More lying creationists, now with Biblical justification

July 23, 2009 • 7:34 am

There seems to be no limit to the duplicity of creationists when trying to sell their snake oil to the public.  The latest example involves the movie “The Voyage That Shook the World,” a movie that looks very like a historical documentary, produced by the Australian Company “Fathom Media”.  But this company turns out to be a front for Creation Ministries International.

“Fathom” secured the participation of three eminent historians of science, Sandra Herbert, Peter Bowler, and Janet Browne, who appear as talking heads in the movie. None of these people knew who was really backing that movie nor that it would have a creationist slant.

Now the familiar story unfolds: these interviews were subsequently edited to paint a denigrating picture of Darwin and evolution.  Herbert, Bowler, and Browne report how they were taken in and bowdlerized in a short piece in the History of Science Society’s newsletter:

The interviews filmed with us have been edited to highlight certain aspects of Darwin’s views and character. Janet Browne’s remarks about his childhood delight in making up stories to impress people is used to imply that the same motive may have driven his scientific thinking. Peter Bowler’s description of Darwin’s later views on racial inequality is used in the film, but not Bowler’s account of Adrian Desmond and James Moore’s thesis that Darwin was inspired by his opposition to racism and slavery. Sandra Herbert’s comment that Darwin’s theory required explanation of many aspects of life was edited down to imply that his theory required explanation of all aspects of life. The overall impression is given that Darwin had an enquiring mind but was led astray by his theoretical preconceptions, a view backed up through interviews with several scientists, including one who expresses open doubts about evolution. The film also suggests that what is ultimately at stake is a clash of world views rather than the resolution of scientific questions.

The producers admit that they were duplicitous, but claim that this lying was for the greater good. As William Crawley, a blogger for the BBC, reports:

Phil Bell, CEO of Creation Ministries UK, acknoweged [sic] that his organisation established a “front company” called Fathom Media, because they were concerned that experts such as Peter Bowler would not agree to take part in the film if they realised it was an “overtly Creationist” production. “At the end of the day,” he said, “[when] people see ‘Creationist’, instantly the shutters go up and that would have shut us off from talking to the sort of experts, such as Professor Bowler, that we wanted to get to.”

I asked Phil Bell if this method of securing an interview was “deceptive”. He said: “Well, it could be called deceptive. But I think, at the end of the day, I would say that more people are concerned about how we’ve made a documentary, that’s a world-class documentary, clearly with wonderful footage, with excellent interviews, and balanced open discussion.”

The Creation Ministries website also posted a defense of their actions:

In short, we wanted the film to be judged on its content, not its associations. We did not want people to be “scared off” by our advertising a link to CMI, but at the same time we were determined not to bear false witness. If people had asked us, we determined from the outset that the team would answer honestly, and we instructed the film crew that went to get the interviews along those lines. Of course, we hoped and prayed (literally, and earnestly) that such questions simply would not be asked—e.g. whether creationists were driving it. We wanted straight answers to the questions on these important matters from all, whether creationist or evolutionist—unhampered by prejudice and all the other ‘baggage’ that has accumulated, much of it quite unfairly, around the issue.

And of course they manage to justify this duplicity by cherry-picking the Bible:

We were and are under an obligation to speak the truth, but not to provide exhaustive information where it was not sought. The Bible says of Jesus that “no deceit was in his mouth” (1 Peter 2:22), yet he withheld information from those who were not ready to receive it, including the Pharisees (Matt. 21:23–27) and even his own disciples (John 16:12).

Let this be a lesson to all evolutionists.  I, for one, will be sure to ask who’s funding the project before I agree to any more interviews.  And I’m racking my brain furiously to remember which foreign companies interviewed me about Darwin in the last year.  There was one from South Korea, and another from Australia . . . .

h/t: Butterflies and Wheels

188 thoughts on “More lying creationists, now with Biblical justification

  1. I finally think I understand quote mining. That habit of picking verses from the bible and stringing them together has a long history, especially in evangelical Christianity. I always found it misleading, but it didn’t actually occur to me that (a) this amounts to quote-mining the bible, and (b) it sheds some light on why they are willing to quote mine, and don’t feel like they are being deceptive.

  2. Another pyromaniac in a field of strawmen. And the biblical references provide a gentle dose of extortion and fear for reinforcement.

    The bucket of stupid just solidified.

  3. Reminds one of the experience of Richard Dawkins and PZ Myers on the Expelled episode. I would remind Prof. Coyne that Barbara Forrest was also contacted by the Expelled schmucks, was suspicious, investigated and found enough information to cause her to tell them thanks but no thanks.

  4. Hello All, I just added this blog to my blogroll.

    I am dying to be convinced that macroevolution is true, that it explains the diversity of life that we see around us.

    I just wanted to make a quick point about evolution and atheism. It does not seem that a reasonable person would infer no God even if evolution was an undirected process. The reason for this is that we still have natural laws (such as gravity) that cannot be explained by evolution. So it still seems that an intelligent being is needed to create the conditions under which evolution would thrive.


    1. First, who is saying evolution explains gravity which prompted you to state the obvious, which was preceded by a false premise that to a lead a non sequitur?

    2. Why is it our burden to prove that small cumulative changes amount to more substantive changes, if you don’t offer any evidence that they don’t?

      And if you are “dying” to be convinced, then surely you must have googled ‘macroevolution’ and found the second hit –

      Whats wrong with the explanations offered there?

      1. The URL you supplied mainly concerns the definition of macro and micro evolution, which was slightly helpful, but not satisfying.

        Let me put my opinion on evolution to you in a slightly different way.

        From what I have learned, the main driving force of evolution is natural selection (which can be comprised of sexual selection and other forms of selection).

        From there, I think, can evolution explain the world around me? I will explain one instance where I do not think it can.

        Why do we wear clothes? Well, one answer is that it protects us from the elements. But this does not fit with evolution, as it implies that species lower than us (who do not wear clothes) are superior to us in some way. Another answer could say that we developed a gene for modesty, but I do not know how natural selection could account for the development of modest instincts.

        What I do know, however, is that my religion ( I believe in the Jewish God and in Jesus) explains the world that I see around me perfectly and completely. This is as far as I will go because just this far will cause people to misinterpret my comments and I may need to reiterate them.


      2. Andrew – No, You need to be educated.

        the main driving force of evolution is natural selection (which can be comprised of sexual selection and other forms of selection).

        Wrong. Sexual selection and others are NOT part of natural selection.

        Why do we wear clothes? Well, one answer is that it protects us from the elements. But this does not fit with evolution, as it implies that species lower than us (who do not wear clothes) are superior to us in some way

        No, We have adapted, socially and culturally to wear clothes. They DO protect us from the elements, including parasite protection and we live in climates that we could not tolerate otherwise. That is us using our tools and our minds. That does NOT make us inferior.

        my religion ( I believe in the Jewish God and in Jesus) explains the world that I see around me perfectly and completely.

        No, it doesn’t at all. The bible states things that are in error and does not explain very much of the world at all. Your statements are specious.

      3. New England Bob,

        Natural Selection is the mechanism driving evolution. Natural Selection basically selects the traits that are most suited for future reproduction. So, yes, sexual selection and any other types of selection are part of natural selection.

        This is from the wikipedia page “Natural selection can act on any phenotypic trait, and selective pressure can be produced by any aspect of the environment, including sexual selection and competition with members of the same species”

        If you find a better source to refute me, please go ahead.

      4. Why would animals not wearing clothes be superior to those of us intelligent enough to make clothes?

        We wear clothes because we can, is the most basic answer.

        You don’t even know what “superior” means in evolution, and indeed, “superior” is not a word we typically use in evolutionary discussions.

        I gave a list of ten fulfilled predictions of (macro)evolution here:

        Unless you can come up with any sort of explanation (not rationalizations to save idiocy) for all ten, you have your convincing arguments there. The evidence backing up those predictions exist all over the web.

        Glen Davidson

      5. Andrew, you made no point because your arguments are specious, your ‘facts’ are either wrong or lies, your premises are false and your conclusions are not even based on your premises or your arguments.

        So I stand by what I said about your comments. I commented about what you said, not who you are. I continue to laugh at your comments until you state a fact with evidence.

      6. Mr. Davidson,

        I am not quite sure how to respond to you. You question why not wearing clothes is superior to wearing clothes. If you assume that wearing clothes is for protection, then not having to wear clothes is a sign of superiority; you do not need clothes for protection.
        You answer that “we wear clothes because we can” is definitely the most basic answer, but it does not use an evolutionary framework for the answer. So, please, give me the more complicated answer.

        I read your list of ten things, but you have to admit that it was not evidentially rigorous or particularly helpful.

        I surmise that you have a blog and such and referring me to historical comments or posting your blog URL will help your internet popularity, but please do not send me on a wild goose chase across the internet again.

      7. New England Bob,

        Once again you are simply making assertions about what I wrote. That you make the assertion does not make it so. I will try to boil down my “ten men telling the same story” argument into three sentences.

        No evidence for God. People believed in God before they had other people to tell them to believe in God. They must have had evidence for God.

        Please, people, stop telling me to read huge chunks of the internet before I can even argue with you. I am using my reading that I do to argue with you, I am not sending you on wild goose chases through the internet so that I am satisfied that we have all read the same exact things.

      8. Mr. Davidson,

        Thank you for coming up with an entirely different analogy. I will use it from now on, however, I have to modify it slightly. I do not think that it is rational to believe that Zog caught a ten pound fish (on these facts alone), but I do believe that it is rational to believe that he caught something!

      9. From the link I posted:

        “A later version will add a section on how creationists “move the goalposts” when confronted with undeniable evidence of macroevolution, but for now see the sister FAQ of Douglas Theobald.”

        which links to the huge amounts of evidence of macroevolution in:

        Feel free to further explore all those links, they contain a plethora of information, in fact the whole website talkorigins faq will be invaluable if you really want to understand evolution.

        “What I do know, however, is that my religion ( I believe in the Jewish God and in Jesus)”

        Thats hunky dory. Doesn’t really have any relevance to the discussion. At all.
        Why I ignored the god bit in my first reply.

        On another post you wrote:

        “And, I will try to read this man’s book. I think you will be glad to know that I am currently reading On the Origin of Species by a guy named Charles Darwin.”

        Thats a horrible idea, considering that what Darwin wrote 150 years ago is very incomplete by today’s standards if not outright wrong in many regards. Pick up Coyne’s book instead.

      10. I am not quite sure how to respond to you. You question why not wearing clothes is superior to wearing clothes. If you assume that wearing clothes is for protection, then not having to wear clothes is a sign of superiority; you do not need clothes for protection.

        I see you’re so ignorant that you don’t know that the importance of clothes is that they can be taken off. We evolved in the savannas of Africa, which are very hot, and this appears to be the most likely reason we lost our body covering of hair.

        But of course even savannas turn cold, so it is helpful to wear clothes when the temperature drops.

        Look, why don’t you learn anything before bringing your obtuse nonsense forward? Your “argument” would also suggest that our use of fire means that we’re “not superior” to furry animals, since they “don’t need it.”

        Being relatively hairless and having clothes and fire means that we can maintain our body temperatures in a far wider range than any other animal can. That’s an evolutionary advantage, and Christ, how can you be so dimwitted?

        You answer that “we wear clothes because we can” is definitely the most basic answer, but it does not use an evolutionary framework for the answer. So, please, give me the more complicated answer.

        Well, I did above, but it’s amazing how bloody ignorant you are. I shouldn’t have to explain temperature control to you if you think you’re capable of getting into discussions about evolution.

        I read your list of ten things, but you have to admit that it was not evidentially rigorous or particularly helpful.

        Not to a very dumb person not willing to learn it isn’t. Of course I didn’t include all of the evidence for it, that’s for you to know. Like I have said repeatedly, you have to know something before you get into these matters, and you seem like someone who’s barely been through the elementary grades.

        You can look up the evidence for all that I wrote, but I can’t make up for your gross ignorance with a comment.

        I surmise that you have a blog and such and referring me to historical comments or posting your blog URL will help your internet popularity

        Again you prove that you’re a dunce. Quite obviously that was not my blog, I was responding to David Klinghoffer’s lies at his blog, and since it’s a fairly concise list of the evidences for evolution it was convenient to link to it.

        Making up for your near-total ignorance of science isn’t something I can do, of course, so your mindless demand for everything to be spoon-fed to you only displays your lack of ability to deal with any of these matters.

        but please do not send me on a wild goose chase across the internet again.

        You mean that you’re too obtuse to understand or to do your homework, that you want the answers to fit your ignorance and lack of concern for evidence and truth. Which only goes to show that idiots like you are the prime target for the simplistic propaganda of the IDiots.

        Glen Davidson

    3. What the heck are you on about? Nothing in science infers the existence of any gods. Nor is there anything that infers the opposite. Science and atheism do not depend on each other.

      You can be an atheist without knowing anything about science. And you can be a scientist and still believe in some form of god (although not in any of the specific ones from the major religions). A belief in god is entirely based on faith.

      1. Andrew, you say:

        Why do we wear clothes? Well, one answer is that it protects us from the elements. But this does not fit with evolution, as it implies that species lower than us (who do not wear clothes) are superior to us in some way.

        What does this even mean? Most species on Earth are “superior” to us (and most other species) at doing one thing or another despite their lack of clothing. Any volant bird is superior to me (and any other non-flying organism)at flying. Any fish is superior to me at extracting oxygen from water and swimming. Any cat is superior to me in regards to night vision. Extremophile bacteria are better than me hands down at living in extreme habitat. I could go on. None of this refutes evolution. Life is a tree not a ladder or “Great Chain of Being”. What you seem to dismiss as “lower” organisms are as much a product of the multi-billion year process of biological evolution as we are.

        Culture permits us through the use of tools, clothing, agriculture transportation, etc. to inhabit a much wider range of habitats than our ancestors. Culture is simply another adaptation among many that have arisen through evolutionary history. Our possession of it does not somehow make other organisms obsolete or inferior, just differently adapted. Do trees need clothing? Does there lack thereof somehow make them inferior to us? Does their lack of need for clothing make the superior? These questions make no sense.

        Why is clothing any different than beaver dams, bird nests or the bowers of bower birds? All are adaptations involving the manipulation of materials in the environment to improve living conditions to enable continued survival and fertility. Such adaptations that are heritable get passed on. With culture humans have an additional channel of transmission in teaching and learning alongside genetic inheritance. While this cultural transmission has a huge degree of flexibility, it can be fragile; knowledge and technique can be lost. We are simply different not better.

