Monday, June 25, 2007
About 9 min into the show, Craig tries to explain why he feels Dan Barker's journey to atheism is wrong. He seems to think the problem lies in a rigid belief that the Bible is inerrant, and once that rigid position is broken it is more reasonable to believe that the Bible may be wrong here and there than to cross over to the 'Dark Side' known as atheism... "The Bible is not an accurate record of what God is like, that the ancient Israelites in writing these narratives got it wrong about God." OK. If the Bible is wrong about God, how can he even speak about God in an authoritative way? If the Bible is NOT inerrant, then you must pick and choose what you want to believe and there is no basis which is not arbitrary! This is just nonsense. His suggestion that this is an argument against the inerrancy of the Bible and not the existence of God is correct, but he doesn't go to the obvious conclusion that if the Bible is wrong here and there, and you do not know exactly where or how many of these places there are, you have to throw the whole thing out. In fact, Craig throws the Old Testament out, but as we'll see, he arbitrarily claims that the New Testament is okay.
Telve minutes in, Craig answers the questions of God committing genocide. "God is not bound by the same moral duties we are. Our moral duties are established to God's commandments to us, that in virtue of being commanded to do this or that that we have certain moral obligations or duties.... So it would be wrong for me to whip out a gun and shoot somebody for no reason at all. But if God wants to strike me dead right now that's His prerogative.... But when God commands the Israelites to exterminate the Canaanite clans they are acting as God's moral agents under his command and so I feel that God has the right to command them to do something which in the absence of a divine command would have been wrong... it becomes their moral duty." So, God says do as I say, and not as I do. God should set an example for His creatures!!!! At the very least, God should do His own dirty work. Especially if he doesn't want His creatures going around doing the things that under ordinary circumstances He wouldn't want them to do! Does anyone out there understand this idiocy? It gets better: "Moreover God had good reason to give this command. He waited for 400 years while the Israelites were slaves in Egypt [Blogger's note: there is no extra-biblical record of the Israelites being slaves in Egypt.] until the Canaanite nation was so wicked and so debauched that it was right for divine judgment." Why kill them then? What happened to free will? God couldn't wait to judge each as they died? The whole argument collapses under its own inanity. "He used the armies of Israel as His instrument of judgment upon these clans in Canaan known that ultimately their extermination would be better for Israel in the long run, they wouldn't be contaminated by their influences, that these persons were deserving of judgment. And in the case of innocent people who might have been killed that even in their case God has the right to give and take life as He sees fit." Is this compatible with a kind, loving God? I think not.
I find it interesting that there are no provisions in any penal code I know of that allows one to be found not guilty by reason of God! Paul Hill claims he was commanded by God to kill abortion providers, yet he was executed for his crimes. But, if it's in the Bible it's not only okay, but mandatory! This is the most disgusting apologetics! I could barely get through this bullshit. It's SICK!
Now for the punchline: "the [Canaanite] children, by being killed are really, in one sense, better off if we believe that children go to heaven, as I do, than they would be allowing them to live on in the circumstances in which they were." I've said it many times: religion allows the expansion of our limits on what morality normally allows to the point of atrocity. It assuages our consciences in order to rationalize committing the most terrible crimes. Remember, Hitler assuaged his own guilt by claiming he was doing God's work. Craig's spear would have been the most soaked with Canaanite blood had he been there, I'm sure. How noble a warrior he would have been, sending babes to Heaven!
And who said God commanded the Israelites to slaughter the Canaanites? Somebody wrote it, presumably the victors! Who says they wrote the truth? Remember, the Bible is not inerrant.
The rest is the normal fatally-flawed First Cause arguments and stuff that I've blogged about before, so I go into that here. Craig claims that the weight of scientific evidence is on his side, and you can predict my reaction to that crap.
