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  • WWPZD?

    Posted by Jay Manifold on April 30th, 2008 (All posts by )

    Again, from the usual source: with reference to this … TBN is a sewer, Crouch is a parasite, and Stein is upholding the finest tradition of Hollywood celebrities, and I mean that in the worst possible way.

    Lots of other people, I hope, will be quoting Jacob Bronowski today, from the “Knowledge or Certainty” episode of The Ascent of Man:

    It’s said that science will dehumanize people and turn them into numbers. That’s false, tragically false. Look for yourself. This is the concentration camp and crematorium at Auschwitz. This is where people were turned into numbers. Into this pond were flushed the ashes of some four million people. And that was not done by gas. It was done by arrogance, it was done by dogma, it was done by ignorance. When people believe that they have absolute knowledge, with no test in reality, this is how they behave. This is what men do when they aspire to the knowledge of gods.
     
    Science is a very human form of knowledge. We are always at the brink of the known; we always feel forward for what is to be hoped. Every judgment in science stands on the edge of error and is personal. Science is a tribute to what we can know although we are fallible. In the end, the words were said by Oliver Cromwell: “I beseech you in the bowels of Christ: Think it possible you may be mistaken.”
     
    I owe it as a scientist to my friend Leo Szilard, I owe it as a human being to the many members of my family who died here, to stand here as a survivor and a witness. We have to cure ourselves of the itch for absolute knowledge and power. We have to close the distance between the push-button order and the human act. We have to touch people.

    I’m not finished. I know PZ Myers. I’ve corresponded with him, spoken with him, and been a guest in his house. Nor was I there under false pretenses; he knows exactly what I am. I can think of few contrasts sharper than that between the way atheist liberal blue-state biology professor PZ Myers treated evangelical libertarian red-state corporate slug Jay Manifold and the way PZ is getting treated by these cretins.

    It’s about time somebody started a “Christian Fans of PZ Myers” club, complete with WWPZD bracelets.

    Did I mention that TBN is a sewer?

     

    56 Responses to “WWPZD?”

    1. Tyouth Says:

      Mr. Derbyshire may be quite right about everything he has said about Stein and the movie however it doesn’t carry much weight since, as he admits, he has not seen the thing for himself. This strikes me as close-minded.

      I have not seen it myself but do I think that, perhaps, people overly critical of creationsim “doth protest too much”. There is an emotionalism displayed in the insistent way that theory is discounted that doesn’t strike me as thoughtful, or scientific, for that matter.

    2. Jay Manifold Says:

      Fine, then discount the “emotionalism” … I might display a bit of “emotionalism” myself when discussing, say, the idea that the Moon landings were faked.

      Incidentally to all: we’re getting Instalanched.

    3. Brian Says:

      “Science is a very human form of knowledge.”
      What does this mean? Science is the idea that we can find out about the universe through observation. I supposed one can therefore call it “a very human form of [OBTAINING] knowledge,” but that’s not really what he said.

      “We have to cure ourselves of the itch for absolute knowledge and power…We have to touch people.”
      And I don’t know where to begin trying to figure out what this is supposed to mean? It doesn’t seem to have anything even possibly related to Science.

      There are screamingly obvious points that could be made relating this quote to the AGW situation, of course…

    4. Nobody Says:

      I wish that everybody who so condems Stein (and what he said is rather stupid) would condem all of the atheists who talk about religion killing people in the same way (if you say “Ben Stein has completely lost it.” – Would you say that Hitchens completely lost it as well?)

      Protestations that the Nazi’s weren’t really practicing science reminds me of those who say the inquisition, etc., wasn’t practiced by Christians. They certainly weren’t Budist. The Nazi’s took scientific conclusions and scientific trappings and used them for their own purposes.

      Consider experiments on humans. Nothing particularly unscientific about that. Unethical, sure, not to mention immoral. But ethics and morality are not subject to the scientific method, hence not science. That bothers people who look to science as the only means of answering all questions worth answering. And people who just want to view science as something good.

      I view Science like a gun. It can be good, can be bad. Depends what it is used for. Itself, its neutral, a way of gaining knowledge. What you want to know, and what you do with that knowledge are beyond science.

    5. SteveM Says:

      I saw Stein appear on the Fox new morning show to promote his new documentary and he said stupid things like, ‘no one has ever seen evolution’ taking place. This is the wrong fight for conservatives to be having. It’s one thing to deplore the lack of academic freedom on campuses, but to focus that debate on evolution vs. creationism is to waste everybody’s time.

    6. Mark B Says:

      Derb has been almost comical in his hatred of Expelled, which is why I found it absolutely astonishing that he didn’t see it and doesn’t plan to see it.

      While I’ve never much liked Derb and rarely agree with him, I at least thought him a careful, attentive, relentlessly empirical thinker. To have ANY credibility he has to at least watch it before he rips into it. I’m sure he will say that he has read enough about it from reliable sources that he doesn’t need to do so, but if you want to be a critic of something, one must at least take the 2 bleeping hours to see it. This line of reasoning would be almost as dumb as Roger Ebert writing a movie review after perusing the reviews of his own favorite reviewers on RottenTomatoes.

      I knew that I was going to disagree and hate F911 and Bowling for Columbine after reading about them in my favorite and most trusted sources (Derb’s own home of NR for one!) but I held my tongue until I actually saw them and read critiques of them…then I hated them.