    4. That’s what’s called “cosmological ID.”

      Of course evolution is absolutely incapable of dethroning god, as it doesn’t speak to the creation of the universe.

      The real question is, what about “natural laws” such as gravity points to Baal making it so? Or to Zeus making it thus? Or to the Abrahamic God producing such an effect?

      Your problem is that you have a question, and you instantly fill it in with god, instead of asking how it came out as it did.

      Look, if you can show that there is a god, and that creating gravity is what he does, then you might have a case for god causing gravity to be. Until then, you just have a gap that you plug with god.

      See, claims of existence have to be backed up by the one claiming said existence. It is not up to any disbeliever in Zeus or God to show that these “beings” don’t exist. In other words, we don’t “infer no god” from anything, so much as we have never been given any reason to believe in Baal or God.

      Glen Davidson

      1. Hmmm I guess I will just reply to this guy and attempt to answer a few of the criticism’s…. I think many people think evolution and atheism are linked. I was using that assumption to show that they should not be. If you believe that evolution proves that now intelligence is needed in the world, then you have a mistaken belief. In my opinion, this is quite simple to understand.

        And, I will try to read this man’s book. I think you will be glad to know that I am currently reading On the Origin of Species by a guy named Charles Darwin.

      2. I think many people think evolution and atheism are linked. I was using that assumption to show that they should not be. If you believe that evolution proves that now intelligence is needed in the world, then you have a mistaken belief. In my opinion, this is quite simple to understand.

        What in Raven’s name are you on about? Who said anything that you’re “answering”?

        I wrote:

        Of course evolution is absolutely incapable of dethroning god, as it doesn’t speak to the creation of the universe.

        I could have said that evolution doesn’t speak to miracles if they happen, etc., but went with your example. Then I went on to point out that it’s the lack of evidence for god that fails to cause us to infer god.

        And really, are you such an idiot that you think anyone here claims “that evolution proves that now intelligence is needed in the world”?

        I wasn’t sure that the many of the responses made to you should have been as vituperative as they were. But with the moronic strawmen you’re presently flailing at, I can only say that you appear to be very very stupid, and/or dishonest, indeed.

        Glen Davidson

      3. Well, here is where our view of human nature and story-telling may diverge.

        I did not come out of the womb believing in God, nor do I think I would make up a belief in a God if I was never exposed to it. I think humans in olden times were quite like that, and would never have came up with all of these stories out of thin air.

        Let me provide you an example. If ten men came to me saying that they all caught a ten pound fish, I would be inclined to believe that someone, somewhere, did catch a ten pound fish. It seems that your predilection would be to say “hah! you are all saying roughly the same thing! therefore it cannot possibly be true that a ten pound fish exists!”

        You say that their is no evidence for God, and I say I agree. However, me and you interpret this fact quite differently. You say their is no evidence for it, therefore it is quite illogical to believe in it. I say their is no evidence for it and it is quite illogical to believe in it, but people did it, therefore these people must have had a good reason for it.

      4. I am sorry Mr. Davidson, I was assuming that many people are atheists because of their belief in evolution, and I have met many people who believe this. I was very clear that I was speaking to this “straw man”.

        I know you do not mean all those nasty things about me!


      5. Andrew is another creationist who can not argue his way out of a paper bag. His 10 men story is completely stupid. The rest of that comment of his is incoherent.

        He does not deserve an answer just laughter!

      6. New England Bob,

        One could look at the situation and agree with your point of view, or he could agree with my point of view, which is that you just rudely ended an argument by name calling, which seems to be a major theme here.

        But, my feelings have not been hurt, because the point I made is worth making and it is clear. Just because you say that ” I can not argue my way out of a paper bag” does not make it true. Calling my story about the ten men “stupid” does not make it true. Saying that I deserve “laughter” does not make it true.

        Do you see that simply making assertions like that do not really do anything?

        What I want to know is, do you understand the point I am making? If you do, please respond. If you do not, please ask for help.

      7. I did not come out of the womb believing in God, nor do I think I would make up a belief in a God if I was never exposed to it. I think humans in olden times were quite like that, and would never have came up with all of these stories out of thin air.

        And why don’t you think that?

        Do you think they would come up with stories like Greek myths out of thin air, or anyway, out of the vaguest of excuses? Or is Echo really the cause of echoes?

        If Greek myths aren’t true, why are Hebrew myths true?

        Humans have been found to be quite capable of spinning tales for their own actions which quite clearly are not correct–this in clinical settings, by the way.

        Look, you need to learn something about science before you can even deal with things. Your mistaken prejudices are not anything to use in order to discover any kind of “truth” at all.

        Let me provide you an example. If ten men came to me saying that they all caught a ten pound fish, I would be inclined to believe that someone, somewhere, did catch a ten pound fish. It seems that your predilection would be to say “hah! you are all saying roughly the same thing! therefore it cannot possibly be true that a ten pound fish exists!”

        That’s a very stupid analogy.

        What has happened is that a whole lot of people came up with various and incompatible stories about magic and the supernatural, and you want me to believe that these incompatible stories all came from the same source.

        The proper analogy would be if everyone was telling different stories about what our guy, let’s call him Zog, did or did not catch. Someone says that Zog caught a ten-pound fish and nothing else, others say that he caught nothing, still others tell me that he caught a frog and nothing else, and some tell me that Zog caught a duck, and a turtle. And you’re telling me that I’d better believe that Zog caught a ten-pound fish from those incompatible stories.

        You say that their is no evidence for God, and I say I agree. However, me and you interpret this fact quite differently. You say their is no evidence for it, therefore it is quite illogical to believe in it.

        No, I say that is unsound to believe in it. And I don’t particularly care whether you do or not, I just don’t see why you have to spin a lot of ridiculous nonsense to pretend that belief in god is justified.

        I say their is no evidence for it and it is quite illogical to believe in it, but people did it, therefore these people must have had a good reason for it.

        And who denies that there are good reasons for it? These involve the human propensity to come up with “causes” for phenomena regardless of whether or not these causes can be found or otherwise justified, as well as for social reasons (god is a “reason” for believing as the tribe does).

        The trouble for you is that we actually have pretty good explanations for why religion exists, which has nothing to do with the “reasons” given by the religions themselves.

        Glen Davidson

      8. I say their is no evidence for it and it is quite illogical to believe in it, but people did it, therefore these people must have had a good reason for it.

        Damn! There’s an argument that shoots itself in the head.

        As an Ex-Evangelical Christian (YEC raised), I can somewhat sympathize with Andy’s dischordant “argumentation”. Critical thinking, internal consistancy, rules logic and empirical demonstrability are not observed or persued in that world. Then there’s that whole Christian Apologetics and (my favorite) Christian Hermenutics. By the time you’ve processed anything through this mindset, you get a thought process rivaled only by those with some form of spongiform encephalopathy.
        But with arrogance.

        All of which, as a zoologist, really irks me no end. Like Andy here, they start out admiting they don’t know much about evolution, but soon they’re going to tell you why or how it can’t work.

    5. Going out on a limb here (oh, forgot I’m already there, on the bush of life, that is, at the tip of that one, third branch on the left)…

      Inferring ‘no God’ because there is no evidence, does not require evidence for the undirected process of evolution.

      Atheism stands on its own two feet of reason and skepticism (I’m sure others could come up with tentacular cephalopod analogies giving greater support), totally separate from the the many evidential pillars supporting the current theory of evolution.

      Educate yourself. This does take effort. Start easy. Buy and read JC’s WEIT.

      1. Heck, he could go to the library … he could get all the information at TalkOrigins or Berkeley’s site.

        He doesn’t want to know. He wants to tell himself he looked into it, considered it “skeptically” (HA!)and found the genesis story more believabe (ha, ha, ha, ha)– you know, the crazy story for which there is no evidence whatsoever.

    6. Crimony! Neither can the incandescent bulb be explained by the internal combustion engine.

      The whole business STARTS with the Bible-thumpers, who you seem to at least have been influenced by, who insist that humans must be the result of directed creation.

      You needn’t die to be convinced of macroevolution – just buy a copy of WEIT. (You do understand that the basis of this blog is a BOOK, written to be digestible by the layman, don’t you?) They’re widely available. Or ask your local library to find you a copy.

    7. It’s a little hard to learn actual facts when you feel saved for believing a particular delusion.

      God belief has no more support or relevancy in science than demon belief or voo-doo. We don’t explain things we don’t understand with bigger mysteries about bigger conundrums like invisible undetectable entities or forces that assorted people have “believed in”.

      The truth is the same for everybody no matter what they believe just as the earth was a sphere long before there were people who had a clue as to this fact.

      Humans have been making up stories to explain that which they don’t understand for eons, but if you really want to understand the singular truth that is the same for people no matter what they believe, I suggest you read scientists with a passion for the subject–they are glad to share the details but it takes a bit of education to understand. I don’t suggest you get your science from people who are passionate about “belief”.

    8. No way this is a serious argument. Poe.

      “People believed in God before they had other people to tell them to believe in God. They must have had evidence for God.”

  5. Of course, we hoped and prayed (literally, and earnestly) that such questions simply would not be asked

    And when conniving the unbeliever, you should pray this prayer: “Our heavenly father, do not let these people find out about our agenda. Amen.”

    Acts of the Mendacious 4:10

  6. This is horrible behavior and, unfortunately, all too common on all sides. Bill Maher was similarly deceptive while making Religulous (he even admits it), without much (if any) criticism from those who (quite rightly) criticized Expelled and attack this new film. Indeed, Maher is being given the Richard Dawkins Award by the Atheist Alliance International at its upcoming convention. Ironically, the award is designed to honor an atheist for contributions relating to science and reason yet is being awarded to someone who isn’t an atheist, who is clearly anti-science (he’s anti-vax and rejects germ theory) and, at least in that respect, utterly irrational. But he’s happy to lie for the cause of attacking religion. My guess is that these facts don’t matter to the AAI since Maher is a big celebrity and bashes religion aggressively. The speaker list for the AAI convention is long and distinguished (including Prof. Coyne) but, to my knowledge, none has criticized Maher or this award. Perhaps they’re too busy attacking an obscure Australian creationist film to be concerned with intellectual integrity.

      1. I think the effect of the lies however is very different.

        Creationists lie about the only known way we humans have to understand the truth– they do this by discrediting those who tell the truth to make evidence-supported truths on par with faith. They do this to obfuscate and vilify those who’d tell the truth and elevated the delusional and deluded. They would not want this to be done to support Scientology or some other delusion they do not share.

        Religulous may have mislead religionists, but the message isn’t a lie… people all over the world believer really crazy shit that they really think is true and they imagine themselves special, moral, and saved for believing it. They have no facts to support their delusion and so they lie about those who’d negate it with evidence.

        There is just one history of the earth… and the evidence strongly favors the scientific view which is continually refined, expanded, and honed. It does not support any of the magical stories human beings are known to make up to place themselves as “central” or “special”. In fact, it goes out of it’s way to address and correct for these known biases of our species.

        Religulous’ message was not factually inaccurate. Every piece of propaganda or “science” put out by creationists is. They obfuscate the science and vilify the truth tellers who’d be glad to share the evidence they have access to with anyone who is actually interested.

        Creationists pretend to be interested, but they just want to tell themselves they’ve considered the topic skeptically and rejected it. They are liars for their invisible friend in the sky that makes them feel super duper special, moral, and saved.

      2. articulett — Just so we’re clear, you think Maher’s lies are okay because he’s on the side of (capital T) Truth?

      3. articulett, I can’t go there on this one with you. Lying is not acceptable in either situation. Maher lied and is a whack job. Just because he is sometimes funny is no reason to give him a pass.

      4. I agree with Robocop. If lying to promote an agenda is wrong in one situation it’s wrong in all of them. We really should be clear about this and speak out about it if we (freethinkers, I mean…atheists, rationalists, etc.) want to have any credibility or be seen as ethical people. Also, this just encourages the “atheists have their own dogma” kind of nonsense. Just because Bill Mahar superficially shares some of my ideologies doesn’t mean I have to automatically like or admire him. I think he’s a bully and a hypocrite, as well as a bit of a sleazy liar. He’s not on my team (and I am a card-carrying member of AAI).

      1. If I had made that point in an effort to mitigate the behavior, I could see your point. But I don’t suggest that the creationists’ behavior in this instance is in any way justified. On the other hand, I think pointing out hypocrisy is an extremely valuable endeavor.

    1. I notice that your link to Skeptico has a comment from Orac pointing out that Maher is a supporter of PETA – propagandists of the animal rights’ myth that animal research is junk science.

      In the UK anti-vivisectionism is a far greater problem than anti-vaccinationism, which is a far greater problem than anti-evolutionism.

      Anti-vivisectionists – in the name of animal rights – often quote Darwin and appeal to evolution in support of their cause: there’s no moral difference between humans and other species since there’s no essential biological difference. (Darwin was however a vocal defender of vivisection for the purpose of medical research.)

      There are historical links connecting the two AVs. Dr Walter Hadwen took over control of the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection from its founder Frances Cobb – with whom Darwin exchanged letters via The Times.

      BUAV later gave birth to an offshoot anti-viv org called the Dr Hadwen Trust. This charitable status organisation funds research into non-animal testing methods. It also campaigns against the use of animals in medical research, saying – contrary to the scientific consensus – that such research is no longer necessary.

      Dr Hadwen was a notorious demagogue and anti-scientist. He campaigned against vaccination (in the process printing a scabrous attempted character assasination of Edward Jenner) as well as opposing the germ theory of disease. And oh yes… he was a God-fearing vegetarian.

      There is a whole slew of anti-vivisection orgs. dedicated to spewing out lies and distortions of the kind and manner under discussion.

      In the UK their propaganda has penetrated deeply into public discourse.

    2. The thing is Robocop, very few people are actually disagreeing with you, whereas I would be surprised to find many creationists that would denounce the use of deception to get an interview for a movie that promotes anything that is anti-evolution. In fact, I’ve witnessed the excusing of deception first hand on many occasions.

      However, your analysis is simplistic, which may of course be due to the constraints of the medium.

