Where Have All The Pragmatists Gone?

Badidea has a critique and breakdown of the trailer for Ben Stein’s new movie, Expelled:

As I commented at the above-linked post, Stein implies, or at least it seems so to me, that Free Speech equates to Institutional Endorsement. There’s a big difference there that he’s just ignoring; one has the right to say what they want in the USA, but that does not mean it won’t necessarily have consequences. We live in a society where Employment at Will comes into play, and I am more than welcome to use, for example, the “N” word, but I do so at my own risk, and my employer may indeed fire me for doing so. As someone who hails from the side of the aisle that insists on fighting ENDA because employers “should not have to endorse what they consider immoral behavior,” Stein should see the fallacy of his own implication. If he wasn’t being completely disingenuous, that is.

More importantly missed by Stein, however, is that evolution doesn’t automatically exclude the presence of God, and many believe that it is “His” method of creation. For what that’s worth, this was the original use of the now-usurped term “intelligent design.”  Only in the last two decades has ID become conflated with creationism–leaving us with complete atheistic evolution on one side, and biblical ID on the other, and no term for those in the middle any more.  Yet consider one of the first uses of the term Intelligent Design:

No physical hypothesis founded on any indisputable fact has yet explained the origin of the primordial protoplasm, and, above all, of its marvellous properties, which render evolution possible—in heredity and in adaptability, for these properties are the cause and not the effect of evolution. For the cause of this cause we have sought in vain among the physical forces which surround us, until we are at last compelled to rest upon an independent volition, a far-seeing intelligent design.

Later (but not much):

It will not be possible to rule out the supposition that the process of evolution may be guided by an intelligent design.

That last is from Schiller, a classical pragmatist (much like myself, ha ha).  Written over 100 years ago.  In fact, this same argument was attempted as a smokescreen for the introduction of creationism in the Dover v Kitzmiller trial in Pennsylvania just a few years ago–until prosecutors proved that the testimony to this effect did not jibe with the actual curriculum presented by the school board (as shown humorously in Chapman’s 40 Days & 40 Nights).  So why are we still so divided?  And why must Ben Stein make a film so full of logical fallacies? 

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70 thoughts on “Where Have All The Pragmatists Gone?

  1. Actually, what I think is most entertaining about this movie is that the fact that the scientists it quotes like PZ Myers, Eugenie Scott, and Richard Dawkins are pissed off because they weren’t aware of how it would be used.

    Translation: They didn’t get the chance to soften their naked antireligious bigotry for public consumption.

    Furthermore, the problem here is this: if it were a perversion of scientific theories that people were worried about, you would see the same sort of vehemence and retribution against people like Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, and others who claim that evolution disproves and excludes God.

    But the simple fact of the matter is that you don’t. In fact, quite the opposite happens, as the film apparently shows. Thus, realistically, it is impossible to say that the people profiled in the film were tossed for practicing bad science; after all, none of the aforementioned individuals have been fired or publicly excoriated for practicing bad science to prove their antireligious beliefs. It would be akin to you claiming poor attendance as a reason for firing a black employee while a white employee with the same or more absences was retained; prima facie evidence of disparate treatment.

  2. While it’s true intelligent design isn’t going to headline at the American Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, or the California Academy of Sciences anytime soon…

    That has absolutely nothing to do with free speech. And it is irresponsible of Stein to suggest otherwise.

    The curators and board of directors at those institutions get to determine who presents research at their museums. Adherents of intelligent design can always build their own museum, after all:

    http://www.creationmuseum.org/

  3. Thus, realistically, it is impossible to say that the people profiled in the film were tossed for practicing bad science; after all, none of the aforementioned individuals have been fired or publicly excoriated for practicing bad science to prove their antireligious beliefs.

    Well, that’s just it: their beliefs aren’t science. Science involves theories, hypotheses, and adequate supporting facts from which to derive a conclusion. One’s belief in God, or disbelief, have nothing to do with science. While I admire a great deal of Dawkins’ work, he makes the same mistake that so many “scientists” at the Discovery Institute and others do–conflating religious beliefs with provable science.

    Evolution is scientifically founded. Theology is not.

    Adherents of intelligent design can always build their own museum, after all:

    As you could probably tell by the post, John, I’m not very pleased with the usurpation of ID by creationists. It doesn’t speak very highly to the strength of their beliefs if they have to hide behind a stolen scientific term. Adam and Eve? I don’t buy it. But God as the beginning spark of Evolution? I think that’s certainly more possible than just random chance.

    And so once again I fall in the middle, and am bound to be kicked for it.

  4. But aren’t you making the same assumptions that the creationists do?

    You complain that the religious right misappropriated ID. But then you fall into the same trap that ensnared them by declaring that creation is “more possible than just random chance.”

    Isn’t the whole point of ID that we cannot possibly know that (or even apply a statistical probability to it)? One possibility isn’t any more possible than the others.

    I think the key difference is that scientific ID was orginally conceived as an agnostic statement of neturality. In its present form, however, ID has become more of an affirmative pro-God statement.

    Accepting the premise of supernatural intervention – whether it’s initiated by Yaweh, Jehovah, Allah, Chaos, Brahma, Coatlique, or Coyote – means there’s some sort of sentient “creator.” It doesn’t necessarily follow that this entity wrote a book 5,000 years ago that imposes the death penalty for eating lobster, of course. But in essence, you don’t have to buy Christianity’s specific explanation of creation (Adam and Eve) to be a creationist.

