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Reciprocating Bill



Posts: 4238
Joined: Oct. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: April 28 2011,18:27   

My thoughts on topics in this neighborhood, posted here a few years ago:

In contemplating the recent shouting match between "evangelical" and "Neville Chamberlain" atheists that has raged across the blogosphere, I wonder if an element of humility is not in order.

From where I sit, the most crucial drivers behind questions of religious belief pertain not to origins, but rather to the severe human dilemma presented by the inevitability of one’s personal death. Although I happen to believe that oblivion will follow my own death, and indeed all deaths, I would be lying if I denied sometimes bolting upright in the middle of the night with the full realization of that reality, accompanied by a very cold fear. Although this quickly passes, and indeed I cannot reproduce this feeling at will (psychological denial and intellectualization quickly reassert themselves, I suppose), it seems clear that this is really the central human dilemma.

In view of that, I have enormous sympathy for those who cope with the specter of death by, in essence, denying its reality and positing an afterlife. In particular, having children and finding myself unable to even contemplate loosing one of them, I cannot fault those who have responded to such an unbearable grief by resorting to the comforting notion that death is not real. Probably one of the most severe costs that accompany what I perhaps vainly fancy to be my intellectual honesty is that such comforts will not be available to me should I be faced with a similar losses. Part of me is sympathetic to whatever cover an individual wishes to take in the face of those realities.

A second point vis humility pertains more directly to questions of science and religion. I recall reading – I think that it was in Timothy Ferris’ “The Whole Shebang” - a description of some of the implications of inflationary models of the origins of the universe. Ferris invited the reader to imagine the observable universe – that volume of the universe from which light (and hence any causation) will have had time to travel since the big bang - as a sphere with a radius of 13.9 billion light years. Ferris asserted that, if inflationary models prove correct, that volume stands in proportion to the actual volume of the universe as the area of a silver dollar stands in relation to the area of the surface of the earth (I hope I am properly recalling this – I don’t have a copy handy). That, frankly, blows my mind. Undoubtedly, even if this proves to be inaccurate, the realities that do emerge from cosmology will be equally mind-blowing.

My personal response to facts like these is one of awe and humility. Although we have mathematics based upon powers of ten with which to calculate on such scales, I find that it is not really even remotely possible to directly imagine the reality that such facts denote. Speaking for myself, I feel my level of comprehension of such things stands in relation to these facts much as an ocean going larva stands in relation to the Pacific ocean itself. Indeed, the universe being disclosed by contemporary science (and here I most emphatically include evolutionary biology) is so vastly larger and richer than any pre-modern view of any deity that I would argue that the concept of “God” is best properly viewed as an historical placeholder for these larger, vastly more rich realities, a placeholder that we could only just now have discarded. If some people are not quite ready for that, I understand completely.

What we don’t find in this contemporary view, however, is a larger agency that resembles human agency, nor refuge from death. That’s the tradeoff. I am an atheist in that sense: I don’t believe in life after death, and I don’t believe that something resembling the human capacity for intentionality and design underlies this particular shebang. I am sympathetic to those who believe that it does, but happen to believe that they are mistaken. I wouldn’t presume to steal that belief from them, however.

All that said, the battle over science classrooms at the K-12 level is over for now, and it had the right outcome. The battle was won at Doverloo. That was my primary concern.

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Myth: Something that never was true, and always will be.

"The truth will set you free. But not until it is finished with you."
- David Foster Wallace

"Here’s a clue. Snarky banalities are not a substitute for saying something intelligent. Write that down."
- Barry Arrington

  
Richardthughes



Posts: 10094
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: April 28 2011,18:39   



--------------
"Richardthughes, you magnificent bastard, I stand in awe of you..." : Arden Chatfield
"You magnificent bastard! " : Louis
"ATBC poster child", "I have to agree with Rich.." : DaveTard
"I bow to your superior skills" : deadman_932
"...it was Richardthughes making me lie in bed.." : Kristine

  
MichaelJ



Posts: 455
Joined: June 2009

(Permalink) Posted: April 28 2011,19:14   

Quote (midwifetoad @ April 29 2011,09:06)
Quote
The main question is: should NCSE or BCSE endorse religious views and diss out prominent atheists just so they can reach their goal? Where's the neutrality?


Disrespect goes in both directions. I think Dawkins is a respectful writer, but PZ is quite abrasive.

As I wrote in another thread, I think that for some kinds of people abrasive works.

  
Kristine



Posts: 3037
Joined: Sep. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: April 28 2011,19:19   

Quote (midwifetoad @ April 28 2011,18:06)
       
Quote
The main question is: should NCSE or BCSE endorse religious views and diss out prominent atheists just so they can reach their goal? Where's the neutrality?


