Redefining Religion

Mike Appleton, Guest Blogger

“Blessed be you, mighty matter, irresistible march of evolution, reality ever newborn; you who, by constantly shattering our mental categories, force us to go ever further in the pursuit of the truth.”

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, “Hymn of the Universe,” (Harper and Row, 1961).

It took the jury fewer than fifteen minutes to convict substitute teacher John Scopes of the crime of teaching evolution to Tennessee public school students in 1925.  It was the last victory of Christian fundamentalists in their war against the disciples of Darwin, and a hollow one at that.  Although the Tennessee Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the law, it reversed the verdict because the trial judge had imposed a $100.00 fine on Mr. Scopes, contrary to a provision in the Tennessee constitution requiring a jury to assess fines exceeding $50.00.  In sending the case back, however, the court made the unusual suggestion that further prosecution not be pursued.  Scopes v. State, 154 Tenn. 105, 289 SW 363 (1927).  It was not.

Fundamentalists were emboldened by the Scopes verdict.  In 1928 Mississippi and Arkansas adopted similar laws and in the ensuing years, the subject of evolution was effectively dropped as a topic in many high school science courses, a trend that was not reversed until the Sputnik scare in 1958 led to a revamping of science curricula.  It was not until 1968 that the Supreme Court decreed that laws forbidding the teaching of evolution in public schools violated the Establishment Clause.  Epperson v. Arkansas, 397 U.S. 97 (1968).

With direct bans no longer available, fundamentalists pursued a new strategy, the adoption of “balanced treatment” legislation requiring that teachers provide time for the exploration of the Genesis story of creation as an alternative explanation of biological origins.  In 1983 a federal district judge threw out Arkansas’ balanced treatment statute, concluding that creationism is “not science because it depends upon a supernatural intervention which is not guided by natural law.  It is not explanatory by reference to natural law, is not testable and is not falsifiable.” McLean v. Arkansas Board of Education, 529 F. Supp. 1255, 1267 (E.D. Ark. 1982).  Several years later, Louisiana’s balanced treatment statute was also found to violate the Establishment Clause under the Lemon test.  Edwards v. Aguillard, 482 U.S. 578 (1987).

Efforts to recast creationism as science under the name “intelligent design” were rebuffed in the now famous case of Fitzmiller v. Dover Area School District,  400 F. Supp.2d 707 (E.D. Pa. 2005), in which the court succinctly stated that “[intelligent design] cannot uncouple itself from its creationist, and thus religious, antecedents.” 400 F. Supp.2d at 765.

But the war is far from over.  Creationists are once again in court, and this time they are urging that the teaching of evolution in the public schools is itself a violation of, inter alia, the Establishment and Free Exercise clauses because evolution theory incorporates the “core tenets of Religious (‘secular’) Humanism.”

Cope (a/k/a Citizens for Objective Public Education, Inc.), et al., v. Kansas State Board of Education was filed on September 26th in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas.  The case seeks to enjoin implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards adopted by the Kansas Board of Education in June of this year.  Those standards are objectionable under the First and Fourteenth Amendment, according to the plaintiffs, because they endorse the “orthodoxy” of scientific materialism, which “holds that explanations of the cause and nature of natural phenomena may only use natural, material or mechanistic causes, and must assume that, supernatural and teleological or design conceptions of nature are invalid.” (Complaint, para. 8)  Plaintiffs contend that teleological and materialistic explanations of the natural world create “competing religious beliefs.” (Complaint, para. 75).

The allegations are absurd on a number of levels.  First, Plaintiffs have adopted a definition of religion which eliminates any requirement for belief in a supernatural entity.  Second, Plaintiffs’ reasoning, if pursued to its logical conclusion, would virtually preclude the teaching of science in the public schools because their objections go to the basis of what we understand as the scientific method.  Third, Plaintiffs rely upon the same flawed dualism that taints most fundamentalist arguments, the false assumption that acceptance of the findings of evolutionary biology are incompatible with religious belief in general and Christian belief in particular.  The great paleontologist and theologian Teilhard de Chardin, for example, who is quoted above, regarded evolution itself as part of the process of divine creation.

This latest assault on science is not the first time that creationists have relied on the Secular Humanism argument  In Crowley v. Smithsonian Institution, 636 F.2d 738 (D.C. Cir. 1980), the court rejected the claim that a museum exhibit of evolutionary processes constituted a governmental endorsement of Secular Humanism.  The court held that the Establishment Clause does not prohibit a science display which may happen to be in agreement with a tenet of a particular religion.  And in McLean v. Arkansas Board of Education, supra, the court observed, “Yet it is clearly established in the case law, and perhaps also in common sense, that evolution is not a religion and that teaching evolution does not violate the Establishment Clause.” 529 F.Supp. at 1274.

Fundamentalists have failed in their attempts to create science out of religion.  There is no doubt that they will also fail in their attempts to create religion out of science.  The only serious remaining question is why we must continue to have the discussion.

 

 

 

141 thoughts on “Redefining Religion

  1. I would love to see David or Hubert C., write their view of this topic. It would be very interesting to see both ‘sides of the plate.’ :)

  2. ”Religion”……… Scrape up all the ‘Crud’ of the World, put it in a bottle, and see who’ll be willing to drink from that bottle. That’s religion

  3. Mike, I agree, it seems, with 99% of what Turley (and his guest bloggers post). I think Turley and I would be great friends laughing at, mocking, and being disgusted at those who would dismantle our constitution…and then, for me…things take a 180. My views always diverge from your herd at one particular point. Where the discussion of religion raises its head it seems that I always find myself reading a bunch of misinformed, narrowminded, and canned propaganda. This is what you’ve authored. The sideways discussion of Scopes begins your silly set of arguments. Your citations to “appellate authority” regarding what creationism is and is not is even more laughable. I stand before judges nearly everyday. I read apppelate opinions nearly everyday. The authors are only men and are beset with the same frailties of bias and prejudice and self-validation that you and I have – their words mean nothing persuasive. And, in the end, “science’s” denial of God is no more observable, testable, or repeatable than are affirmative theological proofs of God’s existence. Your post adds no new arguments nor new information to the debate and only threatens to dumb it down for those of us who are already informed and engaged.

  4. Anthony Viera:
    Since you are informed and engaged, then you will understand that the function of science is to seek an understanding of the natural world. That process neither implies nor demands the “denial” of God or religious belief. What I find most surprising in the debate over evolution is why no one appears willing to discuss the possibility that the conflict between science and fundamentalist theology is not a consequence of bad science but of bad theology.

  5. COPE has only been in existence since March of 2012 and is just one more attempt by John Calvert (formerly of the now pretty much defunct IDNet and Tea Party favorite) to grab a little bit of the waning spotlight. He lost big time both in Kansas and in Ohio. From what I understand this lawsuit lacks any citations to relevant case law and the board has asked the state’s attorney general to defend the case. This is just Calvert yelling, “Look at me, look at me … I’m still important! Yes, yes, I’m still accepting speakers fees … when do you want me to talk to your group?”

  6. But but but . . . that would require people question their beliefs in the face of mountains of contrary physical evidence and repeatable experiments, Mike! ;)

    And everyone knows theology comes from (their) God and is ergo infallible.

  7. Blouise,

    Derek Schmidt, the current KS AG, is not exactly my choice for many reasons (taking Koch money for one thing) but he at least isn’t in denial about science like that tool Phill Kline. I don’t think COPE stands a chance.

  8. Mike, give me a break. You open with a quote exalting materialism. Its right there. I’m looking at it as I write. Holy smokes guy! Please don’t act to the contrary. I’ve heard the illogical and philosophically unsustainable nonsense forever…all is matter and molecules and an infinitie prior hain of causes and effects – Damn the notion of infinite regress – Higgs-Boson to the rescue – who needs a prime mover? Right? The truth is, you and all your like do believe that a conflict exists between science and religion. I disagree. I believe the conflict is between religion and scientists who’ve tried to wade into areas of theology and philosophy they are ill equipped to understand. Fortunately, I am a lawyer so I am neither obliged nor inclined to respect any boundary whether of naturalism or of metaphysics. I am more than willing to trample on sacred cows your humanistic beef included.

  9. Yeah, if cows could, they’d give Milnot. People who believe in a god should be able to explain why. I have never heard anyone explain the whyfor. When they say that “Its written in the Scriptures” then I respond that they need to disavow science completely. Forget medicine and going to hospitals for treatment. Pray for rain. Pray for the Redsox. Pray for us sinners. Yakkity yak, don’t come back.

  10. Gene,

    Of course COPE will be tossed out … Calvert’s just angling to stay on the Tea Party chicken dinner circuit.

  11. “And, in the end, “science’s” denial of God is no more observable, testable, or repeatable than are affirmative theological proofs of God’s existence.”

    Anthony,

    I’ve got to go with Mike on this one. Science doesn’t deny God. Many scientists are people of faith. Darwin himself was a religious man. Science says it cannot prove or disprove God because a God doesn’t have to follow the rules of nature – which is what science seeks to unravel and reveal. That is what supernatural means; attributed to some force beyond scientific understanding or the laws of nature. Science cannot speak to God’s existence because the lack of observable evidence and repeatable experiments simply make he/she/it an impossibility for study using the scientific method. Theology, on the other hand, is a rhetorical area of study. Physical evidence is not required. Theological proofs may have logic, even internally consistent logic, but it is well established that logic can be counter-factual. This is why logic is only one component of the scientific method along with valid representative data and repeatable experimentation. Conversely, theological proofs can’t really prove anything other than they “sound good” to a believer.

    Not all standards of proof are created equal, but then again, that is why it’s called a “belief”; an acceptance that something exists or is true, especially without proof.

  12. Anthony Viera:

    For someone who proclaims himself informed and engaged, your description of my quote from Teilhard de Chardin is astonishingly ignorant. He was a Jesuit as well as a scientist, and certainly not a materialist. You obviously never heard of the man in that well-informed world in which you dwell.

    BTW, I am also a lawyer and have tried cases and argued appeals for forty years. I have met brilliant judges and complete duds. I have had judges who were quite capable of relying on reason and the law, as well as judges whose decisions were predictable from the outset. And, so what? The truth is that fundamentalists reject anything which conflicts with their view of biblical inerrancy.

  13. Anthony,

    I think you misunderstand how the Higgs boson fits in the Standard Model. I blame the clowns who decided to call it “the God particle”. Even Peter Higgs doesn’t like that name. Finding a particle that explains mass says absolutely nothing about God or a Prime Mover of any sort, but it did sell a lot of books for Leon Lederman and Dick Teresi.

  14. Gene, I began reading your last post and at first I thought we disagreed with one another. Then I read on and thought that we agreed with one another. Then I read on and thought we disagreed with one another. Then I read on and thought we agreed with one another. Then I read on and thought…I’d just say my prayers and go to sleep. Good night all.

  15. Anthony,

    I’ll simplify.

    Scientific proof and theological proofs are not the same thing substantively and to compare them is a false equivalence. Science is by definition materialistic (although not necessarily deterministic but I’ll leave quantum mechanics out of it for now). Theology is by definition the study of the nature of God and religious belief; the supernatural. Theological proofs are junk as far as science goes, but if a person chooses to believe in the supernatural, that is their choice. It is not, however, their right to force that choice on others by calling religion science (see creationism) or by calling science a religion (which by definition it isn’t as it does not address the nature of God or the supernatural).

    Science deals with what is – quantization is the heart of the scientific method.

    Theology deals with what someone wants to be real but has no proof for other than teleological arguments.

    Actual versus speculative.

    Applying theology to science is like dancing about architecture.

    Saying their proofs have equal value is a false equivalence.

  16. Apparently you do misunderstand, Anthony.

    The Higgs (and we aren’t even sure what kind of Higgs it is yet) says nothing about God. It says something about mass. If you want to believe that a God is required for fundamental particles to exist? That’s your choice. Science doesn’t care. Physics already knows that matter is just energy only slower.

  17. raff,

    You mean Jesuits aren’t anointed with inerrability (love that word) … hold out your hands young man … thwack!

  18. Gene, did you say “Physics…knows.” This is right on par with your staement of earlier where you say that “…logic can be counterfactual.” I am no loger dreaming. Its become a nightmare.

  19. rafflaw:
    LOL. They do tend to get in a lot of trouble. de Chardin has been rehabilitated since his death, but during his lifetime his writings were essentially declared off limits by the powers that be.

  20. Gene,
    That is a well known computer animation of the 50 megaton Russian Tsar Bomba which was tested in October 1961. The biggest US fusion bomb was the Castle Bravo test on Bikini atoll. The miscalculation was almost fatal for the scientists who set it off. It was supposed to be six to eight megatons at the very most. The primary fuel was 40% lithium-6, but it was mixed with 60% Lithium-7. The scientists thought the Lithium-7 was inert and would not support a fusion reaction. Wow. Were they ever wrong. Instead of the expected six or so megatons, they got a 100 million degree fireball five miles in diameter within one second of detonation. Keep in mind the initiator “cap” was an atomic fission bomb similar in size to the one that leveled Hiroshima. For comparison purpose, think of the firing cap of a shotgun shell compared to the actual powder charge. Anyway, the “inert” Lithium-7 turned out to not be inert at all, but also contributed to the fusion reaction. Castle Bravo damn near killed the science crew all the way over on the other side of Bikini. The crater is visible from the space station.

    Here is actual footage of Castle Bravo test from several different cameras, with real sound, as it was on March 1, 1954. Estimated fifteen megatons. They never tried that mixture of Lithium isotopes again. Albert Einstein died a year later at the age of 76. I wonder what he thought of Castle Bravo. There is being proved right, and then there is being proved RIGHT!

  21. What a stimulating episode you guys have here. Way better than TV, except for the Daily Show. My opinion is that all arguments have reason to argue, but the people of God need to let the light of The Lord shine on others according to his plan. We can not force a belief upon another anymore than the scientific method can explain passionate love. Let science pursue its information free from religion. Let two women proclaim their love before God. That is not our judgement to make. Even King Solomon, in all his wisdom, had wives who practiced other religions. Nothing is perfect but God and this Universe we live in. Followers of the Jesus I know be helping the poor and healing the sick. There is a sickness of our own generational magnitude, from obesity to TV stupidity. Human trafficking in our neighboring countries, girls trying to come to America “in God We Trust”. A war on drugs that has proven to be the least effective use of resources. The church needs to focus on the tangible evil that, in my opinion, is a far greater insult and deserves more attention. We were all once children and we see the miracle of Life, gratitude is the only religion we should consider due to our very brief history in evolution ;) Gratitude can lead to compassion which can hopefully get everyone on the same page because we got our work cut out for us. I wouldn’t trade this team for any other, you guys got the same light that shines in me.