  5. But then you fall into the same trap that ensnared them by declaring that creation is “more possible than just random chance.”

    No I didn’t, my friend. I probably should have worded it differently, though. I said “I think” it’s more possible, very purposefully presenting that as my opinion, not fact. Which is the difference between me and the creationists. I fully recognize that I might be wrong, and am open to other possibilities, even full random chance sparking evolution.

    But in essence, you don’t have to buy Christianity’s specific explanation of creation (Adam and Eve) to be a creationist.

    I really don’t know what to make of that statement, John. That’s typically what “creationist” refers to:Genesis & Adam & Eve. That’s what the creation museum refers to. And those are the creationists I’ve been referring to in the post, the 40 Days & 40 Nights book review, and this entire conversation. Those who believe the earth is only 6,000 years old, who disallow for evolution–as in those Republicans who wouldn’t raise their hand at the debate when asked if they believed in evolution. To say that anyone who believes that some form of Deity had any kind of input in the formation of the universe is quite the stretch of the term “creationist.” At least, a stretch of any common usage I’ve ever seen or heard used.

  6. While I admire a great deal of Dawkins’ work, he makes the same mistake that so many “scientists” at the Discovery Institute and others do–conflating religious beliefs with provable science.

    Funny, you’d never know it, given that he is admired, his theories that do exactly that are cited, and I’ve never heard of anyone losing their job for teaching or referencing them. Indeed, the “American Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, or the California Academy of Sciences” are all more than happy to carry his work as “real science”.

    So it seems that it’s not conflating beliefs with provable science that’s the problem; it’s when doing so doesn’t produce justification for antireligious bigotry.

  7. That’s not strictly accurate, NDT. Dawkins’ work extends beyond his views on religion and theism and that’s the work that is given credence by the scientific establishment. Indeed, many scientists have pulled away from him specifically because of his vehemence in approaching religious subjects from a questionably scientific viewpoint. However, his real work on natural history and evolutionary method theory satisfies the logical requirements of science and there is no reason it shouldn’t be included in discussions of the same. Condemning the whole of his output because of his recent militant attitude is bad reasoning.

  8. Indeed, many scientists have pulled away from him specifically because of his vehemence in approaching religious subjects from a questionably scientific viewpoint.

    Not good enough, QJ.

    If scientists are going to demand that people be fired, banned, and no longer quoted because they take a pro-religious stance and allegedly “pervert science”, then I want to see an identical response for those like Dawkins who also “pervert science”.

    Otherwise, as I have repeatedly pointed out, what becomes obvious is that perverting science is not the problem — as long as doing so reinforces antireligious hatred, contempt, and bigotry.

  9. Nonsense, NDT, because Dawkins’ work outside of his explorations of religion and science is still solid. Whereas, ID proponents are not technically even pursing science as their hypothesis have no way to be independently tested and verified. That is key and something, at least in the trailer, Ben Stein seems to completely miss.

    Science is about predicting the future, saying “If A, then B”. Evolutionary theory does this. Even if direct experimentation isn’t possible, one can still trace the causal roots through the evidence. Intelligent design, however, offers no such metric for verification, unless one of its proponents has somehow managed to “cage God” and make Him/Her/It deliver on demand like a trick pony. ID is perfectly fine as a philosophy, just as Dawkins’ arguments regarding the supremacy of science over religion are fine as a philosophy. As science, however, neither one holds up and that is exactly what the scientific community is saying as a whole.

  10. Even if direct experimentation isn’t possible, one can still trace the causal roots through the evidence. Intelligent design, however, offers no such metric for verification, unless one of its proponents has somehow managed to “cage God” and make Him/Her/It deliver on demand like a trick pony.

    I see.

    So science can claim that life was created by randomly mixing chemicals, but they don’t have to prove it by direct and repeatable experimentation; they can just say it happened, and interpret the evidence, which they designate, as they see fit to prove it.

    Meanwhile, intelligent design is required to prove everything by direct and repeatable experimentation, CANNOT just say it happened, and is NOT allowed to interpret or designate evidence as they see fit to prove it.

    You demand a “caged god”, QJ; I think it only fair that you be required to produce life in a test tube. And if you can’t, then you need to admit that you’re requiring of intelligent design a proof that you don’t require of science.

  11. Jamie –

    Fair enough. But I still think it’s only limited to Adam and Eve because we’re living in a Christian society. If we were in India, the equilvalent of our “creationist” philosophers wouldn’t necessarily quote Genesis.

    And here’s where I think this is subversively useful. Evolutionists are not going to win every battle, and the teachers’ unions should plan accordingly. If the Republican Party forces educators to teach creationism as a viable scientific alternative, lets at least make creation engaging, critical, and “scientific.” Teach a wide variety of creation stories, and then ask the kids how they’re going to conduct an experiment to prove which God is the one, true creator. Hopefully, such an exercise will show the absurdity of mixing theology with empiricism.