      As I said I’ve never much liked Derb before, but now I have less respect.

    7. Raider51 Says:

      I’m here as part of the Instalanche – I’m commenting because I coincidentally received a link to a PZ website — link:

      http://tinyurl.com/6q2zuu

      — where your bud writes, in relevant part,

      I say, screw the polite words and careful rhetoric. It’s time for scientists to break out the steel-toed boots and brass knuckles, and get out there and hammer on the lunatics and idiots. If you don’t care enough for the truth to fight for it, then get out of the way.

      [Moreover, he writes here – http://tinyurl.com/5r6b2t – that he stands by this quote]

      I’ve never heard of you or PZ Myers before, but I’ve got to tell you that none of this is very reassuring.

      The Ben Stein statement is utterly stupid, but at worst its someone yammering on a televangist talk show (also one I never watched, but I’ll take it — on faith that it’s a sewer); not someone writing and reflecting at a computer.

      Do you think someone should take steel-toed boots and brass knuckles to Ben Stein?

      r51

    8. Byron Says:

      Brian: When Bronowski says that “Science is a very human form of knowledge,” he is contrasting scientific generalizations, such as scientific laws, with the absolutely certain knowledge of a god. Science, being an inductive enterprise, can never attain knowledge of that kind. A scientific generalization is always hostage to the next set of observations. By contrast, a god’s knowledge would be complete, because it would be based on all possible observations past, present, and future. A god’s generalizations would therefore be deductive, and necessarily true.

      Byron

    9. jum1801 Says:

      Tyouth said: “…I think that, perhaps, people overly critical of creationsim ‘doth protest too much’. There is an emotionalism displayed in the insistent way that theory is discounted that doesn’t strike me as thoughtful, or scientific, for that matter.”

      Exactly. I have noticed it as well. I have been puzzled by the depth of feeling of some of the anti-creationists who insist one must choose between evolution and a creator. To me these come off more as “anti-theists” who struggle to defeat the idea of a God than an atheist who merely rejects the concept of a deity. I am flabbergasted that a person claiming to value rationalism and allegiance to the truth above all virtues can hold that logic demands evolution and the existence of a creator be necessarily mutually exclusive ideas. Each ultimately is entirely a matter of faith, although evolution’s most fundamental adherents dare not describe it thus. It is simple intellectual dishonesty to insist the theory of evolution is not ultimately “faith-based”. Whence cometh the vehemence with which so many in the scientific community demand that society accept the absolute incompatibility of science and religion?

    10. Shannon Love Says:

      I must say that I sympathize with Derbyshire not wanting to sit through Expelled just so he can argue against Stein.

      I’ve been arguing against creationist since I was a teenager and after a while it just gets tedious. I’ve heard all the arguments before. It’ is exactly like someone coming up to you and saying, “I’ve got a new movie explaining how the world is flat,” and you reply, “that’s stupid the overwhelming preponderance of evidence is that the earth is round,” and they say, “that’s not fair you have to listen to my arguments!” You don’t have to listen to their arguments because you already know that all the arguments against the flat earth were addressed centuries ago.

      Creationist are almost all amateurs and they think because an argument is new to them it must be new to everyone. It’s mind numbing correcting the same elementary mistakes over and over and over again. It’s frustrating and boring.

      If expelled had some novel new idea to advance we would’ve heard of it by know. I don’t why I have I, Derbyshire or anyone else should have to set through a showing logging every fundamental mistake and writing a refutation from the 10e6th time.

    11. Anna Keppa Says:

      Derb doesn’t need to see the movie, as long as he addresses intellectually why Intelligent Design is not, and cannot be, considered Science. Nor does he need to see the movie to learn through others how Stein attempts to link Darwin directly to the Holocaust, and to rebut that charge.

      This, he has done.

      Contrast that with the greenazoid zombies Gore is sending out to inculcate college students with his crackpot ideas about Global Warming, aka Climate Change and (now) aka “the Climate Crisis”.

      These latter folks won’t debate anyone opposing their views, airily dismissing skeptics’ positions as being every bit as debunked as the flat-earth theory.

      See the difference? See the intellectual dishonesty?

      Ditto with the ID proponents. They take such an intellectual drubbing every time they go up against evolutionary biologists that they now shun honest debate, and instead demand that others, including their opponents, pay to see movies setting forth their position, and their position only!

      Such a scam.

      It’s been pretty clear over the last few years that Stein’s cheese has been slowly slipping off his cracker. If he’s trying to become Tom Bethell’s successor as resident anti-evolution crank at “The American Spectator” he’s off to a very shaky start.

    12. Jay Manifold Says:

      R51, have you stopped beating your wife?

    13. Paddy L Says:

      Science can and does kill.

      Rachael Carson unleashed scientific research to conclude that DDT was harmful. Millions have died since from malaria and other mosquito transmitted diseases that could have been obliterated by DDT.

      The science of climate alarmists as applied results in burning grain to produce ethanol rather than feeding humans and animals. Many will starve. The resultant damage to economies globally and from land conversion will take decades to overcome.

      Orthodoxy in bio and geo sciences, is stifling innovation, invention, and creativity in research and can become irreparable. I believe this is the context in which Ben Stein stated that science can kill.