Disrespect goes in both directions. I think Dawkins is a respectful writer, but PZ is quite abrasive.

I have been as abrasive as he has been, I will admit - but guess who just had a run-in with a street preacher's partner? :) When Yours Truly griped that this kid has been shrieking on the mall for three days (and no kidding, I could hear him two blocks away), his partner replied, "Well he has to keep preaching, because there's at least one unsaved soul on this street!" and pointed at me!  :p

Such tolerance and respect. Anyway -

Since I last posted, I have seen the honesty issue come up in several articles, including a post by PZ. I don't mean to imply that all creationists are dishonest, but isn't intellectual honesty - in terms of transparency, resisting logical fallacies, and not using disproven canards - the real weapon to use, rather than niceness? Scientists are not necessarily nice to each other, after all - and as the daughter of a church secretary I can tell you that believers many times are not!

People don't like facts that contradict their beliefs - this is universal (I don't like them, either!;) - but I do think that people respect those who say something and mean it. Dembski himself has admitted that he admires "strong atheists" more than the sweetness people. Maybe that is the most we can hope for, but I do not think that advocates of science should start down the path of saying this to this audience, and that to that audience, as IDists do, simply in order to win converts.

As Recip Bill says, people are terrified of death - let's talk about that then, and how creationism establishes a template by which one can, if one believes Christian theology, inherit eternal life. Well and good - I'd love to live forever, and I don't always believe atheists when they say that they don't need anything more than the universe. Come on. Being discontent, and fearing death, are natural consequences of consciousness, not just religion.

Of course I honestly cannot say that I "know" that death is oblivion, but I have told believers this: if there is an afterlife, it will, like evolution, happen whether we believe in it or not. But if this afterlife is only granted to me because I love the right god in the right way, well, I am sorry - I cannot "love" any deity that I fear. Threats can scare me, but they only make me resentful. I don't agree with Coyne that if a 900-foot Jesus appeared tomorrow that I would drop to my knees with hosannas. Even if God created me he does not live my life, and has no right, once I exist, to command my heart and my love. No one can do that.

I think this hanging on to some primitive image of He-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed has consequences for our democracy. Religious or not, such black-and-white thinking and appeal to authority is incompatible with, say, an election. Being that creationism seems to be a particularly (but not exclusively) American foible, I find this most troubling. This goes even beyond science education, or atheism, for me, and right to the question of how we are to live.

Ken Miller (or was it Michael Shermer?) in one of his books describes a scene that has haunted me since I read it. He (Ken or Michael) debated a creationist and then ate dinner with him, and asked the creationist, point blank, how he could possibly say the things that he had argued that night. Ken/Michael expected a smile and a wink, but got a pained look, and the assertion that "Though we don't have the evidence for creation today, we will have it someday." Such utopianist thinking is revealing, and it explains much, and it does touch me. I did feel sorrow for this creationist who was so honest, finally, in saying that there was no evidence and that he was horrified by this fact. I remember reading about the development of the solar system and being horrified, too, that it did not mirror Genesis! (I was really, really young.)

I do get concerned by Dawkins' "evolution is wonderful, life without God is wonderful" talk. Eeverything has a dark side, and evolution certainly does (Booby chicks pushed out of nests, penguins going crazy and running to certain death, Trilobites going extinct, etc.). Therefore, I don't know how to be nice about evolution. I don't know how to make it palatable to even atheists, let alone believers, when it makes me cringe at time. All I know is that people tend to be more impressed by those who unequivocally state their convictions, even if they disagree, than by those who window-dress and chew the audience's meat for them. It is the latter that I see the NCSE doing, and I think it is a mistake.

On teaching evolution in schools, atheists and believers should stand united. On religion, let us all be honest. I think that the debate as to how a believer can reconcile science and religion may, handled correctly, pull in more believers toward theistic evolutionism.

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Which came first: the shimmy, or the hip?

AtBC Poet Laureate

"I happen to think that this prerequisite criterion of empirical evidence is itself not empirical." - Clive

"Damn you. This means a trip to the library. Again." -- fnxtr

  
khan



Posts: 1479
Joined: May 2007

(Permalink) Posted: April 28 2011,19:54   

Quote (MichaelJ @ April 28 2011,20:14)
Quote (midwifetoad @ April 29 2011,09:06)
Quote
The main question is: should NCSE or BCSE endorse religious views and diss out prominent atheists just so they can reach their goal? Where's the neutrality?


Disrespect goes in both directions. I think Dawkins is a respectful writer, but PZ is quite abrasive.

