Saturday, April 30, 2011

Craig: If God Kills Kids, It's OK

Fundamentalists say the darndest things!

But they're not always pretty. Here we have the truly appalling spectacle of William Lane Craig justifying genocide. It's OK, he says, if God does it.

And - believe it or not - Craig is actually a respected Christian philosopher. Doesn't it make you wonder about what one would have to do to lose respect?

Craig is fond of syllogisms, so here's one just for him:

1. All sane beings agree that genocide is wrong.

2. The Christian god thinks genocide is just peachy.

3. Therefore...

123 comments:

Anonymous said...

So what makes genocide wrong? Is it not just survival of the fittest? Is this not just taking Darwin's theory of evolution to its logical conclusion? They just weren't able to defend themselves and so the weaker gene is now gone. What's the problem?

Anonymous said...

But if Craig said otherwise he'd have to admit that morality exists independently of God. Another way to look at the issue is that Craig has redefined the meaning of the word "good" or "ok".

Jeffrey Shallit said...

You seem very confused, anonymous. By the same token I could say, what's wrong with me pushing you off a tall building? Am I not just taking the theory of gravity to its logical conclusion?

GreatBigBore said...

I'm working on a video series covering the recent Harris-Craig debate. Hoping you'll find it interesting and/or entertaining. God's Quality Control Series 6: http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=2F5062BD7A5A185A

You may recall that I found your blog after using your Kitzmiller v. Dover work concerning Dembski in my series covering the Hitchens-Dembski debate in November.

Anonymous said...

Jeffrey,

Bill Craig was bested by Sam Harris a week after he bamboozled Krauss, last month. Harris refused to engage with Craig's half baked, ill-read ramblings on GR/QM unlike Krauss who should have taken apart Craig's silly Bayesian probability argument. I would appreciate a simple analysis of Craig's argument, which in turn is based on Richard Swinburne's proposition. Incidentally Craig calls Swinburne a mathematician (in an old debate with Bart Ehrman) and I don't know if he still does. I hope I am not asking too much of you and your time. Thanks,

Truti

John Pieret said...

So what makes genocide wrong? Is it not just survival of the fittest?

A certain authority on natural selection didn't think so:

The aid which we feel impelled to give to the helpless is mainly an incidental result of the instinct of sympathy, which was originally acquired as part of the instincts, but subsequently rendered, in the manner previously indicated, more tender and more widely diffused. Nor could we check our sympathy, even at the urging of hard reason, without deterioration in the noblest part of our nature. The surgeon may harden him self whilst performing an operation, for he knows that he is acting for the good of his patient; but if we were intentionally to neglect the weak and helpless, it could only be for a contingent benefit, with an overwhelming present evil.

- Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex. 2nd edn., London, John Murray, p. 134.

Blake Stacey said...

Every time I approach the writings of Swinburne, a field of intense stupid repels me. And this has been going on for about four years. He takes "garbage in, garbage out" not as a situation to be avoided, but as a guiding principle.

Blake Stacey said...

Edit: make that five years. (Just got up. Error 404: caffeine not found.)

AL said...

So what makes genocide wrong? Is it not just survival of the fittest? Is this not just taking Darwin's theory of evolution to its logical conclusion?

You need to work on "logic" a bit more, if that's what you "logically" derived from the theory of evolution.

Badger3k said...

Don't forget that Craig also said that our concepts of "good" do not apply to his god. Therefore our concept and standards of sanity also do not apply to his god. He never answers how we can call his god "good" to the best of my knowledge, other than to appeal to the argument via power.

RBH said...

Recall, Jeff, that Kirk Durston said he was willing to commit genocide on receipt of appropriate orders from God. IIRC, you blogged about that some time ago.

Anonymous said...

Shallit,

What irony. You correctly point out the difficulty that violence in the OT brings to Christians and Jews, but you make and have made no mention of the 100 million people killed in the 20th century by explicitly atheist political regimes. If modern Christians and Jews have to account for the slaughter of the Canaanites 3000 years ago, you certainly have to account for the atheist genocide committed against 100 million people less than a century ago.

And spare me your idiot evasions-- 'They didn't kill in the name of atheism', etc. Bullshit. Many of them did just that (there were more Christian martyrs in the 20th century than in all prior centuries combined, and most of them were killed by atheists because they were Christians. There were pogroms against Christians in atheist Mexico, atheist Spain, atheist Russia, atheist China, atheist Cambodia, atheist Romania, ad nauseam.

You're a hypocrite, Shallit. Come to grips with the unprecedented violence committed by those who share your metaphysics, before you condemn others.

Jeffrey Shallit said...

Anonymous:

The post to which you are commenting is about the moral depravity of the Christian god and the pathetic attempt of some of its followers to justify it.

Surely we should hold the Christian god, who supposedly is the source and essence of all that is good (according to some Christians) to a higher moral standard than mere mortals like us. Why do you feel so threatened by that?

As for the 100 million people killed in the 20th century by explicitly atheist political regimes, the point has been made over and over again that these killings were political in nature, and did not spring from the rationale of atheism per se. If you simply disbelieve in gods, there is no direct line from that to killing people who do. But certain fundamentalisms, where those who disbelieve are of necessity morally depraved, do have this direct line. And what did the regimes of Stalin, Mao, etc. more closely resemble, with their totalitarianism and god-like leaders, religion or the modern atheist movement? I think the only fair answer is the former.

If you're asking, do I condemn unjustified killings by atheists? I certainly do, in exactly the same way that I would condemn any unjustified killing. But it's rather telling that you use the word "pogrom", which of course has historically been used to describe the oppression of Jews by Christians. I dare say more Jews have been killed in pogroms than Christians; my own ancestors were the victim of the famous pogrom of Velizh. I don't see any Christians forming a line at my door to apologize for that.

So I reject your charge.

Rocky said...

You're a hypocrite, Shallit. Come to grips with the unprecedented violence committed by those who share your metaphysics, before you condemn others.

I think you may be missing the point - Shallit's claim is that genocide is wrong, and would/should be accepted as such by rational people of sound mind, regardless of whether anyone actually commits or has committed genocide.

Contrastingly, Craig's claim is that genocide is wrong if humans take it upon themselves to do it out, but should God give the OK it's perfectly morally acceptable. Again, this view isn't reliant on anyone having actually committed genocide, the point is that even the most obviously morally heinous acts become perfectly acceptable in principle under certain conditions on Craig's version of theism.

And spare me your idiot evasions-- 'They didn't kill in the name of atheism', etc. Bullshit.

Atheism doesn't actually make anyone do anything since all it entails is the belief that God does not exist/the lack of belief in God's existence. However, feel free to show us the premises that require the conclusion "therefore if you accept atheism, you should be required to kill people you don't like" if you think that is the case.

Anonymous said...

To the Anonymous apologist for the OT/NT "god",

The extermination of the Native Americans by explicitly religious leaders from the 15th the 19th century should make any right thinking person (obviously excludes folks like you) hang their heads in shame. Aming the genocidal maniacs was one Junipero Serra (who is one step away from being sainted for good) who ran concentration camps in California (we call them "Missions" these days) where native Americans were worked to death. Columbus's blackguards and cutthroats in a period of thirty years wiped out 8 million on the island of Hispaniola alone. Columbus was an atheist I guess!
The grotesque and obnoxious upshot of all this is slimy disingenuous dissemblers like Dinesh D'Souza actually justify these acts.

Truti

Anonymous said...

Shallit,

As I noted, the theological issues that you've noted are real, and are taken very seriously by Christians. I also note that the NT clearly rejects violence of this sort. I believe that there are thoughtful ways of understanding God's apparent endorsement of such violence, but I and most Christians are ashamed and repulsed by violence done in our name.

The link between atheism and violence is quite analogous to the link between other metaphysical systems and violence. The was much violence done by atheists (communists) directly against Christians because of their religion. That is a matter of historical record. Explicit anti-Christian pogroms were carried out during the French Revolution, in the USSR, in China, in Mexico in 1917 under Calles, during the Spanish civil war (thousands of priests and nuns were slaughtered by atheists), in Cambodia under Pol Pot, in Albania, and in virtually every explicitly atheist political system.

And spare me this shit about 'pogrom' only referring to Jews. Virtually all theist belief systems have been the object of systematic extermination. The pogroms against the Jews by Christians or pagans (Nazis) were horrible, just as the pogroms against the Christians by atheists were horrible. Actually, the only metaphysical belief system that has not been the object of a pogrom is.. atheism. Ironic, huh?


To excuse atheist genocide, you have asserted that the motives were not not entirely (ir)religious. Of course, there were political motives for killing by atheists as well. But there were political motives for killing by Christians and Jews-- the slaughter of the Cannanites, of the Native Americans, of Jews in medieval Europe was done for all sorts of motives-- financial and territorial greed,etc. All mass killing, either by atheists or by theists, involves a complex interplay of motives, some metaphysical, some secular.

What is utterly astonishing is the unparalleled carnage committed by political regimes that had quite explicitly renounced theism. For millennia, atheists like you could have argued that the suppression of theism would have brought peace, because atheism-in-power was merely theoretical. After the 20th century, you cannot make that argument.

Why can't you ask this obvious question: why is it that all explicitly atheist political systems have been totalitarian hellholes? Theist systems have been a mixed bag. Atheist systems have only brought rivers of blood.

An honest atheist would be deeply troubled by this fact. But 'honest atheist' is an oxymoron.

GreatBigBore said...

Anonymous said, "[There] was much violence done by atheists (communists) directly against Christians because of their religion."

I have had enough of hearing this sort of nonsense. In all of these claims of so-called persecution, something obvious is being missed: it absolutely was not because they were Christians. It was because they did not adhere to the views of the ruling class. Even when Christians were being singled out by the ancient Greeks, it was not due to Christian-ness; it was because the Greeks feared that the Christians were bringing down the wrath of the other gods by refusing to worship them.

Christians, stop this dishonesty and face the facts: we criticize you not because you promote love, compassion, and moral uprightness, but because of your lies, hypocrisy, and willful ignorance. We'd criticize anyone like this, whether they called themselves Christians or not.

And by the way, criticism is not the same thing as persecution.

Jeffrey Shallit said...

Anonymous:

I see only two valid ways of dealing with the bible's endorsement of genocide: either admit that your god is a moral monster, or admit that the bible is not the infallible word of an all-good god. Either way works for me. I've always said that the evidence I see is consistent with a god who enjoys manipulating and tormenting people, and I have no real problems with non-fundamentalist theists (I think they're wrong, but at least there's a good chance of peaceful coexistence.)

And spare me this shit about 'pogrom' only referring to Jews.

You seem to have a reading comprehension problem. My comment was directed to the historical use of the word, and I said nothing about "only referring to Jews". For a Christian, you seem remarkably angry and uncharitable. Is that a Christian virtue?

Re: After the 20th century, you cannot make that argument and why is it that all explicitly atheist political systems have been totalitarian hellholes?

I take it you've never been to the modern Czech Republic? That's the problem with over-the-top universal claims like that; they are susceptible to refutation by a single counterexample.

I don't know any atheists who want to establish or live under an "atheist political system". We want to live under a secular political system, which doesn't endorse any religion and keeps state and church separate. Not surprisingly, countries with such systems are among the most stable and democratic around.

But then, what's the point of replying, when you have already claimed that it is impossible for an atheist to be honest?

Anonymous said...

GreatBigBore:

" Even when Christians were being singled out by the ancient Greeks, it was not due to Christian-ness; it was because the Greeks feared that the Christians were bringing down the wrath of the other gods by refusing to worship them."

Christians were never systematically persecuted by Greeks; it was the Romans, idiot. But heck, to a New Atheist, it's all the same.

If you guys weren't so dangerous, you'd be funny.

Jeffrey Shallit said...