He deals with morality at about 21 min. He feels that an evolutionary basis for morality is an illusion, something that serves only to help in perpetuating the species: "But there's nothing about this [evolutionary] morality that makes it really objectively true; it's really just an illusion. And in that case the rapist or the pedophile or the homophobe or the racist doesn't really do anything wrong when he goes against the herd morality. He's just acting unfashionably, and there's no [ultimate] moral accountability." He's right. It is just an illusion, but one that makes living in social groups possible! Being moral because it is God's commandment just makes morality arbitrary and no more objectively true!!!!
About 33 min. in... "... I don't think that ultimately the belief that God exists is based upon evidence I think that it is primarily based upon the witness of God's Holy Spirit." Huh? You mean it is primarily based on, as David Hume would say, "sophistry and illusion." This is bunk. "...Anyone who, at the end of his life, ultimately rejects God or the Gospel of Christ... doesn't do so on lack of evidence... He does it because he deliberately ignores or suppresses the testimony and work of the Holy Spirit in his heart." There it is. That inability for the theist to get their mind around the idea that that feeling of the 'Holy Spirit' is purely in their own minds, that as an atheist I can categorically say that no such feeling exists in me. Never did, never will. The human psyche can do some amazing things, and we interpret them in ways which are not always valid. For instance, near death experiences can seem very real to those that experience them, but the fact that such experiences can be reproduced in subjects subjected to high g-forces in centrifuges points to a less than supernatural explanation.
I said in a recent blog that we are not like the Amish, who don't have any use for things like cell phones. It's not that we atheists do not have any use for deities, it's that we see no reason to believe that there are any deities at all! For some reason, theists can never get their minds around this. Like the great Laplace said to Napoleon, "I have no need of that hypothesis." Theists, get it through your skulls: I do not deny a god I know somewhere deep down exists, but simply take the null hypothesis that God does not exist because there is no reason to accept the hypothesis that God does exist. The burden of proof is always on the one positing existence, and no one has ever made even a promising case for God's existence.
As to the New Testament's validity (ca. 46 min): "...the drift of New Testament scholarship in the last 50 years or so has be solidly in the direction of confirming the accuracy of the New Testament records of the life of Jesus. I think that most scholars would say that we can treat the gospels very seriously as historical sources for the life of Jesus of Nazareth."
I had tears streaming from my eyes from laughter at hearing this! Oh, my! What scholars has this guy been reading?!?!? I think that the FACT that there are NO contemporary sources of the Jesus myth should be a clue to the story's validity, and not a supportive one at all either. That NONE of the Gospels was written anywhere near the time of his supposed time on Earth. We don't even have a clue as to their authorship! What is this guy smoking? The Gospels themselves significantly disagree with each other!
Throughout the show, the commentators seem to revere this guy (who I had never heard of before) and say that Dawkins and Harris don't have any right to go against such great minds as Craig, Einstein and Hawking. Let's get one thing straight: Craig is no great mind. I was appalled and disgusted at his ridiculous idea that sending kids to God is okay and if I actually believed in doing debates I would take him on any day. From everything I heard on this show I deem him to be a mental lightweight espousing the most idiotic apologetics. Second, I don't think that Einstein and Hawking are exactly in agreement with an Abrahamic god. We really don't know exactly what these two actually think (thought), but I can assure you they reject the Abrahamic god every bit as much as I do. Third, to cast Dawkins as being outside of the company of Einstein and Hawking would greatly underestimate the influence of him. Harris won't be far behind, and he is very young to have so much influence in his own right.
I really do like Lael Arrington, one of the hosts of the show. We email each other back and forth, not necessarily about the show. I have always applauded their choice of guests. How many radio shows with a decidedly Christian slant would invite the likes of Dan Barker and Sam Harris as guests? But religious people do have a blind spot when it comes to applying logic to their own beliefs, something that I've spent my whole life doing.