      Is lying always wrong? I think that most of us would say that it is. But what happens when a journalist manages to uncover a scandal by initially lying to a particular participant in illegal or unethical activity, so as to uncover their activities? Again, most people are uncomfortable with the method, but understanding of the reasons, as well as grateful for the uncovering of a much, much more serious situation. I’d also lie through my teeth to save your life, for instance. Hopefully you’d be grateful.

      As you haven’t mentioned it (here, or at Pharyngula) — which may or may not be deliberate, considering that you appear to ignore most of the criticism of Maher, and instead pretend that only you can see anything wrong with him being given an award (at least, that’s the impression I get, particularly having dealt with you, previously) — most people commenting on this believe that he is the wrong choice for all sorts of reasons, including but not limited to, his anti-scientific views, as well as method of gaining interviews for Religulous. That you weren’t around when that was discussed (months ago) is not really our problem, but it does undercut your incessant smugness.

      I would say though that there is a slight difference between the kinds of things that Bill Maher and Sacha Baron Cohen do to get an interview, which are then used to make movies that are meant to be satirical comedies, and what creationists do, which are used to make documentaries that are advertised as balanced, factual, and educational. The methods are the same, of course, and I’m certainly not about to make excuses, but I am certainly more comfortable with the reasons for needing to do so for movies that are meant to be funny and lighthearted, than those that are meant to be serious investigations of a particular subject. Perhaps I shouldn’t be, and I am not entirely sure either way, but there are distinctions, as I hope to have shown.

      Morally, deception is still deception, of course, but only someone that lives in a black and white world would truly believe that that principle holds in all situations, always. It doesn’t, as I’ve already shown.

      None of this should be seen as a defense of Maher, and particularly of his methods of gaining interviews for his movie (which I haven’t seen, and have little interest in), which I am still entirely uncomfortable with.

      1. 1. Few are disagreeing with me directly, but a great many are conspicuously avoiding the subject. That (for example) JC will trumpet the lies of some obscure Australian creationists and ignore the similar (and, in other contexts, such as anti-vax, clearly worse) behavior of someone as famous as Maher, with whom he is sharing a platform at the AAI convention, is telling to me. That Dawkins (as he stated at PZ’s blog) sees no problem with the selection because Maher is “very funny” is telling to me. Even PZ’s criticism is distinctly muted and qualified. I hope I’m wrong and that the speakers at AAI give Maher what-for, but I doubt that many will. He’s famous and attacks religion. Those seem to be the priorities, rather than reason, science and truth. I can even hope that some, who have been silent to this point, can be shamed into doing the right thing (not that I think I have the ability to do that).

        2. I don’t need to get into a fuller discussion of lying in general because Maher’s behavior was so similar to Fathom Media’s. I don’t think the behavior is defensible in either instance, but my main focus was the hypocrisy in jumping on FM and ignoring Maher.

      2. I should add that if I sound smug, it’s because my cynical expectations have been confirmed so utterly in this instance. The condescending and sanctimonious talk is all about reason and science, but the real focus is simply the bashing of religion.

        Not that it excuses my behavior. My apologies.

      3. I agree with you Robocop. Maher should not be given a pass and should not be awarded for his deceit just because he attacks religion.

      4. (This is a reply to Robocop’s reply to me. I have no idea where it will end up)

        You see, this is where I think that you are wrong. The fact is that most of us believe that his anti-scientific views are eminently more dangerous than telling a few porkies in order to to get people to agree to an interview. I have little doubt that you’d agree with that, as well. And I’d feel exactly the same if it were a creationist (or any religious believer), as well. I didn’t even know about his use of those tactics, because, as I’ve already said, the movie is of little interest to me.

        So, it simply does not follow that either because people found his movie to be funny, or because they are more concerned with his anti-scientific views, that they are therefore unconcerned about the methods that he used to persuade people to give an interview.

        And I get the impression — and I could certainly be wrong — that you drawing a conclusion about too large a group of people, based on almost no evidence. Remember what you said about an absence of evidence? Well, in this instance, I’m on your side, because you haven’t done the necessary research to be able to conclude anything.

        At best, you can accuse the people (all 3 of them) that decided to honor Bill Maher of the lesser, but still quite plausible, charge of utter carelessness (not knowing or bothering to find out), or of the more serious one of not caring about his numerous transgressions, which would certainly reflect badly on them (but only them). Richard Dawkins could also be charged with something similar, though in my experience, once it is thoroughly explained to him, I am fairly certain that he will change his mind. He’s rather good like that, and I have no doubt that he hasn’t fully grasped the situation.

        But atheism is not a club, and I’m not entirely sure why, but I get the impression that you believe that this incident reflects on far more people than you could reasonably justify. That everyone isn’t jumping up and down about the one thing that appears to occupy your thinking (the method of gaining interviews) — given that it cannot be the anti-science views, as virtually everyone has been up in arms about that, and long before you turned up — is, in my opinion, a problem of your own making.

        Seriously, it is bad form to infer from relative silence about one issue, given that there is an almost unanimous uproar about another, far more important one, that that somehow means that those people are actually implicitly in favor of his other actions.

        Why not ask us what we think about it?

        And by the way, here’s what PZ said about the film, on February 23rd, even though I’m still not sure whether he explicitly knew about the tactics used:

        “Maher cheated. He had a clear idea of what his opinion was, but he wasn’t sharing it with the people he was interviewing. They were left to flounder and make poor arguments in part because there are no good arguments for religion, but also because they were left in the dark about what they were arguing against. It may be funny, but it’s no fair; contrast that with the Dawkins’ documentaries on religion, which are less funny, but more honest, because the people on camera know (or should know) exactly what they are wrestling with.”

        So, that leaves you with the people that made the decision to honor him, as well as Richard Dawkins, none of which have actually said that they approve of his methods.

        Slim pickings, indeed.

      5. Damien — My comments have not been directed to the rabble, but rather to the “stars,” and I’m much more concerned about Maher’s allleged “science” than his lying. PZ deserves some credit for his criticism of Maher, weak though it was. But AAI is giving him their highest honor. Dawkins, for whom the award is named, approved the selection and, despite the guts of the controversy being laid out before him, continues to ignore Maher’s anti-science views and actions. JC takes the time and effort to criticize (rightly, it should be noted) an obscure Australian film by creationists, but remains silent on Maher.

        If and when one of the “four horsemen” or even other prominent atheists go after Maher for his nonsense, I’ll reconsider my view. I hope to see some of that at the AAI convention. Until then, my working hypothesis is that they don’t want to do so because it might hurt the cause, with “the cause” being all about attacking religion rather than the stated touchstones of science and rationality.

    3. you seem to think, that the problem with creationist “documentary film” makers is, that they don’t tell the scientists, where they are coming from.

      no, the problem is, that they _always_ _edit_ those interviews in a way, that will make the scientists look like they are saying something completely different, that they were actually saying. if they say something, that would make creationism look bad, that is edited out. if they say half a sentence, that can be interpreted, as if they admitting a conspiracy against jesus, and the second half of the sentence would clear it up, that they are not saying such a thing, the second half is edited out. and so on.

      so, the problem with creationists not telling scientists they interview, who they are, is an indirect problem. if scientists know, that they are interviewed by creationists, then knowing, how they tend to distort their words, they can either refuse to give an interview, or they can insist, that _everything_ they say should stay in the film.

      if maher did this kind of editing, then he is guilty. if he didn’t, then he isn’t. it’s that simple. do you have any evidence, that he edited his interviews to make the religious sound worse, than they actually did?

      1. Did you even see the movie? Of course he did that kind of editing. The movie set out to make religion and religious people look as ridiculous as possible and was edited with that goal in mind. “Fair” doesn’t sell tickets. The movie doesn’t purport to be a documentary, although it was marketed as one to those they wanted to interview. And, had I cherry-picked the interviewees the way Maher did, I could make any group of people look absurd. How hard do you think it would be for a Hollywood filmmaker with a healthy budget to make, let’s say, scientists look ridiculous if that was the goal?

      2. I have not seen the movie, nor do I know anything about Maher. If he dissembled about his reasons for interviewing people, then of course I would condemn that, just as I would condemn any non-scientific attack on vaccinations (as I have indeed on this site). But I can’t condemn what I haven’t seen.

      3. JC — Maher is the headliner at the AAI convention this fall (where you are also speaking) and is being given the Richard Dawkins Award there. As the links in this thread alone show, he’s in Jenny McCarthy territory with respect to science and reason. Don’t you think it might be a good idea to find out what he shills?

      4. Robocop: i wasn’t talking about cherry-picking the interviewees. if you want to show, how stupid religious people _can_ be, of course you will choose those, who are stupid. that doesn’t equal to saying, that _every_ religous people are that stupid or evil, as “borat” or “bruno” doesn’t say, that _every_ american is stupid or evil, just shows some of them, who actually are. i really don’t see any problem with tricking stupid or evil people to show themselves as they are.

        what i was talking about: did he _edit out_ anything from the interviews, that would change the meaning of their claims or actions in the movie, and would show, that they are not stupid or evil at all?

      5. “i really don’t see any problem with tricking stupid or evil people to show themselves as they are.”

        I do. If you’re right, anybody can justify dishonesty with respect to opponents and their views because it’s an alleged search for truth. I find that both wrong and highly dangerous.

        “what i was talking about: did he _edit out_ anything from the interviews, that would change the meaning of their claims or actions in the movie, and would show, that they are not stupid or evil at all?”

    1. Smart Woman. I aspire to be more like her.

      I still get suckered in to the little battles, but she fights the big war on creationist ignorance.

  7. Oh well, people believing that nothing making life look evolved is a whole lot better explanation than evolution making life evolved, happened to lie when documenting such a bizarre notion. The shock comes from what?

    What’s important is that the film appears to be going nowhere, except perhaps to the converted.

    Even if it did get further exposure than to the converted, I wouldn’t worry at all. A major “argument” against evolution that they use is that the earth is too young for it, and even the liars at the DI know that’s a non-starter.

    It may convince a few stupid people who weren’t already convinced, but it won’t have much of an impact at all.

    Glen Davidson

  8. Most Christians have to quotemine the bible in to simply decide what parts of it to follow and which parts to ignore. There is no guide in the bible itself for how to do this.

    The right wing types get all het up about homosexuality but why are they not as concerned with eating shellfish or wearing clothing of two different fabric types? Children who change their religion (and adulterers and homosexuals) are to be stoned to death according to the bible. How is it that Christians don’t follow these other rules too? they’re all there in the same book.

    Most Christians (whether they know it or not) already disregard much of what might be called “biblical” values or morality simply because it is beyond the pale of common human decency. They pick and choose what to follow and how to follow it, what to believe and how to interpret it. If Christians so readily and willingly cherrypick stuff from their sprawling, archaic, barbaric and contradictory holy book, doing the same with the words of mere mortals (particularly if they are unbelievers)isn’t going to raise any qualms of conscience is it? I wonder what counts as “scholarship” or even “honesty” in these circles? How does this behaviour fit in with the “absolute” morality with which theists are always bashing atheists?

    1. Bill Maher says that when people say, “I’m a Christian”, he hears “I’m crazy”.

      Christians believe so many unintelligible and various things including the age of the earth who knows what the hell “I’m a Christian” means or what a Christian actually believes. Whatever it is, they seem to think that those who believe as they do are better or more moral people than those who don’t, –but the evidence is lacking. And I frankly don’t care what people believe any more than they care about what I believe. I care about what is true.

  9. If creationists can’t bully scientists into looking like they accept their views, they’ll discredit them.

    They ought to be marginalized in the same way they themselves would marginalize those who practice voo-doo.

    Holier-than-thou dishonesty is the worst and most intractable kind as far as I’m concerned.

  10. And of course they manage to justify this duplicity by cherry-picking the Bible:

    Yes, they do.

    On the other hand, I do not think that Jesus is portrayed as being actually honest in the Bible. He states things that are “misunderstood” by his disciples or the crowd–as if he didn’t know that his statements would be misleading in context.

    His reinterpretations of his Bible hardly seem intellectually honest, even though I’ll grant that he may have been personally honest and making the best of the mish-mash of incongruent viewpoints within the Bible (OT in this case, naturally).

    Whether Jesus really acted as depicted in the New Testament or not we’ll probably never know. But cherry-picking or no, the example of Jesus in the Bible is not one of being fully honest to people. I’m afraid that they do have Biblical excuse for at least some duplicity.

    Not that they’ll ever extend their sanction of dishonesty to anybody but themselves.

    Glen Davidson

    1. Heck, their god is dishonest. He says anyone who eats from the tree of knowledge will die… but they don’t.

      And how can anyone get the freedom of death with the threat of eternal life hanging over them–one where they everlastingly worship the invisible guy who is testing them and one where they are tormented eternally for some finite failure that their omniscient creator would have known they would make. Nice.

      The bible is full of lies… what about faith moving mountains or 2 people gathered in sincere prayer always having their prayers answered. Is no one praying for starving kids or to be cured from terminal diseases? Weren’t a whole plane of passengers praying not to have their hijacked plane driven into a building? Or was that part of that parable stuff that you can ignore or cherry pick away or plug in to explain some coincidental good fortune or medical technology?

      If a theist repeats a lie often enough it becomes a “higher truth” I guess. They learned it from their invisible creator and the magic book he inspired.

      Religionists are the biggest of liars in my experience since they’ve had so much experience lying to themselves and spinning bullshit into “moral platitudes”.

  11. I would be more inclined towards skepticism of the South Korean company. That country has gone absolutely Crazy for Christ ™. They may be more religious than the US. (Darn, now I have to go off and fact check myself.)

    1. As a Korean, I have to argue against that. Nearly 50% of Koreans profess to no religion, and Christians (Catholics and Protestants combined) amount to only about 28% (the rest are mostly Buddhists).

      However, it is true that Christians are actually continuing to increase in Korea (one of the few countries where that’s happening, apparently), and that many of the Christians are fundamental zealot loons. But they’re still a minority, albeit a very vocal one.

      On the other hand, their looniness has also drawn fire from the rest of the non-Christian community. Die-hard Christians are mostly mocked and insulted on the internet. Christianity is called “Gidokyo”, but it is often referred to as “Gehdokyo” (Geh is the word for dog), or the “Religion for the dogs”(or “Dog Religion”?).

      In short, there is a big divide between the vocal Christians and everybody else.