Ahh, Anonymous delivers again with yet more of that famous Christian charity.

I guess you've never, ever, written one word several times while meaning another.

GreatBigBore said...

Anonymous said, "Christians were never systematically persecuted by Greeks; it was the Romans, idiot."

It's funny how superstitionists seem to think that pouncing on some trivial flaw in one's delivery is the same as undermining one's argument. Thanks for calling me an idiot, because that reminds me: your opinion of me is as irrelevant to the discussion as is the error I made in saying "Greeks" rather than "Romans".

Anonymous said...

Shallit,

I strongly agree that secular government is best. That's a Christian viewpoint, and in the West it has prevailed only in countries with a strong Christian heritage.

You said:
"I take it you've never been to the modern Czech Republic?...I don't know any atheists who want to establish or live under an "atheist political system".

Bullshit. Every Marxist wants to live under an atheist system. There are quite a few Marxists still around.

You said "We want to live under a secular political system, which doesn't endorse any religion and keeps state and church separate. Not surprisingly, countries with such systems are among the most stable and democratic around."

The Czech Republic isn't an atheist country; it's a secular country with a relatively high percentage of (functional) atheists. It used to be an explicitly atheist country. When it was, it was a hellhole. Before that, it was explicitly Christian, and it wasn't a hellhole.

Many of the European countries with relative high atheist populations (Sweden, Holland, Denmark, France, Czech Republic) are contries with a 1000-year heritage of Christianity, who are living off that heritage. As they lose that heritage, they will lose their freedom. Quite a few of them will be speaking Arabic in a few generations. Atheists in Christian civilization are parasitic on that civilization. After a few generations, the traditions of freedom and secularism will wither, and the culture will die, to be replaced by Marxism, paganism, or Islam.

Anyway, if you want to be honest, Shallit, you would write a series of posts on why official state atheism (not secularism)is always totalitarian.

But you're not honest, so I won't expect much. Just be aware that as long as you atheist bastards show no effort to examine and renounce the vile history of your ideology, we Christians will oppose you with all of our might.

Jeffrey Shallit said...

Umm, no, secular government is not a "Christian" viewpoint. That's a dishonest characterization. It has its roots in Greek and Roman philosophy, and was supported by people inspired by the Enlightenment. Christians gave us Calvin's Geneva and modern Uganda.

As for all Marxists wanting to live in an atheist state, that will certainly be news to Christian marxists. (Your claims are so easily shot down I don't know why you bother.)

Sweden, Holland, Denmark, France, Czech Republic) are contries with a 1000-year heritage of Christianity, who are living off that heritage: ah, the old "moral capital" argument of Bork. I didn't realize anyone still took that nonsense seriously. The problem is, the evidence show that atheists and agnostic behave more ethically than theists.

Quite a few of them will be speaking Arabic in a few generations. Sorry, I didn't realize I was dealing with someone so delusional.

we Christians will oppose you with all of our might Oh, dear, some crackpots will leave nasty comments on my blog. Truly, I am quaking in my boots.

Anonymous said...

Anon Apologist,

Do you read what you write, before hitting "publish"?

As I noted, the theological issues that you've noted are real, and are taken very seriously by Christians.

Only to end up thusly,

I believe that there are thoughtful ways of understanding God's apparent endorsement of such violence

Apologia, plain and simple.

What is utterly astonishing is the unparalleled carnage committed by political regimes that had quite explicitly renounced theism. For millennia, atheists like you could have argued that the suppression of theism would have brought peace, because atheism-in-power was merely theoretical. After the 20th century, you cannot make that argument.

Unparalleled? War time UK under the very religious Winston Churchill whistled by while the famine in Bengal, India, claimed 3 million lives. Victorian Britain's ruinous economic policies claimed many millions more in famine. Today it is the more secular/rational regimes that are more peaceful. In today's world, the more peaceful a nation is, the less religious it is.

But expecting a crazed Bible apologist like you to heed reason and evidence is expecting too much.

Truti

Anonymous said...

Truti (aka Crazed Atheist Apologist),

Great examples all. Let's take England vrs. say... USSR.

England has an established Church- fine example of a Christian nation, more or less. There certainly was colonialism, injustice, etc. Yet England is the birthplace of modern democracy, a leader in modern science, and clearly is (all factors considered) a nation with much to be proud of.

The USSR was a fine example of an atheist nation. There was colonialism, injustice, etc on a massive scale (the Holodomor- the forced Ukranian famine- alone dwarfs anything England did in 1000 years). The atheist USSR was the birthplace of modern totalitarianism, failed dismally in science, and clearly was (all factors considered) a brutal nation.

Christian culture produces Churchill (and Lincoln and Jefferson). Atheist culture produces Stalin (and Mao and Pol Pot).

Pretty similar, eh? Perhaps it is to a lefty idiot.

Signed,

Crazed Bible Apologist

John Stockwell said...

Genocide is wrong from the perspective of evolution, because by wiping out a subgroup of your own species, you are reducing the fitness of your own species. This is because population fitness is measured by its diversity.

Jeff Orchard said...

I just love the logical contortions Bill Craig has to go through to justify why HIS god is the right one. Isn't he lucky?!

But I've never been comfortable with anyone saying that one action is inherently better than another. The option that there are no objective morals is consistent with premise (1) of Craig's syllogism. It's premise (2) that I disagree with.

I find it unfortunate that some atheists, like Sam Harris, say that there ARE objective morals (as he does in his book The Moral Landscape. I just don't see it as necessary.

Scote said...

"Badger3k said...

Don't forget that Craig also said that our concepts of "good" do not apply to his god. "

I believe he's also said we know god is good because we worship him. Rrr? I guess WLC has never heard of Satan worship?

"Sophisticated" theology isn't.

Bob Oboc said...

Christianity also produced Hitler and Franco. Dont forget about them. It's great to see how you've elaborated on the horrible things atheists have done to Mexico. It's not like christians came there and brutalized, subjugated, and slaughtered most of the indigenous populations, right? Or that they did the same to Native Americans, north and south?

You also keep bringing up the USSR as though its atrocities and failures were attributable to atheism rather than its politics and authoritarian system. Read some history books before you spout off nonsense.

On the subject of history, England is the birthplace of modern democracy? Really? Usually either Greece or America is bestowed with that title, depending on your definition of modern democracy (hint: no king is involved). England has also had its share of brutality, see India, Africa, and the Middle East. And the USSR, far from failing "dismally" in science, actually did alright in that regard. Perhaps not as well as the US, but they were still able to send men into space, quite a feat at the time. Once again, their failures are not attributable to atheism, but rather poor oversight and governance.

I would like to point out that I am not defending the USSR here nor attacking any particular nation, rather I am attempting to point out some obvious and damning flaws in Anonymous' ridiculous arguments.

Anonymous said...

Jeff Orchard said:

...I've never been comfortable with anyone saying that one action is inherently better than another..."

Does your rejection of values include your own value statement "that one action is [not] inherently better...?" You can't assert the truth of relativism without denying relativism, idiot.

Bob Oboc:

Your assertions of equivalence between atheist and Christian political power structures is a joke. Obviously all political systems stem from a host of motives and ideologies, but the plain fact is that all political systems that stem explicitly from the only atheist ideology to gain power in modern times (Marxism) have been hellholes, whereas political systems based on Christian beliefs have been much more varied, with some aspects (human rights, economic prosperity, democracy) quite good.

Human culture has much evil, because humans do much evil, regardless of ideology. But political systems founded on atheist ideology have been deeply evil without exception.

Your persistent refusal to look at the contribution of your atheist ideology to real world consequences is part of what makes atheists so dishonest and vile.

Atheist fundamentalism is much more pernicious and deeply rooted than the Christian sort. There are 100 million innocent people who would testify to this, if they could.

You atheists are intellectual cowards. Atheists (along with pagan Nazis) invented modern totalitarianism.

Anonymous said...

You atheists are intellectual cowards. Atheists (along with pagan Nazis) invented modern totalitarianism.

Anon the crazed fundamentalist apologist is an intellectual non-entity.

The Christian UK exported colonialists who wiped out the natives of America and Australia. As late the 1920s it was the acceptable for a adolescent Australian settler to go out into the outback and hunt down an aborigine, as a rite of passage into adulthood - to be blooded. And of course not to forget the Mau Mau massacre of Kenyans overseen by a Christian UK when British troops questioned Kenyans by a combination of the following means
slicing off ears, boring holes in eardrums, flogging until death, pouring paraffin over suspects who were then set alight, and burning eardrums with lit cigarettes, using metal castrating instruments to cut off testicles and fingers. “By the time I cut his balls off,” one settler boasted, “he had no ears, and his eyeball, the right one, I think, was hanging out of its socket”
This was 1952-60, after the UK had fought a war to defeat Nazism! It is only in the last 20 years have Indian historians unearthed records of several post 1857 (1st Indian war of independence) massacres by the British in India. While we all know about how suspects were tied to a cannon muzzle and blown up, it's only now we have come to learn the British wiped out entire villages off the map, killing 1000s in one swoop. Want to talk about famines?
The late 19th century famine in peninsular India occurred at a time of bumper harvests. The British administration actually passed a law, The Anti-Charitable Contributions Act of 1877 that prohibited “at the pain of imprisonment private relief donations that potentially interfered with the market fixing of grain prices.” Instead the Brits set up labor camps, more like concentration camps, where inmates were fed less than Buchenwald prisoners would be about 70 years later, where over 90% of the inmates died of starvation and exhaustion.

political systems based on Christian beliefs like Uganda I suppose? Where it is open season on gays? Or Rwanda where two groups of Christians set upon each other? The toll extracted by religiously inspired colonialists is obscene.

Truti

Bob Oboc said...

"political systems founded on atheist ideology"
And once again, you've completely dropped the ball. Communism/Marxism or whatever isn't founded on atheist ideology, it's a political system that has espoused atheist beliefs. Conflating those concepts is ridiculous; to accuse atheism for the atrocities of the USSR or China is equivalent to accusing Christianity for the atrocities committed by the Nazis (btw not pagans) and by colonial powers.

Have you ever considered the fact that for about a millenium publicly claiming atheist beliefs resulted in execution, usually with some degree of torture involved? This was perpetrated by many religions, but Christian religions most poignantly. So over the course of, say, 1500 years (being generous) the dominant Christian powers killed countless millions of people and subjugated, tortured, and enslaved others indiscriminately for no reason other than not believing in Christianity, and yet because they have recently produced some aspects that are "quite good" they must be inherently better? That sure ignores a whole lot of history. Maybe if Christians hadn't been ruthlessly killing atheists for hundreds of years or if it had been the other way around you could have a leg to stand on, but they did and you don't.

To paraphrase your own words, "Your persistent refusal to look at the contribution of your" Christian "ideology to real world consequences is part of what makes" your arguments utterly groundless. Yet you still cast a lot of stones......

Anonymous said...

Truti,

I don't defend colonialism of any sort, and I don't deny atrocities on the part of Christian cultures. There is much evil in the world, and we all partake.

My argument is that atheist political systems (i.e. Marxist) are uniquely evil, and that atheists evade responsibility for evil done by atheist systems.

I'm saying that you're a dishonest hypocrite.

GreatBigBore said...

Anonymous said, "I'm saying that you're a dishonest hypocrite."

I often find myself wondering why superstitionists come after atheists with such comments. Maybe we are dishonest hypocrites, but I am confused by your priorities. Why aren't you chasing down the dishonest hypocrites in your own house? Start with William Lane Craig, for example. Or William Dembski. Or Ray Comfort. Or Joseph Ratzinger.

Whose "dishonesty" and "hypocrisy" are directly and clearly causing vastly more suffering in the world? Is Shallit or anyone involved in this conversation gouging thousands of people out of their hard-earned money? Exacerbating the AIDS crisis in Africa? Protecting hideous child molesters?

