Helping evolution scientists preach outside the choir...
February 26, 2006 6:56 PM   Subscribe

Ten things evolutionists can do to improve communication. Speaking as a battle-scarred survivor of a few battles over evolution on teh Interweb, I plead guilty to ignorance of a few of these rules. But I wonder, too, what good any of these would do in the grand scheme of things: could we expect Creationists to act as honorably, or as honestly? And what would the Flying Spaghetti Monster think?
posted by micketymoc (167 comments total)
 
could we expect Creationists to act as honorably, or as honestly?

No.
posted by homunculus at 7:17 PM on February 26, 2006


The most important thing to realize is that Creationists do not come to their position through a process of rational evaluation of the evidence, so it is nearly impossible to change their minds with a process of rational presentation of evidence. Creationism is faith; it's difficult to battle faith with logic.
posted by Justinian at 7:18 PM on February 26, 2006


Honestly? God help us all. I'm a grad student now, and I can't tell you the number of seminars I've nearly fallen asleep in. And these are people attempting to inform their colleagues about subjects they love!

Academic research scientists (and all evolutionary biologists pretty much are academic) have a surprising amount riding on their public speaking skills already, as they speak at conferences, local seminars, and even their own oral examinations and thesis defenses. Yet I've not seen a single graduate program actually include a public speaking class in their curriculums. At my last job (where there was a lot of presenting to clients), they put their analysts in a presenting class with a professional trainer. The trainer would make them present, videotape the presentation, and offer advice. That stuff is pricy but invaluable.

So forget the evolution debate. Given the life of a working scientist, I'm stunned that public speaking and scientific writing courses aren't mandatory. The solution is money to teach scientists how to speak and write. His suggestions are nice, but it's not going to happen unless someone drills in the fundamentals early.
posted by Mercaptan at 7:22 PM on February 26, 2006


Identify yourself as an evolutionist and you will perpetuate the debate indefinitely. Both sides will develop a reciprocatic relationship; it will be in the interest of both sides to keep the debate alive as long as possible.

I am not an evolutionist. I don't believe in evolution. I am a person who subscribes to the scientific method. There is strong evidence to support the theory of evolution and little to undermine it.

The only way out of this debate is for the scientists to continue the mission of science. Trying to persuade or shout down people who believe evolution is an incorrect theory will only serve to keep their divisive ideas in the public longer.
posted by tomharpel at 7:34 PM on February 26, 2006


My grad department actually does have a public speaking/presentation-type class. Videotape and critique and all.

Most labs (academic and industry) will have "journal club" type meetings for people to practice their presentation skills.

Yes, yes, academics being bores are a stereotype for a good reason.

Aside from the whole trying to sway one's faith hurdle, complex discussions require that both sides have at least a basic understanding of the underlying concepts. Most anti-evolutionists don't even understand the basic vocabulary of science much less why they are important.

Fighting willful ignorance is a lost cause. The best way to tackle this issue is to engage and educate people when they're young. The "other side" knows how effective this tactic is hence the lengths being taken to dilute and water-down science education in public schools.
posted by PurplePorpoise at 7:48 PM on February 26, 2006


Creationists do not come to their position through a process of rational evaluation of the evidence

You can't change other people. You can, however, make it increasingly difficult for them to resist changing themselves.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 7:54 PM on February 26, 2006


I think the only way to make Creationists go away is to ignore them. Nothing else has or will work.
posted by borkingchikapa at 7:54 PM on February 26, 2006


I think the only way to make Creationists go away is to ignore them. Nothing else has or will work.

Worst idea '06.
posted by Citizen Premier at 7:59 PM on February 26, 2006


Never rise above.

Sorry, but fairy tales and superstition have no place in a serious conversation between adults. Take it to the playground god boy; we have worlds to explore and diseases to cure.
posted by 2sheets at 8:04 PM on February 26, 2006


Purple: I definitely agree that primary/middle/high school is the place to innoculate minds. Too many on both sides of the debate don't understand how science works, much less modern evolutionary biology. Still, how are you going to get adults to put their effort and taxes into this sort of education if you can't persuade them that it's important?

Also, I'm jealous that you have this class. How's it work? Like is it required? Who teaches it? Number of credits and all that.
posted by Mercaptan at 8:08 PM on February 26, 2006


Sorry, but fairy tales and superstition have no place in a serious conversation between adults.

Umm, a huge portion of the population disagrees with you, including a great number of agnostics and atheists. Fairy tales and superstition are an inseperable part of humanity.

They don't belong in science conversations, however.
posted by tkolar at 8:11 PM on February 26, 2006


I think the only way to make Creationists go away is to ignore them. Nothing else has or will work.

People have been fighting evolution since the day Darwin published. Ignoring them, today, would be far worse because they're not ignoring us, and they are doing everything they can to stop us.

I am not an evolutionist. I don't believe in evolution. I am a person who subscribes to the scientific method. There is strong evidence to support the theory of evolution and little to undermine it.

What statement about the real world can you make that has more substantiation then biological evolution? If there are facts about the real world, then Evolution is one.
posted by delmoi at 8:19 PM on February 26, 2006


Mercaptan - as for innoculating/vaccinating young minds, there needs to be an educated government. Say what you will about China, they recognize that bullshit superstition has no place in society.

As for the (graduate) class, it's required as long as you're in the department, it's biweekly, everyone has to attend, and everyone has to present their works in progress at least once a year. I should care more and know the exact number, but it's a "goodly" chunk of credit. A not-insignificant percentage of the grade comes from your peers so there's incentive to make your talk informative and entertaining to your classmates.
posted by PurplePorpoise at 8:21 PM on February 26, 2006


I'm just worried that if we improve communication too much, creationists might actually try to talk to us.
posted by boaz at 8:24 PM on February 26, 2006


I am going to say something cynical and nasty, but I really believe it's true. Creationists and proponants of intelligent design aren't just motivated by belief, but by a need to fight against reason.

I don't think they can be appeased, because they want to challenge modernity on every level. I don't even think they're honest with themselves about this. Very few object to science when it benefits them. The accept and accept a lot about science, they just want to have power over it. How would they behave if their EMTs stopped at every accident/heart attack for a prayer to Jesus?

They want to challenge rationality, modernity, and if possible, make a buck. I'm not so sure this is rooted in a rational believe; it's about rebellion and power.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 8:26 PM on February 26, 2006


Last night I watched that Richard Dawkins documentary, Root of All Evil, and couldn't stop looking at his teeth. For God's sake, if you're going to fight publicly for the triumph of reason over superstition, get your damn teeth fixed.
posted by fleetmouse at 8:27 PM on February 26, 2006


What is an "evolutionist"? Geez, talk about getting dragged down to their level. What's next, heliocentrists preaching the gospel that the Earth orbits the sun and not vice versa?

Or perhaps just what tomharpel said. "Evolutionism" vs. Creationism sounds like a religious schism, which it should not be and must not be allowed to become. The favorite straw man of the theocentric is "[thing I don't agree with] is just another religion". Like atheism, making evolution into an "ism" plays right to that.

Taking the default position based on the available evidence rather than myth, fantasy and historical power structures isn't an "ism", it's "not being a fucktard."
posted by George_Spiggott at 8:27 PM on February 26, 2006


"Ten things evolutionists can do to improve communication... teh Interweb,"

Avoiding the non-ironic use of "interweb" would be a good start.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 8:39 PM on February 26, 2006


Evolutionism is the tinfoil hat atheists wear to keep God out of their brainwaves.
posted by bevets at 8:40 PM on February 26, 2006


The theory of evolution is not a religion, but its overly dogmatic supporters have practically made it into one. They are not willing to listen any more than the creationists are.
posted by iconjack at 8:41 PM on February 26, 2006


delmoi: tomharpel has it right. Evolution, nor any body of scientific knowledge, is not something to be believed in. You are convinced that it's the best theory for the moment and remain open to new ideas (hopefully better theories published in reputable peer-reviewed journals). Belief implies a lot of blind faith.

Look at it this way: while I don't believe in the theory of gravitation, but I am convinced it's a good description of how the Universe works. I am convinced because of lots of supporting evidence and little to dispute it.
posted by Mercaptan at 8:45 PM on February 26, 2006


The theory of gestation is not a religion, but its overly dogmatic supporters have practically made it into one. They are not willing to listen any more than the storkists are.
posted by fleetmouse at 8:45 PM on February 26, 2006


Oh, and please don't feed the troll.
posted by fleetmouse at 8:46 PM on February 26, 2006


Thank you fleetmouse, for making my point. The theory of gestation is absolutely, positively, without a doubt the right theory--until you come across a hen laying an egg. Oops.
posted by iconjack at 9:05 PM on February 26, 2006


iconjack writes "The theory of evolution is not a religion, but its overly dogmatic supporters have practically made it into one. They are not willing to listen any more than the creationists are."

What competing theories have done better? ID is not a theory, inasmuch as it cannot be falsified.
posted by krinklyfig at 9:06 PM on February 26, 2006


Creationists and proponants of intelligent design aren't just motivated by belief, but by a need to fight against reason.

I don't think they can be appeased, because they want to challenge modernity on every level.


That's what pisses me off about them so much. Science is okay as long as it prolongs their ignorant lives through medicine, but it is to be attacked when it enlightens our understanding of our history as a species. Wtf?! Fucking hypocrites. If you are going to attack science, renounce its fruits already. No modern medicine for the anti-science crowd would be a start. Let them develop their own faith-based healing methods.
posted by beth at 9:08 PM on February 26, 2006


iconjack, if you have an inflamed appendix, do you go to the doctor?

Anyways, nice FPP. There's a lot here to think about. Science will go on, but maybe not so much in America in the coming generations. That would be a shame, and another reason to leave.
posted by bardic at 9:08 PM on February 26, 2006


"The theory of evolution is not a religion, but its overly dogmatic supporters have practically made it into one. They are not willing to listen any more than the creationists are." - Do you have any examples to buttress this claim ?
posted by troutfishing at 9:15 PM on February 26, 2006


Science needs to start cracking down on bullshit. There's is so much 'media science' that goes on that no wonder people look at science incredulously. "[Brand] Washing Power has cleanumide now bound into the atoms for whiter whites." or "Our skin cream now has Youthmoforics and Bullswax." They also need to start cracking down on spurious research, like "Scientists today proved that 5th Feb is the worst day in the year." or "Researchers have discovered that throwing salt over your shoulder increases luck by 0.000006%."

Also, they need to start talking like normal people. I'm not to clear on the exact facts, but didn't the protestant church gain massive popularity because it spoke to the common man in his own language rather than expecting him to learn latin?

Sitting in the corner sulking and saying: "But we're right." isn't winning over people
posted by Navek Rednam at 9:15 PM on February 26, 2006


> if you have an inflamed appendix, do you go to the doctor?

Of course I go to the doctor.
I believe in science. I am not at all religious. I think creationism is silly. I believe there is tons of evidence supporting evolution. I mention these things to keep the knee-jerks around here from piling on me. (hopefully)

krinklyfig: What competing theories have done better?

None so far. But the game isn't over yet, that's all I'm saying.
posted by iconjack at 9:21 PM on February 26, 2006


PurplePorpoise

The best way to tackle this issue is to engage and educate people when they're young. The "other side" knows how effective this tactic is hence the lengths being taken to dilute and water-down science education in public schools.