    And NDT –

    1. Firings

    For the most part, public university professors are unionized. Believe me, administrators can’t fire a professor for publishing research they disagree with. And once a professor gets tenure, it’s pretty much impossible to fire them under any circumstances (short of outright criminal activity). The university can always pressure someone to resign, but as we’ve seen with Cornel West and others, that doesn’t really affect their chances for future employment.

    2. Bannings

    Like the Boy Scouts, professional organizations are not officially sanctioned governmental entities. Therefore, they can ban whoever they wish for any reason. You don’t have to join the AMA to become a doctor. But most doctors choose to sign up for AMA membership because it implies that they’re in good standing with their disciplinary colleagues. It’s certainly not compulsatory. Likewise, if creationist biologists and anthropologists want to practice their craft in peace, then they could simply avoid controversy by removing themselves from the disciplinary bodies that govern the science of evolutionary biology. Honestly, they didn’t need to join in the first place. If they’re not members, they can’t be banned.

    People like Paul Cameron (Family Research Council) purposefully join professional organizations they know will ban them. They do this because they want to become martyrs for the cause. It’s really quite transparent. The man has been banned from three organizations already… the American Psychological Association (1983), the American Sociological Association (1986), and the Canadian Psychological Association (1996). It should be clear to him by now that mainstream scientists don’t like him. Yet, he continues to demand that they accept him for the singular purpose of playing the victim.

    3. No quotes

    This is a no-brainer. You have no right to citation inflation. Other scholars will quote you, if they find your work useful or engaging. When you produce methodologically questionable and/or theorethically weak articles, why on the earth would they jeopardize their own careers by quoting you extensively. That’s like saying one wants to get on Titanic after it collided with the iceberg.

  12. Actually, John, I think schools should leave religion out of the science classroom entirely–however I’m quite in favor of philosophy classes that encourage exploration of other religions and discussion of the differences and similarities, and how they might apply to scientific approaches–but it should be honestly called philosophy, not science.

    And while I may mix them in my own belief system, I don’t think it’s appropriate for schools or individuals to try and paint religion as science.

  13. NDT–

    Be careful what you wish for. Those same “scientists” that you are arguing for consistently accuse the APA of bowing to pressure in the removal of homosexuality from the list of recognized mental disorders.

  14. So science can claim that life was created by randomly mixing chemicals, but they don’t have to prove it by direct and repeatable experimentation; they can just say it happened, and interpret the evidence, which they designate, as they see fit to prove it.

    Ah, but they have proved it, so the point is irrelevant. Lab experiments have shown the capacity of organic molecules to self-assemble in conditions found on Earth some 3.5 billion years ago. If you’ve got amino acids, simple sugars and hydrocarbons, all of which self-assemble, then you have the beginnings of life. So they don’t just “say” it happened and that’s not what I meant.

    And yes, ID is indeed required to prove everything by direct experimentation and the problem is, once again, that it can’t. Period. There can be no experiments designed to prove the veracity of ID’s theories until you figure out how to make the watchmaker work on your schedule. Those who support ID ignore this inconvenient fact repeatedly while complaining that they’re not being taken seriously. Fine. If ID supporters which to be perceived as serious scientists, design an repeatable, independently verifiable experiment that actually invokes this higher intelligence to produce some sort of life. Until that happens, ID is philosophy, not science.

  15. Hopefully, such an exercise will show the absurdity of mixing theology with empiricism.

    Don’t forget to include in there the scientific fact that life originated by a random mixing of chemicals.

    Which ones, they don’t know. How it happened and under what conditions, they don’t know. But it is scientific fact because scientists say it happened that way, even though they can’t prove it or replicate it.

    The lesson: scientists demand of others proof that they do not demand of themselves.

    Believe me, administrators can’t fire a professor for publishing research they disagree with. And once a professor gets tenure, it’s pretty much impossible to fire them under any circumstances (short of outright criminal activity).

    Don’t make excuses, John.

    If Dawkins is perverting science and teaching unscientific theories, he should not be employed — if, that is, the emphasis is on actually following the rules of science and not teaching unscientific theories.

    But the fact that Dawkins and others are still employed demonstrates quite nicely that colleges, universities, and academics could care less about teaching unscientific theories as long as they reinforce antireligious bigotry.

    Like the Boy Scouts, professional organizations are not officially sanctioned governmental entities. Therefore, they can ban whoever they wish for any reason.

    That just shows their hypocrisy; they ban people for allegedly being “unscientific”, but continue to allow members who are exactly that, as long as their “unscientific” conduct reinforces antireligious bigotry.

    And then to Jamie:

    Those same “scientists” that you are arguing for consistently accuse the APA of bowing to pressure in the removal of homosexuality from the list of recognized mental disorders.

    And members of the APA constantly accuse each other of bowing to pressure from drug companies, the Bush administration, and whatnot.

    Welcome to professional organizations.

  16. If you’ve got amino acids, simple sugars and hydrocarbons, all of which self-assemble, then you have the beginnings of life.

    And if you have eggs, sugar, flour, and milk, you have the beginnings of a cake.

    However, simply presenting that those things are around does not mean that the cake is. What I want to see is for you to combine those chemicals, as you claim you can, and produce a living organism from them.

  17. And members of the APA constantly accuse each other of bowing to pressure from drug companies, the Bush administration, and whatnot.

    Welcome to professional organizations.

    Welcome to “Missing the Point.” A new series of internet threads. Starring . . .

