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(Slate)   Phil the not so Bad Astronomer makes great points in the Bill Nye vs the Creationist guy debate meeting thing   (slate.com ) divider line
    More: Spiffy, Phil Plait, innovations, teaching of evolution, countries by population, Death from the Skies, Bad Astronomy, Newton's law  
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6021 clicks; posted to Geek » on 06 Feb 2014 at 6:03 AM (2 years ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2014-02-05 11:37:46 PM  
Fair points. I don't have strong views on this, but I feel like I should.
 
2014-02-05 11:46:15 PM  
Nice article. It's what I've been saying for years: scientists need a "face"
 
2014-02-05 11:50:46 PM  
Your face needs a scientist.
 
2014-02-05 11:51:54 PM  
I think he summed it up well.  I didn't watch the whole debate, but in the portions I did see Nye came across as an educator much more than an antagonist.

While I'm sure it must have been tempting to just completely demolish and ridicule Ham, I appreciate Nye's restraint.  Deconstructing wrong ideas and educating on the real science without attacking the core belief system seems like the best tactic.

Ham wasn't going to convince anyone who understands evolution that literal creationism is correct, but if Nye managed to plant the seed of curiosity in just a handful of viewers, he won.
 
2014-02-05 11:58:46 PM  
Here' s the problem: without Eden there is no apple, Adam or Eve. Without those, no original sin, no need for Jesus. So evolution says Christianity can't be true, unless Adam and Eve were just some hairy proto-humans.
 
2014-02-06 12:00:07 AM  

EvilEgg: Here' s the problem: without Eden there is no apple, Adam or Eve. Without those, no original sin, no need for Jesus. So evolution says Christianity can't be true, unless Adam and Eve were just some hairy proto-humans.


Christianity of course can't be true in any meaningful way if evolution is true. This isn't new.
 
2014-02-06 12:04:10 AM  

doglover: Nice article. It's what I've been saying for years: scientists need a "face"


I think that's why I miss Carl Segan- he was an awesom face for science.
Bill Nye should get out there and go forth.'

But here's the real kicker- there is such anti science movement in this county right now. It's being screemed down weekly in our churches. Budgets are being cut for education. Some how we've wanting to become stupid.

I'm blaming Adam Sandler
 
2014-02-06 12:08:22 AM  

Darth_Lukecash: doglover: Nice article. It's what I've been saying for years: scientists need a "face"

I think that's why I miss Carl Segan- he was an awesom face for science.
Bill Nye should get out there and go forth.'

But here's the real kicker- there is such anti science movement in this county right now. It's being screemed down weekly in our churches. Budgets are being cut for education. Some how we've wanting to become stupid.

I'm blaming Adam Sandler


And I blame scientists.

I went for a physics degree my first years in college. I had to drop out. Years and years of As in grade school science and evening community college science courses, 12 credits' worth of AP tests, and a lifetime love of it and I had to quit.

Why? Science majors are just awful people to be around.
 
2014-02-06 12:11:17 AM  

EvilEgg: Here' s the problem: without Eden there is no apple, Adam or Eve. Without those, no original sin, no need for Jesus. So evolution says Christianity can't be true, unless Adam and Eve were just some hairy proto-humans.


Of course it's not true. But it doesn't have to be true. People will still believe it. That's the power of a meme.
 
2014-02-06 12:11:18 AM  

EvilEgg: Here' s the problem: without Eden there is no apple, Adam or Eve. Without those, no original sin, no need for Jesus. So evolution says Christianity can't be true, unless Adam and Eve were just some hairy proto-humans.


Or you can do what the Jews and Catholics say: it's symbolic. A lesson that needs to be tought.
 
2014-02-06 12:11:23 AM  

doglover: Nice article. It's what I've been saying for years: scientists need a "face"


I have high hopes for DeGrasse Tyson and "Cosmos"
 
2014-02-06 12:12:26 AM  
I suspect that what's wrong is our messaging.

pocketcultures.com

Who was the face of science in all these other countries?
 
2014-02-06 12:16:23 AM  

EvilEgg: Here' s the problem: without Eden there is no apple, Adam or Eve. Without those, no original sin, no need for Jesus. So evolution says Christianity can't be true, unless Adam and Eve were just some hairy proto-humans.


Evolution contradicts a literal interpretation of the bible.  Accepting the much of the bible, especially the Old Testament as allegory removes that problem.
 
2014-02-06 12:22:07 AM  

doglover: Darth_Lukecash: doglover: Nice article. It's what I've been saying for years: scientists need a "face"

I think that's why I miss Carl Segan- he was an awesom face for science.
Bill Nye should get out there and go forth.'

But here's the real kicker- there is such anti science movement in this county right now. It's being screemed down weekly in our churches. Budgets are being cut for education. Some how we've wanting to become stupid.

I'm blaming Adam Sandler

And I blame scientists.

I went for a physics degree my first years in college. I had to drop out. Years and years of As in grade school science and evening community college science courses, 12 credits' worth of AP tests, and a lifetime love of it and I had to quit.

Why? Science majors are just awful people to be around.


Sorry to hear that. It sucks when other people ruin it for you.

If there's any consolation, my brother is an electrical engineer and he has his pompous moments.
 
2014-02-06 12:42:45 AM  
The case for evolution is compelling, and anyone who thinks otherwise is not a reasonable person. It is that simple. All creationist/IDers offer is mythology, a story, they have no credible evidence to back up with. Mr. Ham was very OK with accepting the science that meshes with his world view, and completely discarded the rest.