Consider the role science now plays in education. Scientific "facts" are taught at a very early age and in the very same manner in which religious "facts" were taught only a century ago. There is no attempt to waken the critical abilities of the pupil so that he may be able to see things in perspective. At the universities the situation is even worse, for indoctrination is here carried out in a much more systematic manner. Criticism is not entirely absent. Society, for example, and its institutions, are criticized most severely and often most unfairly and this already at the elementary school level. But science is excepted from the criticism. In society at large the judgment of the scientist is received with the same reverence as the judgment of bishops and cardinals was accepted not too long ago. The move towards "demythologization," for example, is largely motivated by the wish to avoid any clash between Christianity and scientific ideas. If such a clash occurs, then science is certainly right and Christianity wrong. Pursue this investigation further and you will see that science has now become as oppressive as the ideologies it had once to fight. Do not be misled by the fact that today hardly anyone gets killed for joining a scientific heresy. This has nothing to do with science. It has something to do with the general quality of our civilization. Heretics in science are still made to suffer from the most severe sanctions this relatively tolerant civilization has to offer. ~ Paul Feyerabend

borkingchikapa

I think the only way to make Creationists go away is to ignore them. Nothing else has or will work.

fleetmouse

Oh, and please don't feed the troll.

Why should anyone listen to you?

beth

If you are going to attack science, renounce its fruits already. No modern medicine for the anti-science crowd would be a start. Let them develop their own faith-based healing methods.


Christians do not dispute science, we dispute evolutionism
posted by bevets at 9:23 PM on February 26, 2006


Science is not a game. It is a process, one with defined rules.

Creationism is a religious belief and an ideology, but it does not amount to science. Creationism has no predictive power.
posted by troutfishing at 9:25 PM on February 26, 2006


"Boys and girls," Ham said. If a teacher so much as mentions evolution, or the Big Bang, or an era when dinosaurs ruled the Earth, "you put your hand up and you say, 'Excuse me, were you there?' Can you remember that?"

Evolution? Check. I'm here now observing it. Unfortunately, it seems that there is a selective pressure against intelligence in humans.
Big Bang? Check. It's called the Hubble Telescope and every other instrument peering into the edge of the universe.
And era when the dinosaurs ruled the earth? Check. They seem to be doing pretty well for themselves, flying around everywhere like they own the place. Also, everyone seems to be pretty concerned by the bird flu that's coming.

I can't wait for the day when IDers insist that we teach an alternative to the theory of relativity. E != mc2!
posted by The Bishop of Turkey at 9:25 PM on February 26, 2006


I think I disagree with this guy on almost every point. Educating people sounds nice but I don’t think mass media are well-suited to persuasively explaining subjects like evolutionary science to audiences with short attention spans. Creationists clearly have the advantage here. ID can be explained in a sound bite – in that there is very little to explain. To explain why its wrong requires much more time and attention. How often have you seen science explained well and accurately in a newspaper, magazine piece or on television?
That he refers to scientists as ‘evolutionists’ makes me think that he doesn’t understand the problem as well as he thinks he does. To suggest that scientists should be spending half of the research budget on mass media public relations is slightly offensive.
posted by Zetetics at 9:27 PM on February 26, 2006


"The theory of evolution is not a religion, but its overly dogmatic supporters have practically made it into one. They are not willing to listen any more than the creationists are."

troutfishing: Do you have any examples to buttress this claim ?

Yes, pretty much any metafilter thread sporting the "evolution" tag.
posted by iconjack at 9:32 PM on February 26, 2006


I think a lot of evolution proponents need to do one very very important thing at the beginning of any argument. They need to decide what they are arguing about, and try to stick to that topic. If you go into a discussion trying to argue against Creationism, stick to arguing against Creationism. Don't go on a tangent and start attacking religion in general. You may be an atheist and think religion is stupid, that's fine, but it has little to do with why Creationism is stupid and evolution is not. If you decide to attack religion itself instead, you're gonna alienate the other person right off the bat.
posted by nightchrome at 9:34 PM on February 26, 2006


bevets : so, you have a better explanation such as - for example - huge arks stuffed with absurdly improbable ( maybe miniature ) breeding pairs of dinosaurs ?

The ancient Greeks would have rolled their eyes at contemporary American presuppositionalism.

____


Meanwhile : I challenge your "Heliocentrism" - prove it, in rigorous terms. Can you ?

Remember - if you can't do that, you're - in effect - a card carrying member of the "heliocentrist cult".
posted by troutfishing at 9:35 PM on February 26, 2006


iconjack - I didn't think you had the chops. I was right.
posted by troutfishing at 9:36 PM on February 26, 2006


"Aaah.... the flat Earth temptation !"
posted by troutfishing at 9:38 PM on February 26, 2006


When evolutionists call intelligent designers idiots, its fine among evolutionists, but for the broader, less informed audience, it just makes everyone side with the people being condescended towards.

I dunno ... I see the point, but I dunno.

I mean, it seems like many of our problems today can be traced back to a overdeveloped sense of civility. It too often backfires and we're forced by our own sense of fair play to bend over backwards to give idiots a voice in matters they no clue about. It's the "don't make waves" mindset that has let these twits flourish. There comes a point when it's best to call them "fools" and move on.

(I'm reminded of Harlan Ellison's dictum: "NO, you're not entitled to your own opinion. You're entitled to your own INFORMED opionion.")
posted by RavinDave at 9:40 PM on February 26, 2006


RavinDave: Yours is one of the best comments I've read in several weeks on any topic. Pretty much sums up many of the struggles I face both personally and professionally.

Damn nearly profound. Thank you.
posted by Ynoxas at 9:44 PM on February 26, 2006


krinklyfig: What competing theories have done better?

iconjack: None so far. But the game isn't over yet, that's all I'm saying.


What do you say to this? I think one aspect of the confusion comes from this point. Yes science should be open minded, it could be proven wrong and all our ideas turned upside down. But it seems really really unlikely at the moment. Really really unlikely.

So there are two ways evolution seems to be presented-
-It is absolute fact.
-Its pretty definate, we could be wrong, its really really unlikely.

Id agree with both people, its like a jigsaw puzzle with 1 peice missing, everyone knows what the picture is, we are sure, but I suppose in some way that last peice could change everything.

And a lot of people with opposing "theories" are sticking to that 0.00001% - that last peice, and they are bringing people around on that point.
In which case to bring them back you have to say - no we are 100% sure - Which is sort of true, but it sort of isnt.

Its a tricky situation.
posted by phyle at 9:48 PM on February 26, 2006


I tried to warn you guys.

Really, if communication worked as a way of getting to the truth, do you really think belief in Creationism and its ilk would be rising now? I mean, we've got cell phones, pagers, ye olde Intarweb, etc, and we just seem to be getting dumber every year. In the end, communication's great if you want to find out if Brad got that job he was interviewing for or if Karen needs help moving into her new condo or where the poker game's gonna be this Friday. But for figuring out how the universe works, decidedly less useful.

You may be an atheist and think religion is stupid, that's fine, but it has little to do with why Creationism is stupid and evolution is not.

Actually, Creationism and Religion are stupid for the same reason; heck, here in the US, it's even the same book. And really, if you're thinking of convincing a Creationist, read that above part again and despair. I challenge anyone here to name one Creationist who they've managed to convert. My personal experience is that every ex-Creationist I know is also an ex-Christian.
posted by boaz at 9:59 PM on February 26, 2006


boaz, but that's just my point. You're no longer arguing for evolution but against religion, and while the Creationists are a lost cause already, you are bound to lose anyone else in the audience who might otherwise have been swayed if it weren't for the hate-on you have for religion.
There are a lot of religious people who think Creationism is retarded. Heck, even the pope. You'd be better off getting them on your side rather than alienating them.
posted by nightchrome at 10:09 PM on February 26, 2006


bevets: Christians do not dispute science, we dispute evolutionism.

It's safe to say that you don't speak for all christians.

And if there's no evolution, there are no drug-resistant strains of bacteria, in which case, you should be fine with, say, penicillin, since the idea that many formerly susceptible pathogens have evolved to be resistant to it is impossible in your book.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:21 PM on February 26, 2006


But nightchrome, you're not going to argue about Creationism with the religious people who think Creationism is retarded, for what I believe is an extremely obvious reason. If you force me to spell out that reason, however, it would significantly deepen my earlier despair in humanity.
posted by boaz at 10:22 PM on February 26, 2006


But boaz, just because someone thinks Creationism is retarded doesn't mean they're all that fond of evolution either. I guess it boils down to what you see as the purpose of the discussion. If you are arguing with Creationists just for the sake of arguing with them, since you can't convince them of anything, that's fine.
But if you're arguing with them so as to win over the audience who might be swayed by your words, then how you approach the topic of religion would be very important.
posted by nightchrome at 10:25 PM on February 26, 2006


Christians do not dispute science, we dispute evolutionism

George_Spiggott

And if there's no evolution, there are no drug-resistant strains of bacteria, in which case, you should be fine with, say, penicillin, since the idea that many formerly susceptible pathogens have evolved to be resistant to it is impossible in your book.


I mentioned 'evolutionism' and you changed the subject to bacteria. Please try to stay on topic.
posted by bevets at 10:29 PM on February 26, 2006


I mentioned 'evolutionism' and you changed the subject to bacteria. Please try to stay on topic.

Oh I see Bevets. your not opposed to evolution, just evolutionism. That makes perfect sense.
posted by phyle at 10:35 PM on February 26, 2006


I mentioned 'evolutionism' and you changed the subject to bacteria.

I mentioned a specific, scrupulously observed and documented example of the evolutionary process in action which affects the lives of millions every day. Hardly changing the subject.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:42 PM on February 26, 2006


Yeah, dragging bacteria into it just confuses poor bevets. See, bevets thinks evolution = "humans coming from monkeys", and resents the implication. I'm not sure why. Based on the level of intelligence he displays here, I'd bet he still has a rudimentary tail.
posted by Jimbob at 10:48 PM on February 26, 2006


Assuming that these people who are 'not that fond of evolution' (not quite sure what that means, but hey, I'm feeling pleasantly drunk forgiving) are not that fond of it for religious reasons, then your former analysis is just about perfect, ruined only by your incoherent last sentence.

The problem is that attacking any tenet, whether it's Jesus' resurrection or their "unfondness" towards evolution, is going to be interpreted as a "hate-on" for Christianity, to the person that believes that tenet. This is, again, for a very obvious reason.

And finally, what's really so important about evolution compared to, say, Heaven or Jesus resurrecting people et al? It's like not believing in gravity; they're not going to float away, just become slightly dumber. Same with evolution; there's like 5 jobs in the whole world where it makes a real difference whether you believe in Evolution, Creationism or ID. And, let's face it, if you chose one of the 2 latter beliefs, you're probably not qualified to do any of them anyway. You're here worrying about the 'sides' but really, this is only one tiny drop of dumbassery in a sea full of it.
posted by boaz at 10:50 PM on February 26, 2006


bevets

Christians do not dispute science, we dispute evolutionism

George_Spiggott

And if there's no evolution, there are no drug-resistant strains of bacteria, in which case, you should be fine with, say, penicillin, since the idea that many formerly susceptible pathogens have evolved to be resistant to it is impossible in your book.

bevets

I mentioned 'evolutionism' and you changed the subject to bacteria. Please try to stay on topic.