  18. Which is apparently, Jamie, that the APA’s removal of homosexuality is on such shaky scientific grounds that the only way they can defend it is to banish anyone who would question it.

    Does the name “Lysenko” ring a bell for you?

  19. Banishment?

    Really, you’re such a drama queen sometimes. The scientists who believe they can cure gays by hooking them upto an electrical generator are not welcomed at the APA’s Annual Convention. And I must emphasize once again that membership in the APA is completely voluntary and subject to compliance with the rules.

    The APA does not send anyone to re-education camps. Nor does it imprison anyone in some hovel of a Black Sea penal colony. That’s the perogative of the state. The APA is a NGO, and therefore, does not have the authority to “banish” anyone.

  20. What I want to see is for you to combine those chemicals, as you claim you can, and produce a living organism from them.

    While no one has synthesized a proto-cell at this point, several researchers are working on that now. That’s key, mind you, because that’s an experiment, one that can be independently repeated and verified. Again, this type of repeatable verification is UTTERLY LACKING in ID and without it, it is not science, plain and simple.

    Believe whatever you like about what set down the ground rules that eventually led to the rise of localized complexification and life, but realize that is pure philosophy without independently repeatable and verifiable experimental protocols. Until you show such a protocol for ID, then you’re just willfully missing the point and indulging in a false dilemma.

  21. Shaky grounds? Are you frigging serious?

    (shrug) Why else would they be so terrified that they throw out anyone who doesn’t parrot that belief?

    The scientists who believe they can cure gays by hooking them upto an electrical generator are not welcomed at the APA’s Annual Convention.

    And yet, the scientists who believe and tout that evolution disproves the existence of God are welcomed.

    Obviously, what this demonstrates is that the APA doesn’t care about scientific validity as long as an idea supports their belief system.

    That’s key, mind you, because that’s an experiment, one that can be independently repeated and verified. Again, this type of repeatable verification is UTTERLY LACKING in ID and without it, it is not science, plain and simple.

    Unfortunately, QJ, you stated this previously as an argument:

    Even if direct experimentation isn’t possible, one can still trace the causal roots through the evidence.

    In other words, you demand direct experimentation and nothing else for ID, but you allow science to do quite nicely without, just picking and choosing the evidence and making theories without ever having to really make THEIR “god” perform on command.

  22. I look at it this way. The existence of non-existence of God or ID or whatever is irrelevant in science, and should be questions in theology and philosphy. I think there is plenty of room for debate on these topics, but Creation and ID doesn’t belong in science class.

    There is no definitive proof about how life began. We have a long history of ascribing scientific mysteries as simply an act of God, when no one understood the answer. But as time went on, many of the mysteries were answered from the laws of the universe. As time went on, the laws were refined, and became more accurate in describing more and more situations that came up. Of course, one can believe or not believe that God created the laws of the universe, and that’s fine. It just doesn’t matter in science. Now if, somehow, the origin of life and/or the “origin” of the universe defies the laws of the universe as is understood now, that may suggest that God or an intelligent designer created different laws to accommodate this. Whatever. Science’s job is to find out what the laws were and the physical circumstances that created life. It’s philosophy’s job to debate whether or not God or ID caused it.

  23. {{ Obviously, what this demonstrates is that the APA doesn’t care about scientific validity as long as an idea supports their belief system. }}

    No, it demonstrates that you know very little about Richard Dawkins’ background. Dawkins is an evolutionary biologist, whose training is primarily in zoology. He started out studying the genome of non-human animals. It was much later in his career that he developed an interest in physical anthropology and human origins. He isn’t even a member of the APA (American PSYCHOLOGICAL Association).

    Although his theories on the selfish gene purports to explain certain pathologies and social behaviors, the argument is rooted in biological determinism. As one might expect, he possesses very limited knowledge about classifying mental illnesses themselves. He’s talking about macro-level changes over the course of several millenia from the perspective of an evolutionary biologist. So, while there’s some typical crossover, it’s doubtful he’d have much to say about the specifics of psychology to an audience that knows far more about the issue than he does.

    Certainly, the APA has never invited to speak at their convention, nor have they taken any official position on his theories as an organization. That’s really the job of the American ANTHROPOLOGICAL Association.

    And regardless of who gets to discipline Dawkins (APA, AAA, Royal Society for the Sciences, etc.), most of his work in biology has very little to do with the atheism. It’s ironic that The God Delusion has become his best known project, even though it is argurably the weakest of his writings.

  24. Even if direct experimentation isn’t possible, one can still trace the causal roots through the evidence.

    In other words, you demand direct experimentation and nothing else for ID, but you allow science to do quite nicely without, just picking and choosing the evidence and making theories without ever having to really make THEIR “god” perform on command.

    Since that statement seems to be the one you can’t wrap your brain around, I withdraw it. Notice I did use the modifier “direct”, but in order to use the black and white terms you seem to favor, I’ll throw out any sort of level of abstraction. So replace that statement with this:

    Science is the process whereby models of real world events are created, through the development of repeatable and independently verifiable experimentation, in order to predict with a degree of certainty future events. Experimentation involves the establishment of theoretical hypothesis which are then tested for validity via laboratory protocols.