Our civilization as a whole, depends on our understanding of science. There can be no forward progress for our species otherwise. So when you A: Don't value science. B: Discredit science by discarding the bits you don't agree with whether it be anti-GMO BS/evolution/or climate science. Well then you are a threat to civilization as we know it. All the technology we know and love simply could not exist without an understanding of science, and when you say that you'll only agree with this part of science you make that that a very acceptable world view. Then people vote in Texas and everyone's learning that the world is 4,000-6,000 years old.

As for creationist/IDers. The biggest flaw in their whole argument besides a lack of evidence is that this is the only idea that fits. No, it isn't. If you believe like I do that the bible is fiction at worst, then you believe that there are so many more imaginative and creative ideas that could be had that could be just as wrong or right depending on what people believe. None of such ideas are worth a damn without evidence though.

I mean it can be just as true that beyond or scope of seeing, since we can only see the universe from our corner of the solar system called the milky way that there are giant turtles which all of the universe is balanced on. It would be just as true as anything creationist/IDers have to offer because again there is no proof.
 
2014-02-06 12:47:34 AM  
Also, now for a round of charts about Americans an evolution just because!

static3.businessinsider.com

static4.businessinsider.com

static4.businessinsider.com
 
2014-02-06 12:54:40 AM  
Let me be clear since I'm not sure I was above. When you are Anti-climate science, anti-vaccines, anti-GMO's, anti-evolution you are a threat to civilization as we know it. As Bill Nye said, the United States needs to innovate and we do that by investing in science. We can't do that if people mistrust the scientific data that is there plainly like Mr. Ham. Then science is a liberal agenda, and there is no way Mr. Texas is gonna put his taxpayers toward no liberal science!

Well, you get my drift. I forgot to add the anti part to climate science above, thus the clarification.
 
2014-02-06 12:58:10 AM  
Also, one last point. Why is this posted in the geek section? Science is something that effects us all, nerds or otherwise. No science = no smart phone with angry birds, no Apple Computers, etc. I can't stress it enough, our scientific understanding is the linchpin to all that our civilization has accomplished. We collapse into darkness and superstition otherwise.
 
2014-02-06 01:07:07 AM  
The question about the origins of the world and of man has been the object of many scientific studies which have splendidly enriched our knowledge of the age and dimensions of the cosmos, the development of life-forms and the appearance of man. These discoveries invite us to even greater admiration for the greatness of the Creator, prompting us to give him thanks for all his works and for the understanding and wisdom he gives to scholars and researchers. With Solomon they can say: "It is he who gave me unerring knowledge of what exists, to know the structure of the world and the activity of the elements. . . for wisdom, the fashioner of all things, taught me." - Catechism of the Catholic Church, para 283.
 
2014-02-06 01:09:09 AM  

doglover: Darth_Lukecash: doglover: Nice article. It's what I've been saying for years: scientists need a "face"

I think that's why I miss Carl Segan- he was an awesom face for science.
Bill Nye should get out there and go forth.'

But here's the real kicker- there is such anti science movement in this county right now. It's being screemed down weekly in our churches. Budgets are being cut for education. Some how we've wanting to become stupid.

I'm blaming Adam Sandler

And I blame scientists.

I went for a physics degree my first years in college. I had to drop out. Years and years of As in grade school science and evening community college science courses, 12 credits' worth of AP tests, and a lifetime love of it and I had to quit.

Why? Science majors are just awful people to be around.


That's a pretty broad brush when your experience is with physics majors at one school. Obviously all science majors are asses though.
 
2014-02-06 01:14:23 AM  

bbfreak: Also, now for a round of charts about Americans an evolution just because!

[static3.businessinsider.com image 420x259]

[static4.businessinsider.com image 309x536]

[static4.businessinsider.com image 420x486]


That third one is veeeeery interesting. Why is it so much easier for a least a few people (well, 3% of adult Amercans isn't exactly a few) to believe that animals have evolved, but not people?

Is it the fact that humans are more intelligent than animals, and it's more difficult for people to believe that human-level intelligence evolved from less intelligent species, or is it that humans are more egotistical (okay, pun intended, but it works both ways).
 
2014-02-06 01:20:05 AM  

doglover: Darth_Lukecash: doglover: Nice article. It's what I've been saying for years: scientists need a "face"

I think that's why I miss Carl Segan- he was an awesom face for science.
Bill Nye should get out there and go forth.'

But here's the real kicker- there is such anti science movement in this county right now. It's being screemed down weekly in our churches. Budgets are being cut for education. Some how we've wanting to become stupid.

I'm blaming Adam Sandler

And I blame scientists.

I went for a physics degree my first years in college. I had to drop out. Years and years of As in grade school science and evening community college science courses, 12 credits' worth of AP tests, and a lifetime love of it and I had to quit.

Why? Science majors are just awful people to be around.


Care to elaborate, or are you just trolling a geek thread?
 
2014-02-06 01:23:38 AM  

Darth_Lukecash: EvilEgg: Here' s the problem: without Eden there is no apple, Adam or Eve. Without those, no original sin, no need for Jesus. So evolution says Christianity can't be true, unless Adam and Eve were just some hairy proto-humans.

Or you can do what the Jews and Catholics say: it's symbolic. A lesson that needs to be tought.