As I wrote in another thread, I think that for some kinds of people abrasive works.

I speak for no one but myself.

I favor abrasive.

But then I am female & childfree along with godless...

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"It's as if all those words, in their hurry to escape from the loony, have fallen over each other, forming scrambled heaps of meaninglessness." -damitall

That's so fucking stupid it merits a wing in the museum of stupid. -midwifetoad

  
OgreMkV



Posts: 3283
Joined: Oct. 2009

(Permalink) Posted: April 28 2011,20:13   

Abrasive is fine.  In the proper place.  Abrasive all the time is just being a jerk.

Besides, you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.

Some flies you will never catch, be abrasive all you want.

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Ignored by those who can't provide evidence for their claims.

http://skepticink.com/smilodo....retreat

   
Sealawr



Posts: 54
Joined: Feb. 2008

(Permalink) Posted: April 28 2011,20:30   

Born, raised still consider myself catholic though slouching towards atheism.

Good science is good science.  That's all I care about.  That's all I want my kids taught in science class.  I don't care about the tone of those who object to creationism and all its pomp and circumstances.  I'll stand next to PZ and say "go get'em!"

I'll talke no personal offense at any "militant" "strident" or any other kind of atheist for two reasons.  First, they could be right.  Second, a lot of my co-religionists talk out of their asses and have no idea what they are talking about and deserve to be mocked and ridiculed.

I personally think that scicence and religion are not 100% compatible.  But there are degrees of incompatibility.   YEC is a load of crap and is comepltely incompatible.  Soft theisic evolutionists who accept evolution and somehow have done internal gymnastics to reconcile that with religion are a lot less incompatible.  A few kind and understanding words in their direction like so:

 
Quote
On teaching evolution in schools, atheists and believers should stand united. On religion, let us all be honest. I think that the debate as to how a believer can reconcile science and religion may, handled correctly, pull in more believers toward theistic evolutionism.


and this

 
Quote
I have enormous sympathy for those who cope with the specter of death by, in essence, denying its reality and positing an afterlife.


may swell the ranks of the agnostics.  There's no compromise or any suggestion of accomodation in either quoted statemment.  Just a firm statement of atheism and a bit of empathy.

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DS: "The explantory filter is as robust as the data that is used with it."
David Klinghoffer: ""I'm an IDiot"

  
Erasmus, FCD



Posts: 6349
Joined: June 2007

(Permalink) Posted: April 28 2011,20:48   

Quote (khan @ April 28 2011,20:54)
Quote (MichaelJ @ April 28 2011,20:14)
Quote (midwifetoad @ April 29 2011,09:06)
 
Quote
The main question is: should NCSE or BCSE endorse religious views and diss out prominent atheists just so they can reach their goal? Where's the neutrality?


Disrespect goes in both directions. I think Dawkins is a respectful writer, but PZ is quite abrasive.

As I wrote in another thread, I think that for some kinds of people abrasive works.

I speak for no one but myself.

I favor abrasive.

But then I am female & childfree along with godless...

and that's why I love you!

ps i fully expected you to reply to crazy old cat ladies lol

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You're obviously illiterate as hell. Peach, bro.-FtK

Finding something hard to believe based on the evidence, is science.-JoeG

the odds of getting some loathsome taint are low-- Gordon E Mullings Manjack Heights Montserrat

I work on molecular systems with pathway charts and such.-Giggles

  
Kristine



Posts: 3037
Joined: Sep. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: April 28 2011,20:49   

Quote (khan @ April 28 2011,19:54)
Quote (MichaelJ @ April 28 2011,20:14)
Quote (midwifetoad @ April 29 2011,09:06)
 
Quote
The main question is: should NCSE or BCSE endorse religious views and diss out prominent atheists just so they can reach their goal? Where's the neutrality?


Disrespect goes in both directions. I think Dawkins is a respectful writer, but PZ is quite abrasive.

As I wrote in another thread, I think that for some kinds of people abrasive works.

I speak for no one but myself.

I favor abrasive.

But then I am female & childfree along with godless...

Psst - also female and childfree...

--------------
Which came first: the shimmy, or the hip?

