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@Brain Molecule Marketing  

Good point. Or, as Carl Sagan put it, "Science invites us to let the facts in, even when they don’t conform to our preconceptions."

6 months ago on Conversation @ http://www.newrepublic.com/article/117474/arguing-religious-people-turn-their-techniques-around

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@Steve Herbes  

As you do not appear to be capable of distinguishing scientific evidence from religious dogma, I feel no necessity to respond further. Explanations of "the archeological, iconographic, textile, and botanical evidence" is not difficult to find. For those who want to find it.

6 months, 2 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://www.newrepublic.com/article/116689/shroud-turin-formed-earthquake-thats-just-pseudoscience

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@Steve Herbes  

It's been studied. It's been carbon-14 dated with the permission of the Vatican. It dates to the middle ages. Case closed.

6 months, 2 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://www.newrepublic.com/article/116689/shroud-turin-formed-earthquake-thats-just-pseudoscience

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@KonKetSing  

Nice writing, but it's still a religious assertion for which there is no evidence. Furthermore, using Occam's Razor eliminates the need for any creator in a scenario such as you described, as chemical evolution and biological evolution suffice to explain the world as it is, so there is no need to add the additional postulate of the god of the bible.


Finally, your assertion applies equally well to the koran, to the Greek myths, and to any other creation mythologies. So it really should be (from your point of view), "The Bible, Koran, Navajo and Tibetan creation myths, the Greek myths, etc. are right. And so is Charles Darwin. And so are the physicists and scientists."

7 months, 3 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://www.newrepublic.com/article/116478/bill-nye-ken-ham-debate-creationism-and-evolution-science-wins

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@PaulLeimer @Gargamel Garbo@RobertMichaelSimon  

I really like how you show that blind faith is a bad thing!


The irony of your statement, "Please do not speak in ignorance" is delicious. I'm going to take a guess here, and state that I don't know you've ever read Dr. Coyne's book "Why Evolution is True." I'm also willing to bet that you can't even define evolution, so you quite literally don't know what you are talking about, and are (at best) setting up a straw man. As Strode & Young wrote at the end of their book, "Why Evolution Works (and Why Creationism Fails)": "We heartily recommend that anyone who criticizes evolutionary biology first learn about it."


Now, please answer one question: Why do all the naturally existing isotopes have half-lives in excess of 700,000,000 years, and no isotope with a shorter half life exists, except those (like Carbon-14) which are continually produced by a know nuclear reaction?

8 months, 1 week ago on Conversation @ http://www.newrepublic.com/article/116478/bill-nye-ken-ham-debate-creationism-and-evolution-science-wins

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@PaulLeimer @kenlord  

It's funny, in a stomach-turning sort of way, that a religious know-nothing would say "Don’t trust in your blind faith." All of your points (all parroted; it's obvious you don't even understand them) have long been refuted (in fact, they are so sclerotic that I half-suspect that you are an anti-creationist, lampooning their silliness).

And, speaking of zircons, the oldest one ever discovered, about 4.37 billion years old, was just discovered. Read about it here (with links to the actual paper): https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2014/02/25/the-oldest-known-bit-of-earth/

If "creationism (which one? Jewish? Tibetan? Hopi? Japanese? There are hundreds of legendary stories of how the earth was made by the gods) is highly accurate" then why don't any sciences, universities, research outfits, or profit-oriented corporations use it? Aren't they just missing out on a way to make important discoveries and lots of money? Could it be, instead, that creationism is about as accurate (and as well-founded, scientifically) as astrology?

The only liar on stage that evening was a Mr. Ken Ham. 

8 months, 1 week ago on Conversation @ http://www.newrepublic.com/article/116478/bill-nye-ken-ham-debate-creationism-and-evolution-science-wins

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I read the book; it's great

8 months, 1 week ago on Climate Change Debate is Now Officially Over

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@videoprojman @markjoseph125@AntAllan  

I just don't think that the problem in today's world is too much rationality. See the current roster of the US Congress for details.

8 months, 1 week ago on Conversation @ http://www.newrepublic.com/article/116689/shroud-turin-formed-earthquake-thats-just-pseudoscience

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@videoprojman @markjoseph125@AntAllan  

1) I will appreciate it greatly if you will stop calling my friends (I number Ant, Ben, Dr. Coyne as friends, albeit internet ones; we hold regular discussions on topics of mutual scientific and philosophical interest) names.


2) New Atheist, ex-religious, and proud of it. Among the ways I go about leaching the color out of society are: supporting both local public radio stations (classical and jazz); supporting three different art museums; having raised two children (one a violinist, one an artist), etc. The other new atheists I know are musicians, scientists, family people, etc., and I don't know any more light-hearted and funny people, especially not among my former co-religionists. But, feel free to continue attacking that straw man; I'm sure it makes him feel useful. Hey, that reminds me of another bigot for you to add to your list (I apologize for being able to quote poetry; I realize that that does not fit into your, completely unbigoted, I'm sure, stereotype of me), Algernon Charles Swinburne:

Thou hast conquered, O pale Galilean; the world has grown grey from thy breath; We have drunken of things Lethean, and fed on the fullness of death.


3) I would very much love for people to give up their religion; it would make for more resources available for other, better things. But, I do what I can by way of rational argument and, where necessary, ridicule (like that bigoted communist, Thomas Jefferson). On the other hand, if the christians in this country ever regain the power they had in the 1600s, I will be burnt at the stake (along with the other contributors to this thread, including very possibly yourself). I'm having trouble convincing myself that you really don't understand the difference in outlook between the groups. Furthermore, though Bach and Handel gave us imperishable music, and the medieval muslims gorgeous calligraphy and some impressive mathematics, what are the religious supplying nowadays? Thomas Kinkade, a constant rearguard action against new art and music--and flying planes into buildings.