  12. The same thing happened (in a different ’cause’) to three scholars of Einstein who were interviewed by an Australian film maker for what they thought was a documentary about Einstein but was actually a ‘documentary’ claiming that Einstein’s first wife was a collaborator on his early work and that he erased her from the record.

    Allen Esterson has done heroic work in researching this myth and showing how bad the evidence is.'s%20Wife

    1. I just got your book, Why Truth Matters– *applause*

      And applause to Allen Esterson and all those who work hard to disseminate the truth to people who have come to believe a lie.

      1. Thanks!

        Yeah, Allen’s terrific. He put in a huge amount of effort informing people at PBS about the inaccuracies in the documentary and on their website. The PBS ombudsman agreed with him, and said so publicly, but PBS has done very little (the little was cosmetic) to fix the situation. It’s really appalling.

    1. Aha!, New England Bob, thank you for bringing up a good point.

      My statement, boiled down into a bite size piece in order for you to actually say why it was wrong, actually did its duty.

      Instead of saying that my argument was stupid, you showed WHY it was stupid. And thus gave me an opening to explain a nuance.

      My argument “No evidence for God. People believed in God before they had other people to tell them to believe in God. They must have had evidence for God.”, is simply trying to prove the existence of a God, not a specific one.

      However, your criticism of that argument was not “this is not a good argument for God because…” but it was “this is not a good guide to help me pick the right God”

      It seems that you are now arguing not for evolution, but for atheism (the two always seem to find each other, huh?), and I would be glad to tell you which God I believe in and why, but I have to convince you that a God exists first. One step at a time.

      1. You are simultaneously obtuse and malicious.

        You, you moron, brought up god. Not me. That part had nothing to do with evolution.

        You are too ignorant to bother with anymore. I will no longer read comments.

      2. All of science is non-theistic, not just evolutionary biology. No gods are posited in chemistry, physics, geology etc. The writers of the bible was as ignorant in these fields as they were in biology, (so that Genesis makes a hash of all fields of knowledge in its guesses at the origin of the universe) but biology and evolution take the brunt of the atheism rap for some reason, as if this were a bad thing.

  13. Here is the most insane and ignorant statement from Andrew:

    No evidence for God. People believed in God before they had other people to tell them to believe in God. They must have had evidence for God.

    People believed in Thor and Zeus and Apollo and Ra and all kind of gods before The Abrahamic god, so by Andrew’s delusional thinking they must have had evidence to prove it!

    Can there be anything more laughable?

    1. Listen, Mr. Davidson, first of all, I am glad I can type this because we in the first grade are still learning how to form our letters.

      “Being relatively hairless and having clothes and fire means that we can maintain our body temperatures in a far wider range than any other animal can. That’s an evolutionary advantage, and Christ, how can you be so dimwitted?”

      Your comment above shows that you are arguing from opinion to evidence. You believe in evolution, and since we have all of these advantages, then we must have evolved them. You may get all hissy again at me not taking your argument simply from authority (as it seems you may have progressed to the name calling fifth grade), but this was not very convincing.

      “Again you prove that you’re a dunce. Quite obviously that was not my blog, I was responding to David Klinghoffer’s lies at his blog”

      All I will point out in response to this is that, yes, I have sat in a corner before, and yes, I knew that was a comment. “referring me to historical comments”– that was a historical comment, right?


      1. Your comment above shows that you are arguing from opinion to evidence. You believe in evolution, and since we have all of these advantages, then we must have evolved them. You may get all hissy again at me not taking your argument simply from authority (as it seems you may have progressed to the name calling fifth grade), but this was not very convincing.

        I call you the dimwitted dishonest person that you are not because you don’t accept an “argument from authority,” which I didn’t make, but because you’re a completely ignorant twat who hasn’t dug into the actual evidence for our evolution in the hot savannas. Being the ignorant unthinking git that you are, you can’t infer from gooseflesh and our tiny body hairs that our ancestors had functional body hair, and furthermore you are unable to think about how our loss of hair and ability to sweat would evolve in a hot environment.

        See, we’re arguing from a context of intelligence and learning, while you’re using your stupidity and lack of civility to simply deny what is based upon evidence which cannot properly be provided here. As I noted, your huge deficits in learning cannot be remedied here (or anywhere else, I’ll warrant), but the mere fact that you’re an ignorant buffoon who doesn’t care enough to Google the necessary information to deal with these issues doesn’t mean that the lies you throw at me have any basis in fact. I’m referring to well-worked-out and highly evidenced theory of which you are ignorant and uninterested in learning, but you simply spit at the learning that you lack.

        All I will point out in response to this is that, yes, I have sat in a corner before, and yes, I knew that was a comment. “referring me to historical comments”– that was a historical comment, right?

        My god you have no ability to think or write logically.

        I have to wonder if you’re even that stupid, or if you’re just trolling for lols, however ignorantly. Really, though, I have better things to do than to deal any further with the clot-headed obtuseness that you spew repeatedly, so I’ll leave off with this sentiment: Get stuffed, moron.

        Glen Davidson

    2. We can use Andrew’s delusional thinking to extrapolate that his dishonesty and stupidity are caused by demons since people have believed in demons for eons and used them to explain all sorts of uncivilized behavior.

      I think I saw a “woo” website that “confirms” that demons are responsible for stupidity. There you have it. Millions of people have believed therefore it must be true! And, by the same reasoning, the earth must be flat and the sun really must be moving across the sky rather than the earth rotating towards the sun.

      Fortunately, the rational people have science to sort out belief from truth. We use a special thing we call “empirical evidence” rather than faith. Sadly, it’s a tool that only smart people can access.

  14. Maybe this will get lost in the ongoing madness and I’m too late, or hopefully someone had already suggested this but:

    record the damned conversation!!!

    Every reporter alive has this one figured out!

    My advice toa all scientists: Anytime someone wants to do an interview with you about Darwin or evolution, record the damn interview!

    By there own logic, all you have to do is not tell them you are doing it and remain honest if asked. But seriously, how often does an interviewer ask if they aren’t the only ones with a recorder? If they try to misrepresent your opinions… Release the entire interview online!!! My phone has a recorder that records straight to MP3, noone knows when I use it, and a one hour interview is only a few MBs

    Come on people, we are supposed to be smarter than these idiots!

    1. That’s a good point. I was already feeling bad for the scientists that they were naive enough to be taken in by creationist film makers. That they failed to make their own recordings is strike two.

    2. That’s a good point. I was already feeling bad for the scientists because they appeared naive by getting taken in by creationist filmmakers. That they failed to make their own recordings is strike two.

  15. why scientists, historians etc keep doing this? i mean palying to teh charmers, preaching to teh choir? for money? otherwise it seems incredible they dont know what was behind what they have been asked to do…
    lets not bother any longer let the issue go, creationista are thriving, science and scientists are not.. this is not a rational issue: it is a political thing which it is not rational..please let it go…

  16. Not a week goes by that I don’t regret that I am not a lawyer, and therefore can’t sue people like the Creation Ministries International.

    The religious right have several legal firms ready to do this sort of thing at a drop of the hat. When will those of us on the other side of the aisle have such a resource?

    We also really could use an official well-funded analog of the Templeton Foundation to legitimize and mainstream scientific outreach programs, including a congener to David Barton and creationist lecturers in churches. It seems to me that an enormous percentage of the anti evolution, anti science, anti atheistic, and anti Church-State indoctrination in the U.S. takes place in and through church events. This venue, I think, is where we should direct our efforts.

  17. New England Bob (if you are still reading),

    I know that I may have not done a good enough job in simplifying my argument when you resort to name calling and do not raise any actual objections to my work.

    Here is a simplified version.

    An atheist faces two hurdles. Believe in a god. Find the right God.

    1. These are not hurdles they are fetters. Why are atheists compelled to believe in a god or gods?

  18. Mr. Davidson ( if you are still reading),

    That was a very amusing post. You are making me laugh, but I am not here specifically for that. I am laughing mostly at the fact that every post that I make I write something witty about how your arguments are mostly name-calling, and you respond by calling me ever more names. Just in the last post, you have defined me as “dimwitted, dishonest, moron, clot-headed, ignorant, unthinking, git (?)”

    Do you really believe that cloaking your amazing arguments behind name calling is the most effective way to argue?

    Also, if everybody here is looking to convince people of evolution (as I said, I am here to be convinced), then you should consider making the arguments simply and convincing in this forum, rather than pointing everyone to read this or that. The point is, I have been on talk origins alot and am reading Darwin’s book, but I come to these forums so that their can be a give and take. When I come to these forums, I expect to find what I am looking for here, not expecting to be sent to some website. I can Google too. I think their is way too much assumed ignorance in this forum, and the only way it seems, to be cured of ignorance, is to say “I believe in evolution”.


    1. Andrew – the name that comes to mind, reading your comments is “tedious”. You complain that everyone here is “pointing…to read this or that”.

      Well, sir. I’d say now you are faced with 2 hurdles. What is the name of this blog? And why is it called that?

  19. Well, Not Bruce, I would disagree with that statement, because alot of scientists thought otherwise. many of them thought that they were responsible for figuring out what God’s natural law was.

    1. Show me where deities are used as part of a scientific explanation? Science has continually and consistantly pushed gods out of the explanations for the way the world works. Lightning and earthquakes are prime examples of phenomena which were formerly attributed to gods but which are now understood (however incompletely and provisionallY0 as strictly physical events reqiring no supernatural component.

      Certainly in the past (before we knew more and better)divinities were viewed as the prime movers, first causes or whatever. In the past it was also often dangerous to espouse atheism, so couching things in terms of a god would have been much safer. But are any gods present in Newton’s formulations governing motion? Are there gods in the gas laws? Are deities ever invoked for the nuts and bolts explanations of phenomena in the material world? Darwin’s natural selection was offered as a counter to Paley’s divine watchmaker, one more “god of the gaps” banished by a non-supernaturalistic explanation. Miller and Collins might feel that they are exploring a god’s laws but they presumably do not include a deity in their technical papers.

    2. Well, Bruce,

      This is an interesting subject you bring up. In my view of God, he is the one who invented lightning and earthquakes, but you can still study the rules that govern them of what conditions cause them without mentioning God.

      I mean, if someone baked me a cake, I could describe the cake without reference to the creator.

      The vast majority of science has no particular bent towards God or no god, except for evolution, which would purport to show that life on earth has evolved without reference to an independent intelligence.

    3. Is your “scientific explanation” for the wearing of clothes something about an invisible guy and a garden with a talking snake? Is THAT your competing explanation for all the ignorance you display regarding actual science and so forth?

      Do you believe you are saved for believing this crap?

      That’s the problem with faith. It makes you unable to understand the truth just a surely as a person who needed to believe the earth is flat would be.

      If natives who don’t wear much clothing, protect sensitive areas from bug bites, snake bites, and sunburn… We are the descendants of such well reasoned people. If rampant nudists were the best at passing on their genes having to do with their desire for nudity, then people wouldn’t be wearing clothes. Get it? I thought not.

    1. Oh okay… but sometimes it’s a sort of stress release, you know…

      ‘Just good sporting fun– and it may educate the readership, even if the troll is impenetrable. (No one is forcing you to join in 🙂 )

      1. Not a problem – but my pearls of wisdom have been eclipsed and ignored, you see, and that is unforgivable… well, at least from my standpoint. 😀

        I’m just saying this thread has been completely highjacked, and could have been a lot more interesting than supplying Andrew with his thrills.

  20. Why is it that the ignorant creationist morons like Andrew do not recognise their own mental inconsistencies by:

    a) using computers, the internet, iPods, microwave ovens, vaccines, modern medicine, cars, aeroplanes, DVDs, etc, that are applications of modern science and

    b) simultaneously denying the findings of modern biology, which have been varified beyond any reasonable doubt.

    I am getting really tired of hearing the same old creationist nonsense over and over again.

    Andrew, get in the feckin’ sack,

    1. You know, the term you used “ignorant creationist morons” is an oxymoron. “ignorant creationist” suffices.

      Andrew is here to be a troll, it is probably someone we know as another name but since we destroy them consistently, they become embarrassed to use the same name, so they make up a new one.

  21. Andrew is interesting from an evolutionary perspective because the memes that he uses to convince himself that his woo is true are helping evolve the best memes for propagating that woo.

    The wedge strategy of obfuscation, dishonesty, and discrediting scientist evolved from such mental masturbation played out in courtrooms, classrooms, and the media, so I think it’s a good think for all rational skeptics and scientists to be aware of. We can evolve better antidotes of reason as they evolve their assorted woo mind viruses to obfuscate understanding.

    Really, all woo (astrology, crystal healing, birthers, moonies,) etc. use the same mental tricks to make believers feel like they are “in on” secret truths that arrogant scientists “don’t want them to know about.” As a former woo, I assure you I know of what I speak.

    There’s this silly analogy about scientists working hard to scale a mountain to find that a guru is already there –this analogy (which is propagated in many forms)lends to this inane idea that faith or holy books or revelation or “woo” can actually provide real truth and scientists are just jealous. It’s a tool that makes reasoning go soft as people feel special for discovering “higher truths” (or so they imagine).

    Science is the only method we have of finding and verifying truths– the kind that are the same for everyone no matter what they believe. All woo is harmful because it makes people think they have an answer when all they have is a delusion. It’s like the psychic purporting to know what happened to a missing child. It feels like “real knowingness”– but it isn’t, and can prevent information that is.

    Creationist propaganda can be used to support any creation story–even ones that conflict with theirs–Islam or Scientology, for example. Religions turn out stupid and arrogant people who pretend to be interested in facts when they really are just interested in proving that their woo is true. The longer they believe their delusions, the more arrogant and impenetrable they become. And whenever you support the notion that invisible beings talk to humans then you are responsible for the messages that those humans imagine they are getting. And sometimes those messages are quite horrible, indeed.

    Religious woo is THE WORST because people are vilified for questioning it and feel humble for infecting others with their delusions. They feel glorious and moral for believing their lies– for imagine the equivalent of having caught sight of the emperor’s new clothes (that only the purest can see, you know.) God belief has respect it hasn’t earned and I’m tired of the self-important maligning those who’d readily educate others to some of the most wondrous facts known to humankind. Yet God belief encourages this kind of prejudice and stupidity– it’s the only thing they got since they have no more evidence for their supernatural beliefs than they have for the supernatural beliefs they reject. And they know it.