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
It not only totally confounds me, but insults me to no end this idiotic, stupid and dispicable belief that people chose to believe Evo to be the path that life took must be immoral. Why is this belief prevalent? Kent Hovind espoused this crap and look where he is. Don't bend over for the soap, Kent. Believers think this to be the case because they believe that atheists must be denying god even though for some reason we know god exists. Evo is part of our denial. This silly and prejudiced belief is born of arrogance. How can anybody not believe god exists when I 'know' he does? This so-called 'inner knowledge' is synonumous with belief, and is therefore not knowledge at all. Knowledge requires evidence, for which there is (again) none. The internet show The Things That Matter Most did a whole show entitled Evidence for God Within Our Souls and Desires without ever first providing evidence for the very existence of the thing they are using to provide evidence for God!
Talk about the pot calling the kettle black! Creationists deny the Science behind Evo at every turn! I've shown clearly that creationism is born of ignorance. In the 21st century, this is inexcusable. The new form of ignorance is so-called 'intelligent design', an idea completely devoid of substance. There is no Science here, folks. Who designed life? How was life designed? How was the design implemented? Without answers to these questions, you are essentially left with goddidit. Empty and vacuous.
Don shows he is no different, and I was absolutely insensed by his quoting Julian Huxley. Don has, to his credit, apologized (I'm not sure he knows exactly what for, though), but this is irrelevant. He believes this travesty, and so has raised my ire... We begin yet again with the last part in this series.
"The world's leading evolutionist, the late Sir Julian Huxley, grandson of Thomas Henry Huxley (
Let me tell you something, Don,. I don't just deny God's existence, I have absolutely no thought as to God's existence until some theist tries to convince me otherwise. In essence, anyone that believes as 'Sir' Julian Huxley, that atheists use Evo as an excuse to be 'wicked', is projecting their prejudice and bigotry onto their inability to understand atheism. Kent Hovind said as much in a debate with Prof. Pagliucci that I blogged about some time ago. I find it ironic (and not without some self-satisfaction, I'm embarrassed to admit. Well, no, but I have to say that…) that I am where I am, and he is where he is now. I have actually had someone ask me on my blog, what I did that I don't feel that I can be forgiven for? My reply is 'Nothing. What did you do that you feel YOU need to be forgiven for?' Religiosity of a society has been shown to have a direct link to crime, spousal and child abuse. Yet, I would not stoop to call religious people wife-beating, child molesting criminals. I would not even say that religion is a cause for these undesirable activities. That would be an improper conclusion. 'Sir' Julian Huxley can (figuratively) go to hell.
I'm not looking to be saved, nor am I looking to for myself. I know who and what I am. I like my life. You say that Christians are supposed to 'witness' (what were they witness to?) and not coerce, but the two look very much the same.
I must admit, your engineer friend did change my mind about one thing: Sam Harris is right. I now realize that the PC attitude I had towards religion is only an invitation to be trampled by Believers. To quote Christopher Hitchens, 'Religion becomes philosphy as astrology becomes astronomy.' It is my fervent hope that this happens.
Your friend asked how I will handle death. As Mark Twain is attributed as saying, "I do not fear death, in view of the fact that I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it." Amen. Atheism makes one realize that the one life we have is precious and by extension we understand that everyone's life is precious. I'm not so sure religion promotes this, particularly those with the promise of an afterlife, as I have seen ample evidence to the contrary. I'll keep my atheism, thank you.
I just don't see a point in any further response. But I will keep listening to your show [The Things That Matter Most]. I am very pleased that you do not limit yourself to Believers as many would do, and many of your guests (believers or not) have been quite interesting. I'm looking forward to the interview with Vic Stenger.
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Remember, 99% of all species that have ever lived on this planet are long gone. We see a progression of complexity everywhere we look. The eye is more complex in new species than in phyla which have been around longer. The brain of humans is more complex than that of a chimpanzee, but not dissimilar. There are so many examples that I could give, but other authors have said it better elsewhere. Common descent is the only explanation for the similarities and the dissimilarities that we see.