  22. The only serious remaining question is why we must continue to have the discussion.” – Mike A

    First, note was said up-thread:

    Science doesn’t deny God. Many scientists are people of faith. Darwin himself was a religious man. Science says it cannot prove or disprove God because a God doesn’t have to follow the rules of nature – which is what science seeks to unravel and reveal. That is what supernatural means; attributed to some force beyond scientific understanding or the laws of nature.” – Gene H

    Belief in God and belief in evolution are not mutually exclusive.” – Elaine M

    These dynamics are charged up when teleology comes into play whether in textbooks, essays, or scientific papers in scientific journals.

    Charged up emotions come into play when scientific papers use teleological terms that weaken or break the nomenclature of disciplined evolutionary discourse:

    Teleology is a problem because its users subconsciously or consciously use verbiage that connotes essences to machines or organisms which those machines or organisms do not have:

    Since at least the 17th century (and mostly because of Newton), natural scientists have stopped using formal or final causes to explain natural phenomena … except in biology. This was first pointed out by Colin Pittendrigh (Pittendrigh, C. S. Behavior and Evolution) (ed. by A. Rose and G. G. Simpson), Yale University Press, 1958), who coined the term “teleonomy” to refer to the kind of teleological phenomena observed in biological processes.

    So, let’s get back to the book (Quantum Aspects of Life) to further emphasize that physicists also can get loose with their discipline, i.e. can get off into the weeds of teleology, unless they are careful:

    Expressed differently, how does a quantum superposition recognize that it has “discovered” life and initiate the said collapse? There seems to be an unavoidable teleological component involved: the system somehow “selects” life from the vastly greater number of states that are nonliving … But this implies the environment somehow favours life—that life is “built into” nature in a preordained manner. So an element of teleology remains. (p. 11) … an element of teleology is required; namely that the molecule must somehow know before hand what it is aiming for. (p. 42) There is no teleology needed here since we describe the measurement as a two-step process … (p. 45) … there’s the teleological point that, hey, we search for something … (p. 357) … As far as the teleological aspects are concerned (p. 360) … Teleological aspects and the fast-track to life … there is a teleological issue here … (p. 392)

    (ibid, Quantum Aspects of Life, emphasis added). The point being made is that “natural selection” discussions by either evolutionary biologists or physicists can become fundamentally teleological unless great care and focused technical language skills are employed …

    (The Uncertain Gene – 2). For those who want to go through that experiment, describe the machine epoch, beginning at the Big Bang then progressing through some ~10.21 billion years of machine evolution until finally molecules of DNA became part of the universe of machines, all of which transpired prior to the advent of any carbon based life forms.

    (Putting A Face On Machine Mutation – 4, links removed). The effort between 1937 – 1946 called The Modern Evolutionary Synthesis sought to weed out teleological verbiage and other improper nomenclature from scientific writing concerning the theory of evolution.

    When religionists who are also evolution believing scientists write a paper and inadvertently leaks teleological notions into the paper, or when an evolution believing atheist scientist does the same, it eventually requires an event like The Modern Evolutionary Synthesis to clear up the clutter.

    A recent writing shows how devastated the scientific literature is, both by bad science, and bad scientific writing:

    Modern scientists are doing too much trusting and not enough verifying—to the detriment of the whole of science, and of humanity.

    Too many of the findings that fill the academic ether are the result of shoddy experiments or poor analysis (see article). A rule of thumb among biotechnology venture-capitalists is that half of published research cannot be replicated. Even that may be optimistic. Last year researchers at one biotech firm, Amgen, found they could reproduce just six of 53 “landmark” studies in cancer research. Earlier, a group at Bayer, a drug company, managed to repeat just a quarter of 67 similarly important papers. A leading computer scientist frets that three-quarters of papers in his subfield are bunk. In 2000-10 roughly 80,000 patients took part in clinical trials based on research that was later retracted because of mistakes or improprieties.

    What a load of rubbish

    Even when flawed research does not put people’s lives at risk—and much of it is too far from the market to do so—it squanders money and the efforts of some of the world’s best minds. The opportunity costs of stymied progress are hard to quantify, but they are likely to be vast. And they could be rising.

    One reason is the competitiveness of science. In the 1950s, when modern academic research took shape after its successes in the second world war, it was still a rarefied pastime. The entire club of scientists numbered a few hundred thousand. As their ranks have swelled, to 6m-7m active researchers on the latest reckoning, scientists have lost their taste for self-policing and quality control.

    (How science goes wrong, The Economist). Another thing that religionists and atheists have in common is the holier-than-thou sentiment.

    Can anyone sense The Modern Evolutionary Synthesis II looming on the horizon?

    If so, will it resemble the President and the House of Representatives T-Party members getting together for an adult event another debacle?

  23. Mike Appleton wrote: “the conflict between science and fundamentalist theology is not a consequence of bad science but of bad theology.”

    That’s your perspective because you already accept that the only good theology is one that bows to the popular scientific paradigms. The truth is that for most scientists, the paradigm is that natural laws can explain everything. By the very definition of science, there is no room to consider supernatural explanations. This is what creates the conflict. Any creationist theory whatsoever attacks not just the scientists’ paradigm, but his worldview. Philosopher Thomas Kuhn said paradigms change through scientific revolutions, but worldviews do not.

    Religion accepts both natural explanations and supernatural explanations. Science is basically a subset of the path of knowledge accepted by the religious. Add to this mixture the concept of separation of church and state being extended beyond the Jeffersonian concept of it such that there must be no contamination of anything involving tax dollars and religious expression, and what we have is a public educational system that is hostile toward religious concepts.

    The conclusion in McLean v. Arkansas Board of Education that creationism is not science because it is not testable or potentially falsifiable is clearly wrong. They reached that conclusion simply because an association of scientists voted to claim that there is not a shred of evidence for creationism. What is a judge suppose to do when he has a whole group of scientists making a claim, and only one or two scientists who disagree? I think it would be better that he not take sides, but that is not what he did. So now we have the court system, headed up by a non-scientist, determining what is and what is not science.

    There was a scientist in that courtroom by the name of Robert Gentry who actually proposed a scientific test to falsify his creationist theory of how basement rocks of the earth such as granite were formed within minutes rather than taking millions of years. His work dealt with polonium halos and his failed attempts to find naturalistic explanations for their existence in mica. Some scientists attempted to falsify his theory, but failed, producing rhyolite instead of granite by natural processes. Thus far, nobody has been able to produce granite by natural means.

    The concept that creationism is testable and falsifiable is rather easy to acknowledge when we consider creationist theories that propose a relatively young earth. Evolutionary theories all require long periods of time. Without long periods of time, they are falsified. So a focus upon empirical clocks that can accurately determine the age of the earth could potentially falsify creationist theories that say the earth is only 10,000 years old. Most scientists accept the basic assumptions of radiometric dating, and therefore they conclude based upon this empirical clock that the young earth creation theories have been falsified. Well, if a young earth theory of creation has been falsified by empirical methods, then the theory clearly was scientifically testable. It is fun to watch scientists squirm over admitting this (or not admitting this, as is most often the case) because they know what is coming next. If that falsified theory of creation is falsified by science, then what about a creationist theory that proposes a very old earth? Should we not also consider scientific methods to falsify them?

    The truth is that science is antagonistic toward any scientific work that might suggest a creator or intelligent designer. The bias is philosophical, being based upon the Enlightenment concept of how we obtain knowledge. Can knowledge come to us only through the empirical senses, or can knowledge come to us through the spirit or soul? If knowledge comes only through the empirical senses, then every religious text if a fraud. This is the working paradigm of most scientists. For many it is an ingrained worldview. Granted, a minority of scientists attempt to reconcile their religion and scientific work by saying they address different questions, and that religious texts are metaphorical and never to be taken literally or scientifically, but the majority of scientists are atheists or irreligious, especially those working in evolutionary biology. This is the bias that influences the questions they study and the articles they approve to be published.

    I haven’t read the complaint yet, but I plan to read it. Perhaps I will comment on it later.

  24. [b]…The truth is that for most scientists, the paradigm is that natural laws can explain everything. By the very definition of science, there is no room to consider supernatural explanations.[/b]

    See… that’s where you went off the rails. Science has plenty of “room” to consider supernatural explanations. Supernatural effects need only be observable.

    Science does not usually consider supernatural effects, because none have ever been observed under controlled conditions. And we have looked and looked and looked.

    Science has also quite successfully examined testable claims of supernaturalism and religion. Miracles do not occur. Intercessory prayer does not work. The “soul” or “spirit” is not made of any matter or energy that is measurable. The entire concept is scientifically incoherent.

    Science has rightly concluded that effects for which there is no evidence, that can not be measured, that are based upon incoherent theory, and which are not needed to explain other questions, do not exist.

    Which pretty much invalidates the rest of your conclusions.

  25. Roger Lambert wrote: “Religious = secular ?”

    When Secular Humanism first began, it attempted to establish itself as a religion, and the SCOTUS has mentioned Secular Humanism as an example of a non-theistic religion. Read the first Humanist Manifesto written in 1933 to get an understanding of this.

    http://americanhumanist.org/Humanism/Humanist_Manifesto_I

    FIRST: Religious humanists regard the universe as self-existing and not created.
    SECOND: Humanism believes that man is a part of nature and that he has emerged as a result of a continuous process.
    THIRD: Holding an organic view of life, humanists find that the traditional dualism of mind and body must be rejected.
    FOURTH: Humanism recognizes that man’s religious culture and civilization, as clearly depicted by anthropology and history, are the product of a gradual development due to his interaction with his natural environment and with his social heritage. The individual born into a particular culture is largely molded by that culture.
    FIFTH: Humanism asserts that the nature of the universe depicted by modern science makes unacceptable any supernatural or cosmic guarantees of human values. Obviously humanism does not deny the possibility of realities as yet undiscovered, but it does insist that the way to determine the existence and value of any and all realities is by means of intelligent inquiry and by the assessment of their relations to human needs. Religion must formulate its hopes and plans in the light of the scientific spirit and method.
    SIXTH: We are convinced that the time has passed for theism, deism, modernism, and the several varieties of “new thought”.
    SEVENTH: Religion consists of those actions, purposes, and experiences which are humanly significant. Nothing human is alien to the religious. It includes labor, art, science, philosophy, love, friendship, recreation–all that is in its degree expressive of intelligently satisfying human living. The distinction between the sacred and the secular can no longer be maintained.
    EIGHTH: Religious Humanism considers the complete realization of human personality to be the end of man’s life and seeks its development and fulfillment in the here and now. This is the explanation of the humanist’s social passion.
    NINTH: In the place of the old attitudes involved in worship and prayer the humanist finds his religious emotions expressed in a heightened sense of personal life and in a cooperative effort to promote social well-being.
    TENTH: It follows that there will be no uniquely religious emotions and attitudes of the kind hitherto associated with belief in the supernatural.
    ELEVENTH: Man will learn to face the crises of life in terms of his knowledge of their naturalness and probability. Reasonable and manly attitudes will be fostered by education and supported by custom. We assume that humanism will take the path of social and mental hygiene and discourage sentimental and unreal hopes and wishful thinking.
    TWELFTH: Believing that religion must work increasingly for joy in living, religious humanists aim to foster the creative in man and to encourage achievements that add to the satisfactions of life.
    THIRTEENTH: Religious humanism maintains that all associations and institutions exist for the fulfillment of human life. The intelligent evaluation, transformation, control, and direction of such associations and institutions with a view to the enhancement of human life is the purpose and program of humanism. Certainly religious institutions, their ritualistic forms, ecclesiastical methods, and communal activities must be reconstituted as rapidly as experience allows, in order to function effectively in the modern world.
    FOURTEENTH: The humanists are firmly convinced that existing acquisitive and profit-motivated society has shown itself to be inadequate and that a radical change in methods, controls, and motives must be instituted. A socialized and cooperative economic order must be established to the end that the equitable distribution of the means of life be possible. The goal of humanism is a free and universal society in which people voluntarily and intelligently cooperate for the common good. Humanists demand a shared life in a shared world.
    FIFTEENTH AND LAST: We assert that humanism will: (a) affirm life rather than deny it; (b) seek to elicit the possibilities of life, not flee from them; and (c) endeavor to establish the conditions of a satisfactory life for all, not merely for the few. By this positive morale and intention humanism will be guided, and from this perspective and alignment the techniques and efforts of humanism will flow.

  26. Roger Lambert wrote: “Religious = secular ?”

    When Secular Humanism first began, it attempted to establish itself as a religion, and the SCOTUS has mentioned Secular Humanism as an example of a non-theistic religion. Read the first Humanist Manifesto written in 1933 to get an understanding of this.

    http://americanhumanist.org/Humanism/Humanist_Manifesto_I

    FIRST: Religious humanists regard the universe as self-existing and not created.
    SECOND: Humanism believes that man is a part of nature and that he has emerged as a result of a continuous process.
    THIRD: Holding an organic view of life, humanists find that the traditional dualism of mind and body must be rejected.

  27. Roger Lambert 1, October 28, 2013 at 9:30 am

    Science does not usually consider supernatural effects, because none have ever been observed under controlled conditions. And we have looked and looked and looked.

    Science has rightly concluded that effects for which there is no evidence, that can not be measured, that are based upon incoherent theory, and which are not needed to explain other questions, do not exist.

    Which pretty much invalidates the rest of your conclusions.
    ========================
    Look deeper:

    This is said to be the golden age of cosmology and it is from an observational point of view, but from a theoretical point of view it’s almost a disaster. It’s crazy the kind of ideas that we find ourselves thinking about.

    And the metaphor here—which comes from atomism that comes from Democritus [c. 460 – c. 370 BC] and Lucretius [c.99—c.55 BC] —is that physics is nothing but atoms moving in a void and the atoms never change. The atoms have properties like mass and charge that never change in time. The void—which is space in the old days never changed in time—was fixed and they moved according to laws …

    Why are we confident of that? We’re confident of that because we have a kind of metaphysical belief that there are laws of nature that are outside time and those laws of nature are causing the outcome of the experiment to be what it is. And laws of nature don’t change in time. They’re outside of time. They act on the system now, they acted on the system in the same way in the past, they will act the same way in a year or a million or a billion years, and so they’ll give the same outcome. So nature will repeat itself and experiments will be repeatable because there are timeless laws of nature.

    But that’s a really weird idea [for scientists] if you think about it because it involves the kind of mystical and metaphysical notion of something that is not physical, something that is not part of the state of the world, something that is not changeable, acting from outside the system to cause things to happen. And, when I think about it, that is kind of a remnant of religion. It is a remnant of the idea that God is outside the system acting on it.

    (If Cosmology Is “Off,” How Can Biology Be “On?”). One kids themselves with either “holy science” or “holy religion” Batman.

    Lots of work must be done to purge both science and religion of in-artful incursions.

  28. “It was not until 1968 that the Supreme Court decreed that laws forbidding the teaching of evolution in public schools violated the Establishment Clause. Epperson v. Arkansas, 397 U.S. 97 (1968).”

    Therefore ESTABLISHING the teaching of evolutionism, thereby giving it a politically protected status. What irony. Basically you can teach about one belief, but not another.

