Democrats & Liberals Archives

I Don't Heart Huckabee

Mike Huckabee might once have been the Governor of Arkansas, and he might be a candidate for the Republican nomination for the Presidency, but he is also a nutjob - like at least three of his competitors. And if you thought George Bush was a religious zealot, just wait until you get one of these guys into the White House.

Last week, the Republican hopefuls staged a debate in New Hampshire during which they were asked for their views on evolution.

Mike Huckabee: "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the Earth. A person either believes that God created the process or believes that it was an accident and that it just happened all on its own. If anybody wants to believe that they are the descendants of a primate, they are certainly welcome to do it."

Ok, so Huckabee isn't a serious candidate. But John McCain is.

"I admire [Huckabee's] description, because I hold that view," said McCain. (Earlier he did not raise his hand when asked if he thought that evolution was untrue. Sam Brownback, and, naturally, Tom Tancredo, did.)

So that's four out of the ten runners who disbelieve a simple scientific fact.

Now this post isn't a debate on creationism. It's patent nonsense, a triumph of pure belief over empiric fact. And if you disagree with me, I have no time to persuade you otherwise.

The fact is that the Republicans have a choice: a white, Christian man over 50, or a white, Christian man over 50 who thinks that God created the earth in six days around six thousand years ago. (For all I know they also think the world is flat, and that when you kiss a frog it turns into a Prince.)

They may be a joke - but if Hillary Clinton gets the Democratic nomination, one of these guys is going to be President. And it could be McCain - the political outcast and rebel who's suddenly become Bush's Iraq lapdog, and now a champion of the worst element of anti-intellectual America.

And we thought Bush's ignorant views on stem cells were obsolete and driven by religious fervor.

Posted by Jon Rice at June 11, 2007 4:38 PM
Comments
Comment #222822
Mike Huckabee: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the Earth. A person either believes that God created the process or believes that it was an accident and that it just happened all on its own. If anybody wants to believe that they are the descendants of a primate, they are certainly welcome to do it.”

History is fun. I’m reminded of Thomas Huxley’s reply when, during an Oxford debate in 1860, Bishop Samuel Wilberforce asked Huxley whether he’d prefer to be descended from apes on his mother’s or his father’s side. Huxley slapped his knee, whispered to a friend that “the Lord has delivered him into my hands,” and replied that he wasn’t ashamed of his simian ancestry but would be ashamed to be associated with a man “who used his great gifts to obscure the truth.” *

* quotes are approximations from memory

Posted by: Gerrold at June 11, 2007 5:21 PM
Comment #222823

jon

so your point would be that anyone who believes creationism over evolution, is a religious zealot, a fool, and not fit to be president ? is that it in a nutshell ? i thought you guys were supposed to be the open minded ones. guess this about says it all. as usual you’re right and everyone else is wrong. so much for being open to differing points of view. seems your minds are open so long as no one dares dissagree with your point of view.

Posted by: dbs at June 11, 2007 5:24 PM
Comment #222825

Jon Rice: Come on get your facts right man, Mike Huckabee was not the former Governor of Alabama he was the former Governor of Arkansas.

Posted by: Richard Rhodes at June 11, 2007 5:28 PM
Comment #222826
i thought you guys were supposed to be the open minded ones.

Open-mindedness does not equal rejection of knowledge and science. Open-mindedness does not equal acceptance of people lying about evidence, facts, and science.

We’re very open to hearing different points of view, but when logical analysis proves that those different points of view are invalid scientifically, there’s no reason to pretend that those false ideas are acceptable as science.

Posted by: LawnBoy at June 11, 2007 5:31 PM
Comment #222829

LawnBoy


“We’re very open to hearing different points of view, but when logical analysis proves that those different points of view are invalid scientifically, there’s no reason to pretend that those false ideas are acceptable as science.”


so a few monkey skeletons is all the proof you need eh. you’ve proved nothing other than you have a different theory.

Posted by: dbs at June 11, 2007 5:44 PM
Comment #222833
so a few monkey skeletons is all the proof you need eh.

No, dbs. There’s a lot more than a few monkey skeletons. There are literally millions of pieces of evidence from many different scientific disciplines that support and require evolution. That you dismiss the entire field of Biology as just a “few monkey skeletons” is pretty damning.

you’ve proved nothing other than you have a different theory.

This is wrong on at least two fronts. First, science has proven many, many parts of Evolution using facts, evidence, and logic. A lot has been proved. Second, Evolution is the only existing Scientific Theory of the origin of life that exists. Creationism isn’t a Scientific Theory - it’s a hypothesis that has been repeatedly disproven.

It’s not that we “have a different theory” - it’s that Evolution is the only explanation that fits the evidence, and it fits exceedingly well.

Posted by: LawnBoy at June 11, 2007 5:56 PM
Comment #222834

I think a candidate’s view on creationism are fair game considering the struggle in this country to keep science in the science classroom. At any rate, religion and evolution are not incompatible.

Posted by: Gerrold at June 11, 2007 5:58 PM
Comment #222838

In Huckabee’s defense he did side step the 6k question with a wee bit of humor about not being there. So maybe he’s not a total nutjob, Jon, maybe he’s just pandering to the nutjobs. But then if he wasnt there how does he know anything at all about the issue? Oh well.

Posted by: j2t2 at June 11, 2007 6:30 PM
Comment #222840

Richard - a slip of the keyboard and the mind. Thanks for pointing out my mistake, I have rectified it.

Posted by: Jon Rice at June 11, 2007 6:40 PM
Comment #222841

Jon, you could have just said he was governor of Alabama and saved all the rest of that writing. Any politician from Alabama or Mississippi is all that needs be said about them. We really should have let those state secede. The U.S. would have been so much better off and so much more united. Oh, well.

Posted by: David R. Remer at June 11, 2007 6:40 PM
Comment #222842

DBS: you wrote “so your point would be that anyone who believes creationism over evolution, is a religious zealot, a fool, and not fit to be president?”

