A bright spot at The Chronicle and an open letter

UPDATE: This thread has grown bloated and full of unproductive back and forth, so please post ONLY if you want to sign the letter. I am deleting all other comments after this announcment.  Thanks for your indulgence.

When is The Chronicle of Higher Education going to put the kibosh on the irrelevant and incoherent tirades of Gnu-Bashers like Michael Ruse and Jacques Berlinerblau, whose continual attacks on atheists don’t do the journal any good? But in the meantime, one person still mans the Gnu Barricades: David Barash. Barash, a biologist at the University of Washington, has posted his latest on Tuesday, “The emperor’s new nakedness.”  Taking his fellow Chronicle “bloggers” to task, he points out what’s really new in New Atheists:  their popularity and their unwillingness to respect religious claims (on a related note, read Jason Rosenhouse’s epic new post on atheist “incivility”)

We have a curious compact of silence here in the United States, or at least we did prior to the arising of the New Atheists. Were someone to announce a blatant absurdity (the Earth is flat, she has been abducted and inseminated by space aliens, etc.), she would be subjected to extreme doubt, often scorn. But claim that Mohammed ascended to heaven on the back of a winged horse, or that Jesus did so without a comparable equine assist, and you must be respected. Why? Because it’s your religion. That settles it.

How impertinent of those New Atheists to treat such claims with skepticism! How disrespectful to suggest that religious claims can and should be scrutinized just like any other pronouncements! How uncouth to speak of these things in anything other than a knowing and admiring whisper!

Thus, it is somehow naïve to point out that there is no evidence whatever for the existence of a soul, immortal or otherwise, that nearly every supposed factual claim in the Bible is either unverifiable or verifiably ridiculous, on a par with the Tibetan Buddhist insistence that the head of the embalmed body of the 13th Dalai Lama, which had been facing south-east, had suddenly and mysteriously turned to face the northeast, thereby pointing to the direction in which his successor (the 14th and current Dalai Lama) would be found. And so forth.

To point out such absurdities is, once again, to be “naïve,” crass, or ill-bred. Such people, we are told, should leave high-falutin’ theologically meaningful analyses to those who best understand them, who know the Magic Abracadabra and have plumbed the Mysteries. They should join the crowd, speak only in hushed tones, and, if they cannot bring themselves to admire the Emperor’s finery, at least have the good manners to keep quiet.

On the big “Nick Matzke = Tom Johnson” thread the other day, a fellow named Roger Stanyard came over to complain.  He is spokesperson for the British Centre for Science Education (BCSE), the UK equivalent of our National Center for Science Education (NCSE); both organizations are worthy endeavors.  But Stanyard immediately alienated everyone by telling us to lay off not only Nick Matzke (who accused Richard Dawkins of playing the “Nazi card”), but religion in general. It’s the usual argument that any vociferous atheism turns people away from science.  I responded to Stanyard, saying in part (I put the identical post on the Dawkins website, where Stanyard is trolling as well):

So are you asking the rest of us atheists, who oppose creationism as well, to just shut up about religion?

Or do you think the battle against creationism is so much more important than the one against the pernicious effects of religion that we should concentrate on the former and simply keep our mouths shut about the latter? You realize, of course, that creationism will never go away until religion does. I know of only a single creationist (David Berlinski) who isn’t motivated by religious faith.

If you’d read my popular book promoting evolution (WEIT), you’ll see that I say virtually nothing about religion.

I’d suggest, then, that you lay off telling us what to do until you’ve read about our goals. The fact is that we’ll always be fighting creationism until religion goes away, and when it does the fight will be over, as it is in Scandinavia.

Stanyard has not responded, preferring instead to yammer on endlessly about somebody who compared Matzke to “vermin”.  That was an unfortunate remark—the kind of name calling I don’t like on this site, but Stanyard glommed onto it like white on rice, or Kwok on a Leica.  Like Matzke and others, Stanyard prefers to drone about tone, and won’t engage the worthy argument that creationism is one battle and religion another, that the two battles are connected, and you won’t win the first until you win the second.

The strangest thing in all this, though, is Stanyard’s claim that we should lay off religion because “You’ll lose a pile of allies.”  Yet that’s exactly what he’s done with his own invective on this site and Richard’s.  So let me just pen this:

Open letter to the NCSE and BCSE

Dear comrades:

Although we may diverge in our philosophies and actions toward religion, we share a common goal: the promulgation of good science education in Britain and America—indeed, throughout the world.  Many of us, like myself and Richard Dawkins, spend a lot of time teaching evolution to the general public.  There’s little doubt, in fact, that Dawkins is the preeminent teacher of evolution in the world. He has not only turned many people on to modern evolutionary biology, but has converted many evolution-deniers (most of them religious) to evolution-accepters.

Nevertheless, your employees, present and former, have chosen to spend much of their time battling not creationists, but evolutionists who happen to be atheists.  This apparently comes from your idea that if evolutionists also espouse atheism, it will hurt the cause of science education and turn people away from evolution.  I think this is misguided for several reasons, including a complete lack of evidence that your idea is true, but also your apparent failure to recognize that creationism is a symptom of religion (and not just fundamentalist religion), and will be with us until faith disappears. That is one reason—and, given the pernicious effect of religion, a minor one—for the fact that we choose to fight on both fronts.

The official policy of your organizations—certainly of the NCSE—is apparently to cozy up to religion.  You have “faith projects,” you constantly tell us to shut up about religion, and you even espouse a kind of theology which claims that faith and science are compatible.  Clearly you are going to continue with these activities, for you’ve done nothing to change them in the face of criticism.  And your employees, past and present, will continue to heap invective on New Atheists and tar people like Richard Dawkins with undeserved opprobrium.

We will continue to answer the misguided attacks by people like Josh Rosenau, Roger Stanyard, and Nick Matzke so long as they keep mounting those attacks.  I don’t expect them to abate, but I’d like your organizations to recognize this: you have lost many allies, including some prominent ones, in your attacks on atheism.  And I doubt that those attacks have converted many Christians or Muslims to the cause of evolution.  This is a shame, because we all recognize that the NCSE has done some great things in the past and, I hope, will—like the new BCSE—continue do great things in the future.

There is a double irony in this situation.  First, your repeated and strong accusations that, by criticizing religion, atheists are alienating our pro-evolution allies (liberal Christians), has precisely the same alienating effect on your allies: scientists who are atheists.  Second, your assertion that only you have the requisite communication skills to promote evolution is belied by the observation that you have, by your own ham-handed communications, alienated many people who are on the side of good science and evolution.  You have lost your natural allies.  And this is not just speculation, for those allies were us, and we’re telling you so.

Sincerely,
Jerry Coyne

Feel free to “cosign” this letter by giving your real name in the comments.  And any reader who has advice for the NCSE or BCSE, please add it in the comments below.  Please be constructive.  History tells me that they’re not going to listen to us, but it’s worth a try.

728 Comments

  1. Posted April 23, 2011 at 6:11 am | Permalink

    Scientists should lay off religion? Wow, that’s a lot of geologists who are going to have to stop talking about geology just in case they offend young Earth creationists.

    As for criticism of religion turning people away from science, it is in fact what got me interested!

    • John
      Posted April 23, 2011 at 10:21 am | Permalink

      I suspect that in time creationism will join astrology as a more or less a humorous past time for some.

      • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
        Posted April 23, 2011 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

        Pastime, past time. It will be a good time.

    • Colin Keller
      Posted April 24, 2011 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

      I just feel bad that some people don’t get it. I lost the woman I love because of this kind of thing. I beat myself over what happened quite a lot. Believe me, Matzke, if there was a better way to go about things, I would be the first person to jump onboard with it. I’ve tried doing what you suggest for such a large part of my life. It didn’t work though. It didn’t make people treat me better. All it really did was just give the wrong signal. It showed them that what they were doing and saying wasn’t hurting my feelings or my intellect enough to warrant me doing anything about it. It was the wrong signal to give. I’ve embraced the kind of gnu atheism (or whatever you want to call it) in which I’ve put myself out on the line more. The truth is that I’ve lost friends that I probably would have otherwise been able to keep, but frankly, I would have never really been able to be total self around them. The way I see it now is that those people who would wish for me to do what you suggest were never really my friends at all. It is a very sad state of affairs, but it is just part of the real world. Sometimes in the real world you just have to take action. Progress isn’t always linear. Sometimes you will just never get to take the first step towards progress if something is blocking you. In that case, it is sometimes necessary to take a step back and then run at the obstacle full charge. I hope you get what I mean. If you don’t, well… then I’m not going to tell you to do something that you don’t feel in your own heart, but just know that I have all of my heart in this too and that I, and I believe everyone else writing to you, is doing the best that we can. Please stop hating us. We love you. We love our fellow human beings. We just fight for them in a way that sometimes means we have to argue our hearts out against them.

      • Colin Keller
        Posted April 24, 2011 at 8:08 pm | Permalink

        Oh and for formalities sake. I guess I should say that I would like to co-sign with the original article.

        • Alexander Bratvedt
          Posted April 25, 2011 at 11:50 am | Permalink

          I would like to co-sign as well.

  2. Posted April 23, 2011 at 6:27 am | Permalink

    Well to put my two cents worth forward. As an atheist and a non-scientist but a lover of science the NCSE and possibly the BCSE are forgetting that I and others like me are also promoters of science.

    Bashing us, since you are bashing atheists, is not helping our cause in being accepted by others and prevents us the ability to be able to talk to others about science and how wonderful it is.

    Sure I don’t start conversations about science by saying I’m an atheist but if I ever get talking to someone who is confused about evolution it’s almost guaranteed that it will come up. This is a symptom of the climate that is around at the moment and is being heightened by you.

    Allow me to emphasise the issue, YOU’RE NOT HELPING.

    • Posted April 23, 2011 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

      Oh, for what’s worth I endorse the letter too.

    • Kate
      Posted April 24, 2011 at 7:33 am | Permalink

      Actually I think what both the BCSE and NCSE are doing is simply recognising the fact that not all religious people are screaming, fundamentalist creationist nutters and that the only difference between large numbers of christians and large numbers of atheists is that one group believes in a deity the other thinks that silly. No matter how much you personally loathe religion, in the UK that just happens to be a fact. Suggesting otherwise isn’t just alienating them it’s alienating atheists like me who also happen to recognise that fact.

      The real and pressing issue remains the rather unpleasant fundamentalists and extremists whose beliefs impact on the human rights of others, including the rights of children to learn science without having to consider biblical nonsense. As far as I can see NCSE was the organisation defending those rights at Dover not Richard Dawkins. As far as I can see they did it based purely on the facts of the case without prejudiced ideas about christianity. Had they made it a purely religion v atheism thing I doubt they’d have used Ken Miller and his utter destruction of the ID argument about the bacterial flagellum because he is an avowed believer. I doubt they’d have been very taken seriously either.

      Here in the UK BCSE have been instrumental in protecting pupils from the creeping threat of creationism time and time again. Again they have done that by sticking to the facts and not allowing it to be dominated by a generic lets get rid of all christians agenda. Had they done so I doubt very much that our education secretary would have taken the slightest bit of notice of them because I suspect, like most of us, his main experience of christians will have been some nice folk from the CofE, more likely to offer you a pot of tea and some home made jam than take over your school and start proselytising.

      At the end of the day moderate, rational christians don’t impinge on my rights and the rights of society. Fundamentalists, extremists and creationists do. So if a christian is as disgusted as I am by the creationist threat, and many are, I think having them on board as an ally is far more important than pretending they are just as bad just to suit my personal stereotype.

      At the end of the day NCSE and BCSE seem to be achieving rather a lot by their religious neutrality. Whilst I admire Richard Dawkins and Jerry Coyne immensely they aren’t.

      • Posted April 24, 2011 at 9:07 am | Permalink

        “Actually I think what both the BCSE and NCSE are doing is simply recognising the fact that not all religious people are screaming, fundamentalist creationist nutters and that the only difference between large numbers of christians and large numbers of atheists is that one group believes in a deity the other thinks that silly.”

        No, not really. Concentrating on the evolution/creation issue and science education – important though that is – tends to overshadow other matters where mainstream religions, not just fundamentalists, cause serious problems, such as the way that they propagate prejudice (homophobia) and ignorance (as with the Catholic Church regarding condom safety).

        The mainstream religions can be just as fundamentalist, and we should not consider them moderate just because they don’t believe in Noah’s Ark.

        • Vince Whirlwind
          Posted April 27, 2011 at 12:17 am | Permalink

          Nonsense Steve – your opinions about homosexuals and condoms are nothing to do with rational, objective analysis and verifiable fact. They are opinions and politics, nothing to do with science. What any particular religion may teach about morality or sexuality has nothing to do with what goes on inside the science classroom.

          • Diane G.
            Posted April 27, 2011 at 8:35 pm | Permalink

            Science shows condom use reduces the spread of HIV. Science shows homosexuality occurs naturally throughout the animal kingdom, and has shown connections between homosexuality and particular brain features in humans. Science has much to add to discussions of so-called morality.

            • Samantha G
              Posted April 30, 2011 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

              science also shows that celibacy is even more effective than condoms in reducing the spread of HIV

      • Garnetstar
        Posted April 24, 2011 at 9:12 am | Permalink

        Well, here in the US the problem is that the NCSE seems not to be religiously neutral, but is (perceived) to be rather exclusively supportive of the views of theists, while attacking and attempting to silence the views of atheists who differ with them in strategy.

        I would be wholly supportive of a science education organization which was neutral.

        • Kate
          Posted April 24, 2011 at 10:04 am | Permalink

          Here in the UK the BCSE is most definitely religiously neutral. However, here we do not yet have the problem with fundamentalism that you do in the US. They have managed to prevent creationism sneaking in to our schools and for that I am grateful.

          As for fundamentalism in the mainstream denominations Steve Zara-that too is variable. As an institution the catholic church worldwide is pretty awful. However there is a huge difference between the way it is able to operate nowadays in the developed world and its behaviour in the third world. You’re unlikely to find many anti condom, homophobic, anti divorce etc catholics in UK churches anymore. I don’t actually know any at all despite knowing many catholics. I’ve found they think in exactly the same way you do on many of those issues and are disgusted with the behaviour of their church in many respects. I was raised as a catholic and I have seen it have to change in Britain at least.

          I cannot understand why they do not leave as I did but neither can I claim they fit the stereotype given to them on sites like the Richard Dawkins one. However I do think that if they weren’t constantly having to defend themselves and keep saying ‘well no I don’t actually think that’ they would be more likely to be allies in more important issues-like the proscribed use of condomes in desperately poor AIDs ridden countries. Likewise the CofE.

          Recent high profile cases in the UK like the appalling couple who refused to let a gay couple into their B&B or the van driver who refused to take his cross out of his employers works van nearly always seem to have the backing of the more vocal, extreme christian facist style groups. I can’t say I have any christian friends that agrees with them. However I do know of fundamentalist christians that do. At the end of the day ensuring the extremists are not allowed to get away with infringements of human righst is far more important than saying to somebody who agrees with me on that-‘well you can’t cos you believe in god therefore must agree with them-just cos I say so’.

          • Posted April 24, 2011 at 10:17 am | Permalink

            “You’re unlikely to find many anti condom, homophobic, anti divorce etc catholics in UK churches anymore.”

            I suspect that this is true. But until those Catholics leave the Church they are providing considerable support via their numbers and their funding for the whole institution. They are fundamentalism-enablers.

            • Kate
              Posted April 24, 2011 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

              True but you aren’t going to encourage them to leave their church by stereotyping them and lumping them together with all the real nasty fundamentalists and accusing them of things they really do not accept or believe are right. All you will do then is put them on the defensive and convince them that you don’t know anything about western catholics.

              I hate what the catholic church stands for with a vengence and left it long before I stopped believing in gods. However having ocassionally gone onto the Richard Dawkins site and read whats been said about it I’ve ended up defending the indefensible. Mainly because so much of what was said there showed such a total ignorance of reality.

              As for the BCSE, in keeping creationism out of schools they are also going a long way towards protecting children from the worse of the fundamentalists as in England the two often seem to go together. Much as I admire Dawkins as a writer and thinker, in practical terms he hasn’t achieved a fraction of what NCSE and BCSE have in actually protecting children from indoctrination by the real nutters in all of this.

              • Posted April 24, 2011 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

                “in practical terms [Dawkins] hasn’t achieved a fraction of what NCSE and BCSE have in actually protecting children from indoctrination by the real nutters”

                And you base this statement on what?

                It seems to me that the BCSE might not have achieved what it has without Dawkins’s first raising these issues in the public consciousness: That the BCSE has reaped what Dawkins had sown.

              • Ichthyic
                Posted April 24, 2011 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

                It seems to me that the BCSE might not have achieved what it has without Dawkins’s first raising these issues in the public consciousness: That the BCSE has reaped what Dawkins had sown.

                exactly!

                Which makes it all the more ridiculous that so many people in these science education groups now feel apparently compelled to throw those same people under the bus.

                It will backfire on them. We told them so years back, have proved it repeatedly, and now the only thing left is to make a public spectacle of the issue.

              • Kagehi
                Posted April 24, 2011 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

                True but you aren’t going to encourage them to leave their church by stereotyping them and lumping them together with all the real nasty fundamentalists and accusing them of things they really do not accept or believe are right.

                The problem is, this is, “someone else’s problem.”-ism. Its practiced by just about every religious person every place. I don’t do it, so stop saying I am one of the ones that do, even though I am not doing anything to really change it either. If you won’t leave *and* won’t fight back, what are you doing exactly? If you do leave, make some new church, then you *still* don’t fight back (by making it damn uncomfortable for the kooks that stayed), you are still not doing anything useful. In the US, for example, the “moderate” groups are shrinking, most of them going to other religions, or abandoning it, while the fundies get bigger (since that is one set of choices, and the only one religious people seem to bother with, either stop attending, instead of staying to fight, or go crazier).

                So, either you fight it, or you don’t, in which case you either leave, or you stay. All of these choices say something about what you actually value, and the “deeply religious” tend to value faith more than everything else, those that value justice, truth, ethics, etc., tend to value *those things* more than they do faith. This drives the center, such as it is, to opposite corners. A few hundred years ago the “opposite corners” where Catholicism, or some other more moderate replacement. Today, the edges are.. some form of stricter religion, even if you hate much of what it does, or something which rejects god, or has him clinging by his fingernails. The later being… slightly harder to keep justifying as belief in a god, as such.

                NCSE are aiming for these sorts of fingernail hangers, while ignoring the fact that they are not people that need convincing, for the most part, possibly with the hope that it *will* convince the ones running to the other fringe. It won’t. And the refusal of everyone sitting on the fence, in between, to take a real side isn’t weakening the crackpots, or helping the NCSE, its weakening the NCSE, and strengthening the fundies.

              • Posted April 25, 2011 at 7:46 am | Permalink

                Indeed. Over the last five year or so the BCSE’s successful campaigns have received no support or encouragement from Richard Dawkins or his foundation.

                Our members have no reason at all to think him for his lack of input.

                Those same members have privided an enourmous input into our efforts, as they are busy doing so over this Easter weekend.

                He’s got his uses as part of the heavy artillery defending science from well behind the lines, I suppose.

          • Posted April 24, 2011 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

            “Here in the UK the BCSE is most definitely religiously neutral.”

            Evidently not.

          • Posted April 24, 2011 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

            “You’re unlikely to find many anti condom, homophobic, anti divorce etc catholics in UK churches anymore.”

            If this means something other than, “You’re unlikely to find many Catholics in UK churches anymore,” I’m not sure I agree.

            Where are the statistics that show a majority of church-going Catholics are pro condoms, pro gay rights and pro divorce?

            In my experience, coming from a Catholic family, Catholics are far more conservative than other Christians in the UK.

            But even if what you say is true, I agree ŵ Steve Zara.

            • Kate
              Posted April 25, 2011 at 8:03 am | Permalink

              antallen to be honest I can only speak from my own experience and based on that all the church going and non church going except on special occassions catholics I know are all divorced/on second marriages and all have far fewer kids than they have sexual encounters. They don’t really differ from my non catholic friends at all. I do take on board that you have a more scientific sample than my limited self selected one of friends. I’d be really interested to see what the statistics really show for Britain.

              Kagechi you haven’t specified what exactly you’re fighting? You can’t fight a huge heterogenous thing like the catholic church in one go, you can only fight certain aspects like its opposition to gay adoption or refusal to hand over abusing priests. However nobody is actually providing any lead on that. As far as I can see the atheist camp is far too busy slagging the ‘whole’ RC thing off to sit down and actually come up with a workable strategy. And if you’re going to stereotype all catholics as supporters of those things you’ll just end up wasting your time and theirs in a ‘you’re all like that’, ‘no we’re not’ pointless debate. I really don’t know why they stay in their church but they do. That doesn’t make them supporters of all the wrong it does. I only thing I can come up with is the fact I vote labour despite disagreeing with much of what it does/did because I agree with its core principles so maybe its the same.

              • Tyro
                Posted April 25, 2011 at 9:44 am | Permalink

                You can’t fight a huge heterogenous thing like the catholic church in one go, you can only fight certain aspects like its opposition to gay adoption or refusal to hand over abusing priests.

                All churches and all religions rest on the fetid swamp of faith. Undermine that, and you really do attack the power base of the RC.

                Of course it won’t happen overnight and there are plenty of mushrooms blooming in the catholic dung heap for us to pluck along the way – child abuse and a criminal conspiracy to cover it up are just the obvious ones. We can certainly expose these problems along the way, even as we attack the fundamentals.

          • articulett
            Posted April 24, 2011 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

            You said: “At the end of the day ensuring the extremists are not allowed to get away with infringements of human righst is far more important than saying to somebody who agrees with me on that-’well you can’t cos you believe in god therefore must agree with them-just cos I say so’.”

            I’d ask you who does this, but I have a feeling that, like Nick Matzke you’d come up with a libelous lie.

            I don’t consider you and your straw man atheist bigotry to be someone on “my side”. You are spreading prejudicial lies about people I find more honest and better at communicating that you.

            • Kate
              Posted April 25, 2011 at 8:24 am | Permalink

              Articulett Ok fair enough. However I really only heard of Nick Matzke the other day though I was aware of Dover. As for being a poor communicator-could you please explain the ‘straw man atheist bigotry’ soundbite in plainer english? Let me know who exactly my prejudicial lies referred to? Oh and hone your own insulting skills while you’re at it.

              As for the libel, again I have to admit to only having been on the Richard Dawkins forum about three/four times over a year ago (after reading and loving The God Delusion) and probably haven’t seen it at it’s best but some of it did seem to contain a lot of general stereotyping (and fairly low level but unchecked sexism from a minority-the reason I didn’t bother going back). However I did not stereotype everyone there as there were also some very informed, interesting and intelligent people on it. I apologise if I’m wronging you all here. However I do genuinely feel that the threat from extremists is far too important to waste time fretting because moderates happen to believe in a God.

              Anyway Articulett if I go work on my grammar now you can go work on your soundbites and platitudes.

          • articulett
            Posted April 24, 2011 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

            Like Nick and Roger, you appear to be seeing things and hearing things that nobody did or said in order to affirm your prejudices about outspoken atheists. You are delusional if you think anybody is saying to anybody that “you can’t believe in god” like in your little imaginary scenario. How blinded by your prejudice must you be to completely miss what was actually said and invent your own delusion about what people are saying? Does this help you feel more justified in spreading your hate? Is this how Nick and Roger are able to do it. They thnk their straw men are real– that they are fighting a real battle of meanies telling peole they can’t believe in god??! How many other lies are you telling yourself and spreading to others? Would you dare say such prejudicial dishonest things about any other group of people? Seriously?

            You are not someone I consider to be competent in the battle for making people more scientifically literate. You are too daft and/or prejudice to understand a simple request and you are bent on hearing things that no one said in order to fan the flames of prejudice.

            From my perspective, you fail all around in both science and communication and you are not someone I would want teaching my children anything.

            For the umpteenth time– science education should treat religious claims the same way they treat all other supernatural claims and pseudosciences! And they should stop the insane atheist bashing. It’s making you guys look so ugly– really.

            • Kate
              Posted April 25, 2011 at 8:43 am | Permalink

              Calm down articulett. I’m basing what I said on things I specifically saw on the Richard Dawkins site over a year ago. Amongst the many intelligent informed opinions that were there there was also the same level of ignorance that you’d find in any walk of life.

              As for understanding a simple request. I don’t know where you are but in Britain we currently have a government intent on removing many of the safeguards we had in place to protect schoolchildren from extremism, like inspections or the requirement to teach to a specified curriculum. Our education minister is certainly not an extreme fundamentalist but he is sympathetic to religion. Anyone trying to ensure creationism and fundamentalism are kept out of our schools cannot go in with a general anti religious stance. He simply won’t listen to them. And to be honest he won’t understand them because that sort of religion is fairly new to us. Having a relgious person on board does make a difference because he may just appreciate that if they think its a threat than it just might be.

          • articulett
            Posted April 24, 2011 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

            Kate said: “I cannot understand why they do not leave as I did but neither can I claim they fit the stereotype given to them on sites like the Richard Dawkins ”

            In my reading of the situation it is YOU who are spreading stereotypes– about Dawkins and other outspoken atheists. This is what the EVIDENCE shows… you know what evidence is, right? Because you fail to use it to support your many insane claims.

            I consider you to be about as competent in “science communication” and “honesty” as Matzke and Nygard… and that is very little indeed. Repeating a lie doesn’t make it true.

            In your warped mind you, the NCSE, and the BCSE may be doing more to further science than Dawkins, but on planet reality it looks like you are busy fomenting prejudice against the science educators who are much more honest than you. The atheist children in the UK will have to live with the stereotypes you are spreading, and I think that’s appalling. You are making them hate and fear those who would speak the plain truth to them– and provide evidence (which you cannot).

            Is your incessant desire to create straw men about “new atheists” help lessen your guilt about all the nastiness you spread?

            • Kate
              Posted April 25, 2011 at 9:01 am | Permalink

              articulett please tell me how I am stereotyping Dawkins and outspoken atheists? On the Richard Dawkins forum I said I found many intelligent informed people and some ignorance. All were outspoken, but being outspoken when you really don’t know what you’re talking about is just ranting. I also said there was some low level sexism. If you don’t actually believe that then go check back on the older threads there. Just as I left some of the women on the site had clearly finally become fed up with it and were trying to tackly it. I haven’t made that up. Can you please tell me what evidence I have referred to whilst your at it as I’m at a loss there?

              What nasiness have I spread to upset you? I’m sorry but catholicism is evil but not all catholics are. That is just a fact of life. Atheism is the more rational and intelligent stance but not all atheists are rational or intelligent though most are. That again is just life.

              Anyway looking forward to you enlightening me further on my nastiness. And looking forward to knowing how I’ve stereotyped Dawkins whom I happen to admire. And looking forward to hearing how you’ve protected my kids from extremism as well.

      • Posted April 25, 2011 at 3:04 am | Permalink

        Kate, if you had read my comment correctly, something that people from the NCSE and BCSE seem to have trouble doing, you would see I didn’t saying anything against their so called neutrality stance (which appears to be BS) or if they’re doing a good or bad job.

        What I did say is that beating up on prominent atheists is no way to help people like me, normal everyday people, talk to others about science because what is happening is that soon as it’s known I’m an atheists I become ‘biased’ somehow, amongst all the other negative connotations that go along with being an atheist has already.

        How hard is that for you to understand something that simple?

        thing to keep in mind is that a lot of Gnu Atheists are not scientist nor do they have large following on websites. Most are just simply living their lives without any stigma attached and wanting the best education for children. One detached from religious dogma.

        Hopefully I said it more plainly this time.

        • Kate
          Posted April 25, 2011 at 9:44 am | Permalink

          Nick LaRue I apologise if I misunderstood but my understanding was that the request was for atheists to stop beating up on christians. I feel that if someone is moderate and shares the same values as atheists than not seeing them as a help is ill advised given the sheer stupidity of creationism and the horror of the value system that goes with it. I do not want my kids exposed to that.

          As for Coynes comment that the fight against creationism and the fight against religion should be connected, I don’t agree. The fight against creationism is also a fight against the extreme end of religion. It’s a fight that most folk, if made aware of the issues, would support. The fight against religion however is much more nebulous and relies on peoples experience of it. In Britain until relatively recently it has been characterised by a fairly benign CofE. Even the RC church in Britain has become more moderate, though I guess that is for sound business reasons rather than choice. That means that most of us have never been threatened by religion in the way that people in the States have. Most people would therefore consider a fight against religion unfair and unnecessary and you would not get mainstream support. I don’t know if you are in Britain or the US but if the latter than yes the fight there probably is connected. And it’s now being imported to us.

          In addition we have an education minister sympathetic to religion. For the reasons above I guess he would see a general attack on religion as unfair. He has certainly hinted as much. However, I think like most people, he would want to stop extremism and creationism in schools.

          At the end of the day creationism is not only nonsense but dangerous. The people that believe it are absolutely insane and impervious to reason. It is also linked to fundamentalism and the threats that bring to human rights. If creationism gets a hold we all suffer but the status quo doesn’t really effect us here no matter how much we disagree. And slowly but surely religion is dying a death. The occasional loopy christian on a chat show or the high profile cases involving loopy christians are all in some way inolved with our new extremists. With communication moderate christians will see them as as much of a threat to them as to us.

          At the end of the day I do not want my chilren confused in science and I do not want them exposed to extremism until they are old enough to cope. That is way more important.

          • Kate
            Posted April 25, 2011 at 10:06 am | Permalink

            Oh and Nick can I also add that I’m guessing you aren’t in the UK because over here most people wouldn’t really care if you were an atheist or not? It would not affect what they thought about any science. Over here the evolution is mainstream at the moment.

            However the growing minority of extremists that have found religion imported from the US certainly would. If you are in the US I apologise and I think we are talking at cross purposes about very different situations. My aim is never to be in your unfortunate position.

            • Posted April 26, 2011 at 4:38 am | Permalink

              Apology accepted..

              Actually I’m moving to the UK soon. The countries I have lived in are not overly religious but doesn’t mean that ‘atheist’ bashing doesn’t reach those countries. However with the growing increase of ‘faith’ schools in the UK one has to wonder how long things there will last as they are.

              With the recent statements by some political and religious leaders in the UK against ‘aggressive secularism’ whatever that means there appears to be a trend happening. Maybe I’m wrong?

              • Kate
                Posted April 26, 2011 at 7:48 am | Permalink

                The new faith school issue is an artefact of our current govts ideology to get rid of our local education authorities and place control of schools in the hands of individuals. Unfortunately that has been seized by creationists as an excuse to get state money to build creationist schools. The first attempt was thwarted by the BCSE that you hate I’m afraid. And if they are ripped apart by this whatever it is argument than there is no other organisation in the UK with their expertise.

                The older faith schools aren’t a good thing but they’re not that much of a problem in real terms being mainly moderate. Creationism is currently not an issue in science, again due to BCSE I’m afraid. I wouldn’t worry to much. Aggressive secularism and other words bandied about tend to be largely ignored by vast swathes of the population who are lukewarm or indifferent to both faith and atheism. If you can get hold of an old copy of new scientist (can’t recall which one sorry but recent) there was an article pointing out that lukewarm atheism and lukewarm religion went hand in hand and fierce atheism was usually a reaction to nasty fundamentalism so you’ll be fine.

              • Kagehi
                Posted April 26, 2011 at 11:17 am | Permalink

                The new faith school issue is an artefact of our current govts ideology to get rid of our local education authorities and place control of schools in the hands of individuals.

                Am I seriously the only one that considers this to be just about as stupid as if someone came along and suggested, in the US, or any place else, that we put the building of roads back into the hands of private companies, instead of having the state pay for them? Because the problem with something like education, or health, etc., is that, for the well being of a nation, you need to meet or exceed a reasonable standard, not having 10 million different standards. And, anyone with an ounce of brains can see what happens when you do the later, then try to impose some standard over it after the fact, with inspections/tests/etc, instead of mandating that an actual standard be followed.

                In the US education has had two major idiocies running against it, 1) defunding when ever a budget on everything else got uneasy, and 2) the refusal to require working methods, instead of random ones, and clear guidelines for what should be taught, as apposed to merely testing for some minimum. In the last 20 years, you can add to that 1) sliding standards for those tests, which always go down hill, never up, and 2) rejection of the idea of any set standard, on the theory that having millions of different ones would work better.

