One of God’s Special Children damns me to Hell

December 19, 2013 • 12:14 pm

Cory Hall, who left a link to his website in his comment (posted here) is a classical pianist with a few things to say about evolution:

Picture 1LOL!  No, I don’t know it, but Hall reveals himself to be one of the 58% of Americans who believe in Satan and Hell.

Here’s what Hall says in the section of his site called “My Christianity“:

I believe the Bible is true and inerrant in every detail, God created everything in six days, our earth and universe are only around 6000 years old, dinosaurs (called “dragons” by all ancient civilizations) and humans have always co-existed until rather recently, and Darwinian evolution is the biggest lie in the history of pseudoscience because it is from the father of all lies, Satan. I realize such beliefs are often unpopular in our post-modern world; however, I care the least bit about being “popular” or “accepted.” I care only about the truth. As long as one believes in the lies and fallacies of Darwinian evolution, one will ultimately fail to see the one and only truth, which will ultimately create a stumbling block to achieving true salvation.

His bio on another site says this:

Hall holds music degrees from California State University, Sacramento (B.M. in piano), The Eastman School of Music (M.M. in piano), and The University of Kansas (M.M. in historical musicology, D.M.A. in piano). His major piano professors include Dr. David Burge at the Eastman School of Music and Richard Reber at the University of Kansas.

He’s 40 50, he’s from Florida, and he has a doctorate. All this goes to show is that someone who’s both educated and musically talented can be a deluded fanatic when it comes to both religion and science. So sad. And his “caring only about the truth?” Clearly a mischaracterization given his young earth creationism.

What can you say about someone who wants me to fry eternally because I accept a scientific fact?

Picture 1
God’s Special Snowflake will never melt

Update: Another email I got a few seconds ago from a different “reader” (personal information redacted):

Why don’t you pull some of that money you make out of your pocket or wallet and see what it has written on it.  Perhaps you should refuse to spend it if you are offended.  Sorry, but that’s the way this country was founded.  You might just have to get over it.  Why do you care anyway?

179 thoughts on “One of God’s Special Children damns me to Hell

        1. I don’t remember ever seeing Venus with a skirt on even the painting I saw of her at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. But like you, I don’t think she has been probed either. :o)

          1. “Venus de Milo,
            Was noted for her charms,
            Strictly between us
            You’re cuter than Venus,
            And what’s more you’ve got arms!”

            (from The Four Freshmen’s “Love Is Just Around the Corner”)

  1. “What can you say about someone who wants me to fry eternally because I accept a scientific fact?”

    Ask him if it is OK to use extra virgin olive oil for your frying.

    1. Heresy! Olive oil has much too low of a smoke point to use for frying. And it doesn’t take much heat to ruin the really good stuff — or, at least, make it devoid of all the subtleties that make it good.

      Peanut oil is much better for frying, with grape seed oil being a good chance if you want a more neutral flavor. Also, beef tallow or lard are good choices.



        1. An excellent option. Of course, not for high heat, but perfect for low-to-moderate heat. Sausage, for example, should almost always be cooked in bacon drippings.


  2. Somebody should tell Cory the good news that dinosaurs coexist with humans even today!

    The bad news is that most of them are chickens.

    1. The funny thing about his comment that dinosaurs and humans coexisted but that dinos were referred to as dragons is that he’s clearly talking about the types of dinos he’s seen in Jurassic Park. I doubt the anyone would have referred to the endless varieties of dinos that were about as small as today’s pet lizards as dragons. (Except yeah, I know about Bearded Dragons.) I’ve certainly never heard of any folk tales about pocket-sized dragons.

  3. Just goes to show how powerful and irreversible brainwashing-from-birth can be. No amount of facts will change his position.

    1. Actually, he says he is a born again Christian. He is a convert. Which, if you think about it, is even worse, because he has not been blind from birth.

      1. Not necessarily so. I know a few born again xains and they were all indoctrinated young. The only difference is that they got an extra dose of religion later in life. This is anecdotal only, but they also seem to have some perceived tragedy in their life, death of of close family member, alcoholic partner or parents.

  4. And since when do we even care what a pianist thinks about science? Obviously too dumb to make the connection that one of the gods created the sun on the fourth day, yet since days are defined by the consecutive appearance of the sun in the zenith how does anybody know it was the fourth day? So much for infallible bibles! As for burning in hell it ain’t going to happen until the next century when global warming really starts! Keep up the good work Dr. C! I don’t know how you can put up with all these foods all the time…God bless.