George_Spiggott

I mentioned a specific, scrupulously observed and documented example of the evolutionary process in action which affects the lives of millions every day. Hardly changing the subject.


If the topic was merely about 'drug resistant strains of bacteria', I don't know ANY christian who would object.


A Parable:
Suppose a man walks up to you and says "I'm a billionaire."
You say "Prove it."
He says "ok", and he points across the street at a bank. "My money is in that bank there." (The bank is closed.)
You say "What does that prove?"
He says "Everyone knows banks have money in them"
You say "I know there is money in the bank, but why should I believe that it's YOUR money?"
"Because it's GREEN" he says.
"What else can you show me?"
He reaches in his pocket and pulls out a penny. "See -- I'm a billionaire."
You're still skeptical. 'What does that prove?', you ask.
"I'M A BILLIONAIRE" he states loudly (obviously annoyed that you would question him). He reaches in another pocket and pulls out another penny, "Do you believe me now?"
posted by bevets at 10:55 PM on February 26, 2006


I can't help but wonder if, once drugs to treat religion become available, if drug-resistant gods might not also emerge.
posted by boaz at 10:59 PM on February 26, 2006 [1 favorite]


this is only one tiny drop of dumbassery in a sea full of it.

I know what you're saying, and I've had the same thought There's more than 5 jobs by the way. I'm currently sitting in an office with 7 people whos jobs rely pretty heavily on the correctness of evolution. And it's true that creationists probably won't want to become biologists anyway. However, I have met a few creationists who have attempted to study biology and ecology, and have had a pretty hard time of it. Bad news for them, I suppose, as they clearly have an interest in science and the natural world, but have been instilled with some kind of mental block to keep them from achieving what they want.

The real problem goes beyond this, though. Natural science matters. Dismissal of evolution has risen prety high within the governmental system - the people who fund scientific research, who run preservation and management of natural areas. Wasn't there a post a while back about the US national parks service being forced to sell a book suggesting the Grand Canyon was formed by Noah's flood, or some such garbage? If you don't believe in evolution, you don't believe in the ability for avian influenza to mutate and cause god knows how many human deaths. If you don't believe in evolution, you lose the ability to understand how species are adapted to the variable environment, and how are natural and agricultural systems may be affected by climate change. It is kind of important.
posted by Jimbob at 11:01 PM on February 26, 2006


I didn't realize it was possible to summon Bevets without the card.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:02 PM on February 26, 2006


A Parable:
Suppose a man walks up to you and says "Jesus is the son of God, who created the world in six days"
You say "Prove it."
He waves a bible in your face. "Proof."
You say "Who wrote that book?"
He says "God."
You say "How do you know?"
He says "Some guy told me."

Enough said.
posted by Jimbob at 11:05 PM on February 26, 2006


Whoops, I meant 5 different jobs, not 5 employees (But hey, if you've got one of those jobs, less competition for you ;) ). I actually live 5 miles from one of the main Pfizer campuses, where evolutionists synthesize new life-saving (or at least boner-saving) drugs and creationists keep the evolutionists' toilets sparkling clean. It's a harsh but fair system.
posted by boaz at 11:16 PM on February 26, 2006


Jimbob: watch out, you just taught the controversy!

The purpose of all this ID, creationist BS is to drag scientific observation and reasoning down to an even level with religious belief. Why do you think they keep saying 'evolutionism'? The terminology is insidious and entirely intentional.

theory != belief.
posted by arialblack at 11:41 PM on February 26, 2006


Thus far we've learned that bevets speaks for all christians, and speaks in parables. There can be little doubt remaining as to who bevets imagines he is.

Your "parable" would be more accurate if it portrayed a man who, confronted with someone who did not believe money existed, produced a penny to show that it in fact did.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:53 PM on February 26, 2006


Creationists are making the same mistake that evil athiest Lenin did, what with his rejection of Mendelian genetics. Replace "bourgeoisie science" with "liberal elites pushing evolution", and it's the same old circus all over again.

It would be funny, except that it holds just as much potential for widescale disaster and suffering now as it did back then.
posted by PsychoKick at 12:25 AM on February 27, 2006


When I'm bored, I like to call the local liberal radio talk show, inhale a bunch of helium, and read bevets' posts on-air.
posted by fandango_matt at 12:28 AM on February 27, 2006


Neo-Lysenkoism ... I like that!
posted by RavinDave at 12:30 AM on February 27, 2006


Expanding on Bevet's analogy of the billionaire, I would say that the proponents of evolution have shown him the bank statement, the yacht, the mansion, and the newspaper article showing his position among the world's richest men (including his net worth.) Bevets refuses to believe them until they can produce, and count, one billion dollar bills in front of him; despite the obvious absurdity of actually doing that.

I think what makes anti-evolutionism impossible to respect is the hypocrisy of it. I can respect the possibility of someone disbelieving evolution on the basis of lack of proof; I think that's crazy, personally, but if you require that much proof to accept a theory, that's up to you. What I can't respect is someone applying different standards across the board. Any standard of proof that rejects evolution should reject religion by a much greater margin. Anyone who has such an inconsistant belief system needs to spend some time working things out before they start inflicting them on anyone else.
posted by Mitrovarr at 12:37 AM on February 27, 2006


Now that I think about it, it's funny that God never mentioned bacteria. In fact, God doesn't appear to have mentioned anything that the people who wrote about him didn't know at the time.

In a way, God reminds me of Clever Hans, the horse who could do arithmetic. All very impressive -- until it was noticed that when his owner didn't know the answer, neither did the horse.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:40 AM on February 27, 2006


No, Clever Hans could figure out the answer if anyone in the audience knew it.
posted by stoneegg21 at 1:09 AM on February 27, 2006


Christians do not dispute science, we dispute evolutionism

No, we don't. We know what we are talking about and we know that religion and science complement eachother.
posted by sebas at 1:27 AM on February 27, 2006


My personal experience is that every ex-Creationist I know is also an ex-Christian.

Hiya, Boaz. I'm EarBucket. I'm a Christian, and an ex-Creationist.
posted by EarBucket at 3:51 AM on February 27, 2006


Thank you fleetmouse, for making my point. The theory of gestation is absolutely, positively, without a doubt the right theory--until you come across a hen laying an egg. Oops.

Yeah, well, that's - I mean to say -

*shakes fist feebly*
posted by fleetmouse at 4:40 AM on February 27, 2006


Any standard of proof that rejects evolution should reject religion by a much greater margin.

Mitrovarr, thank you for stating that so concisely. Sums up the whole tempest in a neat little teapot.
posted by fleetmouse at 5:07 AM on February 27, 2006


Evolution is not a theory; evolution by natural selection is the theory.
posted by docgonzo at 5:25 AM on February 27, 2006


God put the process of evolution in motion. WTF is this so controversial; why are there idiots who think evolution negates God, or vice versa?!!
posted by ParisParamus at 5:35 AM on February 27, 2006


If the topic was merely about 'drug resistant strains of bacteria', I don't know ANY christian who would object.


A Parable:
Suppose a man walks up to you and says "I'm a billionaire."
You say "Prove it."
He says "ok", and he points across the street at a bank. "My money is in that bank there." (The bank is closed.)
You say "What does that prove?"
He says "Everyone knows banks have money in them"
You say "I know there is money in the bank, but why should I believe that it's YOUR money?"
"Because it's GREEN" he says.
"What else can you show me?"
He reaches in his pocket and pulls out a penny. "See -- I'm a billionaire."
You're still skeptical. 'What does that prove?', you ask.
"I'M A BILLIONAIRE" he states loudly (obviously annoyed that you would question him). He reaches in another pocket and pulls out another penny, "Do you believe me now?"


Mitrovarr

Expanding on Bevet's analogy of the billionaire, I would say that the proponents of evolution have shown him the bank statement, the yacht, the mansion, and the newspaper article showing his position among the world's richest men (including his net worth.) Bevets refuses to believe them until they can produce, and count, one billion dollar bills in front of him; despite the obvious absurdity of actually doing that.

Please tell me more about the 'yacht' and 'mansion'.

arialblack

The purpose of all this evolutionist BS is to drag scientific observation and reasoning down to an even level with religious belief. Why do you think they keep saying 'creationism'? The terminology is insidious and entirely intentional.


Christians do not dispute science, we dispute evolutionism

sebas

No, we don't.

George_Spiggott

Thus far we've learned that bevets speaks for all christians


Evolutionism is the tinfoil hat atheists wear to keep God out of their brainwaves.

Unfortunately some christians see the tinfoil hats and assume they should follow the dress code.
posted by bevets at 5:37 AM on February 27, 2006


TF is this so controversial; why are there idiots who think evolution negates God, or vice versa?!!

Because the Bible says otherwise. If you accept the scientific consensus of man as just one of the infinite past and future array of randomly mutating organisms borne out of chemical replication, the Biblical creation is not only untrue, it is not concionably usable as a "God-breathed" parable; it's just misleading, sub-Hubbard sci-fi.

bevets: "Evolutionism is the tinfoil hat atheists wear to keep God out of their brainwaves."

You said that before. In this thread. Pressure's getting to ya. Sweat starting to bead. The voices. I HAVE EVOLVED NO MOUTH YET I MUST TROLL! OH J-DOGG WHY HAST THOU FORSAKEN ME??
posted by Protocols of the Elders of Awesome at 5:52 AM on February 27, 2006


boaz >>> ""Really, if communication worked as a way of getting to the truth, do you really think belief in Creationism and its ilk would be rising now? I mean, we've got cell phones, pagers, ye olde Intarweb, etc, and we just seem to be getting dumber every year.

boaz, you're confusing methods of communication with the actual act itself.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 6:03 AM on February 27, 2006


In Britain, I'm told about 2% of people regularly attend church, and that's despite our having a state religion. Communication is certainly making progress here.
posted by Protocols of the Elders of Awesome at 6:05 AM on February 27, 2006


Here's what needs to happen before intelligent design is quelched: synergy of religion and science.

Scientists: stop trying to make people stop doing religion. Sure it's not rational, but neither is the brain. Churches are good community centers and spirituality is an important part of human life. It doesn't matter what the name of your god is. If you are monotheistic, you worship the same god, for all intents and purposes.

Christians: stop trying to make people stop doing science. It is the process by which humble men and women of this earth lift their cup to the heavens and beg the Lord for a tiny drop of his wisdom. The Bible is an excellent moral compass -- actually, it's the best moral compass we have -- but it's not science. It's mythology, which is fine and good and pleases the Lord, but it's not science.

What we need the most in this country is for our scientists to just bite the butter and join the clergy. If ID movement is religion trying to infiltrate science, let's turn the tables on them, see how they react.
posted by Laugh_track at 6:13 AM on February 27, 2006


Scientists: stop trying to make people stop doing religion.

If by "trying make people stop" you mean "trying to tell people our assessment of the evidence", you're asking us to stop being scientists.
posted by Protocols of the Elders of Awesome at 6:24 AM on February 27, 2006


God put the process of evolution in motion. WTF is this so controversial; why are there idiots who think evolution negates God, or vice versa?!!

If you don't believe in the literal truth of Genesis then there was no original sin. If there was no original sin then the martyrdom of St. Jebus was unnecessary. So goes the argument of the literalists.
posted by fleetmouse at 6:24 AM on February 27, 2006


The original sin was when the amoeba tempted the macrophage into eating the forbidden paramecium. We did the crime, now we're doin the time.
posted by Protocols of the Elders of Awesome at 6:30 AM on February 27, 2006


But.. but... that would mean my action figures are a lie!
posted by fleetmouse at 6:33 AM on February 27, 2006


If by "trying make people stop" you mean "trying to tell people our assessment of the evidence", you're asking us to stop being scientists.