No. The problem is that there are far too many people who need absolute true and false answers to everything. Telling them that their holy texts are merely stories of how to live a moral life won't fly.

Example:

The meaning of life. I could try and explain that we all need to find our own meanings, but in the mean time the type of people who are the problem have already signed up with whatever cult-of-the-week is willing to tell them that God has a plan, and it involves voting Republican and watching Fox News. For the more intellectual among them (but not too much!) it will instead involve voting Republican while looking down on their fellow Republicans as white trash, etc. and reading the Wall Street Journal.

Long story short: dumb, insecure people want certainty. Conservatism offers that in ways that liberalism never will.
 
2014-02-06 01:41:46 AM  

Mitch Taylor's Bro: doglover: Darth_Lukecash: doglover: Nice article. It's what I've been saying for years: scientists need a "face"

I think that's why I miss Carl Segan- he was an awesom face for science.
Bill Nye should get out there and go forth.'

But here's the real kicker- there is such anti science movement in this county right now. It's being screemed down weekly in our churches. Budgets are being cut for education. Some how we've wanting to become stupid.

I'm blaming Adam Sandler

And I blame scientists.

I went for a physics degree my first years in college. I had to drop out. Years and years of As in grade school science and evening community college science courses, 12 credits' worth of AP tests, and a lifetime love of it and I had to quit.

Why? Science majors are just awful people to be around.

Care to elaborate, or are you just trolling a geek thread?


It's hard to put into words but there's just a cultural malaise around most science departments.

Basically, Feynman wasn't a very charismatic guy but he seems like Casanova of Los Almos because compared to other nuclear physicists he's all that and a bag of chips.

There's just this stuffiness and lack of creativity that's pervasive. Some very, very, very smart people just aren't fun. What can I say?
 
2014-02-06 01:45:08 AM  

ox45tallboy: Why is it so much easier for a least a few people (well, 3% of adult Amercans isn't exactly a few) to believe that animals have evolved, but not people?


for a lot of people, it's difficult to think of themselves as an animal.

/once you put life into context, that you are an ape, interacting with other apes, it all starts to make more sense.
 
2014-02-06 01:47:41 AM  

TuteTibiImperes: Accepting the much of the bible, especially the Old Testament as allegory removes that problem.

 
By what metric does one determine what is allegory and what is history? By what metric are disagreements about such things resolved (e.g. True Christian A believes this part to be allegorical and that part to be historical fact to be interpreted literally, while True Christian B believes the opposite)?


Right now, it seems like the metric for a lot of people is basically, "If it has been disproved by science, then it is clearly allegorical. Otherwise, if it feels nice and right to me, then it's literal, and if it feels wrong or is indefensible then it is allegorical."

Not exactly the best system for determining how the world works, though I'm sure it provides great comfort to individual believers.
 
2014-02-06 01:52:38 AM  

nmrsnr: doglover: Nice article. It's what I've been saying for years: scientists need a "face"

I have high hopes for DeGrasse Tyson and "Cosmos"


I want to like NdGT, but I feel he lacks the modesty Sagan had.

Sagan was constantly talking about the wonder of science; the fascination of discovery and humbled by the awareness of what we have yet to learn.

NdGT strikes me as having none of those qualities and seems arrogant -like a know-it-all scientist.

/not trying to take anything away from his credentials -just his personality.
 
2014-02-06 01:56:10 AM  

doglover: Mitch Taylor's Bro: doglover: Darth_Lukecash: doglover: Nice article. It's what I've been saying for years: scientists need a "face"

I think that's why I miss Carl Segan- he was an awesom face for science.
Bill Nye should get out there and go forth.'

But here's the real kicker- there is such anti science movement in this county right now. It's being screemed down weekly in our churches. Budgets are being cut for education. Some how we've wanting to become stupid.

I'm blaming Adam Sandler

And I blame scientists.

I went for a physics degree my first years in college. I had to drop out. Years and years of As in grade school science and evening community college science courses, 12 credits' worth of AP tests, and a lifetime love of it and I had to quit.

Why? Science majors are just awful people to be around.

Care to elaborate, or are you just trolling a geek thread?

It's hard to put into words but there's just a cultural malaise around most science departments.

Basically, Feynman wasn't a very charismatic guy but he seems like Casanova of Los Almos because compared to other nuclear physicists he's all that and a bag of chips.

There's just this stuffiness and lack of creativity that's pervasive. Some very, very, very smart people just aren't fun. What can I say?


Science departments lack creativity? Okay, now I know you're full of shiat and just pulling crap out of your ass. Scientists are some of the most creative people in the world.
 
2014-02-06 01:57:17 AM  

log_jammin: for a lot of people, it's difficult to think of themselves as an animal.

/once you put life into context, that you are an ape, interacting with other apes, it all starts to make more sense.


I can understand their reluctance to thinking of themselves as an ape, but why would it be so bad to have evolved from a proto-ape? And why is easier to believe that the ape-ape in the zoo evolved from a lesser (and less intelligent) pseudo-primate?
 
2014-02-06 02:01:01 AM  
Another big problem in America is science is billed as anti religion and vice versa.

If anyone actually bothered to practice their religion, they'd find that there's very little overlap, and usually when there is overlap religion and science agree.

Take David and Goliath.