  5. I realize such beliefs are often unpopular in our post-modern world

    That’s because they’re childishly silly, and not in a charming way.

    I mean, seriously? Satan, the ultimate monster under your bed? The Earth significantly younger than Egyptian beer brewing?

    I bet you believe that the humanity’s origins have something to do with an enchanted garden with talking animals and an angry wizard, too. And that a talking plant (on fire!) gave magic wand lessons to a reluctant hero, and that Palestinian zombies were born from virgins and got their rocks off by having their intestines fondled through gaping chest wounds.

    That’s all fine as fiction, if you’re into that sort of thing — though, to be sure, there’re far better examples of the genre, especially from Homer.

    But how on Earth did you manage to get it into your head that any of that has any bearing on reality whatsoever?

    And why would you expect respect for such off-the-wall delusions?



    1. One night at bedtime last week, my six year-old asked when the earth was made. I told him it was so long ago that it was before there were any people or any other animals or any plants, and that when it was made there wasn’t even a sky. He looks at me and says, “Was it 1985?” I said, “I’m not sure. I can’t remember.” And he says, “Maybe 1986. I think it was 1986.” I replied, “Yeah, that sounds right.”

      1. I have a fossil Van Halen album which clearly places the origin of the Earth pre-1984. Based on my interpretation of this fossil record, back then everyone looked like babies (though they must have been adults since they were smoking cigarettes), so it must have been sometime around then.

      2. Couldn’t have been 1986 — I was still in high school. Then again, Baihu wasn’t born until 2008, so maybe that’s when the Earth was made.

        I just asked him, and his answer was to try to shove his nose up mine and then perch on my shoulders. Take that for what you will.


    2. Technically speaking, in the pop post-modern world Hall’s beliefs about evolution are fine, just fine — as long as that’s what works for him!

  6. I don’t think I would worry too much about Hell. As Mark Twain once remarked, he thought he would probably prefer Heaven for the climate, but would prefer Hell for the conversation. And, what with climate warming and all, Heaven is rapidly lowing even its marginal edge for climate.

  7. I went to the Eastman School (as a Doctoral Student, but in Composition) and even met David Burge (he died this past April).

    Since I never met Mr.Hall, I can’t say that his ravings originated in Rochester, but I do remember that the only non-musical/scholastic social group on campus while I attended was the ‘Interfaith Group’, or as those not in it referred to it as ‘The Born-agains’.

    For once, I’m glad that I never got a degree from the place (left after my coursework was done but am to this day all-but-dissertation)and am no longer in music (although I do teach Interaction Design in a University in Canada).

  8. I don’t think I would worry too much about Hell. As Mark Twain once remarked, he thought he would probably prefer Heaven for the climate, but would prefer Hell for the conversation. And, what with climate warming and all, Heaven is rapidly losing even its marginal edge for climate.

  9. In his defense, I see no evidence that he wants you to fry in hell. He may even deeply regret it and be concerned for your soul.

    1. Besides, his example is kind of odd since you can’t serve both God and Mammon. It says so in his own holy book.

      But then his religion also says “judge not”, and see where we are…

    2. He says that he became a born again Christian in 2011 at the age of 48. That means he is a child of the 60s. But your joke still holds so nevermind.

      1. As a 49-50 y.o. peenist myself, I approve of your comment.

        I also approve of the Buffalo nickel in my funny money collection. The last bit of coinage not to feature this abomination.

    3. And I’m old enough to remember when “… under god… ” was inserted into the pledge of allegiance to ward off the commies. Somehow I’ve never bothered to include it.

  10. I love this idea that evolution is a lie of Satan’s. Satan would have to a) invent the lie in the first place – no mean feat because evolution is frankly ingenious – and b) create all the evidence for it, including burying all the fossils; changing the DNA of all organisms to something suitable; making sure the distribution of organisms across the globe is realistic; altering the entire Universe to make it look much older than it actually is, etc. etc, etc.

    And all God can be bothered to do is send round a couple of Jehova’s witnesses now and then to preach Pascal’s wager at us!