    What has happened is evolutionism has found exclusive rights in the classroom. Never mind, when you really boil it down, there simply isn’t any evidence that supports evolutionism as happening in life. If you pay careful attention to the wording of school textbooks, you can pick up clues that evolutionism is a house of cards. Almost every text concerning evolution will have phrases like “scientists BELIEVE…” or “it is BELIEVED that…”. No real scientific statements like scientists KNOW, or scientists HAVE DISCOVERED THAT…

    The question would be, why is the teaching of evolutionism exclusive? Even though one can dismantle the whole theory of evolutionism without even cracking open a Bible, those who go after evolutionism are automatically labeled and stereotyped, and carefully ignored. Why is this? The answer is that if the students are allowed to carefully examine what evolutionism is, and also are exposed to all the contradictions and evidence to the contrary of evolutionism, the students would see evolutionism for what it is: a bankrupt theory held together by a clique that holds similar beliefs, devoid of hard data to prove evolutionism, a dead theory that has been kept on life support by the political clap trap through the years.

    If evolutionists were confident in their beliefs, they would be willing to expose the theory to skepticism and careful examination. But the fact that evolutionism is sheltered from any kind of scrutiny is a glaring example of evidence that the theory itself is held together by non-science. It’s simply a belief. Now the peddlers of evolutionism will be the first to scream that it is “supported by mountains of evidence.” But the problem is, we never see the mountains of evidence. That is simply a strawman argument. Then we might be told that almost all scientists believe it, therefore it is true. Nope, try again – that’s an appeal to numbers logical fallacy. Just because a number of people believe it to be true doesn’t mean it is true. At one point in time a large number of people believed that Adolf Hitler had the right idea, and a large number of people believed what he was saying to be true. But did that mean it was true?

    Then we of course hear about fossils. The fossil record for Pete’s sake. Ok, what about the fossils? Even Darwin himself noted the marked absence of transitional fossils is the biggest problem for evolutionism. To this day we still do not find transitional fossils. According to evolutionism, there should be thousands – or millions of them. But we don’t see such. Instead we see contradictory evidence, such as fossils found in lower levels of strata being further advanced than fossils found in higher level strata. Even some school textbooks have circular reasoning. One place it will read that fossils date the strata. Then another it says the strata dates the fossils? Well, which is it? Which leads me to the next point.

    A lot of states have passed laws requiring textbooks to be accurate. If people would wise up and use these laws, a lot of the textbooks that push evolutionism as true can be thrown out, simply because they are not factually correct.

    An evolutionist might tell you that bacteria becoming resistant is proof of evolutionism. Oh? Ok, what does the bacteria evolve into? Let me guess. More bacteria? Sorry, you’ll have to try harder than that. Some textbooks today even have examples of “horse evolution”, even though the whole thing has been refuted. Take the following excerpt from Darwinismrefuted.com:

    “One important subject in the origin of mammals is the myth of the “evolution of the horse,” also a topic to which evolutionist publications have devoted a considerable amount of space for a long time. This is a myth, because it is based on imagination rather than scientific findings.

    Until recently, an imaginary sequence supposedly showing the evolution of the horse was advanced as the principal fossil evidence for the theory of evolution. Today, however, many evolutionists themselves frankly admit that the scenario of horse evolution is bankrupt. In 1980, a four-day symposium was held at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, with 150 evolutionists in attendance, to discuss the problems with the gradualistic evolutionary theory. In addressing this meeting, evolutionist Boyce Rensberger noted that the scenario of the evolution of the horse has no foundation in the fossil record, and that no evolutionary process has been observed that would account for the gradual evolution of horses:

    ‘The popularly told example of horse evolution, suggesting a gradual sequence of changes from four-toed fox-sized creatures living nearly 50 million years ago to today’s much larger one-toed horse, has long been known to be wrong. Instead of gradual change, fossils of each intermediate species appear fully distinct, persist unchanged, and then become extinct. Transitional forms are unknown.’

    While discussing this important dilemma in the scenario of the evolution of the horse in a particularly honest way, Rensberger brought the transitional form difficulty onto the agenda as the greatest difficulty of all.”

    The evidence of Intelligent Design is immediately dismissed and ignored because it has connotations of a Creator. The evidence of Intelligent Design is the elephant in the living room. It takes up lots of space, eats tons of hay, knocks over the furniture, but you swear it isn’t there. Take DNA for example, even today after strenuous mapping, we still don’t know everything about DNA. For a while, scientists thought DNA contained junk information, but now we have discovered that “junk” isn’t junk. We have discovered that DNA has self-correcting mechanisms. DNA is basically a code, similar to computer programming, to create new cells, and therefore new animals, plants, etc… Seriously, does an evolutionist think that something like DNA just happened out of nothing, over x-billion years. Really?

    Upon examining living things, and even the universe, we see design aspects. A design that would require intelligence – far more than we can even comprehend. We do not see things randomly happening or things spontaneously generating out of nothing. We do not see evidence of one thing changing into something else over x-billion years. Such is nothing more than a belief. An exclusive belief that is jealous of any other theories. Logically a building requires a builder. Logically, a painting requires a painter. Similarly, a design has a designer. The computer I’m typing this on didn’t evolve, it has a design. A design that took intelligence. I would be considered insane to believe that this computer just happened to form over some time frame. Of course it contains several designs and has technology that has gotten better over the years, but even so, still started out with – a design. So why are we requiring the students to ignore design and ignore evidence for design?

    The belief of spontaneous generation predates the theory of evolutionism but yet the belief in spontaneous generation is interwoven in the evolutionism theory. Scientists at one time thought that stagnant water “created” mosquitoes. Pebbles in the bottom of a stream transformed into tadpoles. It is shameful that spontaneous generation is still a valid belief in the field of evolutionism.

    One can deduce the emperor has no clothes when we pay attention to how the teaching of evolutionism is handled and how evidence refuting evolutionism, contradictory information, and problems with the theory are carefully and conveniently concealed from the students. If the students were allowed to examine the contradictory information on evolutionism, and use the tried and true scientific process, evolutionism can be eliminated altogether. All without even cracking open a Bible. It’s been said, people will believe anything as long as it isn’t in the Bible.

  29. DNA functions like a software program. We know from experience that software comes from programmers. We know generally that information-whether inscribed in hieroglyphics, written in a book or encoded in a radio signal-always arises from an intelligent source. So, the discovery of information in the DNA molecule provides strong grounds for inferring that intelligence played a role in the origin of DNA, even if we weren’t there to observe the system coming into existence. Thus, contrary to media reports, the theory of intelligent design is not based upon ignorance or religion, but instead upon recent scientific discoveries and upon standard methods of scientific reasoning in which our uniform experience of cause and effect guides our inferences about what happened in the past.
    Of course, many will still dismiss intelligent design as nothing but”religion masquerading as science”. Design is an inference from biological data, not a deduction from religious authority. Stephen C. Meyer PHD

  30. Roger Lambert wrote: “Supernatural effects need only be observable.”

    Actually, they need to be observable and REPEATABLE so that science can have the opportunity to mathematically quantify it and analyze it. In some cases they need not be repeatable if they leave sufficient evidence of the event that can be studied.

    Consider the following hypothetical supernatural event. Let’s say God came and visited President Obama in the White House, spoke with him for 15 minutes in the oval office, and then left. How could science possibly address this event? It can’t because it is not repeatable. Even if a bunch of people say they saw a bright light emanating from the office, or even that they heard a voice from the sky, science is left powerless to address the matter. It is a singularity for which we only have witnesses who observed it, and it is easy to say that they might be lying or delusional or deceived themselves.

    Such types of things happen in medicine often. Many people have been healed of cancer or other ailments, and science has no explanation. Scientists invented the term spontaneous remission or spontaneous regression for such events. The person involved might claim it was prayer or some faith healer or whatever, but science has no ability to investigate it at all because it does not appear to follow natural laws that they study. All they can say is the person had the ailment before and now does not have it. Their philosophy of knowledge would never allow them to call such an event a miracle, nor to claim any supernatural explanation for it. Virtually all the healing miracles of Jesus recorded in the Bible would just be treated by science as a spontaneous remission and not as a miracle.

    In regards to the study of origins, none of us were there to observe what happened. So scientists develop theories based upon an understanding of natural laws and they hypothesize how things may have come to be based upon empirical evidence. Introduce the idea that maybe there was an intelligent designer involved, and it is immediately rejected by most scientists, not because the empirical data argues otherwise, but because such an idea is not allowed in science by definition. I’m just telling you the way it works. The common public is led to believe that scientists are purely objective and follow the empirical evidence wherever it leads, but that is not true. They follow a philosophy of knowledge that by definition excludes anything supernatural.

    As a scientist in evolutionary biology, I can tell you that Theistic Evolution, as suggested by Teilhard de Chardin, is constantly criticized as being unscientific. The reason is because there is no test to distinguish his theory of evolution from a purely naturalistic one. So they say his theory is not testable. They have no problem with others in religion choosing to believe that God guided religion if they so choose, but scientists say that the introduction of God into the theory makes the theory unscientific. By the way, Teilhard de Chardin is suspected by many to have been involved with the hoax of Piltdown man. That certainly does not endear him to scientists, especially when most of them consider everyone involved in religion to be frauds or deceived by frauds.

  31. “Don’t lose faith,” world religion will always be the topic of human search for existence. When I think of all the battles fought in the name of, and in spite of, this singular quest, I’m not sure we’ve learned how not to end in a “political” movement. Why?

    You have to admit the discussion is always a great one here! Thanks from a hinterlandian to the ivory towers.

    One of the most enjoyable books I’ve read about the Scopes Trial is, SUMMER FOR THE GODS, by Larsen.

    I’ve lost track of Liberation Theology and wonder about the fit with the new Pope?

    And thinking of the new Pope, I’m stunned by his tenacity. Got to be a potential shake-up. How could it play out?

  32. What is “Intelligent Design” Creationism?
    October 17th, 2008
    http://ncse.com/creationism/general/what-is-intelligent-design-creationism

    “Intelligent Design” creationism (IDC) is a successor to the “creation science” movement, which dates back to the 1960s. The IDC movement began in the middle 1980s as an antievolution movement which could include young earth, old earth, and progressive creationists; theistic evolutionists, however, were not welcome. The movement increased in popularity in the 1990s with the publication of books by law professor Phillip Johnson and the founding in 1996 of the Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture (now the Center for Science and Culture.) The term “intelligent design” was adopted as a replacement for “creation science,” which was ruled to represent a particular religious belief in the Supreme Court case Edwards v. Aguillard in 1987.

    IDC proponents usually avoid explicit references to God, attempting to present a veneer of secular scientific inquiry. IDC proponents introduced some new phrases into anti-evolution rhetoric, such as “irreducible complexity” (Michael Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, 1996) and “specified complexity” (William Dembski: The Design Inference, 1998), but the basic principles behind these phrases have long histories in creationist attacks on evolution. Underlying both of these concepts, and foundational to IDC itself, is an early 19th century British theological view, the “argument from design.”

    The essence of the argument from design is that highly complex phenomena (such as the structure of the vertebrate eye) demonstrate the direct action of the hand of God. Modern ID proponents typically substitute cellular or sub-cellular structures (such as the rotor motor of a bacterium’s whip-like flagellum) for anatomical complexity, but make the same argument: the appearance of complexity in nature categorically cannot be explained through natural causes; it requires the guidance of an “intelligent agent.”

    Following Phillip Johnson’s lead, IDC promoters focus less on “proving” creationism and more on rejecting evolution and redefining science to make it more compatible with their version of Christianity. IDC advocates attack evolution as a way of attacking science itself because they believe it is the foundation of materialist philosophy. This strategy is explicitly laid out in The Wedge, a fund raising document from the Center for Science and Culture that set forth the group’s “Governing Goals”:

    * To defeat scientific materialism and its destructive moral, cultural and political legacies.
    * To replace materialistic explanations with the theistic understanding that nature and human beings are created by God.

    Although in the 1990s IDC advocates had encouraged the teaching of ID in public school science classes as an alternative to evolution, in the early 2000s they shifted their strategy. IDCs currently concentrate their efforts on attacking evolution. Under innocuous-sounding guises such as “academic freedom,” “critical analysis of evolution,” or “teaching the strengths and weaknesses of evolution,” IDCs attempt to encourage teachers to teach students wrongly that there is a “controversy” among scientists over whether evolution has occurred. So-called “evidence against evolution” or “weaknesses of evolution” consist of the same sorts of long-discredited arguments against evolution which have been a staple of creationism since the 1920s and earlier.

  33. Roger Lambert wrote: “Religious = secular ?”

    Secular Humanism originally attempted to define itself as a religion.Read the Humanist Manifesto I written in 1933.

    http://americanhumanist.org/Humanism/Humanist_Manifesto_I

    Also, the SCOTUS identified Secular Humanism as one of several non-theistic religions.

    In modern times, secular humanists attempt to distance themselves from being called a religion because of the change that has happened in the concept of separation of church and state leading to a monopoly in the public school system of non-theistic knowledge.

  34. Hubert Cumberdale wrote: “Now the peddlers of evolutionism will be the first to scream that it is “supported by mountains of evidence.” But the problem is, we never see the mountains of evidence.”

    Hubert, you are exactly right. I studied evolutionary biology for nine years full time, publishing as a scientist and naively expecting to one day be shown the mountains of evidence. Never saw it no matter how much I dug for it because it really is just a naturalistic philosophy which is never tested. Data is interpreted and arranged in a way to make the story look good. Anybody who suggests another perspective is ostracized.

    Ben Stein hosted a movie called Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Expelled:_No_Intelligence_Allowed

    Although the movie comes across a little goofy and comedic, there is truth behind the theme of the movie. Obviously it has its critics and in the end, people just believe what they want to believe.

  35. Elaine M quoted someone: ““Intelligent Design” creationism (IDC)…”

    LOL. IDC. Right. You know you are reading an extremely biased article when they invent the acronym IDC to talk about intelligent design. It is like reading an article about the pro-life movement that identifies them as Anti-Woman-Abortionists (AWA) and then proceeds to talk about the AWA people.

    What about the Intelligent Design Evolutionist (IDE) theories? Intelligent Design does not eliminate evolution from its models. Evolution as a process is part of every good Intelligent Design model of origins. The author should have just called them Anti-Scientists (AS) and be done with it, but I guess that would have been too obvious.

  36. I had to hit the ground running this morning, so have not had time to read all the comments. If I repeat what has already been said, just chalk it up to time constraints, and consider it added for reinforcement purposes.

    As Gene and others pointed out last night, there is really no conflict between religion and science. At least not unless somebody tries to create a conflict where none existed. Religion is based on unprovable concepts and faith. Where religion and science come into conflict is when a scientific discovery does not fit the preconceived notions of theologians. When scientific discoveries conflict with existing theological theories, it is the latter which has to adjust, not the former.

    The Pope excommunicated Halley’s Comet, for example. Representatives of the church refused to look through Galileo’s telescope, and he ended up under arrest.