4) Imagine there's no heaven; it's easy if you try; no hell below us; above us only sky.


I wish you a good morrow, and bow out of this conversation; I need to go read Octavia Butler.

8 months, 1 week ago on Conversation @ http://www.newrepublic.com/article/116689/shroud-turin-formed-earthquake-thats-just-pseudoscience

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@AntAllan  

Great job, Ant; superb last sentence.

I still don't understand why videoprojman insists on using the word "bigotry" for what is (at worst) intolerance (your word), but which I see as simple, albeit vigorous, criticism.


Let me try an argument using reductio ad absurdum:


"Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions. Ideas must be distinct before reason can act upon them; and no man ever had a distinct idea of the trinity. It is the mere Abracadabra of the mountebanks calling themselves the priests of Jesus.” (Thomas Jefferson)


"Whenever we read the obscene stories the voluptuous debaucheries, the cruel and torturous executions, the unrelenting vindictiveness with which more than half the bible is filled, it would be more consistent that we call it the word of a demon rather than the word of God. It is a history of wickedness that has served to corrupt and brutalize mankind; and, for my part, I sincerely detest it as I detest everything that is cruel." (Thomas Paine)


Now, I submit that the Trinity and the accurate historicity of the bible are precious doctrines to many, that they are irrational, and that they are being criticized here by people desiring to use reason. All of which occurred earlier in Dr. Coyne's demolition of the Shroud, or in Ben Goren's demonstration that Jesus very probably never existed at all.


Since Ben and Jerry (ha ha!) were both labeled "bigots," may I presume that Messers Jefferson and Paine will be the next to be added to that list? (As it grows, I find myself more and more cheered to have a spot on it!).

8 months, 1 week ago on Conversation @ http://www.newrepublic.com/article/116689/shroud-turin-formed-earthquake-thats-just-pseudoscience

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@AntAllan @videoprojman@markjoseph125@FMcManus

Superb comment, Ant. But, I suspect that you are about to be added to the list of "bigots"!

In passing, we should all be grateful that the morality of contemporary christians does, in fact, "owe more to Greek philosophy and the Enlightenment than it does to purely Abrahamic traditions." That at least keeps the body count down.

8 months, 1 week ago on Conversation @ http://www.newrepublic.com/article/116689/shroud-turin-formed-earthquake-thats-just-pseudoscience

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@videoprojman @markjoseph125@FMcManus  

Quote from Richard Feynman:

“I have a friend who's an artist and has sometimes taken a view which I don't agree with very well. He'll hold up a flower and say "look how beautiful it is," and I'll agree. Then he says "I as an artist can see how beautiful this is but you as a scientist take this all apart and it becomes a dull thing," and I think that he's kind of nutty. First of all, the beauty that he sees is available to other people and to me too, I believe. Although I may not be quite as refined aesthetically as he is ... I can appreciate the beauty of a flower. At the same time, I see much more about the flower than he sees. I could imagine the cells in there, the complicated actions inside, which also have a beauty. I mean it's not just beauty at this dimension, at one centimeter; there's also beauty at smaller dimensions, the inner structure, also the processes. The fact that the colors in the flower evolved in order to attract insects to pollinate it is interesting; it means that insects can see the color. It adds a question: does this aesthetic sense also exist in the lower forms? Why is it aesthetic? All kinds of interesting questions which the science knowledge only adds to the excitement, the mystery and the awe of a flower. It only adds. I don't understand how it subtracts.”

Is Feynman a bigot? Are you going to call him out on his "desire to impose a rational framework on an area that is not subject to it"? Are you going to accuse him of having "little understanding of religion and likely other irrational areas of human experience such as the arts"?

8 months, 1 week ago on Conversation @ http://www.newrepublic.com/article/116689/shroud-turin-formed-earthquake-thats-just-pseudoscience

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@videoprojman @markjoseph125@FMcManus  

I didn't realize that you weren't religious. So, now every christian and every muslim reading this thinks you are going to burn in (a different) hell forever, and furthermore, that you deserve this for having rejected their (different revelations of God's final) truth.


I, on the other hand, stated (concerning religious beliefs), "Some (are) less culturally nutty (like prayer), some more (Xenu); but all equally devoid of any confirmatory evidence." Perhaps not as gentle as it could have been, but certainly a defensible and not-uncommon point of view. I'm going to wish you a nice day, and don't think you're going to encounter any fire more severe than a big backyard BBQ.


So, who are the bigots? I'm really beginning to think that you do not understand the definition of the word.

8 months, 1 week ago on Conversation @ http://www.newrepublic.com/article/116689/shroud-turin-formed-earthquake-thats-just-pseudoscience

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@IanSlocum @catchme if you can  

The Adam and Eve story fails at all levels; That, however, does not matter to the christians, who have to hang on to it, as it is crucial to their soteriology (in the new testament, Jesus is presented as the second Adam). It's sad when people won't accept the facts because of their religion, but a recent Gallup poll showed that 64% of Americans fall into that category. Remember what Ken Ham said--nothing could make him change his mind. In other words, it's not *really* about evidence, all protestations to the contrary notwithstanding.

8 months, 1 week ago on Conversation @ http://www.newrepublic.com/article/116478/bill-nye-ken-ham-debate-creationism-and-evolution-science-wins

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@videoprojman @markjoseph125@FMcManus  

You seem to be good at calling people bigots (so far, everyone else on this thread). I suspect psychological projection. Or, possibly, you don't know what the word means. Also, it's much too early to be playing the "I'm offended" card. You don't actually have the right not to be offended.