    14. Raider51 Says:

      Jay:

      I never advocated beating anyone, nor have I indicated I would follow anyone who did.

      BTW, I checked back in mainly to say that I didn’t mean to imply that it meant anything that I’d never heard of you or PZ Meyers. You say he is a “atheist liberal blue-state biology professor” and you are a “evangelical libertarian red-state corporate” – I don’t travel in either (any) of your worlds, so that’s not a surprise. I’m a liberal Episcopalian (and I work with domestic abuse victims – male and female) and am really tired of all the exhortations to violence and incivility on all sides of the divide. I like reading Glen Reynolds because he is sane and civil. Even though we are polar opposites, I like that. He challenges me even though we disagree (especially on firearms).

      I do find it disturbing that Dr. Myers is so incendiary and, I guess, I was hoping for reassurance.

      r51

    15. yo Says:

      shannon love is why creationists so despise scientists.

      Shannon, would you please explain to us all how life began? That is, as you understand it from the scientific method?

      No of course you can’t. All you have is a theory, unsupported by any scientific methods, but you are just so sure. And, YOU WANT IT TO BE TAUGHT IN SCIENCE CLASS.

      But thanks for letting us see once again what you people are all about.

    16. Tyouth Says:

      “screw the polite words and careful rhetoric. It’s time for scientists to break out the steel-toed boots and brass knuckles, and get out there and hammer on the lunatics and idiots. If you don’t care enough for the truth to fight for it, then get out of the way.”

      Very similar to the righteous attitude of the enthusiastic believers in anthropomorphic global warming is it not?

    17. tha pontificator Says:

      I bet this shannon love dude believes in global warming, too.

      roflmao

    18. Ardsgaine Says:

      But ethics and morality are not subject to the scientific method, hence not science. That bothers people who look to science as the only means of answering all questions worth answering.

      That is confused. The scientific method is one method of applying reason to gain knowledge of the world, but it isn’t the only one. What do you suppose Aristotle was doing in the Nichomachean Ethics?

      Perhaps you are relying on the Humean claim that there is no way to bridge the is/ought gap. That is an error of modern philosophy that has done a great deal of damage. Religionists like to employ it to show that religion is required to support morality, but they do not really adhere to it. When biblical ethics are questioned, they never hesitate to defend them by referring to the real world consequences of “sin.” But if good actions produce good consequences, and bad actions produce bad consequences, then that is reason enough to do the former and avoid the latter. If one can make a rational argument that X is what people ought to do in order to live a happy and prosperous life, it doesn’t strengthen the case one bit to add, “God said so.”

    19. Vince P Says:

      I never quite understood how people can speak of “science” having near-anthropomorphic intentions and purpose.

      The way I see it , “science” is merely the using of a methodology to learn about the measurable, concrete world.

    20. Vince P Says:

      Tyouth: I think you meant Anthropogenic Global Warming… not Anthropomorphic Global Warming!

    21. Ardsgaine Says:

      I bet this shannon love dude believes in global warming, too.

      Assuming a result and trying to fit the data to prove it? Sounds like ID to me.

    22. david foster Says:

      I’ve enjoyed a lot of Stein’s writing, and it saddens me to see him descending to this nuttiness.

      “the last time any of my relatives saw scientists telling them what to do they were telling them to go to the showers to get gassed”…surely Stein knows that the concentration camps were run by the SS, 99% of whom were not scientists. While it is true that the Nazis employed chemists for nefarious purposes, it is also true that the Nazis employed musicians to help hide from inmates the true purpose of the camps. Would Stein also assert that music is evil.

      Stein also neglects the role played by American and British scientists in bringing an end to Naziism and Japanese imperialism. Without radar, fire-control computers, decryption devices, and many other innovations, the Nazi regime would have claimed many more victims than it did.

    23. Shannon Love Says:

      The Pontificator,

      I bet this shannon love dude believes in global warming, too.

      Uhmmm, no, but I must admit this new idea of “human shaped” global warming has peaked by interest.

    24. Michael E. Reed Says:

      All,
      Why scream Nazis every time on every ugly subject? Talk about tedious. If we want examples of how science, and “faith” in science, can be perverted; try the USA Eugenics and the Sangers, Rockefellers and others who travelled the path of good intentions with “unbiased scientific clarity” – Or the Tuskegee syphillis experiments – B.F. Skinner – Nevada nuke tests-or-or
      I could be wrong, but Mr. Stein might be merely pointing out, as one commentor here said, that science is a tool that can be used for good & ill and must be managed and debated with open minds. If not, it becomes a “faith community” without moral bounds that will inevitably fall into the swamp along the path.
      As to the THEORY (check your scientific terms definitions) of Evolution VS Creation? Who the hell knows? Insufficient evidence & proofs for one …gotta’ die 1st for the other!
      May the/a supreme something(s) or other bless you all!

    25. paul a'barge Says:

      Jay Manifold: “R51, have you stopped beating your wife?”

      Come on Jay. That’s your rejoinder to the horrific violent comments made by PZ Myers? You stayed at the home of a guy who wrote that he wanted to put steel boots and brass knuckles to people who believe in G-d and that’s your rejoinder?

      What are you, like 15 years old?