AtBC Poet Laureate

"I happen to think that this prerequisite criterion of empirical evidence is itself not empirical." - Clive

"Damn you. This means a trip to the library. Again." -- fnxtr

  
Seversky



Posts: 413
Joined: June 2010

(Permalink) Posted: April 28 2011,21:00   

I remember reading a story about the Union General Philip Sheridan meeting with some Indian chiefs some time after the Civil War was over.  One of them introduced himself saying, "Me only good Injun is a dead Injun".  I get the feeling that the Gnu Model Atheists are Sheridanites in that they believe the only good religion is a dead religion.Toch-a-way, me good Indian".  Sheridan somewhat ungraciously replied "The only good Indians I ever saw were dead".  This became corrupted over time into the better-known form of "The

I have no problem with atheists exposing the absurdities of religious beliefs or excoriating the hypocrisy of those who proclaim a faith but apparently believe they are exempt from living up to its highest ideals or attacking the shoddy political machinations and scary ambitions of the more extreme right-wing elements of the religious community.  But when you have someone like PZ calling into question the integrity of an eminent fellow scientist like Martin Rees simply because he accepted a Templeton Prize then we are moving towards McCarthyite territory.

It's the same with these demands that the NCSE be neutral.  How do you measure neutrality?  What are you going to do to ensure the neutrality of NCSE staff, summon them to appear before hearings to find out where their true sympathies lie?

"Answer the question!  Have you at any time knowingly sat in the same room as a person of faith?"

'I may have."

"Accommodationist!!"

More seriously, I can only endorse what both Reciprocating Bill and Kristine have written.  As far as I am concerned we are a bunch of clever apes that got lucky.  We live on a flyspeck of a planet adrift in a largely hostile universe of unimaginable vastness.  One half-way decent comet or asteroid or maybe a wandering black hole and it will be as if we never existed.  The universe will continue for who knows how many years but unobserved and uncounted by us.  Faced with that appallingly bleak prospect it's small wonder some people turn and cling to religion.  Yes, I think that on balance they are wrong but the fact is we are all stuck in the same boat so we should do the best we can to get along with each other.

  
Seversky



Posts: 413
Joined: June 2010

(Permalink) Posted: April 28 2011,21:07   

What on Earth happened to that first paragraph?

Sorry, that should have read:

"I remember reading a story about the Union General Philip Sheridan meeting with some Indian chiefs some time after the Civil War was over.  One of them introduced himself saying, "Me Toch-a-way, me good Indian".  Sheridan somewhat ungraciously replied "The only good Indians I ever saw were dead".  This became corrupted over time into the better-known form of "The only good Injun is a dead Injun". I get the feeling that the Gnu Model Atheists are Sheridanites in that they believe the only good religion is a dead religion."

  
Wolfhound



Posts: 468
Joined: June 2008

(Permalink) Posted: April 28 2011,21:33   

Quote (Kristine @ April 28 2011,21:49)
Quote (khan @ April 28 2011,19:54)
Quote (MichaelJ @ April 28 2011,20:14)
 
Quote (midwifetoad @ April 29 2011,09:06)
 
Quote
The main question is: should NCSE or BCSE endorse religious views and diss out prominent atheists just so they can reach their goal? Where's the neutrality?


Disrespect goes in both directions. I think Dawkins is a respectful writer, but PZ is quite abrasive.

As I wrote in another thread, I think that for some kinds of people abrasive works.

I speak for no one but myself.

I favor abrasive.

But then I am female & childfree along with godless...

Psst - also female and childfree...

Make that three of us!

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I've found my personality to be an effective form of birth control.

  
Richardthughes



Posts: 10094
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: April 28 2011,21:47   

Quote (Wolfhound @ April 28 2011,21:33)
Quote (Kristine @ April 28 2011,21:49)
 
Quote (khan @ April 28 2011,19:54)
 
Quote (MichaelJ @ April 28 2011,20:14)
   
Quote (midwifetoad @ April 29 2011,09:06)
   
Quote
The main question is: should NCSE or BCSE endorse religious views and diss out prominent atheists just so they can reach their goal? Where's the neutrality?


Disrespect goes in both directions. I think Dawkins is a respectful writer, but PZ is quite abrasive.

As I wrote in another thread, I think that for some kinds of people abrasive works.

I speak for no one but myself.

I favor abrasive.

But then I am female & childfree along with godless...

Psst - also female and childfree...

Make that three of us!

4 If you count Carlson on the weekends..



Edited by Lou FCD on April 29 2011,17:24

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"Richardthughes, you magnificent bastard, I stand in awe of you..." : Arden Chatfield
"You magnificent bastard! " : Louis
"ATBC poster child", "I have to agree with Rich.." : DaveTard
"I bow to your superior skills" : deadman_932
"...it was Richardthughes making me lie in bed.." : Kristine

  
noncarborundum



Posts: 320
Joined: Jan. 2009

(Permalink) Posted: April 28 2011,21:49   

Quote (midwifetoad @ April 28 2011,18:06)
Quote
The main question is: should NCSE or BCSE endorse religious views and diss out prominent atheists just so they can reach their goal? Where's the neutrality?


