Aug 11 2009

Science Must Declare a Reality War on Religion

Mooney and Kirshenbaum are at it again. I heard about it earlier today when PZ posted “The Mooney/Kirshenbaum crusade flops again“. It seems that Chris and Sheril have written a nice little op-ed piece for the LA Times, called “Must science declare a holy war on religion?“. I find it very telling that their piece is published in the “Religion” section. That’s a great section for most of their stuff lately, as I think Chris is having daily epiphanies when God™ speaks to him to tell him what to write next.

Update: Still more fallout from Mooney and Kirshenbaum’s editorial. Check out Jerry Coyne’s “Mooney and Kirshenbaum self-destruct at last“, Jason Rosenhouse’s “One More Round With M and K“, and Greg Fish’s “Mooney and Co. vs. the new atheists“.

What was in today’s opinion piece? Let’s take a look.

“This fall, evolutionary biologist and bestselling author Richard Dawkins — most recently famous for his public exhortation to atheism, ‘The God Delusion’ — returns to writing about science. Dawkins’ new book, ‘The Greatest Show on Earth,’ will inform and regale us with the stunning ‘evidence for evolution,’ as the subtitle says. It will surely be an impressive display, as Dawkins excels at making the case for evolution. But it’s also fair to ask: Who in the United States will read Dawkins’ new book (or ones like it) and have any sort of epiphany, or change his or her mind?

Surely not those who need it most: America’s anti-evolutionists. These religious adherents often view science itself as an assault on their faith and doggedly refuse to accept evolution because they fear it so utterly denies God that it will lead them, and their children, straight into a world of moral depravity and meaninglessness. An in-your-face atheist touting evolution, like Dawkins, is probably the last messenger they’ll heed.”

Let me get this straight. They’re putting down Dawkins’ new book (not yet published) because they don’t think anti-evolutionists (creotards, god-bots, what-have-you) are going to be swayed by it!??!1!!11!

How fucking stupid are you, Chris and Sheril? (That’s just a rhetorical question, thanks.) Notice the full title of the book: “The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution“. Keeping that in mind (I know that’s probably not easy for the two of you, but bear with me, please), I want to ask you a question: How many creationists are even going to touch a book with “the evidence for evolution” in the title? Those people, quite clearly are not the intended audience for any book by Dawkins.

I think I know part of the problem. I don’t think Chris and Sheril really know how many different types of people they’re talking about when they mention “America’s anti-evolutionists”. It seems to me that they’re always talking about a single subgroup. Maybe I’m reading more into what they’re writing than I should, but that’s how life goes.

Here’s what I think of when I hear Chris and Sheril mention “America’s anti-evolutionists”:

Nicely manicured lawns in suburbia. Mom and Dad taking the two-and-a-half kids to church (a nice Methodist or Presbyterian church down the road) every Sunday morning. Dad reads Time and Newsweek (And the NYT on Sunday), mom reads Better Homes & Gardens (and People, but that isn’t out where the kids see it). Shopping for a book entails going on-line and browsing at Amazon™ or driving down to Barnes & Noble or to Borders. The family knows about science and about the advantages scientific development provides for their lives. Dad plays golf with their minister the third Thursday of every month. They also happen to believe that Jesus is their personal savior, that he died for their sins, etc.

That’s a nice little picture, isn’t it? But that’s not what I think of when I read some of what “America’s anti-evolutionists” themselves have to say on blogs, in newspapers, in television interviews, etc.

Here’s what I think of when I read what the anti-evolutionists have to say on their own:

Not much of a yard because the dog tied up out front has pretty much run it down to dirt. Mom and Dad taking the five-and-a-half kids to church (an Evangelical or Fundamentalist or Charismatic church down the road) every Sunday morning, Saturday evening, Friday evening, Wednesday evening, and Sunday evening. Dad reads Field & Stream. Mom reads the “Left Behind” books, but has to have their oldest daughter help her with some of the words (Mom never got past the 8th grade, unfortunately). Shopping for a book entails glancing at the shelves while they’re in Wal-Mart™. The family knows nothing about science and about the advantages scientific development provides for their lives. If their pastor/preacher/minister told them the world was flat, they would believe him. They also happen to believe that Jesus is their personal savior, that he died for their sins, etc.

I ask you, Chris and Sheril, what the fuck makes you think a book from Dawkins could ever reach a member of that second family that I described? What makes you think there’s even a point in Dawkins trying to reach those people? They will not listen. They are not reasonable. They wholeheartedly believe that the Bible™ is the literal truth. They think of it as the only “science book” they’ll ever need. And yes, I have heard these people talk about the Bible using those exact words. They are delusional, and they will do everything they can to stay delusional.

Mooney and Kirshenbaum continue:

“It often appears as though Dawkins and his followers — often dubbed the New Atheists, though some object to the term — want to change the country’s science community in a lasting way.”