    26. paul a'barge Says:

      I’ll tell you something about P.Z. Myers. If you read his posts at TalkReason.com you’ll
      inevitably find the one where he gleefully recounts not being allowed into a theater to
      view Stein’s movie. This is the post where P.Z. Myers recounts that his wife and Dawkins,
      who were with him, were allowed into the theater.

      I’ve written both in email and blog comment form to request corroborative information
      that would allow me to investigate this incident. I’d like to determine in fact that P.Z.
      Myers was not denied entry into the theater because he was acting out in the line to get
      into the movie. If that were the case, Myers would be as dishonest as one can get.

      Here is the suspicion: none of my blog commentaries ever appeared with other comments
      under Myers’ post on TalkReason and no one, including Myers responded in any form to my
      email inquiries.

      I can tell you that at this point I am extremely suspicious of Myers and Dawkins.

      Finally, I have to ask you to review the comments here. Follow the links provided by
      Raider51. Read the steel-toe boot commentary by Myers in full.

      People are not doing themselves or their reputations any good by cozying up to Myers and
      Dawkins. PZ Myers is the Reverend Jeremiah Wright of the Atheist religion, and it’s time
      he was treated as such.

    27. Alistair Says:

      I understand the anger at Ben Stein for making such a claim. But I also understand what provokes Stein and his supporters to make it. For several years now, there has been a steady uptick in books, documentaries, etc. assaulting organized religion as the root of all evil. Why, look at the Crusades, the Inquisition, the Thirty Years’ War, and so on. There are people who actually argue that all wars are caused by religion, that if we could only get rid of organized religion, we’d all live in peace and harmony. So religion’s defenders point to the leading anti-organized-religion regimes of the 20th century: the Soviet Union, Maoist China, Nazi Germany (yes), etc. If we can blame religion for the Thirty Years War, then why can’t we blame atheism, scientism and materialism for the Soviet gulags and the Cultural Revolution?

      Stein made a 90-minute movie which takes on a lot of subjects. He probably shouldn’t have tried to shoehorn this argument into such a brief space. But the answer isn’t to put on your jackboots. Maybe it is to learn a little respect for the other side (as, yes, Stein should).

    28. Ardsgaine Says:

      Uhmmm, no, but I must admit this new idea of “human shaped” global warming has peaked by interest.

      It doesn’t necessarily have to have human shape, like Bambi it could just have human characteristics such as reasoning and complex emotions. Perhaps the climate is angry at us, and we need to sacrifice our CO2 emissions in order to placate it.

      But now we seem to have come full circle: God = an anthropomorphized universe, a universe with consciousness and free will, capable of acting on whim, instead of being bound by natural laws. This Universe has absolute power over us, and it wants something. What it wants, we can only discover in one of two ways: Either it has to whisper it to us directly, or we have to have faith in the word of those who claim to be in communication with it. The first is sheer subjectivism (God’s word is whatever I believe it is), and the second is authoritarianism. I don’t care which of those two a person subscribes to in his personal life, but it should be obvious that neither one of them can be allowed to hold sway in government decisions, including what to teach in a public school. I’m all in favor of abolishing the public school system, though, and letting the free market sort it out.

    29. BGT Says:

      Paul A,

      You seem to be a bit confuzzled. Checking other sources around PZ’s expulsion from expelled will provide you with confirmation of that episode. The producer, Mathis if I remember correctly, acknowledged that he threw PZ out of the showing simply because he wanted to make sure that PZ paid for the privilege of watching the movie, and for no other reason. I am fairly sure that Dawkins is financially more stable than PZ. That sort of makes Mathis run afoul of the whole “serving Mammon” thing.

      As for PZ’s steel toed boots comment, I must say, “Nice to meet you mr. Stein.” PZ’s comment was talking about how well informed individuals must face down the nonsense that is “Creationism” (YEC, ID, or OEC) with what we can honestly and truly test within what should be God’s creation. YEC fails tragically given the evidence that God has left us, unless you agree with “Last Tuesdayism”. ID fails because it is simply a negative argument. Behe himself acknowledged under oath (an oath on the Bible, remember what that is?)in the court in Dover that his definition of intelligent design would allow astrology as a science. Astrology and Christianity are incompatible according to their definitions.

      PZ was talking about the intellectual rigor that we must apply to any claim that attempts to short circuit modern evolutionary theory. Notice, I specifically avoided the term “Darwinism”. The reason is that that term is nowhere near applicable to modern evolutionary thought, other that at it’s most basic. That most basic is that some individuals will survive better than other individuals and pass there genes forward. There is no race, and there are no favored races. Nazi eugencism was the equivalent of our modern attempts to keep breeding German Shephards as true to the breeding standards. That is artificial selection, you moron, and as soon as someone (either a Nazi, or a dog breeder, or a cow or pig farmer steps in), there is no longer Natural Selection. It is artificial. Darwin had the insight to see that what was known for thousands of years as artificial selection had a much more powerful cousin, natural selection.

      Another ad hominem… You are a moron, and I am insulting all those people who are legitimately challenged by bringing you up to their level. Get a fucking education.

    30. LotharBot Says:

      I’ve said before that PZ Myers has a lot to add to the discussion, but that his attitude completely destroys any contribution he might otherwise make, and in fact harms his position.