What is it with superstitionist priorities?

Anonymous said...

Bob Obac,

"Communism/Marxism or whatever isn't founded on atheist ideology, it's a political system that has espoused atheist beliefs."

You're wrong:

1) Marxism is explicitly founded on dialectal/historical materialism, which is a form of atheist metaphysics. This is precisely analogous to Christianity, which is founded on an understanding of man as made by God in His image and redeemed by Christ, which is a form of theist metaphysics. Marxism is to atheism as Christianity is to theism.

2) Marx and virtually all Marxist theorists that followed him denounced theism, especially Christianity ('opiate of the masses')

3) The vast majority of Marxists are atheists.

4) Marxist political regimes have agressively repressed Christians (and other theists) and have explicitly and agressively espoused atheism.


"Have you ever considered the fact that for about a millenium publicly claiming atheist beliefs resulted in execution, usually with some degree of torture involved... maybe if Christians hadn't been ruthlessly killing atheists for hundreds of years..."

All metaphysical belief systems (Christians, Jews, Buddhists, pagans, etc) have been subjected to systematic repression at some time in history EXCEPT for atheists. Obviously there were individual atheists who were harmed (among billions of people for thousands of years), but the numbers are few and the repression wasn't systematic. The executions and torture of the Inquisition was directed at Jews and Protestants, not at atheists. Historically, if an athiest was present at an act of violence, it is overwhelmingly more likely that the atheist was the killer, not the killed (c.f. Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Kim Jung Il, ad nauseum).

You atheists have murdered 100 million people in the 20th century. You are the LEAST persecuted people on earth, and yet are responsible for the most vicious systematic persecutions in human history.

All of the exculpatory nonsense you offer for atheist atrocities (there were really political motives, etc...) can be offered for atrocities committed by theists as well. And they're bullshit. The fact that you fail to come to grips with the bloody history of your ideology in power is evidence for your moral depravity.

AL said...

If modern Christians and Jews have to account for the slaughter of the Canaanites 3000 years ago, you certainly have to account for the atheist genocide committed against 100 million people less than a century ago.

What kind of "reasoning" is this? It's like grade school "I know you are but what am I?"

If by "account" you mean "justify," then, no, we modern atheists aren't required to justify what communist regimes did unless we agree with what they did. It's safe to say that no one here agrees with them, so it's not our responsibility to provide a justification rationale for something we don't agree with.

Contrast that with Craig agreeing with what Bible God ordered. Yes, in that case, Craig and those who agree with him are required to account for Biblical genocides and explain why it's OK. This is what Craig attempted to do here and what he failed miserably at. But rather than admit Craig's failing, you put forth a little red herring diversion about why everyone here needs to justify communist killings when no one here ever claimed to agree with such killings in the first place.

Anonymous said...

Marxist political regimes have agressively repressed Christians (and other theists) and have explicitly and agressively espoused atheism.

Marxist political regimes in India - the first democratically elected ones in the world - in the states of Kerala (off an on since 1957) and West Bengal (unbroken reign since 1977, have done no such thing. West Bengal is BTW is the home of the ghoul of Calcutta, the missionary position nun, Agnes Boiaxhu, the infamous "suffering is a gift from god". The Marxists accorded her a state funeral, dash it!
The current regime in Nicaragua, run by the very Marxist Sandinistas, have outlawed abortion in all cases, no exclusions for even the life the mother, incest or rape. In leftist Guatemala, the church has arranged to have abortion declared a crime, with women charged with it, being sentenced to 30 year jail terms. It is true that an atheist Stalin/Pol Pot is as bad as a Catholic Hitler, but both again were only following in the footsteps of Hernando Cortes, Francisco Pizzaro, and the great Chris Columbus, whose entire history is written in blood. Bill Craig has never uttered a peep about the Native American genocide. Dinesh D'Souza catholic apologist actually justifies it.

Anon apologist, you are an ill-read hack.

Truti

Anonymous said...

Truti,

"Marxist political regimes in India..."

Marxists/atheists controlled a third of world in the 20th century, and you have to invoke a couple of Indian states governed intermittently by Marxist-leaning political parties to find Marxists/atheists who aren't genocidal killers. You made my point.

"the ghoul of Calcutta, the missionary position nun, Agnes Boiaxhu, the infamous "...

Hatred of Blessed Mother Theresa and denunciation of her by using a repulsive sexual slur is such a classy act. It's one of the things that make atheists so endearing.

"The current regime in Nicaragua, run by the very Marxist Sandinistas, have outlawed abortion in all cases..."

Stop trying to get me to like Marxists.

"It is true that an atheist Stalin/Pol Pot is as bad as a Catholic Hitler..."

Hitler was born to a Catholic family, but there's no evidence that he practiced Catholicism in adulthood. If he had gone to confession, he would have been in the confessional for years.

Stalin, on the other hand, was an atheist to the core.

"but both again were only following in the footsteps of Hernando Cortes, Francisco Pizzaro, and the great Chris Columbus, whose entire history is written in blood. Bill Craig has never uttered a peep about the Native American genocide."

I agree that atheists followed in the footsteps of historic mass murderers. But atheists were so much more effective than their mentors. And what is so remarkable about atheists is that they kill their own people, even without conquest. Keep in mind that atheist genocide was in peacetime, carried out against their own countrymen.

Ever wonder why people don't like you?

Bob Oboc said...

"Marxism is to atheism as Christianity is to theism"

Poor, poor Anonymous. If you can't grasp the lack of logic in the above statement, no amount of discussion will ever help you.

Atheists have never been subjected to systematic repression? Materialism = atheism? You obviously have very little insight into or knowledge of history, politics, philosophy, or anything really aside from your misguided theological beliefs. If you really believe things like these that are refuted by facts, there is nothing really to discuss.

"The fact that you fail to come to grips with the bloody history of your ideology in power is evidence for your moral depravity"
You did mean that ironically, right?

Anonymous said...

Marxists/atheists controlled a third of world in the 20th century, and you have to invoke a couple of Indian states governed intermittently by Marxist-leaning political parties to find Marxists/atheists who aren't genocidal killers. You made my point.
The only point I seem to ave made is that you are an ignorant hack, whose knowledge is confined tracts and pamphlets. Kerala and West Bengal between them have a population of 120 million, and they both currently have administrations led by a party that is called Communist Party of India (Marxist). Read, don't rant.

Hatred of Blessed Mother Theresa and denunciation ...
You can't be too harsh with her reputation considering that her mission collected millions from depraved despots included (Duvalier) constructed nunneries and didn't spend as much as a penny on treating people. It's not that Agnes believed in suffering for everyone, as far she was concerned she availed of the best healthcare for free. It's a fact, which you will learn if you read, not rant.

Hitler was a wavering Catholic because he admired Luther as well, but remained a lifelong Christian. Point taken Anon.

Truti

AL said...

"Marxism is to atheism as Christianity is to theism"

I guess this is why they removed analogies from the SAT.

Anonymous said...

Truti and fellow inmates:

Hitler was no Christian. He despised Christianity, just as he despised Judaism. Hitler's metaphysical beliefs ran to Nietzschean paganism-- a belief in the 'spirit' of the Aryan race.

Yet the most accurate description of Hitler's worldview is much more mundane-- he, like Mussolini, was a socialist (Nazi is the bastardization for National Socialist Workers Party).

You'all have so much in common, Comrades.

Jeffrey Shallit said...

he, like Mussolini, was a socialist (Nazi is the bastardization for National Socialist Workers Party)

Yes, and the Irish Republican Army is really Republican, and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea is really Democratic.

I can only marvel at the degree of stupidity required to assert that because the Nazi part had "socialist" in its name, that means it has anything in common with socialism as it is practiced, for example, in Scandinavia and even the US today. Truly, it is a virtuoso performance in incompetence.

Something tells me Anonymous is hoping to be Michele Bachmann's running mate.

Anonymous said...

Shallit,

Hitler was a self-identified socialist all of his life, and the policies of the Nazi party were overtly socialist. The formal name (given by Hitler) to the Nazi party was the National Socialist German Workers' Party. Nazis were passionate socialists. Goebbels explained that National Socialism was "to counter the Internationalism of Marxism with the Nationalism of German Socialism". Hitler's socialist credentials were by no means nominal. Mussolini was a rabid socialist as well. They were socialists to the bone, just like you.


"Yes, and the Irish Republican Army is really Republican, and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea is really Democratic."

The IRA didn't have American Republican politics, and the DPRK doesn't have democratic elections. Nazi Germany had socialist policies (extensive government control of the economy, pervasive central planning, income redistribution, supression of civil society, etc)

"I can only marvel at the degree of stupidity required to assert that because the Nazi part had "socialist" in its name, that means it has anything in common with socialism as it is practiced, for example, in Scandinavia and even the US today.."

Socialism has many different manifestations, just like atheism and Christianity have different manifestations. Why does this surprise you?

"Something tells me Anonymous is hoping to be Michele Bachmann's running mate."

You flatter me.

It's pretty amazing, Shallit. You deny the obvious explicit atheist roots of Marxism, and the obvious explicit socialism of the Nazis. These are mundane matters of historical record. This is what I can't figure out:

Why would a socialist atheist like you deny such things?

Jeffrey Shallit said...

Anonymous:

It's quite simple. I am not insane.

Corey said...

Anon. said:
"Hitler's metaphysical beliefs ran to Nietzschean paganism-- a belief in the 'spirit' of the Aryan race."

How is this atheism?

Jeffrey Shallit said...

Corey:

It's not, of course. But for anonymous, these distinctions are meaningless. For him/her, socialism is bad and Nazis were bad, therefore socialism = Nazism. Atheism is bad and Marxism is bad; therefore Marxists are atheists.

One can only wonder about the lack of connected brain cells in these kinds of arguments.

Eohippus said...

Anonymous;

Could you supply any sources of reading material where you found that Hitler or Mussolini were socialists? I would very much like to see it.

I would also like to see anything that shows that Hitler despised Christianity.

Jeffrey Shallit said...

Oh, I forgot the stupidest syllogism of all: Shallit is bad; socialism is bad; therefore Shallit is a socialist.

Of course, anonymous has no idea of my political beliefs. They're not easy to categorize, but probably most sane people would find me more libertarian than socialist.

Bob Oboc said...

"The IRA didn't have American Republican politics"
Wow, you really have no idea of what "republican" means, do you? Or what a republic is? Add political systems to the list of topics you should study.

Focus on books/sections about fascism. Then contrast and compare it with socialism, then come back and tell us what you have learned.

Anonymous said...

My atheist/lefty friends:

@Corey:

"How is this [Nazism] atheism?"

Nazis weren't atheists, nor were they Christians. Their metaphysical views tended to paganism, a worship of nation/race.

@Eohippus:

"Could you supply any sources of reading material where you found that Hitler or Mussolini were socialists? I would very much like to see it...I would also like to see anything that shows that Hitler despised Christianity."

Look it up yourself, jerk.

@Shallit:

"...my political beliefs...they're not easy to categorize, but probably most sane people would find me more libertarian than socialist."

You suppport the Dover decision. Libertarians believe in free speech. You're not a libertarian.

@Bob Oboc:

"Add political systems to the list of topics you should study...Focus on books/sections about fascism. Then contrast and compare it with socialism, then come back and tell us what you have learned."

Oh thank you. What I've lacked in this discussion is advice from an arrogant elitist butthole who gives me reading assignments. Thanks for filling that void.

kylevonmour said...

I would also like to see anything that shows that Hitler despised Christianity.

Check out the book, Hitler's Table Talk, by HR Trevor-Roper, for quotes from Hitler on his views of Christianity. (However, it is not hard to find people who dispute some of the quotes in the book).