    1. Creationists believe satan did it.
      I.D. proponents believe god did it.
      We believe it did it all by itself.
      But whatever, evolution is true.

      1. Hold on! That’s heresy, innit? I thought that Satan, as a created being, doesn’t have the power in himself to create, but only to pervert Gawd’s creations.

        It’s amusing to see so many differences of opinion about the unchanging and inerrant Word of Gawd. As well, of course, as the believers ignoring very clear strictures that are just inconvenient. Like putting to death people who work on a Sunday anat.

  11. Oh god. If I could just wave my magic wand and take away all scientific privilege from religious people…no water, no industrial transportation, no medicine, no computers, no phones…maybe then they would come to know the metaphor of what hell means.

  12. “Sorry, but that’s the way this country was founded.”

    Yes, Christians like to claim the US was founded on Christian principles. Unfortunately for them, the exact opposite is true.

    The Declaration of Independence says:

    “to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers **from the consent of the governed**”

    The US was created as a nation of laws, an explicit rejection of the divine right of kings, such as, you know, the King of England, and head of the Anglican Church. The US was created in rejection of the clear words of the bible:

    Romans 13

    “13:1 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. **For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. **
    13:2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. 
    13:3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:”

    The bible prohibits resisting existing government power, for government power was from god, not from consent of the governed. Nor is there any such thing as democracy in the bible.

    So the US was founded in clear contradiction of Christian principles.

      1. Yes, what Paul does in the quotation is to develop a universal rule from the particular to the general: from the Roman Empire of which Judea was a province to all Empires. And Judea at that time was a theocracy – that’s where and when the word was coined.

        This is a disagreement with OT Judaism in that at least two books of what became the OT were thoroughly anti-‘the powers that be’ – Daniel and Maccabees. And occasionally thoroughly pro foreign Empires – Cyrus the Persian who let the exiles return to Jerusalem was an Anointed One. Foreign domination of Judah and Israel in the OT was generally presented as just punishment on the Jews for turning away from God.

        For the early Christians, God worked through the Roman Empire. It’s probably all connected to the developing idea of kenosis, that you should self-empty your own will, like Jesus did, become as a slave. I can’t imagine it made them very popular in The Jewish Revolt a few years after the Epistle to the Romans.


  13. I realize such beliefs are often unpopular in our post-modern world

    I dunno. Post-modern often seems to mean you get to make shit up. Where your beliefs woulda been really unpopular, pal, was in the modern world.

  14. Damning someone to hell just doesn’t carry the weight that it did 400 years ago. It’s rather pitiable when, what you consider your most effective barb, just gets you laughed at by the target.

  15. Half way through this post, I had a mental image of an angered teenager, a pimply 19 year old boy who cant expresses his confusion in any other way except for angry rantings on the internet!

    I am just blown away that this was written by an adult! An adult that has earned tertiary education!

    If Prof Coyne has to stop using money, then this guy can stop using all the products that have been enhanced because of our understanding evolutionary biology, like Antibiotics!

    1. I had almost the same thought . . . but more like 12. Biblical innerancy is the craziest idea – you just have to read the damn thing to realise that.

  16. That is pretty nice of Satan to invent the theory of Evolution. Darwin must have had some guidance in his experiments and observations. Theory works beautifully, explains so much about life that understanding biology is almost impossible with out understanding evolution. This is the only revelation of Satan’s that I know of.
    I’ve read most of the Bible (stopped at 2 Kings 2:24 and skipped to the new testament). If that is what his god has revealed to us then he is a bit slow and violent. Also god never gave Satan a chance to explain himself, it’s a bit one-sided. If Satan’s side is the theory of evolution then he’s a great guy, responsible for a lot of good and for leading to us to a great understanding about our world. Hail Satan! But he’s probably not into being hailed, sounds like a bit of an introvert, just wants to hang out with some scientists, talk about ideas and drink tea.

    1. Growing up in the Southern Baptist Church, I went to VSB (Vacation Bible School). I remember on verse impressed upon us from the OT (I think): “Morning, noon and night, will I pray.”

      3/5 of the way toward becoming a Mohammedan.

  17. If Satan invented the lie of evolution and this lie successfully fools people who would otherwise have been saved if only they had never encountered it — did Satan just thwart the wishes of God, that ALL might be saved?

    How could that be?