      “Hammering on the idiots” plays into the hands of the head idiots. When PZ Myers goes off on people the way he so often does, it gives people like my grandparents the impression that their religion is under attack by the atheist evolutionists. I can’t talk to my grandparents about what I studied in college because people like PZ Myers have made them think evolutionary biology is part of a war on Christians. There’s no possible way to even have a discussion about science or evidence, because they’re AFRAID. And as long as they’re afraid, they’re going to listen to the religious teachers on TV or the radio or whatever, who dismiss evolution because they view it as an attack on their religion.

      The “brass knuckles” approach helps ignorance persist. If you really care about truth, you don’t just have to “fight” for it; you have to be an ADVOCATE for it, and that often means being patient and understanding with those who disagree. Perhaps PZ Myers shows patience and kindness to “evangelical libertarian red-state corporate slug”s in person, but his aggressive and insulting posts online often push people away.

      It’s tedious and difficult to be patient and understanding… but it’s necessary if you want to teach people. I did the same when the movie “Zeitgeist” was making its rounds on the internet — people were curious about the supposed Egyptian origins of Christianity, so I took two days to watch the relevant segment of the movie, research its conclusions, and write about it. The fact that the arguments were discredited long ago is irrelevant… the people hearing the arguments RIGHT NOW aren’t experts, they haven’t done the research to know the arguments are wrong, and they often need someone to be patient and show them their errors; they’re not going to learn anything useful if all you do is call them an idiot.

    31. Tyouth Says:

      “Anthropogenic”, thanks Vince, I would never have noticed. Ah well, grenades, horseshoes and quick comments!

    32. Tyouth Says:

      “Derb doesn’t need to see the movie, as long as he addresses intellectually why Intelligent Design is not, and cannot be, considered Science.”

      I disagree. His criticism of Stein’s movie is based on hearsay and impression. He may well be right about everything: but his criticism of Stein’s movie is fatally flawed for not having seen it and, for all I know, cant that follows from his prejudices.

    33. Ardsgaine Says:

      If we can blame religion for the Thirty Years War, then why can’t we blame atheism, scientism and materialism for the Soviet gulags and the Cultural Revolution?

      Atheism is not a positive belief, it is simply the denial of God’s existence. That’s all it entails. An atheist can be just as irrational and power-lusting as any jihadist. You don’t need Myers (about whom I know nothing) for your example. Mao or Stalin will do just fine. You can’t claim that either of them was a model of rationality and scientific detachment though. Communism’s pretention to science was completely bogus, as has been demonstrated in practice and could have been predicted in theory. Its mechanistic view of consciousness is a flat out denial of the possibility of reason. Reason is not reason if all its conclusions are predetermined by external circumstances. So I have no problem granting that atheism has had evil followers. What I deny is that science, or more fundamentally, reason, was responsible for them.

    34. griefer Says:

      I will not be giving Ben Stein any of my money either. Everything you need to know is right here.
      There are at least 20 reviews from people that have seen the movie.

      It is perfectly obvious what Expelled is.
      You might think it is this–

      Ed Morrissey: “…the film presents a powerful argument not for intelligent design as much as for the freedom of scientific inquiry.”

      or this

      NTY:One of the sleaziest documentaries to arrive in a very long time, “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed” is a conspiracy-theory rant masquerading as investigative inquiry.

      but you would both be wrong.
      Expelled is IQ-baiting.
      Giving those haughty scientists a smackdown.

      And it is also part of this–

      Reason: What do you think are the most dangerous political trends in the United States?

      Thiel: It seems like things are moving in a very anti-libertarian direction politically on every issue. There may be a few exceptions, but generally we’re moving toward a country that’s fiscally more liberal and socially more conservative, which is a very odd configuration. You can debate why that is. Maybe politics has become purely reactionary. It’s a reaction against progress, against globalization, against technology.

      Conservatives are well on the way to becoming the anti-science party.
      Is this a culture war yet?

    35. skylights Says:

      “I wish that everybody who so condems Stein (and what he said is rather stupid) would condem all of the atheists who talk about religion killing people in the same way (if you say “Ben Stein has completely lost it.” – Would you say that Hitchens completely lost it as well?)”

      I think the best response to this is Bronowski: “When people believe that they have absolute knowledge, with no test in reality, this is how they behave.”

      Science doesn’t think it has absolute knowledge. It is humble, tentative, eager to suggest new hypotheses but ready to reject them if the evidence doesn’t pan out. But at the same time, each field of science is working toward understanding one reality — because there is only one reality.

      Religion is the opposite. Different religions concoct realities that are mutually exclusive. And more than that: different religions also have their own moral precepts, which are also mutually exclusive. Witness the difference between a typical Quaker and a Islamic fundamentalist. These religions arrive at these positions through various means, but anything even approaching scientific method — the greatest system ever devised for determining objective truth — isn’t among them. And yet, followers think they have the absolute truth, and are prepared to die — or kill — for their beliefs.

      Human beings create religious precepts and say they came from god. If murdering infidels happen to be one of those moral precepts, who is to argue with god? (History shows, of course, that this is not a phenomenon confined to radical Islam.) Science, on the other hand, merely discovers, explains, and harnesses the natural world. It is simply a tool. How it is used, for good or bad, is dependent on the morals of the person(s) using it.

      This is how certain religions can lead logically to murder and genocide, whereas science cannot.

    36. skylights Says:

      Please edit the formatting on my last post, I really screwed up the html tags (I’ve never used them before).

