brain from the big fulla in the sky himself. If that is the case, I can recommend some pretty interesting drugs that will expose the subjectivity of that experience also Why do you think hallucinogenics have been used by shaman from year dot. Those of us unlucky enough to have been affected by perception distorting mental illnesses (or even minor phobias) have an innate knowledge of how subjective things can be.

    The point here is that people can cope with this by constantly testing the consistency of our beliefs about reality with other sources of info. E.g. I don’t really like flying, but continue to do it as I can see the glaring discrepancy between my certainty that the plane will crash while I am in it with the statistics on airplane crashes. Can you see my point here? If I had the creationist attitude to conflicting data, I would never fly.

    This whole thing demonstrates what I was trying to say before about the futility of philosophical discussions without agreed context. Sooner or later someone will say that its all subjective anyway, which is impossible to argue against, but also makes the whole exercise completely without value.

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  115. Ok Ed…

    Creationism’s ideas about the age of the universe and evolution have been falsified for 170 years

    Ok Ed, I’ll bite. Let’s take one point at a time. Show me the evidence that random mutations can create new functional body part. Or that RMs were even operational in early life forms.

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  116. Hello Nick

    Where are you getting your info on Gods laws from. The bible and the people that interpret it surely suffer from this same subjectivity issue. Or perhaps these laws are mainlined directly into your brain from the big fulla in the sky himself. If that is the case, I can recommend some pretty interesting drugs that will expose the subjectivity of that experience also Why do you think hallucinogenics have been used by shaman from year dot. Those of us unlucky enough to have been affected by perception distorting mental illnesses (or even minor phobias) have an innate knowledge of how subjective things can be.

    I certainly do believe that God can impart knowledge directly into our minds. Or can use our sense exprience (such as on the occasion of reading) to also impart said knowledge. And He certainly could impart this truth without error. I’m not suggesting that He does this all the time, but it would not be beyond His ability.

    The point here is that people can cope with this by constantly testing the consistency of our beliefs about reality with other sources of info. E.g. I don’t really like flying, but continue to do it as I can see the glaring discrepancy between my certainty that the plane will crash while I am in it with the statistics on airplane crashes. Can you see my point here? If I had the creationist attitude to conflicting data, I would never fly.

    But planes actually do crask Nick. Perhaps this will happen the next time you fly?

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  117. Well, a cure for cancer is at stake. So are improved treatments for cancer. Creationism claims that almost all the science we use to treat and cure cancer, and which we rely on for finding new cures for other cancers, doesn’t work.

    Healing the sick, getting food and shelter for the poor, that’s what’s at stake, right?

    Ed who said that? Also Ed, why would it be wrong to let the weak and sick die – survival of the fittest – after all human beings have no inherent worth in a godless universe.

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  118. Ed said,

    Epistemology can obfuscate when used by people who don’t know how to use it or who are divorced from reality, and creationists already struggle with perceiving what is real — any obfuscation is a real handicap.

    What’s your epistemology Ed? I bet it is irrational. Either circular (in the vicious sense) or self-refuting.

    Religion doesn’t try to account for that stuff? I think you have some definitional problems, and some difficulty with your view of what science is, what it does, and how it works?

    Ed that is exactly what religion accounts for. Why morality is objective (because it is grounded in God) and why logic is universal – same reason. And why you can even do science ( that God uphold the universe and laws of nature) and it grounds human diginty in the same God.

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  119. Wow, I’m a bit speechless really. I don’t have much occasion to encounter the creationist mindset in my life (here in reality), but here we can see it (complete with added capitalisation) in all it’s glory.

    Perhaps this thread should be renamed “Case study of the creationist mindset”.

    I suppose this is the sort of blog debate that people only get into once in their online lives, and I think that now I’ve had mine. Apologies to Ken for the longwinded and ultimately pointless course this thread has taken.

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  120. Wow, I’m a bit speechless really. I don’t have much occasion to encounter the atheistic mindset in my life (here in reality since it is such a minority position), but here we can see it (complete with added capitalisation) in all it’s glory.

    Perhaps this thread should be renamed “Case study of the atheistic mindset”.

    Go figure….

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  121. Bnonn (#107): Alison, this makes no sense. Knowledge, by definition, entails certainty since it is justified and true belief. And faith, as the Bible defines it, is a justified and true belief of the saving work of Christ. If your friend’s aphorism is intended to be serious, it again bears out my criticism of scientists being poor theologians and philosophers.

    Not at all – knowledge is not by any means the same as belief. In science knowledge is based on information (data) that can be examined, tested, falsified, used as the basis for prediction. Nor will scientists ever say that they are 100% certain about something – hence the ‘knowledge without certainty’. 99% maybe, but there’s always the possibility that the next instance will prove them wrong. Whereas belief, as has been amply demonstrated in this thread, does possess that absolute certainty.

    And James (118) Also Ed, why would it be wrong to let the weak and sick die – survival of the fittest – after all human beings have no inherent worth in a godless universe.

    The theory of evolution says nothing about the existence (or otherwise) of a god. The fact that some evolutionary biologists also happen to be atheists does not mean that the theory promotes atheism. There is in fact a reasonably good evolutionary argument for the development of ethics/morality, & I suspect that the majority of people – whether or not they profess a Christian faith – would follow the general tenet of ‘do as you would be done by’. In other words, lack of religious faith does not equate with lack of morality. Nor does acceptance of evolution automatically deny a position of faith/ethical attitude to others (as other commenters here have mentioned).

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  122. yikes, sorry, got the tags wrong again. Ken – need ‘preview’ option!

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  123. Yes, Alison. I have raised this issue with WordPress.com and they have put comment preview on their ‘to do’ list of ideas. Usually WordPress.com is OK but this is one time when the inability to alter things gets frustrating. Still, they are pretty responsive and are introducing new features all the time so I hope they take the request seriously.

    James – go pack and look at my article. I thinks the major point is “REALITY is one of the things YOU CANNOT CHANGE!” Science is not about changing reality – it’s about revealing and understanding reality.

    Creationism is about trying to impose subjective beliefs on reality. But, in the end, they are only beliefs.

    When creationism/ID can actually advance an evidence-based hypothesis amenable to testing – then it will be taken seriously. That is the only way a creationist/ID theory can be developed, rather than remaining as only a belief.

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  124. Alison, knowledge without certainty is a contradiction in terms. As I said, knowledge is defined as justified and true belief. Scientific belief is neither justified, nor true—ever.

    Regards,
    Bnonn

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  125. From http://www.nwlink.com/~Donclark/knowledge/knowledge.html

    “Knowledge is information that changes something or somebody — either by becoming grounds for actions, or by making an individual (or an institution) capable of different or more effective action.” — Peter F. Drucker in The New Realities
    Achterbergh & Vriens (2002) further write that the function has two main parts. First, it serves as a background for the assessment of signals, which in turn, allows the performance of actions. As to the first part, they write, “To determine whether a signal is informative, an observer has to “attach meaning to it,” e.g., to perceive and interpret it. Once perceived and interpreted the observer may evaluate whether the signal is informative and whether action is required.”
    And secondly, “The role of knowledge in generating appropriate actions is that it serves as a background for articulating possible courses of action (articulation), for judging whether courses of action will yield the intended result and for using this judgement in selecting among them (selection), for deciding how actions should be implemented and for actually implementing actions (implementation).”