    But the alternative — that everyone who ends up damned would have found some other way if the Theory of Evolution had never existed — is also problematic.

    Why don’t you pull some of that money you make out of your pocket or wallet and see what it has written on it. Perhaps you should refuse to spend it if you are offended.

    No: refusing to spend money because it has the word “God” on it would be the sort of thing someone who believes in magical essences would do, terrified of symbols. You’re confusing atheists with vampires. No, we’ll do what’s practical: argue in court that the phrase “In God We Trust” does not belong on the money.

    And according to you we’d be right, since the legal argument which allows it only does so by claiming that the phrase is a meaningless ‘ceremonial deism’ which doesn’t imply any endorsement of God’s existence or non-existence. You say it does. Off it goes, then.

    1. And just out of interest, why assume it’s the Christian god? Seems more likely to be Mammon one would invoke on the folding stuff.

  18. I hate to pile on the weak minded, but did you see the caption under the picture? “God’s little snowflake will never melt” Really? God’s little flake, maybe. There’s no flakes like God’s flakes.

  19. “dinosaurs (called “dragons” by all ancient civilizations)”

    You mean, despite speaking thousands of completely unrelated languages, they all had the same word for dragon? That’s astounding. Well, I learnt something new today.

    1. They weren’t a true civilization unless their word for dinosaur was “dragon.”

      the Tower of Babel must have thrown that out of whack, so it’s all God’s fault.

  20. Hall is god? How else could he come up with this: “You are on your way to Hell Dr. Coyne and you know it.”

    Hmmmm, Hall, tell me, what else do you know what Jerry knows? His favourite colour? Brand of soda pop? Be careful, your god is a very jealous one and does not appreciate competition in the all-knowing department.

    Again, if focus is placed on psychological projection, Hall is really doubting his own salvation (he’s on his way to hell and he knows it). What a haunted reality Hall’s life must be.

  21. Just a correction, he’s 50, not 40.

    From his website: “…had I never been saved in May-June of 2011 at the relatively late age of 48.”

    1. By that reckoning, I should have run into him, but because Graduate Students often don’t socialize much (especially if they are different majors), its not terribly surprising that I don’t know the fellow.

      I really hated Eastman and Rochester, which has the distinction of being one of the darkest cities in the lower 48 (the sun is obscured by lake-effect clouds from Lake Ontario and snow for at least 9-10 months of the year.) I used to joke that the reason that Eastman Kodak was founded there was because it was one of the few places in the US where one could develop photographic film outdoors.

      Perhaps Hall’s familiarity with a place that I sometimes said was the closest I’ve been to ‘hell’ is what leads him to make these statements.

      1. I like a bit of snow. I highly doubt the sun is obscured for nine or ten months of the year in Rochester. The last time I was there It did rain for one of the two days though.

        1. Maybe not 10 months, but it sure felt like it.

          I’m not surprised it rained when you were there. I do remember a column in the Democrat and Chronicle (local newspaper) in 1986 when Halley’s comet was due for a visit where a child and grandfather were talking about the sky, and the grandfather said something like “Yep, I saw the sun once, and one of these days, I’m gonna see it agin”.

          I also remember that during one of the snowstorms, I looked out my window (I was living right near the lake shore in Webster, just outside of Rochester) and in the midst of studying, I had lost track of time couldn’t tell whether the clock on the night table was showing 3PM or 3AM.

    1. Satan made you forget the sandwiches? That is evil.

      Um…I don’t have any bread, but I could throw together some chicken salad and grab the crackers. Will that do?


  22. Why don’t you pull some of that money you make out of your pocket or wallet and see what it has written on it.

    So this guy considers the government to be inerrant too? And it says on Saudi money, “Allah is great”. Does this mean that Allah is real as well?

  23. FFS.

    My favorite part? You’re on your way to hell, “and you know it”. And these fuckwits say WE’RE smug.

    Today, New Mexico became the 17 state in the US to legalize same sex marriage. Put THAT in your hat, you religious, knuckle-dragging morons.

    ps. Sorry about the swears. Also, too, the name-calling.

    1. On another note, in our Oz state of ACT, same saxes marriage became legal recently, a heap of Aussies went there and got married, only to be told a few days later that the federal government had overruled the state and that the marriages were not legal.
      We have a way to go yet.