    It is interesting to me that one comparatively small segment of religious believers are prone to reject science, creationism being one of them. It is only a segment of religion that believes the earth is only a few thousand years old, while the vast majority of religious people accept the proof offered by astronomers, geologists and other biophysical scientists. I recall reading the official stance of the Roman Catholic Church is that they accept the scientific explanation of the age and origin of the universe, and that it is not at odds with Christian beliefs or the Bible. That includes their position on evolution as well. After all, Gregor Johann Mendel was a monk, as were many other scientists.

    My whole family are members of the Episcopal Church, and there is no contradiction with those beliefs either. In fact, if you want to get a classic eye-roll ask the average Episcopalian (or Lutheran) about the pronouncements of creationists and “intelligent” design advocates.

    Seems to me the simplest solution for theologians who are presented with scientific facts should simply say, “Oops,” and try to figure out how they misinterpreted the scriptures. Not the other way around. That is what the Roman Catholic Church and most other mainstream churches have done. If a modern Pope tried to excommunicate a comet, he would find himself a laughingstock with no credibility whatsoever.

  37. davidm:

    You misstated me earlier. I did not categorically state that the conflict between religion and evolution was a product of bad theology. What I did say was that no one wishes to consider the possibility that certain theological notions might require re-examination.

    One of my issues with fundamentalism is its insistence that a believer wishing to understand the origins of life must choose between Genesis and atheistic materialism. For example, Henry M. Morris, one of the founders of the Institute for Creation Research, wrote the following in 1977 in an article entitled “The Religion of Evolutionary Humanism and the Public Schools”: “The ‘god’ of evolution (in the rationale of de Chardin and the other leaders of theistic evolutionary thought) is certainly not the God of the Bible, the omnipotent and omniscient God of orthodox Judaism and biblical Christianity. Evolutionary humanism in our schools is not only a religion, but a religion which opposes Judaism, Christianity and the Bible in no uncertain terms.” This view has dominated fundamentalist opposition to evolution theory and, in my opinion, has done a disservice to both science and to all believers who do not subscribe to biblical literalism.

  38. Intelligent Design Creationism:
    Fraudulent Science, Bad Philosophy.
    http://www.lhup.edu/~dsimanek/philosop/creation.htm

    Excerpt:
    Intelligent design strips away even more of the religious context, concentrating on the notion of an “intelligent designer” who supposedly created the universe, and perhaps intervenes in natural processes from time to time to create new species of plants and animals. ID claims that the evidence for the existence of an intelligent designer is found in the universe itself, and specifically in instances where natural laws “could not possibly” have brought about certain biological modifications through natural processes alone. Unlike creationism, intelligent design does not insist on an absurdly short age of the earth.

    Scientists recognize that the so-called ID “theory” is not a scientific theory at all, and that its claims of supportive evidence from nature are contrived and easily shown to be invalid. But scientists now also realize they must not ignore this threat to scientific integrity, for it is part of an organized campaign with social and political goals and widespread grass roots support.

    More details can be found in the bibliography below. With so many good books and websites refuting creationism and ID, you may wonder why I take the time to write these web documents. I felt there was a need to reduce the intelligent design argument to its bare bones, to strip away irrelevant issues, and show that the whole idea is not science, but is a counterfeit of science—a pseudoscience. Too many critics of ID have fallen into the trap of addressing each and all of the claims that ID advocates use to support their arguments. Someone should do this, of course, but the downside is that it suggests to the general public that the ID claims are a serious challenge to science. They are not. Most of the “scientific” claims of ID are simply irrelevant, for the fatal flaws of ID are much more fundamental. The elaborate arguments of ID only serve to hide the fact that the intelligent design hypothesis is completely devoid of scientific content. Intelligent design is a philosophical assertion without the slightest logical or scientific support.

    So my primary purpose here is to show that the intelligent design idea is empty both philosophically and scientifically. That task would require but a few chapters. But I also felt another obligation. One reason that the intelligent design idea appeals to so many non-scientists is that they have little or no understanding of what science is all about, how scientific investigation is done, and how scientific results are tested. Even science students receive little or no exposure to systematic instruction in science methodology. They learn science “by osmosis”—by doing science side by side with experienced scientists and exposing their work to peer criticism…

    *****

    Intelligent Design: The Glass is Empty
    http://www.lhup.edu/~dsimanek/philosop/empty.htm

    Excerpt:
    A frustrating basic pitfall:
    The philosophers’ final downfall.
    They try and they try
    But they can’t reason why
    The real world should make sense at all.

    The latest ploy of “evolution deniers” is the notion of “Intelligent Design”, being promoted as a “scientific theory” worthy of (a) replacing the theory of evolution, and (b) sitting alongside Newton’s mechanics as one of the great ideas of science.

    It has a few problems.

    The Intelligent Design (ID) argument doesn’t qualify as a proper scientific theory.
    The ID argument has the trappings of a logical argument, but it is full of logical gaps and holes. It is “pseudo-logic”.
    No scientific evidence specifically supports the assumptions of the theory. Any evidence seemingly supportive of it could equally support countless other fantastic theories, even contradictory ones.
    The argument uses words in deceptive ways, without carefully defining them.

    As an argument purportedly about “intelligence”, ID is pretty “dumb”. Upon careful examination it is revealed as a “con”, so cleverly constructed that it’s hard to see it as anything but a deliberate fraud. It is something like the magician’s illusion, distracting and misdirecting the attention of the audience, while hiding the nature of the deception and the hanky-panky skillfully executed where the audience doesn’t notice. And the result is—a miracle! Like all magicians’ tricks, the result is, as perceived by the audience, an apparently impossible event. That’s the definition of a miracle.

    The intelligent design hypothesis, stripped to its essential core, is this: Physical and biological systems observed in the universe result from purposeful design by an intelligent creator.

    If this is to be taken seriously as anything more than an unfounded assertion, it must be supported by evidence that specifically supports this hypothesis (excluding all other alternatives), supporting logical arguments, and it must make predictions that lead to testable experiments that could confirm or deny it conclusively.

    So what exactly are the arguments put forth in favor of “Intelligent Design” (ID)? That depends on whose book you read, for they present the arguments with subtle, but important, differences. That’s curious. If you want to know about any established theory in a real science, like physics, you will find it in textbooks stated consistently and clearly, though sometimes at book length. Among scientists, there’s usually universal agreement on exactly what a theory says and what it predicts. Not so with ID. In fact, as you read the different books promoting ID, it sounds more like a speculative hypothesis, without support in experiment or in established scientific laws.

  39. OS wrote: “The Pope excommunicated Halley’s Comet, for example.”

    ROTFLOL! No wonder you reject the concept of Intelligent Design and contradict yourself in saying on the one hand that religion is based upon unprovable concepts, but then on the other hand point out that Mendel was a monk involved in doing actual science.

    I’m not religious, so I have no dog in this fight to protect religion, but I do want truthful and honest dialogue, and claiming that a pope excommunicated Halley’s Comet is just too much. You clearly have no problem embracing myths without the need to investigate them scientifically or otherwise. I guess we are suppose to just take your word for it that creation theories are all false.

  40. David,
    Way to miss the point. Back in the middle ages, there were lots of beliefs later proven to be so wrong they are laughable from our 20th Century perspective. I used a couple of them. What will be said about things like the so called creation museum five hundred years from now, assuming we don’t blow ourselves up in the meantime? As for the comet, in 1456 Halley’s comet was excommunicated as an agent of the devil by Pope Calixtus III. Obviously, the excommunication didn’t take because the comet has continued to return every 75 years.

  41. davidm wrote:

    “No wonder you reject the concept of Intelligent Design and contradict yourself in saying on the one hand that religion is based upon unprovable concepts, but then on the other hand point out that Mendel was a monk involved in doing actual science.”

    I read what OS wrote. He didn’t contradict himself. Maybe you could explain why you felt he contradicted himself.

  42. One more thing about Halley’s comet. It’s period used to be about 75 years, but gravitational influences of other celestial bodies, including the planets and sun, have caused variances that range from 76 years to slightly more than 79 years.

  43. Vatican Science Panel Told By Pope: Galileo Was Right
    11/1/92
    http://www.nytimes.com/1992/11/01/world/vatican-science-panel-told-by-pope-galileo-was-right.html

    Moving formally to rectify a wrong, Pope John Paul II acknowledged in a speech today that the Roman Catholic Church had erred in condemning Galileo 359 years ago for asserting that the Earth revolves around the Sun.

    The address by the Pope before the Pontifical Academy of Sciences closed a 13-year investigation into the Church’s condemnation of Galileo in 1633, one of history’s most notorious conflicts between faith and science. Galileo was forced to recant his scientific findings to avoid being burned at the stake and spent the remaining eight years of his life under house arrest.

    John Paul said the theologians who condemned Galileo did not recognize the formal distinction between the Bible and its interpretation.

    “This led them unduly to transpose into the realm of the doctrine of the faith, a question which in fact pertained to scientific investigation.

    Though the Pope acknowledged that the Church had done Galileo a wrong, he said the 17th-century theologians were working with the knowledge available to them at the time.

  44. Mike Appleton wrote: “This view has dominated fundamentalist opposition to evolution theory and, in my opinion, has done a disservice to both science and to all believers who do not subscribe to biblical literalism.”

    The fundamentalist faction of Christianity embraces the concept of Biblical literalism. They accept the idea that much of the Bible is allegorical, but they follow a principle of interpretation that teaches them that wherever possible, the Bible should be interpreted literally.

    Contrary to the allegations of many scientists, they do not ignore science. Rather, they are looking for actual proof that their literal interpretation of the Bible is false, and lacking that, they do not relent. They address virtually every evidence put forward. Some of them have created journals for publishing science that is not antagonistic toward the idea of an intelligent designer because the scientific establishment has demonstrated that they will not publish anything that does not support the evolution paradigm of origins. I do not view these fundamentalists as a disservice because it encourages science and study of origins rather than just blindly following the popular theory.

    You claim that they don’t attempt to modify their theology, but they do. Some have attempted to shift interpretations in a variety of ways. For example, some postulate an entire world existed before Adam and Eve. They insert this world between Gen. 1:1 and Gen. 1:2. They do so based upon theology, upon certain descriptions by prophets coupled with the observation that Genesis 1 seems to describe a recreation rather than a new creation event. They place the dinosaurs in that world, as well as many in the fossil record. Some fundamentalists are not convinced on theological grounds, and some of them favor a young earth model.

    I think scientists on both sides of the aisle, the ones who favor an intelligent design model as well as the ones who do not, should be flexible in considering evidence either for or against the ideas they hold. Those scientists in the minority whose views more closely correspond with a literal reading of Genesis are not obligated to relent just because they are not considered pure scientists by the majority. The real question is what does the empirical evidence actually show. We should not be afraid of empirical data and interpretations of that data just because they might lead someone to think there actually was a Creator. Right now the science establishment acts with prejudice against the idea of a Creator. There is no other way to describe it.

    A lawyer by the name of Philip Johnson seems to have grasped that. He somewhat has amazed me in his ability to see this. I have seen this same thing working from within the world of biologists, but he has seen it from the outside as a lawyer looking in. I have a lot of respect for him.

  45. Interesting info and analyses Dredd, Hubert C., David, and parts of Gene’s comments (about science and religion not attempting to replace or undermine each other?).

  46. “What I find most surprising in the debate over evolution is why no one appears willing to discuss the possibility that the conflict between science and fundamentalist theology is not a consequence of bad science but of bad theology.”

    Mike A. is correct the problem is bad theology. I would define that bad theology as religious Fundamentalism of every stripe.Let me take a stab at how that works as I see it.

    The basic conflict that this all stems from is the fundamentalist interpretation of “Genesis” as written in the Torah. Be those fundamentalists Christians, or Jews, there insistence that the creation events of Genesis are historical fact is what is the catalyst for this war on science as I see it.

    Whether God, or inspired humans wrote Genesis, if we are to accept it as historical then we must also accept that the Author/authors were too stupid to provide a consistent narrative. Does anyone really want to imply that God, or other authors was too stupid to provide a consistent narrative? Where did the wives of Adam’s children come from for instance? Genesis was composed as metaphor by a sophisticated source who understood that those who would behold it would understand it as metaphor. The ancient people may have been primitive by our standards when it came to technology, but in fact they were far more sophisticated than we are today when it came to communication. Metaphor was the accepted method of trying to communicate important ideas, Plato’s Cave for instance. That someone would accept Genesis as history comes really close to blaspheming God as being too incompetent to tie up the loose ends in Genesis, not to mention the rest of the Torah.

    This metaphorical interpretation is not unique to me but in fact The Roman Catholic Church, many Protestant denominations and the majority of Jewish authorities accept the scriptures as metaphor. At the same time they accept science’s interpretation of the age of the Earth, which if Genesis is believed history they could not, they understand that within the facts developed by science that God could still well be the Creator. For Fundamentalists who believe that “every jot and tittle” of their scriptures must be fact.

    What is happening here is the same arguments faced by Copernicus and Galileo. Prior to Columbus and others, Christian Theology taught as a matter of fact the world was flat. That belief became unsustainable, so the fall back position became that the Earth was the center of the Universe. One must understand that from the theologian’s point of view Earth’s uniqueness was a necessity of religious doctrine in order to emphasize “mankind’s” dominion over it. Unfortunately for that point of view, then came Copernicus and Galileo. How many of you today arguing against evolutionary theory and geological evidence, would argue that the Universe and the Sun revolve around the Earth?

    Now before any of you science deniers would label me an atheist, it is well-known and oft repeated here by me that I am a Deist. Certain of my own personal experiences have led me to the “feeling” that there is a “higher power”, or some creative force that informs the Universe. To my thinking though, at this point in humanity’s evolution, it is not only impossible to know what that higher power wants of us, but it is also impossible for mere humans to interpret the nature of the higher power. The theological explanations do not satisfy me as making sense for the most part and the history of theology has been one of constant struggles to impose its beliefs on everyone. This is what is being discussed here. Those fighting the anti-evolution battle are trying to impose their beliefs on the rest of us and at the same time trying to destroy science that conflicts with their teaching. Those proponents five hundred years ago would have attacked Galileo and Copernicus and the sum of their argument would be that the Universe revolves around the Earth.

    The real question is why. They can teach their children whatever beliefs they want to teach them and they have far more influence over their children than does any other institution. The inevitable answer must be that they must deny any doubts about their faith that they have and the stretch of that denial must enfold their children. Since that alone wouldn’t protect them from seeing things that shake their faith, they must impose it everywhere, to hold onto it themselves.

  47. Elaine M wrote: “Maybe you could explain why you felt he contradicted himself.”

    I am a little uncomfortable being put into the position of defending religion, but for the sake of truthfulness, I will try to explain.

    The epistemology of religion is different from science in that it claims that knowledge can come through the spirit or soul. This is why they have sacred Scriptures, such as the Bible. They believe in revelation from the Creator through men or women who have been inspired with that knowledge.