Anyhow, back to the battle. I left off with Don attempting to tell me that atheists want minority rule....
It is instructive to look at a more secular society in comparison. From here in The Great White North, we look southward and see politicians tripping over each other in their eagerness to demonstrate that they are more religious than their opponents (it's embarrassing to watch…); we see biblical references in what should be secular institutions like judicial buildings even though neither your legal system or ours has anything to do with them and the law must be for everyone, not just Believers; we see official favoritism towards Christian groups even though the First Amendment was placed in your own constitution to prevent that very thing. That's just for a start.
In Canada, no one running for public office either expresses their religiosity or questions that of others; we do not place obviously divisive symbols representing only one group (and thereby giving that group preferential treatment) in our public institutions. I was asked to take an oath last year. In
I was surprised that Don didn't bring up Michael Behe's concept of irreducible complexity, though he does list his book as reading material at the end. The only thing as discredited as the concept of irreducible complexity (demolished even before the book was published) was his atrocious and laughable testimony at the Kitzmiller trial. Behe can't even be bothered to keep up with the relevant literature, so how can he be taken seriously? Contrary to Don's belief, there is no conspiracy in Science to keep ID out of the journals. From Science classes, yes, but that's because ID contains no Science. It's vacuous. The trick to getting published is to present positive evidence for something, not negative evidence against something else. ID has no positive evidence in its favor and Judge Jones recognized this in the Kitzmiller trial. The only place where Evo is in crisis is in the court of public opinion and the Disco Institute has done a remarkable, if harmful, job of it. The
In essence, and as usual, the sum total of evidence presented for design was zilch, unless you count "I am an engineer. I know design when I see it. This is design." This sums up the ID position in toto. The rest just seems to be twisted attacks on Evo, which is to say, not evidence at all.
And since he spoke of
As to the complexity of the brain, I don't know enough about devo to answer his criticism properly. But then, neither does he to have made it in the first place. (I've asked a devo specialist for insight into this...) But I do know that the brain does self-assemble under biochemical control, which places it under the purview of Evo (actually, Evo/Devo). A great deal is known about brain development, and none of the explanations involve magic. My limited understanding that chemical signaling is important, which means that the timing of when genes are turned on and off is critical in terms of the final outcome. A gene for consciousness, you ask? There isn't one, of course. Don seems to maintain this strawman view of Evo – one gene, one trait. There are a couple of reasons why mathematics is a bad way of dealing with Evo. First, Evo simply doesn't lend itself well to mathematics, though it is used in simulating it with computer modeling. Second, there aren't many (if any) mathematicians out there that are also well-versed in the nuances of Evo. Evo is not for the faint of heart (or mind), and William Dumbski [sic] especially seems utterly incapable of understanding it. Spend less time trying to prove that brain development is magic and more time looking at how it does in fact develop. And Don wonders why I think mathematicians without training in Biology (like Dumbski [sic]) should stick to mathematics.
"Science is built on truth not consensus," Don said. Sort of, but I'm not sure what truth means. Is truth the observation? It's certainly not theories. Truth is an absolute. Scientific theories are provisional hypotheses which: explain the current data; explain data obtained after positing the hypothesis; makes testable predictions; and is falsifiable. Theories model reality (truth). In discussing the current thinking about a particular theory, it is often useful (as in the case of Evo) to poll the experts. Each individual expert, however, judges the validity of the theory according to the characteristics that I have just listed. Truth is the ideal goal, but I don't think that any scientific theory has accomplished this. Pretty much everything he wrote was just a rehash of failed apologetics mixed in with Disco Institute PR releases (which is all they have ever produced on ID).