Disrespect goes in both directions. I think Dawkins is a respectful writer, but PZ is quite abrasive.

And yet as far as I can tell Dawkins gets called "militant" and "abrasive" nearly as often as Myers does.  This has to tell us something.

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"The . . . um . . . okay, I was genetically selected for blue eyes.  I know there are brown eyes, because I've observed them, but I can't do it.  Okay?  So . . . um . . . coz that's real genetic selection, not the nonsense Giberson and the others are talking about." - DO'L

  
Schroedinger's Dog



Posts: 1691
Joined: Jan. 2009

(Permalink) Posted: April 29 2011,07:48   

Sorry for not participating today, but I have the most shocking hangover.

I'll get back to those great posts when I'm better/dead...


ETA: The whole mess is getting better and better...

ETAA: The website linked above is full of lulz!

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"Hail is made out of water? Are you really that stupid?" Joe G

"I have a better suggestion, Kris. How about a game of hide and go fuck yourself instead." Louis

"The reason people use a crucifix against vampires is that vampires are allergic to bullshit" Richard Pryor

   
Seversky



Posts: 413
Joined: June 2010

(Permalink) Posted: April 29 2011,07:55   

Quote (noncarborundum @ April 28 2011,21:49)
Quote (midwifetoad @ April 28 2011,18:06)
 
Quote
The main question is: should NCSE or BCSE endorse religious views and diss out prominent atheists just so they can reach their goal? Where's the neutrality?


Disrespect goes in both directions. I think Dawkins is a respectful writer, but PZ is quite abrasive.

And yet as far as I can tell Dawkins gets called "militant" and "abrasive" nearly as often as Myers does.  This has to tell us something.

They're creating the right impression - at least from their point of view?

  
Seversky



Posts: 413
Joined: June 2010

(Permalink) Posted: April 29 2011,08:06   

Quote (Schroedinger's Dog @ April 28 2011,14:15)
The main question is: should NCSE or BCSE endorse religious views and diss out prominent atheists just so they can reach their goal? Where's the neutrality?

The other main question is should the NCSE be dissing ordinary believers just to prove themselves Gnus-worthy?  Does everyone have to prove their atheist credentials to avoid being accused of being Chamberlainite or accommodationist or of cozying up to religion?

  
OgreMkV



Posts: 3283
Joined: Oct. 2009

(Permalink) Posted: April 29 2011,08:48   

Quote (Seversky @ April 29 2011,08:06)
Quote (Schroedinger's Dog @ April 28 2011,14:15)
The main question is: should NCSE or BCSE endorse religious views and diss out prominent atheists just so they can reach their goal? Where's the neutrality?

The other main question is should the NCSE be dissing ordinary believers just to prove themselves Gnus-worthy?  Does everyone have to prove their atheist credentials to avoid being accused of being Chamberlainite or accommodationist or of cozying up to religion?

I think that's kind of the point of the whole discussion.

PZ et. al. may be demanding 'YES!' while the CSEs and others are saying 'NO!'

The middle is probably the best ground in terms of being reasonable, but it's also the place most likely to get one run over in the coming conflict.

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Ignored by those who can't provide evidence for their claims.

http://skepticink.com/smilodo....retreat

   
Wolfhound



Posts: 468
Joined: June 2008

(Permalink) Posted: April 29 2011,09:37   

Quote (Richardthughes @ April 28 2011,22:47)
Quote (Wolfhound @ April 28 2011,21:33)
Quote (Kristine @ April 28 2011,21:49)
 
Quote (khan @ April 28 2011,19:54)
 
Quote (MichaelJ @ April 28 2011,20:14)
   
Quote (midwifetoad @ April 29 2011,09:06)
   
Quote
The main question is: should NCSE or BCSE endorse religious views and diss out prominent atheists just so they can reach their goal? Where's the neutrality?


Disrespect goes in both directions. I think Dawkins is a respectful writer, but PZ is quite abrasive.

As I wrote in another thread, I think that for some kinds of people abrasive works.

I speak for no one but myself.

I favor abrasive.

But then I am female & childfree along with godless...

Psst - also female and childfree...

Make that three of us!

4 If you count Carlson on the weekends..

POTW!!

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I've found my personality to be an effective form of birth control.

  
carlsonjok



Posts: 3324
Joined: May 2006

(Permalink) Posted: April 29 2011,09:55   

Quote (Richardthughes @ April 28 2011,21:47)
Quote (Wolfhound @ April 28 2011,21:33)
 
Quote (Kristine @ April 28 2011,21:49)
 
Quote (khan @ April 28 2011,19:54)

But then I am female & childfree along with godless...

Psst - also female and childfree...

Make that three of us!