    Not only does ID fail to be science in that it doesn’t provide any sort of useful real world model, it lacks any sort of experimental option. That’s the argument that you have continually failed to provide any sort of response to while trying to split hairs in other areas or attacking the scientific establishment with a false dilemma.

  25. No, it demonstrates that you know very little about Richard Dawkins’ background.

    That’s interesting, John, especially since I didn’t cite Dawkins specifically.

    And yet, the scientists who believe and tout that evolution disproves the existence of God are welcomed (in the APA).

    Dawkins is by no means the only scientist who believes and touts that, and there are certainly APA members and honorees who do, such as Steven Pinker, without word one from the APA.

    But, since you mentioned Dawkins specifically:

    So, while there’s some typical crossover, it’s doubtful he’d have much to say about the specifics of psychology to an audience that knows far more about the issue than he does.

    Funny, he seems to have no problem deeming religious belief a mental illness and a “delusion”.

    Isn’t it odd, then, that the APA can write manifesto after manifesto after manifesto against people who disagree with them and claim that those who do so are perverting science…..but give awards to scientists who claim that evolution disproves God and who say nothing about those who call religious belief a “delusion” and a mental illness?

  26. {{ Funny, he seems to have no problem deeming religious belief a mental illness and a “delusion”. }}

    He’s free to say whatever he wishes. As far as I know, the APA has never officially endorsed those views.

    And Steven Pinker has an opinion. There’s a different between offering an unsubstantiated opinion and conducting ethically questionable experiments on human subjects (electro-shock therapy).

  27. As far as I know, the APA has never officially endorsed those views.

    It’s never repudiated them either — quite odd, when you consider the manifestos they put out against other people who they claim “pervert science”.

    There’s a different between offering an unsubstantiated opinion and conducting ethically questionable experiments on human subjects (electro-shock therapy).

    You mean like Pinker teaching his students and the children upon whom he experiments that evolution disproves God and that people who have religious beliefs are mentally ill?

    I thought teaching bad science was ethically questionable as well, but I guess as long as it’s antireligious bigotry, the APA, et al., doesn’t care.

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  29. “I think it only fair that you be required to produce life in a test tube.”

    Science distinguishes between abiogenesis and evolution. Abiogenesis is “hard”. Evolution is “obvious”.

    But the point is that “God intervened” in some way, some time, somehow, for some inscrutable purpose is not science. Not a testable hypothesis. Not falsifiable. Not teachable in a high school science class.

    Abiogenesis – would you like to try to “prove” that appropriate conditions over an appropriate time could not allow “life” to be created from “non-life”? That is a negative statement. It is normally very hard to prove negative statements. Carefully set up a billion Earth-size experiments and watch each one for a billion years and decide based on the result? Be sure to include a relatively large, close moon in a lot of those experiments – it might be important.

  30. Jamie, just saw your comment here. Actually, my comment was meant for the spammers (but I guess that they don’t read the comments anyway). It’s a shame that you or any other blogger has to waste any time to have to deal with it.

  31. Onein6billion, thank you for demonstrating so nicely the double standard in science.

    Show us your scientific proof of the nonexistence of God.

    Now show us your scientific proof that life sprang from non-life.

    You don’t have any. But you’re allowed to insist that God doesn’t exist and that life came from non-life in a high school science class.

  32. And that is a neat little false dilemma you’ve set up, NDT. While you may have a point (and note that I’m not actually conceding that you do) about lack of experimental evidence regarding spontaneous “spark” generation, that doesn’t necessarily indicate that the “And Then A Miracle Occurred” explanation is any more valid or, indeed, scientific in any aspect.

    Furthermore, it’s not about commenting on the existence of God, one way or the other. It is about showing that God is not required for the process to happen. You insist on entwining these two points into a straw man juggernaut. Onein6billion made no overt comments regarding the existence of God, merely correctly outline the impossibility of “testing” for God effect. You’re the one who consistently misconstrues these arguments in hopes of finding a more tenable argumentative position.

    The exact origin of life may be an ineffable question. However, through scientific method, plausible assumptions can be made and, as our scientific knowledge increases, those assumptions can be tested. The simple fact is that the God effect can not be tested and the very idea of its testing is inimical to the nature of God himself. If you can get God to perform tricks on command, then it’s not God. Without that aspect, though, the ability to set up certain conditions and consistently have God do his thing, then it’s not science. It’s not necessarily wrong philosophically, but it’s not science.

  33. While you may have a point (and note that I’m not actually conceding that you do) about lack of experimental evidence regarding spontaneous “spark” generation, that doesn’t necessarily indicate that the “And Then A Miracle Occurred” explanation is any more valid or, indeed, scientific in any aspect.

    Unfortunately, QJ, “spontaneous spark generation” IS taught in high school science as fact.

    You insist on entwining these two points into a straw man juggernaut.

    So does Richard Dawkins, and HIS theories on the sort can be taught in high school science classes as scientific fact.

    So it’s really not about bad science, QJ; it’s about the fact that “bad science” is perfectly acceptable as long as it bashes religion.

  34. “Unfortunately, QJ, “spontaneous spark generation” IS taught in high school science as fact.”

    I think this statement is a lie.

    “So does Richard Dawkins, and HIS theories on the sort can be taught in high school science classes as scientific fact.”