Don brings up the old 'evil atheist' list. But the implied insult to all atheists is that old canard of the evil atheist list, and I took it personally. Very personally. Is he saying that I am prone to mass murder? That in being an atheist, I am evil? Stalin, Pol Pot, Hitler... Wait - Hitler? Sorry, while ideologues all with personal ambition (to the point where they were really promoting religions without a deity), Hitler was a THEIST. He was born and raised Catholic (and tellingly never excommunicated) and said often that in his final solution he was doing God's work. I would not insult any Believer with a list of theists that committed atrocities in the name of religion, even though the body count would be far higher my list, starting with numerous characters in the Bible, to de Torquemada, to Jim Jones, to David Karesh, to Paul Hill. (Ooops. That's a list, isn't it?) I don't like to speak in biblical terminology, but if there is such a thing as evil, Jerry Falwell (a man who promoted hatred and fear in his followers) would be my candidate as its personification. George Bush Sr. knowingly allowed 500,000-1,000,000 Iraqis (the estimate provided to the White House by the NSA) to die due to ineffective sanctions post-first Gulf War. All he had to do was give the Shiites and Kurds ammo and Hussein (a man Bush himself helped to power) would have been toppled with far less loss of life. Not ideal, but far better than what actually occurred. Most of those sanction victims were children. That puts him in amongst the top killers of all time, but history is written by the victors. After all that killing by proxy, I don't remember George acknowledging his atheism. In fact he has been quoted as saying he doesn't think atheist Americans should be considered citizens. How Christian of him.
I live a very moral life, though my morals and ethics may be different from yours and your friend's, I will put them up against anyone else's for comparison any time. I would much prefer to speak of those atheists that have done something with their lives, like Mark Twain, Abraham Lincoln (probably a deist, but certainly not a Christian), Thomas Paine (a deist, but with significant atheist leanings), Oscar Wilde, Albert Camus, Isaac Asimov and many, many others, as I would of theists that have performed similar works. Religion is no guarantee of morality. The Bible itself condones slavery (amongst other unsavory behaviors), something that today we find reprehensible. To make that list and recite it to me, your friend made my case for me against religion. I am dismayed, despondent and insulted beyond measure by the response. The Evolution of our species (and others, it has been found) has resulted in an innate set of moral rules. The so-called Golden Rule is just a codification of this. Mere babies will behave in accordance to this rule, far younger than they could have been taught it, or acknowledge the existence of God. Science has at every turn peeled back the layers of religious belief till there is essentially nothing left but denial.
In the final part, Don shows his true baseless prejudice against atheists (and pissed me off) when he quotes Julian Huxley....
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
One thing you will clearly notice with creationists in general is the selective change in standards of evidence used for and against anything related to religion and its war on Science. For instance, yesterday my comments about the complete and utter lack of evidence for the biblical Jesus. There are no contemporary sources accounting Jesus' life (Josephus wasn't even born yet and there are major problems with using Tacitus, since it is likely that not only did he NOT write anything about Jesus, that the writing was done much later and someone attempted to attribute the authorship to him), no corroboration of the 'historical' account (there was no census taken at the time of Jesus' birth, except one that was NOT done by Pontius Pilate, and that one some time prior to even the earliest possible birth date, no Massacre of the Innocents is recorded anywhere but the Bible, no accounts outside of biblical codices of even his existence). With Caesar, we have the man's own words, the dedications to him and an unbroken history of political rulership which includes him. We have none of this with Jesus.
I mentioned yesterday that Don keeps demanding hard scientific evidence to refute the at-first-glance impressive odds against life-by-natural causes, while thinking that anecdotal evidence of people saying they saw something that might be Noah's Ark is the motherload of proof! What's needed in any discussion like this is an evidentiary standard that encompasses both positions. A good start would be a framework that has already shown itself to work, so let's try the legal framework. Jesus: No substantiation or corroborating evidence, no eyewitness accounts, no physical evidence. In short nothing. Noah, Moses and David fall short as well. Evo, on the other hand, has comparative morphology, paleontology and molecular genetic evidence all corroborating each other under one framework theory. Kind of tough to dispute it, but Don tries. He mentions the finding of a fossil fish that pushes back the earliest date of this form of complex life and claims that by altering our timeline as we must do in this situation makes Evo unfalsifiable. Sorry, but that's bullshit. I did know of this recent finding. Was I worried? No, because even though it did indeed change the timeline, but IT DID NOT FORCE AN OUT-OF-ORDER SEQUENCE. If you find a fossil rabbit in the Cambrian, then we've got a problem and ToE is falsified. Not only is Science not dogma, it continually works towards divesting itself of dogma.