It all comes down to where the evidence lies. As you yourself quite cleverly said to normanvincent, "Would you agree that such "evidence" (which is really more theories) is just as likely to lead to Islam being as accurate as Christianity?"


Where the evidence lies is determinative, whether the question is christianity vs. islam (or neither); evolution vs. creationism, or any other question that is resolvable in this manner. It does not, of course, affect personal opinion; but then, people should not be trying to impose their personal opinions on the rest of society. Furthermore, one probably should think what it means to hold a personal opinion of which some significant portion is an idea which can be shown to be less probable in the light of the evidence.

8 months, 1 week ago on Conversation @ http://www.newrepublic.com/article/116689/shroud-turin-formed-earthquake-thats-just-pseudoscience

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@FMcManus @markjoseph125  

We are clearly reading the article differently. To me, the first two paragraphs are about as concise an illustration of the difference between pseudo-science and science as can be presented.

I don't understand your claim that Dr. Coyne's "first paragraph alone is filled with a head-spinning array of random unsubstantiated claims and emotive language." Unless I'm really missing something obvious, he is simply listing things that actual people in actual religions believe. Some less culturally nutty (like prayer), some more (Xenu); but all equally devoid of any confirmatory evidence. In fact, most or all of these are adhered to in the teeth of sufficient disconfirmatory evidence. Hence pseudo-science, of which religion is a subset (at least, that's what I hold, and I'm reasonably confident that Dr. Coyne does as well).

8 months, 1 week ago on Conversation @ http://www.newrepublic.com/article/116689/shroud-turin-formed-earthquake-thats-just-pseudoscience

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@FMcManus @markjoseph125  

I have not seen the video, but I have read his book with the same title; it is one of the two main books currently available (the other being Richard Dawkins' "The Greatest Show on Earth) which summarizes for the educated layman the multiple convergent lines of evidence for evolution. If you liked the video, you'll love the book.

8 months, 1 week ago on Conversation @ http://www.newrepublic.com/article/116689/shroud-turin-formed-earthquake-thats-just-pseudoscience

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@FMcManus  

If you think that "Jerry Coyne obtained his understanding of religion from reading nothing more sophisticated than a handful of Chick comics," then you do not know that Dr. Coyne has spent a large part of the last few years studying and interacting with religion and theology, of all stripes from the Ken Ham-Jack Chick brand of stupidity that you rightly criticize, to the rarified realms of Alvin Plantinga, Karen Armstrong and other Sophisticated Theologians™, with the goal of writing a book on the subject.

He has chronicled much of what he has learned, and received the interactions of a large number of very intelligent people, on his blog at https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/

I'd recommend that you follow it; besides the religion, there is also a lot of very interesting science presented and interacted with.

8 months, 1 week ago on Conversation @ http://www.newrepublic.com/article/116689/shroud-turin-formed-earthquake-thats-just-pseudoscience

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@justinrjosey @marty b  

Babbling. In the responses, refutations of your points are given; why do I think that you will not bother to read them?

8 months, 1 week ago on Conversation @ http://www.newrepublic.com/article/116478/bill-nye-ken-ham-debate-creationism-and-evolution-science-wins

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@justinrjosey @John Cipparrone 

More religious babbling. Refutation not needed, as no evidence was presented.

8 months, 1 week ago on Conversation @ http://www.newrepublic.com/article/116478/bill-nye-ken-ham-debate-creationism-and-evolution-science-wins

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@ChrisZacharias @justinrjosey@OptimistPrime@TimMatter  

Hi Chris:

Somehow, I don't think that justinrjosey is going to provide what he would consider to be a disproof of the bible. The "moving the goalposts" fallacy comes immediately to mind.

So, I'll do it for him. Here's Jerry Coyne, on what science is, and what the nature of pseudo-science is. He's talking about the the Shroud of the Turin in particular, but the argument applies more widely to disproven religious claims:

"A recent article by Carpinteri et al. demonstrates the two ways that religion is a pseudoscience.  The first is that it relies on empirical claims to buttress its dogma. While Sophisticated Theologians™ may argue that God is beyond all evidence, being some imperceptible and numinous “thing” that can neither be defined nor seen as interacting with the cosmos, that’s not what believers think.  So, for example, claims that Jesus was born of a virgin, died, was resurrected, or that Mohammad went to heaven on a horse, or that Joseph Smith received the golden plates in New York and translated them, or that 75 million years ago Xenu loaded his alien minions onto planes resembling DC-8s, or that there is an afterlife, and that good people go to Heaven, or that God hears and answers prayers, and is benevolent and all-powerful, are claims about the way the world is. And many of those claims are testable, though all have been refuted. In the prescientific era, these claims constituted a sort of science.

But as real science arose in the 15th and 16th centuries, and began eroding religion’s claims, religion began turning into a pseudoscience. That is, it still made empirical claims, but immunized itself against refutation of those claims using a variety of devices—the same devices used by other forms of pseudoscience like ESP, UFOlogy, homeopathy, and astrology. These include arguing that the propositions themselves are untestable, using poor standards of evidence (including reliance on “revelation” as a “way of knowing”), reliance on a priori personal biases that are not to be tested but merely confirmed, refusing to consider alternative hypotheses, and engaging in special pleading when religious tenets are disconfirmed. (at: http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2014/02/20/the-shroud-of-turin-why-religion-is-a-pseudoscience/)

8 months, 1 week ago on Conversation @ http://www.newrepublic.com/article/116478/bill-nye-ken-ham-debate-creationism-and-evolution-science-wins

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@justinrjosey @ChrisZacharias@TimMatter  

The Koran is clear.  It is man who is not.  You mistake the failings of man for the failings of the Koran.  The Koran is a history book, philosophy book, and a prophecy book.  It is God's revelation of himself to mankind.  Yet mankind rejects it or tries to modify it.