4 If you count Carlson on the weekends..



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It's natural to be curious about our world, but the scientific method is just one theory about how to best understand it.  We live in a democracy, which means we should treat every theory equally. - Steven Colbert, I Am America (and So Can You!)

  
Badger3k



Posts: 861
Joined: Mar. 2008

(Permalink) Posted: April 29 2011,11:06   

Quote (OgreMkV @ April 29 2011,08:48)
Quote (Seversky @ April 29 2011,08:06)
Quote (Schroedinger's Dog @ April 28 2011,14:15)
The main question is: should NCSE or BCSE endorse religious views and diss out prominent atheists just so they can reach their goal? Where's the neutrality?

The other main question is should the NCSE be dissing ordinary believers just to prove themselves Gnus-worthy?  Does everyone have to prove their atheist credentials to avoid being accused of being Chamberlainite or accommodationist or of cozying up to religion?

I think that's kind of the point of the whole discussion.

PZ et. al. may be demanding 'YES!' while the CSEs and others are saying 'NO!'

The middle is probably the best ground in terms of being reasonable, but it's also the place most likely to get one run over in the coming conflict.

That's not the point at all.  

The science organizations should not be telling anyone what theology is correct or incorrect.  All they need to do, as someone suggested here, I think - there's been so much said recently, is say "many religious people have no conflict between evolution and their faith".  That's it.  Don't do like both organizations and say "This particular interpretation of your beliefs is the correct one since it allows you to believe both your religion and evolution."  Maybe they are trying to be helpful, but they are specifically promoting one sect over another (and even one particular religion over others since they leave out quite a few religions from their statements).  

Adding in extra bits, like that tripe from the BCSE, is completely unnecessary.  When asked about such an issue by my students (which is extremely rare, oddly enough for Texas), I tell them that some people believe this, some believe that, look into the issue, look at the evidence, listen to the arguments, and use critical thinking to make up your own mind.  In trying to persuade religious believers to their rather limited cause, they are taking sides in the theology dispute.   What's worse is if the person saying this doesn't believe it themselves.  A bit hypocritical, don't you think:  "Well, I don't buy this at all, but since you do, I'll tell you this to help you keep your beliefs, just support me on this one issue."

Why not encourage them to think critically in the first place instead?  Why not help them change the tire instead of throwing a leaky patch on it?  Expediency?  The first is too hard and has no guarantee that it won't hold?  That they might attack you for trying to change the tire?

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"Just think if every species had a different genetic code We would have to eat other humans to survive.." : Joe G

  
OgreMkV



Posts: 3283
Joined: Oct. 2009

(Permalink) Posted: April 29 2011,11:11   

Aren't we all just a big tent?





I honestly don't know if that was a Poe or not...

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Ignored by those who can't provide evidence for their claims.

http://skepticink.com/smilodo....retreat

   
Kristine



Posts: 3037
Joined: Sep. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: April 29 2011,11:21   

In the midst of all this, I have gotten back into writing fiction (because it's been so lucrative for me, right? Blarg). ;)

It involves (making a long story short) some of our ancestors not going extinct but evolving along a parallel path with us, developing many of our abilities in communication and civilization, but aware of us while we are not aware of them. (Actually, Homo habilis splits into at least two different species, one developing as mentioned above, and the other continuing on their nomadic, semi-verbal way.) So we have the further development of Homo habilis and Homo erectus and Australopithecus afarensis running around.

They are different species, have different physical characteristics and cultures and values, and are aware of their evolution, and of the fact that we think that we are the sole human species left - and that some of us deny our evolution and thus their humanity.

The meet-up with humans, particularly creationist humans, is a part of the novel that I have not written yet. But in creating a pretend world in which different species of humans have to cooperate is the step that I have chosen to take in addressing the concerns of believers reconciling evolution and religion. Making people care about characters, and giving voices to our ancestors, rather than quibbling about how someone can accept common descent while still taking communion, is what I have decided that I can try to do.

--------------
Which came first: the shimmy, or the hip?

AtBC Poet Laureate

"I happen to think that this prerequisite criterion of empirical evidence is itself not empirical." - Clive

"Damn you. This means a trip to the library. Again." -- fnxtr

  
Lou FCD



Posts: 5377
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: April 29 2011,16:16   

Quote (OgreMkV @ April 28 2011,21:13)
Besides, you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.

You catch more flies with shit than with honey.

Just sayin'.