                The result would be the same as we had with infrastructure, before someone got the idea that we kind of like having power, roads, water, etc. run to everyone, not just the people that where willing to pay for it, or who owned businesses willing to have it put in (for themselves, but not generally their employees).

                Why the hell are we trying to return the western world to a state that existed during the era of lords and serfs, where only the rich where educated, and usually by someone from the church, and then badly, in the sense of only getting what best served them to be a tyrant? Because that is the end result of this kind of complete idiocy, where someone in Florida knows completely different things than someone in California, or someone in Leeds thinks, I don’t know, that the Vikings settled South America, because the locals decided so, but South Hampton persist in claiming it was space aliens, because of some cult that moved in there, while actual history gets tossed aside, along with whole swaths of science, because each group doesn’t like bits of either one.

                Ok, that may be extreme, but the result of what we are seeing isn’t much better. Wars get fought over stuff less trivial than the difference between what some morons in the US South think is true, and the rest of the country, yet, the mess being created is not even “bad” yet.

          • Posted April 25, 2011 at 10:29 am | Permalink

            As for Coynes (sic) comment that the fight against creationism and the fight against religion should be connected, I don’t agree. The fight against creationism is also a fight against the extreme end of religion.

            Extreme end?

            Most of the religions I’m familiar with have some intelligent designer intervening in the universe at some point and ‘creating’. Your assertion that this notion is extreme I think is absolutely false. It is mainstream and underlies the central tenet of most faiths: God The Creator.

            Creationism by some agency of Oogity Boogity derives from religious faith-based beliefs. It comes from nowhere else. The incompatibility it has with the method of inquiry we call science lies in holding belief about what is supposedly true to be of equal respect to what is demonstrably true. Compromising this fundamental principle in methodology in order to accommodate potential allies in a specific issue is intellectual capitulation, and at its heart this is an unnecessary one for organizations dedicated to science education. Leave oogity boogity and respect for it out of science education altogether.

            Is that so unreasonable?

            • Kate
              Posted April 25, 2011 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

              There is a world of difference between somebody accepting all the known science yet still believing a deity has had some hand in it at some point and a nutter that believes the earth is 6000 years old and dinosaurs were on some mythical ark. The former twist their bible to fit reality the latter twist reality to fit their bible.

              The former don’t, in my experience, try to force me to share their beliefs nor do they try to get nonsense taught in schools. In fact many are as p@@@@@ off with creationsists as I am.

              Accusing them of being AS loopy and dangerous as their extreme peers is unfair. Argue they are the same to our current secretary of state for education and he’ll ignore you because what you’re saying won’t connect.

              Your choice but what exactly has your approach achieved in keeping creationism out of schools?

              • Kate
                Posted April 25, 2011 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

                Oh and religion currently has no place in British science education! Mainly because the BCSE has kept an eye on their activities and thwarted it. I haven’t seen any other organisation in the uk doing that.

  3. Brian
    Posted April 23, 2011 at 6:40 am | Permalink

    I’m from Australia, as my ham-fisted, useless attempts to raise the awareness of the slow decline of the Grey Kangaroo, Koala, and imminent loss of the Tasmanian devil might hint. And so I’m not directly affected by the groups mentioned. I’m not sure it affects me in an immediate sense. I’m too old to be miseducated. I’ve taken care of that myself. But here in the soon to be former land of the Devil and Quoll, I note that schools, government not private, schools have to find time for proseletysers, always Christian, payed out of the public purse. In Australia it’s considered bad form to mention religion or politics in polite conversation. But all the while, we’ve managed a federal minister in charge of the internet who wants to firewall it, and create a discretionary list that has to be blocked by all isp’s, state ministers who won’t even consider that state schooling shouldn’t have a religious component, and of course the battle to keep the catlics (whom the federal minister mentioned is one) from taking away the ‘priveledge’ of women to decide not to be baby factories. And so on……….

    So I should not make a fuss about liberal religion? What’s so liberal about it? They don’t let non-believers have liberty, and they certainly don’t have liberty themselves. The can’t choose to not believe what they believe.

    • Tyro
      Posted April 23, 2011 at 9:05 am | Permalink

      What’s so liberal about it? They don’t let non-believers have liberty, and they certainly don’t have liberty themselves.

      QFT.

      “Liberal” religion is only liberal wrt a few narrow parameters like evolution and can be extremely illiberal everywhere else.

      • Mike B
        Posted April 25, 2011 at 7:58 am | Permalink

        Not only that but when the chips are down the ‘liberal’ religionists will indeed side with the fundies. Take the Rushdie affair: the Archbishop of Canterbury responded to the Fatwa by saying – not that the freedom of a writer should be defended – but that the law of blasphemy in the UK should be exended to cover Islam.

    • Dawn Oz
      Posted April 23, 2011 at 8:21 pm | Permalink

      As a fellow Aussie, I’m also dismayed by the infiltration of the church into our secular schools. Both sides of government are courting the Christian vote, and ‘school chaplains’ are dealing with substantive issues from an….er…spiritual framework (usually evangelical). As Australia is much more secular than the US, we are shocked that it happened at all. So, I’m concerned that any acceptance of religion, leads to an encroachment on our precious secular turf. Gnu atheists like Harris, are clarifying and demonstrating how to think, especially within the moral dimension. Science has always been to road to freedom from woolly thinking, as its skepticism all the way.

  4. Steve
    Posted April 23, 2011 at 6:45 am | Permalink

    Isn’t it fortunate for accomadationists, that the probability is close to one hundred percent that there will be one comment that they can latch on to and use as a way to avoid addressing any of the inconvenient questions they are asked to respond to.

    • Posted April 25, 2011 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

      They’re rather like leeches in that sense: their sensory organs have developed to detect highly specific stimuli before initiating the “latch-on” response; anything that doesn’t fall within their narrow detection parameters may as well not exist.

      So, in a sense, accomodationists are completely justified in doing what they do. But not because they’re “right”; it’s because they’re simply unable to recognise or meaningfully interact with anything outside an extremely narrow range of stimuli.

  5. andrew
    Posted April 23, 2011 at 6:51 am | Permalink

    I’m fairly new to the Gnu camp having only begun calling myself an atheist in 2009. There was a bit of a transition period, but as late as 2007 I still considered myself a Presbyterian.

    I was of the most liberal theological persuasion, strongly supporting the teaching of evolution and despising ID and creationism.

    And yet, when I was first exposed to Pharyngula, I found the conversation challenging and compelling. I was not, as the accomodationists warn, turned off by the ‘tone’ of the discourse. Instead, PZ helped remove my blind-spot of religious claims and see religion for what it is – pure BS.

    Needless to say, I appreciate that the Gnus treat their audience as adults that don’t need to be coddled.

    • Kevin
      Posted April 23, 2011 at 7:25 am | Permalink

      Yes, I think this needs to be said over and over again.

      The evidence is in the opposite direction. Clear, directly, unapologetic language that calls a spade a spade and all gods nonsense has done nothing but create more honest, decent, law-abiding, scientifically literate citizens who just happen to be atheists.

    • Jake Jaramillo
      Posted April 23, 2011 at 7:45 am | Permalink

      Right on Andrew! I made a long, slow transition from Christian fundamentalism but always suspected that the lack was in myself – somehow I just didn’t have a religious sense or imagination; that maybe, just maybe, religious people could “feel” a deep truth about the universe that I could not. PZ and Pharyngula, as well as Jerry Coyne, Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, god bless him, changed all that for me. Like you, these gentlemen helped me see that yes, religion is bullshit and the sooner more people realize it, the better off we all will be.

    • Posted April 23, 2011 at 7:54 am | Permalink

      I have a similar story Andrew. I was raised Catholic, and took it very seriously. I was never raised to question evolution or other science, though. In 2007 I was going through what I then considered a crisis of faith, but I still believed. It was then that I found Pharyngula, and Dawkins, and even Ed Brayton of Dispatches. These were smart people with interesting things to say that also happened to be atheists. At first the anti-religious posts would rub me the wrong way, but in the end they made me realize that it was okay to be an atheist, and I realized that I was one myself.

      • andrew
        Posted April 23, 2011 at 9:40 am | Permalink

        Jake and Jim – Its heartening to hear others with similar stories. I suspect that there are quite a few Gnus with religious backgrounds who found the no-BS arguments of the Gnus challenging and refreshing at the same time.

        I think its important that we tell our stories often and encourage others to do so as well since there are likely many others that still hold on to religion that would respond to the Gnus as we have.

        cheers

        • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
          Posted April 23, 2011 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

          Hear, hear!

  6. julian
    Posted April 23, 2011 at 6:59 am | Permalink

    To the NCSE

    I understand you have many believers working foryou and many of them hold high ranking positions in your organization. And they should. Many believers have given there all to promoting science or working against quacks. These accomplished men and women clearly gave more than I (a 21 year old nobody Marine) to the cause of science advocasy.

    But that doesn’t give you the right or authority to dictate how I or anyone else fights these battles. In your fight against creationism in the States, many of you have mocked conservative religion. If I remember right a certain Catholic biologist arrived at the Kitzmiller v Dover trial wearing a mouse trap for a tie clasp. Was Kenneth Miller being contemptous towards Michael Behe’s ideas of Irreducible Complexity? I think so. He was certainly treating them with less then complete gravity despite their religious motivation.

    And there is nothing wrong with that.

    Humor, contempt, ridicule, some ideas (and yes people. Not many but some) deserve it. It takes away their protective shelling exposing them to the elements. Sometimes (often really) someone’s feelings are hurt. Something precious to them is dragged through the mud (their faith, pride, soceity). You see it all the time in political circles when discussing current events (Israel comes to mind) and you often see the same demands for civility and the same backlash.

    • julian
      Posted April 23, 2011 at 7:01 am | Permalink

      God damn it. Hit publish to soon. Ah well wasn’t nothing that hasn’t been said. Forgive the grammar and such.

      • Marta
        Posted April 23, 2011 at 7:03 am | Permalink

        Nah, you’re good.

      • Filippo
        Posted April 24, 2011 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

        No problemo. Re: A.C. Grayling’s reflection about the Hungarian(?) parliamentarian who said, “Everything has been said, but not everyone has said it.”

    • NickMatzke
      Posted April 23, 2011 at 9:22 am | Permalink

      Some people deserve it, but *Ken friggin’ Miller* doesn’t. Yet Gnus heap it upon people like him. That kind of thing is what bothers people like me. Treating people who have devoted their careers to science education and defending evolution like they are creationists, just because they are merely religious, or exhibit a little bit of old-fashioned American live-and-let-live about religion.

      For every story you’ve got about someone converting to atheism, I’ve got a story about someone who was raised fundamentalist and taught to be afraid of evolution because they were taught evolution=atheism, no basis for morality, etc. — but then they learned that there were diverse religious views on this, that accepting evolution and believing in God were separable issues, and then they finally felt open to the evidence for evolution. Some of them stay religious and some dont’, but **it’s absolutely friggin’ ubiquitous throughout the whole history of the issue**.

      The Gnu “strategy”/unconstrained emotional outburst against religion, on the other hand, plays right into creationist hands.

      As for this:

      also from your apparent failure to recognize that creationism is a symptom of religion (and not just fundamentalist religion), and will be with us until faith disappears. That is one reason—and, given the pernicious effect of religion, a minor one—for the fact that we choose to fight on both fronts.

      This is **complete ahistorical nonsense.** Go read Ron Numbers and other books on the history of creationism. Go look at who fights on the creationist side in court cases and political battles (fundamentalists) and who fights against them (religious moderates, among other people). This isn’t an ambiguous question.

      • Tyro
        Posted April 23, 2011 at 9:32 am | Permalink

        Some people deserve it, but *Ken friggin’ Miller* doesn’t. Yet Gnus heap it upon people like him.

        Heap it upon him, really? Julian observed that Ken Miller used light humour and mockery towards the ID crowd which sounds like a reasonable interpretation of the facts. No one was “heaping” anything on him, in fact they were using him as an example of how things *should* be done.

        Are you so blinded by your desire to hate the Gnus that you perceive a mild, supporting comment as “heaping” scorn on them?

        Now PZ and JC (and others) have compared some of Miller’s religious views to that of Creationists, arguing that theistic evolution differs from ID only as a matter of degree which is an interesting discussion, but certainly not one that anyone has hinted at here.

        The Gnu “strategy”/unconstrained emotional outburst against religion, on the other hand, plays right into creationist hands.

        If there’s anyone making unconstrained emotional outbursts, with respect I have to say it looks like it’s you not anyone of the Gnus. And if you seriously believe these outbursts play into the hands of your enemies then maybe you should focus more on applying this to your own writing and serving as a role model of good behavior before you seek to chastise others.

      • Posted April 23, 2011 at 9:33 am | Permalink

        Nick, you’re supposed to be listening here, because this is what we are trying to convey to the NCSE. Instead, you use this thread as an excuse for one of your regular anti-atheist outbursts.

        I’d prefer that this be a thread in which we convey stuff to the NCSE and BCSE for their consideration, not a place where you continue to try to salvage a scrap of credibility. I have asked for constructive messages, and by and large that’s what I’m getting.

        You don’t have to listen to us–indeed, you never do–but if you have any respect for our attempt to send a message to these organizations, you’ll just cool it for a while. Oddly, you don’t seem to realize that fulminations like yours (my dissection of Ken Miller’s book in The New Republic was civil and reasoned, by the way) further erode both your credibility and that of the NCSE.

        To the rest of the readers: please try not to let Matzke derail this thread.

        • Ichthyic
          Posted April 23, 2011 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

          To the rest of the readers: please try not to let Matzke derail this thread.

          Can I just say this to Nick then?

          *raspberry*

          that is all.

        • saintstephen
          Posted April 24, 2011 at 9:16 am | Permalink

          Matzke:

          The Gnu “strategy”/unconstrained emotional outburst against religion, on the other hand, plays right into creationist hands.

          Nonsense.

          Stanyard:

          blah blah blah VERMIN!!!

          Please don’t get your panties in a bunch.

          My view is that it takes a spectrum of tactics, expressions, and styles to disabuse people of their religious delusions. There is no one correct way to do this. There is no precedent to follow. We don’t have much time.

          I personally don’t discriminate against mere words. Every form of verbal expression is okay with me. Even if someone is shouting invectives and curses in my face, I make every attempt to parse the language and ascertain what their argument is. Maybe it was the way I was raised, but anger and emotions are actually of interest to me, and I tend to pay closer attention when someone is expressing themselves in a heated fashion. Emotion can be a very powerful way to win an argument, and I for one don’t intend on sacrificing this capability to the altar of “acceptable forms of verbal expression”, just on the strength of another human primate’s say so. If I could conduct myself like Steven Pinker, I’d probably conduct myself like Steven Pinker. I cannot conduct myself like Steven Pinker. It’s been a fifty year experiment, and the results are in:

          I have to conduct myself like Stephen Dayton. (I will, however, abide by the blog rules kindly stipulated earlier and elaborated on by the brilliant Professor Coyne in a recent post. And lest we forget, this is the guy who was captured on camera “flipping the bird” to creationists after explaining the evolution of 3-toed ungulates.)

          Yes, that’s me. Steve Dayton. Totally normal guy. Born in the town where the very first In & Out Burger was started. Single. Very single. Late Forty-something. BSME with Distinction, Stanford University, 1983. Engineer extraordinaire — which means I’ve spent time in, and been released from, some of the best corporate prisons in the civilized world.

          Why am I a lightning rod in here on WEIT, and on Richard Dawkins’ website? I’ve been wondering that myself!

          Personally, I think the highly educated atheist crowd is losing this “tone” battle to the religious side. Highly educated people like to write in subtle, pedantic terms, and they pat themselves on the back when they can make a point using culturally sophisticated language — even if the point is actually better expressed as

          Hey you idiots! You’re plumb crazy! There isn’t any stupid Sky-Daddy “up” there!

          Q.E.D.

          I mean, quit patting yourselves on the backs for writing such beautiful, non-controversial prose — people are suffering out there due to religion. Suffering RIGHT NOW, in fact.

          And just to close:

          Matzke: You’re wrong. It takes a spectrum. Err, sorry about referring to you as a species of Dawkins’ parasite.

          Stanyard: Grow up. Being called a vermin can’t be any worse than getting a wedgie.

      • Garnetstar
        Posted April 23, 2011 at 9:48 am | Permalink

        Nick, “unconstrained emotional outburst against religion” is the very kind of insult that Jerry’s letter spoke about. Why not just say “the Gnu’s strategy”?

        Is it so difficult to resist attacking people who disagree with you? Such unconstrained language only suggests not a rational difference in strategy, but a deep-seated fear (? or something) of the Gnu’s ideas? Surely, if your objections were derived purely from ratiocination, they would not need to be expressed in insulting language.

        It also proves the point that you believe that only your way of communication is or can be right, and that those who differ need reprimand and instruction from you, who know better.

        Can you not see that all approaches may have good and bad effects, yours as well as others? That one can agree to disagree, and both proceed, living and let living?

        • Garnetstar
          Posted April 23, 2011 at 9:51 am | Permalink

          Sorry, Jerry, didn’t see your post before commenting. I will refrain.

        • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
          Posted April 23, 2011 at 7:27 pm | Permalink

          Not trying to let Matzke derail threads, but noting that this was +1, a broad comment, _and_ I learned specifics from it. (claim of “outburst” vs actual strategy; what we are dealing with.)

          Good show!

          • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
            Posted April 23, 2011 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

            Well, duh. Actually, Matzke himself was aware of the bigotry, instigating the perspective as it were.

      • sasqwatch
        Posted April 23, 2011 at 9:53 am | Permalink

        “defending evolution like they are creationists”

        I think I know what you meant, but that sentence was quite funny.

        Equating “Gnu strategy” with unconstrained emotional outbursts is not helping. You are not helping. I see very little unconstrained emotional outbursts, here or elsewhere – unless we’re talking about trolls or the completely tactless (and I wouldn’t include even PZ in that bunch). I certainly wouldn’t characterize Dr. Coyne this way.

        Honest, yes. Forthright, yes. Respectful? Not of every foolish idea, but of the people that hold them? Yes. That’s why you accord people who happen to hold foolish ideas your honesty. Anything less is patronizing rhetoric, which you seem to be full of.

        • sasqwatch
          Posted April 23, 2011 at 9:56 am | Permalink

          Damn. Was also composing when Jerry and others were. I’m sorry I even gave attention to Nick’s obnoxious message.

          • Tyro
            Posted April 23, 2011 at 10:11 am | Permalink

            Yeah, good idea. I’ll follow you and disengage until things calm down.

            • Microraptor
              Posted April 23, 2011 at 11:13 am | Permalink

              I have an unpleasant suspicion that things aren’t going to calm down until Nick stops posting here, voluntarily or otherwise.

      • Ken Pidcock
        Posted April 23, 2011 at 10:49 am | Permalink

        Can I remind everybody that the conflict here, as is generally understood, starts with Seeing and Believing, a wonderfully reasonable and generous book review. The initial attacks were not from those who agreed with Jerry’s position, but from those self-appointed defenders of science education who decided that it was somehow unacceptable.

      • Posted April 23, 2011 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

        Matze: For every story you’ve got about someone converting to atheism, I’ve got a story about someone who was raised fundamentalist and taught to be afraid of evolution because they were taught evolution=atheism, no basis for morality, etc. — but then they learned that there were diverse religious views on this, that accepting evolution and believing in God were separable issues, and then they finally felt open to the evidence for evolution.

        As a formerly very religious person, I’m calling bullshit on this assertion. Yes, there are probably some nonthinkers who are surprised to find out that some “religious” people accept evolution and think, “Gee, maybe it’s OK if I do, too,” — but you actually think most people are that stupid?

        It was entirely the weight of evidence that convinced me of evolution, and the religious weaseling around and double-talk about it eventually showed me that religion was entirely wrong on the subject. Whether other religious people accepted it was never an issue.

        If you had half as much confidence in the evidence supporting evolution as you do in the gullible of religious people, you might actually be able to teach someone about the TOE.

        • Posted April 23, 2011 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

          Sorry — “gullibility”, not “gullible”

      • Posted April 23, 2011 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

        Nick,

        I think it is important for you to realise that your counter-example is not actually a counter-example. A real counter-example would be someone who used to be sympathetic to evolution but moved to creationism because they read Dawkins or Harris.

        The Gnus are not and have never said that everyone should (to purloin a religious phrase) sing from the same choirbook. If some creationists come to accept evolution through gentle opening of their eyes to other religious beliefs, well that’s good. That still doesn’t exclude them from criticism — theistic evolution is still worth challenging even if it isn’t YEC. But this thread is replete with people saying they came to reject creationism because they came across robust explanations of the evidence for evolution. Why would you want to close that down?

      • SAWells
        Posted April 23, 2011 at 10:48 pm | Permalink

        Wow, Nick, learn to read. The commenter _praised_ Miller and you couldn’t even tell.

      • truthspeaker
        Posted April 24, 2011 at 4:34 am | Permalink

        Why should we believe anything you say after your lie about Dawkins “ridiculously” playing the Nazi card?

      • Posted April 24, 2011 at 10:13 am | Permalink

        “Some people deserve it, but *Ken friggin’ Miller* doesn’t. Yet Gnus heap it upon people like him. That kind of thing is what bothers people like me. Treating people who have devoted their careers to science education and defending evolution like they are creationists, just because they are merely religious, or exhibit a little bit of old-fashioned American live-and-let-live about religion.”

        Ken Miller has done, and is doing great work. But science isn’t about playing politics (or at least it shouldn’t be), it’s about truth, and Miller does extremely strange and untrue things with science to support his beliefs. It’s equivalent to Richard Dawkins insisting that Platypuses were actually from Venus (they are strange, but not that strange).

        This is the thing that really gets me about accomodationists – the insistence science has to bow down before politics. It has to speak quietly, and not parade in the streets, in case it’s too shocking, or angers the faithful. That’s awfully familiar, and as silly not just factually but politically now as it was for the gay movements of the 90s.

        Also, Ken Miller is a good supporter of science when it comes to creationism, but forgive me if I’m not going to admire his Catholicism. Ken Miller supports a faith that considers poofs like me as having a tendency towards evil. Am I REALLY supposed to keep quite and applaud the guy on every occasion? Don’t you think, honestly, that his faith entitles us to come down on him pretty hard on some issues?

        • Kate
          Posted April 24, 2011 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

          I doubt very much that Ken Miller himself is homophobic and I suspect he’d be rather insulted at that implication? I don’t personally know any catholics that are even if their church is.

          If the issue is fighting battles against real fundamentalists who do encourage homophobia and infringe human rights then stereotyping everyone that is religious as being the same isn’t helpful.

          NCSE saved a lot of children from being fed creationist drivel. BCSE has done the same in the UK. To date what exactly have any of the really anti religious atheists achieved? If you want to actually do something you have to accept the reality that not all christians are evil nutters and not all atheists are particularly informed rationalists. Some are, some aren’t. I don’t want my children exposed to fundamentalist, extremist creationist nutters. I don’t want to see the hard won rights of gay people and women lost because we’ve slowly become a theocracy. That is way more important and if somebody who believes in god also shares those values I’d really rather have them on board.

          • Posted April 24, 2011 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

            “I doubt very much that Ken Miller himself is homophobic and I suspect he’d be rather insulted at that implication? I don’t personally know any catholics that are even if their church is.

            If the issue is fighting battles against real fundamentalists who do encourage homophobia and infringe human rights then stereotyping everyone that is religious as being the same isn’t helpful.”

            I don’t care if Ken Miller would feel insulted. He is supporting a particularly nasty organisation that actively promotes homophobia. It’s not stereotyping to point out to people the doctrines and political opinions of a religion that they are actively supporting.

            It’s fair to call a bigot a bigot, and it’s fair to criticize those who actively support bigotry through their overt membership of a religion.

            If Ken Miller opposes homophobia and supports womens’ rights then he should do the honest thing and abandon Catholicism. If he doesn’t, then it’s entirely fair to target him.

          • articulett
            Posted April 24, 2011 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

            More straw men from Kate.

            Is she incapable of talking about real people and the real things they are actually saying?

            Or is she bent on fighting the war against these straw man gnu atheists she is sure are hurting some cause?

            • Kate
              Posted April 25, 2011 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

              I don’t actually know what gnu atheists are I’m afraid. And I am talking about real people. And I am talking about real things they’ve said. Do you think I’ve got some religious friends that I’ve made out of clothes pegs in my lonely room? or do you not speak to anyone that can’t prove they don’t believe in god by some means or other? In what way do you believe I’m not talking about reality?

              What are you actually doing to prevent creationists infiltrating schools? I’d do anything at all to help if you tell me what your actual strategy is, or the strategy of the gnu atheists.

      • gillt
        Posted April 24, 2011 at 10:47 am | Permalink

        I’ve got a story about someone who was raised fundamentalist and taught to be afraid of evolution because they were taught evolution=atheism

        And that’s how discrimination against others is inherited. Why is your politics accepting of this instead of challenging it?

  7. Egbert
    Posted April 23, 2011 at 7:07 am | Permalink

    There are some atheists who still seem to cling to some external authority to gain meaning in their lives.

    Such atheists are working against the general enlightenment project that some of us wish to promote: to raise awareness and understanding using reason and science. And also to promote certain values like freedom and equality.

    In a sense, some atheists are no different to their theistic foes, each are promoting external authority and therefore more social inequalities and ignorance and everything that runs counter to the progress which we are seeking politically.

    I think the reason for this is how we have handled prejudice in society. Rather than treating it as ignorance– and the solution to ignorance is education and awareness–some of us have instead grown a new kind of prejudice–associating ignorance with hate–which has now manifested in the attempt to vilify and censor those who use language that people feel is offensive.

    This prejudice and ignorance is now another kind of privilege, and has now become acceptable in mainstream society, where any criticism is perceived as hatred and quickly condemned and suppressed.

    This is why so many liberals seem to speak the very opposite of liberalism, and why they are so quick to give up basic freedoms for the sake of never offending anyone.

  8. daveau
    Posted April 23, 2011 at 7:31 am | Permalink

    My name is David Richards, and I approve this message.

    • daveau
      Posted April 23, 2011 at 7:35 am | Permalink

      What’s up with the “real name” thing all of a sudden? daveau. It’s like Madonna, or Bono. Sort of. My friends know who I am.

      • Marta
        Posted April 23, 2011 at 7:45 am | Permalink

        I don’t know.

        I’m using my real first name, as of yesterday. Feel ungodly uncomfortable about it. There was a shot across my bow yesterday about using a nym, and his charge (although absurd, I thought, in the context) stung me.

        • Marta
          Posted April 23, 2011 at 7:50 am | Permalink

          By no means do I mean to suggest that it was Dr. Coyne. Apologies.

          • daveau
            Posted April 23, 2011 at 8:27 am | Permalink

            JC can do what he wants. I trust that he has his reasons; I’m just prone to question authority. As I’ve said several times, I don’t care if you</i) guys know. I just don't like my name easily seachable on the interwebs. It's nobody's business.

            And I've got to stop thinking of you as Helen.

            • daveau
              Posted April 23, 2011 at 8:34 am | Permalink

              Plus, I’ve got to close my italics properly.

              • daveau
                Posted April 23, 2011 at 9:31 am | Permalink

                and “searchable”

            • Marta
              Posted April 23, 2011 at 8:35 am | Permalink

              “And I’ve got to stop thinking of you as Helen.”

              Good luck with that. I’m having trouble with it, myself.

              • Garnetstar
                Posted April 23, 2011 at 9:53 am | Permalink

                I was stalked for seven years, and still don’t want to give him fuel.

                I do support this message.

              • Dominic
                Posted April 23, 2011 at 11:33 pm | Permalink

                Pleased to re-meet you! ;)

        • Grania Spingies
          Posted April 23, 2011 at 9:27 am | Permalink

          Hope it starts to feel more comfortable soon :)

          I sincerely don’t think anyone here intends for someone to feel they have compromised themselves by using their real name. There are some valid reasons for nyms. Everyone gets that.

          • Marta
            Posted April 23, 2011 at 9:39 am | Permalink

            It is not an issue of feeling “compromised”. It’s an issue of “privacy”, or as ERV posts in the other thread about da roolz, why must one link one’s blog hobby with one’s professional life, if one has no connection to the other?

            • Grania Spingies
              Posted April 23, 2011 at 9:59 am | Permalink

              That’s called compromising your privacy, surely?

              I don’t disagree with you, people need to decide what is right for them and I support that whole-heartedly.

              That said, my hobbies & my professional life may be a thousand miles apart, but they are both still me. I would prefer to live in a world where that is not an issue, and I think the only way we will get to that world is if little by little some of us take that chance.

              • Marta
                Posted April 23, 2011 at 10:20 am | Permalink

                I do not want to derail Dr. Coyne’s important post with this subject (usually, after I say something like that, I go ahead and say whatever it is I wanted to say in the first place), but the subject of women, anonymity and the internet is a complicated and huge subject of its own.

              • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
                Posted April 23, 2011 at 7:57 pm | Permalink

                Yes. I’m not into role playing, but apparently admitting and trying out different personas can be useful (and probably healthy to some extent).

                Using handles (nyms) can be used for good or for bad. As long as people accept the use, and accept the need for traceability at times (responsibility), we are good.

              • Ichthyic
                Posted April 23, 2011 at 8:07 pm | Permalink

                and accept the need for traceability at times

                that’s what entering your email addy when you post is for.

                the rest is frankly nobody’s business.

                As I said earlier, it isn’t hard to both maintain an anonymous nym here AND sign in with your real name to cosign the letter.

              • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
                Posted April 23, 2011 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

                that’s what entering your email addy when you post is for.

                Ah. You are going into third party responsibility of traceability.

                I have to admit I’m not well versed in such matters. Naively I guess that is all well and good for the site owner with respect to responsibility to abuse and historian with respect to responsibility of general traceability.

                However I don’t see how an email address alone is useful for specific traceability. If I see a nym I expect it to be a) consistent b) tied to a specific person. There is no guarantee that an email address, if it is checked at all, is any of that.

                But then again, there is no guarantee on the net.

              • Rob Schneider
                Posted April 24, 2011 at 8:58 pm | Permalink

                Hear! Hear! The change won’t come until we stand and proudly own who we are. Anyone who discriminates against us or attacks us, or..?? should be held accountable. We MUST stand and fight.

                Rob.

          • CW
            Posted April 23, 2011 at 8:07 pm | Permalink

            No, I’m not sure everyone gets that.

            Quoth our host: “I don’t approve of people running “blogs” anonymously, so if you do so, please don’t link to your site.”

      • GraemeL
        Posted April 23, 2011 at 7:53 am | Permalink

        From my reading of the rules, I don’t think that Jerry has a problem with you calling yourself something like daveau here. His restriction is that if you fill out the website box to link to your blog when posing a comment, then that blog should be in your real name and not a pseudonym.

        So if you linked your name to daveau’s blog, he wouldn’t like it, but if you linked to David Richards’ blog, then that would be OK.

        If you don’t link to a blog he doesn’t care, as long as you stick to using one name and there isn’t any sock-puppetry going on.

        (I’m sure he’ll correct me if my understanding is wrong.)

        • GraemeL
          Posted April 23, 2011 at 8:12 am | Permalink

          Whoops, forgot to add. He has the exception on the open letter for sensible reasons. If you want to be considered to have cosigned it, then you should be giving your real name.

        • daveau
          Posted April 23, 2011 at 8:30 am | Permalink

          JC has always seemed amused that I prefer to identify myself as daveau. I swear that is a nickname that I have had for 30 years, and there are many people in Chicago who only know me by that name, although my real name is not a secret.

          • Ken Pidcock
            Posted April 23, 2011 at 11:09 am | Permalink

            I used to use a nickname my mother used – kynefski – and was amused to learn that it seems unique. But I came to understand that, unless one requires anonymity (and I understand how some do), it is best to communicate openly.

          • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
            Posted April 23, 2011 at 8:02 pm | Permalink

            I’m of a different beat, I don’t like nicks. Or Nicks.