8 months, 1 week ago on Conversation @ http://www.newrepublic.com/article/116478/bill-nye-ken-ham-debate-creationism-and-evolution-science-wins

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@justinrjosey @ChrisZacharias@TimMatter  

First of all, you have absolutely no evidence for your religious claims, and "what can be asserted without evidence can be rejected without evidence."

Second, the bible absolutely *does* command, permit, and explain the "how-to-do-it" of slavery. Maybe you do not know the verses. The google is your friend.


As Sam Harris put it: “Nothing in Christian theology remedies the appalling deficiencies of the Bible on what is perhaps the greatest—and the easiest—moral question our society has ever had to face.”

More from Sam Harris:

"If a person doesn’t already understand that cruelty is wrong, he won’t discover this by reading the Bible or the Koran — as these books are bursting with celebrations of cruelty, both human and divine. We do not get our morality from religion. We decide what is good in our good books by recourse to moral intuitions that are (at some level) hard-wired in us and that have been refined by thousands of years of thinking about the causes and possibilities of human happiness. We have made considerable moral progress over the years, and we didn’t make this progress by reading the Bible or the Koran more closely. Both books condone the practice of slavery — and yet every civilized human being now recognizes that slavery is an abomination. - See more at: http://www.samharris.org/site/full_text/10-myths-and-10-truths-about-atheism1#sthash.5uttRb3K.dpuf

8 months, 1 week ago on Conversation @ http://www.newrepublic.com/article/116478/bill-nye-ken-ham-debate-creationism-and-evolution-science-wins

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@justinrjosey @OptimistPrime@ChrisZacharias@TimMatter  

We have *millions* of copies of "Harry Potter," and they are all *identical*!!! Top that, bible boy!


You haven't noticed, but the western world is, in fact, leaving the bible behind, for all the reasons listed in this thread. "Nones" are the fastest growing religious group, up to nearly 20% of the population.


Now, please go handle poisonous snakes, as the bible--the new testament--Jesus himself--clearly says to do so. And while you're at it, check these commentaries:

http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2014/02/17/religion-poisons-everything-another-snake-handler-bites-the-dust/

https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2014/02/20/girl-orphaned-by-snake-handling-parents-writes-in/

Religion poisons (quite literally, in this case) *everything*.

8 months, 1 week ago on Conversation @ http://www.newrepublic.com/article/116478/bill-nye-ken-ham-debate-creationism-and-evolution-science-wins

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@justinrjosey @John Cipparrone@TimMatter  

People did. People are perfectly capable of being impossibly good or immensely evil, with no reference to god or the devil at all.


Or, as Steven Weinberg so memorably stated it: "With or without religion, good people can behave well and bad people can do evil; but for good people to do evil—that takes religion."


There is nothing good a christian can do that a muslim, a buddhist, or an atheist can't do; ditto for anything bad.

8 months, 1 week ago on Conversation @ http://www.newrepublic.com/article/116478/bill-nye-ken-ham-debate-creationism-and-evolution-science-wins

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@justinrjosey @TimMatter  

Yawn. Another "No True Christian" fallacy. It's easy to google the references (from Mein Kampf) in which Hitler declared that he was doing the lord's work.

Or, if you'd prefer, we could say that Stalin was not a "True" atheist, and the people who flew planes into the WTC were not "True" muslims."

As for the bible verses--so what? Would you believe them if I posted some verses from the koran? So, what is your argument, if not special pleading?

8 months, 1 week ago on Conversation @ http://www.newrepublic.com/article/116478/bill-nye-ken-ham-debate-creationism-and-evolution-science-wins

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@RichardHale1 @ChrisZacharias  

"Don't dismiss me as not understanding evolution. I understand it."

Richard: Here's twenty bucks to charity if you (without googling) can provide a reasonably accurate definition of evolution.

I'm not worried, because your comments have shown that you do not know the first thing about evolution, and are not willing to learn. You appear to be more interested in straw-man fallacies. Have you read Dr. Coyne's "Why Evolution is True"? Can you name one piece of evidence in favor of evolution? And what are you offering in its place, besides "Magic man magicked everything by magic"?


As Young and Strode said at the end of their book “Why Evolution Works (and Why Creationism Fails),” “We heartily recommend that anyone who criticizes evolutionary biology first learn about it.”

8 months, 3 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://www.newrepublic.com/article/116478/bill-nye-ken-ham-debate-creationism-and-evolution-science-wins

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@mthorn  

"People say we need religion when what they really mean is we need police." — H L Mencken

8 months, 3 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://www.newrepublic.com/article/116478/bill-nye-ken-ham-debate-creationism-and-evolution-science-wins

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@RickHays @markjoseph125@alfakazum@Gargamel Garbo  

(part 2 of my response)

This is moderately amusing—you make the (in my opinion, failed) rhetorical point that I have learned from others, and haven’t done the experiments myself, and yet you reject Carbon-14 dating “because i know it has been proven inaccurate by different scientists.” Did *you* do the tests? Certainly “you would NEVER trust something someone else said or wrote in a book... WOULD YOU?” In fact, you yourself commit the appeal to authority, by going to apologists who simply do not know what they are talking about. Here’s a hard question for you: Are you really looking to find out what is true? Or merely trying to buttress your beliefs? Have you read even *one* book by “the other side,” scientists and/or atheists who argue naturalism, the big bang, evolution, and atheism with just as much passion (and considerably more reference to facts) as you hold forth upon your religious beliefs? Several times I've listed just four books that I think would bring anyone up to speed on what evolution *really* teaches (not what Ken Ham says it teaches); for convenience, I'll list them again:

1) Jerry Coyne “Why Evolution is True”
2) Richard Dawkins “The Greatest Show on Earth” (two overviews of the convergent multiple lines of evidence for evolution).
3) Donald Prothero “Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why it Matters” (the fossil evidence).
4) Sean B. Carroll “The Making of the Fittest” (the DNA evidence).