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Lou FCD is still in school, so we should only count him as a baby biologist. -carlsonjok -deprecated
I think I might love you. Don't tell Deadman -Wolfhound

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Lou FCD



Posts: 5377
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: April 29 2011,16:38   

Quote (OgreMkV @ April 29 2011,09:48)
     
Quote (Seversky @ April 29 2011,08:06)
     
Quote (Schroedinger's Dog @ April 28 2011,14:15)
The main question is: should NCSE or BCSE endorse religious views and diss out prominent atheists just so they can reach their goal? Where's the neutrality?

The other main question is should the NCSE be dissing ordinary believers just to prove themselves Gnus-worthy?  Does everyone have to prove their atheist credentials to avoid being accused of being Chamberlainite or accommodationist or of cozying up to religion?

I think that's kind of the point of the whole discussion.

PZ et. al. may be demanding 'YES!' [snip]

um, yeah...stop there a moment, please.

Nobody, but nobody is arguing this at all.

This is what's being said by many Gnus:

 
Quote (Badger3k @ April 29 2011,12:06)
That's not the point at all.  

The science organizations should not be telling anyone what theology is correct or incorrect.  All they need to do, as someone suggested here, I think - there's been so much said recently, is say "many religious people have no conflict between evolution and their faith".  That's it.  


and the rest are suggesting that all the CSEs should say about religion is this:

Quote (NCSE and BCSE @ about religion,ever)




--------------
Lou FCD is still in school, so we should only count him as a baby biologist. -carlsonjok -deprecated
I think I might love you. Don't tell Deadman -Wolfhound

Work-friendly photography
NSFW photography

   
Seversky



Posts: 413
Joined: June 2010

(Permalink) Posted: April 30 2011,19:57   

Quote (Lou FCD @ April 29 2011,16:38)
     
Quote (OgreMkV @ April 29 2011,09:48)
           
Quote (Seversky @ April 29 2011,08:06)
             
Quote (Schroedinger's Dog @ April 28 2011,14:15)
The main question is: should NCSE or BCSE endorse religious views and diss out prominent atheists just so they can reach their goal? Where's the neutrality?

The other main question is should the NCSE be dissing ordinary believers just to prove themselves Gnus-worthy?  Does everyone have to prove their atheist credentials to avoid being accused of being Chamberlainite or accommodationist or of cozying up to religion?

I think that's kind of the point of the whole discussion.

PZ et. al. may be demanding 'YES!' [snip]

um, yeah...stop there a moment, please.

Nobody, but nobody is arguing this at all.

This is what's being said by many Gnus:

       
Quote (Badger3k @ April 29 2011,12:06)
That's not the point at all.  

The science organizations should not be telling anyone what theology is correct or incorrect.  All they need to do, as someone suggested here, I think - there's been so much said recently, is say "many religious people have no conflict between evolution and their faith".  That's it.  


and the rest are suggesting that all the CSEs should say about religion is this:

       
Quote (NCSE and BCSE @ about religion,ever)



The role of the NCSE is to promote accurate science education and defend its integrity from religious interests that would, in effect, 'bowdlerize' it into a form that would be theologically inoffensive.  To expect such a group to say absolutely nothing about religion in the circumstances is, I submit, simply unrealistic.  

Back on March 9 2010 on Sandwalk Larry Moran quoted the following passage from an article on the NCSE website by Peter Hess:

     
Quote
Of course, religious claims that are empirically testable can come into conflict with scientific theories. For instance, young-earth creationists argue that the universe was created several thousand years ago, that all the lineages of living creatures on Earth were created in their present form (at least up to the poorly-defined level of "kind") shortly thereafter, and that these claims are supported by empirical evidence, such as the fossil record and observed stellar physics. These fact claims are clearly contradicted by mainstream paleontology, cosmology, geology and biogeography. However, the theological aspect of young-earth creationism—the assertions about the nature of God, and the reasons why that God created the universe and permitted it to develop in a particular way—cannot be addressed by science. By their nature, such claims can only be—and have been—addressed by philosophers and theologians.

The science of evolution does not make claims about God's existence or non-existence, any more than do other scientific theories such as gravitation, atomic structure, or plate tectonics. Just like gravity, the theory of evolution is compatible with theism, atheism, and agnosticism. Can someone accept evolution as the most compelling explanation for biological diversity, and also accept the idea that God works through evolution? Many religious people do.


Moran commented that this passage displayed "all the earmarks of an accommondationist position" as far as he was concerned whereas for me it reads as an unexceptionable summary of the actual relationship between science and religion.

There is no direct conflict between science in general and religion in general as far as I am concerned.  All science can say is that it has found no evidence for the existence of any of the many different gods in which people have believed and, in some cases, still believe and that, following Laplace, it has found no need to invoke them as an explanation.  But where a particular faith makes specific claims about the nature of some part of the universe then, as Hess points out quite correctly, these can be points of direct conflict if scientific investigations have led to a different understanding.  In those circumstances science is bound to present its alternative explanation and explain why it has come to that conclusion.