Yes, pretty much. The rejection of scientific fact should disqualify anyone from holding the presidency of this country. I will not go as far as calling them a fool, even if this particular view is foolish, but I would certainly say that person was a religious zealot.

When we consider other faiths, and the countries that have religious zealots for leaders (e.g. Iran) we are disgusted by what we perceive to be inhumane and patently wrong philosophies, such as refusing women the right to drive.

But when we have a religious zealot as our leader, what will others think of us? What message are we sending the world?

Science suffers under religious rule. This has been true for millennia. And it will be true tomorrow, if we put one of these creationists in the White House.

Posted by: Jon Rice at June 11, 2007 6:45 PM
Comment #222843

The Rpblcns are absolutely determined to kill Kenny, because they’re bastards.

Posted by: orteil at June 11, 2007 6:47 PM
Comment #222848

Jon


“The rejection of scientific fact should disqualify anyone from holding the presidency “


i guess this would also include the argument against the human factor in global warming, so basicly anyone who doesn’t agree with you on what you consider to be scientific fact, should not be president. it’s all clear to me now.


“When we consider other faiths, and the countries that have religious zealots for leaders (e.g. Iran) we are disgusted by what we perceive to be inhumane and patently wrong philosophies, such as refusing women the right to drive.”

who is suggesting women not be able to drive ? it’s not the philosophy we hate, it’s the inhumane treatment of others, and the forcing of thier religious practices at the end of a gun. comparing a presidential candidate with a belief in god, and a theocratic dictator who says you will obey and worship as i say, are completely different things.


“But when we have a religious zealot as our leader, what will others think of us? What message are we sending the world?”


so bush is a religious zealot. gotcha. in fact anyone who believes in god is a religious zealot.
what other countries think about the fact that our leader believes in a higher power i could care less about.


“Science suffers under religious rule. This has been true for millennia. And it will be true tomorrow, if we put one of these creationists in the White House.”


first of all, we’re not under religious rule in this country. second, how has science suffered in this country ? and don’t give me that lame embrionic stem cell research argument. from what i understand all advances in stem cell research have been made in adult stem cells. in fact to the best of my knowlege ebrionic stem cells have yeilded no results whatsoever, so do tell.

Posted by: dbs at June 11, 2007 7:26 PM
Comment #222849

Jon,

I don’t think the argument that belief in creationism should disqualify a presidential candidate is very useful (it would be un-Constitutional, to boot). The majority of Americans say they believe in some form of creationism.

It’s difficult to know how to deal with this issue. Religion and evolution are obviously not incompatible. I really don’t understand Creationists; I don’t understand why their faith has to hinge on such an account of creation.

Posted by: Gerrold at June 11, 2007 7:38 PM
Comment #222853

Gerrold


“It’s difficult to know how to deal with this issue. Religion and evolution are obviously not incompatible. I really don’t understand Creationists; I don’t understand why their faith has to hinge on such an account of creation.”


there’s a lot of truth in that first statement. there are many different beliefs, and hybrids of those beliefs. as for the second statement, can’t really answer that one either. i think creationism has as many possibilties, so maybe the question is to broad.

my problem isn’t that jon doesn’t believe in creationism, but that anyone who does in his opinion is not qualified to be president. that i find offensive. and i somehow believe it was intended to be.

Posted by: dbs at June 11, 2007 7:54 PM
Comment #222859

Dennis -

I’m not suggesting a constitutional amendment to prevent creationists from becoming presidents. Far from it. If we want to democratically elect one, so be it.

My point is that creationism is a direct symptom - perhaps even cause - of the anti-intellectualism that has chosen at least two recent Republican presidents. Reagan, say what you will about him (and although there were many, many good things about his presidency his economics weren’t very good) was not an intellectual. Nor, to be fair, is George Bush.

Having someone with serious and analytical intellect seems to be a prerequisite for high office. We need cool intelligence. Not religious fervor that colors the decision-making process. Look at GWB - quoted by the Israeli Prime Minister, no less, as saying that God told him to go to war in Iraq. If that’s true, God made a big mistake. So much for infallibility.

So - does a creationist possess this intellect of which I speak? I personally don’t believe so. In the light of all evidence to the contrary, they choose to put their eggs in the Easter basket of myths and parables that constitutes the bible.

Creationism is not supported by any evidence. (Forget the teleological argument from design, for a moment, it doesn’t hold water.) Evolution, on the other hand, is.

If a fact as compelling as evolution can be ignored by the president, what else will he or she conveniently choose not to believe in?

Posted by: Jon Rice at June 11, 2007 8:40 PM
Comment #222860
second, how has science suffered in this country ?

By the many states and school districts throughout the country in which evolution is de-emphasized in order not to make parents upset, and the many states and school districts throughout the country in which pseudoscience has been elevated to a level equal to actual science.

Perhaps the negative effects haven’t hit the economy yet, but they will once a generation grows up that wasn’t taught how science actually works.

Posted by: LawnBoy at June 11, 2007 8:43 PM
Comment #222862

Isn’t it scientific fact that an unborn fetus has brain waves? Can feel pain?

Posted by: Edge at June 11, 2007 8:45 PM
Comment #222868

I don’t know if that is true or not but I know that an unwanted child that is born in to poverty and abuse will feel pain.

Posted by: Jeff at June 11, 2007 9:11 PM
Comment #222870

One of the good things about the little coffee clatches they call debates is that things such as this surface. Hopefully, over the course of this election cycle, the dems and his fellow repubs running against him, can associated him with the wingnuts that believe the 6K thing to the point he is laughed off the podium.
Should there be a legal requirement that would exclude anyone professing belief in creationism be deemed unable to hold the office of president? No, you would however hope the electorate would not make the same mistake twice, especially after Bush believing God talked him into the Iraq debacle.