    37. griefer Says:

      I haven’t seen Expelled, but I know what the real message is.
      How seductive is this meme?
      You are just as smart as those snobby scientists.
      You are smart in a different way– the way it really counts!
      god-smart.
      and science is bad…very, very bad…..without religion to guide it!

      lulz.

    38. Vince P Says:

      Conservatives are well on the way to becoming the anti-science party.

      I wasn’t aware that Conservative was a party in the US.

      But I know what you mean… and hey if the Democrats stand still for 20 years, it’s possible the Republicans could catch up to them in anti-scientism.

    39. Alistair Says:

      Ardsgaine: Atheism is a belief that there is no God. There are certainly plenty of decent and peaceful atheists, just as there are plenty of good and peaceful religious people, dare I say, majorities of each. But sometimes atheists (just as people of faith) can get dogmatic, and atheism can even inspire people to persecute those who do believe in God.

      “You can’t claim that either [Mao or Stalin] was a model of rationality and scientific detachment though” — and most religious people would tell you that those who are violent in the name of their religion are hardly “models” of their faith, but rather, are perverting their religion.

      As for Communism’s “pretention [sic] to science,” I completely agree with you. Unfortunately there are still lots of people — often in positions of influence in universities and government — some are even heads of state — who still believe in its pretensions. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn there are more Marxists than Christians in the faculties of our major universities.

      To quote Chris Hedges, “The New Atheists [Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris, et al.] embrace a belief system as intolerant, chauvinistic and bigoted as that of religious fundamentalists. They propose a route to collective salvation and the moral advancement of the human species through science and reason.

      “The utopian dream of a perfect society and a perfect human being, the idea that we are moving towards collective salvation, is one of the most dangerous legacies of the Christian faith and the Enlightenment. Those who believe in the possibility of this perfection often call for the silencing or eradication of human beings who are impediments to human progress. They turn their particular good into a universal good. They are blind to their own corruption and capacity for evil. They soon commit evil, not for evil’s sake but to make a better world.”

    40. LotharBot Says:

      “Science doesn’t think it has absolute knowledge. It is humble, tentative, eager to suggest new hypotheses but ready to reject them if the evidence doesn’t pan out.”

      Of course.

      But that doesn’t mean all practitioners of science are humble, tentative, etc. or that all people who call themselves scientists are rational and reasonable.

      There are plenty of people out there who use “science” just like any religion — they pick and choose observations, concoct their own unique reality and set of moral precepts, and get very upset with people who don’t agree. There are plenty of “secular fundamentalists” who believe current scientific theory (as they understand it) is absolute truth and think “who are you to argue with the absolute truth of science?” There are many who are willing to die, or kill, for those beliefs. Sure, it doesn’t take the form of “jihad”, but pressing possibly dangerous medical treatments or experiments can be just as deadly. We’re quick to criticize Nazi scientists for experiments on Jewish prisoners, but quicker to forget that scientists in many of our own countries experimented on babies, the handicapped, etc. in the same time period, because someone considered “pursuit of knowledge” to be the overriding moral precept.

    41. griefer Says:

      Vince, alright then, the Theocon Party once known as the Republicans. ;)
      You know, the party that used to be for small government and personal freedom, and now stands for LIFE!, no samesex marriage, and school vouchers?
      Look at this sanctimonious BS that Dr. Reynolds gives space to. Poling is a Stein apologist.

      You cited Derb’s quote by Ben Stein and suggest he’s lost it. I’d like to offer a brief apology (in the Socratic sense).
      In the last century, we saw several governments adopt the notion that they, the government, were ultimate. Mr. Stein accurately identifies one of them, risking Godwin’s law. Meanwhile, Russian and Chinese governments were responsible for murdering millions of their citizens. The same century saw the Tuskegee experiment and other eugenics mischief under the banner of what Francis Schaeffer (franky’s dad) termed “Sociological law.” All these crimes were RATIONALIZED using science.
      You’ll see this common theme running throughout Jonah Goldberg’s “Liberal Fascism.” I disagree with Mr. Goldberg’s thesis, finding the common thread true of both Communist and Fascist and American Progressive mischief is a rejection of transcendent absolutes. “If there are no absolutes, then the state is absolute,” said Francis Schaeffer.
      ….
      However, the absolutes vs relativism question seems to lie underneath Mr. Stein’s remarks. If just want to make him a straw man, and find an excuse to ignore everything else he says, you can frame his remarks as mere obscurantism. However, if you want to constructively engage the problems which have nettled this world for the last century or so, you might want to consider relativism’s baleful influence on Western Culture.

      That is not what Stein is saying….let me translate for you.
      “You stuckup snobby scientists that won’t let IDT into your curriculae and youe classrooms, you are inflexibile dogmatists rejecting the freedom of inquiry, and besides, you’re just like Nazis….wait….you ARE Nazis!”

      Look Captain Ed totally buys it.

      The best themes in Expelled take Academia to task for the same destructive sin. Instead of pursuing all paths of scientific pursuit, the academics have imposed their philosophy and their ideology against religion as a means to keep anyone from testing the theories of random, accidental beginnings of life. In a similar manner to what’s seen in the global-warming debate, dissenting voices are excoriated as heretics and idiots, rather than letting the science speak for itself.

      dur, ID is not a science Captain Ed, sry.