However, science being a method of investigating what is means that there is nothing it can say about what isn't - other than to qualify it by commenting that it isn't so far - or about what people think about the way things ought to be.  Such matters simply lie outside its field of inquiry and I see nothing accommodationist about saying that nor is there any reason why the NCSE should not point it out.

What belongs in the science classroom is science in the sense both of the methodology employed and the body of evidence and enduring - albeit always provisional - explanations founded on that evidence which have been accumulated over the years by applying that methodology.  Religious and other claims which do not meet that standard may certainly be discussed elsewhere - they may even be discussed in the science class - but they should not be taught as science.  Again I see no reason why the NCSE should not point that out.

If the epithet "accommodationism" is meant in the pejorative sense of treating religious beliefs and those who hold them with undue sympathy and excessive deference then I would not agree with it either.  But I do not see that in what the NCSE has written and done.  If, on the other hand, it is meant in the sense of accepting, while not necessarily agreeing with, those beliefs which cannot be contradicted and treating believers with the common courtesy which is their due, unless they have acted is such a way as to forfeit it, then I would accept it as an unexceptionable label for what I believe to be the case and no more than a civilized way to behave.

  
Kristine



Posts: 3037
Joined: Sep. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: May 01 2011,13:50   

But if people at the NCSE are going to blame atheists for turning off potential acceptors of evolution with our dissection of "reconciliation" (done in other contexts than in science class and curricula), what are they going to do when more and more fundamentalist believers point out that moderate believers who accept the scientific consensus on evolution are "cozying up" to we strident atheists?

Case in point: remember the FTK thread, when I mentioned Ken Miller and his book Finding Darwin's God? FTK responded, "Yes, I can see why atheists would like Ken Miller." And he has also blamed this war on strident atheists! Whereas I will always be grateful for his testimony at Dover. Yet he got lumped in with me the minute that I mentioned him.

Well, there is nothing that I can do then, is there? There is a huge segment of the American population who will never entertain the possibility of evolution unless, and until, outspoken atheists reject evolution outright.

I am not kidding: That is what science is up against, at least in the United States! The spectre of the atheist is raised in many churches - it was even in my liberal Lutheran church - without one atheist saying anything. When at age fourteen or so, when I learned the term atheist I had to ask what it meant - and then I realized that was what I was. So, what am I supposed to do, when any association with me can taint a believing scientist?

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Which came first: the shimmy, or the hip?

AtBC Poet Laureate

"I happen to think that this prerequisite criterion of empirical evidence is itself not empirical." - Clive

"Damn you. This means a trip to the library. Again." -- fnxtr

  
Seversky



Posts: 413
Joined: June 2010

(Permalink) Posted: May 01 2011,18:15   

But if a large part of the problem is that evolution is too closely associated with atheism does it make sense to leave the field of debate just to those atheists who imply or openly promote that view?

I'm not disputing the fact that atheism is viewed as somewhat worse than pedophilia by a significant part of the US population.  I agree that they will not accept evolution under any circumstances while it is perceived as an atheist theory.   But I see two issues here.

The first is the need to raise the profile and change the public perception of atheism.  Here is where I think the New Atheists have done excellent work.  Just as the black and gay communities needed voices that asserted loudly and confidently that they were every bit as good their white and straight fellows so atheists needed spokespersons who could do the same for them.  They needed public figures who could articulate their feelings better then they could themselves and around which they could rally.

The second issue is whether the anti-evolutionists are quite the monolithic bloc they appear to be.  I suspect that, like any other large group of people, they are a mixture, ranging from hardcore to softer edges.  If that is true then, as has been pointed out before, this is where perceived New Atheist stridency can work against them.  As has been observed many times before, groups coming under pressure from outside will tend to suspend any internal disputes and unite in face of the external threat.  

More specifically, if believers as a group feel that atheists are out to destroy their faiths then they will tend to put aside any theological differences and set their faces against any kind of accommodation with the common enemy.  If, on the other hand, they can see that it is possible to hold religious beliefs and still do perfectly good science, even in biology, then so much the better.  If it can also be explained that the theory of evolution actually says nothing about the existence of God or faith in same then that makes it less of a threat and a few might be more inclined to listen.

I doubt that anyone expects the anti-evolution bloc to undergo some sort of sudden, dramatic collapse like the old Soviet Union, neither from New Atheist frontal assault nor from accommodationist diplomacy but I think the latter has a better chance of slowly eroding the unthinking hostility towards evolution of believers.

  
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