Posted by: j2t2 at June 11, 2007 9:27 PM
Comment #222873

j2t2,

“No, you would however hope the electorate would not make the same mistake twice, especially after Bush believing God talked him into the Iraq debacle.”

Um…..

Wasn’t Bush elected twice?

We are talking about the American voter.

Posted by: Rocky at June 11, 2007 9:54 PM
Comment #222874

LawnBoy

“By the many states and school districts throughout the country in which evolution is de-emphasized in order not to make parents upset, and the many states and school districts throughout the country in which pseudoscience has been elevated to a level equal to actual science.”


maybe we need to pass a law that forbids the teaching of religious creationism by parents, then those of you who have no faith in anything but science wouldn’t have this problem. what you can’t and won’t ever be able to understand about faith is that is a very personal part of life to many, and forcing someones child to be taught that we are descended from primates is like trying to teach thier children to believe in another religion they don’t agree with.


if you are going to teach one theory, yes i said theory, because it is your theory on the origin of man, regaurdless of what lead you to accept it as the truth, some scientific research, or a belief in an almighty being. you have to offer other mainstream theories, creation, intelligent design, or evolution. i understand how you have come to your conclusion, but on the other hand scientific data can and has been misinterpreted, so this is why it is still just a theory. niether of us was there to witness it, so it can be disputed.

Posted by: dbs at June 11, 2007 10:15 PM
Comment #222876

dbs,

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theories

“The word theory has a number of distinct meanings in different fields of knowledge, depending on their methodologies and the context of discussion.

In common usage, people often use the word theory to signify a conjecture, an opinion, or a speculation. In this usage, a theory is not necessarily based on facts; in other words, it is not required to be consistent with true descriptions of reality. True descriptions of reality are more reflectively understood as statements that would be true independently of what people think about them. In this usage, the word is synonymous with hypothesis.

In science, a theory is a mathematical or logical explanation, or a testable model of the manner of interaction of a set of natural phenomena, capable of predicting future occurrences or observations of the same kind, and capable of being tested through experiment or otherwise falsified through empirical observation. It follows from this that for scientists “theory” and “fact” do not necessarily stand in opposition. For example, it is a fact that an apple dropped on earth has been observed to fall towards the center of the planet, and a theory which explains why the apple behaves so is the general theory of relativity.”

Any questions?


Posted by: Rocky at June 11, 2007 10:19 PM
Comment #222878

BTW, people of faith look at the same evidence when making an important decision, as an athiest would, the difference is they try to find inner strength through thier belief in god. they dont ask god to give them an answer only for the inner srength to make the right decision. saying god told george bush to invade iraq is dishonest, whether or not you agree with the war, and is a distortion of what was meant when he said he asked for gods guidance.

Posted by: dbs at June 11, 2007 10:28 PM
Comment #222879

dbs,


“President George W Bush told Palestinian ministers that God had told him to invade Afghanistan and Iraq - and create a Palestinian State, a new BBC series reveals.

In Elusive Peace: Israel and the Arabs, a major three-part series on BBC TWO (at 9.00pm on Monday 10, Monday 17 and Monday 24 October), Abu Mazen, Palestinian Prime Minister, and Nabil Shaath, his Foreign Minister, describe their first meeting with President Bush in June 2003.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/pressoffice/pressreleases/stories/2005/10_october/06/bush.shtml

“Nabil Shaath says: “President Bush said to all of us: ‘I’m driven with a mission from God. God would tell me, “George, go and fight those terrorists in Afghanistan.” And I did, and then God would tell me, “George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq …” And I did. And now, again, I feel God’s words coming to me, “Go get the Palestinians their state and get the Israelis their security, and get peace in the Middle East.” And by God I’m gonna do it.’”

This is too easy.

Posted by: Rocky at June 11, 2007 10:32 PM
Comment #222881
maybe we need to pass a law that forbids the teaching of religious creationism by parents

No, that would be unconstitutional. Parents have every right to teach their children what they want, within extremely broad limits (that’s the open-mindedness you thought we were missing earlier).

what you can’t and won’t ever be able to understand about faith is that is a very personal part of life to many, and forcing someones child to be taught that we are descended from primates is like trying to teach thier children to believe in another religion they don’t agree with.

And yet that shouldn’t be my problem, or the problem of people who understand science. If we really followed your standard, then we wouldn’t be able to teach Cosmology because someone, somewhere wants to believe in a flat earth. Or we wouldn’t be able to teach about Plate Tectonics because someone, somewhere might believe that earthquakes are caused by trolls having a dance party.

Science works under very well-established guidelines, so what should be taught as science should be things that come from actual scientific inquiry. That someone has a religious belief that is counter to reality cannot be my problem.

I’m not saying that scientific results should be taught as religion; that’s up to each religion. However, only science should be taught as science; religion should be excluded.

I do understand that faith is a very personal part of life, and it is extremely arrogant and offensive for you to claim that my understanding of science means I don’t understand the importance of faith. You know nothing about me, and you’re about as wrong on this as you are on your understanding of basic science.

you have to offer other mainstream theories, creation, intelligent design, or evolution.

And you premise is entirely flawed. There are no other mainstream Scientific theories of the origin of life. The others are hypotheses, and that’s it, from a Scientific perspective. As scientific hypotheses, Creationism is easily disproved, and ID is really just a metaphysical wrapper around real science that doesn’t actually explain anything.

so this is why it is still just a theory.

No, that is not why it is still a theory. It’s “still” a theory because there is nothing else it ever could be. No matter how well understood or proved, it will always be a theory; there’s no other level for it to graduate to.

A Scientific Theory is “a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world; an organized system of accepted knowledge that applies in a variety of circumstances to explain a specific set of phenomena; “theories can incorporate facts and laws and tested hypotheses”; “true in fact and theory”“

That it’s a Theory does not mean it’s not well-proved. You probably think that it might graduate to a Law someday if it were well proven, but a Law can only define a short, mathematically expressible statement.