      Here’s someone else that is propagating the meme that Science-is-Bad-without-religion-to-guide-it-an-btw-we-are-just-as-smart-as-those-haughty-scientists.
      Goldberg.

      I do think Darwinism led to Nazism, in a sense. But that’s because I see Nazism as one of many responses to modernism. And Darwin, for good and ill, represents the rise of modern science — along with Einstein and others. Nazism and Communism and Progressivism were all impossible without the industrial revolution, Darwinism, relativism, mechanized warfare, mass production, etc. They were reactionary responses to these things. Those responses amounted to an express rejection of the conservative and libertarian vision of society, which is why they were leftwing.

      Conservatives are coming down on the very wrong side of a new gap opening up in the Culture Wars.
      There is no Bubba gap…..there is a thinker/beliver gap, a rightside of the bell curve gap/leftside of the bell curve gap, an…..IQ gap.
      /gasp

      One more thing….global warming is Science, global warming caused by carbonbased emissions is junkscience. You seem to be very busy alienating your potential allies (us scientists) in that battle by trying to cram IDT down our throats.

    42. Vince P Says:

      Too bad you typed all that and wasted your time… I don’t care enough about the issue to read all that. There are only a few things more pointless than having to suffer the narcissist steam-of-consciousness rage that I’m sure was at the core of the novel you just wrote.

    43. griefer Says:

      tant pis
      I was translating Stein for you.
      Much shorter than watching the movie.

    44. M.L.Johnson Says:

      Ardsgaine—Far above you addressed the Is/ought problem;
      “Perhaps you are relying on the Humean claim that there is no way to bridge the is/ought gap. That is an error of modern philosophy that has done a great deal of damage. Religionists like to employ it to show that religion is required to support morality, but they do not really adhere to it. When biblical ethics are questioned, they never hesitate to defend them by referring to the real world consequences of “sin.””

      This is something of a strawman. Of course the argument you quote is faulty, but your defense is equally frail. You say that whatever produces good, is good. Which of course begs the question and brings us round to what authority is establishing ‘good’. I’m not a Christian, but I think when they evoke the is/ought problem, they are on solid ground. I’ve never seen a compelling argument against it. If you know of one or can direct me, I’d appreciate it.

    45. griefer Says:

      Here Vince, I shall make it a one liner for you.

      propagating the meme that Science-is-Bad-without-religion-to-guide-it-an-btw-we-are-just-as-smart-as-those-haughty-scientists.

      ;)

    46. Jay Manifold Says:

      As I think I’ve amply demonstrated, I will not take seriously the notion that PZ Myers’ “steel-toed boots and brass knuckles” should be interpreted literally. (And “lunatics and idiots,” if anything, practically lets the purveyors of this nonsense off the hook. They’re not crazy or stupid — they’re shearing the sheep, and they’re good at it.)

      I will, however, take Raider51 seriously, and appreciate his follow-on to my stiffarm, which was quite a bit more substantive than anything I was in any mood to write after my initial posting yesterday.

      Some of the other commenters here seem to be trying to shoehorn this into a left-right debate. It won’t fit that dreary old paradigm … sadly, the left is heavily represented by people who think genetically engineered crops are “Frankenfood,” that space exploration takes money away from The Children, and that nuclear power is Eeeevil, to name only the first three science-related issues that come to mind.

    47. Vince P Says:

      Why are you writing that stuff to me? I’ve said nothing about it.

      Instead of assuming what I meant by my comment about the Democrats, you should have asked me.

      I was referring to the way they advocate policies that are empirically counter-productive to the goal they state they want to achieve.

    48. jp Says:

      Stein wasn’t talking about actual proven science, he was talking about junk science that often time comes polticized. In this case the dogmatic forms of Darwinism as an explanation for how life began lead to the Holocaust, Eugenics movement….Columbine not to long ago. Now we have junk science known as Global Warming that many are shaping their worldviews from.

      of course there was Gaileo, treated like Stein is being treated by Derbyshire…..you guys should really actually watch the movie

    49. Ardsgaine Says:

      You say that whatever produces good, is good. Which of course begs the question and brings us round to what authority is establishing ‘good’.

      I think ‘good consequences’ and ‘bad consequences’ are fairly common sense notions, but I also said that good is that which produces a happy and prosperous life. That can be fleshed out even more, but rather than do that, and since you asked for reference to arguments that successfully bridge the is/ought gap, I recommend these two books.

      At any rate, there is no authority who needs to determine whether you are living a moral life other than you. I may have an opinion on the matter, but I am not an authority that you need to recognize. Unless your notion of morality includes actions which violate the rights of others to live freely, then no one else has the right to make you be good by their standards.

    50. griefer Says:

      Pardon, I’m not shoehorning anything.
      Expelled is just the cartoon version of Liberal Fascism.

    51. Ardsgaine Says:

      But sometimes atheists (just as people of faith) can get dogmatic, and atheism can even inspire people to persecute those who do believe in God.

      Any belief system that denies the supremacy of reason and the need for men to deal with each other rationally rather than by force can and probably will lead men to persecute each other for one reason or another. In religion, faith is necessarily considered superior to reason. There are religions which compartmentalize faith and give a broader role to reason, and there are religions which reject reason out of hand in favor of faith. The latter are always evil, while the former can coexist in a free society so long as their faith does not burst its bounds and push out reason.