    Sorry, Bnonn, nothing about ‘belief’ there.

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  126. Alison, surely you aren’t serious? I didn’t think I’d need to actually validate my claim that knowledge entails (at least) justified and true belief. That’s just an accepted definition. Why is it that scientists never seem to learn even the first thing about the philosophy of science which undergirds their entire discipline—and then, instead of acknowledging their lack of education, they pretend as if (i) philosophy is irrelevant and (ii) they know quite enough about it anyway? Not only do you seem to know nothing about a field which has fundamental importance to the scientific endeavor, but you don’t even seem to be aware of your ignorance? To claim, on the basis of some quotes about “knowledge” made in a non-epistemic context, that it does not entail justified and true belief is just embarrassing.

    For a brief description of knowledge, from a secular source, please refer to Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy’s article. Note that Gettier counterexamples don’t apply to Christian foundationalists such as myself; and that Plantinga has argued persuasively for justification (or warrant) to entail proper function, which automatically makes knowledge impossible if evolution is true.

    Regards,
    Bnonn

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  127. Seems most of the things I was going to say have already been said, but I’ll add my own angle on them anyway.

    James:

    ” first there are no bare “facts” all facts are filtered through subjective minds, so there is the real possibility for error” James, one of the points about scientific methods are that that help researchers get past these issues. Religions don’t offer a solution to this, in the sense of providing methodology to correctly “see reality” as Ed was pointing out.

    “Show me the evidence that random mutations can create new functional body part.” The only way you can win this one, James, is to dismiss the evidence out of hand or put the question misleadingly.

    Things comprised of many components, as a complete functional body part of a so-called “higher” animal, will take many, many changes to form. Pretty obvious, eh? So you’d expect many “mutations” to be involved.

    With that in mind, researchers naturally enough look for smaller set of changes first, of which there are many.

    You also need to realise that you don’t have to know the specific genetic changes to observe a new body part arising. Evolution was demonstrated without modern genetics: what modern genetics adds is an underlying mechanism by which it occurs; that it occur can (and has) been shown without this. With that in mind, there are many example of evolution of new body parts.

    Having said that, insects in particular have many examples of single genetic changes causing additional or replacement limbs or gain or loss of body segments.

    “What’s your epistemology Ed? I bet it is irrational. Either circular (in the vicious sense) or self-refuting.” Strawman arguments are silly…

    “Why morality is objective (because it is grounded in G-d)” Morality isn’t the exclusive preserve of religions. Its not “grounded in G-d”. I believe Ken has written on this before.

    Bnonn@125 “Alison, knowledge without certainty is a contradiction in terms. As I said, knowledge is defined as justified and true belief. Scientific belief is neither justified, nor true—ever.”

    You can have uncertainty and have knowledge Bnonn, the two aren’t mutually exclusive. Things often aren’t exact. The estimates of the age of the earth will give a range of times with certain probabilities (likelihoods) of being correct, for example. As Alison was writing, its not “100%” (in the statistical sense), but it is still knowledge.

    Science doesn’t have “belief”; your last sentence is moot.

    “knowledge impossible if evolution is true” Excuse me for saying so, but this reads as trying to dismiss evolution out of hand.

    I think you need to distinguish knowledge to a scientist–founded on evidence, etc.–from “knowledge” in the more traditional (cultural) sense of “from experience”. The later is anecdotal and is what are brains are wired to accumulate, but it can also me quite misleading. Part of the reason for the science methodology is to obtain the former, rather than be mislead when the later doesn’t reflect reality.

    By the way Bnonn, seeing I’ve been contributing to the “debate” in this thread for some time now, don’t you think its about time to take back your accusation of “troll”?

    Alison:

    I hate the lack of preview myself. Two things I tend to do are (a) make a template of a single “quoted text” in HTML before writing, copy that several times, then write the post; using a template reduces the chance of me goofing! (b) you can write the message in an editor, then have the web browser open you local “snippet”; most browser will let you view a snippet even though its not a proper HTML page. This won’t check if WordPress likes your tags, just that the tags are valid. Some browsers now come with their own editors that are just good enough for this (Opera is one I can think of, but its probably also true for Firefox, etc).

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  128. Apologies. I started this post this morning, but by the time I finished it the guy to install the new internet connection had severed the old one . . . it took all day . . .

    I said: Creationism’s ideas about the age of the universe and evolution have been falsified for 170 years

    James said:

    Ok Ed, I’ll bite. Let’s take one point at a time. Show me the evidence that random mutations can create new functional body part. Or that RMs were even operational in early life forms.

    No, let’s start with your original claim first. Let’s start with the power of science, and the failure of creationism, with regard to the age of the universe. Creationism has no toe-hold without doubt on all of science — let’s show the full set of problems of creationism.

    Creationism’s ideas about the age of the universe were falsified by Smith in the late 18th century, and then by an increasing mountain range of geological evidence well summarized by Lyell by 1835. It was clear to anyone studying the rocks of the Earth that the planet was hundreds of thousands of years old at a very bare minimum — absent a lying creator who made the Earth to deceive. My “world view” is Christian, and so rejects the idea of a lying creator. There being no other rational explanation for the geology, Christianity largely accepted the idea of a very old Earth by 1850. Modern creationism, rather than being the traditional Christian view, comes along later.

    By 1870, Lord Kelvin’s dispute with Darwin over the age of the Earth started at 200 million years — Darwin said probably older, Lord Kelvin, based on the temperature of the Earth and assuming no new heat source, measured it at 200 million — somewhat older for the Sun, which Lord Kelvin assumed to be yellow-hot iron. Radioactivity was unknown; after radioactivity was discovered, it was learned that the Earth is heated by radioactive decay, and so Kelvin’s age calculations made the planet too young by at least an order of magnitude. Similarly, the discovery of spectrophotometry revealed the Sun to be composed of hydrogen fusing into helium; so the age of the Sun was several billions of years, not hundreds of millions. Modern creationism was born about the same time, in a set of pamphlets published by a Texas oil magnate (think of the irony of this fellow making money off of fossil fuels).

    The discovery of radioactivity in the late 19th century provided another path to corroborate the age of the Earth. For example, that we still have uranium-238 helps put the existence of the planet in the range of 4.47 billion years, the half-life of U-238. (If the planet were much older, there would be much less U-238; that we have the daughter products of U-238 tells us that the planet’s been around long enough for that stuff to form.

    All of this assumes a non-deceptive creation, either by purely natural non-divine causes, or by a non-deceptive creator. As you can see, so far, the only “assumption” necessary for this “world view” is honesty in creation. Christians, assuming an honest creator, have no difficulty with these facts of science (which are not open to interpretation, really — it’s either honest creation, or magic with deception).