It’s a Scientific Theory because it’s so well proven and understood.

Read what Rocky wrote. Then read it again. Your understanding of scientific terms is very flawed.

niether of us was there to witness it, so it can be disputed.

Sort of, but not how you think. We can challenge it (and we must - that’s what scientists do all the time while trying to increase knowledge). However, there is significant evidence from dozens of disciplines that all build to the exact same conclusion. To present an alternate explanation, you need to show that the alternative would match the data better than Evolution does, and nothing (not creationism, not ID, nothing) comes anywhere near close enough to compete in the realm of knowledge, evidence, facts, and logic.

Posted by: LawnBoy at June 11, 2007 10:39 PM
Comment #222882

no questions rocky, but you have missed my point entirely. we can all agree on a lot of things based on scientific evidence. the earth is round, fire is hot, if you jump of a building you will hit the ground. when you talk about the origin of human life everything changes. humans are spiritual beings something i don’t think you can say about any other life form on this planet, and when you screw with that you’re going to get some very extreme reactions. you can’t compare the origin of man argument with the theory of relativity, or any other physical science. if you can’t understand this i’ll probably never be able to explain it to you.

Posted by: dbs at June 11, 2007 10:46 PM
Comment #222884

Rocky, I remember that story pretty well.

Even somebody with no love for Bush has to admit that there’s considerable doubt about what was actually said when the evidence is a translation back into English of notes taken in Arabic about words spoken in English that were recorded by somebody who was 1). not a native English speaker, and 2). a Palestinian official talking to the BBC.

And even if there wasn’t this back and forth game of telephone between languages, I’d say the story is BS simply on the basis that’s there’s nothing in Bush’s behavior which suggests he thinks on a divine mission to establish a Palestinian state. Quite the opposite, actually.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at June 11, 2007 10:55 PM
Comment #222885
when you talk about the origin of human life everything changes.

Scientifically, no.

if you can’t understand this i’ll probably never be able to explain it to you.

So, basically, people that understand science and want science to be taught as science are just not human enough in your eyes because we’re not willing to let random and arbitrary parts of actual knowledge be overruled because some religion, somewhere might disagree?

Please, let me know in advance what areas of basic human knowledge are off limits because knowing facts might offend you?

Posted by: LawnBoy at June 11, 2007 10:58 PM
Comment #222886

Science is always becomming. It never becomes.

Asking whether or not you “believe” in evolution is a silly question. I believe that the process of evolution is the most effective way to explain the current biological situation. I figure some of the details are wrong, but it is a useful construction.

On the other hand, there is no evidence at all re the creation of the universe or its meaning (or lack there of). You can believe in that God is running the show or not. Both are equally unscientific. Both are matters of faith, since science specifically cannot answer the “why” questions, only the “how”.

What is annoying about the those who claim to love science is that they do not. They insist on extrapolating from the how to the why.

I have met very few people who do NOT believe in a type of intelligent design. The alternative is to accept that everything there is, was and ever will be is the simple result of random chance. In that case, you are not allowed to get outraged if someone murders a bunch of people or paves over a redwood forest. If everything is just random, any randomness will do as long as it works for you.

Posted by: Jack at June 11, 2007 11:02 PM
Comment #222888
The alternative is to accept that everything there is, was and ever will be is the simple result of random chance.

No, Jack. Evolution is on “random chance”.

Posted by: LawnBoy at June 11, 2007 11:06 PM
Comment #222890

That was supposed to be “Evolution is not…”

Posted by: LawnBoy at June 11, 2007 11:10 PM
Comment #222891

LawnBoy


“And yet that shouldn’t be my problem, or the problem of people who understand science.

why is it a problem for you if a child is not taught evolution ? it changes nothing. they will not cease to exist, so it is unimportant in the grand sceme of things.

If we really followed your standard, then we wouldn’t be able to teach Cosmology because someone, somewhere wants to believe in a flat earth. Or we wouldn’t be able to teach”


how would the teaching of cosmology undermine a childs religious up bringing ?

“And you premise is entirely flawed. There are no other mainstream Scientific theories of the origin of life. The others are hypotheses,”

i beg your pardon bodisatha, but i don’t have a science degree, so if my terminology was incorrect i appologise. it still doesn’t take away from the fact that you obviously understood the point i was trying make, but instead chose point out my lack of understanding the proper use of scientific terms.

Posted by: dbs at June 11, 2007 11:11 PM
Comment #222892
why is it a problem for you if a child is not taught evolution ? it changes nothing.

No, it damages me, because it damages the country. Scientific progress is the foundation of the American economic engine. By destroying the foundation, you support long-term damage to the American economy.

Never mind the other issue that teaching religion as science in public schools is deeply unconstitutional.

how would the teaching of cosmology undermine a childs religious up bringing ?

I don’t know. You’re the one claiming that teaching Evolution undermines a child’s religious upbringing. This is your claim - I’m just pointing out that it doesn’t make sense.

For your personal interpretation of your religion, Evolution is the problem. There are others that believe that the Bible says the earth is flat and is the center of the Universe. According to your logic, we can’t teach about the stars and planets because someone might not like their religion challenged by knowledge.

I that agree it makes no sense.

it still doesn’t take away from the fact that you obviously understood the point i was trying make, but instead chose point out my lack of understanding the proper use of scientific terms.

Yes, I understood the point you were trying to make, and I was pointing out that the entire premise of your claim is flawed. You say other mainstream theories should be taught. In principle, I agree with you; however, there are no other real mainstream theories.

If a legitimate alternate explanation of the origin of life appears that matches evidence better than Evolution does, then that would be another mainstream theory, and it would over time win out - if it does the job better. However, Creationism and ID just aren’t legitimate scientific competitors.