    Andrew could really learn that which he dishonestly claims to be interested in, but instead he is stuck spinning straw men about the scientific viewpoint so he can knock them down and imagine himself victorious in defending his woo. I actually use “cut and paste” writings from such woo-ists in a course on critical thinking because illustrate major logical fallacies so well (particularly confirmation bias). They think they know more than those whom they could learn something from, but we can still inoculate those that are not affected from such idiocy.

    Andrew, despite all your bluster, your verbiage can’t make your god real nor can it help you understand the evolution and why it’s the key theory for an abundance of observed facts. It can’t creationist movie scientifically accurate or valid either. Evolution is more “proven” than the theory of gravity and has given us much more useful information than your imaginary friend and the liars who shill for him. You may think you are deceiving others with your false pleas at wanting to understand, but you are only fooling yourself. And I suspect the dishonest movie in question will only serve to bolster the confirmation bias of people such as yourself.

    You are not the moral example you imagine yourself to be nor are the creationists whose lies you turn a blind eye to.

    1. Articulate,

      Thanks for the comment. Mr. Davidson and New England Bob got too frustrate to talk anymore so I thank you for stoking the fire once more.

      Well, your long piece certainly followed the previous commenters, which is “make assertion” and then ” call someone stupid or ignorant”.

      Let’s first talk about this comment. “Science is the only method we have of finding and verifying truths”. If you truly believe this, then (1) you can not have any moral base to stand on because science can not tell you that you should not murder or steal. (2) all of your truths are of most flimsy and sentimental material around. For, as David Hume has pointed out, science is one big assumption, which is that the future will resemble the past. If an apple fell from the tree yesterday, it will fall from the tree today.

      The only real truth that cold hard rationality can give us is that “If my finger is touching your nose, then your nose is touching my finger” or other such sayings, like “If he is a bachelor, then he is not married”.

      So, it turns out that the more you embrace science, the more of a sentimentalist you are.

      1. I know who this is.

        It is the old fool Santi. He probably got banned and is using another IP address.

        Nothing to see here but lies, obfuscation and false premises followed by outrageous conclusions based on farts.

        Move along people.

      2. New England Bob:

        Your name-calling is cruel and stupid. I haven’t been banned by anyone, and I do not go by the name of “Andrew.” You’re conspiratorial mentality blinds you to even engaging with people with minimal decency. I haven’t even been around this site for a week. The only reason I knew that you were attributing another person (Andrew) to me was because someone at my own blog wrote and asked me about it. You seriously bring down the tone and quality of this blog. I deeply resent the inference that I would need to express my opinions under a pseudonym. I’ve always had out in the open opinions. I have no need to hide. And for the gazillionth time, I’m an agnostic, not some evangelical or fundamentalist.


  22. Robocop, I don’t think any lies are okay.

    I do think it’s much worse to lie in the promotion of supposed higher truth that is also a lie.

    To deceive people into giving an interview is wrong; I’d feel uncomfortable with that. But lying about what they said or their beliefs or the facts or the message is much different.

    I hope that clarifies it for you. One lie is a “candid camera” kind of lie… the kind they do in “interventions”– I don’t think they are great, but I can see why some might find them useful. I find them particularly abhorrent when done to promote a bigger lie by an institution that people have been bamboozled into giving their trust to (religion). Bill Maher doesn’t hold himself as a moral example nor as a promoter of supposed “divine truths”– religions do. That’s a BIG lie. That’s a big lie many honest scientists don’t want to be a part of. Most scientists do not want their words or facts twisted to support such a lie. Nothing Bill Maher did in Religulous can compare to that kind of lie.

    I prefer honesty. But I can discriminate between types of lies and harm that comes from types of lies. I hope most adults can too. Religions cannot. Their delusions are as unsupported and unevidenced as the conflicting delusions they dismiss or call “evil”.

  23. Here’s the difference regarding the lies…

    Suppose there are a group of people who believe the earth is flat. One filmaker misrepresents their intent to get flat-earthers to be clear about what exactly they believe (and to poke fun at the beliefs).

    The other company makes a film to make it look like there’s a scientific controversy about the shape of the earth and that round earth theory is in question and just as much of a “faith” as the flat earth-dome covered biblical view. The second group lies to scientists and misrepresents/vilifies science in their film and obfuscates the facts so that their beliefs look less specious.

    Which filmmakers are the most dishonest? Which film is the most dishonest? Would you boycott both filmakers at a speech. One is making a film supporting the notion that there are divine truths that their book has accessed. The other makes a point that, as far as the evidence is concerned, all claims of “divine truth” are as wacky as any other.

    Which film is more honest? What film has the most intention to cause harm.

    When law enforcement agencies pretend to be underage kids and pedophiles solicit them online, is the dishonesty of the law enforcement justified? Would you refuse to hear such a person speak at a convention or feel you needed to chastise them the way you would the Discovery Institute?

  24. Andrew,

    It’s nice to know that on the one hand you claim to simply be searching for some answers, yet on the other, as I read through these comments, your response to everything that’s submitted to you is simply dismissed with a ‘no thanks’ [paraphrase] or implying that you’ve visited said sources before (talkorigins) but are somehow unsatisfied or are still unconvinced.

    Look. Maybe when discussing the teachings of Jesus, NT, OT, or arguing Calvinism vs Lutheranism, or whatever it is you do to come up with the apparent conclusions you have (being the believer you are), perhaps all you need is just a forum, your bible and some people to toss ideas around with. But this isn’t the case when discussing a science. Especially evolution. As was noted before, this kind of venue is inadequate. You actually do need to do your own homework because of the diversity of topics being considered (genetics, biogeography, paleontology, among many others). In other words, you can’t get a ‘snap-crackle-pop’ answer to evolution like you can with Jesus (probably why its easy to communicate Jesus to children). No. You need to be an adult about this.

    So either you’re here to discuss these issues with the honesty to say to yourself that you are ignorant on these matters and like any other subject you learn, you do most of it yourself and therefore respect the material (sources, links etc) given to you and acknowledge that no one person can know everything there is to know on a subject, or you’re here to do as what is discussed in this original post by Dr. Coyne – lie for Jesus’ sake.

    The latter is becoming a bit more revealed from where I’m standing.

    1. Okay Derek, you raise some good points. I would say that I am looking for a good conceptual way to think about evolution. For example, I think about gravity in the big conceptual way that bigger objects will pull stuff towards them.

      In evolution, the big conceptual framework is natural selection. Understanding natural selection should be the biggest part about understanding evolution. Looking at other organisms and saying that they are similar to us does not convince me because if I was a home builder, I might use the same basic materials in building my houses, but I would be much more elaborate with my houses for rich people.

      I have a number of problems with extrapolating the concept of natural selection to account for one cell evolving into the variety of life that we see today, and I have brought up a few. I will bring up a few more.

      -If the first cell was in water, then how did that organism develop lungs? Lungs underwater does not confer an evolutionary advantage.
      -If the first cell was on land, then how did gills appear? gills on land do not confer an evolutionary advantage.
      -How does something evolve to fly? Evolution postulates small evoluationary changes, but why would resources be wasted on little nubs?
      -I also very much appreciate Michael Behe’s argument for irreducible complexity.( Please do not let your response simply respond to this point. I am sure you have alot of vitriol stored up for this man)
      -Why do we see delineations between species like we have. Evolution postulates small changes, so should not all the intermediary organisms be alive? Talk origins answers this question by saying that the more advanced organism will kill off the less advance organism, but that raises the bigger question, If the more advanced organism kills of the less advanced organism, which makes sense logically, then why would we not have one specialized creature for every habitat?
      -Why are humans so different from other animals? And I am not talking about genetics, but about their search for meaning, their love of art, their compassion, their cruelty. How do these things evolve?

      I know that everybody will be tempted to throw a bunch of links my way, but I have read many books that deal with this topic, like Dawkins The Selfish Gene and alot of FAQ’s on Talk Origins. So, if you would, try to apply Occom’s Razor to your argument and answer these questions succintly.


      1. Move along people. Nothing to see here from ‘Andrew” who is really Santi except bad premises, analogies that have nothing to do with anything, wild conclusions and twisted logic from him along with malicious intent.

        He is just a troll.

      2. See, I hesitate to get into anything with you because you have made a number of claims about yourself that would imply that you at least have SOME understanding to what evolution is – or even might be. I mean, you say you’ve read certain books and visited certain links that either deal with evolution or are written by biologists, yet there you are standing there with your arms up, shoulders shrugged, acting as if none of that material said anything on the subject worth while.

        Consider your questions: Cells having lungs? Cells going onto land? I assume you mean to say organisms having lungs, organisms going onto land… Which is it? And better yet, do you have the understanding to clear away this clutter? I don’t know and I question to give you the benefit of doubt.

        This is (at least partly) why everyone is giving you so much difficulty. And they have a point – you’re putting the cart before the horse in your thinking on these matters and it shows. Either you have not read the things you claimed to have read like the Selfish Gene (I mean c’mon, how the hell does the concept of gradualism escape you after reading that book!) or you have and simply don’t understand what is written on the pages which might as well have been in Swahili.

        Frankly, there is nothing anyone here can offer you if the latter is true because this requires a level of ‘training’ no one wants to spend time doing (and should be done by yourself anyway).

        I get the impression that you dislike pursuing matters on your own, but I offer these two links to help get you started (again):


        I offer TalkOrigins again because of your Behe question… it seems you either overlooked that part of TalkOrigins or you know something biologists and biochemists like Ken Miller and Douglas Theobald do not.

      3. NE Bob:

        I insist that you STOP defaming me. I am not “Andrew”, nor have I been at this site for a week. Nothing on this site over the past week has been posted by me. You have no grounds for engaging in ad hominem against me, and I deeply resent it. I wish professor Coyne would police your behavior, and stop letting you post insults toward me. It’s deeply offensive. Even when I’m not visiting this site, you seem to have the need to bring me up.


      4. Santi, I did not defame you.

        I did not engage in ad hominem against you. (The correct usage is ad hominem arguments or argumentum ad hominem).

        I do not post insults against you. You comments earn all that I have attributed to you.

        If I stop talking about you, will you go away again?

  25. See, that’s the problem with creationists like you, Andrew. You pretend to want answers to your loaded silly questions, but you don’t even have the basics for understanding the answers –plus you have an obvious bias towards a particular belief. The truth is, no answer can satisfy if it conflicts with the faith you feel so “saved” for “believing in”. You won’t allow yourself to understand any actual answer even though great answers have been provided for you by people who get paid to teach these subjects to other people. These people are smarter, more honest, and more humble than you, and they’d freely give you the answers, but you are the same as the liars in the title piece. You exemplify why scientists find creationists smarmy and revolting. This is exactly WHY we stop engaging your kind after a while. I’m sure you’d be similar if a Muslim creationist was trying to use these bullshit arguments to sell himself on Muslim beliefs. And yet he could.

    You are transparent, dishonest, and have a willful need to maintain ignorance regarding evolution. Why would anyone want to engage with someone like that? Would you try to talk reason with someone who was convinced that Scientology was “the truth” and that those who spoke badly of it were “suppressive people”?

    There’s lots of creation stories, but there is just one truth. You can have a million theories about how a crime was committed–but there is just one truth, and it’s following the evidence that gives us that truth. The same for evolution– for all of science.

    You come across as transparent, arrogant, dishonest and clueless. You just went of on a tangent about murder as though that’s relevant! Atheists are under represented in prisons and I don’t think they have a problem with the murder question. Of course, even my dog doesn’t murder. Most humans (with or without religion) don’t feel compelled to murder people… although, many people have been murdered because someone thought their god mandated it!

    But that’s neither here nor there. That’s just a common meme used by the faith infected so they can keep believing that their faith makes them more moral people or answers “real questions” about reality. You guys are endlessly playing this game of obfuscations, misdirection, snide allusions, tangents, straw men, diversions etc… If you can’t make faith look good, then you must convince yourselves that those who lack it must be bad.

    When truly want to know a question about objective reality, and science doesn’t have an answer, you are mistaken if you think some guru or holy book does. Sometimes, “I don’t know” or “I’m not sure” is the best answer we mortals have until the evidence accumulates. But creationists and religion never help accumulate that evidence unless they can twist it to pretend it supports the lie they are most enamored with. There are no more evidence for “Christian truths” than there are for “Muslim truths”. None. They aren’t truths– they’re myths that people feel moral for believing in. Christian Creationists are as much of a thorn in the side to actual science as are Muslim creationists.

    You’ve wasted the time of enough smart, honest, peoples and put down those who would actually answer your questions because you don’t really want any answer to any real questions– you want to believe your faith has given you the answer and that you’ve considered alternative viewpoints. You want to imagine yourself a victim. But these are lies you tell yourself. It’s a lie that all believers in all woo engage in to protect their cherished delusions.

    Your faith makes you behave dishonestly and immorally to the very people who could help you understand this. If you’ve ever tried to deprogram a cult member or victim of a scam or stage an intervention with an addict, then you should understand why people here want nothing to do with people such as yourself. You are engaging in identical bullshit.

    1. Well, thanks for setting me straight.

      You know, you did give me a compliment in there somewhere. You called me transparent, which I think is a compliment.

      But as far as your essay, you have degenerated into name-calling once again. You may have an amazing ability to understand things, maybe way more than me, but you have a very hard time expressing yourself without calling the person you are debating an idiot.

      Are you done now, just like Robinson and New England Bob?


      1. Move along people. Nothing to see here from “Andrew” AKA Santi except bad premises, analogies that have nothing to do with anything, wild conclusions and twisted logic from him along with malicious intent.

        He is just a troll.

      2. Andrew does not sound like Santi; Andrew’s sentence structure and word choice are very different from Santi’s.

      3. I think you have that effect on people.

        People either need to ignore you or fulfill your delusions about “mean ol’ atheists” so you can keep feeling special about those beliefs you’ve been indoctrinated with.

        I don’t see evidence that you are capable of productive conversation regarding the topic of evolution due to your faith. And so now I am in the category of people who will ignore you in the same many that you ignore delusional folks.

      4. Are you guys really serious that some guy changed his name and began to post again?

        You seem like you are proud of the fact that you ran someone off. But, a long time ago ” I learned that sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never harm me”.

        Anyhow, I know that Christians are a very easy target; They state their beliefs clearly and confidently. We are not a moving target. We have a clear basis for the decisions we make and the way we live our life.