On the age of the earth and the universe:
5) G. Brent Dalrymple, “Ancient Earth, Ancient Skies: The Age of Earth and its Cosmic Surroundings”
This is a more recent and less technical book than his book “The Age of the Earth,” which is the book of his that I’ve actually read.

The best-known current atheist tomes are these:
6) Richard Dawkins, “The God Delusion”
7) Sam Harris, “The End of Faith” and “Letter to a Christian Nation”
8) Christopher Hitchens, “God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything" and “The Portable Atheist” (this latter is a compendium of writings by a substantial number of different non-religious people)

David Mills’ “Atheist Universe” is less well-known, but excellent; I've heard that Dan Dennett’s “Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon” and John Loftus’ “Debunking Christianity” are both very good, but I personally haven’t had a chance to read them yet.

Finally (although is should probably be the first book that someone interested in getting a science education reads), for one single book that spells out better than any other what science is, and how it works, I can’t recommend too highly Carl Sagan’s “The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark”

I assure you, I get just as upset by people who try to pass off religion as science, who would turn America into a theocracy, and who oppose the working of the human intellect, as you do about people who mock and blaspheme god, and who consider the bible to be a destructive influence on society. But you know what? If free speech is to mean anything, it means that I respect your right to preach your doctrines, and you respect my right to do my dead-level best to refute them, and to replace them with scientific fact.

Sincere Best Wishes to you.

8 months, 3 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://www.newrepublic.com/article/116478/bill-nye-ken-ham-debate-creationism-and-evolution-science-wins

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(I just tried to post, and got a "comment is too long" error, so I will post this in two pieces)


Hello Rick:

No need to apologize; you spoke frankly, and I appreciate that. In a world where we are constrained by fundamentalist neo-fascism from the right, and anally retentive political correctness from the left, it’s quite refreshing to hear someone state an honest opinion. You might possibly be interested in the book “God or Godless?: One Atheist. One Christian. Twenty Controversial Questions” by John Loftus (atheist) and Randal Rauser (christian). They are good friends, and yet state their points (and their rebuttals to the points of the other) quite vigorously. Science isn’t decided by debate, but if you're interested in debate, this is a fun, short read.

Briefly to your post:

1) I mentioned god on numerous occasions because I was responding to creationists who bring up god every time the question of evolution arises. In actual science, of course, the need to invoke god never arises; I think somewhere in this mass of verbiage I quoted Laplace, who stated, “Sir, I had no need of that hypothesis.”

2) As for the bible, I have tried to point out that it is just one among any ancient books of myth (not in the pejorative sense, but in the sense of “pre-scientific people with woefully inadequate intellectual apparatus attempting to do the best they could to try to explain the world around them”). It’s not that you can’t prove it; it’s that much of it is demonstrably false (the approximately 6,000 year age the bible ascribes to the earth, the Adam and Eve story, Noah’s flood, etc.), parts of it are clearly folklore, and much of it is theological, for which no reason or evidence is even offered. As I think I stated somewhere here, the value of the bible, as with that of other ancient books, is in showing us how the ancients thought. What is frustrating is christians who somehow assume that their ancient book is better than that of other peoples.

3) I am greatly interested in what is true, rather less in a packet of rhetorical tricks. Hence when alfakazum pounces on a colloquial usage of a term, or someone engages in an ad hominem (you haven’t, but some of your co-religionists most certainly have), or ignores what is said by his opponent and just repeats his sermonette, my response is, at the very most, “meh”. I say that to say this: you’ve just done this by attempting (and failing) to show that I'm using a fallacious appeal to authority, with a slightly overblown request to see *my* scientific findings. Well, I regret that most of what could have been the productive period of my life was destroyed by religion, and I never had the privilege to become a scientist, and thereby contribute to the sum of human knowledge (if anyone were interested, I could supply some mathematical proofs that I worked out on my own). But, you completely misunderstand—the “appeal to authority” is only a fallacy when the authority is illegitimate, or has no real authority. No one can know everything; we all appeal to *legitimate* authority every day—our doctor, our plumber, our tax-preparer. If I ask Angelina Jolie about life as a famous actress, what she has to say will be reliable; if I ask her for a political recommendation then, unless she has studied carefully the candidate or the issue, she knows no more about it than do you or I. Christians, however, forget this when it comes to science, and ignore or pooh-pooh professional scientists in favor of charlatans like Ken Ham, *because he says what they want to hear* (I do hope you are familiar with the concept of “confirmation bias”; it’s crucial). When Jerry Coyne or Francis Collins talk about evolutionary biology, or G. Brent Dalrymple talks about the age of the earth, they are legitimate authorities, with advanced degrees and many years of teaching and research behind them. They are the people we should be listening to *on those topics*.