No, I'm just asking you to exercise tact. You're just not going to change a person's faith through evidence. The whole idea of faith is a rejection of empiricism.
posted by Laugh_track at 6:35 AM on February 27, 2006


Many millions of people have had their faith changed by evidence. Promoting evidence tends towards promoting empiricism. And even if spreading the truth never produced results, that doesn't mean it wouldn't be the right thing to do.
posted by Protocols of the Elders of Awesome at 6:38 AM on February 27, 2006


Laugh_track

The Bible is an excellent moral compass -- actually, it's the best moral compass we have -- but it's not science.

John 3.12 I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things?

You're just not going to change a person's faith through evidence. The whole idea of faith is a rejection of empiricism.

John 10.37 "If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; 38 but if I do them, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father."

John 14.6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me."
posted by bevets at 6:43 AM on February 27, 2006


Yes, but there are more subtle ways of spreading the truth than just telling someone their religion is wrong.

There was once a belligerent American who found himself in Japan. He spent many years trying to convince the Japanese that English is a more efficient language, but to no avail -- they couldn't understand his arguments, and were offended by his yelling. Finally, he gave up and learned Japanese. But he always held in the back of his mind his knowledge of the superiority of English.
posted by Laugh_track at 6:45 AM on February 27, 2006


bevets,

I would like to engage in discussion with you, but I need more than Bible verses. Please explain.
posted by Laugh_track at 6:46 AM on February 27, 2006


Please tell me more about the 'yacht' and 'mansion'.

My name is Elmer J. Fudd, Millionaire.* I own a mansion and a yacht.

* 1955 dollars.
posted by kirkaracha at 6:48 AM on February 27, 2006


“...so it is nearly impossible to change their minds with a process of rational presentation of evidence. Creationism is faith; it's difficult to battle faith with logic.” - posted by Justinian

Hear hear.

"Evolutionism is the tinfoil hat atheists wear to keep God out of their brainwaves." - bevets

Fuck your God in the ass.

Every time there is a debate on this - who is it with? Christians.
The unspoken theme here is NOT ONLY is ID/Creation/etc. whatever term you wish - is right, but that it is the Christian version and ONLY the Christian version that is correct.

All this bullshit about the bible, etc - and we conveniantly forget about all the other religious thought in the world.
Gee - ya think that’s the fifth column right there?

I don’t care what the bible says. All A priori knowledge is equal to all other A priori knowlege in relation to empirical knowledge.

I cannot define, show, or prove empirically for example - infinity. By the same token I cannot prove or show “God.”
Each term has it’s uses and each term can be debated within it’s own realm - within the bounds of knowlege derived the same way.

What we cannot debate is the superiority of empirical fact and reproducability in terms of-oh, off the cuff - avoiding regression.

We can teach the method of logic and ways of thinking to derive a priori knowlege.
We cannot teach as fact any a priori knowlege.
Facts - the ones we plan to use to determine a course of action need to be tested against reality, and accepted or rejected on the basis of how well they correspond to observed facts.
Infinity is all well and good as a concept, and quite useful. But I don’t plan to physically encounter it in a physical situation needing a physical response.

I’m plowing far afield here, but I wanted to get that out of the way.

What is unstated in these arguments between the a priori knowlege of “God” and empirical knowlege of the real world is the dichotomy this argument creates within a priori thought that is utterly ignored.

That is - that the concept of the Christian God and that mythos is superior to any other form of a priori knowlege - including logic (as the - apatly named for this argument - Justinian point out).

I disagree with this understated argument/assumption. Not only on the basis of the validity of thought in other religions but on the methodical approach found in a priori thought - such as logic etc - that avoids bullshit tautologies and regressive arguments ID and “because: the bible” assertions are prone to.


Sorry if that’s a bit muddled above - I’m irritated and I tend to be less clear when that happens.

I would assert that if you don’t understand basic epistemologic arguments you don’t belong in discussions on this topic - but seeing as how my own screed is muddy headed, I can be only so much in earnest.

Shorthand: Not only is the Christian God not the only God in town, not only is the bible not the only “holy” work - it’s not even the most useful or accurate internally derived form of knowlege out there. In addition - there can be no agument between internally derived (as above A Priori) knowlege and observationally or experientially derived knowlege when the result we’re looking for is a universally actable one (since not everyone will derive internally the same answers).

ID/Creation/ -whatever the term - is an attempt to convert or self-justify Christian beliefs to the detriment of others.
Ergo - fuck you people and shove your God back up your asses.
posted by Smedleyman at 6:57 AM on February 27, 2006


In the mouth of the fool is a rod for his back, but the lips of the wise preserve them. (Proverbs 14:3 NAB)
posted by sebas at 6:57 AM on February 27, 2006


Trust in the LORD with all your heart, on your own intelligence rely not. (Proverbs 3:5 NAB)

I think bevets is taking it a bit too literal.
posted by sebas at 6:58 AM on February 27, 2006


kirkaracha, that was damn funny
posted by Smedleyman at 7:01 AM on February 27, 2006


Matthew 5:22 "Whosoever shall say Thou fool, shall be in danger of hellfire." [Jesus speaking]
posted by fleetmouse at 7:02 AM on February 27, 2006


"Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." 1 Thessalonians 5:21
posted by Laugh_track at 7:04 AM on February 27, 2006


Christians do not dispute science, we dispute evolutionism


What about science based on evolution? Like, say, antibiotics?
posted by dig_duggler at 7:14 AM on February 27, 2006


I wish that posting entirely in quotations could be against the guidelines.

In any case, it's incredibly tiresome and indicative of weak rhetorical abilities.
posted by ludwig_van at 7:23 AM on February 27, 2006


Darwin wins.
posted by bardic at 7:28 AM on February 27, 2006


This thread is a pretty good example of the larger "debate." I put debate in quotes because it's not evolution versus creation; they're not playing against each other, hell, it's not even the same sport. It's like the Yankees scoring fifty-nine runs against a squad of ADHD third-graders who act as if strikeouts count as home runs and who change the scoreboard because they think they should be winning.

I mean, take a look at our dumbshit self-linking troll: he's incapable of even understanding the evidence for evolution, let alone rebutting it without resorting to copy-pasting something Kent Hovind scrawled on the back of a Denny's kid's menu.

Creationists are like dogs: you explain something to them as simply as possible, but all they're capable of it cocking their heads and shitting on the rug. Ironically, they are quite adept as spreading their genes; thanks to the "women are chattel" subsection of their Bronze Age goat-herder philosophy book, they squirt out little barbarians much faster than the educated folks. So congratulations, humanity, take a look at your future:


"It is broken, can you make it go?"
posted by Optimus Chyme at 7:43 AM on February 27, 2006


Metafilter: all they're capable of is cocking their heads and shitting on the rug.
posted by anomie at 7:51 AM on February 27, 2006


They hate us because of our freedom.
posted by flabdablet at 8:21 AM on February 27, 2006


I love bevets. That's entertainment!
posted by McBain at 8:39 AM on February 27, 2006


God put the process of evolution in motion. WTF is this so controversial; why are there idiots who think evolution negates God, or vice versa?!!

Because natural selection is by definition an undirected process. God putting evolution into motion is the very antithesis of natural selection.
posted by McBain at 8:41 AM on February 27, 2006


Because natural selection is by definition an undirected process. God putting evolution into motion is the very antithesis of natural selection.

In addition, Paris's weak cop-out implies that evolution is directed somehow, to progress organisms to "higher" forms, when all evidence indicates that that is absolutely not the case.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 8:44 AM on February 27, 2006


There is more to the world than that which can be explained and quantified by current scientific means. Non-theists really ought to acknowledge this. It's a common and overlooked sticking point among theists (which I am not) and people who reject strict positivism (which I am).

I do not support the wrong-headed campaign to put any sort of theism into school curricula, but if rational thinkers want to win this battle, they have to temper their argument. Their current public visage is that of a smug and paternal know-it-all. Strict adherents to the scientific method should acknowledge the limitations of science in terms of explaining the totality of human experience. Doing that would win over a lot of people in the middle ground.
posted by squirrel at 8:55 AM on February 27, 2006


There is more to the world than that which can be explained and quantified by current scientific means. Non-theists really ought to acknowledge this. It's a common and overlooked sticking point among theists

. . . who by default assume that their Creationist/ID model fills this gap. Admissions by scientists of this type are nearly always taken out of context and then thrown like chum into the water to stir up Creationist/ID supporters.
posted by MasonDixon at 9:01 AM on February 27, 2006


Their current public visage is that of a smug and paternal know-it-all. Strict adherents to the scientific method should acknowledge the limitations of science in terms of explaining the totality of human experience.

No one who trusts in the scientific method either believes they know it all or that science explains everything, and its stuffing the strawman to claim that.

What science and the method do show is that a lot of religion is mystical flim flam with no reason or evidence behind it other than being old and popular mythology.
posted by McBain at 9:02 AM on February 27, 2006


Because natural selection is by definition an undirected process. God putting evolution into motion is the very antithesis of natural selection.

I disagree on that point. That is why I accept the unlikely possibility of a non-interacting Deist god (a god incompatible with Christianity). We can have no understanding of the Deist creator's domain, being external to our universe, so there can be no evidence for or against the existence of that creator-god. The idea that we should dedicate ourselves to worshipping that theoretical non-interacting god is of course absurd.
posted by Protocols of the Elders of Awesome at 9:07 AM on February 27, 2006



“They hate us because of our freedom.” - posted by flabdablet

Legitimate criticism flabdablet, but the beef remains. I wouldn’t go so far as OC in painting all creationists with the same “shit on the rug” brush. Indeed, I’ve argued, on Metafilter, in favor of the possibility of valid knowlege of “God”.
But there is little question that creationism is aggression and certainly an invalid form of discourse.
There isn’t an argument possible here.
It is analogus to arguing gravity is the will of Jesus Christ.
You not only deny the validity of empirical knowlege but you marginalize all other religion and forms of internalized knowlege such as logic.

The insults are indeed facile, but what generates those insults and other bilous remarks is the frustration resulting from showing clear empirical data and repeatable evidence to support evolution and getting a response by pointing to scripture or some other spurious thought that is continuously repeated as though that can bestow some sort of meaning in and of itself.

One can do little in an argument with a fool who persists in his folly. This is greatly multiplied not only by the number of fools, but the power those fools have.
1984 incidentally illustrates the form of this kind of metaphysical argument. O’Brien for example argues that because he has burned up a picture showing a meeting between several political figures it no longer exists and it never happened. Smith argues it did happen because he remembers it. O’Brien argues that memory can be modulated and tortures Smith until he sees how this can be so.
While it is perfectly true that memory and perception can be modulated Smith’s argument is doomed from it’s initial premise. Something does not happen because we remember it or we can prove it, something happens because time (and entropy) flows and changes in accordance with immutable physical laws.
Orwell’s out of course is that when necessary the party will recognize that 2+2 = 4 when it needs to (engineering for example) and go back to thinking otherwise when convenient in accordance with doublethink.

I see no such concessions in creationist thought.