            • Ichthyic
              Posted April 23, 2011 at 8:04 pm | Permalink

              or OMs?
              :P

              • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
                Posted April 23, 2011 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

                Well, it’s complicated – see my previous comment down-thread.

                I would think that outside of context I look inconsistent. Well, call me human.

            • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
              Posted April 23, 2011 at 8:04 pm | Permalink

              To be perfectly clear, nicks or no nicks are a matter of deserving respect (or not) and/or love. Not about preferences.

              Still…

      • Posted April 23, 2011 at 8:13 am | Permalink

        Real name: Andrew Hackett (get this – my father’s name is Steve!). I also approve this message.

        I also, like daveau, wonder what’s up w the nym thing. I like “JS1685.” It gives people a little hint as to what I’m about besides rationality/faithlessness/atheism.

        • JS1685
          Posted April 23, 2011 at 8:16 am | Permalink

          Oh – I included a hyperlink in that comment since it contains my real name.

        • daveau
          Posted April 23, 2011 at 8:31 am | Permalink

          Not the Steve Hackett?

          • JS1685
            Posted April 23, 2011 at 11:26 am | Permalink

            No. I hail from a far less notable, far less cool line of Hacketts.

            • daveau
              Posted April 23, 2011 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

              Buddy?

        • Dominic
          Posted April 23, 2011 at 11:39 pm | Permalink

          Segemoor?

  9. Ken Pidcock
    Posted April 23, 2011 at 7:33 am | Permalink

    I would gladly cosign this but for the paragraph that begins thus:

    The official policy of your organizations—certainly of the NCSE—is apparently to cozy up to religion.

    That must be the official policy of NCSE. Part of their mission is defense of science teachers from aggressive creationists in religiously conservative communities. If they were understood to be incompatibilist, they would be useless.

    Thhis is true

    Nevertheless, your employees, present and former, have chosen to spend much of their time battling not creationists, but evolutionists who happen to be atheists.

    and it is right to call them on it. But if they would just stick to their mission, I have no problem with their accommodation.

    • Posted April 23, 2011 at 8:02 am | Permalink

      Why does the NCSE need a position at all on the compatibility of religion and evolution? Their focus should solely be on ensuring that sound science is taught in our classrooms. They can do that without having any opinion at all on religion.

      • Marta
        Posted April 23, 2011 at 9:53 am | Permalink

        “Why does the NCSE need a position at all on the compatibility of religion and evolution? Their focus should solely be on ensuring that sound science is taught in our classrooms. They can do that without having any opinion at all on religion.”

        Exactly right, and the point that Dr. Coyne and many others have been trying to get across to the NCSE for what seems like years.

      • Ken Pidcock
        Posted April 23, 2011 at 10:39 am | Permalink

        Actually, they don’t have such a position. They have a Religious Community Outreach program, which provides political cover for their activities.

        Whether, when scientists honestly acknowledge the incompatibility of science and religion, they should be accused of interfering with the promotion of science education is the issue at hand. Josh Rosenau and others do this, and it is appropriate to remind NCSE that these attacks are counterproductive. I just don’t see this as related to NCSE’s collaboration with its religious supporters. I appreciate that others do. I don’t

        • Ken Pidcock
          Posted April 23, 2011 at 10:58 am | Permalink

          And, on further reflection, I endorse Jerry’s letter without reservation.

  10. lamacher
    Posted April 23, 2011 at 7:34 am | Permalink

    Good post, Jerry, and an excellent letter. I agree entirely.

    • lamacher
      Posted April 23, 2011 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

      That is, Loren Amacher, Lewisburg, Pa.

  11. Kevin
    Posted April 23, 2011 at 7:34 am | Permalink

    What is the evidence from the NCSE/BCSE that their tactic has worked?

    Has there been any major religious organization that has come out and disavowed their prior stance on evolution? Modified it even slightly? Opened up the slight possibility that their religious tenets might not stand up to scrutiny?

    I think the opposite conclusion can be reached … while some creationists (famously Albert Mohler) may be willing to engage in discussions, their opinions remain fixed and inflexible.

    The only benefit I see from the NCSE/BCSE’s work in this arena is to aggregate those religious organizations who ALREADY acknowledge at least some form of evolution as being compatible with their beliefs.

    They have not changed the official stance, however, of either of those two groups. Nor will they ever.

    It would be incredible hubris on the part of NCSE/BCSE to think that they can ‘win’ the battle against creationism on their level of engagement. What they’re asking for is nothing less than a wholesale revision of the fundamental tenets of major religious organizations. Organizations for which their timeline for change can be measured in centuries. (Think how long it took the Catholic Church to acknowledge Galileo was right.)

    The NCSE/BCSE is fighting the battle on the wrong front. The battles will be won one at a time. One mind at a time. One ex-church-goer at a time.

    And you don’t bring a banana to a knife fight.

    • Tyro
      Posted April 23, 2011 at 9:14 am | Permalink

      The NCSE has done some excellent work that has helped keep evolution in the classrooms. While they’re backing the wrong horse on this one, let’s not forget that they have been fighting a rear-guard action for years and have many successes.

      I just think it’s a great think that some people aren’t content with these small-scale skirmishes but are stepping forward to take the fight to the enemy. It would be nice if more people in the NCSE would recognize that our push will only help them. If it’s not politically wise to recognize and support us then they could at least take the same approach they take when their religious allies yammer on about miracles and do nothing.

      • Kevin
        Posted April 23, 2011 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

        Keeping evolution in the classroom is not the same thing as fundamentally changing the religious tenets of those who disavow science.

        Frankly, in the US at least, the battle against religious intrusion in the science classroom is being done better by other organizations. Most notably the ACLU.

      • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
        Posted April 23, 2011 at 8:57 pm | Permalink

        they could at least take the same approach they take when their religious allies yammer on about miracles and do nothing.

        QFT.

        you don’t bring a banana to a knife fight.

        QFL. (Quoted For Laughs.)

      • truthspeaker
        Posted April 24, 2011 at 5:39 am | Permalink

        As I said in another thread, I don’t expect the NCSE to join us in attacking religion. I do expect them not to attack us for attacking religion.

        • Kate
          Posted April 24, 2011 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

          The BCSE in the UK has prevented a creationist organisation from introducing ‘teach the controversy’ into the ‘how science works’ component of our exam system. Something which would have effected every school child in Britain. It has had the creationist textbook ‘explore evolution’ removed from school libraries after it was sent free to many schools in England. It has prevented a creationist group from obtaining a large sum of money from the state to build a school under new legislation allowing anyone to open a school in the UK and it is involved with trying to raise the profile of evolution in the British science curriculum.

          It has also gathered information about the major creationist and ID groups in the UK and keeps a fairly watchful eye on them. That is just a fraction of what it has achieved. It is religiously neutral. It is also fairly well informed about religion. What has this site actually done.

          • Tyro
            Posted April 24, 2011 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

            Kate,

            Why are you defending the achievements of the BCSE since I don’t think anyone is trying to undermine them. What we’re talking about should be clear to anyone that has bothered to read the open letter Jerry wrote in the first article. We’re concerned that the BCSE and NCSE are taking theological positions while attacking atheists. There is no need to do this, it alienates a large population of supporters and we feel it ultimately makes them less effective.

            For the BCSE, see their Religion and Science page which is overtly religions and also takes a distinct theological position which is either not supported by or, in places, directly contradicted by the evidence.

            It is religiously neutral. It is also fairly well informed about religion. What has this site actually done.

            It is demonstrably not religiously neutral as a casual look through their site reveals.

            I think Jerry has accomplished quite a bit but even if he hadn’t, it wouldn’t change the facts about the BCSE nor would it blunt our criticisms.

          • swences
            Posted April 24, 2011 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

            ugh…for crying out loud Kate, no one is saying that the BSCE hasn’t done anything positive, or accomplished anything in favor of science. It obviously has.
            What is clear is that what Jerry’s open letter is about, is the neutrality of the BSCE when it comes to religion. I know you and a few others keep insisting that they are in fact neutral, but a quick glance at their website shows that they are not.
            Dr. Coyne is NOT telling the BSCE to criticize religion, or to back the Gnu Atheists, but to keep things strictly science. How is that simple message really going over your head? It really isn’t that nuanced of a position.

          • Posted April 24, 2011 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

            Concur ŵ Tyro and swences.

            • articulett
              Posted April 24, 2011 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

              Me too.

    • Posted April 25, 2011 at 8:05 am | Permalink

      Amongst the evidence are:

      1. We stopped Truth in Science in its tracks by getting an early day motion tabled in Parliament which stopped all teaching of creationism or ID in school science lessons in England and Wales.

      2. We have got the minister for education, Michael Gove, to issue a statement saying that creationism will not be allowed in new acadamies and free schools.

      3. We’ve got Harper Collins to change one of its major biology school textbooks by deleting content on creationism.

      4. We’ve got the Archbishop of Canterbury to say that creationism is not an Anglican position.

      5. We’ve largely stopped professional creationist proselytisers getting into state schools.

      6. We’ve probably been the major force in the demise of a number of creationist organisations in Britain such as Answers in Genesis UK and the Creation Science Movement.

      Perhaps you might want occasional to read the Richard Dawkins Foundation community forum where we have received a number of thank yous for our efforts (none from Richard Dawkins, btw).

      And you own successful efforts in this field in the UK are precisely what?

  12. Jake Jaramillo
    Posted April 23, 2011 at 7:38 am | Permalink

    I’ve gone on the Grand Canyon raft trip with the NCSE crew, including Genie, and learned quite a lot about the “theories” of the creationists about how all those layers were deposited during Noah’s Flood. They do great work and I’m disappointed when I hear them suggesting that atheists back off on criticism of religion. For me and for many others, including apparently most scientists, the two – atheism and evolution – are epistemological siblings. I wish NCSE would recognize that there are indeed two magisteria: the one they operate in, and the one the gnus agitate in. Why not leave it at that?

  13. sasqwatch
    Posted April 23, 2011 at 7:41 am | Permalink

    Thank you for that letter, Jerry. I couldn’t agree more. Having been on the front lines in public education and public health for my entire career, I have watched in dismay as the public discourse in my country has shifted from no-nonsense realism to the craven pandering and mushy-brained twaddle typified by the accomodationist stance. My enthusiasm for and support of the NCSE and others (CSICOP/CPI, for example) has waned precisely because of the misguided Gnu-bashing. Things work better when all the discourse in the public sphere is evidence-based, or at least has the common ground that a naturalistic point of view affords… no exceptions. The other slope is too slippery.

    Stephen Q. Muth
    Colorado Springs, CO

  14. Joe Hern
    Posted April 23, 2011 at 7:45 am | Permalink

    I am an atheist, and part of an Ohio group (at least my involvement is in a ‘sleeper cell’ way) of influential movers and shakers (including NCSE members) to stop the creationist agenda to infiltrate our schools (Again, I am not one of those influential movers or shakers, and merely a graduating senior in Psychology at Ohio State and a police officer and father of two, who was added to the list several years ago and who has only peripherally helped the cause to date, awaiting an opportunity to provide truly worthwhile assistance), but I have been vocal on the closed email list serve at times about the incompatibility of religion and science, and ‘new atheism’ when the topic would come up.

    First, let me say that I have gratefully learned directly from members of that list why it is important not to be caustic or so viscerally against religion insomuch as how I deliver it, and I agree to a significant degree that it is not conducive to fostering a worthwhile dialogue. We New Atheists appear to throw in the towel in that regard and assume it would be a lost cause to attempt worthy dialogue with a creationist. Second, it certainly doesn’t help the cause that most of the movers and shakers are trying to put forth, and that is to separate the fight against creationism in our schools from being assumed to be an atheist fight. We atheists are an articulate bunch and our comments gain a lot of traction, and we are often compelled to speak up and fight the ignorance of creationism and the harm it causes. In many ways, we are a significant hindrance to the sober, measured way the rest of the pro-evolutionist movers and shakers would like the movement to progress. That progression is one of almost outright refusal to acknowledge the arguments of the creationists, and simply push out the education as best as possible. Clearly this is profoundly opposite of the way we like to deal with the ignorance.

    When I would post to the list my defenses of new Atheism and the incompatibility of faith and science, I did so because I felt and still feel the psychology behind the fundamentalist Christian’s motives (being a former YEC myself) is vitally important to stopping the creationist agenda. And part of that psychology is recognizing the incompatibility of religion and science, and what makes the new Atheists want to be so vocal. This could not possibly have sat well with the theists on the list (understandably) and I should have known better to be so forward with my views. My last major post was to establish once and for all as best I could for everyone to accept that faith and science are not compatible, and I explained why in terms of the bridge between what we observe and what we conclude, and that is merely the hypothesis stage of science and that’s where the similarity ends. Once we begin to implement real science, faith is abandoned and has no resemblance to science. In fact, it is the ANTITHESIS to science. I made that post to attempt to move the group beyond attempting to play the fence and thus tie up resources on that issue. The pressure to ‘remain silent’ was made poignant by the emails I received OFF LIST by other members who supported what I said, but did not ‘publicly’ post that support (admittedly, this also could be because they validly felt it was not a topic appropriate for the list). This ‘pressure’ is not pernicious at all, and no particular member has ever seemed intolerant of my views. In fact, I found them very professional and polite about those views. But the lack of any response to the matter, even off list, to educate me how the topic is not important to the cause, or how it is important to recognize that faith and science IS compatible, lent reason to feel I am better off not addressing that topic in the future, regardless how relevant to the cause I think it is.

    All that being said, we certainly do alienate many of our allies with much of what we shout about. Stanyard is likely adorned with clarity that the vitriol we New Atheists spew is like acid to his preferred method. And he is correct. It is to many of them just as if they were coaxing a bunny closer to them and we come up from behind and start screaming at it. To others, we give credit to the YEC’s absurdity by even responding to it. And they may have a point.

    We know that religion causes the vehement adherence and blind faith that fuels the creationism in schools problem. But perhaps it is important for us to consider that the parts of religion which causes so much harm to humanity *could* be eradicated by showing some of the worst offenders of ‘crimes against attaining knowledge’, and that would be YEC’s, how their epistemology is flawed. But again, I know we new atheists consider that a lost cause and go for the juggler. Maybe there is some middle ground in the method we use to combat harmful religious ideology and creationism where we are not alienating allies, regardless if someone else is alienating allies.

    • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
      Posted April 23, 2011 at 9:38 pm | Permalink

      I explained why in terms of the bridge between what we observe and what we conclude, and that is merely the hypothesis stage of science and that’s where the similarity ends. Once we begin to implement real science, faith is abandoned and has no resemblance to science.

      That.

      It seems to me you have made a longer travel than me (who was never subjected to YEC).

      Frankly, I don’t know if there is a middle ground, I don’t know if it is pertinent even. When suffragettes and gays made themselves heard and subjugated prejudice, did they make a middle ground? I think their allies were persistent, intellectuals and freethinkers at first.

      What we can see is that moderate religionists aren’t intellectuals and freethinkers at large.

      • Ichthyic
        Posted April 23, 2011 at 9:59 pm | Permalink

        I don’t know if there is a middle ground, I don’t know if it is pertinent even.

        maybe this will help. Since he popped in to say “hi” to Roger, I would note that Larry Moran once wrote an excellent essay titled:

        Theistic Evolution: The Fallacy of the Middle Ground.

        the link I have to it appears broken now, but I think you could probably track it down.

        here’s the link I had:

        http://bioinfo.med.utoronto.ca/Evolution_by_Accident/Theistic_Evolution.html

        maybe Larry has moved it?

        if so, contact him here to get a copy.

        http://biochemistry.utoronto.ca/moran/bch.html

        In short, the answer to both of your questions is:

        no.

        no, the supposed middle ground is fiction, and no, it really wouldn’t even be theoretically pertinent.

        It’s quite simple, really.

        on one side you have:

        Revealed knowledge that is dogmatically defined as perfect in nature.

        on the other side you have:

        Knowledge obtained through attempted rejection of hypotheses by experiment.

        there simply is no middle ground. If you start with revealed knowledge, how would you verify it independently? Why, with science of course.

        so, you skip right over any imagined middle ground immediately.

  15. Posted April 23, 2011 at 7:46 am | Permalink

    It is not simply religion against science. It is religion against Western Culture, the heart of which is science, expressed as a reliance upon reason and evidence for our understanding of reality and our place in it.

  16. Insightful Ape
    Posted April 23, 2011 at 7:55 am | Permalink

    For all the parroting of the “Gnu atheists alienate people from science” claim, is there any evidence to back this up? Stats for attitude toward evolutionary science have not changed in decades though the Gnus have been on the scence only since 2004. How many of the 40% of the public who think the world is less than 6000 years old have even heard of Dawkins? I’ve met quite a few creationists who never have. Are people taking their children to the creation “museum” because PZ is bad mouthing Ken Ham? Did Paley make his watchmaker argument out of spite against David Hume?
    Bottomline: people like Matzke are simply making things up. It is truly a disgrace for organizations dedicated nominally to promotion of science to endorse a position entirely unsupported (even contradicted) by evidence.

    • Posted April 23, 2011 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

      I am in complete agreement with this (and with Dr. Coyne’s letter). There are plenty of anecdotes supporting the notion that individual conversions to rationality may be affected by the “softly, softly” approach, and plenty more supporting the notion that people can be converted by direct challenges. What we *don’t* have is any evidence whatsoever that Gnu Atheism is actually harming the cause of evolutionary literacy more than it’s helping. So when you get right down to it, the aggressive accommodationists’ entire argument is grounded solely on the fact that Gnu Atheism makes them uncomfortable.

      And then there’s a whole additional level to this, which PZ Myers argues most strongly: this isn’t just about evolution. Gnu Atheists oppose religion because it has harmful effects across the entire spectrum, from enforcing arbitrary and oppressive gender roles, to impeding people’s right to make their own reproductive and end-of-life choices, to interfering with science and medicine, to messing up kids’ ability to develop critical thinking skills, and beyond. The NCSE and BCSE are fighting one symptom of this, and I heartily applaud their efforts, but we Gnus recognize that there is a larger problem in play here, and we chose to focus on addressing that larger problem. When they try to shut us up, essentially they’re arguing that of all the problems caused by religion, addressing ignorance of evolutionary biology is more important than addressing any of the other problems caused by religion, and therefore anything that can be argued to be harmful to the former goal must cease, no matter how beneficial it might be to those latter goals.

      While I am deeply concerned about ignorance of evolutionary biology, I just don’t see how this position can be substantiated. Is what’s being taught in the biology classrooms really so much more important than the question of whether little girls are even allowed to be in those classrooms that we have to shut up about how bad religion is to avoid interfering with the NCSE/BCSE campaigns of sweet-talking the religious? I call bullshit.

      So I am in full agreement with Dr. Coyne’s letter, and I am signing my real name to this without reservation.

      – Anne C. Hanna
      Philadelphia, PA

      • Aquaria
        Posted April 24, 2011 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

        . When they try to shut us up, essentially they’re arguing that of all the problems caused by religion, addressing ignorance of evolutionary biology is more important than addressing any of the other problems caused by religion, and therefore anything that can be argued to be harmful to the former goal must cease, no matter how beneficial it might be to those latter goals.

        When they tell us to shut up, what they are doing is telling us not to combat THE SINGLE GREATEST OBSTACLE TO ACCEPTANCE OF SCIENCE, INCLUDING EVOLUTION.

        Honestly, only the surrender monkeys over at NCSE don’t seem to get this key point.

  17. Priss Adams
    Posted April 23, 2011 at 8:02 am | Permalink

    I don’t comment here or on any of the other Gnu sites since anything I might have to say is always said much more coherently by others. However what I do contribute is money to good causes, including atheist/freethought, humanitarian, environmental, and others. I’ve considered donating to NCSE when I’ve heard Genie Scott speak on various podcasts I listen to. But I changed my mind when I found out about their anti-Gnu stance. Like someone else said, they need to be able to work with religious people, but they don’t need to do so by trashing Gnu atheists. I’m a former Christian who was raised in a liberal church, became fundamentalist, and found my own way out of religion. The Gnus’ writings have clarified my thinking and the last thing they need to do is shut up about religion. Accomodationists, play nice all you want with the religious, but when you go out of your way to play nasty with the Gnus, it loses you support.

    • Marta
      Posted April 23, 2011 at 8:32 am | Permalink

      Lovely post.

      Genuinely hope that you’ll continue to post, here and elsewhere.

    • phil
      Posted April 23, 2011 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

      I don’t comment here or on any of the other Gnu sites

      Eh? What’s this then?

      since anything I might have to say is always said much more coherently by others.

      Well there’s the funny thing about language. Words’ meanings are flexible, so the set of words you use to express things stated by others might have meaning to and impact upon some that those others’ words don’t. If that makes sense.

      It is why I like Muscular Eric; not that his prose is muscular (I hadn’t noticed) but that he states things in ways that make his points clear. It usually comes down to one concise, nuggety sentence.

      • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
        Posted April 23, 2011 at 9:52 pm | Permalink

        Huh?

        • phil
          Posted April 24, 2011 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

          Eh?

          • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
            Posted April 25, 2011 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

            Yes. :-D

    • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
      Posted April 23, 2011 at 9:51 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for “coming out”. Or coming out, seeing how accommodationists try to repress social groups.

  18. TrineBM
    Posted April 23, 2011 at 8:14 am | Permalink

    Bravo! I’m not from Britain, nor from the States, so I don’t think my name would matter at all.
    But d*** it’s a worthy cause.

    • daveau
      Posted April 23, 2011 at 9:06 am | Permalink

      You can say “dave”…

      • TrineBM
        Posted April 23, 2011 at 9:58 am | Permalink

        Dave

        • daveau
          Posted April 23, 2011 at 11:31 am | Permalink

          ;-) Not to steal your thunder. Yes, it’s a worthy cause.

          • TrineBM
            Posted April 23, 2011 at 11:44 am | Permalink

            :-)
            And besides, my nym is my name/initials anyway.

            • Dominic
              Posted April 23, 2011 at 11:42 pm | Permalink

              Hope you had a good time in London last weekend!

              • TrineBM
                Posted April 24, 2011 at 1:17 am | Permalink

                Thanks! I did – spending hours and hours in Natural History Museum with a nine-old is FUN!

            • TrineBM
              Posted April 24, 2011 at 9:34 am | Permalink

              So to be more specific:
              If useful:
              Trine Boje Mortensen
              Copenhagen, Denmark.

  19. Posted April 23, 2011 at 8:18 am | Permalink

    It’s a privilege to add my name to this ‘letter’.

  20. Matt Penfold
    Posted April 23, 2011 at 8:22 am | Permalink

    Something Stanyard said on the RDF forums got me thinking. He claimed that groups like the NCSE and the BCSE must be accomodationist in order to be able to do their jobs.

    I have seen this argument before, and it seems to rely on the idea that if you cannot get a creationist to abandon religion altogether then you may be able to get him to adopt a less literal reading of the Bible.

    Well that is fine, if that is what you want to do. But please, if that is your position stop kidding yourself and others it is about science. It is not, it becomes about theology.

    I am not interested in theology. Given it cannot even provide convincing evidence for the existence of god, then I cannot see how it can be regarded as a worthwhile academic pursuit.

    • Posted April 23, 2011 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

      Yep. Why is the NCSE in the theology business? Because they imagine some versions of Christianity are more compatible with science than others, and they actually think they are going to persuade people to change religions based on their say-so?

      The entire approach is wrong-headed.

    • Kate
      Posted April 24, 2011 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

      No I don’t think you will ever get a creationist to change its mind Matt. What I think they meant is that many religous people who are not extremists nor fundamentalist creationists will jump at the chance to join an organisation committed to stopping it. They will however be less inclined to join and overtly anti religious organisation that considers all religious people to be equally unpleasant and loopy.

      • Tyro
        Posted April 24, 2011 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

        That seems fair, so wouldn’t atheists be less inclined to join an organization that is overtly pro-religion and which has indulges in anti-atheist rhetoric?

        Far better, we’re saying, to simply not take any religious stance at all. Do no advocate any religious interpretations and do not attack those who are not religious. (Since the latter group includes almost all practicing scientists, you’d think that would be a no brainer but apparently not.)

        • articulett
          Posted April 24, 2011 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

          Yes, Kate…

          What Tryo said.

          Do you get it now?

      • swences
        Posted April 24, 2011 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

        What the great majority of WEIT readers are asking for and supporting, is for science organizations to be neutral when it comes to religion. To neither give theological advice or promote atheism.
        That stance, however, you seem to take as “overtly anti religious…that considers all religious people to be equally unpleasant and loopy”.
        Perhaps I am mistaken, and simply put words in your mouth, but I just don’t see anyone, especially not Coyne or Dawkins advocating that science organizations take on a stance that you are so passionately derailing. It just isn’t there, and you keep arguing away at it. Why?

        • articulett
          Posted April 24, 2011 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

          Exactly. Why?

          It’s a straw man.

          No one is saying what you keep claiming they are saying.

      • Aquaria
        Posted April 24, 2011 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

        Are you completely divorced from reality and honesty?

        Coyne isn’t asking them to be anti-religous, you lying dillweed, he’s asking them to stop bashing an important group of supporters or potential supporters.

        Note the name of the group, moron: National Center of SCIENCE EDUCATION. Huge numbers of scientists are atheists AND educators. If you had a brain, you’d realize that it’s STUPID for a group supporting SCIENCE EDUCATION to attack the many, many SCIENCE EDUCATORS who are not religious?

        Good grief, you’re living proof of how sniveling sucking up to power rots the human brain.

  21. Posted April 23, 2011 at 8:22 am | Permalink

    I concur with the letter, and this is my real name.

    • Mike Haubrich
      Posted April 23, 2011 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

      Since I can’t delete my comment, and realized that I did it wrong I am going to attempt to do this thing right.

      My name is Mike Haubrich, I am a citizen concerned about science education and I add my name to the petition.

      Mike Haubrich,
      Minnesota.

  22. Posted April 23, 2011 at 8:24 am | Permalink

    If one replace the nebulous term ‘god’ with ‘Oogity Boogity’, one quickly realizes just how silly it is for a science organization to make room for it. As soon as Oogity Boogity appears, science has left the room.

    • tildeb
      Posted April 23, 2011 at 8:39 am | Permalink

      Sorry for that link. I arrive logged in and have to then log out to comment here. Because I am sometimes swept along with the discussion and wish to add my two cents I forget to do this.

  23. Michael Nam
    Posted April 23, 2011 at 8:29 am | Permalink

    Agreed. I’ve been somewhat disappointed with the nature of the NCSE’s outreach to religious groups, such as in the case of their caving into the demands of re-wording the perfectly reasonable and accurate definition of evolution.

  24. Graham Martin-Royle
    Posted April 23, 2011 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    I whole heartedly agree with the sentiments expressed. What accommodationists are asking is that we respect religion. I refuse to do so.

  25. Posted April 23, 2011 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    I am a former supporter of the NCSE. When I emailed them with my concerns about their faith projects and general anti-“militant” atheist rhetoric, I received emails from Dr. Padian and Glenn Branch explaining their position. They pretty much restated the official NCSE position and suggested that it was unreasonable to criticize their position as they were winning minds for science. One of them claimed that since Dr. Scott is an atheist that somehow proved something. I’m not really sure what it proved, but seemed like a kind of tokenism. The truth is, Dr. Scott notwithstanding, they spend a great deal of energy pursuing religious moderates, and present and former staff members attack the GNUs with their “You’re not Helping” theme. They should just work on the science angle – no overt message regarding religion seems necessary to me. As a result of the emails, I decided that I could no longer support the NCSE. Perhaps they are angling for a Templeton Award. I don’t know if it’s ever given to an organization, but they certainly should be considered for nomination.

    • Posted April 23, 2011 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

      Oh, and I cosign the letter,

      Michael Avina
      Denver, CO

  26. Michael Fisher
    Posted April 23, 2011 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    I “cosign” JAC’s Open letter to the NCSE and BCSE
    Michael Fisher

  27. Tyro
    Posted April 23, 2011 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    These organizations take the understandable (and respectable) position that they must partner with religious individuals and groups in order to promote their goal of increasing science education. They explicitly decide that they will engage with these groups and to not criticize their views on faith, miracles, and other anti-science positions they may take elsewhere. Again, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing as it keeps them focused on evolution and so can form a bigger tent.

    HOWEVER, they inexplicably do not follow this same laissez faire approach with atheists. Instead of deciding to engage with us to promote evolution and remaining silent on whatever else we may say or do, these groups want to critique, moderate and even suppress our speech in areas having nothing to do with evolution. Why? What possible motivation could they have? Why do they take a big-tent approach with religionists but this narrow slot approach with atheists?

    I can only imagine that it is because they see themselves in us. They have voluntarily suppressed criticism of their religious allies and because they think we are like them, we should do the same and when we don’t, they get upset. Of course we aren’t them and we aren’t as narrowly focused.

    I think this hypocrisy arises because they do not truly see their religious allies as being intellectual, rational people like they think of themselves. They view theists as being “other”, someone distinct that deserves special treatment. It doesn’t occur to the NCSE that theists should be held to the same standard as atheists because theists simply aren’t as capable.

    If there are other explanations for this blatant double-standard I’d like to hear them since this patronizing mushy-thinking is the most charitable one I could think of. Ultimately the whys and wherefores don’t matter so much as the simple fact that the NCSE *is* applying blatant double standards, they are undermining their own stated objectives and despite many attempts to point this out over the course of years, they still haven’t grasped it. Their inability to perceive the obvious is what I find the most disturbing.

    • Matt Penfold
      Posted April 23, 2011 at 9:23 am | Permalink

      Richard Dawkins has partnered with religious leaders here in the UK in order to oppose the teaching of creationism in UK schools.

      Interestingly Dawkins was not willing to stop criticising the beliefs of those religious leaders, and to their credit I am not sure they would have expected or wanted him to.

      • Tyro
        Posted April 23, 2011 at 9:37 am | Permalink

        Good point.

        On that note I’d be interested to find a single religious group that wishes to partner with atheists and so has decided to suppress any discussion about miracles or faith lest the atheists get upset.

        Curious how we’re told to respect theists and to do that, we need to treat them like infants.

    • NickMatzke
      Posted April 23, 2011 at 9:38 am | Permalink

      “HOWEVER, they inexplicably do not follow this same laissez faire approach with atheists. Instead of deciding to engage with us to promote evolution and remaining silent on whatever else we may say or do, these groups want to critique, moderate and even suppress our speech in areas having nothing to do with evolution. Why? What possible motivation could they have? Why do they take a big-tent approach with religionists but this narrow slot approach with atheists?”

      1. “NCSE” doesn’t do any of this. Maybe, just maybe, Josh and I have done this, but Josh does so in his private (and pre-dating his employment at NCSE) blog which is not part of his job, and I am not even an NCSE employee and haven’t been for a long time.

      2. Here’s a gnu telling us to “shut up”. I thought you guys were against that.

      3. My main beef with the gnu movement is it’s unfairness. Important distinctions are not made — e.g. moderates are tarred as if the were fundamentalists. Religion-in-general is tarred for the sins of a few. History is ignored in the service of an extremely oversimplified pictures of the interaction between science and religion. It’s not just me with these views, you can consult almost any scholarly literature you like on history, science and religion, etc. If I give up on defending what I know is true, or if I only criticize creationists for their inaccuracies, and fail to do the same when gnu atheists promote sometimes very similar inaccuracies, I might as well get of the science education business.

      • Marta
        Posted April 23, 2011 at 10:04 am | Permalink

        “If I give up on defending what I know is true”

        MUST IGNORE MATZKE . . . No. I can’t do it.

        oy, that’s rich, coming from you.

        You’re not defending what you know is true, you sanctimonious knucklehead. You warp the facts to fit your pre-conceived notions, which is just about the least scientific thing I can think of.

        Apologies, Dr. Coyne. I’m going to go sit in the corner now.

      • Tyro
        Posted April 23, 2011 at 10:06 am | Permalink

        Here’s a gnu telling us to “shut up”. I thought you guys were against that.

        Is that supposed to be a joke or a troll or what? Jerry is arguing for a proliferation of views and saying that that some people who have been telling him to shut up for political reasons should instead adopt an even-handed approach and treat the Gnus as you treat religionists. I’m at a loss to see how anyone could interpret this as saying you should shut up.