    By now we know about a dozen isotopes that can be used to date old, very old, ancient, and so-old-you-can’t-imagine-it things, from carbon-14 dating, which has been shown accurate as young as 2,000 years, holds accuracy through 50,000 years, and has worked on a few objects close to 100,000 years; through argon gas dating, which nicely covers ages from about 1 million to several millions of years; to U-238, which allows us to pinpoint a few types of rock at about 4.5 billion years (the rocks from the Moon, and rocks from Mars, also date to about 4.5 billion years, corroboration from three different planets in the solar system to that range of dates).

    Red shift phenomena were first noticed and understood in the 1920s, providing a way to date some objects in the universe as older than the Sun. Several astronomers based in religious institutions were key players in the discovery and understanding of red shift.

    Again, all of this assumes a non-deceptive creation, though it does not assume a method of creation.

    So, from geology, chemistry, physics and astronomy, we have several independent lines of falsification of a young Earth and young creation.

    And before we get to your question on “new organs,” let’s note the problems with creationism as posited by Paley that have been found so wrong that most creationists pretend creationism didn’t claim it: Species are not fixed; variation is very wide; sometimes the border between species is fuzzy (and I don’t mean the geographic borders, but sometimes they get involved, too). It’s untrue that the animals in the Bible exist all over the Earth. It’s not accurate that island life is the same as other island life the world over — in fact, island life generally resembles the life found on the nearest continent (Madagascar is an interesting almost-exception; the Wallace Line makes clear just how important this observation is in evolution of new species). Things that look like “special” organs generally are modified from other organs that are not special. There are several other items out of Paley’s Natural Theology which just don’t hold up to what is actually observed in nature.

    So the geological and astronomical claims of creation have been thoroughly disproven. Most of the serious biological predictions of creationism were disproven as well.

    The disproof of claims of a young Earth is important, also, because we know that the diversity of life we see today is due to long millennia of evolution. You obviously don’t want to assume that, because you say “new body part.” Here’s the problem: Anything we see as a different body part today is just a minor variation on a pre-existing body part. Bat wings are mammalian digits, elongated and webbed. Bird wings are reptilian arms, complete with radius and ulna, elongated a bit, with skin webbed to catch air. Digits in birds are usually absent — they tend to disappear in utero, though some birds don’t develop them at all; other birds, keeping to ancient ways, still have digits (and at least one bird uses the digits, which provides us with a living record of how the process proceeded).

    So here’s the question: What functional body part of a modern creature do you have difficulty with seeing as having evolved? If we take vertebrates, for example, or their ancestors from the Cambrian, each “new” feature is just a minor variation on an existing part. With symmetry, that means a new limb will be mirrored on the other side. The mutations simply play a different theme on existing organs. (Linne’s work classifying living things revealed this fact, in retrospect.) For any “new” body part, we look to see what came before. In some cases we have dramatic fossil representations of the steps of these processes, for horses, for example, or for the evolution of whale flukes and the disappearance of whale legs, or the moving of whale nostrils to the top of the head; in most cases we have DNA evidence now that confirms and corroborates what we know from fossils.

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  129. Ed,

    First I simply do not have the time to answer each charge. But you brought up a good point about a deceptive Creator. That may not be the case at all. There may be reasons inherent to or necessary to the creation process that give the apperance of age – here is an example – the miracle of turning water into wine. If a scientist got to examine said wine a couple of days after the event it would certainly have the appreance of age. Perhaps as much as three or four years old. Did that mean that Christ set out to deceive, no. The apperence of age was necessary to the final product, inherent in the process. And one can not take the relativity of time out of this picture:

    http://aish.com/societywork/sciencenature/Age_of_the_Universe.asp

    But like I said above Ken, I take no hard fast position on the age of the universe or the creation process.

    Now, you did not answer my question. To go from single cell organism to a man you have to have a mechanism that will create literally hundreds of new functioning body parts. Natural selection does not create, either does genetic drift. The only mechanism left is random mutation. Yet we never see RMs creating new functioning body parts. They can duplicate what is there, like a extra set of wings on a fruit fly (which do not function), or they can slightly change the existing proteins in a bacteria, that do confer a slight advantage – which is rare. In other words we only ever see RMs acting on existing parts, never creating new parts.

    So in thousands and thousands of generations of fruit flies and bacteria we do not see any novel parts. Never mind parts that function. And if RMs are not doing the creating Ed, what is? At this point I’m not questioning the fossil record, though you assume a lot, I’m questioning the mechanism that created this diversity in the first place.

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  130. Hi Ed,

    Hard to compete with such extended, well-reasoned posts!

    Since we’re well off the main topic already, I’ll go further off-topic and ask if the dog in the photo next to your name is the family pooch? S/he looks a loveable beast. (And that’s coming from a “cat” person, although admittedly I’m fond of a lot of different animals.)

    PZ Myers has a recent blog piece reviewing a recent Science article on the evolution of fangs in snakes. I’m all out of time to read the piece properly to see how relevant this is to the current discussion, but a quick skim suggests it might serve as a topical example.

    You’re right to emphasise that “modern” organs are small variants on an existing organ and so on (duplication and diversion is just another theme on this in the end…)

    “They can duplicate what is there, like a extra set of wings on a fruit fly (which do not function), or they can slightly change the existing proteins in a bacteria, that do confer a slight advantage – which is rare. In other words” … you are making excuses to dismiss what you can’t handle. As I pointed out earlier, its (very) odd to expect complex systems made of many parts should somehow magically change many parts all at once: even common-sense suggests that they’ll change by attrition, a small part at a time. You’re essentially trying to reframe the question in a way that you hope it will fail, rather than look at how things actually work.

    “So in thousands and thousands of generations of fruit flies and bacteria we do not see any novel parts. Never mind parts that function.” That’s not true, James. There are well-documented cases of evolution of new features. One I recall in flies, is a lovely paper showing the detailed genetic and molecular mechanisms behind the evolution of the “eye” on wings. A very recent example is the Lenski lab’s work on E. coli (http://www.newscientist.com/channel/life/dn14094-bacteria-make-major-evolutionary-shift-in-the-lab.html) I’m sure you’ll just come up with another excuse! ;-)

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  131. … you are making excuses to dismiss what you can’t handle. As I pointed out earlier, its (very) odd to expect complex systems made of many parts should somehow magically change many parts all at once: even common-sense suggests that they’ll change by attrition, a small part at a time. You’re essentially trying to reframe the question in a way that you hope it will fail, rather than look at how things actually work.

    First Heraclides, you have no idea what I believe. So you can not know if I failed. Second, we have thousands and thousands of manually mutated generations of bacteria and fruit flies – and yet no new functioning body parts. This is not evidence for a materialistic evolution model. Deal with it.

    That’s not true, James. There are well-documented cases of evolution of new features. One I recall in flies, is a lovely paper showing the detailed genetic and molecular mechanisms behind the evolution of the “eye” on wings. A very recent example is the Lenski lab’s work on E. coli (http://www.newscientist.com/channel/life/dn14094-bacteria-make-major-evolutionary-shift-in-the-lab.html) I’m sure you’ll just come up with another excuse!