8 months, 3 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://www.newrepublic.com/article/116478/bill-nye-ken-ham-debate-creationism-and-evolution-science-wins

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@alfakazum @markjoseph125@Gargamel Garbo  

And I'm finding it hard to take you seriously when you try to avoid answering a question by resorting to playing with terminology. Humans have 23 pairs of chromosomes. Lots of places you will see that written as 23; lots of places as 46. Everyone knows what is meant. For example, Matt Ridley's book is entitled "Genome: The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters". That's one chapter for each (pair of) chromosome(s).

Now, when are we going to get your creationist explanation of the chromosomal fusion that led us to have 23 chromosomes when chimps have 24? Or about the vitamin C pseudogene?

You didn't understand my point about Ken Ham's silly retort "Were you there?" Ham likes to make an illegitimate distinction between experimental science and historical science, and pretends that we can't know anything on historical grounds, because we weren't there, which is both ridiculous in its own right, as well as ignorant of the fact that far from being the best kind of evidence, eyewitness testimony is very nearly the worst (for documentation, see Elizabeth Loftus' book "Eyewitness Testimony"). So, when you said that you knew that Jesus' tomb was empty, I parodied Ham's response to any given historical claim. I don't have any trouble accepting historical evidence, and no, I don't doubt that Lincoln was shot. Nor do I doubt the overwhelming historical evidence for the fact of evolution.

8 months, 3 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://www.newrepublic.com/article/116478/bill-nye-ken-ham-debate-creationism-and-evolution-science-wins

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@alfakazum @markjoseph125@Gargamel Garbo  

Hercules was raised into the heavens by the gods. Osiris was resurrected. Mohammed flew up to heaven on his horse. Resurrections were a dime a dozen back then (which still made them more expensive than virgin births).

The claim stands in need of evidence. Or, as Ken Ham would ask, "How do you know this? Were you there?"

There are lots of books of ancient myths. You have chosen to take one literally, and to ignore the others.

As Christopher Hitchens so wisely said, "That which can be asserted without evidence, can be rejected without evidence." I do notice that the pro-creationist side in the this whole set of responses to Dr. Coyne's article have continually harped on (their own particular interpretation of) their own particular religion, without responding to the evidence in favor of evolution.


So, a question for you: How do you explain the broken vitamin C gene (also called the vitamin C pseudogene) in some apes and in humans? The evolutionary answer is obvious: the gene was broken at some time in the past among one group of apes, the group that later evolved into the current crop of apes (including ourselves) who have that broken gene. I can't think of any non-arbitrary creationist explanation, but I'm willing to listen. If that bores you, try instead to explain the fact that chimpanzees have 24 chromosomes, whereas we have 23, and that our chromosome number 2 looks like it arose from a fusion of two of the chimp's chromosomes.

8 months, 3 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://www.newrepublic.com/article/116478/bill-nye-ken-ham-debate-creationism-and-evolution-science-wins

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@aaron15722 @John Cipparrone@VeraNarishkin  

Yes, but only if it was a "legitimate" rape! (OK, I admit that was a bit snarky).

8 months, 3 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://www.newrepublic.com/article/116478/bill-nye-ken-ham-debate-creationism-and-evolution-science-wins

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@ChristopherBradley @John Cipparrone@aaron15722@VeraNarishkin  

The bible is filled with abhorrent stories like that--check out the prophet Elisha sending bears to kill children just because the children were mocking him (2 Kings 2.23-25), or god getting pissed at Saul because he wasn't thorough enough in carrying out the genocide that god had ordered him to (1 Samuel 15.1-26), or Paul's execration of the Jews (1 Thessalonians 2.13-16) which led directly to the two millennia-long persecution of the Jews in Europe. "Messed up" hits the nail on the head.

The only redeeming feature is that most christian don't read, and certainly don't follow, their holy book. But, they do love to say that we are atheists, and therefore we don't have any objective morality!

8 months, 3 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://www.newrepublic.com/article/116478/bill-nye-ken-ham-debate-creationism-and-evolution-science-wins

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@ChristopherBradley @VeraNarishkin@Gargamel Garbo@aaron15722  

And don't miss Stephen Jay Gould's essay "Hen's Teeth and Horse's Toes" in his volume of essays with the same title. Atavisms are easily explainable via evolution; not at all by creationism!

8 months, 3 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://www.newrepublic.com/article/116478/bill-nye-ken-ham-debate-creationism-and-evolution-science-wins

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@RickHays @markjoseph125@rustywheeler  

So good of you to notice--I  *am* mischievous! :-)

I ask for evidence, I point out logical errors, including ad hominem arguments, I ask uncomfortable questions, I refuse to accept arguments from authority, I don't let people shout me down, and above all, I don't show the deference to culturally-entrenched religion that has been expected of everyone for the last several thousand years.

I  (and my new friends, like Vera, Chris, John, active4ce, Gargamel, etc.) are like the black folk in the 50s who stood up against wrong ideas and the social evils that resulted from them. (I don't mean to imply that we have suffered for our thoughts to anything like the degree like those heroes did; it's just an analogy, not intended to line up at every point). And the most interesting thing is that in both cases it was the white christian conservatives who opposed the truth and the social progress that accompanied it!


In fact, that reminds me of a great book, Susan Jacoby's "Freethinkers," which documents how the struggles for abolition, women's sufferage, and civil rights were largely led by non-believers.

8 months, 3 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://www.newrepublic.com/article/116478/bill-nye-ken-ham-debate-creationism-and-evolution-science-wins

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@RichardHale1 @markjoseph125@VeraNarishkin

Evolution is a theory, in the scientic usage of the term "explanatory system", rather than the popular usage of "guess, idea, hunch."