    In contrast, science believes that all knowledge comes through the physical senses, and that unless it can be quantified mathematically, it is not a path to knowledge.

    Keep in mind that religion does not reject science per se. Not true science. Religion believes knowledge comes through both the empirical world (our physical senses) as well as through the spirit or soul. So science represents a subset of the path of knowledge that religion accepts.

    If science is right in their assumption that there is no such thing as revealed knowledge, then they will advance knowledge more quickly because they will ignore all the debates and wranglings about the meaning of sacred texts. They will spend more time doing science rather than on their knees in prayer, which according to their epistemology, would be a complete waste of time. However, if they are wrong, then they might at times be led into blind alleys on issues for which they have a paucity of empirical data.

    So with that background, maybe you can see my objection. When OS says religion is based upon unprovable concepts, I see that in error, because religion actually believes that empirical proof will support every revelation. That is exactly what a prophecy is purported to do… make a revelatory prediction of a future empirical event. The implication of the idea that religion is based upon unprovable concepts makes it sound like religion rejects science, because science is about empirical proof. So when he then goes on to mention Mendel, a devout monk who conducted great experiments that provided a foundation to our understanding of genetics, it seems very contradictory to the notion that religion is based upon unprovable concepts.

    The truth is that the dogma, “religion is based upon unprovable concepts” is an often repeated myth just like the Pope excommunicating Halley’s comet is an often repeated myth.

  48. “Contrary to the allegations of many scientists, they do not ignore science.”

    Really? Then why all the hubbub about evolution? It’s backed by a mountain of data and can be repeatably demonstrated by experiment.

    “Rather, they are looking for actual proof that their literal interpretation of the Bible is false, and lacking that, they do not relent.”

    So they are looking for actual (I’m assuming you mean objective) proof that something for which they have no proof to begin with (only faith and belief) and which they subjectively interpret is wrong.

    That’s a lot like proving a negative or circular reasoning.

    But let’s consider evolution once again. There is a more than a substantive amount of objective evidence as to how evolution operates via natural selection . . . which belies the notion that the world and life popped into being in an unchanging state set by a divine perfect being wishing to put man above all of nature as a special creation. Speciation affects all species, including the genus homo. We modern humans came from members of the genus that were not as we are and we will evolve into a species that is not as we are (assuming we don’t destroy ourselves first). That is just the nature of things.

    For someone with an alleged background in biology, you demonstrate a remarkable lack of understanding about how it works.

    “Right now the science establishment acts with prejudice against the idea of a Creator. There is no other way to describe it.”

    Yes, there is. Right now science acts with indifference to the idea of a creator because a creator – by definition a supernatural being – is beyond the scope of science’s proper inquiry and those that try to portray science as anti-God are simply lashing out because it is uncomfortable to have a belief challenged by facts. Thus we come back to Mike A.: “The truth is that fundamentalists reject anything which conflicts with their view of biblical inerrancy.”

    The conflict isn’t between science and theology. It’s between certain kinds of theology and science. Science is indifferent to theology whereas some theology is outraged by science backed by objective evidence because it indicates that their theology (a non-provable subjective belief), literalistic or not, is wrong in some way. So they react like a spoiled or too young child being told Santa isn’t real instead of adjusting their worldview to incorporate new facts.

    See dancing about architecture.

  49. “Fundamentalists have failed in their attempts to create science out of religion. There is no doubt that they will also fail in their attempts to create religion out of science. The only serious remaining question is why we must continue to have the discussion.”

    Because a spoilt three year old child will throw tantrums until he gets his way, crying when he doesn’t, and is unwilling to take “No” for an answer.

    The only tools rabid theists have are the same that a three year old child has: (1) repeatedly asking the same question despite already knowing the answer, in hopes of hearing a different answer, and (2) violence when they don’t get their way.

    Fundamentalists were emboldened by the Scopes verdict.”

    Only because they weren’t educated enough to understand what the verdict meant. And they still aren’t educated enough today.

  50. David,
    Keep on missing the point. Also, I don’t consider Wikipedia the be all and end all for research. It is constantly being scrubbed of stuff some folks find embarrassing, depending on whose ox is being gored. There is a very good reason most teachers will not allow Wikipedia to be used as a source on classroom assignments.

    The primary point is, theological matters cannot be proved. They cannot be weighed, measured, observed with any known optical device, or replicated.

    Science has theories when there are loose ends, and a scientific law is when all the loose ends are accounted for. For practical purposes, there is no difference between a theory and a law in scientific study. When there is a scientific discovery at odds with some theologian’s pet belief system, it is the theologian who needs to adjust, not the science behind the new discovery.

    As for Mendel, he was a scientist and a monk. He did not try to fit his scientific discoveries on genetics into his theology and the Church accepted his discoveries. The Mendelian laws of genetics are what they are. I am sure Brother Gregor continued to go to Mass and saw no need to confess sin for discovering the basic laws of genetics.

    And FWIW David, when you claim to not be religious, I don’t believe you. You are dissembling, and it is obvious to everyone.

  51. Mike Spindell wrote: “That someone would accept Genesis as history comes really close to blaspheming God as being too incompetent to tie up the loose ends in Genesis, not to mention the rest of the Torah.”

    I have great respect for the Torah. I don’t think we can say none of it is history. The unique thing about this work is that it records a careful genealogy of people. Whose other history does this? If the Torah is not history, what are we going to then argue, that Abraham did not exist, that Isaac did not exist, and Jacob (Israel) never existed? Next we will say that Jewish people do not exist? Surely not! That seems laughable to me. No other people on earth recorded their history so well, and you want to say that it is blasphemy to call it history? Why should we think that God would provide a complete history anymore than we would think he would provide a complete theology? If it is incomplete, so be it. That is no reason to think it is not historical. There is no history on earth that is complete.

    In regards to origins, there are two different accounts in Genesis. One appears chronological and scientific. The other appears to be written from the perspective of an architect designing something before it has been built. So we might say one is perhaps historical and the other is not. Why would we have two different allegorical versions? That would not make sense, so it seems prudent to think that the first account is perhaps indeed historical and scientific. It certainly points toward an empirical clock in repeated fashion. Why?

    Mike Spindell wrote: “At the same time they accept science’s interpretation of the age of the Earth…”

    But science must have by necessity an old age for the earth. There is no other way that currently observable natural laws could be used to explain our origins by natural means, and even with an old age for the earth, there are a plethora of obstacles.

    Mike Spindell wrote: “Christian Theology taught as a matter of fact the world was flat.”

    This for the most part is pure myth. Some establishment religionists taught this based upon passages talking about the four corners of the earth, but other theologians claimed the earth was a globe, because Isaiah called the earth a circle (Isaiah 40:22) as well as passages in Proverbs and Job. The truth is that no educated person after the third century B.C. and onward believed the earth was flat. The story about Columbus facing people who thought he would sail off the edge of the earth is pure fiction.

    Mike Spindell wrote: “Those fighting the anti-evolution battle are trying to impose their beliefs on the rest of us and at the same time trying to destroy science that conflicts with their teaching. Those proponents five hundred years ago would have attacked Galileo and Copernicus and the sum of their argument would be that the Universe revolves around the Earth.”

    Interesting. If this analogy is to be used at all, it would be used in reverse. Copernicus and Galileo were in the minority. The angst directed against them was from the establishment people who wanted to force their views through the use of government. Today, the establishment people favor evolution and use government powers to force out the views of the minority scientists who think Intelligent Design is a more reasonable view. None of the creationists have any power at all to force their views upon anyone. All they have are their ideas. Granted, this legal complaint is an effort of using government, but it is an effort allowed under our rules of democracy to allow education to share information from both views… to stop the government restriction of allowing only the anti-Creator views.

  52. Joseph Campbell: ” I think the idea of life after death is a bad idea. It distracts you from appreciating the uniqueness of the here and now, the moment you are living.”

  53. He who creates a conflict between religion and science knows little about either.

    Also, to correct Gene, Richard Dawkins, the preeminent scientist and prophet of Atheism, uses science to refute theology, or at least attempts to. His is the only book I have ever abandoned halfway, for he used the same fallacies Creationists use to prove the existence of God in order to disprove Him. The new atheists use science as the scalpel with which to dissect religion and dismembered it. They erect it as the opposite of religion, and religion as the foil of science. Science is brought out as that general entity that is all truthful and perfect, and totally wholesome (as in no holes), that provides all the answers, and to question it or aspects of it, is to be either ignorant or delusional (not unlike how the faithful feel about God).
    There is extremism on both sides, the few names who reject all religion as evil, and the just as few on the other side who reject all science as evil. In between, there is the large majority of scientists and religious who meet in between, using one to explain the other.

    As perhaps the only Muslim int his forum, I can tell you that in my book there is no separation between science and religion. My approach to science is religious and my view of religion is scientific.
    There was recently, an islamic conference about that very theme, evolution, that featured Muslim scientists and religious leaders, and surprisingly to some, both sides of the argument were featured, some believed in creationism, some in evolution and some in some form of both, and all used some of the same quotes from the Quran, such as:

    And Allah has Created every animal from water; of them are some creeping on their bellies; some walk on two legs; and some on four. Allah Creates what He wills: for sure Allah has Power over all things.
    [Noble Quran 24:45]
    and
    “And We made from water all living things.” (Quran 21:30)

    My own brother and I had this debate where he supported evolution based on this quote, against my own argument that to believe in the thruth of the Quran,, is to take at face value the quote that God made man out of clay. What does that quote mean though? Is it an instantaneous occurrence or is it a much longer process, like when the Quran says God created the universe in 6 days, but took only 2 out of those 6 to create the earth, which makes the earth’s age 1/3 or the universe… http://www.speed-light.info/miracles_of_quran/age_of_universe.htm

    Most of us believers, across faiths and practices, understand science and religion just as different, not differing voices, each seeking to explain the truth each is mot equipped to explain. When they work together, one by inspiring and the other by checking, we come closer to finding it, that truth ,the problem arises when each tries to (mis)explain the other.

    Just another quote

    Keith L. Moore is a professor emeritus in the division of anatomy (department of surgery), former Chair of anatomy and associate dean for Basic Medical Sciences (Faculty of Medicine) at the University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He has also worked at the King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. He is most known for his textbooks on the subjects of anatomy and human embryology.

    “It has been a great pleasure for me to help clarify statements in the Quran about human development. It is clear to me that these statements must have come to Muhammad from God, or Allah, because most of this knowledge was not discovered until many centuries later. This proves to me that Muhammad must have been a messenger of God or Allah”.

  54. David: “…a careful genealogy of people.”

    It’s a fairy tale, there’s nothing careful about it.

    Your argumentation is never weaker than when you put forward your religious viewpoints, and that’s pretty weak. It exposes how completely inane you are

  55. “None of the creationists have any power at all to force their views upon anyone. All they have are their ideas. ”

    No, all they have are their beliefs. And, given half a chance, they would impose them on society if they had the power. You guys are the American Taliban

  56. Dredd,

    The scientific method includes the implicit premise that science is fallible. That’s why the method insists on statistically valid data and repeatable experimentation that passes a given level of acceptable confidence (the confidence interval) to create consensus among the science literate. That science is fallible is illustrated by the history of science showing a continuum of change in understanding.

    It’s scientific consensus based on observations obtained from methodical study versus an allegedly infallible theology.

    But you being a fringer in microbiology yourself, I don’t expect you to understand that any better than I expect David to understand that the problem is rigid theology, not scientific consensus based on sufficient evidence, testing and critical analysis instead of wishful magical thinking.

  57. Tell me what god is! Nobody can know!

    Belief is different for every person on earth.

    Religion can be practiced for any activity known.

    You can only believe something if you accept a premise.

    And still you cannot know, you can intuit but not cognize.

  58. Po,

    Your assumption is that I don’t think Dawkins is every bit the extremist as any Fundamentalist.

    The exception is not the rule.

  59. What OS said and what RTC said. The far religious right does want to force their religion on the country and the country’s government.

  60. David M wrote: “Contrary to the allegations of many scientists, they do not ignore science.”

    Gene H wrote: “Really? Then why all the hubbub about evolution? It’s backed by a mountain of data and can be repeatably demonstrated by experiment.”

    Whether you realize it or not, there is a lot of debate in science about origins and how it happened. The creationist category just extends that debate beyond the philosophy that excludes the idea of a Creator. And when scientists are dishonest about the evidence, they scream louder. For scientists to take a vote to proclaim to the courts that there is not a shred of evidence for any model of origins that involve a Creator, that is pure dishonesty. Since when do scientists determine truth by voting? Science has become highly politicized because of the government grant money involved.

    Gene H wrote: “So they are looking for actual (I’m assuming you mean objective) proof that something for which they have no proof to begin with (only faith and belief) and which they subjectively interpret is wrong.”

    Apparently you do not understand the way theology works. They study sacred texts and develop models based upon that. Their models are not all the same. They do not all agree, nor do they just accept a model on faith. They use their mind to determine what might be true based upon the text, then look to whatever empirical data is available to falsify the models that are in error.

    Gene H wrote: “There is a more than a substantive amount of objective evidence as to how evolution operates via natural selection . . . which belies the notion that the world and life popped into being in an unchanging state set by a divine perfect being wishing to put man above all of nature as a special creation.”

    I don’t know any creationist whose model is what you just described. None. So that is a straw man. If Darwin did one thing right, it was destroy the concept that species are immutable. I don’t know any creationist today who argues that species are immutable.

    Gene H wrote: “Speciation affects all species, including the genus homo. We modern humans came from members of the genus that were not as we are and we will evolve into a species that is not as we are (assuming we don’t destroy ourselves first). That is just the nature of things.”

    It is really fascinating to read this from you. Do you really believe that humans are speciating today? And that is not speculation but scientifically proven fact in your mind? Really?

    I readily recognize human evolution (not human speciation, but evolution nonetheless) and have spoken about the genetic differences between races of humans. There is no doubt in my mind that geographic isolation has led to various genetic differences within different populations of mankind. Genetic races in humans is real. However, when I point out such things here in this forum, people scream at me that I am a racist to even suggest such a thing. I believe in the past you yourself denied any genetic basis for race, appealing to the socially politically correct view that what we call race is only cultural. So which is it? Do you truly recognize genetic races of mankind who are evolving into different human species as you claim here, or not?

    Gene H wrote: ” Right now science acts with indifference to the idea of a creator because a creator – by definition a supernatural being – is beyond the scope of science’s proper inquiry…”

    No, not indifference, but prejudice against the idea of a creator. I have seen a paper not published simply because of an ending sentence suggesting an Intelligent Designer, then remove that single sentence of interpretation removed, and voila, the paper gets published. The issue truly is about interpretation of data and facts.

    Although I agree that a supernatural being is beyond science’s ability to study, there may be empirical evidence that can refute creation models of origins. For example, if a theologian like Ussher claims that the earth was created on Sunday, October 23, 4004 B.C., do you seriously want to argue that science cannot address through empirical clocks the truthfulness of this model of creation? Of course it can, and so the idea that it is outside the realm of science to consider is poppycock. It is a ruse used by scientists to keep out what they view as the contamination of science.