        Articulate, why did you put “mean ol atheists” in parentheses? I did not say that. Most of the people on here are being mean, but I just go back to my nursery rhyme above.

        By the way, this commenting system is great. It sends me an email every time someone comments. I think every comments section should have this feature.

      5. “but you have a very hard time expressing yourself without calling the person you are debating an idiot.”

        Andrew Alexander you miserable liar. In all of Articulett’s patient and measured reply to you triggering that response, he did not once call you an idiot. “Transparent, arrogant, dishonest and clueless” are all adjectives, and hardly epithets. Go read WEIT and quit wasting everyone’s time.

        And by the way I hope you understand that your hero Behe made a complete ass of himself at Dover, not to mention that his department at Lehigh has a page on their website essentially disavowing the rest of the department from him. That, so far as I am aware, is unprecedented in all of academia. (If anyone is aware of a comparable disclaimer, please post.)

      6. Veronica:

        Thank you. That is precisely correct. Andrew is not me. I’ve completely had it with NE Bob and his ad hominem static. He needs to get a life. I haven’t even come to any threads at this blog for the past week.


  26. Andrew,
    Francis Collins is a man who understand evolution fairy well as does Ken Miller. They are both theists. If you really want answers to your questions about evolution, I suggest you ask them. I’m curious to know if their “accomodationist” approach has a beneficial effect regarding the teaching of evolution.

    Perhaps you can come back here, and tell us what you’ve learned from them. Don’t try to learn anything from the Discovery Institute or “intelligent design cproponesists” because you will end up sounding even more like they do than you sound now. And no honest scientist respects them or wants anything to do with their lies.

    1. Yes, thank you for once again referring me to people I have already studied. It is encouraging that not all evolutionists are atheists, but if Mr. Miller and Mr. Collins believe that we are primarily a soul and not a body, then I do not see how that would have evolved. God would have had to say, “okay, they are far enough evolved by now, I will give them a soul”. But, making arguments against God doing certain things from incredulity is dangerous.

      So far, my questions on evolution have not been addressed simply and succinctly, actually not at all.

      In the Selfish Gene, I think the most important problem Richard Dawkins attempts to explain is how we evolved our morality. I think it is a good example of changing the theory of evolution to accommodate for all of the things that it does not explain.

      1. Nothing here to see folks except Andrew the liar and fabricator and his delusional fantasies.

      2. “In the Selfish Gene, I think the most important problem Richard Dawkins attempts to explain is how we evolved our morality. I think it is a good example of changing the theory of evolution to accommodate for all of the things that it does not explain.”

        This is all you care about. So just say so. You don’t care about evolution. You care about things like morality – which for you, is better placed in the realm of the divine.

        Please, stop pretending like you’re interested in this science. Because if what I say here is correct, you’d be better off pursuing philosophy anyway.

        There. We’ve just saved each other so much time on this blog.

      3. okay so now you admit that you can’t understand. You can’t understand from a theist evolutionary biologist and you can’t understand from an atheist.

        There is nothing in science which can support the belief in any invisible entities. Souls are no more likely than demons or angels or succubi. The same for gods and devils and invisible pink unicorns. They are all the same as far as science is concerned. You can believe in them, but expect that most scientists will find you as delusional as people who imagine they are being probed by alien wormhole visitors. And for the same reason. Scientists can’t tell you why the alien visitors have chosen to probe you and they can’t tell you how the alien visitors fit in with evolution either.

  27. I don’t think you’re someone else, but after a while, all creationists sound the same. They try to sound sciency, but they make the same bad arguments and must have learned about evolution from the same poor sources.

    You say you’ve read the Selfish Gene, Andrew, but I don’t believe you did. You don’t seem to have understood it at all, in any case.

  28. The selfish gene was not about “morality” though it helps explain social animals who take care of and watch the back of others who share their social genes.

    It’s simple game theory… tit for tat… it encourages in group cohesion and protects against the out group. It’s seen in all sorts of animals.

    Dogs are a good example. We know they evolved from wolves and are, in fact, a subspecies (though in a fossil sense, I think a pug and a wolfhound would be considered macroevolution but who the hell knows what creationists mean by their weinie words–they sure don’t– and they move the semantic goalpost as needed to support their beliefs.)

    Humans cared for and thus “preferentially selected” the more social animals that bonded with them and considered them part of their group. We like animals that exhibit the feelings of morality that we see ourselves as having– caring for the young and vulnerable or elderly and infirm, for example. We like animals (and people) who show that they like us (tail wagging does this). All genes that code for these sorts of things are selected over genes that don’t. In this way, the selfish gene can be extrapolated to understand morality– but that is not what the selfish gene was about.

    Andrew and other theists need to imagine that morality comes from god and that their belief in that god makes them more moral and thus more worthy of salvation. Hence, they cannot understand the selfish gene or any evolutionary theory because it calls into question the very thing they feel “special” for “believing in.” Instead, they are forever misrepresenting the messenger so that their brain misses the message and their self-aggtrandizing delusion is retained.

    I think this speaks volumes as to why faith and science don’t mix. But I’d like Andrew to read Mooney, Miller, Collins, or the other “faitheists” and see if he understands evolution any better. In my experience, those that are brainwashed by creationists stay brainwashed… even when taught by the — accomodati. I think those who keep their beliefs private or don’t have vested interests in a particular creation tale are best teachers… but Andrew has the opportunity to prove me wrong by going to see if the fellow christian, Collins and/or Miller are better teachers. He clearly didn’t understand the Selfish Gene, and I suspect he’s too far gone.

  29. Applause to Glen D and the many intelligent people who have aimed to educate the uneducable Andrew. I am enjoying your responses and learning– even if he cannot, and I’m sure others are too.

    By the way, Andrew, we don’t “believe in” evolution– we accept it, because we understand it. I work in genetics. The tests that we use to prove paternity and forensic data are the same tests and types of tests that show us molecular relatedness and how all life is related.

    Am I to understand that you don’t even accept “common descent”?– which even the dishonest Behe was forced to concede not to look like a total buffoon? Exactly how ignorant are you? Do you believe your invisible god “poofed” people into existence, got pissed at their disobedience and then impregnated a virgin with his kid (who was really him in carnal form) and then had that kid killed as part of weird blood atonement plan for the disobedient first people he poofed into existence? Are you proud of that belief? All woo believers feel “martyred” when people laugh at their beliefs–even Scientologists and Muslims. It’s an well worn technique people use to fool themselves into feeling special for believing idiotic things instead of feeling embarrassment. And what great evidence brought you to this belief? How can you be so dumb in regards to actual evidence and whatever evidence you’ve utilized to believe whatever magical story it is you believe??? You have to be brainwashed with that belief to fail to understand how wacky that belief is and why people here treat you like you’d treat the guy claiming the government talks to him through his t.v.

    If you really want to understand evolution, it might help to learn what exactly it is YOU think happened since you think you are in on “the truth” and we can correct your errors. Oh, and ask real questions that you actually want the answer too– not idiotic creotard questions that we’ve all heard before and that indicate supreme idiocy and arrogance on the part of the asker. And then give us some evidence that you CAN learn and understand some basics rather than wasting the time of smart honest people who can use their knowledge to educate those who are actually interested and capable of learning these things.

  30. “(a) this amounts to quote-mining the bible, and (b) it sheds some light on why they are willing to quote mine, and don’t feel like they are being deceptive.”

    I’ll go further: evangelicals are so accustomed to what they call “proof-texting”, that they think that that’s what scholarship *is*. That understanding a topic is precisely being able to regurgitate quotes ripped out of context at a moment’s notice.

    Much like how the ancients decided that “wisdom” is the facility for composing memorable apothegms and explicating verbal riddles.

  31. Andrew, science never achieves 100% knowledge in any theory or fact for the simple reason that it works on the principle that all knowledge is tentative and open to change if new evidence is presented. The best example of this is obviously the heliocentric question and the reason for adopting this model was not because Copernicus, Kepler or Galileo said so but because the evidence presented disproved the previous hypothesis (that the earth was the center of the universe and all celestial objects revolved around it).
    The new model allowed astronomers to make predictions about the universe that, if they failed to happen, would have rendered the heliocentric model void. As it happened these predictions were true and the model stood.
    The scientific method allows a progressive understanding of the universe not because it ‘proves’ the truth but because it disproves false ideas. Religion rarely makes predictions about the natural world but those it does make are all the more useful because it allows one to deduce whether there is an underlying basis for the contention that the religion in question possesses some sort of greater knowledge.
    As a quick example of this imagine the following.
    Try to think of a religion that claims its founder is some sort of Omnipotent God figure with knowledge of all past, present, future events.
    Now imagine the claim that this God figure appeared on Earth about 2000 years ago and made a rather specific prediction of a future occurrence.
    This prediction goes something along the lines of:
    “I am going up to heaven now but I will return within the lifetime of those living today”.
    The claim is therefore that this figure would return to Earth within, lets be generous, 120 years.
    Now if it did happen it wouldn’t ‘prove’ the figure was God (other explanations could be offered – lookalike, mistaken identity, descendant etc claiming to be his ancestor etc – however if it DIDN’T happen we can conclude that the initial prediction has been falsified.
    The claim was false and thus the idea that the claimant was omnipotent or incapable of telling falsities or inacuracies has been disproved.

  32. After reading all the of the comments, I am going to assume that many of you are atheists who accept evolution as a fact.

    I am a Christian who believes that God created the earth and humans in his image.

    What are the implications of this?

    If you are an atheist, you have no rational basis for saying that anything is wrong. If their is no God, then everything is permissible.

    If you are a Christian, then you believe that their is a law that you must strive to follow, and their being a law, their is law giver.

    The problem is that many of these commenter’s do not understand the implications of their beliefs, because many of you acknowledge that lying is bad, murder is bad, intolerance is bad.

    1. Andrew, it’s time for you to give evidence that evolution is wrong and that your belief that God created everything is a fact. If you can’t, you’d best go elsewhere.

      1. Macro-Evolution is wrong because it can not account for love, rationality, morality, and other amazing features of human nature. I know that you will say that scientists are hard at work trying to prove that other animals have these characteristics, but let’s be serious here. Their similarities to us only reinforce how different we are, kind of like how the exception proves the rule. It is an incomplete theory. Therefore, if evolution can not explain every aspect of life that we see around us,some aspects of it must have been created.

        If I were evolved, I would expect that I would never have figured it out.


      2. That is not evidence of anything. That is your opinion based on….. nothing.

        This is exactly what Jerry Coyne means.

      3. Therefore, if evolution can not explain every aspect of life that we see around us,some aspects of it must have been created.

        Please Andrew, don’t insult the other posters with this. Why is the year 2009 the year that this assertion is valid but not earlier? Why can’t we wait another year before evolution explains everything?

        Astronomy after Newton and before Einstein explained the orbit of Mercury substantially worse than today. Would you say on that basis that “if astronomy can not explain every aspect of the solar system that we see in the night sky, some aspects of it must have been created”? Would you change your mind after Einstein’s general relativity made explaining the precession of Mercury’s perihelion much easier and more accurate?

        If I were evolved, I would expect that I would never have figured it out.

        Either this means nothing or it means that you have defined yourself into requiring god (for a much more sophisticated way of doing this, see Spinoza, Baruch). If, according to the way you organize your terms, god is a prerequisite for reasoning about evolution, then you have defined out the possibility of even disagreeing. But it would appear room to allow for a very uninteresting god. And it doesn’t seem to help the Christian god out very much, as there’s still no reliable evidence for a global flood, virgin births, burning bushes, parting seas, resurrections, etc.

        But I’m actually inclined to just consider that you aren’t even trying to make sense. You are merely stating your faith. I was an evangelical Protestant for 22 years (and probably a creationist for 14 of them), so I know where you’re coming from. You’re going to face a choice: either you will allow yourself to constantly question your basic beliefs or you will refuse to. Your discussion here indicates that you aren’t questioning them right now. I recommend it. And fear not, not everyone who does so necessarily becomes an atheist. To be fair, quite a few (like me) do drop religion, though. Have you tested your faith lately? Try questioning it. Then you can start learning about very useful and productive science without the baggage of unjustified dogma. It would be nice if you slough off god altogether, but at the very least, migrate to one of the less obviously wrong flavors of belief. I hear good things about Quakers and Deists.

    2. Sure atheists have rational bases for saying that things are wrong. Hurting people is wrong. Causing unnecessary suffering is wrong. Do you really believe that people didn’t think murder was wrong before people came up with the ideas of gods? Do you really think that the idea of gods keeps people from indiscriminate killing? Communities that failed to discourage theft, rape, and murder would self destruct rapidly, gods or no gods. Refraining from harming others is a principle that one can arrive at without gods.

      Speaking of unnecessary suffering, the god of the bible sure does go in for a lot of smiting. That whole flood thing was pretty brutal too. Why would an omniscient, omnipotent , omnibenevolent deity destroy all life (except for those creatures that could be wedged into an improbable wooden boat)in order to punish wicked humans? Why not just kill the humans only? I don’t beleve for a moment that any of that happened but you’re the one holding the bag for a deity who seems to be a pretty nasty piece of work. The god of the bible commanded its followers to kill people by stoning for an alarmingly large variety of offences including adultery, apostasy and homosexuality. Do you agree that these behavoirs merit execution? If you don’t then you have shown that morality does not come from a god (or at least not this one). In these cases you have decided for yourself what is right and wrong using your own sense of reason and compassion, against the dictates of your god. If you do agree that these behaviors are deserving of the death penalty then you are a monster.

      1. Hello Bruce,

        You may believe that murder and causing unnecessary suffering is wrong, but you cannot have a rational basis for it. It seems that you just have a sentimental feeling that hurting people is wrong. But, you cannot make a rational case for it.

        I do not claim that I can make up my own moral law. I live under a moral law not of my own making. Should people be stoned to death for the sins that you mentioned? Well, in the Old Testament that was the punishment, but the reason that the Old Testament is call “Old” is because their is a New Testament, which established rules that were more inclusive than before.

        My religion makes perfect sense, in fact, it is the only thing that makes sense of this world.

      2. You may believe that murder and causing unnecessary suffering is wrong, but you cannot have a rational basis for it. It seems that you just have a sentimental feeling that hurting people is wrong. But, you cannot make a rational case for it.