  24. Jerry, honest question. Why do you take so much offense at perceived ad hominem attacks directed toward you or regular posters here, but feel it’s perfectly acceptable to post things like this where you subject ignorant people to such ridicule? It’s beneath you, IMO.

    1. There are other websites with content more to your taste.

      Perhaps you could expend only a little more energy than you used to write your complaint, and find one?

    2. Perhaps you might perceive a difference between a commenter urinating on the rug in my home versus one urinating on a picture of me at someone else’s home.

      I like to keep the conversation here civil between the readers, but when someone goes after me in a nasty way somewhere else (like damning me to hell), I think I have the right to fire back. Do note that my “ridicule” is very mild–the fellow ridicules himself and attacks me far more strongly than I go after him. Do note as well, that what I posted was what he WANTED posted here: this was a submitted comment. The email below I present without comment, and one of the reasons is to show readers (not all of whom are familiar with fulminating creationism) what Americans really believe.

      Thank you for telling me what’s beneath me, but I don’t like being told how to behave on this site. I suggest you go elsewhere where the host behaves according to your liking.

      1. I once encountered a Ph.D. in Fine Arts (dance) who expeditiously and fatuously threw up her hands when confronted with anything to do with math.

        I think anyone who presumes to be worthy of a tenured position at a university should be able to solve 2x – 1 = 1, at the very least.

          1. Hm, let’s see:

            Y = 2x – 1

            Y = Infinity


            Infinity = 2x – 1

            Infinity + 1 = 2x

            (Infinity + 1)/2 = x?

            That’s my best effort.

          2. Work it through.

            2x – 1 = 1

            Add one to both sides:

            2x + 1 – 1 = 1 + 1 2x + (1 – 1) = 2 2x + 0 = 2 2x = 2

            Divide both sides by two:

            2x/2 = 2/2 x = 1

            Check the work:

            (2*1) – 1 = 1 2 – 1 = 1



    3. I’ve been told I’m headed straight for hell so many times my hide is all scar tissue. I can’t remember when it last bothered me.

      Different story when someone like Cory “God’s Special Snowflake” Hall adds to the ol’ You’re going to Hell invective: ‘… and you know it.’

      Because then I am accused of suppressing a belief I recognize I have (and not-so-secretly harbor) while lying to myself about it, and also being so stupid as to publicly deny something EVERYONE knows is an Ultimate Truth.

      Christians like Cory have no doubt that each and every non-theist/non-Christian is absolutely aware, deep down, that d*G really and truly exists. They believe self-suppression of this fact, this undeniable truth placed in every heart by its creator, is simply an act of willful rejection of the father capital F due to mental imbalance, satanic influence, sheer incomprehensible hatred, or some other sinful cause. Unless and until repentance takes place, damn you and may d*G have mercy yadda yadda yadda.

      I may or may not choose to silently endure such calumny when flung in my face simply because I reject the bullshit delusion a Cory Hall is enraptured by. Depends on my mood at the moment.

    4. I like seeing how people react. I think it’s important to expose “good Christians” for who they are simply by reposting what they say. David Silverman does the same, often retweeting the nasty name calling all by loving Christians. Richard Dawkins reads his hate mail & so do FFRF for the same reasons.

  25. Yikes Professor Ceiling Cat,

    It appears that your karma ran right over his dogma! From the sounds of you must have struck it a lethal blow!

    A hit dog always howls you know.

  26. I believe the Bible is true and inerrant in every detail…

    Woo! Even the many well-documented contradictions?

      1. That’s right, when the Bible contradicts itself and is still inerrant, it just goes to show how miraculous it is. Doh!

  27. Hey reader #2 from the update, why don’t you investigate what German belt buckles from both WWI and II had written on them? And while you’re at it, come report to us when IGWT was adopted. And when it appeared on $1 bills. The country was not founded on your precious imaginary deity.

  28. I just revisited that guy’s Web site and found this:

    PLEASE NOTE: I am grateful for Dr. Jerry Coyne, evolutionist and devout atheist, for directing so much traffic to this page! Thank you and God bless you, Dr. Coyne!

    1. Yeah but big whoop. In his little world he may get a thrill out of momentary traffic….ooooo he’s internet famous for a day. Meh.