Don’t you just love that? They’re using the term “followers” for any loud-mouthed atheists, trying (in my opinion) to give it some sort of religious connotation. They’re trying to paint the so-called “New Atheists” as some sort of cult. I call bullshit! We’re not “followers”, and there’s no such thing as “New Atheists”. The word you’re looking for is simply “Atheists”. Do you know what else I call bullshit on? the idea that the atheists “want to change the country’s science community in a lasting way“. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Do you want to know what the truth is? I’ll let you in on the secret: We want to change the fucking world!

I love this statement from the piece:

“More moderate scientists, however — let us call them the accommodationists — still dominate the hallowed institutions of American science.”

Prove it. Where’s your fucking data?

Then they talk about the NCSE:

“In this endeavor, it has, of necessity, made frequent alliances with religious believers who also support the teaching of evolution, seeking to forge a broad coalition capable of beating back the advances of fundamentalists who want to weaken textbooks or science standards.”

They mention Jerry Coyne’s criticism of the NCSE’s “Faith Project”. I applaud Jerry. “Faith” has nothing to do with science. I support the NCSE, but I don’t always agree with their tactics. According to Chris and Sheril that makes me a very bad person.

They continue:

“In this, Coyne is once again following the lead of Dawkins, who in ‘The God Delusion’ denounces the NCSE as part of the ‘Neville Chamberlain school of evolutionists,’ those equivocators who defend the science but refuse to engage with what the New Atheists perceive as the real root of the problem — namely, religious belief.”

Hey, they might finally be getting the point that this whole thing isn’t all about evolution! Did Chris and Sheril finally pony up the dough to buy a fucking clue? The “New Atheists” thing is still meaningless.

“It all might sound like a petty internecine squabble, but the stakes are very high. The United States does not boast a very healthy relationship between its scientific community and its citizenry. The statistics on public scientific illiteracy are notorious — and they’re at their worst on contentious, politicized issues such as climate change and the teaching of evolution. About 46% of Americans in polls agree with this stunning statement: ‘God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so.'”

Here’s what really boggles my mind. It seems as though Mooney and Kirshenbaum actually believe that the problem of scientific literacy in this country is the fault of the relationship between the scientific community and the citizens.

*BZZZZZZTTTT!!!!!!!* Wrong.

What is the cause of the seriously appalling scientific literacy problem in the United States? You probably see it every single day, but don’t realize it. You see it whenever you pass one of those countless buildings across the country that espouse delusional sheep-like thinking. You know the ones I’m talking about. They often have a cross on top of the building. Sometimes they have a bell tower. Sometimes, though, they don’t have any of those things. What they do frequently have is the word “Church” or “Christian” in their name. They are monuments to enforced ignorance and delusion, and they’re pretty easy to avoid if you know how.

So go ahead, Chris and Sheril: Fight your battle about accommodating evolution and creationism in the relationship between the scientific community and the masses. Go ahead and make your “What Would Darwin Do?” pleas to us uncivil, loud-mouthed atheists. We’re going to politely (sometimes) ignore your pleas so that we can continue to fight the war against ignorance and delusion. Evolution is truly a very tiny part of the whole thing. Like I said before; We want to change the fucking world!

22 comments

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  1. While argued well, it is a matter of fact that Christians are simply more open-minded than atheist. We support the teaching of both Evolution and Creationism in the schools. The fact that Evolution is taught as fact is what is destroying America’s interest in science.

    Science only argues in the realm of probability. Who wants to based their life on what is probable and probably wrong as science has been so often in the past. Much of secular science is built in unjustified assumptions.

    Christians don’t find science to be dangerous. What is dangerous is the closed-minded view that is presented by secularist. Christians reject propaganda methods. We want their to be an open discussion of the facts; however, atheist fire anyone who helps students to critically evaluate the secular theories that exist.

    Hope that helps you understand our point of view. We just see secularists as closed minded and propaganda experts who are not open to discussion about the facts.

    Secular science is not really science…it is a philosophy built in most cases on unjustified assumptions. Science should be free to consider all kinds of theories; however, at this time it is being used to promote a particular worldview and that is what Christians reject. We don’t reject the science, we reject the propaganda because we are honest in recognizing that most scientific discoveries that concern are origins are based on assumptions rather than the scientific method.

    As just one example, a cell has never been produced from non-living matter. Even though this has not been demonstrated, it is believed by almost all secularist as a common truth. However, it is not a truth that has been demonstrated and been confirmed by the scientific method.

    How can we believe in something that has zero science to support it? Christians support real science rather than unjustified and the undemonstrated faith assumptions of secular science.

    Hope that helps you understand the big picture….I don’t think there is a WAR…I think Christians have to battle people who are closed minded and can’t think within the realm of proper scientific inquiry.

  2. How can we believe in something that has zero science to support it?

    But you’re an expert on that, Denny, you believe countless things that have absolutely zero science supporting them. Your whole blathering screed here is full of so many lies and so much projection that it’s actually laughable. You either need to be a stand-up comic or a mental patient. I’m just not sure which would be more appropriate yet.

  3. Christians are simply more open-minded than atheist. We support the teaching of both Evolution and Creationism in the schools.