    Can you be more specific about “his theories of the sort”? Only very well-established thories (like gravity and evolution) should be taught as “fact”.

  35. Unfortunately, QJ, “spontaneous spark generation” IS taught in high school science as fact.

    And unfortunately, NDT, you are still willfully missing the point.

    So does Richard Dawkins, and HIS theories on the sort can be taught in high school science classes as scientific fact.

    It’s the extremely erudite high school science course that teaches Dawkins at all, let alone as accepted fact within the scientific community. I can’t remember a single course on Dawkins and the idea of the selfish gene throughout my high school career and I would challenge you to find a single, average high school student with no special interest in evolutionary theory, that could pass a test on meme theory, replicator theory and Dawkins ideas on sociobiology based solely on what they learn in the average life science class.

    You are manufacturing a situation that doesn’t exist because you have issues with Dawkins atheism. I concede that he needs to admit his views on God and religion in general belong in a philosophy course rather than in a scientific environment, but that in no way, shape or form goes on to validate the equally philosophical and unscientific ideas behind ID. Again, false dilemma.

    So it’s really not about bad science, QJ; it’s about the fact that “bad science” is perfectly acceptable as long as it bashes religion.

    In a way you’re right. It isn’t about bad science because Dawkins’ theories on God and the collected thought behind ID ARE NOT SCIENCE. They should not be taught as science and, indeed, the majority of the time they aren’t. You, however, insist on making the same mistake as Dawkins and folding his critique on religion into his actual scientific work and then judging the whole by a metric that doesn’t even exist as Dawkins work isn’t even taught informationally, let alone as “fact”, in high school and is barely even taught in undergraduate levels of college.

  36. You are manufacturing a situation that doesn’t exist because you have issues with Dawkins atheism.

    No, QJ; I am pointing out the hypocrisy of a scientific community that wets itself screaming “bad science” every time anything even remotely related to intelligent design is mentioned, but awards prizes to people who claim that evolution disproves the existence of God.

  37. Oh for God’s sake, now you’re substituting Pinker in for Dawkins like they’re interchangeable while still completely dodging all the criticism brought up against your arguments.

    What you seem determined to ignore, NDT, is that the reason the scientific community “wets itself” over ID is because ID is in no way science and is trying to pass itself off as such. Dawkins is not given scientific credit for his views on religion, no matter how much he might like to be and Pinker is only given as much credit as he can experimentally show. So there is no hypocrisy here, there is an insistence on correct definitions and the rational weight that goes with them.

  38. What you’re ignoring, QJ, is this:

    You, however, insist on making the same mistake as Dawkins

    A “mistake” which costs Dawkins, and Pinker for that matter, absolutely nothing.

    They can spout whatever they want in classrooms, from their endowed chairs, and their experiments in teaching children, and not a soul says that they should be dismissed or blocked from teaching or publishing because of their rampant misuse of science.

    Yet again, the same scientists who wet themselves over ID and its proponents, claiming it’s a “rampant misuse of science”, say nothing when Dawkins and Pinker do, practice experiment on children, and teach with THEIR misuse of science.

    If the same rules were being followed, Dawkins and Pinker wouldn’t have jobs, and they certainly wouldn’t have teaching jobs.

    But again, science always protects its antireligious bigots, doesn’t it?

  39. Let me make this simple for you:

    Science is based on evidentiary trends. While the direct conclusion may not be absolutely proven, the trend dictated by the leading evidence highly suggests that the conclusion is correct. Such conclusions must be vigorously examined and defended.

    Faith is based on belief and need not be defended at all.

    The two are completely different in all aspects. Which is why GOD has no place in the SCIENCE classroom. Philosophy, literature, even historical context–those are all fine. but not a class that depends upon direct experimentation and the results thereof.

    However . . .

    There are other, more timely threads to comment on around here too, you know! lol

  40. To follow up on Jamie’s point: Science teachers who discuss thier faith in college classrooms are most certainly not censured for it as long as they say that it is not science.

  41. I am very well aware of what science is supposed to be, Jamie.

    But what I see is simply this; those who in their science classrooms and science lectures clearly misuse science for antireligious purposes are allowed to do as they wish and teach as they wish with the full support of the academic and scientific community.

    Therefore, what I am pointing out is that the scientific community’s opposition to misuse of science or teaching bad science has nothing to do with the bad science, and everything to do with whether or not the message is antireligious.

    In short, if scientists practiced what they claim they believed, Dawkins would be out of a job for teaching bad science. The fact that he is not demonstrates that scientists don’t really believe what they claim to believe, and instead, favor antireligious bigotry over whether or not something is “good science”.

  42. those who in their science classrooms and science lectures clearly misuse science for antireligious purposes are allowed to do as they wish and teach as they wish with the full support of the academic and scientific community.

    Prove it within the context of the argument you set up. Show me rampant, specificially anti-religious (“They teach evolution” is neither specific nor anti-religious) teaching going on in average high school science classes across the county with the expressed approval of the scientific community in general. You’re fond of making these blistering generalizations, so back them up.

    They can spout whatever they want in classrooms, from their endowed chairs, and their experiments in teaching children, and not a soul says that they should be dismissed or blocked from teaching or publishing because of their rampant misuse of science.