    Gene H wrote: “Thus we come back to Mike A.: ‘The truth is that fundamentalists reject anything which conflicts with their view of biblical inerrancy.'”

    But the converse of this is just as valid, that establishment scientists reject anything which conflicts with their worldview that revelation is not a source of knowledge and everything in the world can be explained by natural laws and through empirical observation alone.

    Gene H wrote: “The conflict isn’t between science and theology. It’s between certain kinds of theology and science.”

    And a theologian like Mendel might say that the conflict is between certain kinds of science and theology. Come to think of it, Darwin himself might be in that camp, considering that Darwin’s degree was in theology, not science.

  61. I understand how theology works just fine, David.

    You apparently don’t understand how science works though.

    If you tried to get a paper published on phrenology or any other disproved notion, it would get the boot too.

    ID posits a causation that cannot be proven. It isn’t science. It’s theology pretending to be science. Evolution and natural selection works just fine as a science without any kind of designer at all. A watch without a watchmaker.

    Perhaps you see indifference as hostility because you expect others to believe as you do and, fortunately for all of science and unfortunately for you, science isn’t based in subjective belief but in objective fact.

    It all comes back to your ridiculous notion that there is such a thing a subjective proof. In science, there is no such thing as subjective proof. The very idea is an oxymoron. But subjective proofs, the teleological arguments of theology, are simply par for the course. How many angels can dance on the head of a pin? Since science is indifferent to the supernatural, science can’t address that question validly (although it can address it as comedy). Yet those very kinds of question are the bread and butter of theology.

    Apples and oranges.

  62. OS wrote: “The primary point is, theological matters cannot be proved. They cannot be weighed, measured, observed with any known optical device, or replicated.”

    Some theological matters can’t, but some can. If a theological model makes statements about the physical earth, then it has the potential to be disproven or substantiated by evidence. If theology says the earth is 10,000 years old and another theory says it is 3.5 billion years old, don’t you think that an agreed upon empirical clock could distinguish between these two theories? What does it matter if one theory came from the Bible and the other one came from empiricism?

    OS wrote: “As for Mendel, he was a scientist and a monk. He did not try to fit his scientific discoveries on genetics into his theology…”

    Actually, he did fit his science into his theology in describing a limiting range in which genetic inheritance operated. He saw that as corresponding with the theology he extracted from Genesis, that the Creator made organisms after their own kind.

    OS wrote: “…when you claim to not be religious, I don’t believe you.”

    I realize how difficult it is for you when someone does not fit into your stereotype. I have made no effort to hide the fact that I am a theist, nor have I claimed to be ignorant about how either science or religion operates. Nevertheless, I belong to no religious group; ergo, I am not religious. If you define religious as being a theist, then I suppose I am religious from your perspective. My perspective of religious is someone who is a member of some religious sect, or someone who formally embraces the doctrine and dogma of a religious sect. If there was a religious sect I might be most likely to join, it would be Judaism, but I doubt they would have me because of my admiration for Jesus. I just choose not to be joined to any religion because I find that I am happier that way.

  63. Gene H wrote: “It’s scientific consensus based on observations obtained from methodical study versus an allegedly infallible theology.”

    Why do you keep assuming that theologians cannot do science? And what is this about “infallible theology”? Most theologians believe in the fallibility of man; therefore, theology deduced by the reasoning of men is fallible. Why do you think empiricism became so popular? Theology has a lot of disagreement. There is nothing infallible about it.

  64. rafflaw wrote: “The far religious right does want to force their religion on the country and the country’s government.”

    And the far left want to force all religion out of the country’s government.

  65. “Why do you keep assuming that theologians cannot do science?”

    Why is it that you keep assuming that theology has any valid application to science?

    The empirical objectively factual versus the subjective supposition that requires no objective proof whatsoever.

    Science and theology are not only not the same game, they play in entirely different stadiums by entirely different rules.

    As far as infallibility goes? Theology that refuses to incorporate new information based in reality because it contradicts dogma is precisely theology thinking that its subjective supposition is infallible compared to objective quantifiable reality. It’s the delusion of infallibility. Also, there may be disagreement in theology, but that is not the same thing as falsifiability. Theology, by its very nature of not dealing with objective reality, is incapable of falsification. But you can certain disagree with it. Theological disagreement has as much impact on science as two Trekkers arguing which is better, Capt. Kirk or Capt. Picard. Who likes Coke and who likes Pepsi? Who likes God and who like Allah?

    Science doesn’t care.

    It’s interested in “whys” and “hows” it can objectively prove.

    The supernatural and supposition based thereon are irrelevant to science.

  66. Gene H. 1, October 28, 2013 at 1:41 pm

    Dredd,

    The scientific method includes the implicit premise that science is fallible.

    ==========================
    So does the religious method, but like you there are too many that quote platitudes to paint a rosy world that does not really exist.

    And you, like them, when convinced by scientific or religious material against your will are of the same useless opinion still.

  67. Gene H,

    There is a class for doods like you:

    “The scientific method is a myth,” asserts Gary Garber, a physics teacher at Boston University Academy.

    The term “scientific method,” he explains, isn’t even something scientists themselves came up with. It was invented by historians and philosophers of science during the last century to make sense of how science works. Unfortunately, he says, the term is usually interpreted to mean there is only one, step-by-step approach to science.

    That’s a big misconception, Garber argues. “There isn’t one method of ‘doing science.’”

    (Student Science, Problems with ‘the scientific method’). Your teleology has fused your religious and science genes into magical thinking once again.

    But Nick S thinks you are doing better now.

  68. Dredd,

    You cannot underestimate how little I care what you think about science or the scientific method, Mr. Microbes Practice Science.

  69. The real problem for our nation is the creationists have important allies in the world’s most powerful class. The most powerful people around may be capable of rational, scientific reasoning, they just don’t care about using their capabilities.

    Plenty of world leaders are capable of understanding the gravity of global warming. They know how old the earth is, they know that fossil fuels will run out. They understand the earth has finite resources and that humans need clean air, earth and water to live. These are often people in the religious mainstream. These are people that make others comfortable because they are “civilized” and “scientific”. Well are they? Of course they aren’t either. What they are is dangerous. It’s a kind of danger that is difficult for many educated, mainstream religious people to see, because they appear rational at first glance. However, it is no less crazy to ignore reality one way (creationism) than to ignore it another way (refusal to grapple with the known science).

    We have a convergence of action by creationists and those who are world dominators. Difficult to see, but no less there for the difficulty.

  70. Gene H. 1, October 28, 2013 at 4:39 pm

    Dredd,

    You cannot underestimate how little I care what you think about science or the scientific method, Mr. Microbes Practice Science.
    ======================
    It was your use of “the scientific method” rather than “a scientific method” which threw me off and made me think you wanted more than anything to know what I thought of your one and only true scientific method of the one true science.

    And if those mikeys practice as hard as you do, they will make perfect in their own eyes.

    And oh yes, I do not misunderestimate you.

  71. “I have great respect for the Torah. I don’t think we can say none of it is history. The unique thing about this work is that it records a careful genealogy of people.”

    DavidM,

    Like to misquote much. I didn’t say that none of it was historical but the Seven Days of Creation and the Garden of Eden were metaphors. As for the genology there is perhaps some history but the ages lived to within it is ridiculous. Or do you believe Methuselah lived 900 years?

    As for your claim:

    ‘Mike Spindell wrote: “Christian Theology taught as a matter of fact the world was flat.”

    This for the most part is pure myth.”

    Tell that to Galileo:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galileo_Galilei

  72. Lest we mislead those who think there is only “the scientific method” rather that one after another “a scientific method”, let’s ask a scientific or religious question.

    Take your pick.

    Which came first, religion or science:

    A team of University of Toronto chemists have made a major contribution to the emerging field of quantum biology, observing quantum mechanics at work in photosynthesis in marine algae.

    “There’s been a lot of excitement and speculation that nature may be using quantum mechanical practices,” says chemistry professor Greg Scholes, lead author of a new study published in Nature. “Our latest experiments show that normally functioning biological systems have the capacity to use quantum mechanics in order to optimize a process as essential to their survival as photosynthesis.” … It also raises some other potentially fascinating questions, such as, have these organisms developed quantum-mechanical strategies for light-harvesting to gain an evolutionary advantage? It suggests that algae knew about quantum mechanics nearly two billion years before humans,” says Scholes.

    (The Tiniest Scientists Are Very Old). OMG.

    Somebody call the advanced gene.

  73. Mike Spindell 1, October 28, 2013 at 5:13 pm

    ‘Mike Spindell wrote: “Christian Theology taught as a matter of fact the world was flat.”

    This for the most part is pure myth.”

    Tell that to Galileo:
    ==============================
    Galileo’s problem was discovering that the Sun did not orbit the Earth, it was the other way around (Wikipedia, Galileo).

    The flat Earth myth is overrated:

    Historian Jeffrey Burton Russell says the flat-earth error flourished most between 1870 and 1920, and had to do with the ideological setting created by struggles over evolution. Russell claims “with extraordinary [sic] few exceptions no educated person in the history of Western Civilization from the third century B.C. onward believed that the earth was flat”, and credits histories by John William Draper, Andrew Dickson White, and Washington Irving for popularizing the flat-earth myth.

    (Wikipedia, Flat Earth Myth).

    I think some of the problem Galileo had was in criticizing the Pope on heliocentric issues when he did not have to.

    The Earth as the center of the universe was secular as well as religious, depending on who “had the say” at a particular time.

    Note that The Holy Roman Empire version of the Catholic Church had become a vassal of the feudal King during some of that time.

    Thus, some of the Popes were more secular at times than at other times, according to the Catholic Encyclopedia:

    The Church, too, had her place in the feudal system. She too was granted territorial fiefs, became a vassal, possessed immunities. It was the result of her calm, wide sympathy, turning to the new nations, away from the Roman Empire, to which many Christians thought she was irrevocably bound. By the baptism of Clovis she showed the baptism of Constantine had not tied her to the political system. So she created a new world out of chaos, created the paradox of barbarian civilization. In gratitude kings and emperors endowed her with property; and ecclesiastical property has not infrequently brought evils in its train. The result was disputed elections; younger sons of nobles were intruded into bishoprics, at times even into the papacy. Secular princes claimed lay investiture of spiritual offices. The cause of this was feudalism, for a system that had its basis on land tenure was bound at last to enslave a Church that possessed great landed possessions.

    (American Feudalism – 2). Sons of nobles are sometimes sons of biatches that can do no wrong, i.e., can become infallible.

    The Pope ordered a Cardinal to inform Galileo of a committee of the Church having put the works of Copernicus on a bad list.

    That Cardinal, however, was somewhat supportive of Galileo:

    When Galileo later complained of rumors to the effect that he had been forced to abjure and do penance, Bellarmine wrote out a certificate denying the rumors, stating that Galileo had merely been notified of the decree and informed that, as a consequence of it, the Copernican doctrine could not be “defended or held”. Cardinal Bellarmine was himself ambiguous about heliocentrism, personally noting that further research had to be done to confirm or condemn it

    (Wikipedia, Cardinal Bellarmine). Later it got worse, but not because of Cardinal Bellarmine.

  74. “[T]he term [scientific method] is usually interpreted to mean there is only one, step-by-step approach to science.”

    “It suggests that algae knew . . .”

    A whole bunch of fancy-shmancy, semantic antics going on.

    Algae ain’t got no cognition, about like them that think there’s only one way to do science and then deride the idea of the scientific method — which as pointed out above is the quantization of natural phenoms.

  75. Dredd,

    A natural system with quantum components? Is not purposefully utilizing quantum mechanics. But the underlying technology of cell phones does. Get back to me when plants build a cell phone network. That’s applied science. What you refer to? Is simply nature. But that has been explained to you before. By me. By Tony. By OS.

  76. Oro Lee 1, October 28, 2013 at 6:37 pm

    “[T]he term [scientific method] is usually interpreted to mean there is only one, step-by-step approach to science.”

    “It suggests that algae knew . . .”

    A whole bunch of fancy-shmancy, semantic antics going on.

    Algae ain’t got no cognition, about like them that think there’s only one way to do science and then deride the idea of the scientific method — which as pointed out above is the quantization of natural phenoms.
    ===============================
    You need to become aware of “The Modern Evolutionary Synthesis” if you aren’t already.

    It was a decade long effort to clean up such teleological terms in science.

    Likewise, check out “teleology”, if you haven’t already.

    The greatest offenders in teleology are evolutionary and other biologists:

    Since at least the 17th century (and mostly because of Newton), natural scientists have stopped using formal or final causes to explain natural phenomena … except in biology. This was first pointed out by Colin Pittendrigh (Pittendrigh, C. S. Behavior and Evolution) (ed. by A. Rose and G. G. Simpson), Yale University Press, 1958), who coined the term “teleonomy” to refer to the kind of teleological phenomena observed in biological processes.

    So, let’s get back to the book (Quantum Aspects of Life) to further emphasize that physicists also can get loose with their discipline, i.e. can get off into the weeds of teleology, unless they are careful:

    Expressed differently, how does a quantum superposition recognize that it has “discovered” life and initiate the said collapse? There seems to be an unavoidable teleological component involved: the system somehow “selects” life from the vastly greater number of states that are nonliving … But this implies the environment somehow favours life—that life is “built into” nature in a preordained manner. So an element of teleology remains. (p. 11) … an element of teleology is required; namely that the molecule must somehow know before hand what it is aiming for. (p. 42) There is no teleology needed here since we describe the measurement as a two-step process … (p. 45) … there’s the teleological point that, hey, we search for something … (p. 357) … As far as the teleological aspects are concerned (p. 360) … Teleological aspects and the fast-track to life … there is a teleological issue here … (p. 392)

    (ibid, Quantum Aspects of Life, emphasis added). The point being made is that “natural selection” discussions by either evolutionary biologists or physicists can become fundamentally teleological unless great care and focused technical language skills are employed …

    (Putting A Face On Machine Mutation – 4). In fact, the statement you quoted “It suggests that algae knew . . .” is a statement by a biologist in a published paper.

  77. Gene H. 1, October 28, 2013 at 6:41 pm

    Dredd,

    A natural system with quantum components? Is not purposefully utilizing quantum mechanics. But the underlying technology of cell phones does. Get back to me when plants build a cell phone network. That’s applied science. What you refer to? Is simply nature. But that has been explained to you before. By me. By Tony. By OS.
    =========================
    I suggest that you guys (assuming Tony and OS are implicated as you say) get together and do a peer reviewed paper like the scientists who wrote the paper I quoted did.

    The reference to the paper is:

    Elisabetta Collini, Cathy Y. Wong, Krystyna E. Wilk, Paul M. G. Curmi, Paul Brumer & Gregory D. Scholes. Coherently wired light-harvesting in photosynthetic marine algae at ambient temperature. Nature, 2010; 463 (7281): 644 DOI: 10.1038/nature08811

    .