        Some of your comments lately have been increasingly over the top and you aren’t even attempting to support them which is coming across as being more and more disruptive. I can see why Jerry’s patience may come to an end. Is this telling you to shut up or to follow the site rules of respectful dialogue? I’m taking door #2.

        if I only criticize creationists for their inaccuracies, and fail to do the same when gnu atheists promote sometimes very similar inaccuracies, I might as well get of the science education business.

        A couple sentences above you argued that it isn’t merely unpolitical to attack liberals but unfair and inaccurate. Yet now you drop all pretense at nuance and treat us as fundamentalists. It’s like those media critics who think that if they say it’s wrong for Beck to call Obama a Nazi then they must, in the interest of fairness, call out Maddow for some slight. It’s absurd.

        Your notion of fairness and balance is out of whack with reality.

      • andrew
        Posted April 23, 2011 at 10:18 am | Permalink

        “moderates are tarred as if the were fundamentalists. Religion-in-general is tarred for the sins of a few.”

        Why should moderate religion get a pass when it makes claims of the supernatural that simply aren’t supported? We may have allies within moderate religion, but that shouldn’t be a an excuse to not point out untenable claims and poor arguments.

        As a former ‘moderate’, I look back on my previous outlook in wonder at how I came up with all kinds of silly rationalizations to reconcile the complete lack of evidence for the supernatural with my moderate religious beliefs that were a product of my upbringing.

        Indeed, in some respects, I find moderate religion more ridiculous than the fundamentalists. Of course, the fundamentalists are completely off their rocker, but at least they attempt to be consistent. Moderate religion, on the other hand, is all about cherry picking and hand waving.

        “…if I only criticize creationists for their inaccuracies, and fail to do the same when gnu atheists promote sometimes very similar inaccuracies…”

        Conspicuously missing from those you’re willing to criticize is moderate religion…

        • articulett
          Posted April 23, 2011 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

          Also conspicuously missing is Nick Matzke’s ability to apply his criticisms to himself. Nick is a proven liar and a person who purposefully spreads unscientific claims about an entire group of people in order to imagine himself superior. He demands evidence from those who want to criticize Mooney(easily provided) while using lies as evidence to support his own wild assertions (just as Mooney did!) Moreover, he has no grasp as to why his incessant prejudicing commentary and slanderous lies inflame others. And he is not big enough to apologize when caught in a blatant lie to support other blatant lies.

          I am a science educator who is afraid to use my own name because of the bigotry spread by people like Nick Matzke. I am a much bigger supporter of those the accommodationists are criticizing.

          I used to be a member of the NCSE, but I’m not anymore.

          It was the NCSE that originally made me aware of how religion had an effect on teaching evolution. From this understanding, I became both a science teacher and an atheist advocate.

          People don’t accept evolution, either because they were taught evolution by creationists who have no real understanding of evolution and a vested interest in obfuscating –or they believe they will suffer eternally for accepting evolution because their indoctrinators told them that the invisible creator of the universe wants them to believe an alternate tale.

          When the NCSE coddles religion it makes it seem as if such ideas have scientific merit, when they do not. Moreover, it lessens the chance that science will be a “candle in the darkness” in a “demon haunted world”.

          I think the NCSE should treat god belief the way they treat demon belief– it just isn’t relevant to science. They should not be in the business of supporting some brands of magical thinking.

          If you want to help make the world more scientifically literate, help dismantle the notion that faith is a “virtue” or a path to knowing “higher truths”. It is science that allows even the poorest people to have access to technology that the richest could not have a hundred years ago. It allows the average person to understand things that even the smartest person had no way of knowing a hundred years ago. Science offers the only method humans have for understanding and expanding on the truth that is the same for everybody no matter what they believe. It also has an error correcting mechanism; faith does not.

          People who really want to understand science should get their science from scientists. And if you want to understand the best way to spread scientific literacy, who better to ask than those who have done so?

          Just because people like Nick Matzke have a prejudice that Dawkins’ way doesn’t work– doesn’t make it so. The statistics indicate otherwise, in fact.

          • John Phillips, FCD
            Posted April 24, 2011 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

            QFT.

            And I also cosign this letter, this being my real name.

            Oh, BTW Kate, BCSE aren’t the only ones fighting against creationism in the UK. Though I, and I am not alone in this, while accepting that BCSE does valuable work, won’t support it financially due to the unnecessary vocal anti-atheist stance of some of its spokespeople.

      • julian
        Posted April 23, 2011 at 10:23 am | Permalink

        I don’t think anyone is telling you to shut up. He frustration most are feeling (and was a big part of that comment) was the hypocrisy behind the approach. People on the bad end of a double standard tend to get bothered by it.

        Also I don’t think anyone is throwing moderates in the same boat as extremists. I’ve seen arguments made that moderates havehelped enable radicals and that their support of certain religious authorities (like in Catholicism) has had a negative effect onthe world. I’ve also seen arguments that point out the same lack of compelling evidence as far as their beliefs go.

        Like you, many here will point out faulty thinking no matter where or in who we see it.

      • truthspeaker
        Posted April 24, 2011 at 6:00 am | Permalink

        “My main beef with the gnu movement is it’s unfairness. Important distinctions are not made — e.g. moderates are tarred as if the were fundamentalists. ”

        I don’t consider that an important distinction. I consider it trivial.

      • Ichthyic
        Posted April 24, 2011 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

        3. My main beef with the gnu movement is it’s unfairness.

        bullshit.

        Important distinctions are not made — e.g. moderates are tarred as if the were fundamentalists.

        lie.

        Religion-in-general is tarred for the sins of a few.

        lie.

        History is ignored in the service of an extremely oversimplified pictures of the interaction between science and religion.

        lie.

        It’s not just me with these views,

        hey, true!

        you can consult almost any scholarly literature you like on history, science and religion, etc.

        lie.

        If I give up on defending what I know is true, or if I only criticize creationists for their inaccuracies, and fail to do the same when gnu atheists promote sometimes very similar inaccuracies, I might as well get of the science education business.

        lie, and yes, YOU SHOULD GET OUT OF THE SCIENCE EDUCATION BUSINESS, Nick.

        at least until you have that nasty personality disorder that causes you to be so intellectually dishonest so often treated.

  28. Sandra Rodman
    Posted April 23, 2011 at 9:05 am | Permalink

    I wholly concur with the letter. I would also like to ask the BSCE and NCSE how they plan to remedy the apalling situation of science teachers who avoid mention of evolution or teach superstitious nonsense instead. By accommodating the bullshit, keeping silent about the religious dogma that spawns it and insists upon this ignorant adherence to Bronze Age fairy tales? Only muscular repudiation by persons of reason has any chance of making this brand of pernicious lie as hideously unacceptable as Holocaust denial.

  29. Jonathan Smith
    Posted April 23, 2011 at 9:18 am | Permalink

    For the past 15 + years I have given of an innumerable amount of my time in the pursuit of quality science education. I have lectured extensively to school science teachers and supervisors in 9 different states including my home state of Florida, where I am privilege to hold the position as one of the founding members and Vice President of the Florida Citizens for Science. I was and still am, actively involved in the new Florida science curriculum (K/12) working to provide personal development for science teachers and educators. All these effort have been in conjunction with the NCSE and the AAAS whose assistance has been invaluable and whom I would still consider my allies.
    Never the less, my former affiliation with these organizations (please note the past tense) is a direct result of their blatant accommodationist stance. No one more than I, wish to see all “pseudo science” eradicated and completely removed from our education system and that science teachers fully understand the scientific concepts that they are imparting to their students (which I can assure you they don’t) However, kowtowing to the religious in an effort to form dubious alliances is suspect at best. Yes I know that many “progressive” believers have incorporated TOE into their religious ideologies, seeing it as the way their particular deity created all, but this amounts to nothing more than ID.
    Science education must remain secular and organizations such as the NCSE and the AAAS must remain neutral in this aspect, as Jerry Coyne commented, programs like the “Clergy Letter Project” are nothing less than a “slap in the face” to many of us non-theists. I have fought many a battle with religious fundamentalists, who I can assure you, will stop at nothing (including personal threats) to propagate their ideologies. Now it seems that I have to face similar alienation from those who supposedly seek the same goals as me. Well, I will not be silenced; I will continue to call a “spade a spade” no matter how heavy I step on the toes of theocracy. I would remind those at the NCSE of the Florida Citizens for Science mission statement. “We welcome members with different political views, religions and philosophies, but maintain that the proper focus of science education is the study of the natural world only, through observation, testing and analysis.”

    Jonathan P Smith
    VP Florida Citizens for Science

    http://proscience.us/

    • Pierce R. Butler
      Posted April 24, 2011 at 11:43 am | Permalink

      Bravo, Jonathan!

      And count me in as a co-signer of JAC’s well-worded letter.

      Pierce R. Butler
      Gainesville, FL

  30. Grania Spingies
    Posted April 23, 2011 at 9:22 am | Permalink

    It’s good to see a new (well, not new, but hitherto unrecognised) ally over at The Chronicle.

    I endorse Jerry’s letter too. The NSCE and indeed any group that promotes science education deserves everyone’s support. Their work is crucial. Scientific literacy is very important to me and consequently I have always been an admirer of theirs.

    However, if the accommodationist approach was ‘the’ way, none of us would be having this conversation any more. Taking time out to lecture experienced and effective science educators for the transgression of being outspoken atheists seems to be a waste of precious time and counter-productive. Moreover, there are plenty of people of the non-biologist persuasion who are not religious and also are interested in learning about science. We don’t want our education laced with religious soft-served slush.

    I think Lawrence Krauss said it best:
    (read his whole post, not just my quote).
    “Religion is simply irrelevant to science, and whether or not science contradicts religion may be of interest to theologians but it simply doesn’t matter to scientists.”

    http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/coyne09/coyne09_index.html

    Grania Spingies
    (just in case)

  31. Gregory Kusnick
    Posted April 23, 2011 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    I made a one-time gift to the NCSE several years ago, and will not be making another unless they drop their accomodationist rhetoric, cease attacks on their atheist allies, and adopt a neutral stance on the compatibility of religion and science.

    I therefore cosign Jerry’s open letter.

    • NickMatzke
      Posted April 23, 2011 at 9:47 am | Permalink

      If people are not supposed to attack their allies, then the gnus have a heck of a lot to answer for. Attacking allies, no matter how much time they’ve put in for science education, no matter how many successes they’ve had against creationists, so matter how much science they’ve done, has been almost the defining feature of the Gnu movement. Ken Miller, Francis Collins, Michael Reiss, even Eugenie Scott, on and on, all come under the gun for what ought to be, at most, low-significance side disagreements. It started with Dawkins and his “Chamberlain” rhetoric and continues today. Eventually, probably, people will realize it is pointless, or the creationists will revive in a politically major way and provide a common enemy and it will blow over.

      • whyevolutionistrue
        Posted April 23, 2011 at 9:49 am | Permalink

        Nick, step away from the computer, please. You’re not helping yourself here. I want this thread to be constructive advice to the NCSE and BSCE and you are in fact acting like a troll.

        • NickMatzke
          Posted April 23, 2011 at 10:08 am | Permalink

          Jerry — Obviously I disagree with much of what has been said, but I will withdraw from the thread as you request. It’s your blog.

          Let me just make one more point: everyone should remember that my views do not officially or unofficially represent the views of NCSE. I haven’t worked there since 2007. I do support their general approach and will defend it when I think it is being unfairly attacked, or mischaracterized (e.g. NCSE is not, and never has been, “accomodationist” — it is neutral, but doesn’t hesitate to state unquestionable facts that are relevant to many people — teachers, politicians, journalists, and the like who, like most people most of the time, are hearing about this creationism/evolution issue in a serious way for the first time when it comes up in their state or school district — facts like the fact that there are evolutionists that are religious, and there are religions that are fine with evolution. Conveying this message, again and again in NCSE’s decades of experience, has proven effective in reducing the drama surrounding evolution education issues, which helps the public, politicians, etc., to see that teaching evolution in schools is not the same thing as teaching atheism in schools (a misconception which is absolutely ubiquitous amongst the people who push creationism in the schools).

          • Posted April 23, 2011 at 11:47 am | Permalink

            Nick, don’t you think four years is enough time to figure out how to change your sign-in at Pharyngulua — especially seeing how some of the regulars do so more often than Jerry showcases his boots?

            If I were an executive at NCSE and I knew you were authoring libelous accusations against Richard Dawkins while signing your name as a representative of the NCSE, I’d have long since handed the matter over to the legal team.

            Further, it’s simply laughable to describe the NCSE’s position towards religion as “neutral.” The NCSE has a top-level “religion” category that includes such gems as an essay by the NCSE’s Religious Community Outreach Director that concludes that it’s perfectly reasonable to conclude that “God works through evolution.” And let’s not forget the Clergy Letter project — not to mention out-and-out Bible study lessons (in the form of an essay titled, “How Do I Read the Bible? Let Me Count the Ways”).

            Frankly, I’m trying to think of substantive ways that the NCSE differs from the BioLogos foundation, and I’m coming up rather short.

            Cheers,

            b&

      • Sigmund
        Posted April 23, 2011 at 9:51 am | Permalink

        Over 90% of what the gnus do is shout forced laughter in the faces of religious people at conservation meetings*

        *not meant to be a factual statement.

        • Marta
          Posted April 23, 2011 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

          :-)

        • articulett
          Posted April 23, 2011 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

          My laughter is never forced.

      • truthspeaker
        Posted April 24, 2011 at 6:03 am | Permalink

        Francis Collins is my enemy, not my ally.

  32. Sigmund
    Posted April 23, 2011 at 9:43 am | Permalink

    I posted this on Jasons thread but I think it’s worth repeating here since it danswers a frequently made accusation that accomodationists make.
    “Josh Rosenau said:
    “To choose another example: In the God Delusion, Richard Dawkins says that raising children to be religious is like child abuse. Does that seem likely to make people think atheists are trustworthy? ”
    The actual quote from Dawkins on page 318.
    “I am persuaded that the phrase ‘child abuse’ is no exaggeration when used to describe what teachers and priests are doing to children whom they encourage to believe in something like the punishment of unshriven mortal sins in an eternal hell”
    In other words Dawkins is referring to one particular type of religious instruction (the threat of eternal torture in hell).
    This is either a disgusting misrepresentation of Dawkins remarks by Josh or an admission by him that he doesn’t see anything untoward about the idea of threats of eternal pain and torture being made to children.
    Which is it Josh?”

    • Matt Penfold
      Posted April 23, 2011 at 9:45 am | Permalink

      Yet another example of the dishonesty of the accomodationists.

      I wonder if Matzke will take Rosenau to task for that lie. I rather suspect not, and will be envious he did not think of it.

      • NickMatzke
        Posted April 23, 2011 at 9:51 am | Permalink

        Really, you’re going to go to the mat and accuse people of lying and dispense “disgust” over the difference between “raising people religious” being child abuse, and raising kids to believe in hell, which is an extremely common religious belief, to be child abuse? *Really?*

        Another problem with gnus: they bring bazookas to a thumb-wrestling match. Overreaction is endemic.

        • Matt Penfold
          Posted April 23, 2011 at 9:59 am | Permalink

          You sicken me. You really do not know that children have killed themselves because they have been unable to resolve the conflict between their sexuality and being taught that homosexuality is a sin that leads to damnation ?

          Are you so callous that you do not want the vile teachings that lead to such conflict condemned as child abuse ?

          What is wrong with you ?

        • whyevolutionistrue
          Posted April 23, 2011 at 10:00 am | Permalink

          That’s enough, Nick—you’re almost acting like Kw*k in your attempt to derail this thread. I won’t have it here. And please, folks, don’t respond to this trolling.

          • Ichthyic
            Posted April 23, 2011 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

            you’re almost acting like Kw*k

            exactly. And for the same reasons, I’m thinking.

        • julian
          Posted April 23, 2011 at 10:36 am | Permalink

          Er-

          Dawkins sounds like he’s talking about very specific religious instruction here. Not just the general bad place bad people go when they die mainstream concept of hell. He is very clearly talking about the hellfire and brimestone boiling pit of lava where you suffer for eternity for being gay or voting democrat variety.

          Like others have said, that has done a lot to mess up the psyches of young people everywhere.

        • Observer
          Posted April 23, 2011 at 11:30 am | Permalink

          I have a cousin who is a fundamentalist Christian. I recall vividly when she was visiting my Mother with her children how her son asked if my mother was saved. My cousin answered, “no,” whereupon the boy then asked, “does that mean she’s going to hell?” My cousin answered, “Yes.” The boy started to cry.

          When I later had an opportunity to ask my cousin about all this in more detail, she confessed that her son will some times wake up in the middle of the night screaming in fear that he or the people he loves will burn in hell for eternity.

          I don’t care how common it is, teaching children that they or people they love will be tortured forever IS a form of child abuse. And pointing this out is in no way the equivalent of saying that “raising people religious” is child abuse. For Nick Matzke to equate these two ideas is the height of nonsense.

          • Marta
            Posted April 23, 2011 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

            Yes. Brilliant.

        • Ichthyic
          Posted April 23, 2011 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

          Overreaction is endemic.

          much projection on your part, Nick. Frankly, it’s YOUR posts that have been the ones that are easily labeled as entirely reactionary and without substance the past couple of years.

        • truthspeaker
          Posted April 24, 2011 at 6:07 am | Permalink

          Are you seriously saying that raising children with a belief in hell isn’t child abuse?

          • truthspeaker
            Posted April 24, 2011 at 6:09 am | Permalink

            Sorry for responding, Jerry.

  33. Dave Ricks
    Posted April 23, 2011 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    I cosign Jerry’s letter with my real name. I especially agree with the letter’s contrast between success (citing Richard Dawkins’ Converts’ Corner) versus this irony — the idea that gnu bashers are masters of strategy and communication.

    Dave Ricks
    Arlington, VA

  34. Bob Johnson
    Posted April 23, 2011 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    I “cosign” JAC’s Open letter to the NCSE and BCSE

    Bob Johnson
    San Jose, CA

  35. Garnetstar
    Posted April 23, 2011 at 10:14 am | Permalink

    My constructive (I hope) advice to the NCSE and BCSE is to be as accomodationist as they see fit. To continue to speak out about and to work for, common ground with theists and excellent science education.

    I do advise them to not attack those who hold different views. Not that they should not *criticize* such views freely, but to refrain from condemnation of them. Such restraint will allow us to work together in areas we have in common, while not suppressing rational debate about strategies, and while allowing all to pursue the strategy they see fit.

    Engagement, while living and let living, is what I recommend.

    • Garnetstar
      Posted April 23, 2011 at 11:06 am | Permalink

      More pompous advice:

      If you or your views are in your opinion attacked, do not respond in kind. Critical yet rational responses will eventually elicit the same.

      And, if “eventually” turns out to mean “on a geologic time scale”, oh well, just remember that we were born to suffer and endure…..

  36. Matt Penfold
    Posted April 23, 2011 at 10:14 am | Permalink

    I just realised that I have not actually said I put my name to Jerry’s letter, so I will correct that here.

    I am happy to put my name to Jerry’s letter.

  37. Posted April 23, 2011 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    For the record, I am Ben Goren of 1022 West Apollo Avenue, Tempe, Arizona, and I wholeheartedly agree with Jerry’s letter.

    I would like to add — I perceive the distinction between Gnus and accommodationists as follows: though we both agree that religion is bullshit, the accommodationists refuse to publicly admit that they think religion is bullshit. Such a position is cowardly, indefensible, immoral, and highly insulting to all, especially including the religious.

    The only defensible strategy for the NCSE and like-minded organizations is the one the Evolution Society (over which Jerry currently presides) has long held: unless pressed, never mention religion whatsoever; when pressed, assert that religion has no place in a secular classroom and refer all further inquiries to the questioner’s preferred religious authority.

    Instead, the NCSE’s stance amounts to nothing less than an open endorsement of theistic evolution, a non-scientific “theory” that’s been as thoroughly debunked as creationism. In practice, it has become the National Center for Religious Education; the religion being proselytized is a generic form of mainline liberal ecumenicalism.

    It would be inconceivable for a science education institution focused on astronomy to adopt a conciliatory stance towards astrology; for a society for the advancement of geophysical sciences to espouse harmony with the Flat Earth Society; or for a guild of chemical engineers to welcome with open arms neo-alchemists. The NCSE’s position, official, unofficial, public, and private, is every bit as absurd and counterproductive.

    Y’all ought to be ashamed of yourselves.

    If you can’t bring yourselves, in good conscience, to stop polluting good science with your favorite childhood superfriend fantasies, at least have the good graces to shut up and find a more honest line of work — preferably one that’s far removed from both science and education. Our society needs more biologists, not more flagelistic fantasists, and you’re “educating” our youth to become the latter, not the former.

    Cheers,

    b&

    • daveau
      Posted April 23, 2011 at 11:35 am | Permalink

      Yes, but without your shoe size, how do we know that you’re the real Ben Goren?

      • Posted April 23, 2011 at 11:51 am | Permalink

        No clue what my shoe size is…but I play on a Marcinkewicz 1-S mouthpiece. Will that do?

        b&

        • daveau
          Posted April 23, 2011 at 11:59 am | Permalink

          Ok. You’re you.

          • Posted April 23, 2011 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

            Whew — good to know! For a moment there, I was afraid I might not be me. Why, if I wasn’t me, I could be anybody — maybe even a creationist! Hell, I could be Ray Comfort Himself!

            …erm…sorry…I’ll just go get my meds and be on about my day….

            b&

    • Sastra
      Posted April 23, 2011 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

      I think a good comparison here is the NCSE being a bit like a pro-vaccine science organization which fights anti-vax pseudoscience deciding to team up with various pro-vaccine naturopath, homeopath, and alternative medicine organizations to help spread education about vaccines.

      On the one hand, these groups are fighting for the particular cause being addressed, and may persuade alt-med users to vaccinate their children when science-based groups could not. Their help is useful for the issue.

      But, on the other hand, the “allies” are still basically anti-scientific, and a explicitly science-based organization that decides to give a free pass to homeopaths and reiki masters as long as they’re moderates who at least promote the science of vaccination is playing a very dangerous game. The so-called moderates are only moderate because they’re following the bedrock principle called ‘pick and choose.’ That’s not trustworthy, and it’s not a principle which will lead inevitably to alt med becoming more and more reasonable and science-based. They’re still grounded on emotion and bias. The science org will alienate members and allies who see the ultimate value of science as applying to all of humanity and all of reality.

      Bottom line, I think gnu atheists place religion in the same general category we place pseudoscience or the paranormal in. What makes religion religion isn’t the community or charity works, but the supernatural claims: fair games for science, no matter how much the adherents like the community or charity works that ride alongside.

      A science organization which insists on a discrete reticence against some forms of pseudoscience in order to combat more dangerous forms of pseudoscience is in trouble. Science is ultimately about method — not playing politics.

      • Explicit Atheist
        Posted April 23, 2011 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

        I don’t think the criticisms of NCSE have anything to do with their seeking, and having, public religious supporters, as you are claiming above. I think it has everything to do with the NCSE actively promoting/advocating for particular liberal religious beliefs that self-claim to be compatible with biology and science generally.

    • Posted April 23, 2011 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

      “the accommodationists refuse to publicly admit that they think religion is bullshit”

      Even worse, as you go on to illustrate, they make statements conveying quite the opposite impression.

    • Diane G.
      Posted April 24, 2011 at 1:23 am | Permalink

      Can I cosign Ben’s letter, too?

  38. Posted April 23, 2011 at 10:23 am | Permalink

    I co-sign the letter.

    Ophelia Benson

    • Posted April 23, 2011 at 10:24 am | Permalink

      I see some people add cities – add Seattle WA to mine if desired.

      • Ken Pidcock
        Posted April 23, 2011 at 11:02 am | Permalink

        Oh, yeah, that’s easy for you to do. You don’t have to add Wilkes-Barre. :)

        • Wolfhound
          Posted April 23, 2011 at 11:09 am | Permalink

          Piffle! Before I moved at the beginning of the year, I would have had to add Altamonte Springs, FL. :P

      • daveau
        Posted April 23, 2011 at 11:37 am | Permalink

        It’s not like nobody knows where to find you. :-p

        • daveau
          Posted April 23, 2011 at 11:38 am | Permalink

          What!?!?! No emoticon for that?!?!?!

          • Dominic
            Posted April 23, 2011 at 11:58 pm | Permalink

            :) ;) :(
            Not sure any others work…

      • JBlilie
        Posted April 25, 2011 at 11:00 am | Permalink

        Lucky …

  39. Mal
    Posted April 23, 2011 at 10:37 am | Permalink

    I’m Mal Morrison and I endorse the letter. It’s very important for me to read the opinions of people who are speaking what they believe to be the truth about religion.

    I think a truthfull opinion is a good place from which to start a discussion.

    • truthspeaker
      Posted April 24, 2011 at 6:14 am | Permalink

      “I think a truthfull opinion is a good place from which to start a discussion.”

      What a concept!

  40. Jason
    Posted April 23, 2011 at 10:55 am | Permalink

    I would like to add my name to the cosign list.

    -Jason Lambert

  41. Posted April 23, 2011 at 10:57 am | Permalink

    You can consider me yet another co-signer.

    Despite the fact that I personally like people such as Eugenie Scott and some other people who espouse the anti-gnu attitude, I am frequently frustrated by them in this regard. It sometimes seems like I have to remind them that I am not their enemy, because they talk to gnus as if we are.

  42. andrew
    Posted April 23, 2011 at 11:01 am | Permalink

    I am Andrew Roach and I happily co-sign this letter.

  43. Wolfhound
    Posted April 23, 2011 at 11:07 am | Permalink

    I’m Monica Barry of Olympia, Washington, and I cosign this letter.

    Accommodationists are contributing to the problem, not helping. “He that lieth down with Dogs, shall rise up with Fleas.”

    • Marta
      Posted April 23, 2011 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

      I love this. You’re a “Monica”, but your nym is “Wolfhound”?

      Fabulous!

      Look what we lose when we ask/demand that people unmask.

      • Wolfhound
        Posted April 23, 2011 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

        I must admit, it IS rather fun when the creationist trolls on the blogs I frequent call me a “he” and then comment on how I probably can’t find a willing sexual partner or other such attacks on my manhood. Yeah, double fail there. :D

      • Ichthyic
        Posted April 23, 2011 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

        interestingly, I’m surprised so few here apparently realized you don’t have to “unmask” your nym to post a support letter here.

        If you look at the entry box, there is no reason you can’t simply supply your real name as a different login, then go back to using you nym.

        I did it, and I’ll bet you still have no clue what my real name is.

        • Marta
          Posted April 23, 2011 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

          something having to do with fish maybe?

          • Ichthyic
            Posted April 23, 2011 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

            I wish.
            ;)

        • Wolfhound
          Posted April 24, 2011 at 7:06 am | Permalink

          Bah. I don’t really care much. Quite a few folks know my real name and I’m not a heavy hitter so not worried about any crazies stalking me or whatnot. Especially since I live with half a dozen ginormous wolfhounds who have many teeth. Jerry asked folks to post their real names when cosigning his letter so I happily obliged but I completely understand people who prefer not to reveal their True Identities. :)

  44. Josh Slocum
    Posted April 23, 2011 at 11:25 am | Permalink

    subscribing.

  45. Microraptor
    Posted April 23, 2011 at 11:29 am | Permalink

    I guess I might as well jump on the bandwagon.

    I’m Alex Herbert from Roseburg, Oregon, and I’d like to cosign this letter.

  46. Posted April 23, 2011 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    I, David Moffat, also agree with the content and tone of Coyne’s letter.

  47. Posted April 23, 2011 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    It is my sincere pleasure to add my name to this well-written and essential letter.

  48. Posted April 23, 2011 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    I would like to sign my name to this, but if my real life identity were somehow linked to atheism, it could cost my wife her job either directly or through sabotage by her theist coworkers. This is the world we live in, where careers and lives can be ruined by simply not believing someone else’s superstition, let alone calling it for what it is.

    With that being the case, it is both false and insulting to equate the intolerance of theists towards atheists and the real-life results of that intolerance, with simple criticism of theists by atheists with nothing more than hurt feelings suffered by religious people. It is dishonest to pretend that the problem is that atheists are too strident in their criticism, when the real issue is that theists are too sensitive, feel that they have a right to never hear anything that offends their religious sensibilities, and become vindictive at the thought of the bare existence of atheists.

    • Marta
      Posted April 23, 2011 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

      I relate. Good job, Improbable Joe.

    • Dominic
      Posted April 24, 2011 at 12:02 am | Permalink

      Well said. I am appalled that you find yourself in a (US?) situation where someone might hold that threat over your wife – who is not you – for YOUR views!

  49. Posted April 23, 2011 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    I am Robert Bruce Thompson of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and I co-sign Dr. Coyne’s letter.

  50. IVORYGIRL
    Posted April 23, 2011 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    (e.g. NCSE is not, and never has been, “accomodationist” —
    Bull sh**t
    How would you consider a organization that has a “Clergy Letter Project” and a Director for “Religious Community Outreach”? any Atheist Outreach Directors at the NCSE?
    As Jonathan Smith pointed out ” Yes I know that many “progressive” believers have incorporated TOE into their religious ideologies, seeing it as the way their particular deity created all, but this amounts to nothing more than ID.”

  51. IVORYGIRL
    Posted April 23, 2011 at 11:56 am | Permalink

    And yes add my name, Leslie Ivory from Tucson Az to Dr Coyne’s list

  52. Thomas J Neal
    Posted April 23, 2011 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

    I add my endorsement to the above statement by Jerry Coyne.

  53. Posted April 23, 2011 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for the open letter. We will no doubt be taking it very seriously over the next few days.

    However, I would like to point out to all some hard facts of life before we do so.

    Firstly, we only have a very lose association with the NCSE and I cannot comment at all on their position.

    We operate solely in the United Kingdom where the education, social and religious environment is totally different from the USA (as they are everywhere).

    We do not have separation of church and state in England (the rest of the UK has it).

    It is a legal requirement for schools in Britain not only to teach religious education but to provide daily religious services of essentially a Christian nature.

    Secondly a vast number of state financed schools throughout the UK are owned by churches, notably the Anglican Church and the Roman Catholic Church. That number is growing as a result of governmental policies to remove control of schools from local authority control.

    Both the Anglican Church and the Roman Catholic Church reject teaching of creationism or Intelligent Design as science.

    The BCSE is a single issue organisation opposed to the teaching of creationism or ID as science. They are therefore both onside.

    The BCSE does not have the resources to call for either the separation of church and state or to push foor the Anglican and Roman Catholic Churches to either close down or sell off they schools. Nor do we have resources to push for removal of religious education or services in school.

    There are a number or organisations in the UK who do call for the secularisation of state education, notably the long-established National Secular Society but they are unconnected to the BCSE.

    Moreover, religious belief is dying in Britain (albeit leaving what is left to be increasingly dominated by fundamentalists). The vast majority of people never go anywhere near a church service.

    We cannot take on multiple objectives far bigger than the single issue we address. As I have said, that would be a guaranteed recipe for total failure. To succeed we would need hundreds of thousands of members and a social climate that is very antagonistic towards the Anglican Church. The climate just isn’t there.

    You are reminded that politics is the art of the possible.

    There is also the matter of Northern Ireland where we are only a decade or so after a nasty civil war.

    Angels should fear to tread there.

    Those of us that run the BCSE have no mandate or freedom whatsover to back New Atheism. A goodly number of our members are religious, or indifferent to religion or are uncomfortable with New Atheism.

    If we limited membership to New Atheists we wouldn’t have any activists.

    I find it somewhat strange that the New Atheists are calling for a change in our direction when, some five years ago (when we first started), Richard Dawkins let it be known to us that his support was conditional on us not attacking religion.

    (For the record, we have no connection with or support from the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Science and Reason. It’s not basically active in the UK. It’s thus somewhat difficult for any of us to support it in return.)

    Roger Stanyard

    • Ichthyic
      Posted April 23, 2011 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

      thankyou for that stream-of-consciousness rant, Stanyard.

      some of us actually do recall your responses in other posts, and take THOSE as what your actual position(s) are.