    You have simply made my point. A mutation duplicating an existing system (an eye) on the wing. Did that eye function? We also have legs being created on the fruit flies head – so? And Lenski’s work is what I was talking about above. First, they are not even sure if it was a random mutation that set the ground work for this change – your link mentioned this. Second, we still have mutations only acting on existing parts, not creating a new PART. In other words, in Lenski’s work, did we see a new part being created or a previous part being redesigned or modified? See this tells us nothing about how the parts got here in the first place. Another question – was this citrate trait already inherent in the organism – only dormant? We don’t know. Another problem – though we see RMs working in some existing organisms we can not know if RMs were acting in early life forms. That is a faith assumption.

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  132. To the first, now you’re dismissing me out-of-hand as well as the evidence!

    “So you can not know if I failed.” This could read as an admission that you’ll change the definition to suit yourself, when it suits you… ;-)

    To the second, I wrote “eye”, not eye. Its not literally an eye, its the “eye” that many insects have on their wings to fool predators.

    “was this citrate trait already inherent in the organism” No. Every gene of E. coli has been known for many years: a citrate metabolism pathway would show up in a comparison of the genes in E. coli with bacteria that metabolise citrate.

    It doesn’t really matter what people present as evidence, as you’re obviously just going to dismiss it out-of-hand! It just shows to me, that you are prepared to look at evidence at all. As I tried to write earlier, you need to look at what does happen, rather than try define what you want to happen. But then I didn’t really expect anything better.

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  133. To the second, I wrote “eye”, not eye. Its not literally an eye, its the “eye” that many insects have on their wings to fool predators.

    A color change? Is that all you are talking about? Do you have a link? How does that make your point about new parts?

    his could read as an admission that you’ll change the definition to suit yourself, when it suits you…

    No, I have said more than once in this thread that I take no hard fast position on the age of the universe or the method of biological creation. At this point, I would probably fall into the progressive creationist, old earth camp. http://www.reasons.org/ But I would not be surprised if a young earth model turns out to be correct.

    No. Every gene of E. coli has been known for many years: a citrate metabolism pathway would show up in a comparison of the genes in E. coli with bacteria that metabolise citrate.

    It doesn’t really matter what people present as evidence, as you’re obviously just going to dismiss it out-of-hand! It just shows to me, that you are prepared to look at evidence at all. As I tried to write earlier, you need to look at what does happen, rather than try define what you want to happen. But then I didn’t really expect anything better.

    I have no idea that your first point means. We know for instance that wild-type E. coli can use citrate when oxygen levels are low.

    Quote:

    Previous research has shown that wild-type E. coli can utilize citrate when oxygen levels are low.6 Under these conditions, citrate is taken into the cell and used in a fermentation pathway. The gene (citT) in E. coli is believed to encode a citrate transporter (a protein which transports citrate into the cell). When oxygen levels are high, it is thought that the citrate transporter does not function or is not produced (even though they still possess the enzymes necessary to utilize citrate). Thus, wild-type E. coli already have the ability to transport citrate into the cell and utilize it.

    Klaas Pos, et al., “The Escherichia coil Citrate Carrier citT: A Member of a Novel Eubacterial Transporter Family Related to the 2-oxoglutarate/malate Translocator from Spinach Chloroplasts,” Journal of Bacteriology 180 no. 16 (1998)

    So Heraclides, all we have seen is a change of pathway. An existing function being modified. The ability of the bacteria to use citrate already exists. Really, this is weak Heraclides. But let it not be said that I would deny a man his faith….

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  134. Another post full of excuses… nothing new under the sun, I guess.

    I have to head into town and may not be on for the weekend, so maybe Ed or Alison or Ken or someone else will address your questions. (To be honest I also can’t really be asked if someone constantly makes excuses rather than looks at what’s in front of them. You’re just the proverbial horse that won’t drink.)

    re: the wing eye sources, do your own homework, eh? Its published work, right?

    re: the quote-mined reference to citrate carrier: that’s not citrate metabolism; you’re just showing you don’t understand the relevant science.

    As for “An existing function being modified.” An existing something is always used: where do you think new genetic material comes from, thin air? (Hint: there is plenty of existing genetic material.)

    Philosophical point I haven’t time to deal with now: you argument at this point has a major blooper: mutations by definition can only work on existing material. Modifying an existing function is what a mutation is. Asking for mutations that create new function but don’t modify anything already existing is a contradiction in terms.

    So its back to: “you need to look at what does happen, rather than try define what you want to happen.” Of course that’s the difference of looking at reality vs. trying to fit the world to preconceived beliefs… (as Ken said at the onset)

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  135. James: “I have said more than once in this thread that I take no hard fast position on the age of the universe or the method of biological creation. . . . I would not be surprised if a young earth model turns out to be correct.”

    This, I think, shows you problem. You take this position (despite what we know about the age of our planet) because you refuse to accept the evidence and modern scientific knowledge about these matters. I suspect you are waiting for a theological ‘proof’. But such a theological position will still be only a belief. Not based on evidence. The scientific knowledge in this area (age of the earth vs ‘young earth creationism’ ) is, I would think, basically irrefutable.

    Any what is your criteria for choosing which parts of well accepted scientific knowledge is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’? – purely a religious prejudice! A reliance on a belief. An emotionally preferred belief – but still just a belief.

    This is why you seize on all sorts of ‘facts’ which you think may shore up your belief. But you never actually put your own belief to the test. You never advance a hypothesis for experiential testing.

    Now, it is easy to find areas of modern evolutionary science to pick (real or imaginary) holes in. That’s basically the ‘god of the gaps’ argument. (And, let’s face it, science only thrives on gaps in knowledge – it keeps us in our job of researching areas which are currently unknown).

    What about fronting up honestly with your own hypothesis – not a prejudice or belief – but a specific hypothesis, evidentially based and providing the possibility for experiential testing. In other words – put you money where your mouth is and stop whining about the science you don’t accept.

    I have yet to see a creationist do this!

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  136. I have yet to see a creationist do this!

    Allow me to put my hand up here Ken. I was a young-earth creationist and I decided to test my beliefs to see if they really stood up. They didn’t and so here I am.

    But I think it’s fair to say that quite often what qualifies a person as a young-earth creationist generally requires a fair degree of ignorance (wilful or inherited) and this state is pretty hard to break free from.

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  137. OK, Damian, you might have been the exception …? Are you aware, though, of many creationists actually advancing a specific hypothesis? I can’t recall any. If anything they seem to be prepared to go along with anything as long as it’s not evolution.

    My perception is that the creationist argument most commonly resorts to attempting to poke holes in the established facts (eg. fossil record, genetic and molecular evidence, etc.) or evolutionary theories such as natural selection. That is, they are criticising existing science – not proposing their own hypothesis, let alone theory. Even people like Behe do only that. They always leave their preferred approach (design?) as very vague. (Maybe they don’t really takes these ideas seriously).

    Actually, the inability or unwillingness to present a hypothesis is very frustrating for the scientific mind.

    Probably more importantly the creationist motivation may be based on their moral perceptions. That somehow evolutionary science teaches us that we don’t have human qualities or morals. That’s completely wrong, of course. But the strong moral judgmentalism may blind them to the difference.