      Fundamentalism is faith bursting its bounds. The notion that the Bible is the literal word of God, not to be questioned but only obeyed, is a return to primitivism. It is an attempt to undo the Enlightenment and return us to the Medieval period, right next to the Islamists. That is what Young Earth Creationists are trying to do. In their battle against the theory of evolution, the arguments they employ are more than an attack on one scientific theory, they are an attack on science as such. They make the same anti-reason, anti-science arguments that the left has used to advance its own irrational agenda. If we follow them down that road, if we allow respect for reason to be torn down by both left and right, we can only expect more Maos, more Stalins, and more Hitlers.

    52. Alistair Says:

      I would argue that it is hubris, not faith, that leads to the sort of violence we are talking about. Most who accept the inerrancy of the Bible would say that they are unable to determine its every meaning, and spend a lifetime studying and pondering it. The Bible is replete with passages about the unknowability of God’s will. Even many fundamentalists would argue that anybody who used violence to enforce their particular view of the Bible is committing a sinful act. I just don’t see evidence of much violence committed by Christian fundamentalists in our time. Isolated instances of abortion clinic bombings, etc., are condemned in the strongest terms by every church. (I won’t speak to Islamic fundamentalism, which seems to be a different kettle of fish, though many atheists unfairly lump them together with fundamentalist Christianity.)

      This hubris can extend to people who embrace scientism as well. It happens when people say, okay, the science is in, we know what we need to do, and off with the heads of anybody who disagrees because they are nothing but Luddites or religious nutjobs, when we stop trying to convince through reason and instead try to bulldoze the opposition through appeals to authority (such as Al Gore is trying to do). Using the global warming debate for example, there are scientists who refer to skeptics as the moral equivalent of Holocaust deniers. A prominent Canadian scientists, Dr. David Suzuki, called for jailing politicians who do not accept the science on global warming. There is a movement among some radical environmentalists to stop having children because of humanity’s impact on the Earth, and there have been terrorist attacks on housing developments and car dealerships. These are early signs of something truly frightening. And the perpetrators point to the… inerrancy of the science backing their position.

      Now, we can argue (rightly so) that these people have lost their reason. It can also be argued that any Christian fundamentalist who uses violence for so-called religious aims has not only lost his reason, but is acting outside the bounds of his faith as well. Is a global warming fanatic who uses violence to promote his views acting outside of any moral bounds set forth by his belief system? I don’t know. If morality is entirely relative, and the fanatic argues that scientifically speaking, there is no evidence that humans have more moral weight than animals, and we need to eliminate humans to save the animals, then who is to say he is wrong?

      Once again: I am not condemning science. I am merely pointing out that even people who reject religion can become violent in the promotion of scientific principles. You may argue (and rightly so) that those people have lost their reason, but I would argue that any Christian who used violence to promote his faith has not only lost his reason, but his faith as well.

    53. Ardsgaine Says:

      I am not condemning science. I am merely pointing out that even people who reject religion can become violent in the promotion of scientific principles.

      They can dress irrationality up in a lab coat, but that does not make it science. I’m trying very hard to think of an example of a group that has pressed a legitimate scientific claim through violence, and I can’t come up with one. It seems to me that it’s always the people with illegitimate scientific claims who, seeing that their beliefs are being rejected by the bulk of society, want to short circuit debate, and push through their agenda by force. See for example global warming, ELF, ALF, etc. Scratch an environmentalist and what you find is an anti-science, tree-worshipping, neo-theocrat.

      You may argue (and rightly so) that those people have lost their reason, but I would argue that any Christian who used violence to promote his faith has not only lost his reason, but his faith as well.

      But by that logic you’ve excommunicated the larger bulk of those Christians who lived from at least the time of Charlemagne until sometime around the Age of Reason. Their faith told them that it was perfectly just to use force against non-believers, heretics, and infidels. You can argue that they are wrong, but you would have to prove it to them by resorting to reason, which they’ve already disclaimed as an inferior source of knowledge.

      The whole reason why Christianity was able to separate itself from that approach was because of the historical accident that married Christian theology to Aristotelian logic. Even then, the kind of reasoning employed was at first constrained within the bounds of faith, until the discovery and approval of Aristotle’s scientific works. It’s really when men began to look outside their faith and ask how their interpretations of God’s word matched up with reality that they abandoned the rule of force. Devotion to reason accomplished that, not faith.

    54. syn Says:

      Did not Nazi scientists conduct all sorts of creepy experiments on pregnant women to find out things like what happens when you sew up a female’s vagina ?

      What I know after observing human behavior for some fourty-five years of living is that when human beings believe in nothing higher than themselves they are capable of the most inhumane acts known to humankind.

      For crying out loud in our own culture we had people who would pull a fully developed human being halfway out the birth canal leaving only it’s head inside then would stick a tube into the baby’s neck so as to suck out its’ brain whereby collasping its’ skull.

      One cannot be human to do such this thing which scientists developed; bloody bastards!

    55. syn Says:

      I forgot one point:

      Yes, Science does lead to killing people when Humanist-based.

    56. Bugs Says:

      I know he’s trying to plug his movie, but I think Stein’s appearing on a televangelist’s show makes him look desperate. I wonder if he’s book a spot on Iranian state TV yet? Those folks are really into the whole ID thing, too.