      Trying to pretend that Jerry’s letter doesn’t address your previous statements is ingenuous at best.

    • Observer
      Posted April 23, 2011 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

      You have a gift for misunderstanding the points that Jerry is trying to make.

    • Posted April 23, 2011 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

      Roger, I at least (and I suspect Jerry and Richard and others) aren’t asking you to become an exclusively Gnu atheist organization — not in the slightest and quite the contrary.

      We’re primarily asking you to stop attacking atheists. Recognize that our priorities are not yours and accept the differences for what they are.

      Fight the good fight, by all means — but don’t tear us down in an effort to elevate yourselves.

      I’ve yet to encounter a better model for how a science education organization should approach the topic of religion than that adopted by the Evolution Society (of which Jerry is currently president). Essentially, they ignore religion; when pressed, they simply state that religion does not belong in science classrooms and that one should approach religious authorities for advice how to reconcile religious beliefs with science.

      It is most emphatically not the place of a science organization to tell students, as the NCSE repeatedly, prominently, and unabashedly does, that “God works through Evolution” or to offer Bible study lessons (see the NCSE’s Web site’s top-level religion section for details).

      If the goal is to convert people to a religious belief in theistic evolution, by all means, please take to the pulpit. But please don’t pretend that you’re in the business of science education.

      Cheers,

      b&

      • Posted April 23, 2011 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

        Roger, I think it only fair to further note that I just spent some time on the BCSE Web site.

        The sole content of your own top-level category of advice “For Teachers” is an apologetic Christian evangelization by Peter M. J. Hess, PhD, that insists that the Bible should be read allegorically rather than literally and concludes:

        [T]he Bible is a record of one particular people’s developing moral relationship with God, and enshrines timeless ideals about the integrity of creation and the human responsibility within that creation. Part of that responsibility is using the gift of our human rationality to discover the exciting story of how life has developed on earth.

        When the entirety of the BCSE’s official advice for teachers consists of Christian sermonizing, I trust you’ll forgive me for calling all y’all liars when you describe yourself as promoting science education.

        Cheers,

        b&

        • Posted April 23, 2011 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

          I’m sorry, this is really getting to me.

          Put simply, the NCSE and the BCSE aren’t merely “Not Helping ™.” It’s not even fair to say that they’re part of the problem.

          The are the problem.

          Science education must be exactly that. We would be rightly furious if the National Council of Teachers of English had an official policy of insisting that Christian evangelization should be an integral part of literature studies. If the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics never turned down an opportunity to reconcile Biblical numerology with calculus, we’d be up in arms. If the National Association for Music Education were to insist that every performance of Handel’s Messiah be prefaced with a sermon on the Biblical importance of the Resurrection, there’s be no end of uproar.

          Yet the National Center for Fucking Science Fucking Education (and, I’ve just learned, their British counterpart) do all that and more.

          Jesus Tittyfucking Christ on a pogo stick, this is pathetic. We can teach our kids that 1 + 1 + 1 = 3 without having to worry about the Trinitarian implications that might have. Why is it so goddamned hard to teach that offspring aren’t perfect clones of their progenitors without having to drag in faery tales about talking animals and zombie pr0n?

          I know, I know. The tone trolls are going to have a field day with those last two paragraphs. Tough shit — the NCSE is evangelizing our children in the name of science education. If that’s not sufficient cause for a few blue words, I don’t fucking know what is.

          Cheers,

          b&

          • Kevin
            Posted April 23, 2011 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

            One of these days, Ben, I wish you’d stop holding back and let us know how you really feel.

            Regards…

          • sasqwatch
            Posted April 23, 2011 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

            I’m howling. Your posts just got better and better and better. Takes a highly trained artist to make such beautiful music. — Steve

          • sasqwatch
            Posted April 23, 2011 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

            My name is Stephen Q. Muth. I am a fellow musician, and I fully endorse Ben’s outburst.

            Stephen Q. Muth
            Colorado Springs, CO

            PS – Roger… really. Differences between the climates in the UK vs. the USA are beside the point. In either case, when officers of either institution are asked what their stance on religion is, the proper answer SHOULD be “we have no stance on religion whatsoever; we are a scientific institution.” It is not an endorsement of “New Atheism” or “Atheism”… it is just an admission that the organization holds no theological opinions for OR against. (or moderate or grey area or…) Promotion of science education (for all, religious pro, con, or neutral). That’s the mission. Get it? Jeez.

        • Tyro
          Posted April 23, 2011 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

          Indeed. Imagine if they had one article describing how the bible told about God’s covenant with man and then a second article describing how the bible is an inconsistent work of fiction which documents our ignorant attempts to understand the world. Evidently the NCSE thinks that one is eminently reasonable and should be promoted while the other is an egregious example of bias and should never be discussed by anyone. You’d think that a science and education organization should be able to decide which is which, independent of the political strength of the people making the arguments but evidently not.

          • Kate
            Posted April 24, 2011 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

            Actually the BCSE is not anti atheist, there are many atheist members. Nowhere on the official website have I ever seen atheists attacked. I don’t know about the forum, but like here it is open to anyone. It has no religious stance.

            Secondly in Britain, as Roger Stanyard has said, religious education is part of the compulsory curriculum, hence they have to fight the battle on two fronts. Stopping creationsims creeping into science and stopping evolution being undermined in RE. In that respect it needs an awareness of the non creationist religious position.

            Thirdly, in the UK the sort of fundamentalism you suffer in the US is relatively rare. Hence there is no real anti religious feeling and most atheists and indeed most people who would claim to be religious, are simply indifferent. As fundamentalism and creationism grow (imported from the US) that may change. However, most peoples experience of religion is currently fairly benign.

            Lastly without the BCSE our new creationist organisations would have managed to sneak into schools due mainly to the fact it is new to us and we don’t have a clue how the operate and how insidious they are. Therefore it has played a huge part in bringing the issue to the publics attention and informing ministers about the dangers.

            The most important thing to me at the moment is protecting my childrens education from the inflluences of creationists and extremists. If that means joining forces with christians who aren’t creationist nutters than so be it.Better that than fail completely because of some noble but useless atheist principle that says I have ot stereotype every christians as being the same. Even Dawkins acknowledges the existence of moderate rational ones..

            • Posted April 24, 2011 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

              There is a huge gulf between joining forces with Christians who share the same goals (which few here object to, I think) and actively promoting Christian viewpoints, which the BCSE does in its oft-referenced resources for teachers pages.

              I’ve already commented below about this bogus idea of fighting on two fronts: The BCSE’s focus should be what is taught in science classes, and nothing more than that.

            • Ichthyic
              Posted April 24, 2011 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

              Even Dawkins acknowledges the existence of moderate rational ones..

              No, Dawkins recognizes the existence of moderate ones.

              the issue of rationality of specific beliefs is an entirely different matter.

              that said, you need to realize there is both a tactical AND a strategic approach involved in better education here.

              A tactical approach involving reaching out to religious moderates nobody objects to.

              likewise a long term strategic approach that involves getting people to recognize the sheer inanity of religion itself should ALSO not be objected to.

              surely you can at least understand that much?

            • articulett
              Posted April 24, 2011 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

              And you can’t do this without bashing atheists or spouting straw men?

              Do you imagine atheists are trying to stop you from “joining forces with Christians” or whatever it is you feel so proud of yourself for doing?

              What does Jerry’s letter have to do with any of this? Will Christians not join forces with others unless they bash new atheists?

            • Tyro
              Posted April 24, 2011 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

              Kate,

              Did you check the link I provided? It is a formal statement on the BCSE site that is explicitly religious, describing how God works and how people should interpret the bible.

              As for bashing atheists, read some of Roger Stanyard’s comments in this post and in the one Jerry linked to in the first post. How is that not atheist bashing?

              Thirdly, in the UK the sort of fundamentalism you suffer in the US is relatively rare.

              Like Roger before you, you leap to the conclusion that I and others here are American. I am not and from the signatures at the bottom, many others are not either. You are somewhat right that the UK does not have quite the same problem of religious fundamentalism as the Americans do, but you certainly do have a problem. Richard Dawkins recently completed a good documentary that you may have seen where he goes into schools and talks to the students about evolution, science and religion and it’s quickly clear that no one has the first clue about evolution in particular and science in general. Not even the teachers. In the video, Richard was speaking with kids in a Muslim school which is different than the US in some ways but startling similar in others.

              I myself am Canadian and like the UK, we have less religiosity than the Americans yet our Minister for Science is a Creationist and many communities have a big problem with religion. There are cities in Ontario where all of the schools are run by Catholics, leaving no option for students or parents who want a secular option, let alone a school that teaches a different faith.

              So just because you and I live in countries that aren’t as bad as the US, doesn’t mean that we don’t also face problems of religiosity.

              If that means joining forces with christians who aren’t creationist nutters than so be it.Better that than fail completely because of some noble but useless atheist principle that says I have ot stereotype every christians as being the same.

              No one wants to stop the BCSE and other groups from allying with Christians. Since this issue has been covered so often in this thread, in the first post, in the links and in replies to you, it’s hard to retain anything resembling respect. It sure appears to be willful ignorance but for your sake, I’ll just assume you’re so sure of your own superiority that you haven’t bothered to read anything, let alone consider anyone else’s views.

              • Ichthyic
                Posted April 24, 2011 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

                You are somewhat right that the UK does not have quite the same problem of religious fundamentalism as the Americans do,

                It’s becoming more and more clear that things have changed in the UK. It is no longer absent serious creationist influence, and hasn’t been for some time.

                I posted a link to the site that documents creationism in the UK, but it’s not hard to post again:

                http://www.creationism.co.uk/

                note that many of the articles date back several years.

            • Posted April 25, 2011 at 8:23 am | Permalink

              Indee, that appears to be the case. I am not aware of any anti-atheist stuff on our wiki or in nay of our newsletters or on our blog or in our community forum.

              I have no personal objections to atheists as I am one myself.

              My view, though is that we cannot serve two masters – by pro-science and pro-atheism at the same time.

              That’s why I think that the New Atheism movement is doomed never to get what it wants.

              It’s largely irrelevant theatre in the UK and politically powerless in the USA.

              I may be proved wrong but I don’t really care. I am not part of it.

              • andrew
                Posted April 25, 2011 at 9:48 am | Permalink

                “we cannot serve two masters – by pro-science and pro-atheism at the same time.”

                this gets the I Willfully Oblivious award of the year

                1) no one is suggesting you serve the ‘pro-atheism’ master. indeed the gnus are specifically asking you to *only* serve the ‘pro-science’ master. it shouldn’t be that hard to comprehend.

                2) you seem dead set on serving two incompatible masters – pro-science and pro-religion. (it is quite telling that you find them compatible, yet don’t find science and atheism to be)

    • Josh Slocum
      Posted April 23, 2011 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

      What is wrong with you? How can you read this very clear letter, yet act as if it’s asking the BCSE to attack religion? Seriously? How?

      It asks you to stop attacking atheists. It’s clear. It’s not ambiguous. You’re not unintelligent. God this is frustrating.

    • Marta
      Posted April 23, 2011 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

      Well, hello, Stanyard.

      We’ve met before.

      You’re the guy who said I had no manners.
      You’re the guy who said I was childish.
      You’re the guy who said I was damaging science.

      And here you are, now, making your apologies about what you cannot do. Again.

      • Posted April 23, 2011 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

        Grow up.

        • Ichthyic
          Posted April 23, 2011 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

          shake your fist harder, boy!

          anyone tell you you’re pathetic before, Roger?

          • NMcC
            Posted April 24, 2011 at 11:22 am | Permalink

            “anyone tell you you’re pathetic before, Roger?”

            Yes, me…frequently…on rdnet.

        • Marta
          Posted April 23, 2011 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

          as I have mentioned in a previous thread, you are a sexist tiresome bore.

          Apologies, Dr. Coyne.

        • sasqwatch
          Posted April 23, 2011 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

          “We at the BSCE hold no position on religion whatsoever. Our mission is to promote science education for all our citizens, regardless of religious status.”

          Record yourself saying these words, and have someone more tech savvy than you rig up playback equipment to softly repeat these words every night until it sinks in. And stop bashing your supporters in the meantime.

          Seriously. You’ll be forgiven and back at the mission in no time. This will all seem like a bad dream.

    • Posted April 23, 2011 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

      Other have said this, but –

      You’re hammering on an open door.

      1. Nobody is telling you (“you” the BCSE) or asking you to dispute religion.

      2. Nobody is telling you to back the New Atheists.

      3. The open letter urges you to stop attacking New Atheists.

      You do see that you can do the third without doing the first and second, I hope?

      • Posted April 23, 2011 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

        As I say, we will, no doubt, be considering the open letter in due course.

        We have no position on it as yet.

        My comments were intended to inform everyone here that the position in the UK is very, very different from that in the USA.

        I’ve yet to see a single person here recognise that.

        I don’t think anyone in the UK is going to take much notice of Americans who don’t recognise those vast differences.

        • Josh Slocum
          Posted April 23, 2011 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

          Stop it. You’re being unreasonable and downright rude. Stop making up things that your conversational partners haven’t said. Stop evading really reasonable, clear questions directed to you, Roger Stanyard, not to the BCSE.

          You’re making people (I’m one of them) who’ve admired your work and watched your posts on various fora over the years start to get angry at your surprising behavior.

        • Ichthyic
          Posted April 23, 2011 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

          Roger is obviously lying when he says “we”.

          He means just himself, of course.

          My comments were intended to inform everyone here that the position in the UK is very, very different from that in the USA.

          then why did you feel the need to defend Matzke?

        • Ichthyic
          Posted April 23, 2011 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

          vast.

          differences….

          http://www.creationism.co.uk/

          strangely, your ignorance of your own situation appears to speak volumes.

        • Posted April 23, 2011 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

          Roger, is it really so different that it’s reasonable that the entirety of the BCSE’s resources for teachers is an evangelical Christian apology exhorting teachers to tell their students that “[t]he Bible is a record of one particular people’s developing moral relationship with God, and enshrines timeless ideals about the integrity of creation and the human responsibility within that creation“?

          Cheers,

          b&

          • Posted April 23, 2011 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

            As a Brit, I’m appalled by that.

            Another shameful endorsement of religion that has absolutely no place in science education.

          • truthspeaker
            Posted April 24, 2011 at 7:45 am | Permalink

            That’s twice you’ve posted that excerpt, and twice that Roger hasn’t commented on it.

            • Kate
              Posted April 24, 2011 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

              Is that excerpt for RE teachers? In the UK religious education is compulsory. There are guidelines but it is not a national curriculum subject leaving it open to interpretation by schools.

              The BCSE has to fight creaitonism on two fronts. It has to prevent it getting into science and it has to stop evolution being undermined in RE. Hence it needs as much of an understanding of what will go on in RE as it does science.

              As far as I’m aware nobody in the UK has successfully tackled the issue of RE. Dawkins and others have asked that it be regulated by bringing it under the control of the national curriculum. They have not succeeded and under the current government it is unlikely that will change.

              He is also correct in pointing out that the situation in the UK is totally different to that in the US. We do not have anywhere near the level of extremism the US has yet, hence we do not have the fierce new atheist response. We have religious indifference.

              • Posted April 24, 2011 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

                Kate, you asked, “Is that excerpt for RE teachers?”

                No.

                Hess says, “What is a science teacher to do when confronted by challenges to evolution?” That is the focus of that article — for five years the only one on that page.

              • Posted April 24, 2011 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

                Furthermore, I think that “second front” is outside the BCSE’s remit. In their own words, “We at the BSCE hold no position on religion whatsoever. Our mission is to promote science education for all our citizens, regardless of religious status.”

              • articulett
                Posted April 24, 2011 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

                You may have religious indifference in the US, but with people like you out there, you will have increasing hatred and misunderstandings about atheism.

                I think atheist children should have the right to have their viewpoints respected too, don’t you?

                You’re free to have “faith in faith” but quit spreading prejudice about those who don’t think “faith” is a virtue nor something worthy of special respect.

                Do you know what “neutral” means? How about “secular”?

              • whyevolutionistrue
                Posted April 25, 2011 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

                Okay, this is enough discussion about this. I am only accepting further comments that are signatories to the letter. All other comments will be deleted.

        • Posted April 23, 2011 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

          But that’s not an answer. You said:

          Those of us that run the BCSE have no mandate or freedom whatsover to back New Atheism. A goodly number of our members are religious, or indifferent to religion or are uncomfortable with New Atheism.

          If we limited membership to New Atheists we wouldn’t have any activists.

          I find it somewhat strange that the New Atheists are calling for a change in our direction…

          Nobody is asking you to “back New Atheism.” Nobody is asking you to “limit membership to New Atheists.”

          As I said, you’re hammering on an open door.

          • Josh Slocum
            Posted April 23, 2011 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

            Roger, you really don’t get to make things up and put them in other peoples’ mouths</b. Really – you can't do that.

            Why are you manufacturing these positions? Do you recognize you're doing it? Why do you think people won't notice that you're evading very clear, calmly stated questions by literally magicking up straw positions that you then "respond" to?

            You're crossing the line from evasive to downright dishonest (and substantively rude to your conversational partners), and I'm genuinely puzzled – I never would have expected this from you!

            • Josh Slocum
              Posted April 23, 2011 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

              Sorry about the bolding.

        • Matt Penfold
          Posted April 23, 2011 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

          Roger,

          I live in the UK, and I can tell you that when I notice you it is either to pity you, laugh at you or despise you.

          You have done nothing, and said nothing, that makes me admire you or even respect you in the slightest.

          So well done. You are achieving your aims in pissing off potential allies. Please be sure to tell your fellow board members at the BCSE that you have managed this. I am sure you will want their congratulations.

        • Tim Harris
          Posted April 23, 2011 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

          I am British, although I live in Japan, and I find the infantile chauvinism apparent in this last comment of Roger Stanyard’s contemptible – the more so since it comes from someone who holds a position of some responsibility.

        • SAWells
          Posted April 23, 2011 at 11:04 pm | Permalink

          I live in the UK too, Roger. Stop whining about how bad you have it. The political need to cozy up to religion here is far less than it is the States.

    • Tyro
      Posted April 23, 2011 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

      Those of us that run the BCSE have no mandate or freedom whatsover to back New Atheism.

      It would take me 15 minutes to dig up a half dozen posts where Jerry states, restates, and restates his position again and it is never anything close to this.

      Have you read them? Would it help if someone were to explain to you just what problem the Gnus have with the NCSE’s stance on religion or have you seen it all before and still persist in misinterpreting?

      Please help us out and give us a hint if this is an honest (if bewildering) misunderstanding or if it is an intentional effort to not engage with our actual position.

      • Posted April 23, 2011 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

        As I say, the NCSE is not the same organisation as the BCSE. We have loose associations with a number of organisations but we cannot speak for any of them.

        • Josh Slocum
          Posted April 23, 2011 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

          Please acknowledge what I, Ophelia and others have addressed to you above. They’re fair, reasonable points. I think you have a good faith ethical duty to engage them.

        • Tyro
          Posted April 23, 2011 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

          I was actually commenting on what you said right here where you were acting as if the Gnus wanted you to criticize religion. Jerry and PZ in particular have repeated several times that they are NOT looking for any scientific organization (the NCSE, the BCSE, or any other) to side with them, rather they have said clearly and unambiguously that the groups ought to avoid taking any position. Right now they are taking explicit theological positions to the point where they are even endorsing religion.

          It’s an incredible strawman to act as if anyone here wants you to side only with the Gnus. I’m astonished that you could say such a thing. I’m struggling to give you the benefit of the doubt which is why I asked if you’d like some links to where the Gnus have elaborated on this point.

          (I see that Richard has already spoken out for himself and unsurprisingly he’s not best pleased that your representation of his position is so far from his actual published views.)

    • Posted April 23, 2011 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

      Roger Stanyard wrote:
      “I find it somewhat strange that the New Atheists are calling for a change in our direction when, some five years ago (when we first started), Richard Dawkins let it be known to us that his support was conditional on us not attacking religion.”

      Please substantiate this statement. I find it impossible to believe that I could possibly ever have said anything so diametrically opposed to opinions that I have held for many years. I am struggling to be charitable and put it down to honest misunderstanding on Stanyard’s part. And failing in my struggle.

      Richard

      • Posted April 23, 2011 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

        It’s what I was told by Larry Moran; IIRC about October/November 2007 at a meetup at the NHM in London. PZ Myers was there at the time but I don’t think he knew about it.

        If I recall correctly, Larry went on to meet you afterwards but I don’t know if he told you we had agreed on that route anyway.

        I have stated what I recall from the event, Richard. That’s the best I can do.

        I didn’t really want to bring this matter up but as you no doubt appreciate I’m not altogether happy with many of the personal attacks on my integrity or the NCSE or the BCSE.

        Yes, we are an accomodationist organisation and have always been. Therein is the issue we have with the New Atheists here. It’s a big one.

        I think I am going to have to remain silent on this matter until Monday (I have a speaking engagement in London tomorrow).

        However, it does need to be addressed properly and the silly slagging match and name calling in this thread is the wrong way to go about it.

        I’m prepared to call my peace with Jerry but it’s going to need some work and give and take.

        Is there anyone who would like to mediate on this?

        • Tyro
          Posted April 23, 2011 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

          Roger,

          A quick search through Larry’s site would quickly reveal what his position on this is.

          I don’t like the fact that NCSE cozies up to theistic evolutionists like Ken Miller and Francis Collins while, at the same time, actively distancing itself from vocal atheist scientists like Richard Dawkins. I think NCSE shouldn’t takes side and shouldn’t promote the idea that science and religion are compatible.

          http://sandwalk.blogspot.com/2009/04/trouble-with-ncse.html

          It would be better to say that the public stance of NCSE is to be supportive of the accommodationist position in preference to the idea that science and religion are in conflict and in preference to the position that NCSE should not take a stance on this controversial issue. [...] It certainly looks to me like NCSE is taking up the issue rather than being neutral as I would prefer.

          http://sandwalk.blogspot.com/2010/03/ncse-postion-on-science-vs-religion.html

          It sounds like this is the exact position that RD, JC and PZM have taken. If LM has said something to you in private that you think is contradictory, are you open to the possibility that you misunderstood or he misspoke in haste? When we look at their published writing there seems to be little ambiguity: the NCSE should not take any position regarding regarding the compatibility of science and religion and it should not be taking any theological stances at all.

          Note how they are not saying that Gnus are only invited as you claimed they did.

        • Ichthyic
          Posted April 23, 2011 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

          I have stated what I recall from the event, Richard. That’s the best I can do.

          that’s the best you can do? A vague 3rd hand recollection?

          I hope you realize how pathetic that is?

          However, it does need to be addressed properly and the silly slagging match and name calling in this thread is the wrong way to go about it.

          actually, based on the merits of your posts so far, it’s about all that we SHOULD respond with.

          Is there anyone who would like to mediate on this?

          sorry, but it’s quite hard to discuss things rationally with people who do not argue honestly.

          you sir, are entirely intellectually dishonest.

          what more is there to say, really? Some cliche like: “You buttered your bread?”

          • Ichthyic
            Posted April 23, 2011 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

            I’m prepared to call my peace with Jerry but it’s going to need some work and give and take.

            I truly hope Jerry gives your offer all the attention it deserves.

            • John Phillips, FCD
              Posted April 24, 2011 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

              :)

        • Posted April 23, 2011 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

          Far be it for me to write on Richard’s behalf, but I would be most surprised at this point if he were to support a so-called “science education” advocacy organization whose sole advice to teacher can be summed as, “teach your students the Good News of Jesus Christ.”

          If it’s give-and-take you want, you could start by taking that trash off your Web site and giving it to the hazardous waste disposal team.

          Cheers,

          b&

        • Ichthyic
          Posted April 23, 2011 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

          Say, Roger…

          I’d work with you but you told me you beat your wife.

          What?

          Well, that’s what I heard from some guy I met at a party 3 years ago, IIRC. There were people there with me, but I don’t think they actually heard it.

        • whyevolutionistrue
          Posted April 23, 2011 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

          I’ve written to Larry to see if there is any truth in this claim.

          • Ichthyic
            Posted April 23, 2011 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

            Well, sure, Jerry, if it satisfies for curiosity’s sake, but recall what Roger actually claimed:

            “Richard Dawkins let it be known to us”

            This statement is a lie, and even if Moran said something to Roger… it obviously wasn’t what RICHARD told Roger.

            so, just like Matzke, Roger is caught in an obvious lie, refuses to acknowledge or apologize for it, and instead chooses to try and deflect his knowledge of the situation to some vague 3rd party reference.

            In fact, it’s even WORSE than the stunt Matzke pulled!

        • Posted April 23, 2011 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

          Roger, I don’t recall saying any such thing to you. I recall saying that Dawkins would probably welcome a British version of NCSE and I recall cautioning you NOT to attack your fellow ATHEISTS or coddle theists.

          • Ichthyic
            Posted April 23, 2011 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

            Thanks, Larry.

            It’s obvious that there is some sort of personality disorder at work with the likes of Roger and Nick and Mooney and Nisbet.

            There is mounting evidence that they, consciously or unconsciously, filter their own memories and information in order to fit their own preconceptions.

            I would point out this is exactly why we have peer-review in science, but it seems rather odd to even have to bother considering the people involved either all have or are getting advanced degrees in science!

            it’s just…

            jaw dropping?

          • Posted April 24, 2011 at 12:16 am | Permalink

            If yourr recall from events five years ago isn’t perfect, why does Jerry Coyne think mine is?

            Look, the accusation from Coyne is that I am a liar.

            To say I take personal exception to it is the understatement of all time.

            Coyne, you owe me a damned apology, not an open letter.

            Take it from granted I am bloody livid with you.

            Until I get that apology, you know precisely what you can do with your open letter.

            • Observer
              Posted April 24, 2011 at 4:14 am | Permalink

              Accusations of lying aside, what are we to make of the fact that you interpreted Jerry’s letter to mean just about the opposite of what it actually meant? You’re claiming he was asking your group to adopt the NA stance and begin to attack religion. That’s just about the worst job of reading comprehension I’ve ever seen from a presumably educated person. It comes off to this Observer as willfully obtuse.

            • Posted April 24, 2011 at 5:46 am | Permalink

              Roger, you’re a liar.

              Earlier on this page, you wrote: “Richard Dawkins let it be known to us that his support was conditional on us not attacking religion.”

              When Richard himself challenged you, you conceded that he had done no such thing directly, but that instead it was Larry Moran who had relayed Richard’s position to you.

              Richard is not known for shying away from controversy, from expressing different opinions in private, or for delegating others to do his dirty work for him. Neither is Larry known for doing that kind of dirty work. Both have since denied your accusations and expressed understandable outrage at your calumnies.

              You, on the other hand, have a verifiable pattern and practice of “creatively reinterpreting” other people’s positions to suit your agenda. It is on perfect display here where you mischaracterize Jerry’s open letter not as the request to stop attacking atheists that it is but rather a request that you start attacking theists.

              So, I repeat: you, Roger Stanyard, are a liar. And you will not be having an apology from me.

              I will, however, be willing to accept yours should you demonstrate a credible intention to henceforth hew to objectively verifiable facts.

              Cheers,

              b&

            • Tyro
              Posted April 24, 2011 at 9:17 am | Permalink

              I can understand how having dozens of people attacking you and calling you a liar can make anyone feel upset.

              However, is it possible that you either misremembered or misunderstood Larry when he explained his position to you?

              Just looking at your comments today, you somehow took Jerry’s comments to mean that he wanted the BCSE and NSCE to be atheist-only or that these groups should actively advocated for atheists when nothing could be further from the truth. He (and Larry, Richard and PZ) have said several times that they simply want science groups to be neutral, to refrain from taking any theological positions and to refrain from attacking atheistic allies just as you refrain from attacking religious allies. To back this up, I found several direct quotes from Larry where he explained exactly what his position was.

              So when you come here and repeatedly mischaracterize the views of your opponents and when this was pointed out, instead of apologizing, retracting or moving you, you seem to double-down by first making more mischaracterizations and now demanding your own apology, can you see why you’re getting the reaction you are?

              I think most people here are reasonable and would prefer to engage in a dialogue rather than venting their spleen but you’ve got to meet us half way. Drop the strawmen, openly engage with their views as they’ve published them, and it wouldn’t hurt to drop demands for apologies especially after you haven’t even acknowledged your errors, let alone apologized for them.

              • Posted April 24, 2011 at 10:17 am | Permalink

                That’s a good point. I hadn’t made the connection between the reading-comprehension failure here and the possible comprehension-failure with Larry Moran. Maybe Stanyard is just bad at certain kinds of comprehension…or maybe he’s just bad at monitoring his own cognitive bias…or both. At any rate the comprehension failure right here in real time does seem to shed light on the one from 5 years ago.

                But will he cop to it? Seems unlikely.

                Your call, Mr Stanyard.

              • Ichthyic
                Posted April 24, 2011 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

                However, is it possible that you either misremembered or misunderstood Larry when he explained his position to you?

                It.

                doesn’t.

                matter.

                please, DO read again EXACTLY what Roger claimed. Did he claim a vague recollection of someone mentioning something Richard told them?

                NO.

                stop this bullshit.

                Roger.

                Lied.

                It really is THAT simple.

              • Tyro
                Posted April 24, 2011 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

                Ichthyic,

                LOL! Well yeah but the “liar liar” approach to dialogue has a wealth of representatives, I thought I could contribute more by trying a different one. Besides, I don’t care so much about berating Roger, I’m far more interested in seeing if there’s some way to get the BCSE to open themselves to the evidence and to openly engage with us.

                As I see it, if he backs down and saves face then I’m happy. The BCSE and NSCE really have done good things and maybe we get carried away and forget that. I also think there’s a bigger picture, namely how he and the BCSE treat us in the future. Surely that’s the point of the open letter, not to demand that they all admit to being liars or else we’ll take our tea set and go home, but to make substantive changes for the future.

                I don’t disagree with what you’re saying, it just isn’t as important to me.

                Carry on…

              • Ichthyic
                Posted April 24, 2011 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

                I’m far more interested in seeing if there’s some way to get the BCSE to open themselves to the evidence and to openly engage with us.

                unless you’re completely dense, and I can see you aren’t. Do you REALLY think that’s going to happen with someone as intellectually dishonest as Stanyard?

                No, it isn’t. The natural conclusion to reach is that Stanyard should be brushed aside so that someone who actually isn’t a dishonest shitbag could step in to speak for BCSE instead.

              • Tyro
                Posted April 24, 2011 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

                Do you REALLY think that’s going to happen with someone as intellectually dishonest as Stanyard?

                I think that people can (and have) gotten very hot under their collars and when they do, their views polarize. I think that it’s not necessary for everyone to abuse and insult him, regardless of what my views may be. And I think that, given time and circumstance, people are more willing to change their minds if they’re given a graceful way to do it.

                As long as Jerry is fine with people calling him a liar and attacking his character then it’s fine with me but I’m just trying something different.

                And just speaking personally, I find this much more relaxing. Do please carry on with what works for you, I’ll just keep trying this for a while. Maybe a variety of approaches will increase our chances and if not, I don’t think I’m hurting anything.

            • CanadianChick
              Posted April 24, 2011 at 11:23 am | Permalink

              Roger, you’re a either an idiot or a liar. The only person who is owing an apology is you. You made clear statements that Dawkins and Moran said things that they most certainly did not say, and persist in your statements in the face of their certain denials.

              Just stop.

              Wipe the spittle from your chin, shut off the computer and go eat a chocolate bunny. We’ll all feel the better for it.

            • Posted April 24, 2011 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

              “If yourr [sic] recall from events five years ago isn’t perfect, why does Jerry Coyne think mine is?”

              Because, dear Roger, you made a very matter-of-fact statement regarding what Dawkins had told the BCSE, with no qualification such as “IIRC”; not that is was an indirect communication, nor that it was your, perhaps imperfect, understanding of what had been said.

            • Josh Slocum
              Posted April 24, 2011 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

              Also, prior plausibility. Richard Dawkins’ position on religion and accommodationism is well-known. It’s extremely implausible that he would have offered his support to an organization on the condition that it *not* attack theists (whatever that means). It’s far more likely that he would have said he’d support an organization only if it didn’t attack fellow atheists.