One thing that is usually neglected in arguments that try to paint Hitler as either an atheist or a Christian is the fact that Hitler was an occultist. This is well-documented historical fact. I don't think occultism is consistent with either atheism or Christianity.

Now, back to the blog post...

I see only two valid ways of dealing with the bible's endorsement of genocide: either admit that your god is a moral monster, or admit that the bible is not the infallible word of an all-good god. Either way works for me. I've always said that the evidence I see is consistent with a god who enjoys manipulating and tormenting people

I'm not sure these are the only two choices. It seems to me that this was one of the main points of Craig's article. He did acknowledge that if an all loving god could not have given such an order as he did for the Amalakites then it might create a problem for Biblical inerrancy. To say that genocide is always wrong, however, admits that there are moral absolutes. Many people believe in the existence of an objective morality. Because of this they feel an irresistible tug to conclude there is a moral lawgiver. This conclusion does not force one to accept Biblical inerrancy but it does lead many people down that path.

If one accepts Biblical inerrancy, as Craig argued, it does not follow that God is a moral monster. He made the case that the god of the OT has "no pleasure in the death of the wicked". Even with the story of the Amalakites included in the OT I don't think the evidence is consistent with a god who "enjoys" manipulating and tormenting people. Craig's point was that there are many stories in the Bible that paint the opposite picture. That is, God actually went to great lengths to avoid genocide (eg, the city of Nineveh). Even in the case of the Amalakites he was not anxious to wipe them out, letting his own people suffer instead.

Contextualizing the difficult passages of the Bible can keep one from jumping to the conclusion that God is a monster without offending his reason. Constructing an idea of God from one isolated story in the Bible gives a different picture than one that considers the meta-narrative of the Bible as a whole.

Jeffrey Shallit said...

Look it up yourself, jerk.

Translation: I can't support my claims, so I'l insult you in a futile attempt to distract from that.

You suppport the Dover decision. Libertarians believe in free speech. You're not a libertarian.

Translation: I am a moron who doesn't understand the difference between state-mandated speech by state actors, and speech by citizens.

Eohippus said...

@Anonymous;

Now that you've recognized us as your atheist/leftist friends, it's your chance to show some Christian charity. Surely you're not just making it up; I think that might be bearing false witness, and I wouldn't want to be you come judgement day. Please, a source or two...how did you come to the conclusion that Hitler and Mussolini were socialists?

Kylevonmour was good enough to supply some info, which I thank him for.

JimV said...

I find Dr. Carrier's research on Hitler's views of Christianity very convincing. The link on which I originally found it is dead, but there is another one here:

http://ffrf.org/legacy/fttoday/2002/nov02/carrier.php

Can a Christian be an occultist? I don't see why not. Nancy Reagan believed in astrology. Once you have the skill in cognitive dissonance to accept the Bible as literal truth, what can't you believe? If you can cure someone of demonic possession and be the prototypical Christian, what's a little occultism?

Anonymous said...

@Eohippus;

"Please, a source or two...how did you come to the conclusion that Hitler and Mussolini were socialists?"

I know this will come as news to you, but if you type 'Hitler' and 'socialist', or 'Mussolini' and 'socialist' in the little Google box, words will appear on that thing that looks like a t.v. on your desk.

Read those words, jerk.

@Shallit

"Translation: I am a moron who doesn't understand the difference between state-mandated speech by state actors, and speech by citizens."

The efforts you censor are efforts to discuss strengths and weaknesses of Darwin's theory in science classes in public schools. You have testified in support of censors who would mandate that only strengths, not weaknesses, be discussed. The term for that is 'court-imposed censorship', not 'libertarianism'.

But no surprise, really, when you look at the political history of atheists. Free speech just isn't your thing.

RBH said...

Having had 8 years of experience, direct and indirect, with a creationist science teacher who only wanted to teach the "strengths and weaknesses of evolution," and having examined dozens of exhibits in the administrative hearing on his termination, I can say with confidence that the "weaknesses" he wanted to teach are a mass of misrepresentations, distortions, and plain falsehoods. Keeping them out of science classrooms in public schools is not censorship, it's good educational practice.

Jeffrey Shallit said...

Anonymous:

It's really hard to discuss Kitzmiller v. Dover with someone who doesn't even begin to understand the issues at hand. Kitzmiller v. Dover was a case about the separation of church and state, not a case about "free speech". This can easily be verified by reading the decision.

And as someone who's met many of the plaintiffs, I can assure you most of them were and are theists, as were the school board members who resigned when the Dover School board passed its resolution, as was the judge in the case, as were the lawyers who litigated against it.

But then again, none of those good people were fooled by the blatant attempt of creationists to smuggle religion into the classroom as you evidently are.

Rocky said...

The efforts you censor are efforts to discuss strengths and weaknesses of Darwin's theory in science classes in public schools.

Here's a simple test - can you tell us what you think the specific and most pronounced weaknesses of the theory of evolution are and can you also tell us what specifically has been done to censor the teaching of those particular weaknesses in the event you can successfully identify any?

Secondly, since you refer to the 2005 Dover case, can you tell us what the theory of ID is and what research supports such a position? Remember, negative argument against evolution (e.g. natural selection/mutation cannot create structure X) is not an argument for ID, so be clear to explain what the positive evidence for ID is, such as the mechanisms of action used to implement the designs of the designer, when these design implementation events took place/were implemented into biological organisms and the designer's motives, abilities/limitations (if any), identity and state the experimental methods that enabled these proposed facts to be discovered.

Anonymous said...

"It's really hard to discuss Kitzmiller v. Dover with someone who doesn't even begin to understand the issues at hand. Kitzmiller v. Dover was a case about the separation of church and state, not a case about "free speech". This can easily be verified by reading the decision."

Reading a brief statement to a biology class pointing out that Darwin's theory is a theory, and offering opportunity to read other viewpoints, is not a violation of 'the separation of church and state'. In fact, separation of church and state is not consitutional doctrine.

The Constitution is clear: the only prohibition on government involvement with religion is that congress shall not respect an establishment of religion or prohibit its free exercise, or require religious oaths to hold public office.

Reading a brief statement about Darwin's theory and offering reading material is not the establishment of a state/national church.

Jones' decision explicitly ordered that Darwin's theory not be 'disparaged'. So even 'disparagement' of Darwin's theory establishes a state church.

What bullshit. The reality is that Darwin's theory is atheism's creation myth, and atheists will use force to protect it. The irony is that you are so threatened by mere questions by schoolchildren that you are willing to use the federal courts to censor people in their own schools with their own children.

You will never win this debate by open discussion. So you censor, using government force, rather than allowing people to ask questions. Just like atheists everywhere.

Censorship in America is a sign of desperation. You're going to lose this fight, because you can't win on the merits in an open debate about Darwinism.

Words cannot express my disgust with your tactics.

Anonymous said...

@RBH,

So you're the nut who's been obsessed with the Freshwater case.

Get some help.

Eohippus said...

Looks as though my new friend Anonymous has been reading an essay called Hitler was a Socialist, by John Jay Ray, who has apparently rewritten history.

http://jonjayray.tripod.com/hitler.html

John Jay Ray has a special blog too:
http://snorphty.blogspot.com/

I have to go shower now.

Jeffrey Shallit said...

Words cannot express my disgust with your tactics.


We already know you're incompetent and ignorant; there's no need to keep telling us over and over.

And what a fine Christian you are, too!

Anonymous said...

@Rocky,

"tell us what you think the specific and most pronounced weaknesses of the theory of evolution"

Tell me how you define 'the theory of evolution'. Be precise- none of the 'things evolved' crap. State it as a scientific theory capable of falsification. Then I'll tell you its strengths and weaknesses.

"can you tell us what the theory of ID is and what research supports such a position?"

The theory of ID is that intelligent agency is the best explanation for some aspects of biology.

I don't advocate ID in that form, although it is obviously true. I am a Thomist philosophically, and Thomism takes a view of biology that is somewhat different from ID.

"Remember, negative argument against evolution (e.g. natural selection/mutation cannot create structure X) is not an argument for ID, so be clear to explain what the positive evidence for ID is, such as the mechanisms of action used to implement the designs of the designer, when these design implementation events took place/were implemented into biological organisms and the designer's motives, abilities/limitations (if any), identity and state the experimental methods that enabled these proposed facts to be discovered."

I'll get to that when you define the theory of evolution.

By the way, it's amusing that you automatically think that I support ID because I oppose censorship in the classroom. You Darwinists can't conceive of being open minded enough to allow open discussion of theories that you don't personally endorse.

Rahn said...

You Darwinists can't conceive of being open minded enough to allow open discussion of theories that you don't personally endorse.

Actually, that's not true! The problem we have with ID is we've been waiting and waiting for an actual ID theory so we CAN discuss it! All we get from the ID crowd is handwaving and mumbo gumbo. How can we discuss it let alone endorse it if we have no clue what ID is????

Tell me how you define 'the theory of evolution'. Be precise- none of the 'things evolved' crap. State it as a scientific theory capable of falsification. Then I'll tell you its strengths and weaknesses.

Ahhh, see you're being hypocritical yourself!!! You demand that we state evolution "as a scientific theory capable of falsification". Yet, when concerned educators ask that ID not be taught in Science classes until it can be stated as a scientific theory capable of falsification, you get your proverbial knickers in a Gordean knot and scream censorship and make all sorts of accusations.

What we've seen so far from you is one who has looked at the world with blinkers on, and has trouble shoehorning reality to fit your preconceived notions how it must be.

Bob Oboc said...

Then lets discuss Thomism. Your opinions, beliefs, and most importantly proof for them. I doubt it will happen though seeing as how you have resorted to name calling and blatant rejection of others' theories without providing evidence.
Sincerely,
an arrogant elitist butthole

AL said...

Tell me how you define 'the theory of evolution'. Be precise- none of the 'things evolved' crap. State it as a scientific theory capable of falsification. Then I'll tell you its strengths and weaknesses.

"I know this will come as news to you, but if you type 'evolution' in the little Google box, words will appear on that thing that looks like a t.v. on your desk.

Read those words, jerk."

Jeffrey Shallit said...

To say that genocide is always wrong, however, admits that there are moral absolutes.

My syllogism's first premise was "1. All sane beings agree that genocide is wrong." Feel free to argue against that.

In exactly the same way, one might assert "All sane beings accept the Peano postulates", but this doesn't imply that there are mathematical "absolutes", whatever that is supposed to mean.

Anonymous said...

@Rahn:

"The problem we have with ID is we've been waiting and waiting for an actual ID theory so we CAN discuss it! All we get from the ID crowd is handwaving and mumbo gumbo. How can we discuss it let alone endorse it if we have no clue what ID is????"

I agree with you. Although ID is intuitively correct, it is difficult to express it in a falsifiable way. However, most versions of 'evolution' have the same problem-- they're either tautological (survivors survive) or they're so vague that it's difficult to know precisely what the theory really asserts.

" when concerned educators ask that ID not be taught in Science classes until it can be stated as a scientific theory capable of falsification, you get your proverbial knickers in a Gordean knot and scream censorship and make all sorts of accusations."

I have no problem with concerned educators choosing the curriculum for their own school district. They can choose to discuss ID, or evolution, or whatever. Setting a curriculum is a normal part of education, and it is not censorship.

Censorship is going to someone else's school district, dragging the district into federal court and obtaining a federal court injunction preventing criticism of a scientific theory and threatening those who disobey with arrest and imprisonment and forcing a small school district to pay $2,000,000 in legal fees and damages.

Local educators and parents should be the people who decide curriculum, not federal judges and litigious ideologues who are upset that someone, somewhere is asking questions about their creation myth.

"What we've seen so far from you is one who has looked at the world with blinkers on, and has trouble shoehorning reality to fit your preconceived notions how it must be."