    Once you get into the journal Nature like they did, I will re-consider your junk science.

    Their paper is science, and I only like to quote published science, not opinionated junk science by bully jerks with a stupid axe to grind.

  78. Oh, it’s not “junk science” that is the problem here, Dredd.

    It’s you not understanding what you read except in your confabulated Midicholrian fantasy context.

    “Coherently”? That word does not mean what you seem to think it means, especially in physics. It means the light is harvested in a way that maintains a constant phase state. Not that algae are coherently (which you seem to mistake for “cogently”) using quantum mechanics as a directed tool controlled by a consciousness. Even the non-physics meaning of “coherent” doesn’t comply with your wishes. It just means logical or consistent. It says nothing about intelligent control.

  79. Mike Spindell wrote: “I didn’t say that none of it was historical but the Seven Days of Creation and the Garden of Eden were metaphors. As for the genology there is perhaps some history but the ages lived to within it is ridiculous. Or do you believe Methuselah lived 900 years?”

    It is not so much a matter of belief, but that is what it says. As someone interested in truth, I would like to investigate that further. I do not dismiss it just because my personal experience has not allowed me to observe people living hundreds of years. The interesting aspect to the Torah analysis is that it seems to indicate a water canopy type atmosphere different than what we have now, and it was after the first rain and deluge with the continental division that followed is when ages began to decline. Such a scenario would be in line with our understanding of natural laws, cosmic radiation, etc. We don’t really have a real clear grasp of the aging process anyway, so without that knowledge about what causes aging, we really can’t be authoritative in claiming the long ages are impossible.

    The fascinating thing to me is that this history from the Jewish people is the only history from any civilization that records their genealogy all the way back to Adam, which according to the Torah was the first man, created from the ground. There are so many remarkable things involved with the history of Israel, that I simply cannot discount it just because it seems too remarkable to believe. I would like to have good reason to reject it. So far, science has not given that to me.

    Mike Spindell wrote:
    —-
    As for your claim:

    ‘Mike Spindell wrote: “Christian Theology taught as a matter of fact the world was flat.”

    This for the most part is pure myth.”

    Tell that to Galileo:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galileo_Galilei
    —-

    Mike, maybe you should read your own link? As far as I could see, nothing is in there about Galileo having a problem with Christian Theology supposedly teaching a flat earth.

    Clearly the Church had other issues with him, and the church was wrong… no doubt about it, but Christian Theology teaching a flat earth and causing Galileo problems? That’s a myth.

  80. “We don’t really have a real clear grasp of the aging process anyway, so without that knowledge about what causes aging, we really can’t be authoritative in claiming the long ages are impossible.”

    But our grasp of the aging process is good enough that we can be very certain no one was living to be three hundred years old back then. There is nothing in line with our understanding of natural law, cosmic radiation, ETC. to make us think otherwise.

    You’ve claimed that the Torah is a “careful” genealogy”. How do you know, and what does that mean? Some rabbi went to every living person and asked them who there father was? You take the bible and the Torah at face value, but evolution is junk science. Wow.

    I suppose you believe in THE ATOM SMASHING POWER OF MIND, too

  81. RTC wrote: “You take the bible and the Torah at face value, but evolution is junk science. Wow.”

    I NEVER said evolution is junk science. It is a fact that biological systems undergo evolution. What is not a fact is that an organism came into existence by some unknown natural process of abiogenesis, and that the entire diversity of life that we observe today descended from that single life form through completely natural processes.

    There are organisms today that are thousands of years old. I simply consider it presumptuous to dismiss the possibility that under significantly different environmental conditions, humans might have had a longer lifespan.

    One interesting fact about the Torah is that the Septuagint version, which is the version that seems to have been quoted a lot during the time of Christ, has different ages for these patriarchs than the Masoretic version. That raises my suspicion that perhaps the ages are not accurate, but I like to rely on more than just pure skepticism before I reject a hypothesis.

  82. Good article, Mike Appleton.

    But I don’t think religious fundamentalists want to define or redefine religion in any meaningful or productive way. Rather, they seek to make any useful definition of religion impossible for fear of what that would reveal about the meaninglessness of religion. They do have a political program, however, which seeks to undermine the teaching of science in the public schools. They call it “teaching the controversy.” For, as Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes explained:

    “Controversy equalizes wise men and fools alike — and the fools know it.”

    No, religious fundamentalists don’t want any generally agreed-upon definition of religion such as science demands of its practitioners. They want a shouting match between zealots hawking insoluble pseudo-questions; deliberately constructed conundrums designed to reduce science to mere “opinion,” no more valid or persuasive than any other brand of barbaric nonsense. They don’t want science, period. They want to encourage ignorance and fear, as they believe these infantile animisms will make inevitable the return to power of priest and prince, an indentured subservience that they desire far more than any genuine freedom.

  83. “Mike, maybe you should read your own link? As far as I could see, nothing is in there about Galileo having a problem with Christian Theology supposedly teaching a flat earth.”

    DavidM,

    You’re right I ignorantly conflated flat earth with heliocentrism. My bad.

  84. This article is especially for David:

    Please read (brief passage below):

    http://chronicle.com/article/The-New-Theist/140019/

    THE NEW THEIST: HOW WILLIAM LANE CRAIG BECAME CHRISTIAN PHILOSOPHY’S BOLDEST APOSTLE

    By

    Nathan Schneider

    When, during a conversation in a swank hotel lobby in Manhattan, I mentioned to Richard Dawkins that I was working on a story about William Lane Craig, the muscles in his face clenched.

    “Why are you publicizing him?” Dawkins demanded, twice. The best-selling “New Atheist” professor went on to assure me that I shouldn’t bother, that he’d met Craig in Mexico—they opposed each other in a prime-time, three-on-three debate staged in a boxing ring—and found him “very unimpressive.”

    “I mean, whose side are you on?” Dawkins said. “Are you religious?”

    Several months later, in April 2011, Craig debated another New Atheist author, Sam Harris, in a large, sold-out auditorium at the University of Notre Dame. In a sequence of carefully timed speeches and rejoinders, the two men clashed over whether we need God for there to be moral laws. Harris delivered most of the better one-liners that night, while Craig, in suit and tie, fired off his volleys of argumentation with the father-knows-best composure of Mitt Romney, plus a dash of Schwarzenegger. Something Harris said during the debate might help explain how Dawkins reacted: He called Craig “the one Christian apologist who seems to have put the fear of God into many of my fellow atheists.”

  85. I’m not sure if there is such a group of “my fellow atheists”

    There is a common human that has walked out of caves, walked away from the fantastical fairy paintings, and began to look at the sky. These I would call my fellow Homo Sapien sapiens.

    There does remain a large group in the caves, immersed in fantasy, lit by the fire of their hubris, chanting into the darkness, dancing to echoes of their ancestors false belief. … cavemen in cave shelters with cave brains in their cave worlds.

  86. “I have great respect for the Torah… The unique thing about this work is that it records a careful genealogy of people. Whose other history does this? If the Torah is not history, what are we going to then argue, that Abraham did not exist, that Isaac did not exist, and Jacob (Israel) never existed? Next we will say that Jewish people do not exist? Surely not! That seems laughable to me.”

    What seems laughable to me is the slide down the slippery slope you take to denying the existence of the Jewish people. And it’s downright hilarious that anyone other than a rabbi would consider the Torah a careful record of anything. In a time before written records, you think anybody couold remember back for more than a generation or two?

    Did Abraham exist? Probably not, more than likely some Middle Eastern creation myth. And one of the easier ones to believe. What father hasn’t wanted to kill his kid at time or another.

    “What’s that, Dear? The boy? Oh, I was just…ahhhh, um…. It was God! He told me to do it, I swear!”

    Elsewhere, you compare versions of the Torah, which is like comparing one translation of The Brothers Grimm with another – they’re both fairy tales! The fact that you want to treat the Torah as an authentic document of history – as told by God – puts you in the same category as the Taliban.

    And just as an aside, you do seem to have a thing for Abraham (remember when you claimed he made his fortune without exploiting anyone?). You got a little “Father Knows Best” thing goin’ on. Authoritarian much?

  87. Michael Murry wrote: “They don’t want science, period.”

    Ridiculous. What they want to do is practice a type of science, a type of empirical investigation, which is open to considering models of origins that propose an intelligent designer. Establishment science today wants to avoid the question or consider the question resolved without any empirical investigation at all.

  88. rafflaw wrote: “I will take peer reviewed science over the Torah, the Bible or the Koran any day.”

    I think you are forgetting how much peer review the Torah has undergone. No scientific publication has undergone such a significant peer review process. We are talking about thousands of people over thousands of years.

    Peer review in science means that two or three scientists read the paper and thought it was worthy to publish. Just one scientist can keep a paper from publication. I have been a reviewer myself. Just because I would sometimes cause a paper to be rejected from publication, does that mean the work is no good? Just because myself and two others thought it was worthy for publication, does that mean the paper is the truth? No to both questions. And then consider the question of fraud. We have many scientific publications that are known to be fraudulent, from Piltdown Man to Cold Fusion.

    We really need to have healthy skepticism of everything we read, whether a writing held to be Scripture by a religious group or a study published in a scientific journal. But skepticism is healthy only if it provokes more inquiry and investigation. A skepticism that rejects information out of prejudice, shutting down inquiry, is not a healthy skepticism.

  89. RTC wrote: “Did Abraham exist? Probably not…”

    With one snide remark, you just offended millions of Jews and Arabs. Both groups consider Abraham to be their great ancestor. How would you like someone to claim that a respected great grandfather of yours never existed? I cannot take you seriously.

  90. David sez, “I’m not religious, so I have no dog in this fight to protect religion…”

    That doesn’t pass the smell test, Davey boy. If there’s one thing you oughta know by now, if you want any respect here, you better be honest. As consistently as you refer to the bible and Torah, to claim that you’re not religious, but simply a dispassionate scientist researching historical evidence is offensive.

    As Gene once asked, how is it possible to study anything for nine years full time and not come away with a PhD? Probably because you couldn’t defend your cockamamie theories.

    Steven Jay Gould once spoke about the drain of energy it took defending evolutionary theory against Creationists, like you. He said the evidence was there in the fossil record, consistently arrayed in the geologic record around the world. A researcher’s career lasts for maybe twenty years or so, in which to do real research, yet, having to refute the claims made by bible idiots (my phrase, not his) time and again took valuable time away from research.

    Religion doesn’t need any protection, society and science need protection from Talibani like you.

  91. The Torah subjected to peer review? Now you you’re the one who can’t be taken seriously. The Torah is dogmatically defended by believers who never questioned its validity in the first place. Having taken it as a matter of faith, they defend out of pure emotion, rather than with the objective dispassionate approach good science demands.

    And who are you to speak for Jews and Arabs? If they’re offended, they can speak for themselves. You can’t prove he existed without resorting to the the religious texts, which are far more flawed than the authentic scientific research you dismiss.

    Instead of proclaiming yourself to be the spokesperson for two religions, why don’t you just say you’re offended. At least that would be the respectable thing to do.

  92. RTC wrote: “As consistently as you refer to the bible and Torah, to claim that you’re not religious, but simply a dispassionate scientist researching historical evidence is offensive.”

    I have never denied being a theist. I have faith in God. But I pretty much despise religious institutions. They all seem to be a racket to me, little men building empires to boost their egos and create a job for themselves. I see the same thing happening around blogs. If I saw any religion actually practicing the teachings taught in the Bible, I would join it. Thus far, I have never seen it. So I am a man of faith without a religion. Sorry that I don’t fit into your stereotype so you can start making fun of me based upon my religion.

    If I was religious, I suppose I would have to keep it private considering how unwelcoming this blog is toward anybody religious. I don’t see how anybody religious could ever feel comfortable admitting it around all the vitriol expressed here against religion. It would be better for the religious to stay in the closet. I assume some of them do. It’s safer for them.

    RTC wrote: “As Gene once asked, how is it possible to study anything for nine years full time and not come away with a PhD?”

    I have enough credit hours to apply for the PhD, but at that level of study, it all becomes very political. One of my questions on my written PhD exams had to do with how I would respond to a creationist challenging me while I was teaching Vertebrate Comparative Anatomy. One of my professors thought it was the best answer he ever heard, but another professor on my committee thought it was the worst answer he ever heard. It only takes one professor to block me. At some point I just realized that there was nothing else these professors could teach me. There were no more classes to take. It was all political and was about whether I would bow to political pressure to abandon my theistic perspective. My being a creationist meant some people there would do everything in their power not to let me get a Ph.D. They can’t have any creationists with Ph.D. credentials running around, and they certainly do not want their colleagues to get wind of the fact that they were the ones who signed off on it.

    RTC wrote: “Steven Jay Gould once spoke about the drain of energy it took defending evolutionary theory against Creationists, like you. He said the evidence was there in the fossil record, consistently arrayed in the geologic record around the world.”

    What you don’t mention here is that Gould brought this upon himself by pointing out that the fossil record shows more non-evolution happening than evolution. This prompted him and Eldridge to suggest an evolutionary model of evolution called Punctuated Equilibrium. This model of evolution is more closely aligned with Intelligent Design models of origins than it is with models focusing on Natural Selection as being the mechanism of speciation. It was only natural for creationists to jump on this. Such embarrassed Gould with his colleagues, and because science is not allowed to consider Intelligent Design, he had to come out strongly denouncing the creationists as idiots misrepresenting his theory. Science is much more political than many people realize.

  93. RTC wrote: “The Torah subjected to peer review? Now you you’re the one who can’t be taken seriously. The Torah is dogmatically defended by believers who never questioned its validity in the first place. Having taken it as a matter of faith, they defend out of pure emotion, rather than with the objective dispassionate approach good science demands.”

    I don’t think you understand the process by which a text becomes sacred. There are many other texts, sometimes fraudulent, sometimes just bad translations, etc. The process is perhaps better documented for the New Testament. Debates over which NT writings are Scripture and which are not took hundreds of years to resolve. For the Torah, we have insight from the Talmud and various councils which met and debated the question of which writings would be considered authoritative and which would not. None of these scholars just accepted writings as Scripture on blind faith. You just show ignorance when you suggest such things.

    RTC wrote: “You can’t prove he existed without resorting to the the religious texts, which are far more flawed than the authentic scientific research you dismiss.”

    The aspect of texts being regarded as religious texts make them MORE trustworthy, not less. It means that they have undergone far more extensive academic scrutiny. The problem is that your prejudice against religion affects your ability to think rationally about this. You assume that a religious text is simply a myth that nobody questions. That is not at all what a religious text is. Being a religious text does not make it right, but it certainly does not make it false either.

    Your attempt to claim Abraham never existed is similar to how some claim Jesus never existed because most of the references to him are religious. Upon scrutiny, the argument is seen to be specious foolishness.

  94. David sez, “I’m not religious, so I have no dog in this fight to protect religion…”

    “I have never denied being a theist. I have faith in God.”