        Stupidest statement of the year. So now Andrew supports murder

        in the Old Testament that was the punishment, but the reason that the Old Testament is call “Old” is because their is a New Testament, which established rules that were more inclusive than before.

        This shows that Andrew is ignorant of his own bible. In the NT, Jesus states all laws of the OT apply.

        Therefore children who don’t mind their parents MUST be stoned to death.

        One must also kill those who wear garments made of different kinds of material. This is Andrew’s bible which makes perfect sense to him – how delusional can Andrew get?

      3. NEBob is correct; according to Jesus in the New Testament, he accepted the laws of the Old Testament. That means, of course, that working on the Sabbath is still a capital crime.

        Let’s bring this thread to a close; everybody is responding to one person, and that’s the definition of a troll.

      4. Bob, thanks for giving me an opening to explain your misinterpretation. Jesus said that he came to fulfill OT law, and he did that when he lived a blameless life. When he died, it was for our sins, which is an explicit acknowledgement that we have all sinned and that we need Jesus.

        Also, we do not really need OT law to tell us how to live. Jesus tells us to love our neighbors as ourselves, which takes care of the vast majority of wrongs, and then Paul’s letters give us more guidance.

      5. Andrew:

        Any kind of divine command theory is doomed to failure for several reasons. The Euthyphro dilemma laid waste to that nearly 2000 years ago, and every attempt to resolve it since has eventually failed.

        “Is what is moral commanded by God because it is moral, or is it moral because it is commanded by God?”

        The first horn of the dilemma (“Is what is moral commanded by God because it is moral”) implies that morality is independent of God and that, indeed, God is bound by morality just as we are. That would mean that God is simply passing on an already existing moral knowledge. Why would we then need God?

        The second horn of the dilemma (“is it moral because it is commanded by God”) gets you in to even more trouble. It implies that what is good is arbitrary, based merely on God’s whim. So, if God had said that — or indeed, if he does in the future — murder is good, then murder would be considered moral and good.

        Saying that he never would takes us back to the first horn, and implies that God is bound by an external source of morality. Why wouldn’t he, and how do we know that God would never consider murder to be good, if there were not an external standard of goodness that God reflects? You see, saying that God is always good, doesn’t make any sense, unless there is an external standard of good. Saying that what God says is good is always good, means that rape and torture could be considered good, if God commanded it to be so.

        None of the attempts to get out of this that I have seen have been successful. It doesn’t matter if you say that goodness is grounded in God’s character, because if God’s character changed, so too would what is moral.

        And it gets worse. The very act of initially choosing which sect of a particular religion to believe in has already introduced a level of subjectivity in to your morality. You have chosen that which you feel most suits you as a person. There are something like 30,000 different sects within Christianity alone. Each one teaches something slightly different. How did you resolve which one teaches God’s will?

        There is no way of resolving which sect (or indeed, which religion) is correct in what they say, which again points to the subjective nature of religious ethics. If there is no way to show that one is more correct than another, your choice becomes a subjective one, based on that which you prefer. So, unless you know of a way of showing that Christianity (and the sect that you belong to) is indeed more likely to reflect the word of God than Islam, for example, you have no business telling us that you adhere to an objective morality, because you don’t.

        And how do you decide what to do about the thousands of modern moral dilemma’s that are not mentioned in any of the holy books? There is nothing in any holy book about resolving child custody cases, which means that, necessarily, in all of those instances, you have to refer to something else, such secular moral philosophy, which is not grounded in God’s will. There are literally thousands of examples on which God is completely silent, so how do you decide what to do?

        Claiming that an objective morality is impossible without God begs the question against an objective atheistic ethics. Why would the nonexistence of God affect the goodness of justice and compassion? If it were the case, in your eyes, I’d better hope that there is a God, then, because I wouldn’t want to be around you if we ever found that that He doesn’t exist. What kind of person suggests that, if God does not exist, all bets are off, and raping and pillaging would be a perfectly normal thing to do? That is what you are saying, after all.

        And for you to claim that we “cannot provide a rational basis for why suffering is wrong” suggests that you have refuted all attempts by secular philosophers to do so. But clearly you haven’t. In fact, I’d be surprised if you’d ever read a single book (or even an article) by a secular philosopher, so you have no basis to make that claim.

        There is much more that I could say — like discussing the completely inadequate reasons for considering rape and murder as wrong in the bible, which don’t go anywhere near as far as modern moral thought — but I’ll end there.

      6. Damien, your post is brilliant. Thank you for the reference to Euthyphro.

        There is much more that I could say…

        Please do go on. I would be be fascinated to read what you have to say and I would suspect many here would also

      7. fyi
        Euthyphro’s dilemma is a straw man and it is routinely abandoned because it presents a false dilemma. The Christian understanding of God is neither that God commands by divine fiat, nor is subject to a higher law himself, but rather the morality he requires proceeds out of his own character. Thus morality is difined by God’s own character, not something external to him that is above or below him.
        Just so you know.

      8. Wrong Josh. I researched it. It is certainly not a staw man at all.

        “Thus morality is difined by God’s own character, not something external to him that is above or below him.”

        That is what the dilemma is ALL about. You should read up on it.

      9. “Thus morality is difined [sic] by God’s own character, not something external to him that is above or below him.”

        But how does that change anything? If God’s character changed, then so too would what is moral. It is still arbitrary (at least, possibly so), and it still allows for the possibility that murder, rape, and genocide are moral.

        Sure, you can say that God is wholly or maximally good, but how would you know unless there was an external standard of “goodness” that God’s character reflects? Without something to compare God’s character to, good could mean literally anything. You could also say that God is unchanging, but you find no support for that in the bible and, indeed, lots of evidence of the opposite.

        And the only way to interpret what you have said is to say that if God did not exist, an objective morality would be impossible. In other words, it would be incoherent to deny the existence of God and to affirm that cruelty is always wrong. As I said to Andrew, for the sake of both of you, as well as the rest of humanity, I’d better hope that God does exist, as I shudder to think what you might do if you ever found out that He doesn’t. Of course, there is nothing incoherent about denying the existence of God and also affirming that cruelty is always wrong, and even Richard Swinburne agrees with that. Indeed, the addition of God adds nothing to the reasons for cruelty being wrong.

        And then there are all of the difficulties that I outlined in the rest of my post about deciding between the competing claims of different religions, as well as different sects within the same religion. The very fact that religious morality has changed so much over time points to the incoherence and/or plasticity of the message. Add to that the silence on thousands of modern moral issues, and the whole thing is a mess, which is why I wouldn’t recommend looking to the bible for moral guidance.

        So, I stand by my contention that I am yet to see a serious refutation.

  33. “Macro-Evolution is wrong because it can not account for love, rationality, morality, and other amazing features of human nature.”

    Hmm… Does anyone have any references on this?

    As a lay person, I think its pretty clear to me that this is a false statement.

    The evolutionary benefits to survivability (and flourishing) of a species with these features seems obvious. Indeed, although we can’t ask them, by observation, some of these features appear to be shared by other species on the planet.

    My first thought would be that features like these allow larger more effective social groups, thereby allowing specialization of skills and higher structured social organization that benefits the group as a whole.

  34. I hope you will all allow me this brief digression to tell Spirula and J.J.E. how very nice it is to find not one but two fellow ex evangelical protestants in this comment thread! Perhaps this means our numbers are growing. I hope so.

  35. Prof. Coyne:

    I return to visit your site (after a week of not visiting) and I see that NE Bob is badmouthing me as going by the name of “Andrew.” I’d like to know why you make general statements about civility, but then let a fellow agnostic (me) receive constant insult-static and abuse from NE Bob. I want it noted that I never respond to him in kind, and yet he persists. It brings down the quality of your site to have a poster who insults other posters. I really think that your “faitheist” labeling of agnostics like myself sets a tone for others to assume that the correct way to deal with opposition or disagreement is dismissiveness and insult. It would be nice if people could engage in civil dialogue.


    1. Hey, Santi…have you met Andrew? You two would really hit it off!

      (Hey, Andrew, did you know Santi has a blog where you can post… I bet he can answer all your questions about evolution!)

      And to think… you met here on a blog called Why Evolution is True over an article about lying creationists!

      1. Articulett:

        You imagine yourself as funny I suppose, but you simply sound childish. If you have something of intellectual merit to say to me, fine. But I won’t have people engaging in insult directed toward me without complaint to Prof. Coyne. I’ve had it with you and NE Bob engaging in harrassment and ad hominem toward me as a human being, and characterizing my positions falsely. I am not a “lying creationist.” I’m an agnostic who fully accepts the theory of evolution and the old age of the earth and universe. I deeply resent the ease with which you feel you can defame a fellow human being just because they happen to disagree with you on other matters.


  36. I’m not being funny– I’m being sincere. Here’s a chance for you to prove that “faitheism” or accomodationism helps ameliorate scientific ignorance.

    We shrill atheists have upset the theistic Andrew just as we’ve upset you. We’ve driven him away from learning science. Here’s your chance to show us how your kinder gentler approach works. Why don’t you two go off to your blog where you model what you think a good blog should be like… and Andrew can ask you all the supposed questions he wants to know about evolution while you cater to his sensitivities.

    This kills many birds with a single stone. You and Andrew aren’t subject to those militant “new atheists” that hurt your feelings so much, and we aren’t bothered by your insincere questions and silly offense over well deserved and honest commentary regarding your postings here. Moreover, you can show us that this coddling of religious belief actually helps make “unscientific America” more scientific. You have a chance to prove Mooney’s point! I mean, what could be more unscientific than a person who believes their salvation depends on what they believe?

    Demonstrate for Jerry how you think he should be on your blog since clearly the majority here prefer his “style” over yours. Most of us don’t want him to be more like you. Myself, I prefer more people like him and his commenters in the blogosphere. It gives me hope for a more enlightened world.

    On your blog you can attract commenters who prefer your style AND you have a chance to prove that your accomodationist techniques are really useful in ameliorating scientific ignorance and expanding understanding of evolution. No need to complain here–you can prove your point by example on your own blog!

    I imagine Jerry, and most of the people here are a little tired of creationist semantics. I admit I have lost my ability to play nice with people who only get nastier the more logic invades that which they wish to be true.

    I believe that Andrew is asking insincere questions designed not to be answered– so that he can boost up points in favor of his faith in his head. You both have a chance to prove this belief of mine wrong. Invite him over to your blog where you can use your model of teaching evolution and answer his questions.

    1. By the way, I never called you a “lying creationist” nor have I defamed you. Faitheists just tend to hear people saying things they aren’t saying because it helps their “faith in faith” seeped brains retain the faith by keeping the faitheisl from hearing what is ACTUALLY being said. This is called a “straw man”. It helps you see me as the bad guy instead of seeing how very weak your own points are.

      1. Articulett:

        Calling someone a “Faitheist” is a form of defamation. It is not something that I choose to call myself, and it is insulting that you would take it upon yourself, in dialogue with another person, to name them on their behalf. It is patronizing. You have your theories about me, and what motivates me, and I can’t change that. But please stop pretending that you are being nice in calling people derogatory epithets like “faitheist.” The smugness of your derision will be called out by me from now on. And I expect it to stop. And I think that Coyne’s recent post asking people to tone it down is a signal that he wants it to stop. And I think it is ugly and disgusting of you to victimize people who disagree with you and then proclaim yourself a “rationalist.” It is not a characteristic of liberalism or rationalism to engage in cruelty toward others because you can’t get them to agree with you on matters of religion or irreligion.


      2. Faitheist is a term “Coyned” by Jerry after a contest looking for a term for people who treat religious faith as another way of knowing rather as another way to delude oneself. (See what you missed in your absence?)

        And I am making no pretense about being nice–that’s another straw man of yours, though I do believe I am much nicer than you.

        And, for the record, I care about your opinions of me just slightly less than you care about my opinions of you. I am more interested in the opinions of people I’d like to be more like. And I’m even more interested in what is true.

      3. Oh, Santi you are certainly a “Faitheist”. You attempts at telling people how they should react is the same as Chris Mooney.

        Yep, Santi the Faitheist fits perfectly.

    2. The only thing I would like to point out is that my feeling have not been hurt.

      The only emotion that I have experienced while talking to you people is a little amusement.

      1. You surely aren’t capable of actually “hearing” anyone here… you are too busy listening to that voice in your head that you’ve decided to call “god” who gives you all the answers.

    3. Never mind what Santi responds to your post. I want to say that starting with “This kills many birds with a single stone.”, your post is priceless. It is articulate and truthful and show that you have a very accurate and insightful grasp of both of these people.

  37. Articulett:

    You said: “you can show us that this coddling of religious belief actually helps”

    No. I have zero interest in helping you see anything. You are not interested in anything more than derision and agression. I want you to stop erecting your hate on me, engaging in demonization and projection toward me.

    Haven’t you noticed? For quite a while now, you have tried to write things in response to me and I’ve completely ignored you. Why? Because you long ago tore up your basic decency card with me, treating me as someone less than human that you could kick. I have only written to you now to insist that you stop.

    In future, on seeing my posts here, you should simply pass on by as I will not be responding to what you say.


    1. The things you accuse me, Jerry, and others of are more evident in yourself.

      I think you and Andrew need to lead by example rather than whining here.

      From my perspective, you are just fodder for amusement… illustrative of my points… an example of faith inspired delusions of grandeur (“I’m special because of the righteous stuff I believe”). I treat you exactly the way I think people with delusions of grandeur ought to be treated. To me your delusions of grandeur are no different than Tom Cruise’s Scientology delusions of grandeur… I find it much more productive to talk ABOUT such people than attempt to talk to them. Religion tends to make people very anognosiac to their own faults while projecting them on to those who don’t share their faith.

      I think both you and Andrew exemplify why treating religious delusions differently than other delusions fails as a strategy for teaching evolution or anything scientific. We should treat religious delusions the same way religious people treat those who have delusions they don’t share–the Scientologists, the voo-doo practioners, the witch burners, the astrologists, etc. There are none so arrogant, ignorant, and dangerous as those who imagine themselves “in on” “higher secrets”. They lie, stupefy, spread prejudice, and cause suffering, –all as they imagine themselves “moral examples” working for some “higher good”.

    2. Typical Santi. Clueless and he gets everything wrong as can be.

      You don’t answer articulett’s comments Santi because you know she has it right and she sees completely through your bad premises, wild ass speculations, atrociously bad conclusions and delusional and malicious thought.