  29. Cory Hall, one of the worst dingbats on the web lately. And the band played on…

    “dinosaurs (called “dragons” by all ancient civilizations) and humans have always co-existed until rather recently,”

    I didn’t know birds have gone extinct.

    Speaking of feathered dinosaurs, I can’t remember feathered dragons but I do remember a lot of scaled ones as in snakes and lizards. Even chinese dragons are supposed to have reptile scales instead of dino fuzz, right?

    What can you say about someone who wants me to fry eternally because I accept a scientific fact?

    That it is sickening, because he wants others to die in pain to avoid dying himself: “As long as one believes in the lies and fallacies of Darwinian evolution, one will ultimately fail to see the one and only truth, which will ultimately create a stumbling block to achieving true salvation.” [My bold]

  30. Heaven’s Concierge Desk on a normal day in eternity:

    Dead Christian bachelor: Um, excuse me, I hate to be a bother, I haven’t been here long and I was wondering where all, you know, (whispers-) the sex is being had?

    Heaven’s concierge: Oh, well I am terribly sorry child but all the available virgins have been reserved for the dead Muslim men.

    Dead Christian bachelor: What the fuck man!

    Heaven’s concierge: Oh, my, (fairy dust expels from ears, she gets faint).

    Dead Christian bachelor: Is it too late to convert?

    Jesus: (appears at DCB’s side) Love child, what seems to ail you? Do you need more tapioca pudding? How about another foot rub from a chimp? Uh, look, sorry about the sex thing, but you know what I’ve always said about forgiveness. Come now, let us hold hands and sing in praise of me…

  31. What can you say about someone who wants me to fry eternally because I accept a scientific fact?

    Such a person is profoundly insecure, lives in fear, and is very, vary immature.

  32. ” someone who’s both educated ”

    Is having a degree in music being educated in any relevant way? Any critical thinking skills taught in music? (I really have no idea.)

    1. math skills come to mind… at least of the lower-order variety. (divisions of time)

      I know many musicians who somehow never get as far as figuring out what time signatures are, and they all invariably suck at what they do.

    2. Ideally, yes. There is a great deal of critical thinking needed for a degree in Music. At the Doctorate Level, one should have the ability to research, compare ideas, collate and present conclusions, etc.

      Some people do manage to get through with a minimum of coursework (Performance Majors, mainly). It depends largely on the institution.

      1. As somebody with a B. Mus. in orchestral trumpet performance, I can emphatically state that I did not get through with a minimum of coursework. Quite the opposite, in fact.

        You see, all those ensembles we’re required to take that make up a large portion of the degree-specific courses? They’re almost exclusively single-credit-hour courses, though they typically meet for several hours a week (or even more) and require several more hours of out-of-class preparation.

        Then, when you look at the rest of the stuff, it’s all solid academics.

        Music history is as much about politics, the history of the technology of musical instruments, the history of music theory, religious studies (a significant portion of Western art music is the Catholic Mass and variations thereon), politics, and even the history of other art forms..

        Because music is so much more structured than English, music theory is also much more rigorous than English literature studies. Form and Analysis, typically a most notorious course, requires all the objective critical thinking you can muster. And these classes also tend to have a fair amount of overlap with music history classes, as composition techniques and styles changed from period to period. In upper-division classes, you can expect assignments along the lines of, “Write a thirteenth variation to Mozart’s K. 265.

        In your private studio lessons on your primary instrument, you can expect lots more history and theory both, often in even more depth, on the works you’re studying to perform.

        And then, in addition to all the music-specific classes, you’ve got all the general studies requirements. And, while most other majors have a fair amount of overlap between their degree-specific classes and general studies classes, performance majors have…not a single bloody one. So we’ve got to get a complete generic college degree on top of a conservatory-style music degree. All the English, math, science, liberal arts…the whole shootin’ match.

        With one exception, I can’t remember anybody who graduated in less than five years, and most took longer. The exception…she took four years and a summer, and I don’t think she ever had a semester with fewer than 19 credit hours. I was at the other end of the bell curve, and took nine years (for an undergraduate!), in large part because I had no money and had to work.

        So, yeah. Maybe it does depend on the institution, but I at least had to use or acquire one hell of a lot of critical thinking skills for my music degree.