Posted by: LawnBoy at June 11, 2007 11:23 PM
Comment #222893

Jack,

While I agree with much of what you wrote, I think you make the usual error of claiming that a value system not based on suprahuman foundations has little validity or force. It also assumes that meaning for humans must come from without, that human-constructed meaning must be empty. Yet that is what we humans do; it’s apparently one of the things that separate us from beasts. We base our systems on commonalities among humans; we codify our instinctual striving for society into cultural norms. Why this cannot be relevant without recourse to something beyond humans escapes me. Long ago Protagoras as characterized by Plato recorded the essential features of this ancient debate. As Protagoras pointed out, it is a mistake to claim that if “Man is the measure of all things,” then everything is relative (or random).

Posted by: Gerrold at June 11, 2007 11:25 PM
Comment #222895

Who cares?

Personally, I don’t care if our elected officials believe that the the world was created by pixies who floated down from space sprinkling pixie dust so long as they’re well-informed about economics and public policy—matters directly related to their jobs. I don’t look to public officials for my scientific education any more than I look to actors and musicians to educate me on foreign policy.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at June 11, 2007 11:26 PM
Comment #222896

Lawnboy

I misused the term random chance. It is statistical with random chance operating among the probabilities. As you know, the 99 to 1 shot sometimes wins, usually not, but statistics is not destiny. What I should have simply said that you have to believe that the world is mere probablilty. If that makes you feel better, fine. But probability is not morality. It still allows you to kill anybody you want or pave the redwood forest if you think you can profit and get away with it.

I believe that evolution adequately explains the how of the world. That is science. I do not think it has anything to say about the why. Science cannot operate w/o data and you have no data on the why.

Posted by: Jack at June 11, 2007 11:27 PM
Comment #222897
Science cannot operate w/o data and you have no data on the why.

True. Unfortunately, there have been many that have looked at Evolution and been scared because they don’t understand that Evolution doesn’t say a thing about why.

Posted by: LawnBoy at June 11, 2007 11:30 PM
Comment #222898

Gerrold

You are right that I really cannot understand deep morality w/o an external source. W/o some transendent morality, you are left with a kind of game theory. You might be good and honest, but only as long as you expected reciprocity, and as long as nobody is watching.

W/o something outside, we can define good only as the sum of our individual desires and individuals would have only a legal or social obligation to do something against their selfish interests.

Posted by: Jack at June 11, 2007 11:36 PM
Comment #222899

dbs,

“the earth is round”

Yet for millenia it was believed to be flat.
Galileo was threatened with excommunication for speaking the heresy that the earth circled the sun.

“if you jump of a building you will hit the ground”

Gravity is still a theory, action/reaction is still a theory.

“humans are spiritual beings something i don’t think you can say about any other life form on this planet”

Human beings are the only “spiritual beings” merely because they are the only provable “thinking” beings on this planet, and I sometimes wonder if even that is debatable.

Evolution doesn’t require faith, it only requires observation.

LO,

If you google “god told george bush to invade iraq”, you will get over 800,000 hits from hundreds of sources, I saw only two in the first few pages that was a denial, and they were both from the White House.
I never said it was true, I merely reacted to dbs’s claim that saying god told george bush to invade iraq is dishonest.

Posted by: Rocky at June 11, 2007 11:41 PM
Comment #222900

Lawnboy

Evolution is betrayed by some of those who claim to support it precisely because they want to extrapolate the why. They want to use it as a weapon against people of faith.

They should just do as I do. I believe evolution explains the how. You can use it. It works. But I stay away from the why, NOT because I reject science, but because I support it. Science knows its limitations. Some scientists (or those who claim to be) do not.

Posted by: Jack at June 11, 2007 11:43 PM
Comment #222902

Jack,

And that is why the Panopticon was such a compelling idea.

—-

I think as humans we search for something beyond ourselves. Sometimes that takes the form of science, sometimes of religion. There is comfort and security in grounding values in something beyond ourselves. Unfortunately, that’s not evidence. For my part, I have the values I have because I was raised a certain way and because I’m entrenched in the Western tradition. My being agnostic hasn’t seemed to shake my values.

Posted by: Gerrold at June 11, 2007 11:51 PM
Comment #222903

Jon,

…just wait until you get one of these guys into the White House.

Admitting defeat for the Democrats already?

Now this post isn’t a debate on creationism. It’s patent nonsense, a triumph of pure belief over empiric fact. And if you disagree with me, I have no time to persuade you otherwise.

As long as you don’t take the word “day” literally (and I’ve yet to meet anyone who actually does) the story of creation in the Bible really doesn’t contradict modern scientific theory.

So - does a creationist possess this intellect of which I speak? I personally don’t believe so. In the light of all evidence to the contrary, they choose to put their eggs in the Easter basket of myths and parables that constitutes the bible.
Creationism is not supported by any evidence. (Forget the teleological argument from design, for a moment, it doesn’t hold water.) Evolution, on the other hand, is.

The thing is, most Americans, including many scientists believe in both. Just how many people are you trying to insult?

When I was in college, I took a class on Geological Evolution. One day, when asked about creationism, I kind of expected the instructor to dismiss it out of hand (you know, the way you do). However, she said, “I don’t personally believe in the Bible, but I’ve seen nothing to disprove it scientifically.”
I learned something about open-mindedness that day.

Posted by: TheTraveler at June 11, 2007 11:56 PM
Comment #222906

Rocky, the number of google hits? So what?

You could follow and read every single one of those hits and not get any informations beyond the orginal story. All the number of hits tell us is that the left-wing sites and blogs and will go nuts with a anti-Bush story, no matter how dubious.

If we’re just gonna count google hits, I guess that Paris Hilton must be not only the most important person in the world but the most important person who has ever lived.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at June 12, 2007 12:00 AM
Comment #222911

LO,

Apparently you have missed my point.

While I never said it was true, there are quite a few folks out there that believe it is true.