    See, David, when you say things like this, you’re being disingenuous. Because you put forth a lot of effort into defending religion; in school, government and society. It’s dishonest.

    Your strategy much of the time is to try and appear innocuous when putting forth your opinions, as if us dumb liberals are gonna say to ourselves, “That David’s just being objective. I guess maybe he’s got a point after all”. My gut tells me that this is a technique they teach in seminars on how to talk to “Anti-Creators”.

    It’s funny, most people in your position might go ahead and get that PhD if only for the increase in earning power it could bring. You blame the politics, but it seems there’s always something or somebody to blame in the magic kingdom. Politics, govt, bureaucracy, poor people.

    It doesn’t surprise me that you despise all religions, it really doesn’t. Because clearly, you’re of an authoritarian bent and your over-sized ego doesn’t allow you to tolerate authority over your own.

    With a PhD, it might help you achieve the world renown and glory you so desperately crave, without having to climb up into a bell tower with a high-powered assault rifle

  95. Since you’re a fine for quibbling about words, I said “Probably” didn’t exist. Maybe he did, maybe he didn’t. But a creation MYTH has grown up around the actual man, if he existed.

    Religious texts subjected to critical peer review? No wonder you didn’t get a PhD. Those religious texts are little more than superstitions codified.

    “Hey Hiram, what do you think of this…?”
    “Sounds good to me, Schmuel. Write it up and we’ll teach it to our kids. Listen, I had an uncle named Jacob. Do you think we could work him in there somehow”

  96. “With one snide remark, you just offended millions of Jews and Arabs.”

    DavidM,

    I’m proudly Jewish and I’m not offended. There are many Rabbi’s who wouldn’t be offended about the question being asked. One of the little understood aspects of Judaism is the long tradition of questioning.

  97. RTC wrote: “See, David, when you say things like this, you’re being disingenuous. Because you put forth a lot of effort into defending religion; in school, government and society. It’s dishonest.”

    It is not dishonest. I’m just more objective than you are about theism. I am probably less objective about religion. Your method of stereotyping (something everyone does and is the source of bigotry) just doesn’t know how to put me in the right box, so you yell dishonest. The world doesn’t always fit into your neat little boxes. Get use to it.

    RTC wrote: “It’s funny, most people in your position might go ahead and get that PhD if only for the increase in earning power it could bring. You blame the politics…”

    I’m not blaming anyone. It is what it is. I considered pushing through for that piece of paper some people cherish, but I decided I would become a better person if people did not trust me because of my credentials. It makes me work harder at my current research and at life. I later built a career and a business from scratch in a field for which I had absolutely no formal education and no credentials. There is nothing wrong with that. After that I founded a non-profit charity. Life is interesting and life is fun.

  98. RTC wrote: ““Hey Hiram, what do you think of this…?”
    “Sounds good to me, Schmuel. Write it up and we’ll teach it to our kids. Listen, I had an uncle named Jacob. Do you think we could work him in there somehow”

    LOL. You have quite an active imagination. I suggest you visit a yeshiva sometime to see how the real world works.

  99. Mike Spindell wrote: “I’m proudly Jewish and I’m not offended.”

    Surely you know that many would be. I have debated Jewish Rabbi’s many times. They can be quite passionate, and I like that very much.

    So what is your opinion, Mike? Do you believe that Abraham of the Torah is a fictional character like the Easter Bunny? Have your people wasted a lot of time talking about him and his righteous example? Do you consider it academic suicide to believe he is real, and that the Jews who believe Abraham existed are like the Taliban?

    I suspect most Jewish Rabbi’s would not give such uneducated questions any attention at all. Foolishness often does not deserve an answer.

  100. David, there are many, many Muslims who are nothing like the Taliban.There are many, many Christians right here in this country who have much in common with the Taliban,

    Before I go any further, let me point out that my daughter’s are Jewish. They value their heritage while declining a rigid adherence to religious dogma. I consider my self extraordinarily spiritual, yet the bible means nothing to me. I don’t believe one word of it came from god. It was written by overactive imaginations. I believe Jesus was an historical figure, a political figure, who benefited from a remarkable PR campaign.

    You said, “If I saw any religion actually practicing the teachings taught in the Bible, I would join it. Thus far, I have never seen it. So I am a man of faith without a religion.”

    The bible is a religious text and serves as the basis for all the Christian religions. You can say you’re not religious, until you discover a worthy religion all you want; it’s disingenuous. It’s dishonest.

    It’s also interesting that of all the religions out there, which have subjected these religious texts to so much scrutiny, you can’t find one, not one, that actually adheres to what’s in the bible. They must not understand it as well as DavidM of 2575 My World Dr.

    That’s also a little insight into your PhD. If you studied all those years and don’t want to pursue the degree, that’s your business, of course. And I fully agree that a PhD will not make you a better person. But I get the sense that you may have been attending studies with the intention of finding nothing but flaws. That can be a good thing, unless your refutation boils down to, “Can’t be. That’s not in the bible.”

    You made a point about Gould and Punctuated Equilibrium and Intelligent Design. The problem with ID is that it’s a trump card you can slap down on any scientific statement. Sun rising in the East? Somebody or something had to cause that. Theory of Relativity? Sounds like a plan. Life on Earth could not have just been a random occurrence. It’s all been designed for us, if only we were smart enough to realize it.

    The problem I have with that is it’s a trump card that, all too often, serves as a Get Out Of Jail card for those who want to use it. Global warming is god’s gift that keeps on giving; it’s part of his plan. Would god let a species go extinct if he didn’t want it around. I think not. Poor people are just experiencing god’s wrath. Thing’s will pick up when they get in tune. I’m sure. Just as soon as we get rid of this anti-creationing, god-hatin’, brutalitarian gubmint. Praise the Lord of the Everlasting Church of TBD!

  101. RTC wrote: ” I consider my self [sic] extraordinarily spiritual, yet the bible [sic] means nothing to me. I don’t believe one word of it came from god [sic]. It was written by overactive imaginations. I believe Jesus was an historical figure, a political figure, who benefited from a remarkable PR campaign.”

    Oh, so you believe Jesus was a historical figure, but you think it very unlikely that Abraham was? Why?

    Matthew traces the patriarchal lineage of Jesus back to Abraham. Luke traces the matriarchal lineage of Jesus back to Abraham and then to the alleged very first man Adam. Exactly where in these lineages do you think the overactive imaginations took over to lead us to this so-called fictional Abraham person? Do you believe that Joseph was the father of Jesus? Do you believe that Mary was the mother of Jesus? What about Eli, Mary’s grandfather, or Jacob, Joseph’s grandfather? Were they real people or not? At what point, and on what basis of reasoning, do you believe the historical genealogy started becoming imagination?

    My guess is that you don’t have a good answer. I think you are a lazy thinker. It is just convenient for you to say that the Bible is all made up by people with an overactive imagination. That way you don’t have to consider anything in it seriously. The truth is, if Jesus really was a real person, and Mary was his mother, what are you going to do with his recorded ancestry? At what point do the people become imaginary people, and on what basis of logic do you argue that point? Occam’s Razor leads us to conclude that the genealogies are the best historical records provided to us. Could they be wrong? Could they contain a mistake? Sure, of course, but to just blurt out that Abraham was probably a fictional person is among the most foolish academic blunders I have ever heard. I just can’t perceive you to be a serious thinker when you argue this way.

    RTC wrote: “The problem with ID is that it’s a trump card you can slap down on any scientific statement. Sun rising in the East? Somebody or something had to cause that. Theory of Relativity? Sounds like a plan. Life on Earth could not have just been a random occurrence. It’s all been designed for us, if only we were smart enough to realize it.”

    This does not describe any kind of ID or creationism that I have ever heard of. Where did you learn about ID? Was it from an atheist article? What you described is not even the way that theology approaches questions. The best way to label what you just described is not even religion, but rather it is superstition. Completely lazy thinking.

    What ID does is more along the lines of how Gentry discovered polonium halos with a 3 minute half life. How did they get inside rocks that are suppose to have taken millions of years to cool? So he tests secondary intrusion as a hypothesis and falsifies it. Could it really be a fingerprint of the creation event? Could the rocks have been created through a process we have yet to discover where the rock formed nearly instantaneously? That will require more research. So let’s do more testing. Or it is like Austin’s work. How exactly do sedimentary rocks form? Does it really take millions of years of being laid down without evidence of erosion, or could they have formed rapidly through a catastrophic event? We have a natural catastrophic event with Mt. St. Helen’s, so let’s go over there and document the sedimentary deposition carefully. Let’s measure the rocks as they are being formed, take pictures, and learn exactly how the hydrogeologic sorting works. Does something like the Grand Canyon show evidence of having formed in the same way? Perhaps studying Mt. St. Helen’s eruption will give us clues about catastrophic events producing sedimentary rocks and the timeframes required. ID also is about not ignoring polystrate fossils that project directly through sedimentary rocks supposedly laid down over millions of years. Turns out that Mt. St. Helen studies by ID researches give us information about that as well. ID considers empirical evidence like spectacled radioactive halos in the Colorado plateau that indicate a compression time of about 20 years rather than the millions of years that published radiometric dating has suggested. So ID says, let’s study and research and work through these problems. Establishment science says it is a waste of time, we already know that ID is false and evolutionary processes are the only thing to consider.

    Let me give you another example where the possibility of an ID model might be interesting if establishment science would only allow it. Consider the phenomena of schooling fish. Various evolutionary hypotheses are put forward for the evolutionary advantage that such behavior offers. One common idea deals with how it might protect them from predators by causing confusion to the predator. Being a fisherman myself, I am skeptical about this idea. Why? Because when I go fishing, I am a predator and I love to look for and find schools of fish. The bigger the school, the better! A nice school of fish means I’m going to catch more fish, not less. Evolutionary theory encourages a biologist to say that schooling might help the fish survive better against predators, but they never really test this idea. They just keep repeating it so often that everybody assumes it must be true. The lack of research about the question perpetuates because evolutionary theory is declared to be the only valid idea. What if a researcher came along who was open to an ID theory, one that hypothesized that maybe the Creator long ago programmed fish to school for the benefit of the predator, to make it easier for the predator to find them. Clearly evolution would never select for such a trait, but perhaps the DNA coding was sufficient to benefit the predator mildly enough that the fish populations are never deplenished completely through the process of Natural Selection that we know has been operating for many thousands of years. Well, the ID researcher would be laughed to scorn to suggest such a thing. So the question never gets answered. The research is never done. On the other hand, if we would tolerate the idea of an ID model of origins, more research and study would be done and our knowledge would be increased. Even if all the ID predictions were falsified, it would be a good thing because it would confirm beyond doubt for everyone that ID theory is false. I think the more research that attempts to falsify predictions from ID models of origins, the better for our knowledge of the world around us.

  102. I’ll reply quickly to your post right now and get to the rest of the diatribe later when I’m off work because I’m lazy (sarcasm implied). You show me notarized birth certificates linking Jesus back to Abraham and I’ll wear a set of mouse ears for a day and skipe it for you. My guess is that the the Apostles created such a lineage for Jesus to lend him legitimacy in the eyes of the religious hierarchy.

    I did not read the wikipedia entry on this topic, but John Dominic Crossan, author of “The Historical Jesus” fails to mention this important connection. But, as a priest in the Catholic church, I suppose that’s to be expected.

    Your flailing like the Wizard of Oz after he was exposed, with all the geologic studies you throw around. Essentially, you’re saying whatever the phenomena, study further, look at it closer, and you’ll find it’s all the result of some Intelligent Designer. That’s the all-purpose trump card. That’s lazy.

    Another strategy of yours appears to be to accuse the unbelieving of laziness, like we’re just not willing to look at the evidence closely enough, and if we did, surely we’d be convinced, if only we had a brain.

    You may be a great fisherman, but you’re able to exploit the fishes’ weakness for feeding. You might find it a little more difficult if you were trying to catch from the same perspective of their natural waterborne predators. Of course, you’d have an advantage over swordfish and dolphin with your more highly evolved depth perception. Next, I suppose you’ll tell me you’re an excellent spear fisherman. You and Nick.

    Actually, I have a fine mind with a rockin’ GPA of my own. I mostly limit my intensive studying to information I can use professionally. At any rate, I have an open mind, which is more than I can say for you. You see no fact that doesn’t support your view as valid, and as I said, there’s no study or discovery that you won’t simply claim as proof of ID. It’s sort of like saying, “I know you are but what am I.”

  103. “I have debated Jewish Rabbi’s many times.”

    DavidM,

    Really? What did you debate them about? Jesus? Religion?

  104. Mike – Many issues over the years. I have taken up the issue of Jesus (Yeshua) a few times, usually about what was meant in the Nevi’im in certain places and how they might apply to him. But more often it involved their understanding of the Torah. I probably shouldn’t say debate because I would learn a lot about the Talmud too, and sparred mostly to spot areas where I lacked understanding. It usually is a motivation for more study more than anything else.

  105. “But more often it involved their understanding of the Torah.”

    DavidM,

    Do you read Hebrew? They do fluently. One of the many indignities pressed upon the Jews for the last 2,000 year is having our Holy Book re-interpreted by people not capable of understanding it I see you use Yeshuah for Jesus. Interesting choice though valid on its face. What makes it interesting is that it is used mainly by Jews for Jesus, which from a Jewsih perspective is a pernicious outfit. There is no Judeo-Christian continuum. One is either Jewish, or Christian, the two faiths are incompatible to those that understand the issues separating them. For somebody with no religious affiliation as RTC has pointed out, you do appear a Christian apologist as is your right, but I do feel it is obvious.

  106. Gene H. 1, October 28, 2013 at 7:15 pm

    Oh, it’s not “junk science” that is the problem here, Dredd.

    It’s you not understanding what you read except in your confabulated Midicholrian fantasy context.

    “Coherently”? That word does not mean what you seem to think it means, especially in physics. It means the light is harvested in a way that maintains a constant phase state. Not that algae are coherently (which you seem to mistake for “cogently”) using quantum mechanics as a directed tool controlled by a consciousness. Even the non-physics meaning of “coherent” doesn’t comply with your wishes. It just means logical or consistent. It says nothing about intelligent control.
    ==============================
    Since my reply to you was absorbed by Zorba the Word Press censor, I reply again.
    ————————-
    Your magic “one true scientific method” of the “one true science” misses the mark once again.

    The peer reviewed expert scientists I quoted were not talking about what you say. You just made that up as a rank and obvious diversion away from your “man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still” rut.

    Idealist007 and I discussed quantum dynamics and its impact on machine evolution as well as its impact on biological evolution prior to his unfortunate passing.

    I mentioned a Swedish scientist to him, since he tended to trust them, and since that scientist was the only one to have hypothesized on the issue in peer reviewed journals.

    Recently his paper was taken note of in the context of quantum mechanical induced genetic mutation (The Uncertain Gene).

    The wave properties of light quanta as well as non-light quanta such as protons “behaving as waves” is a source of abiotic as well as biotic mutation.

    Coherence is not limited to photons.

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