Don mentions Simon Greenleaf's conclusion after viewing all the evidence that the Ascention actually occurred is hardly impressive in the light that he came from a very religious family (that all the family members had biblical names was a bit of a clue) and his standard of evidence was likely to have lowered in favor of inclusion rather than exclusion of questionable sources. Kinda like Don...
On to Part II....
(Continuing from "Don attempts to tell me...")
that Christians were the founders of Science. Baloney! Ask Galileo (persecuted for scientific conclusions not held by the Church), Descartes (forced into fleeing to the Netherlands by religious authority), Hypatia (murdered by a Christian mob incited by "Saint" Bernard) and others what religion thought of their scientific advances. Early scientists professed their Christianity, therefore Christianity was responsible for the invention of modern Science?!? This is spurious logic. We don't know how many of them were actually atheists. Those that professed their disbelief had a nasty tendency to be murdered by religious authority. These men were thinkers in spite of religion, NOT because of it, and it was Christianity that tried to suppress their work and do them bodily harm. Hypatia (from what little we know of her she was a remarkable woman) was flayed alive with abalone shells by a Christian mob! Christianity has an uninterrupted history of suppressing knowledge. For instance, the church even attempted to suppress the invention of the printing press! Far be it for the church to allow the common man to read the scriptures! They might start thinking about it for themselves! For once they were right. The Bible has turned more people to atheism than anything else. Besides, it was the ancient Greeks, not Christians, which started the modern process of Science. Islam had at one time a much better record than Christianity for fostering modern scientific thought. The word 'algebra' and most star names are of Arabic origin, and we use Arabic numerals.;
that there are real prophecies in the bible even though every last one is either self-fulfilling or fulfilled within the biblical text. Sam Harris has likened the latter are much like prophecies made in The Fellowship of the Ring coming to fruition in The Return of the King! C'mon, every generation since the beginning of Christianity thought that the prophecies were being fulfilled and that they were in the End Times! They aren't at all specific and require 'interpretation', just like Nostradamus'. Let's put this claim that all these prophecies have come to fruition to the test. Remember, I only need to show one failure. How about Ezekiel's Tyre prophecy (Ezek. 26: 1-11; 29:17-20)? Tyre was supposed to have been destroyed. A quick look at a map will show where Tyre still stands. He also predicts that Babylon would conquer Egypt. I don't think that one will ever be fulfilled for some reason... As a prophet, Ezekiel, well, sucked. Utterly. And forget the Book of Daniel prophecies, since scholars agree that it was written in ca. 165 BCE and not 6th cent. BCE that it claims, and thus simply wrote prophecy through the eyes of then recent history. Looked good while the fraud lasted, though. The list just goes on and on and on. A full (and very long) list of failed prophecies is available at The Skeptic's Bible. I'd like to see one, just one so-called prophecy that wasn't self-fulfilling, unambiguous, doesn't require 'interpretation' and wasn't made after the event actually took place. Just one.