A sling is a mechanical marvel that, in a skilled hand, can rival a bow or javilin in range and inflict fatal injuries THROUGH armor without a need for piercing the metal. Slingmen were valuable martial assests and few hundred Jews with "nothing but rocks" and the high ground held off an entire Roman legion for months. It's technology in a nutshell. At range, before crossbows, slings are the trump card.

So when David felled Goliath, it was pure technological domination and the underdog was Golaiath. David was tiny because he didn't need to be bugger. A metaphor for scientific progress.

At the same time, it's also a perfect religious parble. David trusted in god and god's teachings, ie improving yourself everyday and stepping up to defend your people. So, when God sent war to test him, he was an expert with the best weapon he knew and the courage to stand up for himself, and he passed the test.

As for creationism, other religions predate Genisis. QED. Not even St. Germain was a literallist.
 
2014-02-06 02:01:14 AM  

Frederick: nmrsnr: doglover: Nice article. It's what I've been saying for years: scientists need a "face"

I have high hopes for DeGrasse Tyson and "Cosmos"

I want to like NdGT, but I feel he lacks the modesty Sagan had.

Sagan was constantly talking about the wonder of science; the fascination of discovery and humbled by the awareness of what we have yet to learn.

NdGT strikes me as having none of those qualities and seems arrogant -like a know-it-all scientist.

/not trying to take anything away from his credentials -just his personality.


He's never come across like that to me. The YouTube videos I see all show him talking informally with people in unusual, non-classroom settings, like he just stopped for a minute to answer a question, and his answer was fascinating enough that other people around stopped to hear it. He also comes across as pretty entertaining, with a good sense of humor, especially when a scheduled guest cancels on TDS or Colbert and he's #1 on the speed dial.
 
2014-02-06 02:07:58 AM  

ox45tallboy: log_jammin: for a lot of people, it's difficult to think of themselves as an animal.

/once you put life into context, that you are an ape, interacting with other apes, it all starts to make more sense.

I can understand their reluctance to thinking of themselves as an ape, but why would it be so bad to have evolved from a proto-ape? And why is easier to believe that the ape-ape in the zoo evolved from a lesser (and less intelligent) pseudo-primate?


The problem that some would have in accepting evolution is that there is no universal directionality to it. The current crop of species aren't "better" than those in the past. This means that humanity isn't the goal of evolution, just a fairly unique collection of adaptations. Beetles could just as easily be said to be superior to primates, because beetles have the largest number of species and inhabit a bewildering number of niches. If some massive extinction event were to come along, no doubt some species of beetle would survive but primates, including humans, would be less likely to.
 
2014-02-06 02:13:52 AM  

ox45tallboy: I can understand their reluctance to thinking of themselves as an ape, but why would it be so bad to have evolved from a proto-ape? And why is easier to believe that the ape-ape in the zoo evolved from a lesser (and less intelligent) pseudo-primate?


I don't know. I think part of it might be that most people just don't understand how evolution even works. hell, I've even heard people say they think evolution means that at some point a gorilla gave birth to a human baby.
 
2014-02-06 02:23:23 AM  

verbal_jizm: The problem that some would have in accepting evolution is that there is no universal directionality to it. The current crop of species aren't "better" than those in the past. This means that humanity isn't the goal of evolution, just a fairly unique collection of adaptations. Beetles could just as easily be said to be superior to primates, because beetles have the largest number of species and inhabit a bewildering number of niches. If some massive extinction event were to come along, no doubt some species of beetle would survive but primates, including humans, would be less likely to.


There's also the fact that civilization, and for that matter, human-level intelligence, is kind of a new "experiment" as far as evolution is concerned, having only existed (as far as we know) for the past 10,000 years or so. We have no evidence that any other intelligent species or civilization existed at any point in Earth's, or for that matter, the Solar System's past.

What if it turns out that intelligence and civilization turn out not to be the best survival traits at some point in the future, whether that be through some natural phenomenon such as an asteroid impact, or through intelligence itself, and the desire for power (both physical power such as electricity, and the proclivity of society to have leaders who desire authority over others) leading us on a path to destruction of our habitable environment by way of pollution, or even global thermonuclear war? We've already spent several years last century at the point of "mutually assured destruction" with enough atomic weapons ready to fire that would destroy mankind and civilization as we know it. In what other species has that ever happened, or has that ever even been a possibility of happening?

Are we so sure intelligence and civilization are the best traits for survival of the species?
 
2014-02-06 02:26:19 AM  

ox45tallboy: Frederick: nmrsnr: doglover: Nice article. It's what I've been saying for years: scientists need a "face"

I have high hopes for DeGrasse Tyson and "Cosmos"

I want to like NdGT, but I feel he lacks the modesty Sagan had.

Sagan was constantly talking about the wonder of science; the fascination of discovery and humbled by the awareness of what we have yet to learn.

NdGT strikes me as having none of those qualities and seems arrogant -like a know-it-all scientist.

/not trying to take anything away from his credentials -just his personality.

He's never come across like that to me. The YouTube videos I see all show him talking informally with people in unusual, non-classroom settings, like he just stopped for a minute to answer a question, and his answer was fascinating enough that other people around stopped to hear it. He also comes across as pretty entertaining, with a good sense of humor, especially when a scheduled guest cancels on TDS or Colbert and he's #1 on the speed dial.


I guess that's good.  I've seen some of the youtube videos.  My first impressions of him were from Coasttocoastam, where he was also a regular guest.