    And now we move beyond the realm of high school into college and beyond with absolutely no support for the initial points, completely abandoning them in favor of even larger generalizations. Have you produced this average high schooler who is an expert on Dawkins or the even more ephemeral Pinker? No, you have not, so I’m sure you’re willing to concede that the statement, “So does Richard Dawkins, and HIS theories on the sort can be taught in high school science classes as scientific fact,” is both untrue and blatant fear mongering.

    I am very well aware of what science is supposed to be, Jamie.

    You know, NDT, I’m really beginning to wonder about that. It has been explained in lucid terms exactly why the scientific community rejects ID, not just as “bad science”, but as “not science”. It has also been shown that the scientific community doesn’t embrace wholesale the theories of Dawkins, Pinker or really anyone who can’t offer up some sort of experimental support for their work, yet you continually claim they do while offering zero support of for that claim. You charge that Dawkins, Pinker and those that support them should be shunned from the scientific community because of their writing on religious topics, but offer no factual data showing that Dawkins and Pinker are even names known to the majority of people, let alone the majority of high school science students, or taught as scientific gospel at any point in the educational system.

    You have done nothing to dissuade me from my charge that your issue is not this noble rooting out of scientific hypocrisy, but your own problems with Dawkins’ atheism. Frankly, NDT, the thing that I find most objectionable and flawed about Dawkins’ religious theory is its reliance on sweeping, unsupported generalizations. You make the same exact mistake. I don’t buy it from either one of you.

    Dawkins’ religious work is not science and I have never claimed it was, neither has the scientific community, but that doesn’t automatically make ID science nor the scientific community hypocritical if they teach his actual scientific theories in evolutionary biology, theories that are capable of being tested, which they don’t anyway until at least college. That’s the bottom line that you keep ignoring, NDT, simply because you don’t like atheists or seemingly scientists.

  43. Dawkins’ religious work is not science and I have never claimed it was, neither has the scientific community

    Bologna.

    The man is a science professor, in a science department, and teaches science classes.

    Pinker is a science professor in a science department who teaches science classes and is given awards by scientific organizations.

    If misusing science or claiming that something is scientific when it’s not in lectures is grounds for banishment from the scientific community or not being allowed to teach, these two should be gone.

    That’s the bottom line that you keep ignoring, NDT, simply because you don’t like atheists or seemingly scientists.

    What I don’t like, QJ, is people claiming that atheism is scientific and scientists who let them do it.

    Best example: the APA has screaming hissy fits when people claim that gays are mentally ill, yelling that it is “bad science”…..but are not only quiet when people like Pinkers and Dawkins claim that religious belief is a mental illness, but actually give them prizes.

    You know, NDT, I’m really beginning to wonder about that.

    (shrug) Wonder all you like. It’s not the first time somebody accused me of being ignorant about science because of my religious beliefs, or because I didn’t just make excuses for people who abused science in the name of antireligious bigotry.

  44. “It’s not the first time somebody accused me of being ignorant about science”

    And it certainly seems likely that it won’t be the last time either.

    Let me add another one: You are really, really ignorant about science.

  45. lmao

    At least I can get a laugh out of “the thread that won’t die.”

    Buuuuuuut seriously:

    Best example: the APA has screaming hissy fits when people claim that gays are mentally ill, yelling that it is “bad science”…..but are not only quiet when people like Pinkers and Dawkins claim that religious belief is a mental illness, but actually give them prizes.

    That’s your best example? Show me where the APA has specifically given them prizes for claiming that religious belief is a mental illness.

    Yeah, didn’t think so.

  46. The man is a science professor, in a science department, and teaches science classes.

    Pinker is a science professor in a science department who teaches science classes and is given awards by scientific organizations.

    Indeed. For their scientific work they are honored and *gasp* allowed to teach science. I know of no scientific organization giving either Dawkins or Pinker (or Harris or Hutchens, for that matter) an award for their religious work. Period. That’s a straw man, NDT, and you damn well know it.

    What I don’t like, QJ, is people claiming that atheism is scientific and scientists who let them do it.

    Gosh, NDT, I don’t like that either, but so far you’ve failed to provide a single evidential example of it actually happening.

  47. Show me where the APA has specifically given them prizes for claiming that religious belief is a mental illness.

    Jamie, Pinker has claimed on the basis of his science that religious belief is a mental illness.

    What I am pointing out is that the APA sure seems to throw hissy fits when people claim homosexuality is a mental illness, but say nothing about it when Pinker, Dawkins, and other scientists claim that religious belief is.

    And indeed, they even give Pinker prizes.

    Again, it’s the hypocrisy. If you’re going to have a meltdown over Paul Cameron misusing science against homosexuality, you should have the same meltdown over Pinker misusing it for antireligious bigotry.

    To QJ, again: If misusing science or claiming that something is scientific when it’s not in lectures is grounds for banishment from the scientific community or not being allowed to teach, these two should be gone.

    And to Tommy:

    Plants (photosynthesis) and deep ocean oragnisms (chemosynthesis) do it every day.

    Both plants and deep ocean organisms are already living.

    What we’re talking about is what all the scientists claim you can do, which is to mix various chemicals together and produce a living organism in a test tube.