        1. Thanks for the excellent summary. Didn’t mean to say that all Performance Majors were weak academically. Sounds like you went to a good school for your BMA. I went to the University of Cincinnati for mine and would say that generally, it was a good all-around education. However, some places, notably the Conservatories, don’t provide much more than required English classes and a few electives. The rest is all applied music (and in some cases, relatively little Theory or Music Literature).

          Someone who went to Eastman could have come out well-rounded and even had a few science classes, but taking classes from the University was difficult, to say the least. The University campus was many miles away, and reachable only by car/bus.

      2. “There is a great deal of critical thinking needed for a degree in Music”

        I wonder if all critical-thinking skills are created equal? I’m an engineer, but I didn’t acquire any skills in analyzing arguments. The skills we were taught were very task specific, rather than general.

        Perhaps there is some value in philosophy courses at the undergraduate level.

        1. There’s some evidence, unfortunately, that transferrence of skills is a big problem. Even those who have completed a critical thinking course tend to have trouble applying it in other contexts.

    3. For some reason I equated “critical thinking” with merely quantification skills of one form or another. Broadly construed, there is usually tons of such thinking involved – not only as Ben notes, but also involving limitations of each instrument when scoring/orchestrating. (many more facets, but am short on time) – Just in orchestration, one must consider performance possibilities — what one is likely to get out of a group of performers under time / money constraints and how it impinges on rehearsal. Capabilities of the musicians involved. There’s the ideal, and there’s the real.

      Just like a piece of graphic art or metalwork can “flop” as one goes from conception to reality (because of not paying attention to physics / engineering – material constrainsts) – so it can go for music. (or dance / theaterwork, for that matter). It’s kind of like magic, or circus stuff… not all music need be like this, but much can be trying to pull off something that appears absolutely magical to the audience. And when it gets that way, there can be tons of technical “tricks” involved – all of which involve a huge amount of decision making and chance-taking.

      1. Yes, I assumed that a Music degree would have similar base requirements as other liberal arts degrees in addition to its own specific ones. I was surprised from some of the posts, however, that some Music degrees are obtained outside a university setting.

        1. I spent a long time puzzled by how many intelligent and well educated people I have known who are true believers in one religion or another, mostly Catholicism (since that’s the religion of my parents), and mostly the religion they were brought up in. I’ve come to the conclusion that they have never taken the time or made the effort to question their beliefs because they have never seen any advantage in thinking or believing any other way. They’re able to push the questions away when they arise. And that’s one reason they are so inept at arguing their side. They neither want nor expect to have to defend their beliefs. They resent it when they feel they have to. One old friend, when faced with the truth that I am a non-believer, asked me, “What happened?”, a question that surprised me until I realized that he saw no benefit in questioning his Catholicism which meant that something bad had to have happened for me to have done so. Although he is familiar with Socrates, he thinks he examines his life when he practices his religion. That’s okay with me. As long as he doesn’t tell me I’m going to spend eternity burning in hell, I won’t remind him what Socrates said about an unexamined life.

          1. I feel that there’s another side to this phenomenon, too: when a person who has been raised and indoctrinated in a religious belief system HAS been “tempted” to examine their beliefs, many shy away because their indoctrination contains built-in proscriptions against such examination- the examination appears to possibly lead to a “loss” according to one doctrine or another and the human mind automatically considers the avoidance of a loss as a “gain”. Hence the examination is short-circuited before it can even begin.

            Your statement, “They neither want nor expect to have to defend their beliefs” is spot-on, and explains the common reactions that range from the opinion that to question someone’s beliefs is somehow “impolite”, to open outrage at such an affront, as in the case of Islam.

    4. CSU-Sacramento, like all Cal State campuses, has extensive General Education requirements which apply to all undergraduate students regardless of major. Science-wise, it’s not too much: minimum of 3 units in “physical science” 3 units in “life forms” (bio or anthro) – and at least one or the other must be a lab class – also minimum 3 units in “mathematical concepts and quantitative reasoning”.
      Plus a zillion units in language, critical thinking, history, culture, the usual broad education you’d hope for from a university.

  33. Post modern???

    Postmodernists are quite frequently anti-science and accuse it of being just one more subjective point of view among others, and even a tool of cultural imperialism!!!
    For this reason, a few (though not a lot) of fundamentalists have employed post-modernism in their apologetics to attack science.

    Ergo, if this guy thinks that “Darwin is a lie” is an unpopular belief in our post-modern world, he’s quite confused about what postmodernism is or its role in our current intellectual landscape.