Saying that it is dishonest, is in fact, dishonest.

Posted by: Rocky at June 12, 2007 12:14 AM
Comment #222915

Traveler,

Right. Evolution is apparently the mechanism and is in the realm of science. That speaks not at all to the creator of the mechanism or the purpose which the mechanism serves. Science and religion, as you and others have pointed out, address different questions and are not incompatible.

Posted by: Gerrold at June 12, 2007 12:20 AM
Comment #222916
“Evolution doesn’t require faith, it only requires observation.”

For 1 person out of 100,000 that may be true, but for everybody else it requires faith. Personally, I think it’s generally a positive development that these days we put our blind faith in guys with lab coats instead of guys with bishop’s hats, but lets not kid ourselves about why that is.

I am a believer in evolution (as well as creation). But of everybody who believes in evolution, there is probably 1 person out of a 100,000 who does so on the basis of having any freaking idea whatseover what they’re talking about. Most who believe in evolution couldn’t tell you how a telephone works, much less “observe” evolutionary science or have any idea what they were seeing if they did observe it.

Most of the people who laughed at Galileo are really no different from those who laugh at—say Mike Huckabee—based on the knowledge they personally have or could defend beyond the beliefs that have just been drilled into them by the current established authorities.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at June 12, 2007 12:21 AM
Comment #222920

LO,

“Most of the people who laughed at Galileo are really no different from those who laugh at—say Mike Huckabee—based on the knowledge they personally have or could defend beyond the beliefs that have just been drilled into them by the current established authorities.”

Except for the fact that those that laugh at Huckabee won’t be put into prison for their heresy.

Posted by: Rocky at June 12, 2007 12:25 AM
Comment #222921

Jack - as usual, you make interesting and well-informed points.

However, I do not understand your distinction between how and why.

Creationism does not even pretend to discuss WHY a supposed Creator got busy for a few days and made himself/herself/itself a planet, and a buncha little two-legged critters to populate it. Creationism only deals with the how.

For a more metaphysical argument regarding the why - well, you’ll have to look elsewhere.

Ah, hell - I’ve had a couple of drinks, I’ll tackle that.

So. According to some people, a large number in fact, God created the Earth, and it was good. None of those people for one instant second guesses God here, and says:

“Well hold on a second. Why? What did God hope to gain from this remarkable effort?”

Personally, I’m building a pond in my back yard right now. Lot of effort. Probably take me weeks, not six days, to finish.

Why? Well, it looks nice. Makes a kinda tinkly noise and provides a great place for my colored solar lights… mmmm, twinkly lights.

Was this your God’s motivation?

Or did He/She/It just have an ego that demanded our worship?

Jack, the why is exactly what the Church avoids. Mention it at your peril.

Posted by: Jon Rice at June 12, 2007 12:25 AM
Comment #222923

Edge:
“Isn’t it scientific fact that an unborn fetus has brain waves? Can feel pain?”

No, that isn’t a scientific fact. For most of a woman’s pregnancy a fetus does NOT feel any kind of pain at all.

Jon excellent article, and follow-ups.
Lawnboy, concise, cut-through-all-the-crap replies, as usual. Same goes for you too, Rocky.

It’s just too bad your responses will never manage to get through to all those you’re talking to. It’s sad to think we’ll all be here a year from now, having to make the exact same arguments and explain this all again. Personally, I’m just hoping such replies will be addressed to some brand new posters, rather than the very same ones who are posting to this thread now.
Yes, and no doubt I’ll be putting up that same link at some point when someone tries yet again to use emotion, rather than the established facts of evolving scientific research when once more floating the bogus claim that a fetus suffers all kinds of terrible agony due to the thorough research of those Evil Secular Humanists.
How dare anyone use the grey-matter outside of their reptilian brain by putting faith in science, rationality, and logic! Clearly everyone who does so is going to straight to hell in a petri-dish, uh, I mean hand-basket. ;^)

Posted by: Adrienne at June 12, 2007 12:49 AM
Comment #222925
Except for the fact that those that laugh at Huckabee won’t be put into prison for their heresy.

As a point of fact, were people put into prison for heresy for laughing at Galileo? I think you mean that unlike Galileo, Huckabee won’t be put in prison.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at June 12, 2007 12:52 AM
Comment #222926

Yep, it’s late. But you got the point.

Posted by: Rocky at June 12, 2007 12:54 AM
Comment #222932
W/o some transendent morality, you are left with a kind of game theory.

And what’s the problem with that?

Anyway, there are some interesting hypotheses about how morality evolved.

Posted by: LawnBoy at June 12, 2007 4:21 AM
Comment #222933
As long as you don’t take the word “day” literally (and I’ve yet to meet anyone who actually does) the story of creation in the Bible really doesn’t contradict modern scientific theory.

That’s the point that many of us try to make when defending science. Unfortunately, there really are many people that take the 24-day, 6000-year thing literally.

Posted by: LawnBoy at June 12, 2007 4:26 AM
Comment #222934

Jon,

I know Mike Huckabee, I’ve worked with Mike Huckabee…

Ok, just kidding. I have never met the man, but he used to be my governor. So I know more about him than most people opining on his character.

Huckabee is NOT crazy. When he was governor he did some things that I liked. There was a court decision saying that Arkansas was giving an inadequate education to students living in rural areas (Arkansas has a lot of them), Huckabee decided that the only economical way to comply with the court order was to consolidate smaller school districts. This ticked off a lot of people in those areas, and their mostly Democratic representatives stood by them. Eventually he compromised a bit but mostly got his way.

His stance struck me as very reasonable. The argument was basically that the state couldn’t afford to give every rural student good science, foreign language, etc, teachers unless they were consolidated into larger schools. (Willingly or not, he may have helped some kids learn about evolution!) This is a kind of conservatism I can live with. A lot of the opposition came from people who were afraid their kid wouldn’t make the football team at if they went to a bigger high school.