/outside arguments such as “God puts evolution into the universe” notwithstanding; it’s a good thought, useful. God may well do this, but - it’s unprovable empirically. We must admit we don’t currently know what happened in the microseconds after time as we know it began. That opens the door to internal reasoning, but does not bridge the gap to empirical knowlege. And we still have to derive that knowlege from what we observe and can translate. Because ultimately the issue is what to teach in schools.
One cannot teach as basic fact, knowlege derived from internal reasoning, only the methodologies of that reasoning. E.g. I cannot show you or point to infinity - nor do, for loose example, physicists generally enjoy theories which spin off too many infinites.
I can teach as basic fact knowlege derived from external experiance because we can both independantly derive that knowlege and thus we can be talking about the same thing - ergo it’s testable.

When I say “God” almost everyone has a different idea of what that is and I cannot independantly reason what answer you will derive when I say that.
When I say “covalent bond” (chemistry) folks know exactly what I’m talking about and we can all perform tests to see for ourselves what that means.
posted by Smedleyman at 9:08 AM on February 27, 2006


That is why I accept the unlikely possibility of a non-interacting Deist god (a god incompatible with Christianity). We can have no understanding of the Deist creator's domain, being external to our universe, so there can be no evidence for or against the existence of that creator-god. The idea that we should dedicate ourselves to worshipping that theoretical non-interacting god is of course absurd.

Lot's of people say this, but then I say: What is the difference between some non-interacting creator that set the universe in motion 14 billion years ago and an entity that doesn't exist? And surely, what difference does that make during the life span of a person living 75 years on this earth?

I just see no reason to give a shit about something that might exist outside our universe, because by the definition of the universe it doesn't exist to me. Otherwise it would be in my universe.
posted by McBain at 9:14 AM on February 27, 2006


Anyone know of a movement where people believe in the Enlightenment, reason and science start really large families to offset the population explosion of fundamentalists? Because we'd better start.
posted by condour75 at 9:21 AM on February 27, 2006


Anyone know of a movement where people believe in the Enlightenment, reason and science start really large families to offset the population explosion of fundamentalists? Because we'd better start.

I, for one, will volunteer to IMMEDIATELY begin knocking up as many smart, hot chicks as I can.
posted by BobFrapples at 9:23 AM on February 27, 2006


Now there’s the evolutionist side of the appeal: knocking up as many smart, hot chicks as you can.
posted by Smedleyman at 9:27 AM on February 27, 2006


“...And surely, what difference does that make during the life span of a person living 75 years on this earth?”

Meaning. The ‘why’ of existance. The immortality that we sense is inherent in conscious being, but don’t directly observe in the universe. Some people have those and other kinds of questions. I prefer philosophical Taoism to get a bead on them. There are other methods.

The universe in the conceptual sense is very different from the observable sense. Some of those concepts are useful. Quantum Mechanics comes first to mind. Certain states of being don’t exist (theoretically) in our univese, certain dimensions in string theory, etc. but it’s useful to think about them to start us looking for what we can observe.
posted by Smedleyman at 9:33 AM on February 27, 2006


lol Bible

See now, I have two daughters who have not known a man; please, let me bring them out to you, and you may do to them as you wish (Genesis 19:8)
posted by thirteenkiller at 9:36 AM on February 27, 2006


McBain, I agree.
posted by Protocols of the Elders of Awesome at 9:37 AM on February 27, 2006


Meaning. The ‘why’ of existance.

To me, meaning and why are overrated. Secular Humanism works fine, thanks.
posted by McBain at 9:40 AM on February 27, 2006


Why does life have to mean anything? What if it doesn't? So what? Make life meaningful for yourself.
posted by McBain at 9:56 AM on February 27, 2006


Why does life have to mean anything? What if it doesn't? So what? Make life meaningful for yourself.
posted by McBain at 11:56 AM CST on February 27 [!]


+5 Cool Points to you McBain.
posted by Ynoxas at 10:13 AM on February 27, 2006


“Why does life have to mean anything? What if it doesn't? So what?”

Exactly. So then, what?
Some of us like exploring those questions. And how does one go about making life meaningful for oneself? (How shall we fuck off, oh lord?)
It’s a matter of taste McBain.
I prefer a little ontology in my reality.

Kinda like a continuous re-update and revision cycle of feedback: “what is the meaning of that particular collection of experienced mental events?” or “What is it that makes that what it is? ”(Substance theory, etc.) And if it is whatever it is - what does that imply?
And I disagree that only empirical knowlege is knowlege.

But then I’m also a Spinoza fan, kinda comes with the territory.

Indeed, arguing your favorite metaphysic (not in the modern popular sense of the word) is sort of like arguing your favorite philosopher.

Familiar with the Metaphysics of Quality? ( Robert M. Pirsig, et.al - it’s on wiki too) I’ve always wondered how secular humanists would approach that, divorced as it is from the “God” term, but singular in substance or underlying cause.

I like that metaphysical arguments are typically in terms of quantifying and judging methodology. Sharpens up that whole observation of one’s own life Socrates talked about. It is how one goes about making life meaningful for oneself. You have to learn not only what questions to ask, but how to go about asking - or not asking - them. And avoiding needless repetition/reiteration.
posted by Smedleyman at 10:18 AM on February 27, 2006



Exactly. So then, what?
Some of us like exploring those questions.


ALL of us like exploring these things, the problem comes when there are these pronouncements about meaning being necessary or absolute or coming from some specific mythological being. I'm not saying that you can't ask these questions, just that if your conclusion involves making pronouncements about the environment around you that clearly aren't true, we're going to have a problem.

Life being meaningless is not the end of the world or your life.
posted by McBain at 10:27 AM on February 27, 2006


“...just that if your conclusion involves making pronouncements about the environment around you that clearly aren't true, we're going to have a problem.”

Really? Howabout infinity? Logic? The Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen paradox? Are all Gedankenexperiments out of bounds or just the ones distasteful to you? What is truth? How is it defined?
Because if we’re talking about observability in the classical sense then that EPR paradox is going to be a bit of a poser since experiments have actually been performed and violates classical physics.

I am opposed to teaching creationsim or indeed any non-empirically derived subject in school, but at some level by necessity you have to teach how to derive knowlege from pure reason.
I would put a “God” concept in with this type of knowlege, but I recognize it as unnecesary or redundant in a variety of areas. Some people don’t see that as so, and given the extreme complexity of the overall subject I’m hesitant to impose bounds. Primarially because I automatically think of the Christian God-concept when I see the term “God” but instead ask ontologically what we mean by that.
That said, that doesn’t mean that any internally derived assertion/ theory/ etc. is just as worthy of attention as another. I think the flying spaghetti monster parody illustrates that issue pretty well.

It is simply that when folks issue blanket denial of any non-empirical knowlege they typically forget a great deal of non-christian philosophy/theology and indeed scientific thought that does have some intellectual rigor to it.
It’s not all one dimensional anthropomorphic deity when we’re talking about A priori knowlege - which is my gripe.

“Life being meaningless is not the end of the world or your life.”

Well, I’d call that nihilism on the face of it. But taking your meaning to be “life devoid of a meaning bestowing God-concept is not necessary to leading a fufilling life” I’d agree.

If I’m reading you correctly, that is.

But I can’t help but question whether there is more to conscious being than eating, shitting, being nice to each other, etc. More than just the ethos part of philosophy. Which is probably why I’m such a fan of QM. ‘Cause it points out that things are connected to each other in some pretty counterintutive ways.
And what the hell does that mean?

The world is not enough for me, sorry.
But as I’ve pointed out, it’s a matter of taste. I like coconut. My wife doesn’t. I don’t push coconut on her, but she doesn’t assert that my liking coconut is wrong.
Nor do I say she’s wrong for not liking it - which I believe is where you were going in that first sentence I quoted.

And if that is the case - what the hell then is the disagreement between us?
posted by Smedleyman at 11:09 AM on February 27, 2006


"Primarially because I automatically think of the Christian God-concept when I see the term “God” "

"Primarily because I DON’T automatically think of the Christian God-concept when I see the term “God” - should be.
posted by Smedleyman at 11:11 AM on February 27, 2006


Well, I’d call that nihilism on the face of it. But taking your meaning to be “life devoid of a meaning bestowing God-concept is not necessary to leading a fufilling life” I’d agree.
I don't mean nihilism, but I do mean life without a purpose bestowed from some other non-human being.

But I can’t help but question whether there is more to conscious being than eating, shitting, being nice to each other, etc.

We can all question that, but so what if it isn't? Are your life accomplishments some how disappointing? Was the birth of your children less meaningful to you? Was the last big family meal less important to you? Was the last intimate experience with your partner less interesting?

Human experiences are what you make them, not what some arbiter in the sky decides they should be.
posted by McBain at 11:21 AM on February 27, 2006


Smedleyman: I wouldn't say that life being meaningless is necessarily nihilism because it's possible to hang one's hat on other claims, while still being skeptical as to whether "the meaning of life" is more than chasing smoke.

But I can’t help but question whether there is more to conscious being than eating, shitting, being nice to each other, etc.

And this strikes me as a rather absurdist parody.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 11:23 AM on February 27, 2006


"If you don't believe in the literal truth of Genesis then there was no original sin. If there was no original sin then the martyrdom of St. Jebus was unnecessary. So goes the argument of the literalists."

Jews don't believe in the Bible as being literal; much of it is metaphorical. I reject Christianity.
posted by ParisParamus at 11:25 AM on February 27, 2006


Paris, what is your interpretation of the metaphor about killing all gays? I've never got the subtleties in that one. I'm not the poetical type.
posted by Protocols of the Elders of Awesome at 11:38 AM on February 27, 2006


“Human experiences are what you make them, not what some arbiter in the sky decides they should be.”
- McBain

“I wouldn't say that life being meaningless is necessarily nihilism because...” - KirkJobSluder

Here’s the fucking thing. READ AND UNDERSTAND WHAT I WROTE BEFORE YOU POST.

See what I said up there: 1. looks like nihilsm 2. But isn’t.
See, if I say “that looks like nihilism on the face of it, but that’s not what I think you meant” that sort of translates into what I said regarding: “life devoid of a meaning bestowing God-concept is not necessary to leading a fufilling life” as FUCKING AGREEING WITH YOU.

“Was the birth of your children less meaningful to you? Was the last big family meal less important to you?”

Yeah, here’s another thing. I’m talking about epistomological inquiry as it relates to the question of what the basic nature of consciousness is or concepts in Quantum Mechanics not what bearing ontological issues have on my day to day life or the meaning in my relationships with others.

I’ve competely ceded the point on the difference between empirical experiance and the meaning there, and internally derived knowlege and the meaning there - no, no, wait - looking back at my previous posts - I’VE FUCKING REINFORCED IT.

If you can’t be bothered to read or understand any goddamn thing I’ve said - what exactly is the point of discussing anything with you?

“And this strikes me as a rather absurdist parody.”

Funny, I find arguing in favor of the idea that there is some meaning in conceptual discourse in this thread an absurdist parody.

And yet - perhaps because I’m a masochist - how so? Are you a reductive materialist?

I’m thinking of the mind-body problem in the David Chalmers non-materialsim sense - for clarification - in case we’re thinking something else.
I’d post it, but why bother? It ain’t gonna be read. And if you are interested look him/it up yourself.
posted by Smedleyman at 11:49 AM on February 27, 2006


"Primarially because I automatically think of the Christian God-concept when I see the term “God” "

"Primarily because I DON’T automatically think of the Christian God-concept when I see the term “God” - should be.