It does not require faith to believe; rather, accepting it involves understanding the evidence adduced in its support, such as the fossil record, homology, comparative molecular biology, biogeography, etc. These are laid out nicely in Dr. Coyne's book, "Why Evolution is True," which I've recommended several times in this thread (which, after all, is a response to Dr. Coyne's article). Have you read this book yet.

Accepting evolution is like accepting any other scientific explanation; the appropriate response is to accept insofar as the evidence supports it.

As for it being unobservable, this is simply incorrect. The peppered moth is a well-known example; a whole book full of them can be found in "The Beak of the Finch" by Jonathan Weiner, or in any textbook on the subject. Large-scale evolution is seen in the fossil record; google, for example, the evolution of whales. Stephen Jay Gould's books of essays provide numerous examples; he was a professional paleontologist.

As for the Declaration of Independence, the statement there concerns a deist god, not a christian god, and in any case was written long before Darwin and has no bearing of the truth or falsity of a scientific theory.

I notice you keep repeating the same few sentences. Rather than doing so, might it not be a more profitable use of your time to learn what evolution actually teaches, and what the evidence is that supports it?

8 months, 3 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://www.newrepublic.com/article/116478/bill-nye-ken-ham-debate-creationism-and-evolution-science-wins

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@RichardHale1 @VeraNarishkin  

Vera explained nicely, in her reply to you, why her life is not pointless. You are simply mistaken to say that because someone does not believe in your god, that their life is pointless.

You don't believe in Allah. A Muslim would say that your life is pointless. How do you respond?


“I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.” (Stephen Roberts)


And, in case you are wondering about the point to my godless life, here it is, from Arthur C. Clarke:

In my life I have found two things of priceless worth—learning and loving. Nothing else—not fame, not power, not achievement for its own sake—can possibly have the same lasting value. For when your life is over, if you can say “I have learned” and “I have loved,” you will also be able to say “I have been happy.”

8 months, 3 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://www.newrepublic.com/article/116478/bill-nye-ken-ham-debate-creationism-and-evolution-science-wins

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@RickHays @markjoseph125@aaron15722@Gargamel Garbo  

Rick:

In my responses (with the exception of the last one, when your smug sanctimoniousness, pointed out by others as well as myself, just got to be too much), I've pointed out a number of logical fallacies, a number of bible verses which are, shall we say, inconvenient to those who would hold that the bible is the word of any god worth worshiping, as well as some verses that christians just never seem to get around to putting into practice; listed some good books for those who prefer to get their information about evolution from professional scientists rather than from journalists or preachers, and asked--numerous times--for the creationists to provide evidence for their claims. The fact that you see this as "hatred" indicates nothing more than that you engaging in what psychologists call "projection."

Now, by contrast your co-religionists have threatened me and the other science-loving, non-religious, peace-seeking ordinary people with hell. Who is filled with hatred?

The point of this thread is to discuss evolution vs. creationism. You have tried to hijack an important discussion by preaching. You quote bible verses, apparently forgetting that that is not how science is done. You make no effort to answer the criticisms of others--you just stick to your script. That may play well on Sunday morning, but I hope you can see why those of us who do not believe the myths that you believe are not impressed by what you have to say. We simply have not been provided any good reason to accept it. The fact that you believe something might be wonderful for you, but is meaningless for me. The converse, of course, is true as well.


However, when it comes to finding out what is true, evidence has the first, last, and only say in the matter. Or, as Philip K. Dick put it, "Reality is that which does not go away when you stop believing in it." I do suggest that you read Dr. Coyne's book "Why Evolution is True," for an accurate presentation of what evolution actually entails, as well as a concise summary of the evidence that shows it to be a well-founded scientific fact, much as the periodic table and the germ theory of disease are. Because willful ignorance is not a viable lifestyle.

8 months, 3 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://www.newrepublic.com/article/116478/bill-nye-ken-ham-debate-creationism-and-evolution-science-wins

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@aaron15722 @John Cipparrone@VeraNarishkin  

You  have made a lot of religious claims in the post to which I am responding--do you have any evidence to support any of them? I didn't think so.


You say you "just believe..." Not a problem; you are entitled to your own beliefs. What I do not understand is why you would expect, or even imagine, that anyone else would live their life in accordance with your psychological proclivities.


The evolution of morality is an interesting topic, and one I need to learn more about. I do know that some good books about it are "The Moral Landscape" by Sam Harris (which I have read; it is very good), "The Expanding Circle" by Peter Singer, "Moral Origins: The Evolution of Virtue, Altruism and Shame" by Christopher Boehm, and "Primates and Philosophers: How Morality Evolved" by Franz de Waal".

8 months, 3 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://www.newrepublic.com/article/116478/bill-nye-ken-ham-debate-creationism-and-evolution-science-wins

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@RickHays @aaron15722@Gargamel Garbo  

We're right! Everyone else is wrong! We alone know the truth! Scientists are liars! Other religions are of the devil! I alone am a humble preacher of the one true faith! Don't bother me with facts, my mind is made up! We are so few, not because our ideas are insane, but because others don't understand the truth! Anyone who does not believe exactly as we do and does not interpret the book that we choose to regard as holy (out of the all the possibilities) is not a True Believer™. Kill them all!

8 months, 3 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://www.newrepublic.com/article/116478/bill-nye-ken-ham-debate-creationism-and-evolution-science-wins

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@alfakazum @Gargamel Garbo  

You are not asking the right question. Since, as you put it, "Don't so much ask why God kills, he does it because he is sovereign over everything," the question you ought to be asking is, "why am I kowtowing to this mass-murdering dictator instead of resisting, as have all the morally praiseworthy people we know of? Do we respect the people who resisted Stalin? Or those who went along?