    I can appreciate the last argument but do find it very strange. Because often this strong moral judgement actually leads to the “lying for Jesus” phenomenon. Creationists will sometimes make claims that they must know are completely wrong. Can a strong moral judgmentalism really permit such immoral behaviour?

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  138. Are you aware, though, of many creationists actually advancing a specific hypothesis? I can’t recall any.

    No, because it’s not really a scientific hypothesis. But it is a hypothesis and it is possible to accumulate evidence against it which is what has been comprehensively done for a long time now.

    I’ve often heard Christians say that people don’t like to consider the reality of God because if you do you will have to change you ways and it will make you uncomfortable. But I think this is a similar argument to when people accuse atheists of being ‘fundamentalist’ or evolutionists of having to have a great deal of ‘faith’ to believe what they do. The fact is that when people understand both sides of the argument for the age of the earth they tend to come down on the ‘billions’, not ‘thousands’ side. And considering the reality of this can be pretty bloody uncomfortable when the foundation of your beliefs in on your own literal interpretation of the Bible. If this interpretation is wrong then what about everything else? How do you adjust your hermeneutics without admitting that you’re just cherry-picking to suit your preconceptions??

    I think that the “lying for Jesus” phenomenon you describe is really just an appeaser of cognitive dissonance.

    With the various creationist arguments the far easiest one to demolish is that of the young earth creationist. Their only retreat is to claim that God has gone completely out of his way to make the earth and the universe appear exactly the age that the various sciences converge upon. Which is about as much use as saying that you just know because you know and there’s not much further you can go with that argument. Those people are best left alone in their fantasies as there is no amount of rational conversation that will change anything.

    But the young earth creationists who believe what they believe because they have been misled by supposed ‘experts’ have a chance if you can get them to first agree that truth is preferable to falsehood and that the truth is more likely to be arrived at by considering all the evidence. And there is evidence aplenty that points away from a 6000 year-old earth and toward a 4,700,000,000 year-old one. No evidence points to a 6000 year-old earth other than a list of genealogies and the word “yom” from a desert-dwelling tribe compilation of early writings.

    Young earth creationists like Bnonn seem to dodge the requirement for evidence by either claiming a strong disinterest in science or that what they read in in a book which claims its own perfection (using their fallible senses) has to trump anything else we can observe with our fallible senses (except, of course, when observable evidence is convenient).

    To be honest, I used to be quite interested in the argument probably in much the same way that an ex-drug addict will want to understand the phenomenon of addiction but these days it seems a waste of time even discussing it. There’s more to life than indulging the fantasies of the deluded. Arguing about it can sometimes give the false impression that there even is an argument. That said, if there is anyone reading this who believes that the earth is 6000 years old but is interested to hear all the evidence in an earnest manner then I’ve got all the time in the world!

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  139. James said: Now, you did not answer my question. To go from single cell organism to a man you have to have a mechanism that will create literally hundreds of new functioning body parts. Natural selection does not create, either does genetic drift. The only mechanism left is random mutation. Yet we never see RMs creating new functioning body parts. They can duplicate what is there, like a extra set of wings on a fruit fly (which do not function), or they can slightly change the existing proteins in a bacteria, that do confer a slight advantage – which is rare. In other words we only ever see RMs acting on existing parts, never creating new parts.

    No, & there’s no reason why we should either. As Heraclides said earlier, evolution works through building gradual change upon gradual change: where that change gives an individual an edge (in terms of reproductive success) & is heritable, then it’ll spread through the population. Plenty of evidence of that from both the fossil record and from molecular biology – take a recent paper on the genetic changes underlying the evolution of bat wings, for example. (Can’t remember the url off-hand but there’s a link from my blog. This demand for new body parts springing up abruptly is simply a red herring.

    As for your supposed rebuttal of Lenski’s E.coli research – as Heraclides says, your citation is of a carrier molecule, not a metabolic pathway. Lenski clearly demonstrated the evolution of a new metabolic pathway in his E.coli population.

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  140. Damian @139,

    To be honest, I used to be quite interested in the argument probably in much the same way that an ex-drug addict will want to understand the phenomenon of addiction but these days it seems a waste of time even discussing it. There’s more to life than indulging the fantasies of the deluded. Arguing about it can sometimes give the false impression that there even is an argument.

    Bravo! I had just reached the same conclusion as your last paragraph. I am out of practice dealing with such hermetically sealed minds, so it took me a while there to feel the seconds of my life dripping away (one by one;-)).

    However, I am interested in how people become this way. What impact does the sort of misdirection and manipulation evidenced in the video that started this thread have on young minds? What is the best way to counter this?

    I really have little experience with that mindset, or those indoctrination practices, but perhaps peer reinforcement is critical here. This is one reason that I think faith schools are a bad idea. Another, is that in a modern world of increased migration, I think that faith schools delay integration of immigrants due to ghettoisation effects.

    Also, on a bit of a tangent… This whole undermining of objective reality, teach the controversy, show both sides etc… is closely related to the spin techniques used by modern political parties. For example, when anything bad/good happens, react as quickly as possible in the media (no matter how implausible/untrue your response is), thus when people remember the bad/good thing in the future (when their recall of the detail has gone), they will remember that nothing was conclusive and that there were two sides to the issue, which was patently not the case.

    I think that this point above is a very serious threat to modern democratic societies as it means that they are more easily manipulated (insert favourite Göring quote here). When the manipulation is coming from all sides, I think that this can lead to widespread disillusionment and detachment from society. So heres an argument for you: Perhaps this sort of spin and deception is a causative factor for the sort of nihilism that people have earlier in this thread tried to blame on evolutionary science and atheism.

    Perhaps a rigourous defense (and development) of objective reality and scientific process is precisely what is needed in so many different facets of our modern societies. What is the best counter to modern spin techniques?

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  141. No, & there’s no reason why we should either. As Heraclides said earlier, evolution works through building gradual change upon gradual change: where that change gives an individual an edge (in terms of reproductive success) & is heritable, then it’ll spread through the population. Plenty of evidence of that from both the fossil record and from molecular biology – take a recent paper on the genetic changes underlying the evolution of bat wings, for example. (Can’t remember the url off-hand but there’s a link from my blog. This demand for new body parts springing up abruptly is simply a red herring.

    As for your supposed rebuttal of Lenski’s E.coli research – as Heraclides says, your citation is of a carrier molecule, not a metabolic pathway. Lenski clearly demonstrated the evolution of a new metabolic pathway in his E.coli population.

    A Hello Alison,

    First, the ability to use citrate already existed. Was this change? Yes, but it was simply a reorganization of what was there. And as my quote stated, this new pathway may have simply been dormant. And even in Heraclide’s link, Lenski admitted that they do not know if a random mutation caused this in the first place. Listen, I believe Lenski went through 44,000 generations of bacteria and if this is all you have to show for it, it’s sad. The same with thousands and thousands of fruit fly generations. How about the development of a partial spine? A light patch with a corresponding nerual network? Now that would be impressive. As far as bat wings, you are just reading into the research. Is there ANY evidence that random mutations did that? No Alison…

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  142. Perhaps a rigourous defense (and development) of objective reality and scientific process is precisely what is needed in so many different facets of our modern societies. What is the best counter to modern spin techniques?