You are right that he is very religious. He is actually a trained Baptist preacher. I was disappointed that he didn’t believe in evolution.
I would never vote for him for President, but he is a decent guy and does not deserve the label “nutjob”.

Posted by: Woody Mena at June 12, 2007 6:16 AM
Comment #222937

Jon

I was not talking about the why of the will of God, but the why of the world. Science does not have an answer and the nature of science is that it cannot ever have an answer. Science does not reach the truth. It reaches a useful approximation of the truth (when we are lucky). There is nothing wrong with this. You can live your life w/o ever knowing any profound truths at all. Most people want to seek further, however. That is the realm of faith. The serious atheist and the more fundamental Christian are both basing their beliefs on faith. They are describing something they cannot know empirically.

I refuse to call the atheist scientific and the fundamentalist mistaken. Neither belief is scientific. When you get the beginning or end of your data, that is the end of the road for science. After that, what you believe is your business (or God’s if you are so inclined).

I do not see any contradiction between faith and science, except in the case of literal creationism, which I do not hold. Even in the case of creationism, it usually doesn’t make much of a difference. You probably will not be successful in some fields of biology and geologic time will be a little confusing, but you can lead a successful life w/o reference to those things.

People who believe in creationism should not be so easily dismissed. We all believe in some things that are improvable. Many people persist in believing things - such as astrology, witchcraft or ghosts - that are even empirically wrong.

Posted by: Jack at June 12, 2007 7:08 AM
Comment #222947

Adrienne,

There is a substantial body of evidence that a fetus does feel pain. Anyone can find discussions on this issue, so I shall not link. The point the scientist you cite makes is that without conscious awareness (the mind of which he speaks), then the fetus is not aware it is experiencing pain, as measured by behaviorial responses to painful stimuli — these responses, btw, are largely NOT disputed. This argument is used by those who claim a fetus cannot feel pain until after birth, an event which shocks the infant into further development of perceptual faculties.

This puts far too fine a point on it. Do we really want to insist that pain does not exist if we don’t have the consciousness to be aware that we are experiencing pain? In other words, do we have to remove ourselves from the pain itself in order to feel pain? Would you insist that a primitive animal of the type we don’t think has conscious awarness cannot feel pain?

Others claim that a fetus cannot feel pain until the third trimester when the various biological equipment is completely functioning. Yet others say a fetus does not need complete functioning of all biological equipment to feel pain. In all cases, there is evidence that a fetus will respond to painful stimuli even at very early stages of development.

What all this comes down to is that there is no real scientific consensus about if or when a fetus can feel pain. However, it is a minority view that a fetus cannot feel pain until after birth.

Posted by: Gerrold at June 12, 2007 9:44 AM
Comment #222949

Please do not accuse everyone from the South as being ignorant. First off, there are many brilliant minds from the South, great writers and innovators. I have met quite a few people from other parts of the country with pretty low intelligence levels. The sad fact is that the churches would rather have people believe in “miracles” than in science in order to maintain their control.

Posted by: Geri at June 12, 2007 9:52 AM
Comment #222958

Gerrold:
“There is a substantial body of evidence that a fetus does feel pain. Anyone can find discussions on this issue, so I shall not link.”

Well, you’d better try linking to a credible source, since I am providing credible sources to the contrary.

“The point the scientist you cite makes is that without conscious awareness (the mind of which he speaks), then the fetus is not aware it is experiencing pain,”

No, go look at the article again. It’s not just because of conscious awareness, but because fetuses don’t have the developed neural pathways to experience pain until the final months of pregnancy. The previous link I gave was just the first study done by an English psychologist, there have been plenty of others since then, all of which back up his original findings.
For instance, this NYT article mentions another study, as well as several hundred papers that have been written since then:

Taking on one of the most highly charged questions in the abortion debate, a team of doctors has concluded that fetuses probably cannot feel pain in the first six months of gestation and therefore do not need anesthesia during abortions. Their report, being published today in The Journal of the American Medical Association, is based on a review of several hundred scientific papers, and it says that nerve connections in the brain are unlikely to have developed enough for the fetus to feel pain before 29 weeks.
Posted by: Adrienne at June 12, 2007 10:37 AM
Comment #222961

Adrienne,

We’re talking at cross purposes, I think. The article you cite does mention that some scientists think the biological equipment is not there for a fetus to feel pain before the third trimester, but the researcher the article is about goes further and says that pain requires development of the mind, which is claimed does not occur until after birth.

Adrienne, note that your sources use qualifiers such as “probably” the fetus does not experience pain during the first two trimesters because of incomplete development.

I tried to link to some AMA articles that discuss the issue, but one must be a subscriber. Therefore I’ll just link to Wikipedia. It seems to do a reasonable job of summarizing the issue. My point is that the whole topic is debatable. You are correct in saying that many and perhaps most experts say fetal pain occurs at some debatable point after 20 weeks, but there is still some debate. It is known that fetuses respond to painful stimuli much earlier than 20 weeks; the debate is whether that implies perception of pain.

At any rate, I do believe all this puts far too fine a point on it. Since we cannot know for certain at what stage of development pain is felt (whether it requires complete development of all biological systems or not), then at this stage we are dealing with expert opinion. (And I’m not dismissing that, just accepting it for what it is.) Much of this has to do with whether reacting to painful stimuli means pain is induced or not.

Insofar as the pain debate influences the abortion debate, I think at the very least the current scientific understanding supports abortion bans during the third trimester. But of course pain is only part of the debate.

Posted by: Gerrold at June 12, 2007 11:01 AM
Comment #222964

Jon, you could have just said he was governor of Alabama and saved all the rest of that writing. Any politician from Alabama or Mississippi is all that needs be said about them. We really should have let those state secede. The U.S. would have been so much better off and so much more united. Oh, well.

Posted by: David R. Remer at June 11, 2007 06:40 PM


Do you really believe this or are you making a joke. Being from MS, I find this offensive.