So maybe it was that audience that got the worst of NdGT.  Also these appearances were much earlier in his career, so perhaps he's improved.

FWIW if the face of science were between Nye and dGT I'd accept Neil.
 
2014-02-06 02:26:40 AM  

Sid_6.7: Darth_Lukecash: EvilEgg: Here' s the problem: without Eden there is no apple, Adam or Eve. Without those, no original sin, no need for Jesus. So evolution says Christianity can't be true, unless Adam and Eve were just some hairy proto-humans.

Or you can do what the Jews and Catholics say: it's symbolic. A lesson that needs to be tought.

No. The problem is that there are far too many people who need absolute true and false answers to everything. Telling them that their holy texts are merely stories of how to live a moral life won't fly.

Example:

The meaning of life. I could try and explain that we all need to find our own meanings, but in the mean time the type of people who are the problem have already signed up with whatever cult-of-the-week is willing to tell them that God has a plan, and it involves voting Republican and watching Fox News. For the more intellectual among them (but not too much!) it will instead involve voting Republican while looking down on their fellow Republicans as white trash, etc. and reading the Wall Street Journal.

Long story short: dumb, insecure people want certainty. Conservatism offers that in ways that liberalism never will.


Conservatives have an innate discomfort with ambiguity and prefer things to be black and white. It's part of their brain structure.
 
2014-02-06 02:30:03 AM  

log_jammin: I don't know. I think part of it might be that most people just don't understand how evolution even works. hell, I've even heard people say they think evolution means that at some point a gorilla gave birth to a human baby.


I know where I first heard that. It wasn't science class.

It was Sunday School, where I was "taught" about "evolution" and the idiocy of those "scientists" that don't understand the only explanation that fits is that God did it, and we should be grateful for that and give thanks and praise to Jesus that we aren't in some godless Communist society that does not understand the Glory of God and his power that created man in His own image.

My older sister and her husband have BS degrees, and work in a scientific field for a biological research facility, and still don't believe in evolution. They've even taken their kids to Ken Ham's museum in Kentucky, and demanded the school respect their daughter's faith and reason and count her science questions correct when answered from the point of view of Young Earth Creationism.
 
2014-02-06 02:35:45 AM  

TuteTibiImperes: While I'm sure it must have been tempting to just completely demolish and ridicule Ham, I appreciate Nye's restraint.  Deconstructing wrong ideas and educating on the real science without attacking the core belief system seems like the best tactic.

Ham wasn't going to convince anyone who understands evolution that literal creationism is correct, but if Nye managed to plant the seed of curiosity in just a handful of viewers, he won.


I disagree. The single most important thing he could have done is tear down the idea that evolution and theism are inevitably at odds with each other. There is a long and rich tradition of scientists and philosophers within the church who believe that natural reason is a God-given gift, and that our capacity to reason augments our understanding of God and the Bible, rather than antagonizing it.

If you phrase the debate as "One of either Science or Religion must be wrong" then you're going to end up polarizing a lot of people on both sides. If you phrase it as, "Both Science and Religion can be right" you're going to people with a much more harmonious message. Past that, science has a very hard time undermining religion in the same way that religion has a very hard time undermining science. The basic belief structures underlying both are incompatible such that neither will be able to conclusively dominate the other.


EvilEgg: Here' s the problem: without Eden there is no apple, Adam or Eve. Without those, no original sin, no need for Jesus. So evolution says Christianity can't be true, unless Adam and Eve were just some hairy proto-humans.


DamnYankees: Christianity of course can't be true in any meaningful way if evolution is true. This isn't new.


There are a variety of widely-held interpretations of Christianity that are compatible with evolution. Fundamentally, evolution postulates a mechanism by which living things adapt and thrive, while creationism postulates a supreme being that has dominion over humanity. It is easy to see that 1) neither of these things are inherently contradictory and that 2) they don't even really speak to the same things. As I said in the above reply, there is a long tradition of Christian scholars using natural reason to augment our understanding of God, rather than assuming a prima facie contradiction is the end of the story.


TuteTibiImperes: Evolution contradicts a literal interpretation of the bible.  Accepting the much of the bible, especially the Old Testament as allegory removes that problem.


 Or, rather than applying a catchall interpretation like "It must all be allegory," people can realize that each individual book of the Bible represents a specific document written from a specific person to a specific group of people set in a specific historical context. As an analogy- Shakespeare wrote a lot of plays, which had many themes and many motivations. Reading the entire Old Testament as though it were all allegory would be like reading all of Shakespeare's plays as though they were comedies and then getting confused when everyone dies at the end. In reality there are comedies, tragedies, histories, dark comedies, etc. and each is trying to accomplish something different.


bbfreak: I mean it can be just as true that beyond or scope of seeing, since we can only see the universe from our corner of the solar system called the milky way that there are giant turtles which all of the universe is balanced on. It would be just as true as anything creationist/IDers have to offer because again there is no proof.


The issue is that both worldviews operate through entirely different modes of thought. Some people demand that only empirical evidence to establishes truth. Other people demand that only accurate Biblical interpretation to establishes truth.

However, most people lie somewhere in the middle. They accept that science teaches us things through empiricism and reasoning, and they also accept that spiritualism, holy texts, and tradition teaches us things through experience and wisdom. If you are demanding that people wholly reject one mode or the other then you are in a small minority.