I'm not the one dragging other people into court to shut them up.

Anonymous said...

@Bob Oboc

"Then lets discuss Thomism. Your opinions, beliefs, and most importantly proof for them. I doubt it will happen though seeing as how you have resorted to name calling and blatant rejection of others' theories without providing evidence.
Sincerely,
an arrogant elitist butthole"

Go and read Ed Feser's "Aquinas" and "The Last Superstition", and then read Gilson's "The Christian Philosophy of Thomas Aquinas", and then get back to me after you've finished your reading assignment.

Anonymous said...

@Al:

"I know this will come as news to you, but if you type 'evolution' in the little Google box, words will appear on that thing that looks like a t.v. on your desk. Read those words, jerk."

I do, but every definition I find is either different from the others, or is so imprecise that I can't see how it could be falsified, or is so banal that it's hard to call it a 'theory', or is essentially tautological.

So why don't you tell what 'evolution' means to you?

NB: i'm enjoying this, but I'm traveling until Sunday. I'll check back.

kylevonmour said...

My syllogism's first premise was "1. All sane beings agree that genocide is wrong." Feel free to argue against that.

I don't intend to argue against it. What I was trying to say in my post was that I (respectfully) disagree with your second premise, that "the Christian god things genocide is just peachy".

Eohippus said...

"I do, but every definition I find is either different from the others, or is so imprecise that I can't see how it could be falsified, or is so banal that it's hard to call it a 'theory', or is essentially tautological"

Can you identify any actual errors, Anonymous?

Curt Cameron said...

Anonymous wrote:
"I have no problem with concerned educators choosing the curriculum for their own school district."


Would you really have no problem if your local school board chose to teach your kids that the Mayan gods created man from maize, and that this was verified to be true? I would have a problem with that.

AL said...

I do, but every definition I find is either different from the others, or is so imprecise that I can't see how it could be falsified, or is so banal that it's hard to call it a 'theory', or is essentially tautological.

So why don't you tell what 'evolution' means to you?


I wouldn't advise the use of google in the first place to study something like evolution. I was merely mocking your obnoxious attitude in calling someone a jerk and telling them to use google rather than explaining your own position. You unfortunately appear to have gotten your understanding of evolution through google, what with you suggesting in comments above that it's something like "survivors survive" or "things evolved," neither of which are acceptable definitions you'd find in a textbook, though they're certainly acceptable definitions for Creationist propagandists.

The definition of evolution as it applies to biology is change in allele frequency of a population of organisms across generations.

AL said...

In fact, separation of church and state is not consitutional doctrine.

You don't get to make that call. The SCOTUS, granted the power by the Constitution itself, decides whether what the Constitution says or not involves something like a "separation of church and state," and historically they've decided IT IS constitutional doctrine, contrary to the right wing myth that "separation of church and state" doesn't exist.

The Constitution is clear: the only prohibition on government involvement with religion is that congress shall not respect an establishment of religion or prohibit its free exercise, or require religious oaths to hold public office.

Note that the clause is not "Congress shall not establish a religion." The clause is "Congress shall not respect an establishment of religion." This means when enacting laws, they are to remain neutral with respect to religion. That is the straightforward honest reading, but of course wingnuts insist it really says Congress can't set up a state church and they play word games with the clause, including phrasing it very commonly as "Congress shall not establish a religion." But again, even if you want to play semantic games with the clause and insist it really says something else, it's the SCOTUS that makes the call, and they certainly haven't called it that way historically.

Bob Oboc said...

'Go and read Ed Feser's "Aquinas" and "The Last Superstition", and then read Gilson's "The Christian Philosophy of Thomas Aquinas"'
I'll do you one better - I read read Aquinas himself. In English, but a large portion in the original Latin. I also read "On the origin of Species". Have you? You can guess which one made a greater impression on me.

But this is beside the point. You keep bringing up open debate and how Darwinists won't have it, and how they suppress ideas, and how evolution wouldn't stand up to the rigors of such a debate. So here is an opportunity to propose your alternative, why you believe it to be true, your evidence for it, simply put to state your case for why evolution is false and Thomism is true. Someone as passionate as you seem would jump at the chance to pontificate their beliefs.

Anonymous said...

@ Eohippus said...

"Can you identify any actual errors [in the theory of evolution), Anonymous?"

Tell me how you understand the theory, I'll tell you the errors.

@Curt Camperon:

"Would you really have no problem if your local school board chose to teach your kids that the Mayan gods created man from maize, and that this was verified to be true? I would have a problem with that."

Of course I'd have a problem. The theory isn't true, and it is the teaching of a religious doctrine as fact in a public school, which is a violation of the First Amendment. Teaching religious doctrine as fact is a component of 'establishment of religion' and is unconstitutional.

ID is not religious doctrine; the viewpoint that living things manifest design that is best explained by intelligent agency has always and everywhere been the common belief of mankind. It has been asserted by pagans, Christians, Jews, Muslims, and even many atheists and agnostics. It is not the assertion that Jesus formed man, or Jehovah, or the Prime Mover. It is the scientific assertion that intelligent agency is the best explanation for some aspects of biology. And the motives of advocates of ID are irrelevant to the Constitutional issue: a social studies teacher who teaches that slavery is wrong is not violating the First Amendment just because he opposes slavery because of his Christian views.

And I do not advocate teaching ID as part of the curriculum, because I don't believe that it is sufficiently developed as science to be a part of the curriculum at public school level. It may never be. But there is nothing unconstitutional about teaching ID, because telling students about ID is not an Establishment of Religion. Telling students that the Mayan gods made life is an Establishment of Religion, just as telling students that Jesus made life is an Establishment of Religion. ID is the theory that life manifests intelligent agency. It is not a religious doctrine, although it obviously has religious implications and often religious motivations. That is true of evolutionary theory as well.

What I do advocate is thoughtful critique of Darwin's theory and of the assumptions underlying modern evolutionary theory. For example: there are genuine questions about the sufficiency of known rate of genetic change to account for speciation; the theory of common ancestry is not nearly as well established as is commonly asserted, etc. There are real questions about the modern synthesis, and students should know what they are.

Anonymous said...

@AL:

"I wouldn't advise the use of google in the first place to study something like evolution. I was merely mocking your obnoxious attitude in calling someone a jerk and telling them to use google rather than explaining your own position. You unfortunately appear to have gotten your understanding of evolution through google"

I am a scientist (medical research) with undergraduate major in biochemistry. I'm well versed in basic evolutionary theory, and I read extensively on the subject. I'm not an evolutionary biologist, but I'm as well educated on the topic as any scientist working in the (non-evolutionary) biological sciences.

"The definition of evolution as it applies to biology is change in allele frequency of a population of organisms across generations."

You make my point. First, I asked for a definition of "the theory of evolution". Change in allele frequency of a population across generations isn't a 'theory'. It's an observation, and a banal one at that. Of course allele frequency changes; when my cat dies, the allele frequency in the world population of Felis Catus changes, ever so slightly, because individuals differ somewhat genetically. That is 'evolution', trivially understood, but it's not a 'theory' of any sort. It's like calling the observation that waves move a 'theory' of oceanography.

The 'theory' that allele frequency changes is a banality universally agreed upon. Ken Ham on his most cantankerous day would totally agree with you that alleles change.

A theory is an explanation of a natural phenomenon that provides a deeper insight than mere banal observations. Any 'theory of evolution' must explain the complexity and apparent purposefulness inherent in the structure and function of living things. Mere changes in allele frequency don't explain living things.

Please tell me what you think 'the theory of evolution' is, in a way that actually asserts something that is not banal.

Anonymous said...

@AL:

"You don't get to make that call. The SCOTUS, granted the power by the Constitution itself, decides whether what the Constitution says or not involves something like a "separation of church and state," and historically they've decided IT IS constitutional doctrine, contrary to the right wing myth that "separation of church and state" doesn't exist."

Judicial nullification is not a power granted to any court by the Constitution. It appears nowhere in the Constitution. Judicial nullification is a precedent set by Marbury vs. Madison. You should make an effort to learn the rudiments of a subject before embarrassing yourself like this.

"You don't get to make that call"

This may be news to you, but in this country the people are sovereign. We delegate to elected (and appointed) officials the job of making and judging our laws. If they don't do the job we want them to do, we remove them from office and from the bench.
You evidently are comfortable with ceding sovereignty to unelected judges. You're in the minority, as you will increasingly realize in the next few election cycles.

"Note that the clause is not "Congress shall not establish a religion." The clause is "Congress shall not respect an establishment of religion." This means when enacting laws, they are to remain neutral with respect to religion. That is the straightforward honest reading, but of course wingnuts insist it really says Congress can't set up a state church and they play word games with the clause, including phrasing it very commonly as "Congress shall not establish a religion."

Your gibberish is indecipherable. The Constitution constrains religious expression in only one substantial way: "Congress shall make no law respecting an Establishment of religion...". It says nothing about walls or separations. References to walls and separations are SCOTUS interpretations that lack basis in the Constitution itself. SCOTUS has made many errors (Dred Scott, Plessy vs. Ferguson, Buck vs. Bell, etc). The Establishment Clause error in Lemon vs. Kurtzman will be rectified as well.

The Establishment Clause prohibits a national church, like the Church of England. A 'National Church' meant several things: mandatory membership, mandatory funding, mandatory acquiescence to doctrine, etc.

Teaching the strengths and weaknesses of Darwin's theory in schools is not an Establishment of religion.

"But again, even if you want to play semantic games with the clause and insist it really says something else, it's the SCOTUS that makes the call, and they certainly haven't called it that way historically."

Scotus hasn't ruled on ID. It has ruled on teaching biblical creationism in schools in Epperson, and its decision was correct.

ID is not creationism.

Anonymous said...

@Bob Oboc said...

"I'll do you one better - I read read Aquinas himself. In English, but a large portion in the original Latin. I also read "On the origin of Species". Have you? You can guess which one made a greater impression on me."

I can guess. Sad, really.

"... So here is an opportunity to propose your alternative, why you believe it to be true, your evidence for it, simply put to state your case for why evolution is false and Thomism is true. Someone as passionate as you seem would jump at the chance to pontificate their beliefs."

Surely you recall Aquinas' rhetorical style:


1) state the question
2) summarize your opponent's view,
3) provide your own view with a critique of the view of your opponent.

I don't know what you believe the 'theory of evolution' to be, so I can't do #2.

Tell me what you understand 'the theory of evolution' to be. Then I'll tell you if I think that it is false, and why, and I'll tell you what I believe.

Anonymous said...

In addition to:

http://ffrf.org/legacy/fttoday/2002/nov02/carrier.php

see also:

http://www.nobeliefs.com/speeches.htm

and:

http://www.prisoncensorship.info/archive/etext/agitation/blackbook/index.html

and:

http://www.mimdown.org/wim/mythsofmao.html

and:

http://www.prisoncensorship.info/archive/etext/faq/stalindeaths.html

Anonymous said...

@Anonymous

see http://www.answers.org/apologetics/hitquote.html

Hitler was plainly not a practicing Christian in any meaningful sense of the word. He was a brilliant manipulator and politician who said all sorts of things in speeches to motivate the German people.

But he did not practice Christianity. Where did he attend Church? How often? How often did he take communion? How often did he go to confession?

His private discussions reveal his hatred of Christianity. In fact, many of his opinions would be right in place in a New Atheist book.

AL said...

Judicial nullification is not a power granted to any court by the Constitution. It appears nowhere in the Constitution. Judicial nullification is a precedent set by Marbury vs. Madison. You should make an effort to learn the rudiments of a subject before embarrassing yourself like this.

This may be news to you, but in this country the people are sovereign. We delegate to elected (and appointed) officials the job of making and judging our laws. If they don't do the job we want them to do, we remove them from office and from the bench.
You evidently are comfortable with ceding sovereignty to unelected judges. You're in the minority, as you will increasingly realize in the next few election cycles.