Now, you're going to say that it says in the bible that god did this and that, and it says this and that about him. The koran does the same for Allah. Why aren't you following him? In other words, come up with an argument for why your religion is the right one, while the other guy's is the wrong one, without making any disproven claims, or simply resorting to special pleading.


I'm also interested in what answer you are going to make to Gargamel Garbo's question below, Dahmer on the anonymous good samaritan.

8 months, 3 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://www.newrepublic.com/article/116478/bill-nye-ken-ham-debate-creationism-and-evolution-science-wins

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@RichardHale1 @VeraNarishkin  

You are using emotional language to disguise the feebleness of your argument. Evolution (if it were taught at all) is taught as the scientific fact that it is; the evidence is available for all to study (have you read Dr. Coyne's book, "Why Evolution is True"?).


Or are you going to complain that the schools are shoving geocentrism, the periodic table, the germ theory of disease, photosynthesis, and Newton's Laws of Motion down the children's throats as well?


Your last statement is simply wrong; read the constitution. We have rights because the law of the land accords them to us; not because of any god; certainly not because of your particular god. Furthermore, christians have always believed that men were created in the image of god, yet that did not stop them from killing others who disagreed with them about even minor doctrinal points, to say nothing of Jews and Muslims, or of enslaving them. So, your argument fails in both directions.

8 months, 3 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://www.newrepublic.com/article/116478/bill-nye-ken-ham-debate-creationism-and-evolution-science-wins

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@VeraNarishkin @RickHays  

Vera, you nailed it. When scientists disagree, they devise an experiment to find out what the truth is, and by comparing their ideas to reality, know what to accept.

By contrast, there is no way to compare religious claims to reality, and hence no way to adjudicate between any competing religious claims, which is why these differences have always been settled by religious wars, inquisitions, pogroms, excommunications, jihads, fatwas, etc.

Interesting  thought experiment: ask a black man whether he'd rather live in the American South in the 1930s (when nearly everyone was a christian) or today (when there are a fair number of secularists there). Ditto for a Jew in Germany in the 1930s (when, again, almost all of the population was christian), or now (when most of the people are secular). Interesting!

8 months, 3 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://www.newrepublic.com/article/116478/bill-nye-ken-ham-debate-creationism-and-evolution-science-wins

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@RickHays @markjoseph125@benzim@RichardHale1

I, too, am of Jewish descent.


Please do not tell me how humble you are. First, it's a self-contradictory statement. Second, it's loathsomely sanctimonious. Third, I notice that christians of whatever stripe seem to find a lot more verses in the bible to apply to others than to themselves; I've tried to point out a few. Luke 14.33 just happens to be a convenient shorthand. Fourth, look at what has happened *every single time* that christians have had enough power in order to be able to stifle dissent. Inquisition anyone?


I was pointing out the No True Christian fallacy. I was not judging you, though I admit that I did not make clear that the "you" in the sentence beginning "You think..." was intended to be plural, and directed to all the fat, happy christians who are doing their dead-level best to destroy science education in this country.


And, too late, you already sunk to my level by responding! Hey, it's fun down here in the primordial ooze.

8 months, 3 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://www.newrepublic.com/article/116478/bill-nye-ken-ham-debate-creationism-and-evolution-science-wins

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@mthorn  

You also need to work on your comprehension; you would have been right if I had said "religion doesn't know nothing." But I actually said "religion doesn't know anything," which is equivalent to "religion knows nothing."

8 months, 3 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://www.newrepublic.com/article/116478/bill-nye-ken-ham-debate-creationism-and-evolution-science-wins

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@mthorn  

I knew you were going to use that silly "definition" of the word assume. Please, don't substitute slogans, jokes and anecdotes for thinking.


If you would be so kind as to read what I wrote to you, you will see that I mentioned that assumptions can (and should be) tested to see if they are valid. That is what science does all the time, and why its teachings change; it is also what religion *never* does. For example, you are not questioning the religion that you were taught. Remember the whole key point in the debate, the question "What would make you change your mind?" Nye said "evidence". Ham said "nothing" (in other words, "don't bother me with the facts, my mind is made up"). Nothing could better demonstrate the difference between those two ways of trying to understand reality.



Now please, go and read Dr. Coyne's book "Why Evolution is True." Read it carefully and critically. Ask "has he supported with evidence the statements that he is making?" Even if you don't end up accepting the fact of evolution, you will at least have an accurate idea of what it involves.

8 months, 3 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://www.newrepublic.com/article/116478/bill-nye-ken-ham-debate-creationism-and-evolution-science-wins

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@mthorn  

It is impossible to even start thinking without assumptions. However, that does not mean that thinking is worthless, or that science is wrong and that religion (which one?) is right. The reason for this is that it is possible to check the validity of the assumptions, to look for evidence and see if the different strands of evidence corroborate each other. In fact, that is the basic proof (in the scientific sense of the term) that evolution happened--the interlocking nature of the evidence from comparative anatomy, paleontology, and molecular biology (please read Dr. Coyne's book, "Why Evolution is True" so that you can at least know what it is that you think you should not accept; otherwise you're merely constructing a straw man). Evolution is a fact, and the fact that scientists have lively debates about the details of how it has unfolded does not give ignorant preachers the right to try to fool you into believing their particular interpretation of one of many possible religions.


Remember this: Science does not know everything, but religion does not know anything.

8 months, 3 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://www.newrepublic.com/article/116478/bill-nye-ken-ham-debate-creationism-and-evolution-science-wins

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