The flip side to this is realizing that most people hold beliefs that are firmly grounded in empiricism, as well as beliefs that are firmly grounded in spiritualism, religion, and experience. The most empirical people I know still have weird superstitions around sports and the like, while the most spiritual people I know still have no problem with the vast majority of science or the scientific method in general.


bbfreak: No science = no smart phone with angry birds, no Apple Computers, etc. I can't stress it enough, our scientific understanding is the linchpin to all that our civilization has accomplished. We collapse into darkness and superstition otherwise.


Science as an institution has not existed for most of recorded history. Insistence upon empiricism as the only valid mode of thought (or claiming that it is retroactively responsible for all human advancement) is detrimental to your cause and to society in general.

You're also doing yourself a disservice by conflating modes of thought with social outcomes and philosophical rationalism.  To the first point, there are highly empirical societies that were full of 'darkness' (e.g. USSR), there are highly religious societies that were full of 'darkness' (e.g. Europe during the Crusades) and there are highly equivocal societies that were full of 'darkness' (e.g. the Mongol Empire). To the second point, people can be highly rational within their own modes, and two people using different modes can both be completely rational yet come to different conclusions. To a Biblical literalist, young-Earth creationism is the most logical explanation for where we are today.


ox45tallboy: That third one is veeeeery interesting. Why is it so much easier for a least a few people (well, 3% of adult Amercans isn't exactly a few) to believe that animals have evolved, but not people?

Is it the fact that humans are more intelligent than animals, and it's more difficult for people to believe that human-level intelligence evolved from less intelligent species, or is it that humans are more egotistical (okay, pun intended, but it works both ways).


I think it's easy for people to see a stark difference between humans and all other living things. It's also easy to see evolution in progress through various animals that are still alive (e.g. alligators->caimans, but there is no currently living proto-human that gives us a clearly recognizable human predecessor. If there were some funny looking people with hairy arms, low intelligence, and a predilection for moving on all fours, but not as primitive as chips or gorillas, it'd be a lot easier for people to see the missing links.
 
2014-02-06 02:36:13 AM  

Frederick: I guess that's good.  I've seen some of the youtube videos.  My first impressions of him were from Coasttocoastam, where he was also a regular guest.

So maybe it was that audience that got the worst of NdGT.  Also these appearances were much earlier in his career, so perhaps he's improved.

FWIW if the face of science were between Nye and dGT I'd accept Neil.


I'd honestly take either one. They're both talented in their own way, and they both have the ability to talk in a language ordinary people can understand without "talking down" to them. Nye is more of a "physical" scientist with chemistry and biology as his public face, and Tyson is more of a "theoretical" scientist with the astrophysics and the Planetarium.

Maybe they should go on tour as a tag team. Take on two Southern Republican Congress Critters at once.

/well, Neil might have a slight problem getting those kind of southerners to even listen to him...
 
2014-02-06 02:55:06 AM  

doglover: Mitch Taylor's Bro: doglover: Darth_Lukecash: doglover: Nice article. It's what I've been saying for years: scientists need a "face"

I think that's why I miss Carl Segan- he was an awesom face for science.
Bill Nye should get out there and go forth.'

But here's the real kicker- there is such anti science movement in this county right now. It's being screemed down weekly in our churches. Budgets are being cut for education. Some how we've wanting to become stupid.

I'm blaming Adam Sandler

And I blame scientists.

I went for a physics degree my first years in college. I had to drop out. Years and years of As in grade school science and evening community college science courses, 12 credits' worth of AP tests, and a lifetime love of it and I had to quit.

Why? Science majors are just awful people to be around.

Care to elaborate, or are you just trolling a geek thread?

It's hard to put into words but there's just a cultural malaise around most science departments.

Basically, Feynman wasn't a very charismatic guy but he seems like Casanova of Los Almos because compared to other nuclear physicists he's all that and a bag of chips.

There's just this stuffiness and lack of creativity that's pervasive. Some very, very, very smart people just aren't fun. What can I say?


So you study with the physicists and party with the social science majors ;-)
 
2014-02-06 02:57:36 AM  

Fubini: If you phrase the debate as "One of either Science or Religion must be wrong" then you're going to end up polarizing a lot of people on both sides. If you phrase it as, "Both Science and Religion can be right" you're going to people with a much more harmonious message. Past that, science has a very hard time undermining religion in the same way that religion has a very hard time undermining science. The basic belief structures underlying both are incompatible such that neither will be able to conclusively dominate the other.


I think you have an excellent point here, but I'd like to point out that this is the way the debate is being framed by the creationists. Having lived through the psychological hell of everything I was told to believe in by the people I loved the most being proven beyond any doubt to be absolutely, conclusively, without a doubt incorrect, it's not something I would wish on anybody. But that's the thing - those notions are being put into kids' minds when they are young on purpose so that it is that hellishly difficult and psychologically tormenting to take them out again.

You're right, but you can't blame the evolutionists for not getting a message through that science and religion are compatible, when the creationists are pounding the dichotomy into kids' heads. If both are taught in schools, they are invariably taught as diametrically opposite and competing "theories" and the kid is expected to "make up his own mind" about it, and there is never a "why not both".

Fubini: Or, rather than applying a catchall interpretation like "It must all be allegory," people can realize that each individual book of the Bible represents a specific document written from a specific person to a specific group of people set in a specific historical context. As an analogy- Shakespeare wrote a lot of plays, which had many themes and many motivations. Reading the entire Old Testament as though it were all allegory would be like reading all of Shakespeare's plays as though they were comedies and then getting confused when everyone dies at the end. In reality there are comedies, tragedies, histories, dark comedies, etc. and each is trying to accomplish something different.