It does not appear EXPLICITLY in the Constitution, but many things that are part of the Constitution do not appear explicitly. The phrase "separation of powers" doesn't appear in the Constitution, yet who would seriously argue that this is not part of our (US) Constitution? It's IMPLICIT in the three branch setup. The phrase "checks and balances" doesn't appear explicitly in the Constitution, but again it's implicit in things like an executive veto.

You seem hung up on the fact that because the exact phrases "separation of church and state" or "judicial review" do not appear in the Constitution explicitly, they therefore have no basis in it. Both of these concepts are implicit. Congress cannot pass laws that violate the Constitution unless they amend it (which has a stronger vote requirement). It is the job of the SCOTUS to resolve cases by appealing to law. If two laws conflict (or if a law conflicts with the Constitution), it's inevitable the SCOTUS will make a decision that is implicitly a "judicial review." Marbury vs. Madison is the first of such instances.

The alternative to this (which you appear to be advocating) is that the SCOTUS has no authority to interpret a law as unconstitutional (or worse, they give deference to a Congressional law over the Constitution it violates), and that therefore Congress has free access to a glaring loophole that allows them to "amend" the Constitution without meeting the two-thirds congressional requirement, and three-fourths state legislature requirements. What was that about being comfortable ceding sovereignty?

AL said...


A theory is an explanation of a natural phenomenon that provides a deeper insight than mere banal observations.


A good scientific theory is going to involve banal observation at its core. I'm not sure why you think this is some kind of powerful objection. But then again, you champion ID which proposes that brains are a product of intelligent agency, despite never observing a single instance of intelligent agency sans a brain.

You asked for a definition of evolution. If you want detailed explanations of mechanisms like selection, drift, etc. that aren't simplistic strawmen like "survivors survive" or "things evolved," there are plenty of resources out there. Mark Ridley's Evolution, for one.

Rocky said...

Tell me how you define 'the theory of evolution'. Be precise- none of the 'things evolved' crap. State it as a scientific theory capable of falsification. Then I'll tell you its strengths and weaknesses.

Your initial complaint was about not being allowed to teach the strengths/weaknesses of the theory, which presumably means you think there are some weaknesses and can hence tell us what they are. Since I then asked you what you thought the specific weaknesses are, it's not obvious why I'd need to provide a definition since you presumably must already have one to have decided that weakenesses exist in the theory, so it's not obvious why you would have any reliance on knowing what my definition of it is in order to state your views.

Since you ask though, a very simplistic set of definitions I would use to summarise some of the key points of the theory of evolution would be: the concept that all known life has a shared ancestry, which began several billion years ago; the main mechanisms that drive evolutionary change include natural selection, mutation, drift, etc.

By the way, it's amusing that you automatically think that I support ID because I oppose censorship in the classroom.

I don't think I did say that you support it, but you did reference K vs D and the idea that other theories should be allowed to be examined in science classes, so you must presumably think ID actually has a theory, various positive supporting evidences etc in order that it could be taught about?

So now you've stated what you think the theory is, could you state the positive evidences that support it that aren't simply negative arguments against evolutionary theory and the sort of predictions that ID makes that could be used to build a research programme around?

ID is not creationism.

So presumably the 'cdesign proponentsists' editing error in the 'Pandas' textbook is just a total coincidence (amongst the many other obvious links between ID and creationism)?

Rocky said...

there are genuine questions about the sufficiency of known rate of genetic change to account for speciation;

Odd, since speciation has been observed within our lifetime (which I think some creationist organisations even accept) and can happen in one generation in some organisms such as plants.

the theory of common ancestry is not nearly as well established as is commonly asserted, etc.

Again, a bit more detail as to why you think this might be helpful.

There are real questions about the modern synthesis, and students should know what they are.

Perhaps if you elaborated it might be more apparent what these questions are, since thus far you've largely refused to identify them despite claiming they exist.

A theory is an explanation of a natural phenomenon that provides a deeper insight than mere banal observations.

In which case your explanation of design theory as: 'The theory of ID is that intelligent agency is the best explanation for some aspects of biology' must be an equally banal claim since all it's essentially saying is 'design theory says some things are designed', which is trivial to say the least.

Anonymous said...

@Rocky:

"In which case your explanation of design theory as: 'The theory of ID is that intelligent agency is the best explanation for some aspects of biology' must be an equally banal claim since all it's essentially saying is 'design theory says some things are designed', which is trivial to say the least."

No.

"Allele frequency changes in populations" is banal.

"intelligent agency is the best explanation for some aspects of biology" is anything but banal. The scientific confirmation of non-human intelligence responsible for biological structure and function would be the most important scientific discovery in history.

I suspect that your invocation of 'alleles change' is because you realize that more precise definitions of evolution are open to genuine criticism.

And,

ID is not creationism. Obviously there are some things shared, and both may stem from similar viewpoints. But:

Creationism is the view that the first two chapters of Genesis are true as science.

Intelligent design is the scientific inference that intelligent agency is the best explanation for some aspects of biology.

They are different things, obviously. I agree with the second, not with the first.

Anonymous said...

@Al,

"It does not appear EXPLICITLY in the Constitution, but many things that are part of the Constitution do not appear explicitly. The phrase "separation of powers" doesn't appear in the Constitution, yet who would seriously argue that this is not part of our (US) Constitution? It's IMPLICIT in the three branch setup. "

'Wall of separation' is neither explicit nor implicit in the Constitution. 'Wall of separation' is a phrase from Jefferson's letter to the Danbury Baptists. Jefferson had nothing to do with the Constitution.

If you wish to elevate Jefferson's writings to the status of Constitutional doctrine, keep in mind that Jefferson's most famous document (The Declaration) affirmed that "all men were Created equal", which could easily be interpreted by a conservative SCOTUS as asserting that life begins at conception. Jefferson did not say 'all men are Born equal', after all. And then the 14th Amendment's guarantee of equal protection of the law would mandate that abortion be treated as murder.

Your argument that separation of powers isn't explicit is idiotic. The entire Constitution is essentially a delineation of the separate powers of the three branches of government. The words "separation of powers" aren't used, but the actual separation of powers is exhaustively laid out.

The only substantive restriction on religious expression in the Constitution is in the Establishment Clause. Restriction of religious expression is not mentioned anywhere else in the document, explicitly or implicitly. I point out that the writing of the Constitution was attended by official prayers and government-paid chaplains.

What surprises me about you leftists is not only your breathtaking dishonesty about the Constitution, but your tactical stupidity. If you establish a method of Constitutional interpretation that ignores the actual text of the document, why do you assume that a future conservative SCOTUS won't use your exact tactics to impose conservative ideology on the law?

Sauce for the goose...

Eohippus said...

"I do, but every definition I find is either different from the others, or is so imprecise that I can't see how it could be falsified, or is so banal that it's hard to call it a 'theory', or is essentially tautological"

Can you identify any actual errors, Anonymous?

Anonymous, you obviously couldn`t identify any errors then.

So far, the only things you have demonstrated here are that you are confused, ignorant, incompetent, insulting, prejudiced, hypocritical, and a Christian. Hope I didn`t miss anything.

AL said...

Your argument that separation of powers isn't explicit is idiotic. The entire Constitution is essentially a delineation of the separate powers of the three branches of government. The words "separation of powers" aren't used, but the actual separation of powers is exhaustively laid out.

If the argument is "idiotic," it is only because I'm dumbing it down to your level. I did not argue that separation of powers is not explicit, only that that exact phrase is not explicitly in there. You are the one who appears to be arguing that because specific phrases aren't in the Constitution, it is not Constitutional doctrine, so don't confuse your "idiotic" argument with mine. Seriously, judicial review is not a power implicitly granted to the SCOTUS? Then how would you have proposed ruling on a case where a law conflicts with the Constitution if you were on the bench?

As far as the Establishment Clause, I've already explained that above, but you just drone on incessantly about how it is incoherent and the One True Interpretation™ of it is that it is aimed at preventing the formation of a state church, and not keeping laws neutral with respect to religious establishments. OK, that is your badly misinformed, asinine interpretation of it, which you are certainly allowed to have, but at the end of the day, the court makes the decision, not you.

What surprises me about you leftists is not only your breathtaking dishonesty about the Constitution, but your tactical stupidity. If you establish a method of Constitutional interpretation that ignores the actual text of the document, why do you assume that a future conservative SCOTUS won't use your exact tactics to impose conservative ideology on the law?

Sauce for the goose...


Except nowhere did I propose a method of Constitutional interpretation that ignores the text. Working out the non-explicit implications of a text is not ignoring the text, dumbass. Try addressing an argument that isn't a strawman.

Anonymous said...

@Eohippus:

"Can you identify any actual errors, Anonymous?"

I said...
"every definition I find is either different from the others, or is so imprecise that I can't see how it could be falsified, or is so banal that it's hard to call it a 'theory', or is essentially tautological"

Find the word "errors", Eohippus. Generally, the TOE is stated with such vagueness or banality that 'error' is not easy to apply to it. It's not even wrong.

I reiterate my challenge: define what you mean by 'theory of evolution', and we'll discuss it.

Anonymous said...

@Rocky:

"Since you ask though, a very simplistic set of definitions I would use to summarise some of the key points of the theory of evolution would be: the concept that all known life has a shared ancestry, which began several billion years ago; the main mechanisms that drive evolutionary change include natural selection, mutation, drift, etc"

Intelligent design theory: 'some aspects of biology are best explained by the invocation of intelligent agency'

Intelligent design theory is consistent with:

1) the concept that all known life has a shared ancestry, which began several billion years ago.(the vast majority of ID advocates believe that the earth is billions of years old, and most ID advocates accept common ancestry)
2) main mechanisms that drive evolutionary change include natural selection (ID theorists agree that survivors survive)
3) Mutation (ID advocates agree that mutation occurs)
4) Drift... (ID advocates agree that some evolutionary change is not driven by 'selection pressure')

Thus, Rocky, all of the aspects of the theory of evolution that you have cited (and heck, throw in 'alleles change') are just as consistent with ID as they are with the 'TOE'.

So what's the fight about? Actually, you know what the fight is about, you are just too much of a coward (and too smart) to be candid about it.

The traditional TOE asserts that all evolutionary change is undirected. That is, the TOE is a non-teleological theory of evolution.

ID asserts that some aspects of evolution are teleological, in the sense that they manifest evidence of intelligent agency.

The theory that I believe is the Thomist view: all of nature, including biology, is teleological, in the sense that it is goal-directed. Final causes are ubiquitous in nature, including evolution.

ID and Thomistic evolution reject non-teleological theories of evolution.

The traditional TOE is really a philosophical assertion. It is atheism's creation myth, and the success of ID is largely that it has made this fact so clear to the public.

You have been disguising your metaphysics as science, but the charade is ending, and your theory is crumbling. This is why none of you could provide a meaningful non-banal definition of the TOE.

The TOE is just your idiot atheist metaphysics, dressed up a science, and it's getting harder and harder to conceal it. In fact, the only way you can keep your bullshit theory alive is to censor challenges to it.

Anonymous said...

@Al:

"Except nowhere did I propose a method of Constitutional interpretation that ignores the text. Working out the non-explicit implications of a text is not ignoring the text, dumbass. Try addressing an argument that isn't a strawman."

Ok, Al. So do this:

1) Quote me the clauses of the Constitution that refer to religion (hint: there are 4)

2) Show me how these clauses can be interpreted to require a wall of separation between church and state, above and beyond the prohibition of an established church.

Rocky said...

"intelligent agency is the best explanation for some aspects of biology" is anything but banal.