    So presumably, since you’re all open-minded and all, you’d also support teaching the creation myths of other religions as well, such as Hindu, Mayan, Zoroastrian, and Norse? I don’t think that anyone I know would object to having a survey of all the world’s creation stories taught in schools. That would be really open-minded, right?

  4. Because diemboweling people is so darn messy, I’ve decided instead to install a disemvoweler. Henceforward, those who consistently refuse to acknowledge simple facts, ignore reality, or otherwise prove themselves to be insipid godbots, will have their comments disemvoweled.

    In a test of my new disemvoweler, here is the text of my comment above, as it was originally written (I’ll disemvowel the first version):

    Well, of course they couldn’t support that! All those other religions are wrong! Remember; Only Denny’s version of Evangelical Christianity™ is the One True Religion™.

  5. I can see that I’m going to have to write my own disemvoweling plugin rather than relying on the work of others. The current plugin, while useful, seems to ignore HTML entities as well as necessary HTML tags. I can fix that, but it must be later.

  6. Dan said, “But you’re an expert on that, Denny, you believe countless things that have absolutely zero science supporting them.”

    I am curious as to what you think I believe that has zero science to support it. I am not aware of anything. Keep in mind that science is merely a process and not an end in and of itself. Science is merely man’s way of discovering the operation of nature.

    If you think that Genesis is unsupported, you just need to realize that scientist by a large majority believe that something came from nothing in the big bang. It took some time for science to catch up with the Bible, but it finally did.

    In regards to the six days of creation, I don’t believe we know enough about the universe as of yet to be able to demonstrate that to be the case in fact; however, it is a possibility as science deals in the realm of hypothesis and confirmation of the facts.

    I just don’t like the fact that you are so closed minded. Rather than thinking in the realm of possibility, you think within the realm of a closed box which is very unhealthy for you and for everyone around you.

    Science has prospered in a Christian context exactly because we are open minded. Science is like putting a puzzle together. We know what the final picture will look like since it is in God’s Word; however, man is still putting the puzzle together and sometimes forces the pieces together which other come along and change as they follow the process. Science is fun as a result and the discoveries have really been awesome.

    As a matter of fact, science has never demonstrated that the Bible is in fact wrong…even evolution has not been directly observed. The evidence for evolution has to be interpreted and the conclusion inferred as stated by Dawkins himself. That is why it is called a theory rather than a fact.

    God Bless!

  7. I liked his post more when it was disemvowled. The gadget for which I am still hoping you will share…

  8. The National Academy of science says this: Scientists can also use fact to mean something that has been tested or observed so many times that there is no longer a compelling reason to keep testing or looking for examples. The occurrence of evolution in this sense is fact. Scientists no longer question whether descent with modification occurred because the evidence is so strong.

    The statement appears to assume that macro evolution is a fact because there is no longer any question about it validity; however, I have a list of over 700 scientist and philosophers including those from Harvard, Yale and Emory who are advising that they do not agree that macro evolution is a fact.

    The fact is that evolution has never been directly observed and the circumstantial evidence that Dawkins thought was conclusive turns out not to be so conclusive as there is a great amount of disagreement in the field in this area.

    I think it is best to recognize that evolution has not be directly observed; whereas, the resurrection of Christ was. On the scientific level, the resurrection has more witnesses than evolution by several hundred people.

    I can’t wait to see your post!

    • Silver Fox on 2009/08/28 at 10:26
    • Reply

    “Let me get this straight. They’re putting down Dawkins’ new book (not yet published)…..”

    Why not? He keeps retooling the same idea over and over. Since the Selfish Gene, has he had an original idea? So, it’s not difficult to review Dawkins’ new book or the one after that . Same-0, Same-0. However, the God Delusion was a little different; it had little to do with science but was rather pure atheism. Undoubtedly it was the worst book he has ever written.

    • Silver Fox on 2009/08/29 at 20:49
    • Reply

    Dan
    “How about including the rest of what I said: “…because they don’t think anti-evolutionists (creotards, god-bots, what-have-you) are going to be swayed by it!?”

    Well Dan, I believe firmly in evolution; that’s the way the cosmos and life has developed . No Genesis, no six days, no flood, etc. However I also believe that there is purpose in creation; a teleology. So, I believe there is a God who has chosen this methodology to get us where we are today and beyond. Can I prove this? No, it is a matter of faith based on subjective experience and internal epistemology, not on objective scientific discovery.

    “Spoken by someone with a mind that never opens, obviously. You’re fucking pathetic.”

    Ad hominem fallacy. Try addressing the issue without pulling in the simplest fallacy known to mankind. Oh, I take that back. The simplest fallacy is name-calling, but you do that too (“fucking pathetic”).

    “I have very great doubts about your statement. So do many others who’ve read Dawkins’ works and thoroughly enjoyed them.”

    Dan, I don’t think I’ve ever read a Dawkin work and not enjoyed it. But, I’ve enjoyed Patricia Cornwell, Deborah Crombie, etc. You see, Patricia, Deborah and Richard all tend to retool the same idea.

    ” I value your opinion on the matter almost as much as I value zdenny’s”

    I have no idea who zdenny is or what his/her ideas are, nor do I care to know him/her or them.

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