              Taken together with the fact that Richard himself has denied making that statement, that Larry denies hearing it or relaying it to you, and coupled with your consistent misrepresentation of your opponents arguments(right here on this very thread despite pleas for you to acknowledge what they actually said), any objective person would conclude your memory about this is not trustworthy.

            • Posted April 24, 2011 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

              Salim Nair from Philadelphia and Kerala, India. I cosign the letter.

            • Gerhard Pratt
              Posted April 25, 2011 at 8:29 am | Permalink

              Please add my name to the letter.

              Gerhard Pratt
              Professor, Geophysics
              London, ON, Canada

        • Posted April 23, 2011 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

          Based on Larry Moran’s and Richard Dawkins’s comments, neither of which substantiates your claim, it appears that you, Mr. Stanyard, are a liar, making up stuff as it suits you. I don’t apply that word lightly, but it seems warranted in your case.

          You now have something else in common with the advocates of the NCSE: you fabricate incidents to buttress your case. You have been found out (one always is on the internet!), and I wash my hands of you. I certainly have no desire to “call peace” with you. How can you be trusted with the science education of British children if you can’t even be trusted to tell the truth on a website?

          • SAWells
            Posted April 23, 2011 at 11:08 pm | Permalink

            In the future we will look back on this week as the time of the Great Flameout; Nick and Roger have now torched the last scraps of their own credibility.

            • Microraptor
              Posted April 23, 2011 at 11:38 pm | Permalink

              There was a point when they had any?

              • Pierce R. Butler
                Posted April 24, 2011 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

                I dunno about Stanyard, but 5-6 years ago, Matzke was likely to be handed a free bar whenever he walked into an atheist bar for his fine work as part of the pro-science team in the Kitzmiller case in Dover, PA.

                The squandering of that fine reputation has taken years of steady work.

              • Pierce R. Butler
                Posted April 24, 2011 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

                Actually, all Matzke would get even at his peak was free beers – I never heard of the bar owner(s) signing over title just because NM walked in, or even Kitzmiller herself.

              • Microraptor
                Posted April 24, 2011 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

                @ Pierce R. Butler

                They could have been getting free candy bars.

          • Posted April 24, 2011 at 12:09 am | Permalink

            I have not “fabricated” this. To the best of my recall, that was the conversation I had with Larry Moran.

            You owe me an apology and you better come up with it pdq.

            • Observer
              Posted April 24, 2011 at 4:17 am | Permalink

              Or what? You’ll quit advocating for science?

            • Marta
              Posted April 24, 2011 at 9:13 am | Permalink

              “You owe me an apology and you better come up with it pdq.”

              You’ve called Mr. Fugate, below, a “dunderhead” as a response to his calm and reasonable post.

              You’ve responded to Ms. Benson’s also calm and reasonable post by stating that she needs to get something “through [her] thick skull.”

              And of course, my issues with you are available to you upthread.

              Now here you are, with an implied threat against our handsome and gracious host.

              At this point, Stanyard, a casual observer concludes that your cheese has slipped off its cracker.

              • Microraptor
                Posted April 24, 2011 at 10:16 am | Permalink

                “Your cheese has slipped off its cracker.”

                I’m going to have to remember that one.

            • Posted April 24, 2011 at 9:31 am | Permalink

              You’re a real piece of work, Stanyard. The sheer gall of demanding an apology to you… you’re the one who needs to be apologizing. To lots of people.

            • Peter Beattie
              Posted April 24, 2011 at 9:42 am | Permalink

              It seems another Brit has had one glass of wine too many

            • articulett
              Posted April 24, 2011 at 11:14 am | Permalink

              You want Jerry to care about your hurt feelings? You’ve shown no awareness that the he or the others talking to you here even have feelings! Where is your apology for your seemingly purposeful “misinterpretations”? Why don’t you try modelling that respect you demand for yourself? You aren’t the damaged party here.

              Hurling insults at those asking you to stop hurling insults and then crying persecution when it comes back makes you look an awful lot like the theists you like to coddle.

              • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
                Posted April 25, 2011 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

                I noticed that too. At the very least it is an attempt at misdirection – that is so smearing that he needs to apologize after. Um, not well done?

            • An Observer
              Posted April 24, 2011 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

              So it’s the best recollection you had with Party B… but your original claim was that Party A had made something known *to you* (well, to you and others jointly – but still to you).

              Can you really not recognize that even if your recollection on this were 100% correct, your original claim would still be false? If you’re not lying (knowingly asserting a falsehood) then I have to question your basic mental skills because there’s just no good excuse for a sincere error here.

              If John says something to Frank and Frank relays the information to me, it’s false to assert that John told it to me. False. Incorrect. Wrong. Not a mistake on my part, but a lie.

              • Ichthyic
                Posted April 24, 2011 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

                Can you really not recognize that even if your recollection on this were 100% correct, your original claim would still be false?

                absolutely correct.

                I understand Roger’s reaction though. In politics, what is the best way to cover up an obvious lie? By claiming you’ve been libeled, and then tossing out a red herring, of course.

                this is exactly what Roger followed up with.

                I wouldn’t have a beer with Roger if the beer was free. Hell, not even if you paid me!

                The ONLY reasonable reaction from Roger should have been:

                “Yes, you’re right, in the heat of the moment I made an incorrect statement. I apologize and wish to clarify that Richard never actually said anything I claimed to have recalled him saying, or even recalled having been related to me by others.”

                But, he didn’t. Thus making a bad situation even worse.

                Roger has dug himself a hole so deep, even God couldn’t lift him out of it.
                :P

              • Microraptor
                Posted April 24, 2011 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

                @Ichthic

                Hey, cut Rodger a little slack.

                Life’s pretty tough when your ego is so large that it evidentally warps space-time around you.

            • Ichthyic
              Posted April 24, 2011 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

              I have not “fabricated” this. To the best of my recall, that was the conversation I had with Larry Moran.

              one question for you, Stanyard, before final dismissal:

              Don’t you think you should have phrased your statement about Dawkins that way to begin with? Rather than saying what you ACTUALLY said?

              if the answer in your mind is no, then I would classify you as having a severe personality disorder, and you should seek treatment…

              PDQ

            • sasqwatch
              Posted April 25, 2011 at 7:08 am | Permalink

              You DO need to get the hell out of education. …except perhaps as an object lesson in how NOT to do it. It would make a good abject lesson, too.

          • Ichthyic
            Posted April 24, 2011 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

            Based on Larry Moran’s and Richard Dawkins’s comments, neither of which substantiates your claim, it appears that you, Mr. Stanyard, are a liar, making up stuff as it suits you. I don’t apply that word lightly, but it seems warranted in your case.

            *whew*

            This is why I like you, Jerry. You come to simple, rational conclusions without any bullshit attached.

            I simply can’t believe there are people here willing to let Roger off the hook for such an obvious lie.

    • Dominic
      Posted April 24, 2011 at 12:17 am | Permalink

      Northern Ireland has sectarian violence partly because of the religious divide that is perpetuated by separate schooling between the protestants & Roman Catholics. The sooner children are educated together, the sooner there will be tolerance.
      The ‘Troubles’ in Northern Ireland were NOT a civil War, they were civil strife. The Nationalists would say it was an armed struggle against the British state I think, the unionists would say they were protecting the Union.
      I understand that you feel that you have to build a bridge with religious people, but by accommodating them I would say that you make the religious people appear to be correct, whereas they base their world views on the suspension of scientific ‘laws’.

      • NMcC
        Posted April 24, 2011 at 11:42 am | Permalink

        Oh, don’t try and disabuse old Roger of his ludicrous notions in regard to Northern Ireland. He’s a lost cause. I tried to reason with him on rd.net on the subject, but after one particular tirade against the entire population of NI, and after I had responded by asking him if he’d ever been here, he replied “…I wouldn’t be seen dead in the place.” No, the bold Stanyard is not to be trusted on his description of events in NI anymore than on the subject of science promotion.

        Don’t worry Roger, me old son, whenever the atheists get round to running you out of town, you can finally do the decent thing and come to NI – for some research, or somefink.

    • truthspeaker
      Posted April 24, 2011 at 6:17 am | Permalink

      “Those of us that run the BCSE have no mandate or freedom whatsover to back New Atheism.”

      Nobody is asking you to.

      • bhoytony
        Posted April 24, 2011 at 7:32 am | Permalink

        In the past I’ve quite admired some of Stanyard’s posts on various sites in the past, but watching him spit the dummy out here I’m gobsmacked. His recent defence of Matzke is an embarassment to us UK citizens and the untruths they have both posted about Richard Dawkins are disgraceful.

        • bhoytony
          Posted April 24, 2011 at 7:41 am | Permalink

          “In the past I’ve quite admired some of Stanyard’s posts on various sites in the past”

          Oooh!! Why do I always miss my awful errors when I read through before posting, but they leap off the page as soon as I press the button?
          I’ve probably done it again with this one.
          I’d love an edit button, but with so many dishonest apologists I can see why that would be a problem.

      • Posted April 24, 2011 at 9:15 am | Permalink

        I keep saying this. He won’t listen.

  54. Josh Slocum
    Posted April 23, 2011 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

    Also co-signed from Burlington, Vermont.

  55. Jeff Sherry
    Posted April 23, 2011 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    I fully agree with Jerry’s open letter,
    Jeffrey B. Sherry, Wheeling, WV

    • articulett
      Posted April 23, 2011 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

      Reconciling supernatural beliefs and/or defending promoters of such beliefs should be done in one’s own time and not supported or funded by the NCSE.

      People should be encouraged to keep their supernatural beliefs as private as they want those with conflicting supernatural beliefs to keep theirs(unless they are eager to hear what other people think of said beliefs.)

      NCSE should also encourage it’s members to keep their opinions about the “gnus” private unless those members are eager to hear the “gnus” opinions of their opinions.

  56. Michael Fugate
    Posted April 23, 2011 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

    I find it amazing that organizations with both science and education in their names seem neither know much about nor employ the methods of either. I don’t know how many times I have read that it is just common sense that one doesn’t challenge the beliefs of those you are trying to educate. Neither science nor education is based on common sense – they are based on research – and research findings are often contrary to common sense.

    If anyone is interested in finding out more about science education should look into “The National Academies Summer Institute on Undergraduate Education in Biology” sponsored by NAS and HHMI. You can apply and send a team from your college or university. Also read the NAS book “How People Learn” which summarizes current research on effective, learner-centered teaching. Effective teaching requires goals and assessments to determine if those goals are met.

    I have brought all of this up before with NCSE supporters and the reply is often the same as Roger’s – we don’t have much money. If you don’t have much money, wouldn’t it make more sense to figure how to effectively utilize those limited resources first – instead of just saying this approach makes sense to me so I will use it? Plus it would not take that much money to design and implement experiments using high school teachers or clergy from the “Clergy Letter Project” to see if they are effective. Why wouldn’t you want to know if you were effective? And why as scientists wouldn’t you go about finding that out?

    • Posted April 24, 2011 at 12:06 am | Permalink

      Listen dunderhead. The BCSE is NOT the NCSE!

      The Clergy Letter is nothing to do with us. We have no involvement in it whatsoever and haven’t anything even remotely similar.

      There is no point in that approach here. The churches are empty.

      Get it?

      • Posted April 24, 2011 at 2:43 am | Permalink

        Roger nice tone there. You might want to relax a little bit and stop being so aggressive and shrill. Not to mention the unwarranted name calling.

      • Michael Fugate
        Posted April 24, 2011 at 8:43 am | Permalink

        Really Roger – did I say it was?
        Reading comprehension not one of your strong points?

  57. Jeff Engel
    Posted April 23, 2011 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

    I’m Jeff Engel, of Clinton, NY, US, and would like to co-sign this letter.

  58. Ned
    Posted April 23, 2011 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

    Please add my name to the letter.

    Ned Rosen
    Newton, MA

  59. Posted April 23, 2011 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    What Roger Stanyard, and other accommodationists, seem to be saying is “because we at the N/BCSE have to avoid criticizing religion, therefore we want all scientists and friends of science also to avoid criticizing religion.”

    This is not reasonable. That “therefore” makes no sense. It’s like asking that nobody who votes Democratic in preference to voting Republican ever criticize any Democrat.

    • Miles McCullough
      Posted April 23, 2011 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

      It’s like a Democrat asking all liberals not to criticize conservativism. We don’t care about the party politics; we care about the ideas.

    • Tulse
      Posted April 23, 2011 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

      It’s worse than that, Ophelia — the organizations are saying “we take a particular theological position regarding the relationship of religion and science, and all scientists and friends of science should take that theological position as well”.

      N/BCSE don’t just avoid criticizing religion — various pro-science organizations have that approach. Instead, these two groups adopt a very specific theological position, namely, a liberal religious view that argues any apparent contradictions of science with the sacred texts is to be resolved by treating such texts non-literally, as metaphors or Bronze Age understanding or poetry.

      And that’s the part that is so galling, that two organizations that are allegedly involved in science education are taking specific positions on theological questions. And to add insult to injury, they then get upset when others don’t take the same position. It’s absurd.

    • Posted April 23, 2011 at 11:56 pm | Permalink

      When are you going to get it into your thick skull that the United Kingdom is not the United States.

      Nobody here gives a stuff about Democrats and Republicans or your culture wars.

      The BCSE has no option but to take a radically different position from you.

      We can’t resort to the courts to defend separation of church and state, as is what happened at Dover.

      We can’t go into schools that are owned by the Roman Catholic or Anglican churches taking with us an atheistic position.

      How many times to I have to spell it out to the opinionated know-alls in here.

      As far as I can make out, not a single person who is signing Jerry’s letter has even acknowledged one of the very real differences between the USA and the UK which I have pointed out.

      The whole exercise looks to be the very worst sort of cultural imperialism.

      The vast majority of people in the UK simply do not give a stuff about religion.

      Your domestic religious issues are not our fight.

      Eyes roll.

      • Dominic
        Posted April 24, 2011 at 12:34 am | Permalink

        I appreciate your position regarding the differences between the US situation & that in the UK, however what happens in the US ‘civil war’ between science & religion affects us here in many ways in the UK. Are you are saying that we need a separation of state & religion? Effectively the church pays for itself here – there is no state support. The only tangible results are that the Queen is head of the church, a few C of E bishops sit in the Lords & we have church schools? The C of E just announced that it wants to take non-C of E pupils to a greater extent –

        http://www.tes.co.uk/article.aspx?storycode=6078734

        I agree that most people in the UK “don’t give a stuff about religion”, yet churches are not all empty – immigration has brought in an influx of biblical/koranic literalists & Roman Catholics. These things are hard to quantify but I ‘feel’ that there is a revival of the non-rationalist world view, & I think we should stand against that because it is based on fantasies & not what we know of the world from observation, experiment & evidence.
        Dominic Stiles, London.

        • Dominic
          Posted April 24, 2011 at 12:56 am | Permalink

          Of course it is not just immigration. There have been revivalist movements for a long time – periodic outbursts of ‘faith’ that were reactionary to the increasing industrialised world & the demographic changes as people were forced off the land into cities. You might include some ‘new age’ thinking in this. It seems to me though that these are fighting against the tide of history (if I can use such a phrase) but nothing in this is inevitable, which is why we have to argue from evidence. That is one reason why I agree with the letter.

      • truthspeaker
        Posted April 24, 2011 at 6:19 am | Permalink

        Way to miss the point entirely.

      • Posted April 24, 2011 at 9:13 am | Permalink

        My, what a civil response.

        When are you going to get it into your “thick skull” that no one is asking you to be concerned with US politics or culture wars? (The Democrats-Republicans thing was simply an analogy, for heaven’s sake; I chose it because that kind of grubby short-term calculation is so ubiquitous in US politics; it’s different in the UK if only because campaigns are so beautifully brief there while here they simply never stop.)

        When are you going to get it into your “thick skull” that we know you can’t take “an atheistic position” and we’re not asking you to?

      • KG
        Posted April 24, 2011 at 11:51 am | Permalink

        As a UK citizen and resident, I’d just like to note that you’re full of it. The issue is nothing to do with US/UK differences. It’s to do with the religious pandering of both NCSE and BCSE. If you can’t see that’s what the article “Science, religion and evolution” by Peter M. J. Hess, PhD is, you’re even stupider than you’ve appeared so far. The open letter asks that both organisations cease to take any view whatever on religious questions. You have persistently misrepresented it.

      • Posted April 24, 2011 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

        Don’t be an ass, Roger!

        No-one is asking the BCSE go into schools that are owned by the Roman Catholic or Anglican churches taking with it an atheistic position.

        How many times do folks here have to spell it out to you?

        As far as I can make out, you have provided not a single example the very real differences between the USA and the UK that would justify the BCSE’s overt religious bias in its resources for teachers that Ben, I and others have cited several times.

        The whole exercise looks to be the very worst sort of theological imperialism.

        • Posted April 24, 2011 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

          PS. I’m from the UK. This: “The vast majority of people in the UK simply do not give a stuff about religion,” makes your resources for teachers seem even more infelicitous.

  60. Miles McCullough
    Posted April 23, 2011 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

    I am a scientist and humanist from Little Rock, Arkansas, and I approve Jerry Coyne’s letter to the NCSE/BCSE.

  61. Raymond Dickey
    Posted April 23, 2011 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

    I agree with Dr. Coyne’s open letter as well. I wish the NCSE would get out of the preaching business and stick to science education. They are not the same thing.

    Raymond Dickey

    • Raymond Dickey
      Posted April 23, 2011 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

      And I wish to co-sign as well.

      Guildford, Surrey, UK

  62. Sastra
    Posted April 23, 2011 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    Please add my name to the letter:

    S. A. Strandberg

  63. madamX
    Posted April 23, 2011 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    Please keep science and scientific organizations free of dangerous viral memes! The evidence shows that religion hurts people, it’s not true, and societies with little to none of it can be peaceful with high reports of human flourishing. There is no good reason why scientific organizations should be protecting it and it’s long past time they stop.
    Sincerely,
    Nilou Ataie

  64. Posted April 23, 2011 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

    Co-signing JC’s open letter — Ant Allan Ph.D. Dunelm

    • Marta
      Posted April 23, 2011 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

      Your first name is “Ant”? Must’ve been absolute hell when you were growing up.

      • Posted April 23, 2011 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

        It’s short for Anthony. I started using it in 1991, when I was 30. It was already fairly well established by the popularity of Ant & Dec, now best known as TV presenters.

        So, I avoided any teasing at school because of it. I doubt anyone now would be teased — except for the “Where’s Dec” comment that everyone seems to think is funny and original!

        In any case, I’ve used it privately and professionally since then.

        • Dominic
          Posted April 24, 2011 at 12:37 am | Permalink

          Ant AND Dec???! I always thought they were one person – Anton Dec! ;)

        • truthspeaker
          Posted April 24, 2011 at 6:21 am | Permalink

          Here in the US Ant is not a common nickname for Anthony. There is a DJ, Anthony Davis, whose stage name is Ant. He is one half of the rap duo Atmosphere.

          This probably isn’t very interesting to you, I just wanted to plug one of my favorite musical groups. Carry on.

          • Posted April 24, 2011 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

            Actually, I know of him.

            But still, so many of my U.S. clients are taken aback when they hear it. One of our sales folks told me one of her clients had said, “I still can’t believe that that’s his name.”

        • latsot
          Posted April 25, 2011 at 8:54 am | Permalink

          My first name is Robert, but I’ve always gone by Rob. On the face of it, being named after an act of burglary should be worse than being named after an insect (especially a famously industrious one).

          As it happens, growing up being called Rob was not without anguish. I was a kid when the Blackadder 2 episode featuring Bob came out. I was therefore referred to mostly as Kate for about eight years.

          • Posted April 25, 2011 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

            Ah — that’s my middle name.
            (And my nephew is also Rob Smith.)

  65. Olivier Drolet
    Posted April 23, 2011 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

    I think much less of the NCSE, and now the BCSE, since their adoption of a stupefying communication strategy that promotes manipulative deception instead of the clear enunciation of truth.

    Science and religion are objectively at odds, and raising ignorance to the rank of virtue is not something that the NCSE or BCSE should accommodate, at all.

    Many other social causes have been advanced by confrontational strategies, such as the emancipation of African Americans, women, and many others.

  66. Posted April 23, 2011 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

    Roger Stanyard wrote:
    “I find it somewhat strange that the New Atheists are calling for a change in our direction when, some five years ago (when we first started), Richard Dawkins let it be known to us that his support was conditional on us not attacking religion.”

    Please substantiate this statement. I find it impossible to believe that I could possibly ever have said anything so diametrically opposed to opinions that I have held for many years. I am struggling to be charitable and put it down to honest misunderstanding on Stanyard’s part. And failing in my struggle.

    Richard

    • Ichthyic
      Posted April 23, 2011 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

      The pattern I’m noticing with NCSE/BCSE is that the people who claim to speak for these organizations have serious difficulties recognizing what the phrase “honest argument” entails!

    • Josh Slocum
      Posted April 23, 2011 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

      I’ve long since stopped being surprised (though I can still be shocked) at the lies and mischaracterizations directed at you. Honestly, I don’t know how you bear up under it.

      But it is truly bewildering that anyone thinks they’ll actually get away with a claim such as Roger’s without you calling them out for it!

  67. Posted April 23, 2011 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

    I cosign Jerry’s letter.

    Richard Dawkins

    • Posted April 23, 2011 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

      Hey — that means…I’m a co-author with Jerry Coyne and Richard Dawkins!

      …okay, okay, I know. Not the same thing in the slightest.

      But still…a guy can fantasize, can’t he?

      Cheers,

      b&

  68. Arabiflora
    Posted April 23, 2011 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

    I wholeheartedly endorse Dr. Coyne’s open letter to NCSE and BCSE regarding their self-evidently counterproductive treatment of atheist viewpoints as promulgated by the likes of Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchins, Daniel Dennett, PZ Myers, et al. I will humbly add my own name to that list and so it is not merely in defense of others more prominent and eloquent than myself, but in my own defense that I do so.

    Our viewpoints are callously disregarded or even actively derided by the NCSE and others who imperiously proclaim the compatibility of science and religion. While we will happily advance the counterargument that no such compatibility exists—neither in principle nor in practice—it would be minimally sufficient if the NCSE, the Nat’l Academies, AAAS, etc. would decline to issue such unwarranted proclamations in any case, and especially if in so doing they convey the implicit suggestion that they speak on behalf of all scientists.

    I might also add that this atheist, and very likely others, view the tacit endorsement of religion by such organizations not only as an affront to quite rational counterarguments but simultaneously as an enabling contribution to the corrosive effects on education and society that are wrought by religious belief and practices. Countless editorials and statements decry the state of science literacy and the apparent inability of many citizens to exercise critical thinking skills. It is difficult– indeed, I think it impossible– to reconcile such legitimate concerns with policy statements that approvingly embrace the predictable consequences of widespread promotion and acceptance of religious indoctrination and faith-based assertions of patently false (and thus unscientific) claims to truth. I contend that the NCSE and similar organizations cannot ever square that circle, and so to avoid stepping into an illogical quagmire should cease altogether in disingenuous efforts to gain allies in support of effective science education by glossing-over the fundamental incompatibility of religious belief and a scientific “way of knowing”. Acquiescence in or even active promotion of such cognitive dissonance betrays the ostensible mission of groups like the NCSE and BSCE to advance science education.

    In closing, a quote attributed to President Abraham Lincoln comes to mind: ”Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.”

    • Arabiflora
      Posted April 23, 2011 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

      Oops– please append the following to my post:

      Sincerely,

      Scott Woody
      Windsor, WI
      USA

  69. Posted April 23, 2011 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

    Put my name on that there letter, too.

    • Marta
      Posted April 23, 2011 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

      And you are?
      :-)

      • Posted April 23, 2011 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

        Definitely not the real PZ Meyers!

        • Wowbagger
          Posted April 23, 2011 at 7:53 pm | Permalink

          Yeah, the real PZ would have added ‘…and punch the next little old lady you see coming out of a church in the face while you’re at it.’

          ‘Cause that’s how we Gnus roll.

          • Ichthyic
            Posted April 23, 2011 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

            meh, I still like the “…sideways with a decaying porcupine” epithet.

            btw, I note that the Kwokster STILL rants about this to this very day.

            Still accuses Pharynguloids of calling for the rape of Sheril K.

            *shakes head sadly*

            • Wowbagger
              Posted April 23, 2011 at 11:34 pm | Permalink

              Yeah, I took him to task for it on a thread at PT, and then had to do the same to his protégé in clueless pissantry, Dale Husband.

        • sasqwatch
          Posted April 23, 2011 at 9:56 pm | Permalink

          PZ Meiers? PZ Mayers? Who?

          Who’s next? Sam? Christopher? Daniel? Victor? ;-)

          • Badger3k
            Posted April 23, 2011 at 10:25 pm | Permalink

            Wait a minute – P…next to O, Z as in zed as in zero, which looks like an O – PZ is really Oscar Meyer! He’s a Hot Dog! :)

            • Wowbagger
              Posted April 23, 2011 at 11:35 pm | Permalink

              We have a weiner!

    • Joe Fatzen
      Posted April 24, 2011 at 11:36 am | Permalink

      You were just waiting to time it and get #69.

  70. John-Henry Beck
    Posted April 23, 2011 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

    I will co-sign Dr. Coyne’s open letter.

    I do not claim to be personally well-versed in the activities of these groups and am relying on some second-hand evidence here.

    But I grew up with a liberal religion (was RLDS, now Community of Christ). There wasn’t any overt anti-science stuff. Very much the ‘science is explaining how god did it’ kind of thing.

    However, I still see science education as treating one important symptom of the disease of irrationality and I see religion as the greatest purveyor and supporter of irrationality.

    Personally I think the NCSE and the like would be more effective at science education if they were less accomodationist, since they seem to be giving credence to irrationality as long as science education is generally supported.

    But there is a deep conflict between science and irrationality. Inaccurate attacks (as opposed to mere criticism, disagreement, and discussion) on those who feel it more important to fight against the root cause rather than focusing on the most expedient method to fight the one symptom is not, in my opinion, helping.

    John-Henry Beck
    Springfield, MO

  71. Posted April 23, 2011 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

    My name is Louis B. Shackleton III. I am a full-time nontraditional Biology major at UNCW, and I approve this message in its entirety.

    • Posted April 23, 2011 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

      (How was that? Formal enough? Need more drama, or did I go over the top?)

      Thanks for posting this, Dr. Coyne.

  72. Pete Moulton
    Posted April 23, 2011 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

    What, Jerry? You want me to cosign this uncivil, invective-ridden letter? Of course I will!

  73. Posted April 23, 2011 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

    In case it is useful (I’m not from Britain) I cosign the letter.
    I was surprised the first time I read a text from a Gnu (I knew neither he was one nor what that meant). Yes, it was somewhat rude, but it was also funny, witty, and well documented. I’m not a little girl whose ears are too sensitive.
    The truth has its own tone of voice and it is appealing; I doubt that the sermon tone can gain anyone. The moderate religious? If they look for the truth they will hear of it -if the Gnu Atheists go on speaking loud enough- and come one day or another. The others must be muzzled and defeated. They are dangerous.

  74. Posted April 23, 2011 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

    Jerry,

    I would be happy to sign this letter if it dropped the “…but also your apparent failure to recognize that creationism is a symptom of religion (and not just fundamentalist religion), and will be with us until faith disappears. That is one reason—and, given the pernicious effect of religion, a minor one—for the fact that we choose to fight on both fronts.”

    I understand that you are trying to defend your right to criticise religion — with which I agree completely — but as worded this is a sweeping generalisation about religion *and* unnecessary to the core message you are trying to get across to the NCSE.

    Maybe I’m just splitting hairs, but it’s an important hair to me.

    • Posted April 23, 2011 at 8:56 pm | Permalink

      Actually Chris has a point here, and I’m glad he’s made it. The sentence he refers to is further than I’d want to go, too. But I’m otherwise happy with this letter. If there’s room to sign it with reservations or to report that a certain number of people supported it with minor reservations, well use my name or count me, or whatever.

      It’s time to challenge what is happening.

      As always, I applaud the overall efforts of the NCSE and similar organisations, but I am appalled at the continual waste of energy in attacking forthright atheists and in cozying up to religionists with a particular theology – even if that theology seems “nicer” than biblical literalism.

      And once again, of course there are theological positions opposed to biblical literalism. Proponents of those positions have every reason to cooperate with the NCSE in court proceedings to oppose government attempts to support biblical literalism in the school curriculum.

      But the NCSE needs to learn the difference between cooperating with them in court and actually endorsing their theological position. The NCSE has no business in making judgments about what is theologically correct. The same applies to the BCSE.

      • Posted April 24, 2011 at 9:02 am | Permalink

        But the NCSE needs to learn the difference between cooperating with them in court and actually endorsing their theological position.

        Crucial point. Crucial.

    • Diane G.
      Posted April 24, 2011 at 1:52 am | Permalink

      …but also your apparent failure to recognize that creationism is a symptom of religion (and not just fundamentalist religion), and will be with us until faith disappears. That is one reason—and, given the pernicious effect of religion, a minor one—for the fact that we choose to fight on both fronts.

      Delighted to cosign this excellent letter, especially as it contains that most pertinent part.

      –Diane Garlick
      Augusta, MI
      USA

      • saintstephen
        Posted April 25, 2011 at 9:25 am | Permalink

        Michigan!!! No wonder you’re so smart and nice.

        • Diane G.
          Posted April 25, 2011 at 11:22 pm | Permalink

          :blush:! :blush:! Thanks! :D

          OK, I’ve lost track already–are you from MI too?

    • truthspeaker
      Posted April 24, 2011 at 6:30 am | Permalink

      The generalization may be sweeping, but it’s true.

      Where do you think fundamentalists recruit from, atheists or people who were brought up in “moderate” religions?

    • Michael Fugate
      Posted April 24, 2011 at 8:48 am | Permalink

      This may be somewhat relevant- cooments from the Pope’s Easter mass:

      “Pope Benedict XVI marked the holiest night of the year for Christians by stressing that humanity isn’t a random product of evolution.
      Benedict emphasized the Biblical account of creation in his Easter Vigil homily Saturday, saying it was wrong to think at some point “in some tiny corner of the cosmos there evolved randomly some species of living being capable of reasoning and of trying to find rationality within creation, or to bring rationality into it.”
      “If man were merely a random product of evolution in some place on the margins of the universe, then his life would make no sense or might even be a chance of nature,” he said. “But no, reason is there at the beginning: creative, divine reason.””

      • Posted April 24, 2011 at 9:04 am | Permalink

        And I heard that nonsense solemnly reported on the BBC world service last night, as if it were important news.

        • Q.E.D
          Posted April 27, 2011 at 4:47 am | Permalink

          The BBC “news” report on the radio actually woke me up, furious. Read the entire text and he goes on to say: “”It is not the case that in the expanding universe, at a late stage, in some tiny corner of the cosmos, there evolved randomly some species of living being capable of reasoning”

          Non-ovrelapping magisteria my arse!

          PS: Please sign me up to the open Letter

          G. Craig
          London

  75. Badger3k
    Posted April 23, 2011 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

    I’ll be proud to sign that letter with my real name (it’s not a secret anyway).

    I also wanted to give this clip from some “strident” atheists challenging and teaching a Christian – you got to listen to the end (around 17:30), but it’s worth it. This is the kind of thing that Nick and others want to stop? The clip is from The Atheist Experience (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DREEgskhcrY)

    Michael R Benson
    High School Teacher

  76. Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    Posted April 23, 2011 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

    I love Easter eggs! This is good stuff, 3 important articles & 1 important paper (if it bears out).

    Kwok on a Leica.

    To my lasting shame I defended Kwok once before I noticed his kwokery and how it may have been involved in that very argument (as regards the possible veracity of his sources). It seemed marginally reasonable at the time. :-/

  77. Ken Pidcock
    Posted April 23, 2011 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

    NCSE, from the start, emphasized that it was not trying to attack religion. One suspects that this attracted a lot of faith-friendly supporters, who, in turn, motivated the organization to move further in that direction. In short, what we’re seeing is just an illustration of the old adage, He who pays the piper calls the tune.