'Design theory states that some things are designed/a designer exists' is logically equivalent to:

'the theory of evolution states that life evolved' or 'flat earth theory states that the earth is flat'. So if one is banal, the others must also be.

Likweise, in response to this:

Tell me how you define 'the theory of evolution'. Be precise- none of the 'things evolved' crap.

I could as easily ask - how do you define design theory? Be precise - none of the 'things are designed' crap.

The scientific confirmation of non-human intelligence responsible for biological structure and function would be the most important scientific discovery in history


But then you've also stated that intelligent agency in biology is "obviously true", "intuitively true" and "has always and everywhere been the common belief of mankind", which means it would hardly be considered remotely surprising by most if it were scientifically confirmed.

I suspect that your invocation of 'alleles change' is...

I didn't invoke it, someone else did. It's also a claim that's only obvious now that we know about DNA, genes etc.


Intelligent design theory is consistent with:...


1. simply being consistent with it isn't much different to saying that demonic activity as a cause of some illnesses is consistent with the germ theory of disease

2. evolutionary theory does not rely on any design theory in the same way that germ theory doesn't rely on any claims of demonic possession - in fact it (ToE) is in direct conflict with design theory, since it states that mechanisms such as the ones I listed are sufficient to explain the existence of certain biological features and able to drive variation beyond certain limits (roughly around the genus level) that ID supporters say cannot be created by or happen via evolutionary mechanisms and instead must be designed or driven by a designer.

Rocky said...

This is why none of you could provide a meaningful non-banal definition of the TOE.

Well, you were offered the chance to provide your own definition several times, but declined.

Regardless, the theory that all life shares common ancestry is clearly not banal since it excludes other theories if it is true.

e.g. if the ToCA is true, theories that model multiple separate creations cannot also be true. Additionally, the theory relies on the Earth being billions of years old, which excludes any theory that states the Earth is young. There are obviously more detailed claims, but even at this basic level it makes many non-trivial claims.

ID and Thomistic evolution reject non-teleological theories of evolution.

So do theistic evolutionists, about whom one of ID's most well-known figures, William Dembski, states: "Design theorists are no friends of theistic evolution. As far as design theorists are concerned, theistic evolution is American evangelicalism's ill-conceived accommodation to Darwinism...Design theorists find the "theism" in theistic evolution superfluous. Theistic evolution at best includes God as an unnecessary rider in an otherwise purely naturalistic account of life. As such, theistic evolution violates Occam's razor."

http://www.arn.org/docs/dembski/wd_theologn.htm

So obviously it's not just about teleology, since some who hold certain telelogical views are apparently not welcomed by design theorists either.

They [ID and creationism] are different things, obviously.

I don't think the two things are exactly the same, but then I could say the same about comparing old-earth versus young-earth creationists. I think there's more than enough evidence connecting the two though, and it's fairly obvious the repeated failures of outright creationism in the courts would necessitate less overt tactics. As I asked before:

Is the 'cdesign proponentsists' editing error in the 'Pandas' textbook just a coincidence?

Anonymous said...

@Rocky:

I agree with your assertions that TOE and ID both have profound logical problems.

"[The TOE] states that mechanisms such as the ones I listed are sufficient to explain the existence of certain biological features and able to drive variation beyond certain limits (roughly around the genus level) that ID supporters say cannot be created by or happen via evolutionary mechanisms and instead must be designed or driven by a designer."

When you tease out all of the bullshit and banalities and tautologies, the TOE is merely the assertion that evolution in non-teleological.

The opposing view is that evolution is teleological. ID asserts that the teleology takes an extrinsic form, akin to a designer making an artifact, whereas Thomism asserts that the teleology is immanent.

Your evidence that evolution is non-teleological is non-existent, and you know it. That's the reason for all of the bullshit definitions of TOE, because if you stated candidly what you believe (evolution is without guidance) people would immediately recognize that you are pushing your atheist agenda.

So I ask:

1) What is your evidence that evolution is non-teleological?

2) Why do you censor that question in a public school ?

Anonymous said...

@Rocky:

"(ToE) is in direct conflict with design theory, since it states that mechanisms such as the ones I listed are sufficient to explain the existence of certain biological features..."

You're right. You admit that design theory is a scientific inference, with which ToE is in direct conflict.

Why is it unconstitutional to discuss this particular scientific question in public schools?

Anonymous said...

@Rocky:

"Well, you were offered the chance to provide your own definition several times, but declined."

The definition of the ToE is that biology is non-teleological.

"Regardless, the theory that all life shares common ancestry is clearly not banal since it excludes other theories if it is true."

I agree. It's not banal at all. It's also entirely consistent with the ToE and with ID and with the Thomist understanding of evolution.

"So obviously it's not just about teleology, since some who hold certain telelogical views are apparently not welcomed by design theorists either."

There are some pretty serious debates about teleology and design and Thomism (see Uncommon Descent and Ed Feser's blog and ENV). The debate centers on whether ID is a part of Thomist metaphysics. There is no disagreement among IDers/Thomists that evolution is teleological. There is debate about how to understand that teleology.

All atheist ToE's reduce to the assertion that biology/evolution is non-teleological.

Teleology is the crux of the debate between the Darwinists and the ID/Thomism folks.

It's a debate that you will lose when people come to understand the real issue. That's why you censor with such fervor.

Bob Oboc said...

"Thomist view: all of nature, including biology, is teleological, in the sense that it is goal-directed. Final causes are ubiquitous in nature, including evolution.

ID and Thomistic evolution reject non-teleological theories of evolution."

Finally, some clarification. What is the proof/evidence for this view, specifically for teleology? How do you prove that nature is goal-directed? Is that even possible? Would this theory not require a definition of the goal itself?

"What is your evidence that evolution is non-teleological?"

This is awfully close to an argument from ignorance. Rather, tell us what is your evidence that evolution is teleological? Of design or a designer? Is there any proof, any shred of evidence for this? Pretty tough to explain without a lot of hand-waving.

Anonymous said...

@Bob:

Bob Oboc said...

"What is the proof/evidence for this view, specifically for teleology? How do you prove that nature is goal-directed? Is that even possible? Would this theory not require a definition of the goal itself?"

Teleology is used in the Aristotelian sense if final cause. It must be understood in the sense of the four causes in nature- material, formal, efficient, and final. Material cause is what something is made of. Formal cause is the intelligible principle of the thing. Efficient cause is the agency that brings the thing about. Final cause is the directionality (so to speak) of the efficient cause.

Efficient and formal causation form a pair in a sense. Every natural change is a change from something to something. The 'from' is initiated by the efficient cause, and the 'to' is the final cause- the state to which the change tends.

Aristotle and Aquinas asserted that the final cause was 'the cause of causes' in the sence that it gives directionality to natural change.

An example would be striking a match. The result is fire, and that regularity (match struck--fire) is teleological, in the sense that striking the match never causes ice, or music, or a lion to appear. Nature is saturated with teleology of this sort. Stones when dropped fall down, not at a 45 degree angle. Positive charges attract negative charges, not other positive charges.

This may sound trivial, but it is a fundamental principle of nature. Aristotle linked final causation to the Prime Mover, and Aquinas based his 5th proof for the existence of God on final causation/teleology.

Philosophers in the 16th century mostly discarded final (and formal) causation, deeming it unnecessary. Of course, atheists have particular antipathy for final causation/teleology, because of its long association with theism.

Darwin's theory was an attempt to explain the obvious teleology in living things (the heart is for pumping, lungs for breathing, etc) by invoking natural selection.

Thomists insist that final causation/teleology is real and that evolution is teleological, in the sense that it is intrinsically goal-directed.

ID advocates see teleology in irreducible complexity, whereas Thomists insist that teleology is everywhere.

Teleology is why the Catholic Church embraces some aspects of evolutionary theory and distances itself from ID. But the Chruch rejects the atheist/materialist baggage that atheists have attached to evolutionary theory.

"What is your evidence that evolution is non-teleological? This is awfully close to an argument from ignorance."

No it's not. How do you explain the directedness of change in nature without invoking teleology?

Bob Oboc said...

A very nice statement of your beliefs, and a very nice hypothesis. Once again, where is the evidence? Proof? You have outlined what you believe but have given no concrete evidence for your position. A large part of why Aristotle's four causes have lost favor in the modern age is because they amount to pure speculation rather than concrete statements of why or how things are the way they are. Yes, striking a match in optimal circumstances results in fire, but isn't a description of the chemical reactions occurring a better explanation than to simply state it is the purpose of the match to burn? Do matches on the moon have no purpose then? What if you throw a box of matches underwater and then strike them, have they failed their purpose or do they now have another final cause? How do you explain things with dual purposes?
Again, how do you prove that evolution is teleological, as opposed to, say, pure randomness? Just because you claim everything has a "final cause' doesn't necessarily mean it was purposefully designed with that particular or any cause in mind at all. Could evolution not be a chance event? How can you prove it? Science relies on provable hypotheses. If you don't or can't prove your hypothesis, it is generally not regarded as scientifically valuable. That things change over time is no proof of teleology, if anything it's a hasty after the fact explanation much akin to attributing everything to the ides "god works in mysterious ways".
So what is your evidence and proof of your theory? No need to ctrl-v summaries of Aristotle, I mean actual proof. Something that has testable results. Evidence. You have still provided none.

Anonymous said...

I am forever amused at how few people actually seem to understand what "survival of the fittest" actually means....

AnonymousX

Anonymous said...

And spare me your idiot evasions-- 'They didn't kill in the name of atheism', etc. Bullshit. Many of them did just that

Can yhou actually name one?

Or is this just the typical idiot assertions from christian fanatics that have been force-fed such nonsesne that they lack the ability to see it for what it is?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous rants:
"If you wish to elevate Jefferson's writings to the status of Constitutional doctrine, keep in mind that Jefferson's most famous document (The Declaration) affirmed that "all men were Created equal", which could easily be interpreted by a conservative SCOTUS as asserting that life begins at conception."


Why would the SCOTUS care about what is in the DoI?
Amazing...

AnonymousX

Anonymous said...

@AnonymousX:

"Why would the SCOTUS care about what is in the [Declaration of Independence]?
Amazing..."


The same reason that you believe that SCOTUS should care about what's in Jefferson's private letter to the Danbury Baptists ('wall of separation...')

I recommend that SCOTUS only care about what is actually in the Constitution, interpreted in light of what the legislators who ratified it believed. For example, the Constitution says nothing about abortion, thus abortion policy should be left to elected legislators.

You call that 'right wing'. I call it 'honest'.

Anonymous said...

The TOE is just your idiot atheist metaphysics, dressed up a science, and it's getting harder and harder to conceal it. In fact, the only way you can keep your bullshit theory alive is to censor challenges to it.

This Anonymous has all the marks of the dimwit troll Larry Farfarman. How typical! Delivering dire predictions for the future of the life sciences all the while hiding behind not even a pseudonym, but the default moniker Anonymous.

What a laugh!

Truti

Anonymous said...

@Anonymous:

"Can yhou actually name [a killing of Christians in the name of atheism?"

Sure.

6,832 priests were murdered in the Red Terror in the Spanish Civil War ('Red' means Marxists/atheists)(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Terror_(Spain))

The Mexican Cristero War resulted in the deaths/murder/execution of over 5000 Catholics by Mexican... Marxists/atheists.

Persecution of Christians in communist (atheist) China, USSR, Cambodia, North Korea, etc- too many to count.

Christian martyrs...20th Century: At the hands of... Atheists:31,689,000

(http://users.erols.com/mwhite28/warstatv.htm)- about half-way down the page.

And the atheist martyrs killed by Christians...? Can you name one?

Anonymous said...

@Bob:

Good points all. I'll reply:

"Once again, where is the evidence? Proof? You have outlined what you believe but have given no concrete evidence for your position."