Forth programmer, right?[/in-joke]
posted by boaz at 11:58 AM on February 27, 2006


/a poor one then boaz - I forgot a slash between Chalmers and non-materialism.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:40 PM on February 27, 2006


Smedleyman: Here’s the fucking thing. READ AND UNDERSTAND WHAT I WROTE BEFORE YOU POST.

Well, I did read what you wrote, and my sense of it runs something like this: "Well, I’d call that nihilism on the face of it. But taking your meaning to be 'life devoid of a meaning bestowing God-concept is not necessary to leading a fufilling life' I’d agree."

Which to me is just saying, "there are ways to claim 'life is meaningful' outside of theism." You've just shifted the burden of "meaning of life" away from a deity onto something else. Pardon me if I'm misinterpreting an ambiguity in your post. But perhaps you should recognize an honest ambiguity rather than yelling about not reading your posts.

I think that the statement, "there is meaning to life" is nonsense because it can mean anything you want to mean, and therefore means absolutely nothing. I'm not a nihilist because I find the "meaning of life" to be trivial, and have other pegs on which to hang my hat.

And yet - perhaps because I’m a masochist - how so? Are you a reductive materialist?

Because, I don't know of anyone who claims that consiousness is just "eating, shitting, being nice to each other, etc."

I’m thinking of the mind-body problem in the David Chalmers non-materialsim sense - for clarification - in case we’re thinking something else.

Well, I have a serious problem with the mind-body problem, but I don't know if we have really compatible ways of talking about this given that I feel more comfortable with things like Activity Theory rather than Chalmer. The primary reason is that theories that propose individual human beings as atomic agents appear to be insufficient to explain many forms of human behavior and cognition. The mind-body problem generally takes the notion of individual minds for granted.

At an initial reading, Chalmer seems to be making a "mind of the gaps" argument that is very similar to that made by ID advocates. He can't concieve of a way in which consiousness can be grounded in material phenomena, therefore, dualism.

In that Chalmer defines non-reductionism as a circular enterprise, (explaining consiousness in terms of consiousness or assuming consiousness) I must admit to being reductionist by his terms. Whether I'm a materialist or not depends on what kinds of status give things like logic and theoretical computation.

But of course, you will probably just go off again and claim that no one else is reading what you are writing.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 12:41 PM on February 27, 2006


Whoops, that should be Chalmers throughout, sorry.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 12:47 PM on February 27, 2006


Metafilter: READ AND UNDERSTAND WHAT I WROTE BEFORE YOU POST
posted by Megafly at 12:51 PM on February 27, 2006


/More on the role of consciousness, QM and mind-brain duality - just so folks don’t think I’m talking out of my ass here (or rather, that I’m talking mysticism rather than philosophical implication).
posted by Smedleyman at 12:56 PM on February 27, 2006


Smedleyman: /More on the role of consciousness, QM and mind-brain duality - just so folks don’t think I’m talking out of my ass here (or rather, that I’m talking mysticism rather than philosophical implication).

Frequently, there is not much of a difference between the two. You heard the old one about the difference between theory and philosophy? A theorist needs a pencil, paper and a trash can. A philosopher can make do without the trashcan.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 1:02 PM on February 27, 2006


I think the only way to make Creationists go away is to ignore them kill and eat them. Nothing else has or will work.
posted by tkchrist at 1:03 PM on February 27, 2006


Bevets: Please tell me more about the 'yacht' and 'mansion'.

All right. We've shown you we can force microevolution in the laboratory. We've shown you it happens in nature on human timescales. We've shown you fossils of transitionary forms, and transitionary forms that are still alive. We've shown you vestigial organs which make no sense in terms of divine construction and all kinds of sense in terms of evolution. We've shown you genetic evidence, which shows that similar forms are usually close in terms of DNA, even in unexpressed DNA and genetic drift. We've shown you the molecular biological methods by which genes change randomly, by which they change position, and by which they recombine in new patterns. We've shown you genetic vestigial evidence, such as the human's non-functional (but still very much present) vitamin C synthesis pathway. And we've shown you evidence of alternate genetic pathways, such as horizonal gene transfers, plasmids, endosymbiosis, and others.

And yet, despite ALL of this, you refuse to believe it, because we cannot show you macroevolution in progress RIGHT NOW. Well, I'm sorry, but you're asking for a video of the continents drifting. You're asking to watch protons decay before your very eyes. We cannot show you a video of something that happens over timescales far longer than video cameras have been invented, and often longer than humanity has existed. Well, that still doesn't give you justification to ignore all the indirect evidence, not when you accept it for other things. And I know you do, because you're talking to me, and you have only indirect evidence that any of us exist.
posted by Mitrovarr at 1:25 PM on February 27, 2006


“You've just shifted the burden of "meaning of life" away from a deity onto something else.”

Yeah, uh, I never made any assertion that deity was necessary to anything. Just that it, as a general concept, fits within a realm of classification which includes other concepts which are useful. I’m an agnostic when it comes to the usefulness of a deity concept.

“Pardon me if I'm misinterpreting an ambiguity in your post.”

I will when terms such as “A priori” knowledge can be called ambiguous. Or epistemology. I’m not sure how those terms can be called ambiguous. I’m perfectly willing to cede that my argument is sloppy and poorly written tho. Which could explain some stuff. Still, I’m not sure how arguing non-experiance based knowledge isn’t the only form knowledge takes is support of a deity concept as necessary to meaning.

“I think that the statement, "there is meaning to life" is nonsense because it can mean anything you want to mean, and therefore means absolutely nothing.”

Yeah, uh...nihilism.
But your clarification that you have other reasoning for it is fine by me. You don’t identify yourself as a nihilist, ok. I’ll take your word for it.

“Because, I don't know of anyone who claims that consciousness is just "eating, shitting, being nice to each other, etc."”

Ok. Fair point. I was being too loose there. I think there is more to consciousness than the observable state of being would seem to imply; I’m more than willing to entertain a natural interpretation of it. Happy now Heidegger?

“He can't conceive of a way in which consciousness can be grounded in material phenomena, therefore, dualism”

Your initial reading would be too cursory then.

“Whether I'm a materialist or not depends on what kinds of status give things like logic and theoretical computation.”

Ok. Well, that’s a question for you to hash out. I’m not going to decide whether you are a materialist or not. I was just asking if you knew.

“But of course, you will probably just go off again and claim that no one else is reading what you are writing.”

Sorry for flipping out, but A. no one has a gun to your head to address my posts and B. I did ask “what the hell then is the disagreement between us?” before then. I grant it was to McBain, but as a general rule that would tend to signal a breakdown in communication and indicate that I’m not unreceptive to the argument in question.

But again, as I said when I first posted, this is always the problem with arguing these kinds of points: there is very often no room for ground other than pro/con Judeo-Christian anthropomorphic deity.
Trot out thinking about knowledge derived other than empirically and assert it’s validity and suddenly you are always positing the bearded man in the clouds theory or some other strawman.

I’m just saying - not all non-empirically based concepts are invalid, some are useful, and some are downright integral to understanding; that Christian concepts of deity tend to dominate these kinds of discussions and that irritates me; that you can’t teach creationism/etc. in schools because it’s only empirical knowledge that is really testable, but you can test on methodology when it comes to non-empirically derived knowledge such as logic (logic itself being a method of thinking).

My statement: “The immortality that we sense is inherent in conscious being, but don’t directly observe in the universe” is a matter of a priori knowledge. Some people in their lives derive different questions and seek answers in different methods than you or I.
I allow for that, and have explicitly stated so.

Apparently, from reading some of the previous statements that’s not an option on the table. But I’m not going to call it out because I think that’s a spurious extrapolation of what is probably meant.
Much like I did with what is - and again to state this very explicitly - on the surface of it - a nihilistic position.
I thought “Gee, looks like nihilism. I don’t think that’s what s/he means tho’ so I’ll couch my response that way”

Apparently the fixation was on the word nihilism and not the modifiers in abundance around it.
So I went off.

And I didn’t so much go off and claim I’m not being read as I said read and understood.

Anyone can gainsay arguments off particular word choices. Indeed that’s the point of the FPP having a productive discussion on the topic.

And of course with my bizarre stance on this fringe concept of “epistemology” and my weird stance on “A Priori knowledge” I get condescending “you know there is no God, don’t you” or “you don’t need/understand meaning” responses.

from the article:
“When evolutionists call intelligent designers idiots, its fine among evolutionists, but for the broader, less informed audience, it just makes everyone side with the people being condescended towards.”

I get that response. I understand why OC is pissed off/frustrated, etc. because I see the aggressive proselytizing component of ID/creationism.

But the simple fact is, argue for any nuance in opposition to what to me is an observed position on the exclusivity of empirical knowledge and you catch it from the other side and get lumped in with the creationists.

Indeed, what part of my “Fuck your God in the ass” statement is in anyway ambiguous or potentially supportive of deity?

“You heard the old one about the difference between theory and philosophy? A theorist needs a pencil, paper and a trash can. A philosopher can make do without the trashcan.”

Aha ha ha! yeah, ‘cause why would Columbia University's have a master degree program in things like the philosophical foundations of physics if they weren’t all assholes?
Yeah, we don’t need any sort of feedback on thought at all. Look at all the progress squirrels have made.

Ok, KirkJobSluder I pre-emptively cede all arguments on this topic in this thread to you. You totally win, dude. I suck. It’s all you. You’re right. I’m wrong. My life to this point has been an utter sham and your method of thinking and doing things is utterly superior. The argument is settled. It’s all yours, you win. Be happy.

I also like Led Zepplin. Am I wrong or right about that?
posted by Smedleyman at 1:55 PM on February 27, 2006


thanks to the "women are chattel" subsection of their Bronze Age goat-herder philosophy book

Whoa, there, buddy! I think you mean "sheep-herder". Big difference between sheep and goats. Goats will abandon a herder that they consider to be to their detriment. Sheep are too stupid to do this.

Also:

- Goats are smarter
- Goats are more independent
- Goats can be used as pack animals
- Goats can handle rougher terrain
- Goats browse instead of grazing, so they don't over-graze the same spot like sheep do
- Goats often have horns so they can at least mount some semblance of self-defense in some circumstances. Sheep just baa and die.

My memory is a bit hazy but I think it was Terry Pratchett's book Small Gods that had a throwaway line wondering what major religions would have turned out like if the persons receiving divine revelations were goatherds instead of shepherds.
posted by beth at 1:58 PM on February 27, 2006


Something along the lines of "Sheep are stupid, and need to be driven. Goats are intelligent, and need to be led.", I think it was.
posted by kafziel at 2:15 PM on February 27, 2006


*rereading*
Man, I’m a real dick today. I mean I said “matter of taste” a bunch of times. Still, no patience on my part. Sorry.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:35 PM on February 27, 2006


what major religions would have turned out like if the persons receiving divine revelations were goatherds instead of shepherds


posted by sonofsamiam at 2:45 PM on February 27, 2006


Smedleyman: Still, I’m not sure how arguing non-experiance based knowledge isn’t the only form knowledge takes is support of a deity concept as necessary to meaning.


Well gee, you fly off the handle and then complain about a lack of nuance. I didn't say you supported a deity, what I said was that shifting the meaning of life onto something like "42" presupposes that there is a meaning there to discover. It is possible to be critical of that question without nihilism (so for example, it is possible to be critical of big ontological questions like "what is the meaning of life," but believe that ethics is possible.)