    Like I said Nick, the problem is that all facts are filtered through the subjective mind. Everyone is bias, even those in science. And you…

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  143. This, I think, shows you problem. You take this position (despite what we know about the age of our planet) because you refuse to accept the evidence and modern scientific knowledge about these matters. I suspect you are waiting for a theological ‘proof’. But such a theological position will still be only a belief. Not based on evidence. The scientific knowledge in this area (age of the earth vs ‘young earth creationism’ ) is, I would think, basically irrefutable.

    Any what is your criteria for choosing which parts of well accepted scientific knowledge is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’? – purely a religious prejudice! A reliance on a belief. An emotionally preferred belief – but still just a belief.

    This is why you seize on all sorts of ‘facts’ which you think may shore up your belief. But you never actually put your own belief to the test. You never advance a hypothesis for experiential testing.

    Now, it is easy to find areas of modern evolutionary science to pick (real or imaginary) holes in. That’s basically the ‘god of the gaps’ argument. (And, let’s face it, science only thrives on gaps in knowledge – it keeps us in our job of researching areas which are currently unknown).

    What about fronting up honestly with your own hypothesis – not a prejudice or belief – but a specific hypothesis, evidentially based and providing the possibility for experiential testing. In other words – put you money where your mouth is and stop whining about the science you don’t accept.

    I have yet to see a creationist do this!

    See Ken, you also rely on belief. The first being that your experience of the world corresponds to reality. You can not prove it to be so.

    Second, as a christian I do not believe that truth only comes through, or can be known, by the scientific method. Do you? And you have other unprovable beliefs Ken, like the beliefs that the universe is self-creating and self-sustaining.Or that biological life can or did come from inorganic matter

    Third, if God did supernaturally create why would you think science would have the ability to detect that act? It would be irrational to assume that it would be open to experiential testing.

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  144. James – I repeat. Put you money where your mouth is. Give us your hypothesis. Winging criticism of well established knowledge only discredits you – and is a waste of time. We could go on for the rest of our lives debating different aspects of evolutionary science – and this is being done more fruitfully by scientists themselves (there’s a huge literature describing this).

    What I want to see is your alternative. Perhaps then we can submit it to a similar scrutiny – maybe even learn something – and maybe get some ideas for future research.

    James – I am genuinely interested.

    If you are unable to present your alternative hypothesis – perhaps that also teaches us something.
    ________________________________________________________

    James – as an aside. Making assumptions about others’ beliefs means that you may, at least, spend you time on straw men. At worse you end up look ridiculous.

    For example – I don’t believe “that biological life can or did come from inorganic matter”, at least on this planet. I’m not aware of any credible hypothesis that inorganic material suddenly jumped into life on earth. Now that would take a god, or a magician.

    We all have beliefs that are not necessarily proven. Thats why I say they are only beliefs. I like to think, though, that I can modify or abandon any belief when the evidence does come in.

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  145. James said:

    //First, the ability to use citrate already existed. Was this change? Yes, but it was simply a reorganization of what was there. And as my quote stated, this new pathway may have simply been dormant. And even in Heraclide’s link, Lenski admitted that they do not know if a random mutation caused this in the first place. Listen, I believe Lenski went through 44,000 generations of bacteria and if this is all you have to show for it, it’s sad. The same with thousands and thousands of fruit fly generations. How about the development of a partial spine? A light patch with a corresponding nerual network? Now that would be impressive. As far as bat wings, you are just reading into the research. Is there ANY evidence that random mutations did that?//

    In Lenski’s bacteria the ability to utilise citrate didn’t exist – the ability to use the stuff evolved in his study population after about 30,000 generations. I really can’t see why you think this ‘sad’ – these are bacteria! In their environment, the ability to use citrate opened up a new food source; a beneficial mutation like that would rapidly spread through the population. As for fruit flies evolving a partial spine – please!

    And the bats – of course I’m reading the research; I’m a biologist, it’s part of what I do. Since the paper in question was talking about gene expression in bats & mice, differences in the mouse & bat genomes will be due to random mutations. Arguing against this on the basis of personal incredulity isn’t sufficient; any alternative mechanism that’s proposed must be testable, falsifiable, & predictive if scientists are to take it seriously.

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  146. James – I repeat. Put you money where your mouth is. Give us your hypothesis. Winging criticism of well established knowledge only discredits you – and is a waste of time. We could go on for the rest of our lives debating different aspects of evolutionary science – and this is being done more fruitfully by scientists themselves (there’s a huge literature describing this).

    What I want to see is your alternative. Perhaps then we can submit it to a similar scrutiny – maybe even learn something – and maybe get some ideas for future research.

    And Ken, I will repeat. If supernatural events were involved what makes you think they would be open to scientific investagation? What makes you think you could detect the mechanism(s). And if they were extra-natural events, they would be just as true, or factual, as a natural event even if you could not detect said mechanisms. And that is your problem Ken, unless one can present alternative physical hypothesis for any of these events, then it is not accepted or even considered. But that is a arbitrary standard for truth or knowledge. And it is irrational – follow me here. You can not prove by the scientific method that the scientific method is the key to knowledge. It would be a self-refuting belief, since the belief its self can not be proven by the scientific method. The same for your very core assumption about knowledge – that your sense experience corresponds to reality. You can not prove that by the scientific method. All your mental states (experiences) would be exactly the same if you were a brain in a vat, or in the Matrix.

    So when you challenge me to produce a scientific hypothesis for the rise of biological life, it falls on deaf ears. One, because extra-natural events by nature may not be open to such a hypothesis (and still may be perfectly true) and two, your very basis for knowledge and the belief in the scientific method are things that can not be proven scientifically. So you would be asking of me something you yourself could not produce for your theories of knowledge.

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  147. In Lenski’s bacteria the ability to utilise citrate didn’t exist – the ability to use the stuff evolved in his study population after about 30,000 generations. I really can’t see why you think this ’sad’ – these are bacteria! In their environment, the ability to use citrate opened up a new food source; a beneficial mutation like that would rapidly spread through the population. As for fruit flies evolving a partial spine – please!

    Hello Alison,

    First:

    Previous research has shown that wild-type E. coli can utilize citrate when oxygen levels are low.6 Under these conditions, citrate is taken into the cell and used in a fermentation pathway. The gene (citT) in E. coli is believed to encode a citrate transporter (a protein which transports citrate into the cell). When oxygen levels are high, it is thought that the citrate transporter does not function or is not produced (even though they still possess the enzymes necessary to utilize citrate). Thus, wild-type E. coli already have the ability to transport citrate into the cell and utilize it.

    Klaas Pos, et al., “The Escherichia coil Citrate Carrier citT: A Member of a Novel Eubacterial Transporter Family Related to the 2-oxoglutarate/malate Translocator from Spinach Chloroplasts,” Journal of Bacteriology 180 no. 16 (199

    Do you disagree with Klaas Pos that wild-type E. coli could use citrate?