  34. “that’s the way this country was founded” – yes forged in the blood of thousands of people from whom it was stolen.


    Sorry, rant over.

  35. ‘Why don’t you pull some of that money you make out of your pocket or wallet and see what it has written on it.’
    Mine (£10 note) has a picture of Darwin on it.

  36. And, everyone should know, the nonsense, “In God We Trust” motto went on US coins during the Civil War (1864, act of Congress), and made mandatory on coins in 1908 (another act of Congress). Only since 1938 have all US coins had it.

    It wasn’t put on paper money until after 1956 (another act Congress).

    The addition of “one nation under god” (previously “one nation indivisible”) in the US Pledge of Allegiance was in 1954.

    The US has never been a “Christian Nation”, nor was it founded as one. (It does have a large population of Christians, which everyone acknowledges.)

    This was made clear by the rejection of any mention of gods, Jesus, or Christianity in the Consitution (the document that legally defines the government; ratified 1788). Many attmepts were made to inseert such language. And also by the Treaty of Tripoli, which was Unanimously voted for by the US Seante and signed by President John Adams:

    Article 11. As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Mussulmen; and, as the said States never entered into any war, or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties, that no pretext arising from religious opinions, shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.

    [Ratified 1797; just 11 years after the US Constitution]

    (Seriously, it doesn’t get much clearer than that!)

    All of which is easy to find with the slightest bit of effort. That is, if you want to find out the facts. These people don’t want knowledge, they want certainty handed down by some kind of super-Daddy (priest, pope, reverend, sky-daddy).

  37. The claim that the “in god we trust” phrase on American currency is evidence that the founders meant this country be a Christian nation from the beginning is erroneous. It was not until the Civil War that the phrase appeared in coins, and then on paper bills about a hundred years later. See US Department of treasury:

    If that doesn’t persuade, they ought to read Franklin, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Washington, and the founders whose views prevailed. If they don’t like primary sources and 18th century English is a breast read, they could read Ellis, Wood,McCullough, Remini and other properhistorians. And if they don’t like to read at all, they can go to Williamsburg, VA to listen the Cliff Notes versions from proper reenactors.


    1. “breast read” = “bear to read”

      (Note to self: proofread your posts when you compose them on your mobile device.)

      1. I may never have pondered my way to bear to read. That provides your meaning, and thanks for it, but in a way I think I prefer breast read.

    2. ….and even if it were evidence (which it is not) that doesn’t mean that you do things just because of history. Things change, new ideas come about, we actually learn and move on! 🙂

      1. That is the heart of it. Citing the phrase as evidence at all doesn’t work without context.

        Case in point: that the majority of the founders were adherents to some form of Christian religion does not make the country Christian. They were men of their time and they should be understood in their milieu. That takes effort, sometimes years of research.

        Fly-by-night media personalities readily commit anachronistic analyses to fit their arguments and too many people listen to them, read their books, and parrot their words on the strength of their celebrity rather than their academic rigor.

  38. “You are on your way to Hell, Dr. Coyne, and YOU KNOW IT”- I find it interesting that frustrated Christians will often add this little “extra” part to their damnation-threats: I’ve seen similar things many times before, and have had a few directed at me.

    You’d think that being damned to Hell would be a sufficient threat unto itself; why would they bother adding the “..and you know it”? I think some of it is “self-stroking” by the threatener; a re-affirmation to their insecurities that they ARE right, and you ARE wrong, so “wrong” indeed, that you know inwardly that they are right, yet you won’t admit it. To adopt such a view also makes it easier to ignore any “outside” viewpoint or information: “Why listen to that? It’s WRONG!”

    It links to the notion of evil being, in its worst form, a “willful denial of God”, wherein the evil one actually knows God’s “rightness” and perfect nature, yet is so perverse that they cannot help but to resist worshipping Him or following His commands.

    It’s also a clever way of “starting the torture in advance”: what could be worse than actually being IN Hell, than to know you were headed there and that there wasn’t a “damned thing” you could do about it (or were willing to do about it)? Fortunately this coercion only works on those whose self-worth is still intertwined with the belief system; the “reverse-agnostics”- those who are in doubt of the existence of a God, yet still fear that there just might be one, after all.

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