Sorry for flipping out, but A. no one has a gun to your head to address my posts and B. I did ask “what the hell then is the disagreement between us?”

It amuses me that you apoligize for flipping out while still flipping out.

But to answer the question:
1: I don't think that skepticism about the "meaning of life" always equates to nihilism.
2: I don't like the charicterization of materialism as just eating, shitting, etc..
3: I think the mind-body problem takes too much for granted (namely, does mind or consiousness exist as a unary phenomena.)

Speaking of flipping out...

Aha ha ha! yeah, ‘cause why would Columbia University's have a master degree program in things like the philosophical foundations of physics if they weren’t all assholes?

I didn't say as such. I think that in many cases philosophers have managed to run with misconceptions drawn from other disciplines. The mere fact that someone has published a volume on Quantum Mechanics and Consiousness does not mean that he or she understands either.

Some people in their lives derive different questions and seek answers in different methods than you or I.
I allow for that, and have explicitly stated so.


Well here is where I see another point of disagreement. I think we come from different theories and methods, and I'm interested in developing some dialog around this. But your response to attempts to engage in that dialog basically amount to "flipping out."
posted by KirkJobSluder at 3:55 PM on February 27, 2006


The purpose of the Smedleyman is to flip out and kill nihilists.
posted by Sparx at 4:59 PM on February 27, 2006


"But your response to attempts to engage in that dialog basically amount to "flipping out." " - posted by KirkJobSluder

“I didn't say as such.”

Dude/dudette - whatever. It was meant as loosely as you meant your joke. I didn’t hold you to your assertion that all philosophers suffer from disposophobia.
(A philosopher can make do without the trashcan.)

“...it is possible to be critical of big ontological questions like "what is the meaning of life," but believe that ethics is possible...”

Yet its hard to criticise big ontological questions without the intitial recognition that they exist. Which could be the hold up. I’m just saying it’s out there. Not asserting the subject itself as valid which is a whole other argument.

“But to answer the question:
1: I don't think that skepticism about the "meaning of life" always equates to nihilism.
2: I don't like the charicterization of materialism as just eating, shitting, etc..
3: I think the mind-body problem takes too much for granted (namely, does mind or consiousness exist as a unary phenomena.)”

Yeah, I’ll change my whole life based on that answer now. Thanks for your wisdom. Did I mention the whole ‘matter of taste’ thing?

“The mere fact that someone has published a volume on Quantum Mechanics and Consiousness does not mean that he or she understands either.”

Yes, let’s invalidate all knowlege derived from published works. Because it’s the mere fact someone publishes something does not mean that they understand the subject.
Wha?
No shit it doesn’t mean that Mr. Condescention. Gosh, never occured to me someone might publish something without fully understanding the subject.
Gee, do you think that just because someone posts something on teh internets the same holds true?
Perhaps I was introducing it as a concept - the concept itself not the validity of the subject matter....oh, yeah, you have a hard time with that one, don’t you.
So does anyone then understand quantum physics and/or consciousness?
Can any form of such knowlege then be transmitted? What form would it take (certainly not book learnin’!)?
Does posting a book on the subject and a skeptical inquirer site with a quote in the lead: “Quantum physics is claimed to support the mystical notion that the mind creates reality. However, an objective reality, with no special role for consciousness, human or cosmic, is consistent with all observations.” - confuse you?

But wait let’s go back to what you said: “ I don't think that skepticism about the "meaning of life" always equates to nihilism.”
Is that the end all be all on the subject? There can be no discussion of what constitutes meaning, what we mean by “meaning of life” ?

Oh, contraire - if I said that I would be as much of an asshole as someone who when repeatedly told that something looks a certain way to them - say “nihilism” because of the apparent direction the sentence is going but is then told that it is in fact not “nihilism” because of other factors to the contrary (an explicit statement being one of those factors) - that I again addressed the issue and felt compelled to refute an assertion never made.

Yeah, I didn’t say it was nihilism. I said it looked that way. And I conceded it wasn’t and took your word that it wasn’t what was meant. And I’ve said that a number of times now I think. And apologized.
Yeah. Fuck, I must be totally misreading you.

“It amuses me that you apoligize for flipping out while still flipping out.”

Hey that’s great, but really, I suppose my assertion that my stuff isn’t read falls short in light of my posted apology and the utter lack to address that.

I mean, I apologized, I recognized I was out of line, and you persist - exactly what the fuck is it you want from me?
Apart from irritating me for your amusement.

Yeah, real conducive climate for me to engage in a dialogue there. I’m totally motivated to be engaged.

“Some people in their lives derive different questions and seek answers in different methods than you or I. I allow for that, and have explicitly stated so.” -Smed
“Well here is where I see another point of disagreement.” -KJS

Ok. I’m not seeing how anyone can disagree with that. So no one has different methods of thinking? There aren’t different modalities of thought? Or personal experiance isn’t a valid thing to seek questions on?
...Forget I asked. I don’t really care. You don’t seem all that interested in debating anything, most of your comments are

“I think we come from different theories and methods, and I'm interested in developing some dialog around this...”

Yeah, I’d rather not. I pointed out that I think debate concerning non-empirical knowlege is in some respects a matter of taste. I alluded to liking Led Zepplin and implied debate on that would be just as fruitful.
Either you’re not getting it or you’re just trying to win the argument; maybe it’s totally my fault (although that’s not good enough either apparently), or I’m miscommunicating my points, whatever.
It’s like shooting pool with a rope from my perspective - or perhaps that’s wrong too.
posted by Smedleyman at 5:15 PM on February 27, 2006


And clearly my irritation is interfering with my ability to make cogent arguments and write clearly.

Either way, my central point has not been addressed. I’ll take that as a concession.
posted by Smedleyman at 5:25 PM on February 27, 2006


Fuck your God in the ass.

I can always recognize a Smedleyman post right off the bat, and I mean that in the best possible way.

*sniff* I ... love you, man. *sniff*
posted by Amanojaku at 5:53 PM on February 27, 2006


I think the only way to make Creationists go away is to ignore them kill and eat them. Nothing else has or will work.

Right. Eating them makes the whole "bodily resurrection" thing much ... messier.
posted by Amanojaku at 6:04 PM on February 27, 2006


Smedlyman: Yet its hard to criticise big ontological questions without the intitial recognition that they exist. Which could be the hold up. I’m just saying it’s out there. Not asserting the subject itself as valid which is a whole other argument.

What is that question? Why do you think it is important? How do you propose about answering that question?

Yeah, I’ll change my whole life based on that answer now. Thanks for your wisdom. Did I mention the whole ‘matter of taste’ thing?

The point of answering your questions was not to change your life, the point was to try to clarify what we agree and disagree about.

We both seem to agree that there are multiple ways to build knowledge. We seem to disagree on some other issues.

Hey that’s great, but really, I suppose my assertion that my stuff isn’t read falls short in light of my posted apology and the utter lack to address that.

I guess in my opinion it is pointless to give an apology for a behavior, and then continue that behavior.

Ok. I’m not seeing how anyone can disagree with that. So no one has different methods of thinking? There aren’t different modalities of thought? Or personal experiance isn’t a valid thing to seek questions on?

Well, the disagreement is not that there are different methods of thinking. But that you complain about the discussion being driven by one modality, and then flip out when someone attempts to shift the debate to what a dialog between those modalities might look like.

If your central point is that there is more to knowledge than just empirical claims using the scientific method, I conceded that a while back. It just seems that you are making some other claims along with that, which is where I want to engage in dialogue.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 6:14 PM on February 27, 2006


Tired, tired of the flying spaghetti monster.

It's one thing to be critical of another's religion but like the discordians, making a religion out of nothing but spite for another, even in jest, is pathetic.
posted by 517 at 6:37 PM on February 27, 2006


“What is that question? Why do you think it is important? How do you propose about answering that question?”

*sigh* The point is: there are forms of A Priori knowlege which have to do with these kinds of questions.
To reiterate, I don’t want to get into what questions (you’ve stated one ontological one re: the meaning of life), I think for purposes of this discussion the only thing important about them is that they exist and I have no desire to discuss propositions on answering any of them as each one is a gigantic topic from both the subject matter and methodologies.
I’m just saying: class “X” of questions exist from a non-empirically derived basis - sometimes they’re useful. That’s it.
And that’s just a componant of what I asserted, not even the main point.


“...you complain about the discussion being driven by one modality, and then flip out when someone attempts to shift the debate to what a dialog between those modalities might look like...”

Ah. Might be one part of the hang up. 1 - modalities within A priori knowlege - ok. Between a priori and a postori knowlge - whole other question/ ball of wax/ etc. /Thought I pointed that out tho, very much in favor of the need to teach and transmit nearly exlusively a postori knowlege - the exceptions being methodologies like logic, aspects of math, etc.

But this flipping out when someone attempts to shift the dialog - uh, yeah. ‘Cause I am just talking about there being more than one form of knowlege and that’s pretty much it. End of story. Everything else I said was (for purposes here) window dressing to deliver that point.

“I guess in my opinion it is pointless to give an apology for a behavior, and then continue that behavior.”

I guess in my opinion it is pointless to apologise when the behavior is harped on after one is made.

“If your central point is that there is more to knowledge than just empirical claims using the scientific method, I conceded that a while back.”

Then I missed that. And thank you.

“It just seems that you are making some other claims along with that, which is where I want to engage in dialogue.”

Seeing as how those claims are informal - as in just being a guy* typing away on the internet right now, and the central point was the main idea I’m not seeing how that would be productive.
* a guy with very little sleep behind him to enable any reasonable degree of cogency.

Especially since I believe I said I wasn’t interested in getting into those details somewhat flippant and haphazard as they were, and pretty much just for sake of illustration of the main idea.
I also believe at some point I may have expressed some irritation with being asked to do so.
Perhaps I was too subtle.

The desire not to engage doesn’t imply I’m not interested in the topic or that you are somehow inferior in reason or beneath my notice (snarky earlier claims to the contrary) I am just not up for doing it properly. I couldn’t do justice to the topic.

I’m not the mood, for example, to play chess for any kind of stakes right now either.
Wit is is currently easier than reason or attention to detail.
So you get this sort of reflexive expression of one aspect of my philosophy which is to answer when earnestly addressed.
Speaks volumes I should think.
posted by Smedleyman at 7:02 PM on February 27, 2006


It's one thing to be critical of another's religion but like the discordians, making a religion out of nothing but spite for another, even in jest, is pathetic.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us
posted by fleetmouse at 7:26 PM on February 27, 2006



posted by zarah at 7:35 PM on February 27, 2006


If the topic was merely about 'drug resistant strains of bacteria', I don't know ANY christian who would object.


A Parable:
Suppose a man walks up to you and says "I'm a billionaire."
You say "Prove it."
He says "ok", and he points across the street at a bank. "My money is in that bank there." (The bank is closed.)
You say "What does that prove?"
He says "Everyone knows banks have money in them"
You say "I know there is money in the bank, but why should I believe that it's YOUR money?"
"Because it's GREEN" he says.
"What else can you show me?"

He reaches in his pocket and pulls out a penny. "See -- I'm a billionaire."
You're still skeptical. 'What does that prove?', you ask.
"I'M A BILLIONAIRE" he states loudly (obviously annoyed that you would question him). He reaches in another pocket and pulls out another penny, "Do you believe me now?"