I know what you're getting at here, but I'm not sure that even that is palatable to a good many people of Christian faith. My family truly believes with all their heart that Moses wrote the first books of the Old Testament (except for the account of his death, which was likely written by Aaron) and trying to explain that those books did not exist until the 8th Century BC when they were assembled from several differing accounts just makes them plug their ears and say "Na na na". They HAVE to believe that the Bible in its present form is hear because that is the book God "allowed" to be here, to guide them and their choices in their lives. I've tried explaining that I can't stomach Paul's advice because he was okay with human slavery, as long as Christians treated their slaves okay, and their answer was that slavery must therefore be okay in some forms, because otherwise God wouldn't have allowed that message to come into the Bible.

Fubini: The most empirical people I know still have weird superstitions around sports and the like, while the most spiritual people I know still have no problem with the vast majority of science or the scientific method in general.


I don't have anything to add, just thought this was an excellent point.

Fubini: I think it's easy for people to see a stark difference between humans and all other living things. It's also easy to see evolution in progress through various animals that are still alive (e.g. alligators->caimans, but there is no currently living proto-human that gives us a clearly recognizable human predecessor. If there were some funny looking people with hairy arms, low intelligence, and a predilection for moving on all fours, but not as primitive as chips or gorillas, it'd be a lot easier for people to see the missing links.


I was going to make a joke about visiting us here in the South, but if you stop and think about it, doesn't that describe people who are the product of inbreeding? You've seen the pictures of the late 19th-century Appalachians; do they not express recessive genetic qualities that do seem, at least in written description, to match up with science tells us proto-humans looked like a couple of dozen thousand years ago? And does this not reinforce some theories of evolution, whereas a limited genetic pool will begin regressing until adaptive traits (i.e., mutations) begin to appear?
 
2014-02-06 03:05:12 AM  

doglover: There's just this stuffiness and lack of creativity that's pervasive. Some very, very, very smart people just aren't fun. What can I say?


Scientists get really creative and excited over science-y stuff. It's fun for other scientists, but it doesn't do a lot to endear them to your average Joe.

Societies and politicians in general respect scientists to the extent that the scientist is useful. Even among very pro-science groups, there's a much higher appreciation for applied science than pure science, despite that they're both scientifically very valuable.

Physics is really difficult on both fronts right now, because you can get creative and excited over a few months' worth of work, and then realize it'll take a million dollars of time and equipment to validate the ideas. Even the pro-science public doesn't have a lot of patience for that kind of stuff (How many people know or care what happens at CERN outside of the Higgs boson?).


mamoru: By what metric does one determine what is allegory and what is history? By what metric are disagreements about such things resolved (e.g. True Christian A believes this part to be allegorical and that part to be historical fact to be interpreted literally, while True Christian B believes the opposite)?

Right now, it seems like the metric for a lot of people is basically, "If it has been disproved by science, then it is clearly allegorical. Otherwise, if it feels nice and right to me, then it's literal, and if it feels wrong or is indefensible then it is allegorical."


You can analyze the Bible like you'd analyze any literary work. There are authors, historical contexts, intended recipients, and cultural contexts, etc. High-power theological interpretation is just as much a study of ancient languages and cultures as it is spiritualism.

There's also a meta-analysis that crosses between different books of the Bible. For a Christian, certain understandings of the New Testament obviates a lot of the difficulty with things like gay marriage. The conflict isn't resolved by declaring the Old Testament allegorical, it's resolved through new revelations and interpreting the Old Testament through the lens of the New Testament teachings. For the most part, theological differences between Christians don't boil down to what people take to be literal and what they take to be allegorical, it comes down to specific interpretations set in very specific contexts.

As to how those disputes are resolved... they usually aren't. There are a huge range of theologies one can ascribe to. For the most part they live or die out based on their ability to attract and make sense to regular, everyday people. There are some really weird theologies that have effectively died out because
they just didn't make sense to people.


doglover: Another big problem in America is science is billed as anti religion and vice versa.


Exactly.
 
2014-02-06 03:18:10 AM  

Fubini: As to how those disputes are resolved... they usually aren't. There are a huge range of theologies one can ascribe to. For the most part they live or die out based on their ability to attract and make sense to regular, everyday people. There are some really weird theologies that have effectively died out because
they just didn't make sense to people.


Hence the current popularity of "prosperity gospel". Although I can understand that certain passages in the Bible do talk about earthly rewards, I cannot for the life of me understand how anyone could get the idea from the words attributed to him that Jesus (you know, the "Christ" in "Christian") thinks that being rich is a Good Thing.
 
2014-02-06 03:32:42 AM  

ox45tallboy: You're right, but you can't blame the evolutionists for not getting a message through that science and religion are compatible, when the creationists are pounding the dichotomy into kids' heads. If both are taught in schools, they are invariably taught as diametrically opposite and competing "theories" and the kid is expected to "make up his own mind" about it, and there is never a "why not both".