  48. Religious groups can certainly criticize this:

    “Evolutionary Biologist Richard Dawkins Elected Pope Clement XV By College of Cardinals”

    But this is outside of their realm of competence:

    “Evolutionary Biologist Richard Dawkins Given Award for Australopithecus Afarensis Dig to South Africa”

  49. And there’s a reason why, at any given university in this country, the Department of Theology and the Department of Biology do not share a common faculty.

    Frankly, I think this is a non-issue.

  50. And yet, John, you seemingly have nothing to say when Richard Dawkins tries to use evolution as proof that there is no God and claims that people with religious beliefs are mentally ill.

    Thank you for demonstrating the double standard; scientists can mock and bash religious beliefs all they want, regardless of how badly it misuses science, and it’s within THEIR “competence”, but people of religious belief cannot in the least criticize science and scientists’ behavior because religious people allegedly know nothing about science.

  51. Creationism isn’t science.

    You can’t “misuse” something that doesn’t exist within that paradigm. Dawkins’ theology has nothing to do with his science.

  52. And indeed, they even give Pinker prizes.

    Not for his theology claims.

    If misusing science or claiming that something is scientific when it’s not in lectures is grounds for banishment from the scientific community or not being allowed to teach, these two should be gone.

    And what I’m asking you, NDT, is to specifically support your claim and show where Dawkins’ or Pinker’s views on science have been taught to the majority of high school children as factual, proven, peer-reviewed science. Indeed, even at the college level, show me where in biology classes Dawkins’ and Pinker’s views on theology are taught as biological scientific fact. Hell, even at a grad or post-grad level show me the courtse or the tutorial that fiats Dawkins and Pinker’s religious conclusions into scientific canon without any sort of current evidential support. Your original argument was just about high school students, but I’m willing to work with you here and give you four more categories to mine for the wide-spread, all-consuming hypocrisy of the scientific community that is turning our children and young adults into flip-flopping atheists.

    Until you do that, you are simply manufacturing harm.

  53. Not for his theology claims.

    QJ, if he’s misusing science to make his theology claims, he should be banned from the organization. That’s the precedent the APA sets with everyone else.

    And what I’m asking you, NDT, is to specifically support your claim and show where Dawkins’ or Pinker’s views on science have been taught to the majority of high school children as factual, proven, peer-reviewed science.

    Notice the double standard here.

    If intelligent design is taught in a single classroom, the scientific community has a fit and a meltdown.

    But if Dawkins teaches in HIS classrooms and on HIS lectures that evolution proves that God doesn’t exist and that religious belief is a mental illness, all of a sudden the scientific community comes up with this unusual belief that it’s OK as long as it’s not taught in “the majority” of classrooms.

  54. Dawkins’ theology has nothing to do with his science.

    Wrong. Dawkins bases his theology on his scientific theories.

    And again, the double standard; scientists can mock and bash religious beliefs all they want, regardless of how badly it misuses science, and it’s within THEIR “competence”, but people of religious belief cannot in the least criticize science and scientists’ behavior because religious people allegedly know nothing about science.

  55. QJ, if he’s misusing science to make his theology claims, he should be banned from the organization. That’s the precedent the APA sets with everyone else.

    Again, prove it’s happening. Prove it’s happening in a scientific fact class. Not an overview theory class, not an additional lecture class, but in an average science class average students, many just looking for a grade, are being pounced upon by Dawkins claiming to have scientifically proven that God is non-existent. You seem to imply that you know he’s doing this, but have yet to actually put forth any evidence to back it up, on either the college or the high school level.

    Notice the double standard here.

    Bullshit. I have asked you to prove your original criticism, that Dawkins’ religious theories are being taught in high schools across the country under the approving eye of the scientific community. I asked you to produce a single average high school student who could be tested on Dawkins’ religious theories and understand them as well they understood something like photosynthesis. You failed to do this. I then even made it easier for you by asking you to show me something at the undergrad, grad or post-grad levels. Again, you failed to do this.

    scientists can mock and bash religious beliefs all they want

    Not as scientists they can’t. If they do it’s wrong. I’ve said before if you show me the scientist that alleges Dawkins religious theories are scientific fact, I’ll denounce him. You have yet to provide a single example of this.

    There is no double standard, but you are still throwing up straw men like a farmer in the fall while evading what, according to your own rhetoric, should be easy to find.

    Jamie, you wanted to know how to kill a thread. For me it’s simple and it’s happened before. NDT, I greatly enjoy you, but when you do nothing but make up my arguments and avoid my requests for any kind of real world proof, it’s time for me to just walk away.

  56. Just walk away from the thread before I start screaming things at NDT I’ll regret and might damage our blogfriendship.

    Damnit, I keep trying to get out, BUT IT PULLS ME BACK IN!

  57. “you seemingly have nothing to say when Richard Dawkins tries to use evolution as proof that there is no God and claims that people with religious beliefs are mentally ill”

    I have this to say: It’s his opinion and he is entitled to his opinion just as you are entitled to yours. Now maybe one of you is more of an “authority”. But we have “freedom of speech” in a lot of situations. So the question remains – is he “abusing” his authority in some way? Is he subject to a lawsuit? Is he failing to maintain the “separation of church and state”? (Which doesn’t apply to him?)

    You think his opinion is “wrong” or “unjustified” or “impolite”? Well, get over it.

  58. Pingback: Resurrecting Ben Stein « I Must Be Dreaming

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