    From what I can tell, BCSE, at its inception, decided that this is a good business plan

    • Posted April 23, 2011 at 9:02 pm | Permalink

      I don’t think it should actually be attacking religion. It should oppose any efforts to fudge the school curriculum to protect or promote a religious position. But it shouldn’t be attacking religion.

      What they don’t seem to realise is that every time they cozy up to religionists with a particular theological position they fairly directly attack other positions as theologically wrong. Groups like the NCSE should not be in the business of saying that biblical literalism is theologically wrong. They should merely be saying that the government should not be coddling it by distorting the science curriculum with creation science, ID, disclaimers about evolution being “only a theory”, etc.

      • Ichthyic
        Posted April 23, 2011 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

        I don’t think it should actually be attacking religion.

        *looks to see where Ken talks about the NCSE attacking religion*

        uh, if you look closely, you might note that Ken never said the NCSE should be ATTACKING religion. He is noting the slippery slope that they have set themselves on by endorsing a specific theological position.

        again, please do not confuse the issue at hand here.

        NOBODY IS ASKING EITHER OF THESE GROUPS TO START OPENLY ATTACKING RELIGION.

        clear?

        • Ichthyic
          Posted April 23, 2011 at 9:11 pm | Permalink

          …that said, I most certainly agree with the idea that “Groups like the NCSE should not be in the business of saying that biblical literalism is theologically wrong.”

          nor should they be in any position to be endorsing ANY theological statement.

          which, of course, was actually Ken’s point as well.

          • Tulse
            Posted April 23, 2011 at 9:43 pm | Permalink

            Right — the problem with creationism isn’t its theology, but its science, and that’s the only issue the NCSE should be addressing.

          • Posted April 23, 2011 at 10:21 pm | Permalink

            Isn’t that what I said? I’m not sure why you seem to be phrasing it as if you’re disagreeing with me.

            • Posted April 23, 2011 at 10:24 pm | Permalink

              Aaargh, that was meant to be addressed to Ichthyic not to Tulse. In any event, I think we are all actually in agreement on this little twig of the thread.

              • phil
                Posted April 23, 2011 at 11:32 pm | Permalink

                Twig of the thread? I thought twigs grew on trees.

                Anyway, I think we’re pretty much agreed that NCSE should leave out religion, or at least limit it to “Evolution does not equal atheism” (so as not to frighten the insecure) (I’m not entirely convinced of the utility of that, I must admit, but I think it may have some utility in widening its appeal and support). The NCSE’s agenda is not exactly the same as the gnu/new atheist/humanist agenda, but I think we should be ready to work together for common cause.

                As someone said, maybe the NCSE found that they got great support by pandering to those with a religious inclination, and now the religious dominate the organisation. If that’s the case then the solution might be for a takeover by atheists. Join up and write in to complain. I don’t think you really want to lose the NCSE and the good work it does. You just want it to drop the bad stuff.

            • Ichthyic
              Posted April 24, 2011 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

              Yeah, Russel. I think we are in agreement. I just locked on to your first sentence:

              “I don’t think it should actually be attacking religion.”

              …and basically had an auto-rant because so many for so long have misunderstood what the actual message from the gnus to the NCSE has actually been.

      • Pierce R. Butler
        Posted April 24, 2011 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

        What they don’t seem to realise is that every time they cozy up to religionists with a particular theological position they fairly directly attack other positions as theologically wrong.

        Articles such as How Do I Read the Bible? Let Me Count the Ways show that NCSE has no qualms about leaping feet first into theological puddles. In fact, they achieve the highest levels of theological discourse, by declaring their opponents blasphemous.

        Not being one of those famous and dreaded sophisticated theologians, I can only tentatively hypothesize that this imply that such positions are “wrong”, or be a “direct attack”. (Please note: the author of the piece in the first link, and the author of the article under discussion in the second, by amazing coincidence happens to have signed the advice-to-teachers post at the BCSE website discussed above. Of course, the two CSEs are utterly independent and work in entirely different environments in utterly distinct ways, according to their own spokesperson here.)

        • Pierce R. Butler
          Posted April 24, 2011 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

          Ahem, also oops. The subject-verb disagreements above are entirely the fault of certain unnamed “framing” advocates, whose strident militancy by definition constrains the size of reply boxes on WordPress blogs.

          Either that or evil spirits driven into my keyboard to escape the mighty blasts of prayer erupting outside my house all day today.

  78. Daniel Schealler
    Posted April 23, 2011 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

    Undersigned.

    • Daniel Schealler
      Posted April 28, 2011 at 12:27 am | Permalink

      I came back to see that people are adding cities and credentials and such, and wanted to do the same.

      Apologies Jerry if this is redundant information and I’m just giving you more posts to scan through to block.

      —————-

      I undersign this letter.

      Daniel Schealler
      Auckland, New Zealand
      B.Sc. University of Auckland

  79. AC
    Posted April 23, 2011 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

    I’m a habitual lurker, but I shall delurk to cosign this letter.

    Andrew Cornelius,
    Yeovil, Somerset, UK

  80. Posted April 23, 2011 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

    Just a lowly part-time physics major in Philadelphia, but I will gladly co-sign this!

    Stephen Mann

  81. phil
    Posted April 23, 2011 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

    I like the points you make in the open letter, but one which sits uncomfortably with me is that NCSE and BCSE have “alienated” allies. Sure we’re annoyed (or worse) but who amongst us have abandoned the struggle against religious opposition to science and reason because of NCSE or BCSE pronouncements? Who amongst us would not throw our weight behind their better efforts in some battle or other, putting aside our differences? If we didn’t, wouldn’t that be an abandonment of our principles? Isn’t “alienate” too strong? I have a sense that if we were really alienated we would go off in a huff and not engage with them any more. (As if THAT would happen!)

    Can you please post at midnight so those of us in other places don’t have two days of reading before we get to the bottom of the page to post a comment?

    • Ichthyic
      Posted April 23, 2011 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

      Sure we’re annoyed (or worse) but who amongst us have abandoned the struggle against religious opposition to science and reason because of NCSE or BCSE pronouncements?

      uh, Phil?

      the thing that has been abandoned is support for the NCSE and BCSE’s accomodationist position in specific.

      that is the level of “alliance” that has been abandoned.

      In fact, praise was given just a couple months back during the anniversary of the Kitzmiller trial for the work done by NCSE and cohorts. Some of us just don’t like the fact that dishonest arguments are being used not only to prop up their accomodationist positions, but that they are using Gnus as bus-wheel fodder to ingratiate themselves with the religious.

      clearer?

      • Badger3k
        Posted April 23, 2011 at 10:30 pm | Permalink

        Besides working individually, we can join or help groups like the ACLU and FFRF (in the US, that is). Or join local groups (such as the groups in Oklahoma and Texas – and others. Sometimes skeptical or atheist organizations will fight these battles if made aware of them. Hell, lots of ways you can fight the intrusion of religion and superstition into the science classroom without joining or supporting the NCSE/BCSE.

    • Posted April 23, 2011 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

      If “better efforts” meant that they no longer endorsed religion (as BCSE clearly does in that resources for teachers page that b& keeps citing), then I’d happily throw my weight behind them.

      I certainly haven’t abandoned the struggle against religious opposition to science and reason. But, for now, how can I, as a naturalist & humanist, not feel alienated by a body that ostensibly has common goals, but at the same time endorses religious views that I do not share?

    • Posted April 23, 2011 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

      Unfortunately, it has become apparent that the NCSE and the BCSE are lying when they claim to support science education. They support no such thing; instead, they proselytize liberal mainline Christian ecumenicalism and theistic evolution. At least the BioLogos foundation takes pride in its evangelical roots; the NCSE and the BCSE, on the other hand, make noises about being secular organizations while at the same time devoting much of their resources to out-and-out theology and plain-as-day evangelizing.

      Again, Bible study such as can be trivially found on the NCSE’s Web site has no place in any form of science education. That it enjoys such a prominent location on the NCSE’s Web site simply helps to demonstrate that they’re not at all in the business of science education.

      Cheers,

      b&

      • phil
        Posted April 23, 2011 at 11:01 pm | Permalink

        I’ll try and answer three critics (don’t take that descriptor in a negative way).

        Ichthyic & antallan
        I wrote that before a read the wads and wads of previous comments, where some of the commenters, I discovered to my chagrin, once supported NCSE and later withdrew.

        The question was rhetorical. I’ll rephrase it thus: Are you saying that if there was another Dover type trial you wouldn’t support NCSE’s efforts to prosecute the case for evolution or against creationism being taught in schools?

        BG
        I think “lying” is too strong a word to use in that context. Lying means (to me at least) that they are deliberately saying something that they know or believe to be untrue, but I’m not at all convinced that they believe it to be untrue. You may believe it is untrue but that doesn’t make it so.

        I don’t think that NCSE or BCSE is on the right track by pushing any religious nonsense, and I think it is not entirely honest to be saying that science and religion are compatible. Having said that I think it is a dodgy generalisation to say that they are lying or outright dishonest. We are talking about organisations that comprise many people who inevitably have different opinions, and a lot of those opinions will conflict with the organisations stated policy. Some people will no doubt disagree with the policy, but feel that that disagreement is less important than other aspects of working for that organisation. I don’t think it is entirely accurate to describe either the organisation or the individuals as lying in such circumstances. Furthermore I think that “lying” will inevitably poison relationships.

        Gawd, now you’ve made me sound like a tone troll! It’s all your fault! You made me do it! Jus kiddin.

        I think part of the issue is that while some people don’t mind robust conversation (and some revel in it) others don’t. But while the latter are free not read it, leaving it go unanswered means it retains some respectability so they (NM for example) feel compelled to respond.

        • Ichthyic
          Posted April 24, 2011 at 2:36 am | Permalink

          I’ll rephrase it thus: Are you saying that if there was another Dover type trial you wouldn’t support NCSE’s efforts to prosecute the case for evolution or against creationism being taught in schools?

          please re-read what I wrote in my first response to you.

          • phil
            Posted April 24, 2011 at 7:35 pm | Permalink

            Done that a few times, but there must be something I’m missing. In what way is the NCSE using new atheists as “using Gnus as bus-wheel fodder”? I haven’t seen anything where they have been criticising new atheists. (NM frequently reminds us that is no longer part of the organisation) Sure they could have made things clearer, but maybe they just don’t see that as a priority. If you don’t belong why should they address your concerns?

            That’s not to say that I support their approach, but that I’m not their responsibility. That doesn’t mean you or I can’t or shouldn’t criticise them, just that we don’t have any right to expect them to respond to it in any way.

        • Posted April 24, 2011 at 5:58 am | Permalink

          Phil, the entire freakin’ point of the Dover trial was that religion has no place in science education. There’s no possible way that the NCSE can claim to be ignorant of the fact that, again, loudly and with feeling, RELIGION HAS NO PLACE IN SCIENCE EDUCATION.

          And yet, they, under the guise of being a science education advocacy organization, prominently offer Bible study lessons. Bible study!

          If that’s not a textbook example of willful mendacity, I can’t imagine what is.

          Cheers,

          b&

          • Marta
            Posted April 24, 2011 at 8:53 am | Permalink

            “And yet, they, under the guise of being a science education advocacy organization, prominently offer Bible study lessons. Bible study!”

            Yes. That’s a bridge too far, and does get in the way of considering any other good work the NCSE might do, Dr. Scott’s efforts notwithstanding. It’s unnecessary appeasement, and I don’t understand it.

            • Posted April 24, 2011 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

              Concur.

            • phil
              Posted April 24, 2011 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

              Maybe it is and maybe it isn’t “unnecessary appeasement”. Maybe the organisation is dominated by religious people who believe that religion has no place in science education but still like a bit of bible study. Their purpose (as I understand it) is the promotion of science education without religion. Their purpose is NOT the promotion of science, rationality, or some “new atheist agenda” against religion.

              Bear in mind that the people promoting religion at NCSE do seem to be religious. It doesn’t seem to be atheists promoting religion. You’d expect any organisation to reflect the views and wishes of its staff and members. Given that the bulk of US citizens supposedly express belief in religion it is not surprising that a large proportion of NCSE staff and members do too. (Yeah I know a lot of other science organisations don’t reflect the norm with religious members, but broadly speaking I wouldn’t have thought NCSE fitted that pattern because of their stated aims)

          • phil
            Posted April 24, 2011 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

            RELIGION HAS NO PLACE IN SCIENCE EDUCATION.

            That’s not in dispute.

            Bible study!

            If that’s not a textbook example of willful mendacity, I can’t imagine what is.

            Bible study is not religion in science education. I think that’s a non-point, and you need other evidence for mendacity. I don’t think NCSE is proposing bible study during science classes. Maybe they are trying to demonstrate that religion and science are separable, for politcal purposes. I’d prefer it if they left the bible study out but it isn’t my decision.

            • phil
              Posted April 24, 2011 at 8:03 pm | Permalink

              Those replies didn’t pop out at the right places. Sorry.

            • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
              Posted April 25, 2011 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

              NCSE teach bible study, Stanyard/Kate have BCSE ‘waring on two fronts’ (science class and religious class). That has nothing to do with science education and everything to do with promoting religion. And ultimately religion is harmful for science and education.

              The mendacity is that they take a position on religion. What their members do outside of science education is nobody’s business – certainly not NCSE/BCSE’s.

  82. Buzz
    Posted April 23, 2011 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

    I have been a Gnu atheist for as long as I can remember, and I have no sympathy for any supposed allies who would heap scorn on us for being reasonable instead of “polite.” I concur completely with the letter.

    Brett Altschul
    Columbia, South Carolina

  83. Ivory Girl
    Posted April 23, 2011 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

    Has anyone else noticed that there has not been the slightest offical or unoffical response from any representative of the NCSE? You would think with all the criticism directed toward them, on so many science blogs, by so many people, they would consider addressing the accusations?

    • whyevolutionistrue
      Posted April 23, 2011 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

      You’re impatient. I doubt that they will given a response (and if they did, I’m sure it would only bat away our concerns), but if they did it would surely take them more than a day. Let us wait. . .

      • Ichthyic
        Posted April 23, 2011 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

        I’m sure it would only bat away our concerns

        If Roger is any indication, then you’re right to be sure of it.

    • Posted April 23, 2011 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

      Oh, I’ve noticed, allright. Personally, I’m amazed that they haven’t had some directed some very stern words to Nick, especially considering that he still signs his posts at Pharyngula libeling Richard Dawkins as “Nick Matzke, NCSE.”

      That is, I would be amazed if it hadn’t become evident that they’re no more a science education advocacy organization than the BioLogos Foundation. And, frankly, what else should one expect from an evangelical Christian organization (no, really — the NCSE Web site features Bible study lessons by their officers) that lies about its secular goals?

      Cheers,

      b&

      • Ichthyic
        Posted April 23, 2011 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

        considering that he still signs his posts at Pharyngula libeling Richard Dawkins as “Nick Matzke, NCSE.

        OK, just to add a bit of information on that specific detail, Nick at one point did explain that he tried to change it, and couldn’t make it through the registration process with a different handle.

        …er, for whatever that’s worth.

        • Posted April 23, 2011 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

          I’m sorry, but he’s had four years to figure it out, and I’ve seen regulars there change their handles more often than Jerry posts about boots.

          It’s no different from if he were still using NCSE letterhead “because he couldn’t afford to buy his own paper.” Sorry, not buying it.

          And, did I mention? It’s been going on for four years. That nobody at the NCSE has called him on it yet can only be interpreted as active-yet-tacit approval.

          Plus, it’s not like he’s merely offering mild-mannered moral support for beleaguered biology teachers or correcting common misconceptions about the scientific definition of the word, “theory.” He’s advocating specific strategy and policy positions on the NCSE’s core mission and he’s libeling Richard Dawkins. Normally, those actions would be grounds for termination with cause. That he still does it in the NCSE’s name for years on end with nary a peep from them…well, either the NCSE is quite happy with what he’s doing or they’re profoundly incompetent at public relations.

          Sadly, the obvious conclusion is that that’s an inclusive or: the former is demonstrated by the other voices from the NCSE and their BCSE counterparts expressing similar sentiments, and the very fact that Jerry had to write the letter at the top of this page proves the latter.

          Cheers,

          b&

          • Ichthyic
            Posted April 23, 2011 at 6:46 pm | Permalink

            I’m sorry, but he’s had four years to figure it out

            yes, he has. My point is, it only shows his laziness, not a desire on his part to be a representative of NCSE.

            In that, at least, I take him at his word.

            and of course, being intellectually lazy fits with his overall behavior as well.

            • Posted April 23, 2011 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

              There comes a point when laziness simply isn’t a credible excuse.

              If you filed your taxes today because you procrastinated and today is the first day off you’ve had since you realized you missed the deadline, that’s laziness. If you don’t file taxes for four years, that’s tax evasion.

              If you don’t dump the milk in the ‘fridge until a couple days after its sell-by date, that’s laziness. If you rub off the green fuzz on the bologna with your dirty hands before slapping it on the stale Wonderbread and throwing it across the room to your kids, that’s child abuse.

              If you get a new phone number but don’t get new business cards for a few weeks and instead cross out the old number and ink in the new number, that’s laziness. If four years after you leave your job you’re still handing out your business cards from the old job, that’s actionable false representation that would, at the least, get you a really stern nastygram from the company lawyers.

              Not only is it inexcusable for Nick to have not changed his handle or created a new one, it’s inexcusable for the NCSE to ignore the fact that he’s doing so.

              Cheers,

              b&

              • Ichthyic
                Posted April 23, 2011 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

                If you filed your taxes today because you procrastinated and today is the first day off you’ve had since you realized you missed the deadline, that’s laziness. If you don’t file taxes for four years, that’s tax evasion.

                and if a nym on a blogsite were as important as paying taxes, you might have a point.

                No, Nick is just a lazy fucker, and I would note that not only has he repeatedly claimed he does not speak for the NCSE, he doesn’t use the nym here.

                I think you are reaching too much.

                As far as the NCSE itself is concerned, I rather doubt they spend much time following Nick’s particular rants on Pharyngula, which wold also explain why they haven’t commented on them.

                They have enough of their OWN gafs to deal with.

              • truthspeaker
                Posted April 24, 2011 at 6:34 am | Permalink

                I think the point is – if you file your taxes a day late, the IRS doesn’t care if it was because of laziness or something else. They’ll penalize you the same either way.

              • Ichthyic
                Posted April 25, 2011 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

                Yesterday, I looked at what NIck had to say in the comments section on Pharyngula.

                I concede the point to you. He does indeed keep SAYING he doesn’t speak for the NCSE, but several people showed him exactly how to change his login, easily (since login was fixed months back), and he entirely ignored that advice and went on posting with the NCSE handle.

                I can see how one would conclude it is indeed intentional on his part.

    • Dave
      Posted April 24, 2011 at 9:45 am | Permalink

      A few years ago, I contacted the NCSE to see if they were aware of the problem we were having, at the time, in Minnetonka, MN with IDiots trying to get ID onto the high school curriculum. I remember getting the big shrug and a perfunctory “good luck” in response. (Well, at least I got a response.) So, I’m wondering what their purpose is. At all?

  84. nichole
    Posted April 23, 2011 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

    Guess who’s got two thumbs and approves whole-heartedly of this letter?

    This Guy!

    Nichole Steponavich. Milford CT

  85. Ben J. S. Milner
    Posted April 23, 2011 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

    It is a shame that it has come to this.

    Those who reject evolution lump both atheists and evolutionists — whether religious or not — into the same bin anyway. And those theologians who accept evolution are enablers to those fundamentalists of religion who reject evolution. Like Jerry says, you won’t win the battle against creationism until you dispel the religion which it stems from.

    In my many discussions with creationists, particularly those who have a plethora of quotes at hand (and hence, consider themselves “informed”), most of the quotes they use to promote their rejection of evolution come from evolutionary biologists (e.g. The Altenberg 16) — anything that suggests some difficulty with the theory — they do not distinguish; so why should we divide ourselves?

    Let’s stop pretending that religion is reconcilable with religion — it is inherently ignorant and evil. I choose to just bite the bullet, because the sooner we take religion seriously — take it for the threat to science and the modern World that it is — then the sooner our future generations, our children, can enjoy a World that truly thrives — a scientific World — and what a wonderful World that will be.

    My goal is to live in a society that is scientifically literate, a society that thinks skeptically and rationally. How can we expect to achieve this if there’s scientists, who know damn well that religion has no utility, yet are too pusillanimous to take this position in public. How can we achieve a scientifically-educated society if there’s scientists who continue to foster religion?

    Think about who you’re capitulating to when you reprimand the so-called “New Atheists”; think about what you’re really achieving when you patronise religious proponents by throwing them a sock. All those who have fought hard to advance science, suffering at the hand of religion would be mortified by this soft-handed approach, by this continual fostering of what is absolute crap, and by your failure to support your fellow scientists and let religious ideas smash mercilessly against the pavement of scientific scrutiny.

    Do not continue to obfuscate science with religion, as religious proponents eagerly await any chance that presents itself to claim someone or something academic as their own. It is bad enough that the general public do not see this obvious incompatibility between science and religion, but that we who know of this divide should not pretend it doesn’t exist.

    Personally, I was not converted by some act of guile, telling me that my whimsical, ill-reasoned, pet beliefs were compatible with science; I became interested in science because Richard Dawkins gave me a reasoned, enriching alternative to my former beliefs: a good dose of logic that was pure science; understandable, reasonable and without the confusion of hocus-pocus. It is thanks to Richard’s honest, no shit approach that I appreciate science and think more clearly now — that I’m free from the shackles of religion. It is thanks to Richard’s, reasoned, not-so-strident “The God Delusion” that I study evolutionary biology & the biomolecular sciences at university, after having been out of school for more than ten years.

    No, it is not thanks to Michael Ruse, or Kenneth Miller, or Francis Collins (all brilliant scientists that I admire) — whose religious positions I cannot make the slightest sense of — that I am where I am today; it is thanks to Richard Dawkins and the “New Atheists” I was subsequently introduced to.

    Thanks for your time.

    • Ichthyic
      Posted April 23, 2011 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

      Let’s stop pretending that religion is reconcilable with religion

      heh.

      let alone being reconcilable with science.

      • Ben Milner
        Posted April 23, 2011 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

        Hah! Yeah! :)

        I kept getting distracted as I was madly typing.

        • Posted April 23, 2011 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

          ‘Sokay. If ever there were a thread well-suited to mad typing, this is it — and, I must myself type, you certainly held your own with yours. I most especially share your goal of what kind of society to live in and I agree with your assessment of the effectiveness of Richard’s approach to rhetoric.

          Cheers,

          b&

        • Dave Ricks
          Posted April 23, 2011 at 10:01 pm | Permalink

          Typos happen (Ben Goren wrote “Marcinkewicz” for Marcinkiewicz, so there!).

        • Posted April 24, 2011 at 12:14 am | Permalink

          Typo of the year.

    • Ben Milner
      Posted April 23, 2011 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

      Edit: Let’s stop pretending religion is reconcilable with science.

  86. Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    Posted April 23, 2011 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

    For every story you’ve got about someone converting to atheism, I’ve got a story about someone who was raised fundamentalist and taught to be afraid of evolution because they were taught evolution=atheism, no basis for morality, etc. — but then they learned that there were diverse religious views on this, that accepting evolution and believing in God were separable issues, and then they finally felt open to the evidence for evolution. Some of them stay religious and some dont’, but **it’s absolutely friggin’ ubiquitous throughout the whole history of the issue**.

    The Gnu “strategy”/unconstrained emotional outburst against religion, on the other hand, plays right into creationist hands.

    please try not to let Matzke derail this thread.

    I’ll have to note though that Matzke, who promotes anecdote over knowledge, finally realize there are counter-anecdote.

    What we need is statistics, and as the post clarifies todays *statistics is supporting gnus*. And history statistics, as it is, is skewering gnastys.

  87. Gil H.
    Posted April 23, 2011 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

    I am disapointed on the NSCE. They were great once, but now they seem to have fallen prey to this accomodationist nonsense.

    If they are afraid that advocating atheism might hurt their cause, or if they are theists, there is nothing wrong with not advocating atheism – as long as they don’t mention religion. They could perfectly promote evolution without addressing religion, should they want to avoid polemics. Coyne did so in his book. Worse still than writing at lenght about how evolution and religion are compatible, though, is their attack on their atheist anticreationist comrades.

    It is ironic that they accuse us of sectarism. We were always perfectly comfortable with the idea of two parallel anticreationist discourses: one not explicitly atheist, and the other explicitly so. This different strategies could coexist so that we could benefit from the advantages of both. Instead, they have chosen to focus on attacking us.

    I am not sure whether I can cosign this letter, given that I am neither from the UK, nor from the USA. I am portuguese – if my name can be added, I would be glad to join you: Gil Jorge Barros Henriques.

    • sasqwatch
      Posted April 23, 2011 at 10:18 pm | Permalink

      I think all you have to be is human on this one, Gil. – Steve

    • truthspeaker
      Posted April 24, 2011 at 6:39 am | Permalink

      I like to put it this way:

      There are two ways of ending a heroin addiction: quitting cold turkey, or undergoing methadone treatment. Some addicts are successful with the former method, others with the latter.

      But I’ve never heard of a methadone clinic claiming they had the only successful method, nor have I heard one claim that the existence of quit-cold-turkey advocates scared addicts away from trying to quit with either method.

  88. Raymond Freeman-Lynd
    Posted April 23, 2011 at 7:27 pm | Permalink

    Endorsed.
    Raymond Freeman-Lynde
    Department of Geology
    University of Georgia
    Athens, GA

  89. Hal
    Posted April 23, 2011 at 8:07 pm | Permalink

    I’m Hal Tritz of Cockeysville, MD. I endorse Jerry’s letter.

    My last year’s contribution to NCSE, accompanied by a note asking them to just shut the hell up about the compatibility issue, will likely be my last for a while. There is even less reason for them to have a “faith-outreach” section than it is for the White House to have one. And there is no reason at all for the White House to have one.

  90. Tim Harris
    Posted April 23, 2011 at 8:27 pm | Permalink

    I would like to co-sign this letter:

    Timothy Harris,
    Ueno Gakuen University,
    Tokyo,
    Japan

  91. Rick O'Leary
    Posted April 23, 2011 at 8:31 pm | Permalink

    Just want to sign your letter and then go get my face out of my palm.

  92. R Smith
    Posted April 23, 2011 at 9:04 pm | Permalink

    My name is Russ Smith of Arizona. I would just like to add my name in support of Dr. Coyne’s letter.

    I am an atheist but not a scientist. I am however an advocate of free inquiry and free inquiry is the very foundation of science. To say certain areas of inquiry are off limits is to completely misrepresent science.

    Sincerely,
    Russ Smith

  93. Posted April 23, 2011 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

    I am in agreement with the sentiments expressed in Dr. Coyne’s letter.

    David Lush
    Electrical Engineer
    Seattle, WA

  94. Neil
    Posted April 23, 2011 at 9:16 pm | Permalink

    I concur and co-sign.

    Neil Bruce
    Seattle, Washington

  95. finsionnach
    Posted April 23, 2011 at 9:36 pm | Permalink

    Signed

    Bobby Byrne

    Madrid

    Spain

  96. SAWells
    Posted April 23, 2011 at 10:42 pm | Permalink

    Ooh, I co-sign.

    My name is Stephen Wells and I am a member of Project Steve. I wouldn’t have signed onto it if I’d known how the NCSE was going to conduct itself in re atheism.

  97. Edwardson
    Posted April 23, 2011 at 10:43 pm | Permalink

    Thumbs up to Dr Coyne’s letter. I personally can’t stomach the hypocrisy of teaching evolution (and thereby implicitly saying that creationism is false) and at the same time saying science and religion can be bed partners. That’s patently false. I don’t see how we can teach heliocentrism and still say that it and the Ptolemaic worldview are compatible.

    If tone and respect are what the accommodationists value, then respect the Gnu Atheists as well and let them be.

  98. Dale Franzwa
    Posted April 23, 2011 at 10:45 pm | Permalink

    I would like to add my name also to Jerry’s open letter. I fully endorse his comments therein.

  99. Martin Corcoran
    Posted April 23, 2011 at 11:39 pm | Permalink

    I co-sign this letter.

  100. Deepak Shetty
    Posted April 23, 2011 at 11:54 pm | Permalink

    You have lost your natural allies. And this is not just speculation, for those allies were us, and we’re telling you so.

    In what sense is this true? You still believe in science/evolution no matter what the NCSE does. You will still write posts / books trying to explain evolution. And no amount of accomodationism displayed by the NCSE will change that.

    • Ichthyic
      Posted April 24, 2011 at 2:34 am | Permalink

      In what sense is this true?

      In the quite obvious sense it was meant to be taken, of course! That many of us are fast losing our desire to support NCSE’s mission, if it’s mission continues to be one of not only pushing theological conclusions it shouldn’t be, but using us as roadgravel for their bus along the way.

      this ISN’T just an issue of what Matzke has said or done, by a long shot.

      there is a long history here of problems.

      • Deepak Shetty
        Posted April 24, 2011 at 11:52 pm | Permalink

        That many of us are fast losing our desire to support NCSE’s mission,

        Right, so you now wont support teaching evolution in school?

        • Ichthyic
          Posted April 25, 2011 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

          do you quotemine often to make erroneous points, or just now?

  101. Posted April 24, 2011 at 12:40 am | Permalink

    Roger Stanyard wrote:
“I find it somewhat strange that the New Atheists are calling for a change in our direction when, some five years ago (when we first started), Richard Dawkins let it be known to us that his support was conditional on us not attacking religion.”

    Richard Dawkins wrote:
    “Please substantiate this statement. I find it impossible to believe that I could possibly ever have said anything so diametrically opposed to opinions that I have held for many years. I am struggling to be charitable and put it down to honest misunderstanding on Stanyard’s part. And failing in my struggle.”

    Roger Stanyard replied:
    “It’s what I was told by Larry Moran; IIRC about October/November 2007 at a meetup at the NHM in London. PZ Myers was there at the time but I don’t think he knew about it.
    If I recall correctly, Larry went on to meet you afterwards but I don’t know if he told you we had agreed on that route anyway.
    I have stated what I recall from the event, Richard. That’s the best I can do.”

    Larry Moran wrote:
    “Roger, I don’t recall saying any such thing to you. I recall saying that Dawkins would probably welcome a British version of NCSE and I recall cautioning you NOT to attack your fellow ATHEISTS or coddle theists.”

    Thank you, Larry, for confirming my suspicion that Roger Stanyard, like Nick Matzke, makes stuff up to suit his agenda. As it happens, both made stuff up about me, which annoyed me so I must be careful not to get too personal.

    BUT, I do want to say this. There is a real risk that NCSE, which has done truly superb work under the admirable Eugenie Scott, may unjustly be tarred with the brush of association with a pair of self-promoting fools (to be kind and refrain from calling them liars). Nick Matzke has not worked for NCSE for several years now. And BCSE, despite the similar name, is not the same organisation as NCSE: as I understand it, the connection is tenuous or even non-existent.

    I think it would be a tragedy if Genie’s sterling work with her team at NCSE were to be undermined because of a pair of buffoons over whom she has no control. I suspect that Genie herself would have little difficulty in accepting Jerry’s open letter, which many of us have cosigned.

    Richard

    • Arabiflora
      Posted April 24, 2011 at 1:10 am | Permalink

      “I suspect that Genie herself would have little difficulty in accepting Jerry’s open letter….”

      In the sense that she might withdraw and open the letter from the inbox, I have no doubt. Whether she would “accept” it on its merits… I’m not so sure.

      • Posted April 24, 2011 at 8:25 am | Permalink

        Dr. Dawkins said he “suspects.” Whom are you not so “sure” as?

        • Posted April 24, 2011 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

          That’s stretching a bit to criticise, isn’t it? Arabiflora is less sure that Eugenie would accept the letter on its merits than he is sure that she would withdraw and open the letter. He’s comparing two possibilities, not two people.

          • Posted April 24, 2011 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

            I’ll stand by my criticism. Of course Scott would open a letter she found in her mailbox. It doesn’t take a leap of faith to be confident about that.

            If Arabiflora meant that she suspected Scott might not agree, she could have just said that, rather than making an implication that Dr. Dawkins hadn’t already allowed for the possibility she might not. Maybe that implication was not intentional, but it’s there.