Mitrovarr

Expanding on Bevet's analogy of the billionaire, I would say that the proponents of evolution have shown him the bank statement, the yacht, the mansion, and the newspaper article showing his position among the world's richest men (including his net worth.) Bevets refuses to believe them until they can produce, and count, one billion dollar bills in front of him; despite the obvious absurdity of actually doing that.

bevets

Please tell me more about the 'yacht' and 'mansion'.

Mitrovarr

All right. We've shown you we can force microevolution in the laboratory. We've shown you it happens in nature on human timescales. We've shown you fossils of transitionary forms, and transitionary forms that are still alive. We've shown you vestigial organs which make no sense in terms of divine construction and all kinds of sense in terms of evolution. We've shown you genetic evidence, which shows that similar forms are usually close in terms of DNA, even in unexpressed DNA and genetic drift. We've shown you the molecular biological methods by which genes change randomly, by which they change position, and by which they recombine in new patterns. We've shown you genetic vestigial evidence, such as the human's non-functional (but still very much present) vitamin C synthesis pathway. And we've shown you evidence of alternate genetic pathways, such as horizonal gene transfers, plasmids, endosymbiosis, and others.

And yet, despite ALL of this, you refuse to believe it, because we cannot show you macroevolution in progress RIGHT NOW. Well, I'm sorry, but you're asking for a video of the continents drifting. You're asking to watch protons decay before your very eyes. We cannot show you a video of something that happens over timescales far longer than video cameras have been invented, and often longer than humanity has existed. Well, that still doesn't give you justification to ignore all the indirect evidence, not when you accept it for other things. And I know you do, because you're talking to me, and you have only indirect evidence that any of us exist.



Atheists assume humans evolved from a single common ancestor (which, itself, evolved miraculously from chemicals). Humans are far more complex than this hypothetical single common ancestor. This gigantic leap in complexity demands an explanation greater than fluctuations in a peppered moth population. These are mere pennies in the Billionaire Boasting of evolutionism. Single Common Ancestor and Historic Macro Evolution are, by definition, impossible to observe. Atheists take it on faith that micromutations add up to macromutations which account for the entire history of life. What they can never demonstrate, they seek to excuse, diminish, and obscure. As a Christian, I openly admit that my primary source of knowledge is the Word of God. Atheists would like to think of this as a weakness, but I think I share good company.


Nothing is to be accepted save on the authority of Scripture, since greater is that authority than all the powers of the human mind. ~ Augustine's Commentary on the Book of Genesis
posted by bevets at 7:58 PM on February 27, 2006


Nothing is to be accepted save on the authority of Scripture, since greater is that authority than all the powers of the human mind. ~ Augustine's Commentary on the Book of Genesis
posted by bevets at 9:58 PM CST on February 27 [!]


Oh, so you're saying that no evidence, no matter how compelling, complete, or convincing, could change your mind because you've already been instructed by a MAGIC BOOK. There could never, ever, ever, under any circumstances, be enough proof to show you that Genesis is wrong, right?

Great. Good to know. Now go shut the fuck up. You don't belong here. In fact you don't belong anywhere. You are obsolete, an artifact. You are a pathetic, weak minded fool. You are obtuse, ignorant, and jubilant about it.

You are an embarrassment to those on both sides of the argument. Born a century too late. How does it feel to be so perpetually out of step and incorrect about everything?

You are a moron. And deserving of no pity, as you embrace, even celebrate, your idiocy.
posted by Ynoxas at 8:26 PM on February 27, 2006


bevets, you're starting with an apriori assumption and working backwards towards the outcome you already "know" to be true. This is not the way science gets done (as you probably know but won't make explicit) - The way science gets done is to start from a position of relative ignorance, make observations that can be replicated, form best-fit theories to organize those observations, test the validity of logical deductions from those best-fit theories and then change the theories as new repeatable observations become available. You only approach absolute knowledge - you never get there. By definition, your approach of taking your scripture as absolute knowledge is non-science. apples and oranges here which cannot be compared. In the light of this shared understanding of what science is (e.g., the building up of knowledge in the absense of revealed knowledge via the process of observation), you come across simply as a troll.
posted by sirvesa at 8:32 PM on February 27, 2006


bevets: This gigantic leap in complexity demands an explanation greater than fluctuations in a peppered moth population.

You completely fail to understand the evolutionary process. It is not a giant leap, and no one was every claiming it was a giant leap. It was a very, very slow slide from minimal complexity to greater complexity that required 4 billion years and an entire planetary surface. There were trillions of generations with population sizes orders of magnitude higher than trillions. With all those IMMENSE resources, micromutations did add up to human life. It could not have happened otherwise.

And yes, we have evidence of that. We have transitionary forms. If you examine those, we have a fairly smooth transition from microbial life to human life. Yes, there are a few pieces missing, but that is the nature of paleontology. Not every piece of a puzzle is necessary to figure out the shape it represents. If evolution is not true, than why do the fossils of the Archaeopteryx exist? What about the other transitionary forms? What of the proto-human remains that have been found? How do you explain those?

Also, you have things like vestigial organs and vestigial chemical pathways that make no sense otherwise. Why do whales have hipbones? Why do humans have a dysfunctional and useless vitamin C synthesis pathway? If you accept intelligent design, none of these features make any kind of sense; why would an intelligent designer (a perfect one, no less) include useless features from similar creatures? Why create rock forms of creatures that appear intermediate between modern ones? Why make genetic patterns from similar species more similar than dissimilar ones, including in the DNA that is unexpressed or does not change anything?

All of those things don't make any sense at all with regard to religion, unless you take some pathetic dodge like the classic 'God made those things to test our faith.' Well, if that's what you believe, you believe in a matrix-world; a world in some all-powerful entity arranges things so that empirical observation has no validity in belief-forming processes. If you believe that, then you have no excuse to be religious; the bible could just as easily have been placed to test your faith, a test you have failed. Or, perhaps food was the test, and you are angering God by eating. You really can't tell, because in that kind of belief-forming process there'se no way to tell anything and solipsism is the only honest result. And if it's not what you believe, then, I want to hear why you think those things are true. Because I don't know of any other religious ways to explain it.

Nothing is to be accepted save on the authority of Scripture, since greater is that authority than all the powers of the human mind. ~ Augustine's Commentary on the Book of Genesis

Do you really believe this? If you do, then I'd better not ever be seeing you open doors, or eat, because the existance of any specific door or food item is not in scripture. If you won't accept evolution because it's not in the bible, then you'd better not accept that. If you're willing to accept the things you see, then you should understand that evolution is just the long-term permutation of that concept. If you aren't, then I'd better be seeing you crash into walls until you starve to death.
posted by Mitrovarr at 8:58 PM on February 27, 2006


sirvesa

bevets, you're starting with an apriori assumption and working backwards towards the outcome you already "know" to be true. This is not the way science gets done (as you probably know but won't make explicit) - The way science gets done is to start from a position of relative ignorance, make observations that can be replicated, form best-fit theories to organize those observations, test the validity of logical deductions from those best-fit theories and then change the theories as new repeatable observations become available.

I have stated several times that I am not addressing science, I am addressing evolutionism.


There can be no observations without an immense apparatus of preexisting theory. Before sense experiences become "observations" we need a theoretical question, and what counts as a relevant observation depends upon a theoretical frame into which it is to be placed. Repeatable observations that do not fit into an existing frame have a way of disappearing from view, and the experiments that produced them are not revisited. ~ Richard Lewontin

My argument will be that Darwinism is the only known theory that is in principle capable of explaining certain aspects of life. If I am right it means that, even if there were no actual evidence in favour of Darwinian theory... we should still be justified in preferring it over all rival theories. ~ Richard Dawkins

The modern seeker refuses to accept any explanation which involves the action of a supernatural agent, even as a last resort. ~ Arthur Keith

We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is an absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door. ~ Richard Lewontin
posted by bevets at 8:59 PM on February 27, 2006


Can you form more than a single sentence in your own words? Serious question.

Bonus points for coherence.
posted by uncle harold at 11:43 PM on February 27, 2006


As a Christian, I openly admit that my primary source of knowledge is the Word of God.

If you don't know the first thing about science maybe you should shut the fuck up for once in your pointless, miserable life.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 7:33 AM on February 28, 2006


P.S. Oh man look at how good these threads get when you post the same shit over and over bevets you are a credit to MetaFilter and Christianity for your honest and well-supported dialogue
posted by Optimus Chyme at 7:34 AM on February 28, 2006


A facility for quotation covers the absence of original thought. - Dorothy L. Sayers
posted by quantumetric at 8:29 AM on February 28, 2006


Evolution debates are of the most odious and noxious events. But Yeshua, bevets found a way to make them an order of magnitude more so.
posted by Captaintripps at 8:42 AM on February 28, 2006


It's one thing to be critical of another's religion but like the discordians, making a religion out of nothing but spite for another, even in jest, is pathetic.

You mean like, oh, I don't know, Protestantism for example?
posted by anomie at 10:29 AM on February 28, 2006


George_Spiggott

Thus far we've learned that bevets speaks for all christians, and speaks in parables. There can be little doubt remaining as to who bevets imagines he is.

fandango_matt

When I'm bored, I like to call the local liberal radio talk show, inhale a bunch of helium, and read bevets' posts on-air.

Smedleyman

Optimus Chyme


If you don't know the first thing about science maybe you should shut the fuck up for once in your pointless, miserable life.

When you have no basis for an argument, abuse the plaintiff. ~ Cicero

Note to the unbiased: If evolutionists had better arguments, I suspect they would use them. The poverty of their position leaves them only with ridicule, uncivility, and politics.
posted by bevets at 11:41 AM on February 28, 2006


At the least they have arguments.
posted by Captaintripps at 12:12 PM on February 28, 2006


politics

Ahahahahah, now if that isn't the pot calling the kettle black then I don't know what is.


posted by darukaru at 12:26 PM on February 28, 2006


Note to the unbiased: If evolutionists had better arguments, I suspect they would use them. The poverty of their position leaves them only with ridicule, uncivility, and politics.
posted by bevets at 11:41 AM PST on February 28


We wouldn't abuse you if you weren't crimninally retarded.

posted by Optimus Chyme at 2:00 PM on February 28, 2006


“If evolutionists had better arguments, I suspect they would use them.” - bevets

I’ve re-read this entire thread and in no place do I see even an attempt on your part to refute anything concerning the nature of knowlege, or any epistomological point I’ve raised, or even anything I’ve said, except for that comment.

How exactly does one teach and test on non-repeatable, non-individually verifiable knowlege other than by rote - (which is not only a poor way to learn but the subject matter itself is subject to debate whereas independantly verifiable knowlege is not)?

And my abuse of you and your “God” is based on your aggression in attempting to co-opt the debate on any other faith system or any a priori knowlege system by asserting Christian faith in opposition to materialist (athiest/evolutionist by your terms) arguments.

Your statements assume Christianity is not only the one true religion, but the only way to derive a priori knowlege. That really pisses me off.
You might as well state: You are such a complete shithead, Smedleyman, you will believe “X”.
Then wonder why I answer acrimoniously.

Care to continue with the passive/agressive stance? Or do you want to do some homework and give me a legitimate answer?
posted by Smedleyman at 8:27 AM on March 1, 2006


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