implying that Einstein was correct when he said God does not play dice when time has shown us that Bohr was correct and God does indeed gamble. I'm not sure where Don is going with this quote, other than continuing his disingenuous quote mining. Einstein's 'god' has absolutely no relation to an Abrahamic god, or any personal god. He was quite clear on that subject. In 1935 Einstein, Rosen and Podolsky proposed an experiment called the 'EPR paradox' in a vain attempt to refute Quantum Mechanics, the results of which they thought were impossible. It's unfortunate that Einstein never lived to see the results of the actual experiment, for which Einstein's 'impossible' outcome was indeed observed. I like to think that he would have dropped his objections to QM having seen the results.;
that because we have so few transitional fossils that Evo is discredited (without accounting for the actual many transitional forms that have been found. Can anyone say bird? horse? whale? etc.?). I'm not a big fan of Stephen Gould (the more I learn about him the less I like him), but he may have been correct about punctuated equilibrium (the debate goes on). However, this was so obviously a quote mine. Gould may very well have said "We fancy ourselves as the only true students of life's history, yet to preserve our favored account of evolution by natural selection we view our data as so bad that we never see the very process we profess to study.", yet he remained a scientist staunchly committed to the study Evolution right through to his death. I frown greatly upon quote mining, and Don does this all over the place.;
that there is some sort of crisis in biology over Evo (You have GOT to be kidding me. I'm in the field and have never heard one peep about it till now...). I think I saw that book in a store last summer and on the jacket the promo started with 'There is a quiet controversy…', at which I started laughing [you might remember that incident in McNally-Robinson, Boomer]. It's so quiet it's silent.;
that "Christ commanded Christians to be witnesses not coercive." WHAT!?!?!? Coercion doesn't have to involve putting someone to torture. It means attempting to subvert them to your belief in any way, INCLUDING 'WITNESSING'! There is a double standard here. When Believers 'witness' it is not only acceptable, but many think it is commanded by their god. When atheists try to reason with Believers about the illogical nature of their (blind) faith, whoa, Nelly! That's evil! The only thing that atheists have ever wanted was to have a level playing field. Even most of the militant ones. Why do you think they went militant? If theists respected nontheists (or believers in religions other than their own) they would see how their views of how things should work impinge on them. Putting the Ten Commandments in a secular building is favoritism towards a group, in this case the Christians (the Ten Commandments were indeed NOT the basis for the legal system, but rather has Hammurabi to thank for its basis.) Let's face it. It is the Christian right that is doing all the trampling, NOT atheists.
"Atheists don't want minority rights, they want minority rule." Bullshit. The way I see it, the Christian right wants a theocracy, and all others (including, but not limited to, atheists) are simply fighting for their survival. Debbie Schlussel believes that freedom of religion does not include freedom from religion, something I doubt the Founding Fathers intended the First Ammendment to mean. Ann Coulter- well, no one gives a hoot what that guy thinks. Doesn't anybody see the danger inherent in this kind of intolerance? Such a slippery slope leads to the logical conclusion of returning to the days where nonbelievers, or believers in other religions, were oppressed. What Don mistakes for an attempt at 'minority rule' is simply the inevitable (and well-deserved) backlash of those that the religious right has wronged. The religious right has had it coming for some time now.
I talk a bit about our significantly more secular (for now) society, whether or not Science is about Truth and comment on the 'impossible' complexity of the brain in Part III.
Monday, June 11, 2007
I don't know that I will ever send this off to Don Ortloff (via Lael Arrington), but I will post it here. The quote mining of Don's I ignored, as I did the anecdotal emotionalistic claptrap at the end designed to try to convert me. To quote Bugs Bunny, 'He don't know me vewy well, do he?' It begins.....