I don't know what to say other than that someone has to stick their chin out and take the first step towards reconciliation. There are a lot of people on both sides who see them as irreconcilable and pound that into kids. There was a girl in my college ethics class who would loudly complain anytime anyone (including the professor) brought up religious modes of thought. Her worldview had about as much depth and nuance as the young-Earth creationists, but she'd scream at you if you pointed it out.


ox45tallboy: I know what you're getting at here, but I'm not sure that even that is palatable to a good many people of Christian faith. My family truly believes with all their heart that Moses wrote the first books of the Old Testament (except for the account of his death, which was likely written by Aaron) and trying to explain that those books did not exist until the 8th Century BC when they were assembled from several differing accounts just makes them plug their ears and say "Na na na".


I think one issue here is that for a lot of Christians, they feel they've been pressured into defending their faith against extremely articulate criticisms, but don't have the education or the inclination to really understand specifics. Our modern interpretations of the Bible have been built up by historians and theologians for thousands of years, and there is a very large associated pool of evidence and deduction that is practically just as old. All of that has very little relevance to the average Christian who just goes to church and pays a pastor to understand and interpret scripture for them.

When you take that average Christian and put them on the spot with specific criticisms about the authorship of Exodus, or ask them to defend a specific interpretation of homosexual marriage, or point out the contradiction between Paul's teachings and Roman society, what actually happens? First, that person probably has no clue as to the validity of the criticism, and they probably have no clue as to the validity of their default position (which is what their pastor summed up for them for 20 minutes one Sunday two years ago). Second, they're going to see this articulate criticism as an attack on them and/or their faith. Third, they're going to feel themselves assaulted, outclassed, and unable to defend themselves, so they're just going to clam up and stick to their default position.

I know that my family doesn't know, care, or understand the relevance of whether or not Moses wrote some book versus another author. If I went and argued something like Biblical authorship, they wouldn't even know what they themselves actually thought, but they would feel compelled to defend their status quo.
 
2014-02-06 03:55:40 AM  

Fubini: I know that my family doesn't know, care, or understand the relevance of whether or not Moses wrote some book versus another author. If I went and argued something like Biblical authorship, they wouldn't even know what they themselves actually thought, but they would feel compelled to defend their status quo.


I think you're absolutely correct in the assessment you've presented, but that leads to the question, "Is this the problem, or is this a symptom of a greater problem?"

Is the problem that people believe things, and cannot defend these beliefs against valid criticism? Because I would challenge you to explain why using paper, plastic, or even those reusables that need sanitizing every time you buy raw meat are a net benefit to the environment.

Sometimes we gotta just defer to the experts, because none of us know, or have enough inclination to do the research on our own in order to find out. Sometimes even the experts differ, so you just have to pick one, and maybe you memorize a talking point or three from a presentation on why the reusable bags actually cost the environment MORE due to the chemicals and energy in sanitizing them, or why the trees cut down are past their peak carbon-absorption state so they're better than plastic, or that the plastic bags are actually recycleable.

What does the fact that people feel the same way about their relationship with their god, or even if said god exists, say about intelligence in general in our species?

I postulate that it says that most people, whether they admit to it or not, place their religion on the same level as their choice in how to bag their groceries. Most all of the public actions involved in their religion is little more than theater for others, since they can defend their choice about as well as the average person can defend their decision on grocery bags. They just know that is what is what is expected of them.

But to them, the idea of not using bags at all is just absurd, because they have to move the groceries a few feet from the car to their kitchen.
 
2014-02-06 04:46:10 AM  

Darth_Lukecash: doglover: Nice article. It's what I've been saying for years: scientists need a "face"

I think that's why I miss Carl Segan- he was an awesom face for science.
Bill Nye should get out there and go forth.'

But here's the real kicker- there is such anti science movement in this county right now. It's being screemed down weekly in our churches. Budgets are being cut for education. Some how we've wanting to become stupid.

I'm blaming Adam Sandler


The problem is Bill Nye is not a scientist he's an actor who played a scientist on TV, It seems 90's kids have a hard time grasping  that the guy they admire most doesn't have that much of an education. There's a reason he's never referred to as Dr. Nye or Professor Nye.
 
2014-02-06 05:52:07 AM  

Darth_Lukecash: EvilEgg: Here' s the problem: without Eden there is no apple, Adam or Eve. Without those, no original sin, no need for Jesus. So evolution says Christianity can't be true, unless Adam and Eve were just some hairy proto-humans.

Or you can do what the Jews and Catholics say: it's symbolic. A lesson that needs to be tought.


Exactly. The exact point made in the article, it only throws off the fundies who believe every word of the bible as literal, etc. Most of the worlds' Jews, Muslims and Christians understand the bible to be a collection of stories, some with a base in fact, some purely a parable or some such.
 
2014-02-06 06:11:39 AM  

borg: The problem is Bill Nye is not a scientist he's an actor who played a scientist on TV, It seems 90's kids have a hard time grasping  that the guy they admire most doesn't have that much of an education. There's a reason he's never referred to as Dr. Nye or Professor Nye.


Wow, Nye holds a mere Bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering from Cornell. And he studied under Carl Sagan. That's definitely "not much of an education" right there.

And yes, he is sometimes referred to as "Professor", since he teaches classes at Cornell.

http://www.everything-science.com/sci/Forum/Itemid,82/topic,6725.0
 
2014-02-06 06:15:37 AM  
How can evolution be anti-religion when it is, itself, just another form of religion?
 
2014-02-06 06:19:27 AM  

untaken_name: How can evolution be anti-religion when it is, itself, just another form of religion?


Mind.Blown.
 
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