    Second, about the partial spine or light patch – I was refering to the bacteria. Let’s face it after 44,000 generations you don’t have much to show. And like I said Lenski does even know how this was caused. A mutation? A chromosome inversion? Or something we haven’t figured out yet? So agian, no clear evidence that random mutation can create new functional body parts.

    And the bats – of course I’m reading the research; I’m a biologist, it’s part of what I do. Since the paper in question was talking about gene expression in bats & mice, differences in the mouse & bat genomes will be due to random mutations. Arguing against this on the basis of personal incredulity isn’t sufficient; any alternative mechanism that’s proposed must be testable, falsifiable, & predictive if scientists are to take it seriously.

    That’s the point, perhaps we will never know Alison. But to assume that random mutations could create wings is pure assumption… You know what would help – mice or bats with half formed wings in the fossil index. Can you link me to those pictures?

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  148. James,

    You can ask how the new functionality in E. coli arose.

    You can ask the specific nature of the new functionality in E. coli.

    But you cannot deny that a new functionality was observed.

    All your ducking a weaving is a avoiding the point that a new functionality was observed. Questioning other aspect doesn’t away that a new functionality was observed.

    You need to look at what did happen.

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  149. Excuse my typos… should really re-read before I post :-/ A corrected version of pentultimate paragraph follows:

    All your ducking and weaving is avoiding the point that a new functionality was observed. Questioning other aspects doesn’t remove that a new functionality was observed.

    The reason I’m emphasising the word “that” is that you’re talking all around it.

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  150. Heraclides,

    I don’t know how many times I have to say this.

    1. Somewhere up above I made the point that I believe it is possible for RMs to act on an existing system and confer advantage. Though it would be very rare.

    2. You can only extrapolate this to RMs creating new functional BODY PARTS by pure assumption. You have no evidence that this can happen.

    3. According to my quote from Klaas Pos, this ability to utilize citrate already existed in “wild-type E. coli.” So the ability was already inherent, perhaps the RM simply opened up a new pathway, or a dormate pathway.

    4. Even your link made the point that Lenski does not know if this was even caused by a RM, it could have been caused by a chromosome inversion (which we know very little about) or, I would add, by a mechanism we know nothing about.

    5. Saying that RMs can act on existing systems tells us nothing about how those systems were created in the first place. Also (this is a major point) it does not tell us if RMs were even functioning in early life forms (that is another unprovable assumption). And really, after 44,000 generations one would expect to find something more tangable. Go back 44,000 generations from the present day human being. Do you think that organism would look much different – with less body parts? I mean that would take us back close to three million years.

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  151. James said:
    //1. Somewhere up above I made the point that I believe it is possible for RMs to act on an existing system and confer advantage. Though it would be very rare.//

    It’s good that you think this ‘possible’ because there is a great deal of evidence for it happening ie it’s not really as rare as you’d like to think. For example – the ability for people in some human populations (northern Europeans, some African groups) to digest lactose is due to mutations that occurred (independently in each group) & was selected for around 10,000 years ago.

    //2. You can only extrapolate this to RMs creating new functional BODY PARTS by pure assumption. You have no evidence that this can happen.//

    And how many times do we have to say this: that evolution DOES NOT WORK by the sudden production of ‘new body parts’? Statements like this are either straw men or demonstrate a lack of understanding of how evolution operates. And if you’re going to critique something like this & be taken seriously by the scientific community, then you need to understand the process before you begin.

    //3. According to my quote from Klaas Pos, this ability to utilize citrate already existed in “wild-type E. coli.” So the ability was already inherent, perhaps the RM simply opened up a new pathway, or a dormate pathway.//

    It did NOT exist in Lenski’s population.

    4. Even your link made the point that Lenski does not know if this was even caused by a RM, it could have been caused by a chromosome inversion (which we know very little about) or, I would add, by a mechanism we know nothing about.//

    A chromosome inversion IS a mutation – look in any good senior high school or first-year university biological textbook.

    //5. Saying that RMs can act on existing systems tells us nothing about how those systems were created in the first place. Also (this is a major point) it does not tell us if RMs were even functioning in early life forms (that is another unprovable assumption). And really, after 44,000 generations one would expect to find something more tangable. Go back 44,000 generations from the present day human being. Do you think that organism would look much different – with less body parts? I mean that would take us back close to three million years.//

    Again, straw man or misunderstanding; I’ll be charitable & say I’m not sure which. Evolution isn’t directional, it works on the genetic information available in a particular environment. What works well in one environment may not in another & it’s impossible to predict that sort of thing in advance. Why you should expect ‘more tangible’ change in bacteria, in the environment in which they operate, is beyond me.

    Go back 3 million years in our own lineage & you’ll come to something like “Lucy” (Australopithecus afarensis) – the differences are not in more or fewer body parts (that straw man again) but in their nature: form of the pelvis, shape & size of face & cranium, shape of ribcage, position of foramen magnum… I could go on at some length but I won’t: if you genuinely want to engage with this material then it’s readily available in both the technical literature & popular books, blogs (mine included) & websites.

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  152. James,

    You’re still trying to talk around something you can’t deny: under a set of conditions E. coli can’t metabolise citrate; after many generations some can. A change in functionality was observed. Nothing you can say will take that away. You can play the banjo, whistle through your a**e, even call me names: you can’t take that away.

    “1. Somewhere up above I made the point that I believe it is possible for RMs to act on an existing system and confer advantage. Though it would be very rare.” In other words that you accept that evolution occurs, but…

    “2. You can only extrapolate this to RMs creating new functional BODY PARTS by pure assumption. You have no evidence that this can happen.” … you want to redefine evolution so that you can deny it.

    As I have written several times now: “you need to look at what does happen, rather than try define what you want to happen.” Basically you’re still at what I also wrote earlier: “You’re essentially trying to reframe the question in a way that you hope it will fail, rather than look at how things actually work.”.

    Point 3 doesn’t remove that a change in functionality occurred: it refers to how. Its one of the reasons I emphasised specific words in my previous post.

    Point 4 also refers to how, not that.

    Point 5 is a side-step to an entirely other issues (aside from doing the “re-define the problem to suit my argument” thing again). Not trying to resort to “bait and switch” are we? Look at what did happen. A change in functionality occurred.

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  153. It’s interesting that some people will deny well established evidence and refuse to consider knowledge which conflicts with their prejudices – then assert that we should accept ideas without evidence and beliefs which are no more than prejudice – because they are asserted to be “supernatural”, “extra-natural”, etc. Of course this is just a way of trying to give respectability to ignorance.

    Supernatural = ??. We used to think lightning and thunder were “supernatural.” We had good “supernatural” explanations (the anger of gods). “Supernatural” proves to have been just a placeholder – a way of “explaining” things we don’t understand.

    Well, of course, we can do a lot better now – and we do.

    James – you have admitted that you don’t have a hypothesis (even an unscientific one. You don’t even appear to have a story or myth – at least you are not sharing your explanation with us. You claim the right to retreat into a mumbo jumbo world of “supernatural” and “extra-natural” explanations. But you won’t even give us those.