  38. Andrew:

    Could you tell me if you agree with this statement: “The earth is old and plants and animals have changed over time”?


    1. Santi,

      I am sorry I will not answer the question. I do not like people to frame the issue for me.

      I do not believe in a literal interpretation of the Bible, for the fact that humans wrote it.

      I believe that their is a limit to how much plants and animals can change over time. I believe that plants and animals become more specialized to their environment over time. But I do not believe that one cell’s descendent’s evolved into the variety of life we see today.

      I base my faith off of the fact that their was a man named Jesus who lived in Jerusalem.

    2. You can do this on your own blog…

      Andrew is like you in that he asks questions designed to produce unsatisfactory answers (to him) which he can then use to prove that his “woo is true” in his mind. And then he plays the “you guys are mean” card when this is pointed out.

      Heck, I tried to see if he accepts “common descent” which even the dishonest Behe concedes… but I don’t even think he knows what it is. In fact, I don’t think he actually knows what he means by the term “macroevolution”, but he supposedly came to this blog because he was “dying to be convinced that macroevolution is true”. (I’d say that makes his first post here a lie.) Like you, he uses lots of words, but he never really says anything. And he either read “The Selfish Gene” and didn’t understand a word of it, or he lied about reading it. That makes him a “lying creationist” which is, at least, topical to the blog article.

      I think that’s all you need to know to invite him to continue this deep conversation over at your blog and to quit insulting those who teach this subject to students who pay money because they actually actually are eager to learn about evolution and don’t use creationist terminology like “macroevolution” (a weasely word that usually means speciation but changes as the creationist moves goalposts.)

      Nobody owes you two an apology. Truly, you’ve been treated as you have treated others and you’ve been treated exactly as you deserve to be treated by people whom you could learn from if you weren’t so damn sure you knew everything already. Nobody considers you nor Andrew the fabulous role models, diplomats, nor logicians that you seem to imagine yourselves. Nobody here thinks that you guys have been wronged by mean old atheists nor that you are noble to have suffered for “protecting faith”.

      Delusions are a dime a dozen, but they require the deluded to keep recruiting others into sharing said delusion in order to keep the delusion alive. You and Andrew both seem to think that faith is a means of knowledge. I think most of the other people here think faith is on par with any other superstition and should be treated accordingly.

  39. Andrew:

    I’m not trying to set you up. It wasn’t meant to be a trick question. I really can’t dialogue, however, with someone who equivocates. I would like to know, simply, whether there are any grounds for disagreement here. I believe that (1) the earth is 4.5 billion years old, that (2) there was a Big Bang about 13 billion years ago, and (3) that humans and dinosaurs did not live on the earth contemporaneously.

    Do you disagree on any of these three things that I believe? That’s not an attempt to box you in. I’m just trying to get clarity on what you think. If you’re interested in honest dialogue, you shouldn’t feel that honest responses need invite ridicule. I certainly have zero interest in ridicule. I just want to understand where people are coming from and why.


  40. This makes fabulous performance art.

    Andrew is either a lying creationist or someone who has been educated by a lying creationist and Santi is someone who thinks that “accommodating” such beliefs is a means of ameliorating scientific ignorance in such people.

    Santi has the opportunity to run an experiment to test his hypothesis, and we have the opportunity to watch “science in action”. Of course, it’s a single example, but I’m waiting with baited breath…

    Who knows, maybe this “accommodationist” stuff works?

  41. Hello Damian,

    Your dilemna poses no problem for me. I think that what is moral is moral because God arbitrarily made is that way. You say that makes my morals arbitrary and based merely on God’s whim. Well, you said God’s whim, but I look at it like God’s command. You use the word whim because you somehow seek to trivialize the power of God, but surely if you really believed God was all-knowing then any of his whims would be satisfactory to you.

    The bottom line is, God has an idea of what a perfect society would look like.

    I agree that if their was no God, I may be a different person. I may refrain from raping and pillaging, but it would be from a purely sentimental perspective. I would have no rational way of telling my neighbor that he should not rape or pillage.


    1. Well, of course it “poses no problem for” you! Only that you are forced to admit that if God commanded that murder, rape, pillaging, war, you name it, was good, you’d believe Him, and by necessity, also take part in those activities! If you would refrain from taking part, on who’s command and/or why?

      Indeed, even if you don’t adhere to the Old Testament laws — which is a cop-out, as it still describes God committing genocide — let’s have a look at the New Testament. As Sam Harris says:

      Most Christians imagine that Jesus did away with all this barbarism and delivered a doctrine of pure love and toleration. He didn’t. (See Matthew 5:18–19, Luke 16:17, 2 Timothy 3:16, 2 Peter 20–21, John 7:19.) Anyone who believes that Jesus only taught the Golden Rule and love of one’s neighbor should go back and read the New Testament. And he or she should pay particular attention to the morality that will be on display if Jesus ever returns to earth trailing clouds of glory (e.g., 2 Thessalonians 1:7–9, 2:8; Hebrews 10:28–29; 2 Peter 3:7; and all of Revelation).”

      This article lays out exactly what is in the New Testament: What does the New Testament actually say about morality?

      Well, that sounds exactly like the kind of ethical system that I wish to follow. I’m joking, of course.

      And you haven’t answered almost any of the points in my post. How does God know what is good, unless there is an external standard that He reflects? Nor have you answered the charge that religious ethics are subjective, due to the fact that a method of deciding which religion, or sect within the same religion, truly reflects God’s will, doesn’t exist? And you have made no mention of the thousands of modern moral dilemma’s that all God’s are silent on, either? How do you decide what to do in those instances? And finally, you haven’t retracted you statement that there is no rational basis for believing that suffering is wrong without God, even though you had never even attempted to find out if it is possible. Oh well, I guess.

      Seriously, Andrew, you have essentially just admitted that you don’t care if religious ethics are any better — and in numerous ways, much worse — than non-religious. That’s fine, because I don’t believe that you get your moral guidance from religion, either. But you should at least be honest about it.

      1. If God had commanded that rape and murder were wrong, then I would believe that rape and murder were wrong. You assume that morals exist independent of God. Well I believe that God created everything in this world, most importantly he set up the rules that should govern society. So, if rape and murder were okay in his sight, then you would also believe that, because he outfitted us with a moral compass.

        I do not make any distinction between religous and non religous ethics. all ethics are religous.

        I think that the main reason that Christians do not kill those who are wicked now immediately is because of the Great Commission. Also, like I have said before, I do not believe that the Bible is infallible, for the fact that it was written by humans, who are fallible. However, I do believe that it is roughly accurate. You know, the newspaper prints corrections every day to its reporting, but it is roughly accurate and I get my news from it everyday.

      2. Wow, Andrew, you have outdone yourself with nonsense statements.

        All you say is” goddidit, goddidit, goddidit without any rationale or logic to your sentences. I continue to laugh at how many ways you say the same nonsense.

      3. “You assume that morals exist independent of God. Well I believe that God created everything in this world, most importantly he set up the rules that should govern society. So, if rape and murder were okay in his sight, then you would also believe that, because he outfitted us with a moral compass.”

        No, you assume that they don’t exist without God, and without evidence. I know that they exist without God, because I (and millions of others) am testament to that. Given that we all believe that certain things are moral, which have no justification in the bible, we’d better believe that morality exists independent of God.

        Indeed, Richard Swinburne, one of the most famous contemporary Christian philosophers, argues that many moral statements are true independent of God’s commands. Swinburne says “Genocide and torturing children are wrong and would remain so whatever commands any person issued.” Furthermore, he believes that although, if God had issued commands on a topic, these commands are morally relevant to this topic, he assumes that it is possible to objectively settle moral disputes concerning this topic if God did not exist.

        And there is no way to test the idea that God placed a moral compass inside us. That’s fine, I suppose, but I don’t accept it. What I do accept, due to the evidence which is increasing all of the time, is that a basic morality evolved.

        You are right to say that we have a basic moral sense within us. It would be foolish to suggest that little children don’t have a basic sense of what is right and wrong, which of course they do. But that develops as they get older, often in the absence of the Christian God. Sometimes it is in the absence of any God, others with the guidance of the Qur’an, but always with societal norms, teachings from parents, books, schools, etc, etc.

        You must have a basic sense of compassion, which you can then build on with more complex thought. Christians call that the Golden Rule, but that was around long before Christianity even existed. We have evidence that a basic morality exists in numerous animals, which is one of the many reasons that we believe that it evolved.

        “I do not make any distinction between religous [sic]and non religous [sic]ethics. all ethics are religous [sic].”

        How does that even work? If I write a book that argues for moral principles that have no basis or grounding in the bible — perhaps even being contrary to something in the bible — how is that religious? Again, that’s totally unevidenced, and it’s clearly an attempt to make religious ethics relevant.

        “Also, like I have said before, I do not believe that the Bible is infallible, for the fact that it was written by humans, who are fallible. However, I do believe that it is roughly accurate. You know, the newspaper prints corrections every day to its reporting, but it is roughly accurate and I get my news from it everyday.”

        Well, if you are comfortable with the supposed word of God being only as accurate as a newspaper, I really don’t know what else to say. It’s good that you accept that the bible is fallible, because we now know that there are more differences between the early NT manuscripts than there are words in the NT, itself. Something like 100,000 differences. Most aren’t that important, but some really change the meaning of what is said. And, more importantly, we don’t know which meaning is correct.

        Indeed, the modern bible(s), at least in places, bare(s) little resemblance to those manuscripts. We don’t even know who wrote any of the gospels, and there is a compelling case that either Jesus didn’t even exist, or that even if he did, he was an eccentric preacher, rather than the son of God.

        Anyway, I won’t get in to that, but it’s all not very convincing, if you ask me.

  42. Breaking biblical news:

    Read the God Post, Gazette, Guardian, Journal, Dispatch Daily News-Times.

    On your newsstand now!

    Dateline: Day 0, CE: We have reporters on the scene of the crucifixion and resurrection….
    oh wait… these reporters were actually 30 years later… no, some were 60 years later or 300 years later…never mind, we have up to the minute reporting.

    Our crack reporters research shows that even though the Hebrews and the Romans were highly educated and wrote down much of what happened in Jerusalem, there is not one report at the alleged time of Jesus that he either existed or was crucified or even arrested or tried or resurrected, etc…Oh never mind, it makes for a good front page story, so let us run with it.

    another story is developing…residents of the holy land saw UFOs thirty or so years ago…no wait, it is a bright star…over Bethlehem…lets pretend three wise men saw it and followed it (how does one follow a star? never mind)…rush that story to the presses!

    1. First paragraph response- Did you know that most stories were passed around orally in those days? So it makes sense that they were put down on paper later than they happened. T

      second paragraph response- Jesus was not a celebrity during his day and communication moved much more slowly. He did miraculous things from age 30 to 33. Also, why would Roman history feature a portion of Jewish history? We do have a reference to Jesus from Josephus, who was a Jewish historian. Also, Jerusalem was razed to the ground by the Romans, and since they did not have jump drives back then they could slip into their robe, it is very possible many documents about Jesus were burned up in that fire.

      Third paragraph response- I do not really have a response for this. Your just basically saying, “this sounds implausible” Don’t you agree that however the earth got started (whatever you or I believe), it is going to be quite amazing and unbelievable? You believe we evolved from one cell, which was created in a huge bang. I believe that a God who is always and forever created the world.

    2. First paragraph: There are many scholars who have studied the volumes of documentation of the period. Most of them are theists. They have found lots of things mentioned but not those. Read some books by Bart D. Ehrman and others.

      Second paragraph: No, you are wrong. Of course there were many Roman documents of the day. There was mention of someone named Yoshua, which is the alleged name of the man-god but that is equivalent to the name Joseph today. But hell yeah, someone mentioned Joe who was preachin’.

      Don’t forget, the NT was written in Greek, a few hundred years later with poor translations from Hebrew. But go ahead and take it as truth from meagerly educated people relying on hundreds of years of word of mouth. Of course NO ONE would think to embellish the stories.

      Third paragraph is about the start of Bethlehem, what the hell does that have to do with how the earth got started? Hello??? Are you using brain cells today?

      Who said there was one cell that started in a big bang? What drugs are you taking? Go see your doctor immediately!

      Your ‘belief’ is unreasonable, illogical, without evidence, irrelevant and offensive to me when we use critical thinking and reason to discuss things here but you fart all over every discussion with stupid pronouncements like “I believe”.

  43. This thread is degenerating rapidly. Look, Andrew, you came over here to learn about macroevolution, and have subsequently ignored everything that people tried to tell you about it. After ignoring the scientific facts, you have now decided instead to troll about religion. This won’t do.

    This dialogue is nonproductive, and nobody is going to change their minds. I ask everyone to put a sock in it.

  44. “NEBob is correct; according to Jesus in the New Testament, he accepted the laws of the Old Testament. That means, of course, that working on the Sabbath is still a capital crime.”

    Dr. Coyne — You quite rightly accuse Andrew of ignorance and refusing to learn about evolution, but you do exactly the same thing with respect to Christianity here. Despite your claim, I’m aware of no Christians who believe that working on the Sabbath is still a capital crime (although perhaps a few Dominionists come close). You’ll note, by the way, that Jesus specifically excused work by his disciples on the Sabbath (e.g., Matthew 12). If you are actually interested in the subject of how Christianity has dealt with what it means for Jesus to have fulfilled the law and how it relates to the OT, you might begin with Chapter 19 of the Westminster Confession (the traditional Reformed view; you might also consider Article VII of the 39 Articles for the Anglican view) and work from there. Or you could start with how Roman Catholics typically see it if you’d prefer. I know it’s easier to proof-text and quote-mine than actually to do some work, but a bit of historical research and understanding would at least prevent the kind of blatant ignorance on display here.

  45. Damian, I congratulate you. You have outlined a major paradox, along the lines of “If God can do anything, can he make a rock so heavy that even He could not lift it?” You are basically playing word games, talking nonsense.

    The answer that was given (not by me, but by the more eloquent character) does not address your question, because one could only refute your nonsensical dilemma with more nonsense. Actually, let me be more charitable. Thinking in your terms, the only answer to your riddle is that morality is arbitrary, according to God’s whim. But you do not like this.

    However, what the posted did do was tell you how Christians approach that problem.

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