plays the same invalid numbers game that Dembski plays. William Dumbski [sic] has been thoroughly debunked elsewhere and in the interests of brevity I won't get into it here. All one has to do is google it. Suffice it to say that these number games are self-interested convoluted methods of promoting the argument from personal incredulity that show no more than that DNA sequences could not arise through random chance. Fancy that. ToE says the same thing. The massive fallicies in his arguments have been pointed out to William Dumbski [sic], yet he continues to say things like 'we can not explain cellular machinery without invoking a purposeful design' and then usually brings forth Behe's example of the bacterial flagellum when it has been shown clearly in the literature how in fact the bacterial flagellum could evolve. This makes Dumbski a LIAR. He wants you to believe that a non-purposeful evolutionary process is the same thing as saying it is random. Bullshit. Natural Selection is anything BUT random.;
tries to tell me that Tacitus and Josephus were contemporary sources on Jesus. It is in doubt as to whether Tacitus even was the author of the missive on Jesus, and neither Tacitus nor Josephus had even been born before the supposed Ascention! I reiterate: there are no contemporary accounts of the Jesus/Horus myth! As for the existence of Caesar and why his existence is (now) accepted without question, scholars had long ago established from numerous sources (not all literary) that Caesar was a genuine personage. The reason no on questions his existence is that his existence was established long ago. At least we have Caesar's own writings, which is much more than we have for Jesus. Unlike for Julius Caesar's life, the data surrounding Jesus' birth, life and death is completely uncorroborated even though records from the period are available.;
hypocritically accepts hearsay data of the absurd account of Noah and the flood, and then asks for 'real' evidence for Evo (which he doesn't accept anyway). People say that they have seen reminants of the
tries to tell me that the 2nd law of thermodynamics can be applied to preclude the generation of order in an open system (He's trying to snow a Chemist with this?! Boy, was he barking up the wrong tree.);
that asymmetric synthesis is impossible without direction when all that is required is a surface for one optical isomer to be preferred in a reaction. The synthesis of one optical isomer of dl-pairs, such as l-amino acids, over their . l- and not their mirror image d-amino acids are exclusively the building blocks of enzymes, yet have identical physical properties. (asymmetric synthesis is big money in the pharmaceutical industry, which according to him isn't possible);
that Evolution includes the origin of life in its theory, when abiogenesis is a completely different problem. The only relationship between the two is temporal – abiogenesis had to occur before Evo could start its work. We've come a long way since the Stanley-Urey experiment. This is primary evidence that Don has never read anything on Evo outside of Christian 'Science' lit;
that behavior has no biochemical basis (in answer to his question of what part of the genome governs emotions like love, a number of biochemicals like oxytocin, the genes that encode their synthesizing enzymes and the genes which control their activation come to mind immediately) and therefore cannot be under evolutionary control (I would like to know how he then explains the observed genetic changes in the Russian silver fox experiment of Dmitri Belyaev if genetics play no role in behavior, where silver foxes were bred for either tameness or viciousness). Your friend seems to think that one gene-one enzyme is how DNA works. It does not. Genes interact, sometimes in unpredictable was (definitely the case in the Belyaev experiment, unintentionally resulting in changes to coat color and tail stiffness). Emotions such as love are just as likely to develop as fear. Co-operative behavior is just as effective in species which use social coherence as a survival strategy as the fight-or-flight response, even in tooth-and-claw natural selection (there is no such thing as Darwinism). None of this takes away from the actual feeling of love itself or makes it any less wonderful. Again evidence that Don has never read anything on Evo outside of the Disco Institute's official reading list (which means all he knows of Evo is the usual strawman the Diso Insitute disingenuously touts);
Part II tomorrow....
Thursday, June 7, 2007
Then I came home Tuesday evening and ran into a rather nasty storm. On Deerfoot Trail, the main route into Calgary, was backed up and I could see the northbound lanes were blocked by police. I thought it was a nasty accident, as I could see debris on the road, and people going my way were rubber-necking. But as I drew closer I realized that what I thought was road was a new lake, and the debris was all that was left of car roofs! We had over 700 mm of rain that evening and the light show was fantastic. Two people were struck by lightning (a la Caddyshack), but are expected to recover. Traffic is still being affect due to washouts of major interchanges in the city.
UPDATE: June 8 - The ramp to eastbound Glenmore at 14th St. SW is still closed due to washout. The rainfall Tuesday evening was 72 mm. That's double the previous record of 36.6 mm!