    You claim “that is your problem Ken, unless one can present alternative physical hypothesis for any of these events, then it is not accepted or even considered.” How can I accept or consider something that is not presented? Your unwillingness to present your ideas suggest to me that you have no real confidence in them.

    Come on – it doesn’t have to be a “physical hypothesis”. It can be “extra-natural” or “supernatural”. I just want to know what you story is. I just want to put your hypothesis, explanation, story, myth (call it what you will) alongside the factual evidence and scientific ideas.

    Put your money where your mouth is James.

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  154. It did NOT exist in Lenski’s population

    Just one point this morning. How do you know this? How do you know that the ability was not dormant? Since the ability was already wide spread in the population, and often dormant under normal conditions.

    Here is the link:

    http://jb.asm.org/cgi/content/full/180/16/4160

    Second, no one knows, not even Lenski, if this was caused by a RM in the first place. So given the fact that the ability use citrate already existed in the Escherichia coli population (and often dormant under most conditions as the link shows)and the fact that no one knows if this was caused by a RM in the first place,I would say it was very thin evidence indeed…

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  155. Come on – it doesn’t have to be a “physical hypothesis”. It can be “extra-natural” or “supernatural”. I just want to know what you story is. I just want to put your hypothesis, explanation, story, myth (call it what you will) alongside the factual evidence and scientific ideas.

    Ok Ken, we will start here. God supernaturally created the first, most primitive biological life on earth.

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  156. “It did NOT exist in Lenski’s population”

    James, think about it: every sampled generation in their study was tested for this… (not just the first generation)

    As for the presence of a citrate metabolism pathway, I answered that earlier.

    If citrate metabolism didn’t exist under the conditions they used and then later did, a new functionality has been derived. Side-stepping this with “how”, “what”, etc., won’t make “that” it happened go away.

    Try look at what’s there, not make excuses.

    “the first, most primitive biological life on earth.” Define this precisely.

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  157. “the first, most primitive biological life on earth.”

    Define this precisely.

    You want me to define precisely what you could never define precisely?

    But would say self-replicating cells.

    James, think about it: every sampled generation in their study was tested for this… (not just the first generation)

    Again, it would not even show up under normal conditions – see my link. It would generally need special conditions for these things to trigger.

    Second, they, we, can not prove that a random mutation caused this change. Has this experiment be duplicated?

    http://www.trueorigin.org/spetner1.asp

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  158. James – thanks for actually giving us your belief: “God supernaturally created the first, most primitive biological life on earth.” Can’t actually see why this means you should support the denial of scientific knowledge to children (as in the posted video) or go on to deny large areas of human knowledge. Most theists don’t go down your path. I guess many Christians who accept evolutionary science could also accept your statement so I think there is more to you story than just that sentence.

    As I think you make clear – this one sentence is your belief (as I would stress its only a belief). It’s actually quite presumptive (your use of “supernatural” means you define the belief in a way that that there is no possibility of finding evidence for or testing – very convenient) and we either just have to accept your belief or reject it. After all, there are countless beliefs which can be expressed in this way (and there are countless “gods” we can insert into that belief). There is absolutely no way we can take that belief as any more credible than any other belief.

    Isn’t it understandable that modern scientists are not going to reject the continually growing evidence for evolution and the well-substantiated theories derived from this just because you have that belief (only a belief), or any similar belief?

    I suspect there is more behind your rejection of modern scientific knowledge than this one sentence statement of belief. For instance, your willingness to use websites like http://www.trueorigin.org or the Genesis Park as evidence, rather than websites giving actual scientific information, suggests an unwillingness to actually accept the evidence that exists.

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  159. Search the Web on Snap.com

    Ken,

    I many not agree with eveything True Origins says, but I linked to a discussion between Dr. Edward E. Max and Lee Spetner on this very subject of mutations – and it bears directly on the question at hand. The FACT is there is very little actual evidence that RMs did or could create the complexity we see in biological life – the new systems and body parts. And it is possible that whatever mechanism created life on earth, whether natural or supernatural, has long been lost to us.

    And I have to repeat Ken, you have many beliefs, beliefs that support your very ability to gain knowledge that can not be proved by the scientifc method (you assume that you are not a brain in a vat without evidence). That is why I asked you if the scientic method was the only avenue to truth. You did not answer. You want me to provide a mechanism for how God created and superintended the process – perhaps we don’t have that information, or never will – but that doesn’t make it less true. And it doesn’t mean that you are on the right track either. Perhaps you give so much weight to RMs because they are so needed for your materialistic theory, and without them the theory fails. Perhaps it is just wishful thinking.

    Anyway Ken, I have enjoyed our discussion. Thank you for having me as a guest on your blog…

    God Bless, James

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  160. And I repeat, James, I will change my beliefs when the evidence requires it. Their is nothing sacred about beliefs in themselves- they are only beliefs – not knowledge.

    I haven’t the faintest idea of what you mean by RMs. As for ideological labeling – no scientist uses words like materialist, naturalistic, supernatural when they set out to investigate a phenomenon. These words are being used now by people who wish to replace knowledge derived from evidence and reinforced by experiential validation with beliefs. It is a political attack on science (it has no traction within the scientific community itself). And here it is being used to justify withholding important knowledge from children.

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  161. So in thousands and thousands of generations of fruit flies and bacteria we do not see any novel parts.

    What would you regard as novel? No wings at all? Red eyes? White eyes? Eyes on wings? Legs instead of antennae? All of those are observed, famous examples of body parts that, compared to momfly and dadfly, are novel.

    So, what is the creationist definition of “novel” and why should we change from the traditional, Christian-approved definition?

    But before you trot out the old saw about “oh-I-really-meant -no -new-completely-unexpected-functions, let me ask you to explore the B1 and B2 alleles in mosquitoes, Culex pipiens, which endows them with the ability to suck in DDT, which was a deadly toxin to their ancestors two generations previous, and digest the chemical as food.

    We’re not sure if it’s a new part of their “liver” equivalent, or simply a new chemical they produce somewhere — but it’s definitely a new function, and in every other way meets the definition of something that leaps out of nowhere to show the power behind evolution. The alleles did not exist prior to the use of DDT. This is as profound (and unfortunate) an example of natural selection exactly as Darwin described it as we could ever get.

    Creationists get a double whammy on this one. If it’s not godless evolution, then it is direct intervention by the Wilber Force, or whatever creationists wish to call the Great Designer. If it’s intervention by God, then we must ask: Why is God acting so malevolently?

    For the sake of the faith, creationists would be better off to admit evolution than to admit to a malevolent God.

    Bet they won’t. Creationists have made a powerful idol out of denying evolution, and they’ll cling to that belief, even if it means denying God.

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  162. This recent blog seems to be relevant to this topic: http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2008/08/will_we_ever_stop_running_away.php

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  163. Pingback: Lying to children « Open Parachute

  164. http://dummidumbwit.wordpress.com/2008/09/29/i-know-how-to-get-the-bill-passed/

    Type palin into my search for Theological issues, this is just for your sense of humor?

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  165. Pingback: Atheists not allowed to criticise Hitler! « Open Parachute

  166. Les gens pensent que Hollister est cher parce qu’il est.

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