Of course final causality is a metaphysical proposition, not a theory in natural science, but there are several lines of evidence that suggest that it is indispensible to a deep understanding of nature:

1) It is almost impossible to describe biological structures without recourse to 'purpose'.
Can you describe the heart, or the eye, or even the red blood cell, without recourse to purpose/function? One could say that the heart develops from the mesoderm (efficient cause), is made of striated muscle (material cause, sort of), has 4 ventricles and valves (formal cause). But without invoking final cause, you can't really say that it's purpose (function) is to pump blood, which is a very important thing to know about the heart. Biological explanations invariably invoke final causation, even though we deny it conceptually.

2) Virtually all of the laws of classical physics (Newtonian mechanics, Maxwell's electromagnetism) are time invariant, meaning that the laws do not intrinsically indicate which way things happen. In the real world, time has an arrow, but there's no arrow in the laws of physics (with one very important exception - vide infra) The implication is that although we understand causation as from past to future (efficient cause), there's nothing in classical physics that privileges that direction, and we could understand causation from future to past (final cause) just as well.

3) The one physical process that does specify a direction to time is of course entropy. And entropy is a superb example of a natural phenomenon that is utterly teleological (the universe tends to disorder).

4) Quantum entanglement is very difficult (really impossible) to understand as efficient causuality, but is simple to explain as final causuality (see http://www.mathpages.com/home/kmath581/kmath581.htm)

5) Evolution certainly manifests directionality that could be understood as teleological/final causation. Convergent evolution is readily explainable as a manifestation of final causation in biological evolution. It is tougher to explain remarkably similar structures as evolutionary products of disparate evolutionary histories, unless you invoke some form of teleology in the evolutionary process.

(continued below)

Anonymous said...

(Continued)

The Thomist-teleological view of evolution is, in my view, much more satisfactory than either the materialist RM +NS view or even ID. The nice thing about the teleological view is that it places biological evolution in a framework of other teleological processes in nature. Teleology does not imply special creation or a host of other cobbled theories to keep God in the picture. Teleology is very consistent with what we know about evolutionary science, but does not contaminate the science with atheist metaphysics.

The problem for many people about teleology is that to many people it implies Divine agency, and atheists long ago hijacked evolutionary biology to strip it of any hint of agency. Of course, such agency may or may not be required (there are differences of opinion about the ground for teleology).

Such ideological contamination of science may have allowed atheists to be "intellectually fulfilled", but it has made for banal science.

You noted:

"Yes, striking a match in optimal circumstances results in fire, but isn't a description of the chemical reactions occurring a better explanation than to simply state it is the purpose of the match to burn? Do matches on the moon have no purpose then?"

Teleology only means what things tend to do, not necessarily "purpose" in the sense of intelligent agency. The fInal cause of a match struck on the moon is to NOT produce fire. The fact that you can predict with reasonable certainty what a match will do in a given circumstance is an argument in favor of the reality of final causes.

"What if you throw a box of matches underwater and then strike them, have they failed their purpose or do they now have another final cause?"

Another final cause. Wet matches don't light, and predictably so.

"Again, how do you prove that evolution is teleological, as opposed to, say, pure randomness?"

Depends on how you define randomness. The way a leaf falls seems random, but is obeys all sorts of natural 'laws' in a very deterministic way (gravity, wind, etc). You need to explain to me what you mean by 'random'.

"Just because you claim everything has a "final cause' doesn't necessarily mean it was purposefully designed with that particular or any cause in mind at all."

Aristotle would agree with you. Aquinas would disagree (his Fifth Way for demonstrating the existence of God). I believe that final causation requires agency by a Mind.

"Science relies on provable hypotheses. If you don't or can't prove your hypothesis, it is generally not regarded as scientifically valuable."

'Prove' how the Cambrian explosion occurred. Be precise: all individual aspects of random mutation, natural selection, and genetic drift for each organism involved. Most of evolutionary biology is rank speculation. Perhaps true, perhaps not. Not even near 'proof'. Teleology in nature is much better attested than anything in evolutionary biology.

Bob Oboc said...

I'll leave the Cambrian explosion for archaeologists, Biologists, and others better versed in those topics. However I will note that the evolutionary process is testable and has been subjectd to thousands of tests over the years which have confirmed its viability as a scientific theory. Teleology is not testable. It is pure speculation not based on any observable facts.
So far you've outlined the basic structure of your metaphysics, but what does it have to do with science? Your theme seems to be "things do what they do because it is their purpose to do so, therefore there must be a cause". Not only does that not follow, even granting it it is a post facto description of events and provides nothing to our understanding of the universe. How is such a belief system beneficial at all?
Atheism does not equal evolution, rather most serious scientists seek knowledge without relying on "God did it." To seek answers to questions without resorting to purely metaphysical processes is the whole purpose of science. Once you start letting those ideas in, you might as well chalk everything up to God, or Allah, or aliens, and call it a day. I could just as well say it is turtles all the way down.

Anonymous said...

@Bob,

I'm disappointed in your answer. I thought I might get a little more than atheist boilerplate.

"How is such a belief system [Thomistic metaphysics] beneficial at all?"

I already gave you five examples in science.

"Atheism does not equal evolution, rather most serious scientists seek knowledge without relying on "God did it.""

What if God did do it?

"To seek answers to questions without resorting to purely metaphysical processes is the whole purpose of science."

All knowledge of the world is predicated on metaphysical presumptions, either implicitly or explicitly. I've chosen explicit metaphysics. You prefer your metaphysics to be implicit and unexamined.

Science can't escape metaphysics. The only question is whether it is based on good metaphysics or bad metaphysics. Atheism is the latter.

Bob Oboc said...

"What if God did do it?"
Show me any evidence at all that there is a god. Anything really. Except there is nothing concrete even suggesting a god. If God shows up tomorrow and tells everyone he's been here the whole time, then I guess we will have no choice but to believe. If science somehow found actual, credible, undeniable proof that god was behind all things rational scientists would freely admit it. As it stands now though, there is no rational excuse for believing in any deity.
"The only question is whether it is based on good metaphysics or bad metaphysics"
Because everything can be boiled down to good and bad. There is no gray. You know, there is a very good chance that your belief in god is "bad metaphysics". It holds just as much water as my belief in turtles upon turtles, and has just as much evidence going for it.
"I already gave you five examples in science."
Your examples state the obvious and pretend it's deep. So you can't observe the heart pumping blood and then describe it? Ah, but whatever you describe as its function is its final cause. There are causes and effects in the universe, that is clear, but to assume that the effects and causes are driven by some outside force takes a gigantic leap of faith. What is entropy's final cause? What is my appendix's final cause? Say I buy a baseball bat. It was made to hit baseballs, therefore its final cause is to hit them. I hit no balls with it, instead I bash in my neighbor's head. Is a bat's final cause now murder? Or is the whole concept of final cause reliant upon describing the outcome of situations as though they were foretold?
The only metaphysical concepts worth discussing are empirical, testable, manipulatable, and experimental. You can pontificate on the meaning of life or the existence of gods or what "is" is all you'd like; that will result in no answers and no further understanding of the world we live in beyond a merely superficial layer of comprehension. You're wasting time and energy on concepts that have no relevance to physical space. I feel we should examine that which actually exists.

Anonymous said...

@Bob:

Bob Oboc said...

"What if God did do it?"
Show me any evidence at all that there is a god. Anything really."

Aquinas showed five ways to demonstrate God's existence, and Alvin Plantinga has pointed out that there are 20 or so reasonably good arguments for God's existence.
You may choose not to believe in GOd, but you may not truthfully say that there is no evidence for His existence.

"If science somehow found actual, credible, undeniable proof that god was behind all things rational scientists would freely admit it."

Are you asserting that the existence of God is discernable through natural science? If so, then classroom discussion of God's existence in public school biology classes is perfectly Constitutional.

At least try to be wrong in a consistent way.

"Because everything can be boiled down to good and bad. There is no gray."

Sure there's gray. But atheist metaphysics isn't gray. It's bad.

"Your examples state the obvious and pretend it's deep."

Final cause is the most satisfactory way of understanding some aspects of quantum mechanics, and it is the most satisfactory was of understanding causation in general. Final causation implies retrocausation. If you don't think that it's 'deep', you're not paying attention.

"So you can't observe the heart pumping blood and then describe it? Ah, but whatever you describe as its function is its final cause."

Try doing biology without teleology.

"There are causes and effects in the universe, that is clear, but to assume that the effects and causes are driven by some outside force takes a gigantic leap of faith."

Final causation is not a 'force'. And of course causes and effects are 'driven'- that's what is meant by 'the Laws of Nature'. How do you explain the laws?

"What is entropy's final cause?"

Substances have final causes. Theoretical constructs don't. The tendency to increasing disorder in the universe is obviously teleological.

"What is my appendix's final cause?"

It probably augments your immune system.

"Say I buy a baseball bat. It was made to hit baseballs, therefore its final cause is to hit them."

Yes. It's an artifact, and its final cause is in the mind of the artist.

"I hit no balls with it, instead I bash in my neighbor's head. Is a bat's final cause now murder?"

You didn't make the bat, so you are not its efficient cause, so your intentions are not its final cause. The final cause of your neighbor's crushed shull is your intention to kill him. That's why police call such injuries 'evidence'- they provide insight into your intentions, which are the final causes of your acts.

"Or is the whole concept of final cause reliant upon describing the outcome of situations as though they were foretold?"

Final causation implies retrocausation- causation backward in time. Exactly how change is 'foretold' has been the subject of much debate. Thomists and Augustinians believe that natural final causes are archetypes in God's mind. Aristotle didn't attach such explicit theism to them.

"The only metaphysical concepts worth discussing are empirical, testable, manipulatable, and experimental."

Is your assertion itself "empirical, testable, manipulatable, and experimental?" Positivism is the dumbest metaphysical argument of all, because it is trivially self-refuting. The assertion that the only things worth believing are things that are empirically verifiable is not itself empirically verifiable.

Positivism is perhaps the most transparent of philosophical errors. It's funny, really.

Anonymous said...

Well, since you think the Canaanites are victims (the Canaanites were only known for child-sacrifice and torture), I can only guess you supported them. Get your facts straight: www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZavMx3gsTSE.

Jeffrey Shallit said...

Anonymous @ 8:02 PM:

Right, because any civilized person knows the way to counteract evildoers is to kill their children.

Really, the lengths to which some Christians will go to try to justify their god - it's pathetic.

Anonymous said...

@Shallit

Amazing. You deleted my debate with Bob (?who is Bob?) because I was kicking his butt. Then you cut off my responses to Bob to make it look as if I had no reply to Bob's questions. You then put your own comment last, to give yourself the last word.

You're a coward with a totalitarian streak. But I kind of knew that.

Jeffrey Shallit said...

Anonymous:

I've published every single comment you submitted, including this one. Don't blame me if you're incompetent with blogger commenting.

Jeffrey Shallit said...

Speaking of cowardice, Anonymous: why do you refuse to sign your own real name?

Kevin said...

As a lurker, just to clarify there was a blogger outage last week. I imagine some comments have been lost as a consequence. This was fairly widespread.

http://buzz.blogger.com/2011/05/blogger-is-back.html

Jeffrey Shallit said...

Yes, just more of that true Christian charity from anonymous. What a fine exemplar of the religion he is!

Bob Oboc said...

Damn Blogger. Now Ill never know how much Anon was kicking my butt with the mystical metaphysical premise of teleology. A shame really, I'm curious to see how one links an untestable and unprovable claim made by an ancient Greek about 2350 years ago to Jesus and biblical canon.
A coward with a totalitarian streak - real turn the other cheek stuff.

Eohippus said...

"A coward with a totalitarian streak"

You could have could have at least tried for another syllogism there, Jeffrey ;)