Posted by: akraft at June 12, 2007 11:21 AM
Comment #222966

Jack -

“The serious atheist and the more fundamental Christian are both basing their beliefs on faith.”

No! No! And thrice no!

The atheist bases his conclusions on empiricism. There is no empirical evidence for creationism. This is not “faith” in the slightest. It is the diametric opposite of faith. Atheism is not a religion, it is a series of conclusions drawn about existence that are directly supported by both empirical and scientific evidence.

I am surprised that you would suggest that this is faith.

As for people believing in weird things (witches or ghosts or what have you) I fail to see how that is relevant to the debate. My point certainly extends to such people.

Anyone who places their faith (their belief in non-empirical hypotheses) in anti-science and ethereal conjecture is, to me, unfit to rule a country with a vast stockpile of nuclear weapons.

Posted by: Jon Rice at June 12, 2007 11:23 AM
Comment #222967
I am surprised that you would suggest that this is faith.

I’m not surprised by the statement. I’m not sure if it was Jack’s intent, but implying or outright stating that Evolution is based on faith is a common tactic among those trying to inject Creationism into public school science curricula. Since the courts have clearly stated that Creationism cannot be taught because it’s religion and not science, the response has been to try to make Evolution appear to be a religion.

It doesn’t make a lick of sense, but I’ve seen the point argued on WB many times.

Posted by: LawnBoy at June 12, 2007 11:35 AM
Comment #222968

Jon,

A lot of this has to do with how atheism is defined. There is a huge difference between 1) saying there is no empirical evidence for a God and 2) denying the possibility of a God.

Jon, I just can’t agree with you that people of faith are necessarily unsuited for the presidency. I’ve known many very brilliant, very rational people who were also religious in some way or another. Now, I would be very wary of electing someone who believed the end times are upon us because you don’t want to give that person the power to cause the end times. But in general I think it is hubristic to make the existence of faith an indicator of worthiness for high office.

Posted by: Gerrold at June 12, 2007 11:44 AM
Comment #222969

Oh, make that unworthiness.

Posted by: Gerrold at June 12, 2007 11:47 AM
Comment #222971

Gerrold - I’m not suggesting that people of faith should not run for office. You’re right, in a country full of religious people that would be ridiculous. I am suggesting that someone who is either a/ guided by their faith when it comes to momentous decisions (war, economics, education, health) or b/ believes in a literal interpretation of the bible, does not have the intellectual rigor to become President.

If Bush really went to war because God told him to, does this look like cool, analytical judgement? If a creationist gets into the White House and pushes his religious agenda, which he undoubtedly would, doesn’t this suggest that they will be unsuited to such decisions too?

Faith is one thing. Blind dogma, by which I mean a literal interpretation of the Bible, is quite another.

Posted by: Jon Rice at June 12, 2007 12:20 PM
Comment #222972

Gerrold,

“But in general I think it is hubristic to make the existence of faith an indicator of worthiness for high office.”

And yet it has been.

In recent history many candidates have made quite a big deal of their faith, as if it made them a better candidate, or a better human.
IMHO, faith isn’t an indication of a persons character, or moral fiber, or ability to lead, any more than their gender or the color of their skin.

Posted by: Rocky at June 12, 2007 12:21 PM
Comment #222982

Jon and Lawnboy

Evolution is science when it describes how things happened and are likely to happen. I have seen evolution at work in plants, fruit flies etc. I believe in it.

Creationism is not science. It depends on faith. I think we can prove that the Adam and Eve story is wrong (unless it is used metaphorically).

There is no scientific evidence for the existence of God. There is also no scientific evidence for the opposite. In our world, everything is the result of something else until you get to the beginning. In the beginning, you just do not know. The only scientific response to the God question is that you do not know. Science would lead you to be agnostic. If you believe in God or you are sure that there is NOT a god, that is a matter of faith. It is not empirical. It is not science. You just have no basis on which to make a decision based on the data.

Science takes you to the beginning, but after that you are on your own.

Re people of faith as leaders, my observation is that people of faith take a longer and more moral view of life. Studies indicate that they are more generous with their money, more likely to have children and more likely to volunteer to help others. All these things are community building measures.

People of faith have done some nasty things. But people who claimed NOT to believe in God have certainly managed their share. Ostensibly and officially atheistic communists in China, Russia, and Vietnam etc killed around 100 million people in the last century. There is not reason to believe that someone who did not believe in a transcendent power would behave better and some reason to believe they would be worse. Empirically, we find a strong correlation between trying to do good and being a person of faith.

Posted by: Jack at June 12, 2007 1:30 PM
Comment #223008

Jon Rice
“Science suffers under religious rule. This has been true for millennia. And it will be true tomorrow, if we put one of these creationists in the White House.”

While it is easy to recall western historical references such as the Catholic Church condemning people to death for their scientific discoveries, history also proves that science and religion are NOT mutually exclusive.

As an example, between approx. 800 C.E. (that’s “current era” for you A.D. people) and 1350 C.E. in the Middle East, Muslim rule was predominant and well-established. The Umayyad and Abbasid Empires were Muslim ruled empires that were religiously inspired, created, and run. It was during this time that the world…yes world, saw great advances in science developing in the Middle East. Advances in Algebra, the concept of Zero, Botany, Physics, Optics, Anatomy, Geography (first World Map/Globe), Chemistry, Medicine, and large scale translations of historical works, all took place, UNDER A RELIGIOUS RULE.

This was possible because the Muslim peoples viewed science as “glorifying and understanding” God’s unique design. Basically it came down to faith, not vaguely written words in an old book (another discussion, yes I know).

I could continue to rant about science vs. religion and the zero-sum game that it has become, but I won’t. I just wanted to present an alternative history lesson to the ones commonly cited.

Posted by: Peter at June 12, 2007 5:29 PM
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