            A more important issue I could take with Arabiflora’s post is its negative connotation about Eugenie Scott, without any substantiation. Is there a reason Arabiflora thinks Scott wouldn’t agree, based on Scott’s statements or actions? I’d be interested to hear. When I heard her interviewed I think on NPR a fairly long while ago, I thought she was not accommodationist, and I have been attuned to accommodationism since long before the recent series of kerfuffles. So it has and does seem incongruous and disheartening that NCSE is actively pursuing accommodationist policies in spite of having Scott at the helm. Perhaps that’s the implication Arabiflora wanted to make. If so, “I suspect not,” would have been a way to do it without a (perhaps unintentional) misrepresentation of what Dr. Dawkins said.

            • Astrid_H
              Posted April 24, 2011 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

              Paul wrote: “If Arabiflora meant that she suspected Scott might not agree, she could have just said that, rather than making an implication that Dr. Dawkins hadn’t already allowed for the possibility she might not.”

              *stagewhisper* That’s what she actually said. Try rereading the first sentence.

              • Posted April 25, 2011 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

                um, the first sentence is quoting Dr. Dawkins. Notice the quotation marks.

    • Gordon Parham
      Posted April 24, 2011 at 3:36 am | Permalink

      It seems clear that Nick Matzke is simply using a different definition of “playing the Nazi card.” He seems to believe that showing a picture which juxtaposes Nazis with churchgoers in itself constitutes playing the card, regardless of the intent or context.

      We can certainly disagree with Matzke on this point, but that’s as far as it goes. It just seems so unlikely that Matzke is actually, consciously lying.

      Dialogue can escalate very quickly based on mismatching underlying assumptions, a.k.a misunderstandings. There was a recent TED talk that mentions this phenomenon. http://www.ted.com/talks/kathryn_schulz_on_being_wrong.html

      • Observer
        Posted April 24, 2011 at 8:54 am | Permalink

        I agree. Instead of thinking of it as lying, I would concur with how I believe Russel Blackford characterized it: intelectually lazy. Matzke’s defenition of “playing the nazi card,” to the extent that he has defined it, is so broad as to preclude any discussion of the connection between Naziism and religion or the religious impulse. I would also add that Matzke’s use of the phrase appears to me to be self-serving, in that he seems to allow the phrase whatever dimensions it needs to support the conclusions he wishes to reach.

      • articulett
        Posted April 24, 2011 at 11:53 am | Permalink

        This may be true, but he used this definition as evidence to support his ranting straw man claims about supposed “gnu atheists” hurting the cause.

        Recall that the claim about Richard “playing the Nazi card” was in response to someone asking Nick to show evidence for his rant about gnu atheists engaging in the following:

        1. They “rain hot death” on people for “real and imagined” things “all the time.”

        2. They lead discussions by calling people “stupid liers [sic] whose religion is also a lie and by the way there’s no God, no objective meaning to life, and if you think otherwise then science is against you, it’s a package deal and you have to accept all that if you accept evolution/global warming”

        3. They purposely provoke defensive reactions.

        From an outsider’s perspective it sure looks like he confirmed his biases with a self-serving false memory which doesn’t support any of his original straw men in the first place! Like Mooney, Nick used false information to shore up bigoted misinformation while admonishing others to use “science” to support anything they had to say in return!

        Oh, and then he gave a notpology and kept digging the hole further by muddying the waters.

        It’s a bit ironic when the self-appointed experts on science communication are so poor at backing up their own claims with science as well as being such poor communicators. Given these flaws, it would do them well to learn the art of a sincere apology. Heck, it might even further the science education they claim to be so interested in.

        It’s tedious to hear Nick et. al. telling those who are better at both science and communication how they’re doing it “wrong” when they have no evidence that their way is “right”– just a gut feeling, false memories, and bias confirming anecdotes that don’t check out.

        We’d like to see the “science” that shows that this sort of religious coddling/atheist bashing furthers the science education at all. If the accommodationists can’t provide it, then we request they keep their misinformation, bigotry, and delusions to themselves. Can’t they promote science education without coddling religion or bashing those who find religion at odds with “science education”?

      • articulett
        Posted April 24, 2011 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

        btw, it was a good video clip!

    • Brad
      Posted April 24, 2011 at 7:01 am | Permalink

      I am always impressed how Richard, in spite of the constant character maligning his name is subject to, responds to these kinds of accusations: with candour, refreshing honesty, and consideration for others. If this is gnu atheist militancy and stridency in action, then by what meaningful words do we describe the tone of the pope blaming the holocaust on atheist secularists?

      No science organizations should take any stand on promoting or accommodating religious beliefs but ignore the claims entirely: when oogity boogity enters a scientific discussion as a welcomed guest, then the topic has already changed.

      I cosign this letter.
      Brad Belchamber OCT
      Ontario, Canada.

      • NickMatzke
        Posted April 24, 2011 at 9:50 am | Permalink

        “I am always impressed how Richard, in spite of the constant character maligning his name is subject to, responds to these kinds of accusations: with candour, refreshing honesty, and consideration for others.”

        Like accusing me of lying, and going after my old place of employment?

        • Josh Slocum
          Posted April 24, 2011 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

          But ya are, Blanche, ya area liar. And you have the temerity to characterize being called out on it as more uncivil than your own behavior.

          “Going after” your old place of employment? Grab me a fainting couch, stat! There shall be no differences of opinion or criticism evah!

        • Posted April 24, 2011 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

          “Going after your old place of employment?” GOING AFTER? Here is what I said, and I hardly can imagine how it could be more complimentary to your old place of employment:

          “There is a real risk that NCSE, which has done truly superb work under the admirable Eugenie Scott, may unjustly be tarred with the brush of association with a pair of self-promoting fools (to be kind and refrain from calling them liars).”

          Richard

          • Posted April 24, 2011 at 8:32 pm | Permalink

            So you should refrain from calling me a liar.

            Otherwise it’s the third time you have libelled me here.

            • Josh Slocum
              Posted April 24, 2011 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

              You do realize Richard was addressing Nick Matzke, not you, don’t you Roger? Or are you completely incapable of reading plainly written prose?

              • Ichthyic
                Posted April 25, 2011 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

                You do realize Richard was addressing Nick Matzke, not you, don’t you Roger? Or are you completely incapable of reading plainly written prose?

                based on what he has posted here, Roger is incapable of not only correctly READING prose, but evidently can’t correctly process what people tell him in person, either; according to Larry Moran.

                Roger evidently has some… issues…

            • Posted April 24, 2011 at 8:46 pm | Permalink

              Mr. Stanyard, sir, this is just getting silly.

              Do we really need to become hyper-pedantic and to start parsing the various meanings of ‘to lie’ and ‘libel’? That would be productive for nobody.

              Would it not be wise just to admit that you misspoke — rather badly — and that your continued protestation to the contrary have made the situation worse, not better?

              It is certainly natural to become defensive when attacked, but that says nothing about the accuracy nor of the justification for that attack. Dwell not on those who continue to press the case and simply acknowledge your error.

        • Posted April 24, 2011 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

          I should have clarified: proper consideration.

          So, yes Nick, I do indeed think it is justified that I admire Richard’s judicious use of proper consideration and politeness, which leads him to write Thank you, Larry, for confirming my suspicion that Roger Stanyard, like Nick Matzke, makes stuff up…, and of paying proper consideration to the NCSE, which has done truly superb work under the admirable Eugenie Scott, but who should not be held to unjustly be tarred with the brush of association with a pair of self-promoting fools.

          I think that’s honest candour framed with proper consideration. Don’t you? Or do you really want to remain an example of how to be churlish?

          • Posted April 24, 2011 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

            No. It’s bloody nasty.

            • NMcC
              Posted April 25, 2011 at 12:54 am | Permalink

              Oh, Roger, ffs get a grip, mate. You’ve stated on a public forum that Richard Dawkins said he’d support your organisation on condition that you didn’t attack religion! You must have known how utterly inconcievable that is. I’m no fan of Dawkins these days myself, but, I mean, to make such a claim about him…that’s just …er…weird. If there is one claim about Dawkins that is, quite literally, unbelievable, it is yours.

              Why don’t you just apologise now and end the thing before it gets any worse for you.

            • Posted April 26, 2011 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

              “Bloody nasty.”

              As opposed to your exemplary displays of coolheadedness and adherence to fact?

        • Ichthyic
          Posted April 24, 2011 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

          Nick, you’re a wanker.

          what more needs be said at this point?

        • Aquaria
          Posted April 24, 2011 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

          You are a liar, Matzke. You’ve demonstrated it, over and over.

          Sit down and shut up. You’ve become tedious.

        • articulett
          Posted April 24, 2011 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

          From an outsider’s perspective you seem terribly jealous of Richard Dawkins and intent on ruining his reputation along with everybody else who refuses to bow to religious privilege– even if you have to make things up about the entire group.

          Your biases have blinded you to your own bigotry.

          This all started because of your pre-emptive defense of Chris Mooney is which you nastily implied that gnu atheists do all sorts of nefarious things like “lead discussions by calling people stupid liers [sic]” … (and saying things to them like:)”by the way there’s no God, no objective meaning to life, and if you think otherwise then science is against you, it’s a package deal and you have to accept all that if you accept evolution/global warming” (as if anyone actually does this anywhere other than in your imagination.)

          And when a rational person asked, “Who does that Nick?”– you said (read carefully now): “I have seen Richard Dawkins address large general audiences (plural) and quite deliberately (!), but ridiculously (!), play the Nazi card (!)against religion. It’s an instance of Godwin’s Law (!), and it’s no better when Dawkins does it than when anyone else does it.” (patting yourself on the back for being so fair minded, eh?)

          I think the whole shebang is libelous, myself– but I’ve come to expect as much from you and your ilk.

          In any case, your comments about Richard do not support what it was supposed to support (nefarious atheists getting in peoples faces) AND it is a lie (or certainly can be construed as one –or several) AND instead of apologizing you just dug deeper and got uglier and more Kwokish and increasingly ridiculous and dishonest. Nothing was as you characterized it. It just that, like other faitheists, you have a desperate need to find thing wrong with those who don’t have “faith in faith” like you do.

          You deserve everything you got in return and more. You are not the victim here.

  102. Dominic
    Posted April 24, 2011 at 1:07 am | Permalink

    I signed above under some comments by Roger Stanyard. I think he is wrong to not see the threats posed to rational education in the UK by ‘people of faith’.
    On a lighter not it was funny to see the names beneath the pseudonyms, but I will now forget them of course. I wanted to be Dom the Obscure as that was my nickname because I was a/ obscure & b/ a stonemason. I could now add c/ later did a degree. I even worked on a arch for All Souls College Oxford – not that I have one! :)

    • Dominic
      Posted April 24, 2011 at 1:08 am | Permalink

      … a soul or an arch. ;)

      • Posted April 24, 2011 at 8:51 am | Permalink

        But no children who hanged themselves because they were too many, I hope!

        • Posted April 24, 2011 at 9:38 am | Permalink

          Ophelia Benson

          Your literary allusion above gives me another reason to celebrate the fact that I chose literature as my major.

          Now I have read more science books.

          • Dominic
            Posted April 24, 2011 at 11:07 am | Permalink

            I suspect a Malthusian or Dickens (Christmas Carol) allusion lurks within the Hardy but I cannot recall!

            • Posted April 24, 2011 at 11:45 am | Permalink

              It’s an incident in the novel. The oldest child left a note – “Because we are too many.” (Maybe “too menny” – I can’t remember if he went for the pathos of childish spelling or not.)

        • Dominic
          Posted April 24, 2011 at 11:04 am | Permalink

          Sadly still single! No one will have me! ;)

        • tmplikeachilles
          Posted April 26, 2011 at 11:23 pm | Permalink

          Is that what they call an obscure reference?

      • Posted April 24, 2011 at 10:58 am | Permalink

        In my case I am fortunate that I do have a sole, but I no longer have an arch. Or so says my podiatrist.

  103. anotherJoe
    Posted April 24, 2011 at 2:09 am | Permalink

    I am happy to be a signer of this letter. I have frequently contributed to NCSE, but future contributions depend on their actions with respect to this issue.
    Joseph O. Bussen, Hawaii

  104. Andrew Masters
    Posted April 24, 2011 at 2:11 am | Permalink

    A fine letter, wise and noble of you to frame the current debate so clearly and succinctly. Hopefully it will lead to better understanding and less philosophical clashes, hopefully less philosophy as well ;)

    • Andrew Masters
      Posted April 24, 2011 at 2:25 am | Permalink

      I am honored to cosign this letter.

      Andrew Masters
      Toronto, Ontario

  105. Dennis Hansen
    Posted April 24, 2011 at 3:11 am | Permalink

    I am an ecologist working at a European University – and I see the ugly head of religion-mediated science denial creeping out from little cracks everywhere, even over here in ‘liberal Europe’. It must be fought by those who know better, for the sake of the next generations to come.
    I support and co-sign the letter in its entirety; well done, Coyne.

  106. Bruce Gorton
    Posted April 24, 2011 at 4:01 am | Permalink

    I always use my real name. Anyway:

    As a South African my concerns with religious conflict with science involve American evangelical church’s setting forth to my country and advertising to my people that they can go to a special camp where the evangelicals will pray the AIDS away.

    These groups are lent credibility by organisations such as the NCSE who seem to think the only aspect of American religion that matters is evolution denial, when in fact there are much wider, much more pernicious effects within American faith.

    In Uganda, Freethought Kampala is doing its bit to counter-act what is largely religion based belief in witch-craft, bringing information on mass hysteria into the equation.

    The NCSE however refuses to act on what is largely American driven religion and the harm it is doing to the continent I live on.

    By aiming to silence criticisms of such within America’s scientific community the NCSE has failed to discredit such actions.

    • Die Anyway
      Posted April 25, 2011 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

      Bruce, I didn’t realize your real name was Anyway. Maybe we’re related.

      Die Anyway

  107. Posted April 24, 2011 at 4:46 am | Permalink

    I agree whole-heartedly with the Open letter to the NCSE and BCSE.

  108. truthspeaker
    Posted April 24, 2011 at 5:32 am | Permalink

    Co-signing

    Nathan David Teegarden
    Saint Paul, Minnesota, USA

  109. Kharamatha
    Posted April 24, 2011 at 5:40 am | Permalink

    This Pierre L. A. Jönsson approves of this message.

    As for suggestions, surely a reduction in the most blatant forms of hypocrisy could be useful.

  110. NewEnglandBob
    Posted April 24, 2011 at 5:45 am | Permalink

    I, Bob Terrace, Chelmsford, MA, agree with Jerry Coyne’s message and proudly co-sign

  111. Posted April 24, 2011 at 6:29 am | Permalink

    “I know of only a single creationist (David Berlinski) who isn’t motivated by religious faith.”

    How can you know what motivates a pathological liar?

    It would be more accurate to say “I don’t know any creationist who isn’t motivated by religious faith.” I suggest leave subhumans like Berlinski out of it.

  112. Posted April 24, 2011 at 6:40 am | Permalink

    “But Stanyard immediately alienated everyone by telling us to lay off not only Nick Matzke (who accused Richard Dawkins of playing the “Nazi card”), but religion in general.”

    People like Stanyard are as morally corrupt as the Bible thumpers and the terrorists they suck up to.

  113. Posted April 24, 2011 at 7:39 am | Permalink

    I thoroughly support Jerry’s letter. The aims of such organisations should be to support and promote science, not to attack others who have the same aims but differ in their position with regards to religion.

    The promotion of science education should not involve the promotion of religion or public attacks on atheists.

    Steve Zara
    Coventry, UK.

  114. Posted April 24, 2011 at 9:04 am | Permalink

    ‘Feel free to “cosign” this letter by giving your real name in the comments.’

    If Canadians can sign, count me in:

    Veronica Abbass
    Ontario, Canada

    • Yvon Roussel
      Posted April 24, 2011 at 10:18 am | Permalink

      “If Canadians can sign, count me in:”

      The picture on my $20 dollar bill says that I should not have any scrupulous hesitation to co-sign Jerry’s letter…..at least the BCSE part of it.
      So count me sign in:
      Yvon Roussel. N.B. Canada

      • Posted April 24, 2011 at 8:25 pm | Permalink

        Which picture?

        • Cents
          Posted April 26, 2011 at 10:14 pm | Permalink

          The Queen of course.

          Count me in as a cosigner to Jerry’s letter. We need to draw the line and get anything that resembles accommodation out of organizations that are there to support science education.

          Steve Gray
          Surrey, BC, Canada

  115. Posted April 24, 2011 at 9:14 am | Permalink

    I wholeheartedly support Jerry’s Open letter to the NCSE and BCSE.

    F. Andy Seidl
    Ann Arbor, MI

  116. Nogbert
    Posted April 24, 2011 at 9:33 am | Permalink

    I am privileged to add my name to this letter.

    George Andrews, Leicester, UK.

  117. Mike McCants
    Posted April 24, 2011 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    I co-sign this letter.
    Austin, TX

  118. Posted April 24, 2011 at 9:43 am | Permalink

    Roger Stanyard says

    “When are you going to get it into your thick skull that the United Kingdom is not the United States.”

    Moreover, Canada is neither. I signed Jerry Coyne’s letter because I don’t want yours and others accommodationist stance to leak to Canada anymore than it already has.

  119. Posted April 24, 2011 at 9:45 am | Permalink

    I, Daniel Kretchmar, agree with Jerry Coyne’s message and proudly co-sign

  120. eNeMeE
    Posted April 24, 2011 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    Neil Erickson
    Victoria, BC, Canada

  121. Posted April 24, 2011 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    Were it not for my job in Washington, DC, I would gladly sign this letter with my real name. Still, I want it to be known that the sentiments herein are widely supported.

    I’m sure this will get lost in the sea of excellent comments already on this thread, but I want to ask the likes of Stanyard and Matzke to answer two specific questions. At the very least, doing so will clear up exactly where Gnus disagree with their position:

    (1) Are scientists ever allowed to criticize religion in public?

    (2) When religion makes irrational claims or causes people to act irrationally, may scientists point that out?

    I suspect — though I am open to being proven wrong — that Gnus answer, “Yes and yes,” while Accommodationists answer, “No and no.” All the discussion of tone and method fall away once that stark contrast is acknowledged.

    • Dominic
      Posted April 24, 2011 at 11:36 am | Permalink

      I just passed through your [Paine] home town – Thetford – this afternoon! Good choice of person – ‘My country is the world & my religion is to do good’!

      • Thomas Paine
        Posted April 24, 2011 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

        @Dominic

        Thank you. I endeavor to do my namesake proud.

        I see your Paine-ism, and raise you, “If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace.”

        • Dominic
          Posted April 25, 2011 at 2:33 am | Permalink

          He was a good bloke.

    • Rieux
      Posted April 25, 2011 at 8:11 am | Permalink

      I, too, strongly support the sentiments in Jerry’s letter—but I, too, am unable (for similar reasons to “Tom’s”) to discard pseudonymity to say so.

      Sorry.

  122. roddg
    Posted April 24, 2011 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    I, Rodd Garoutte of Norwood, Colorado, also highly support Jerry’s open letter.

  123. Posted April 24, 2011 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    The New Atheist are a response to decades, no centuries, of irrational faith; it is not an attack. If they want to be left alone then stop (trying to )inject religion into the science classroom, stop trying to rewrite history to show a Christian-centric point of view and stop treating women as second class citizens. Until then, game on.

    Kriss

  124. Posted April 24, 2011 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    “… the dichotomous view represented by creationists and antireligious atheists leaves out a large range of more moderate religious views….”

    http://ncse.com/religion

    This appears to suggests the existence of pro-religious atheists who presumably are part of the large range of more moderate religious views? Anyone seen one’a’them?

    • Microraptor
      Posted April 24, 2011 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

      I think you can find them if you look for past Templeton winners.

  125. razorwire95
    Posted April 24, 2011 at 10:14 am | Permalink

    Thaddeus Michael Aid soon to be BSc and soon to be D.Phil student at the University of Oxford
    My comments are at http://www.scienceandatheism.com/2011/04/24/jerry-coynes-open-letter-to-the-ncse/

  126. Posted April 24, 2011 at 10:17 am | Permalink

    Getting the public to appreciate and understand science is, in essence, convincing the public to use their brains to test beliefs against external evidence. We cannot promote science education and at the same time accept superstition as a legitimate guide to decision-making. We are hypocrites if we do this.

    I gladly sign your letter,
    Lou Jost
    Genetics/ecology

  127. Nick Gotts
    Posted April 24, 2011 at 10:24 am | Permalink

    I cosign Jerry’s letter with my real name.

  128. Craig McGillivary
    Posted April 24, 2011 at 10:28 am | Permalink

    It seems to me that this is simple thing. Dawkens is happy to admit the Ken Miller is on his side of the science education debate and vice versa. Yet they both hold nothing back on the god question. Moreover they both sensibly agree that NCSE or something like it should exist and not take sides. So why don’t they do that?

  129. steve oberski
    Posted April 24, 2011 at 10:55 am | Permalink

    As an old “New Atheist” I entirely concur with Jerry Coyne’s Open letter to the NCSE and BCSE.

    I do find that the tone of this letter is not nearly strident enough.

    Stephen Oberski

  130. Posted April 24, 2011 at 11:02 am | Permalink

    I proudly cosign this letter.
    The work to keep creationism out of schools has to be on all fronts. NCSE feels it needs to do it their way, fine. The Gnu Atheist front is just as important. Don’t attack your own side.

  131. Posted April 24, 2011 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    Also privileged to add my name to this excellent letter.

    Judging from Roger Stanyard’s reaction above, I really hope someone else from the BCSE get to read the letter.

    Stephen Tapply. Lincolnshire. UK

  132. David Winer
    Posted April 24, 2011 at 11:15 am | Permalink

    While not a scientist, I rely on logic and knowledge for my daily bread and I whole heartedly co-sign this letter.

    David Wiener
    Chapel Hill, NC

  133. Eric Robinson
    Posted April 24, 2011 at 11:27 am | Permalink

    I cosign this letter.

    Eric Robinson
    San Jose, CA

  134. Euan Mitchell
    Posted April 24, 2011 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    An atheist geologist co-signing your excellent letter. Keep up the fight.

  135. Cody
    Posted April 24, 2011 at 11:44 am | Permalink

    Atheism ≠ Science

    • J.J.E.
      Posted April 24, 2011 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

      Good. Do you want a cookie?

      • Ichthyic
        Posted April 24, 2011 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

        I’ll take one, if you’re offering.

        Hope you brought enough for the rest of the class.

        • J.J.E.
          Posted April 24, 2011 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

          Will something like this suffice?

          • Ichthyic
            Posted April 25, 2011 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

            those do look tasty!

            *snatch*

  136. gillt
    Posted April 24, 2011 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

    In support of Jerry’s Open letter–science education over bible studies–to the NCSE and BCSE.

    Tony Gill
    Seattle, WA

  137. Jessica W. Leigh
    Posted April 24, 2011 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    I agree completely. Cosign me!

  138. Posted April 24, 2011 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

    Please consider me a cosigner to the letter to NCSE and BCSE.

    William M. London
    Professor, Department of Public Health
    California State University, Los Angeles

  139. Cliff Melick
    Posted April 24, 2011 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

    The NCSE should present evolution in a strictly secular context. If that occurs, I will resume my support of the institution both philosophically and financially. I endorse Dr.Coyne’s letter.
    /Clifford F Melick

  140. astrokid.nj
    Posted April 24, 2011 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

    I gladly sign it too.

    NCSE,
    In India(where I am from) there is a big threat to science from Hinduism, much more than creationism in the west.
    Hinduism creeping into science education is pretty much unnecessary for it to retain its hold over peoples lives right from childhood (because one is hammered by religious rituals and symbols in social life on a daily basis.. puja/offerings by parents in the mornings, religious songs on the radio, religious lamp lighting for all social events which start only at auspicious times, appeals to gods in movie storylines, etc etc). However this hasnt stopped them from entering schools with outlandish, twisted claims of oneness with science, i.e science is just a different way of knowing the same truth.. a subset of truth in fact.
    There is no way I can be allies with anyone that distorts science this way, and ultimately subjects society to great evils (such as the caste system and pseudosciences such as homeopathy and astrology) and bring many individual lives to ruin.

    The Vedas as books of science

    IN 1996, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) of the United Kingdom (U.K.) produced a slick looking book, with many well-produced pictures of colourfully dressed men and women performing Hindu ceremonies, accompanied with warm, fuzzy and completely sanitised description of the faith. The book, Explaining Hindu Dharma: A Guide for Teachers, offers “teaching suggestions for introducing Hindu ideas and topics in the classroom” at the middle to high school level in the British schools system. The authors and editors are all card-carrying members of the VHP. The book is now in its second edition and, going by the glowing reviews on the back-cover, it seems to have established itself as a much-used educational resource in the British school system.

    What “teaching suggestions” does this Guide offer? It advises British teachers to introduce Hindu dharma as “just another name” for “eternal laws of nature” first discovered by Vedic seers, and subsequently confirmed by modern physics and biological sciences. After giving a false but incredibly smug account of mathematics, physics, astronomy, medicine and evolutionary theory contained in the Vedic texts, the Guide instructs the teachers to present the Vedic scriptures as “not just old religious books, but as books which contain many true scientific facts… these ancient scriptures of the Hindus can be treated as scientific texts” (emphasis added). All that modern science teaches us about the workings of nature can be found in the Vedas, and all that the Vedas teach about the nature of matter, god, and human beings is affirmed by modern science. There is no conflict, there are no contradictions. Modern science and the Vedas are simply “different names for the same truth”.

    http://www.mukto-mona.com/Articles/vedic_science_Mira.htm

    • Posted April 24, 2011 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

      Ah – I was thinking “Meera Nanda” as I read – and the linked article is by Meera.

      Meera’s a friend of mine, I’m proud to say.

  141. Chuck Spotts
    Posted April 24, 2011 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

    Chuck Spotts here from Igo, CA (long time lurker); I’m happy to add my name to this letter.

  142. Posted April 24, 2011 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

    I agree with Coyne 100% and am happy to sign off on that letter.

    Chuck Morrison

  143. Gordon
    Posted April 24, 2011 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

    My name is Gordon Duffy and I am nauseated and disappointed by the NCSE’s accomodationism.

    I can certainly never give money in good conscience to an organisation that puts science in its name but spends money on faith projects.

  144. Gayle Stone
    Posted April 24, 2011 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

    Komon y’all are gittin’ like a bunch of Cristions organizing your own religion on a count of you don’t agree with each other, lets jest be Atheists and leave it be.it is a simple as apple pie, there is no gd, ahteists no morallity bettern some and don’t keep gittin’ in trouble all the time.

  145. Rixaeton
    Posted April 24, 2011 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

    If it helps any:
    I co-sign and agree with Prof Jerry Coyne’s open letter, even though I am not a citizen of the US or the UK. I believe scientific advancement is a universal right for all of humanity on this little ball in space, and that universality includes the ability to point out, in this modern, 21st century world from anywhere in the globe that anyone can say “you are doing it wrong.” ;)

    Richard Marks
    Brisbane, Australia

  146. Marc-David Aresteanu
    Posted April 24, 2011 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

    I’ll add my name to the letter. Richard, you really do handle these ugly matters quite eloquently. I’d be fuming.

  147. Stan Pak
    Posted April 24, 2011 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

    Please add my signature to this letter.

    Stan Pak, software engineer
    Matawan, NJ

  148. Gary Usleaman
    Posted April 24, 2011 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

    I’m Gary Usleaman of Alexandria, KY, and I cosign this letter.

    While I can see where NCSE and BCSE cannot take a position against religion and still hope to make grounds in the area of science education (because it is a bad move, politically), I do feel that the recent “shushing” of Gnu Atheists does not contribute to their cause.

    I can also imagine that the NCSE and BCSE are asked, or could be asked, to answer uncomfortable questions, like “Look what scientists say about us (Christians/religious people). How do YOU see us? Is this really what you think behind our backs?”, and I can sympathize that, in that regard, the Gnu Atheists could be making your jobs harder, I still do not see how spending energy trying to make the NCSE (in particular) more cozy to religious ideas as being the correct approach. I hope that the NCSE (and BCSE) can refocus their energies on science education alone, and leave the discussions of differing magisteria to other organizations.

  149. Ichthyic
    Posted April 24, 2011 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

    Just as an informational post for those thinking this is some sort of “recent” debate issue…

    The argument about organizations supporting science education taking an accomodationist stance and steamrolling atheists goes WAY back.

    Here is an ancient summary thread that will at least start to bring those unfamiliar with the history of this issue up to speed:

    http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2009/06/12/the-big-accommodatinism-debate-all-relevant-posts/

    That thread is two years old, and I’d say this debate is at least 4 or 5 years in the making.

    It has very little to do with Stanyard and Matzke, actually. In fact, I don’t think you’ll even find them mentioned in the OP’s I linked to.

    • Ichthyic
      Posted April 24, 2011 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

      ….what’s more, and MORE troubling, is that this is also an issue that goes BEYOND the NCSE and other small science supporting organizations.

      We see this issue raising a serious spectre even with the largest supporters of Science in the States:

      http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2010/06/17/the-aaas-goes-all-accommodationist/

      so, yes, it IS a large problem. It IS a serious issue, and it IS far, far bigger than Stanyard, Matzke, and the NCSE/BCSE even.

      • Tyro
        Posted April 24, 2011 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

        Good point, one that sometimes gets lost when we deal with the small details. All of this is still shades of the belief-in-belief / reflexive respect that religion still commands, even amongst scientists and atheists. It exists at all levels in the media, sciences and general public and is kept alive in large part by the pleasant, nice-seeming liberal believers that make faith seem like a virtue.

        If only this were an issue about just a couple of people then we could shrug and move on but Ichthyic is right, it’s a big problem and the BCSE and NCSE are just two examples amongst many.

        But hey, we’ve got to start somewhere and surely an organization of scientists should be a weak target. Right? Heh, we’ll see…

        • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
          Posted April 25, 2011 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

          Someone should write “The Accommodationist Delusion” or “ACCOMMODATIONISM – The Failed Hypothesis”. It can start with the Lagash rebellion (~ 4400 ya, pass over the Enlightenment and continue up until Gay Pride. … oh, and there is plenty of research too. Up in your face works.

  150. Posted April 24, 2011 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

    I sign…

  151. B.T. Murtagh
    Posted April 24, 2011 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

    I fully agree. Accommodationism is wrongheaded, bad policy and it alienates me too.

  152. Steve LaBonne
    Posted April 24, 2011 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

    Though I am rather late to this party, I want to add my enthusiastic endorsement of this excellent and timely letter.

  153. Sean W.
    Posted April 24, 2011 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

    I agree with the letter and co-sign.

    Sean Watson

  154. Stephan Marosvary
    Posted April 24, 2011 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

    I fully support Jerry Coins letter. Nobody can be convinced by sheepishly beating around the bush. It is embarrassing that in the US politicians in high office can make the most ridiculous assertions about this universe without being thrown out of office or being ridiculed mby the main stream press. The NCSE should be at the forefront whenever Anti-scientific statements are made. Show me any organization less scientific than religions. They all claim that their positions evade the scientific method. That makes all of them natural enemies of Science Education. Without exception!

    • sasqwatch
      Posted April 25, 2011 at 8:38 pm | Permalink

      I believe the proper expression is “sheepishly bleating around the bush”. At least I just deemed it proper just now. And I’m stealing it.

  155. Dorian Cosmedy
    Posted April 24, 2011 at 8:51 pm | Permalink

    Proud to co-sign —

    Dorian Cosmedy
    Champaign, Illinois

  156. Justin Norris
    Posted April 24, 2011 at 9:22 pm | Permalink

    I co-sign

  157. Posted April 24, 2011 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

    My main impression of the accommodationists is that they are out and out liars. I feel a personal stake in this, because one of the big points in an early anti-gnu kerfuffle was a lie about me, personally.

    Yeah, it’s me – I had that(explicitly metaphorical) rusty knife, for rhetorical sideways use on apologists for child rape. The post that they claimed was a big bad gnu threatening poor wee harmless innocent faitheists with death by sexual torture. Nobody’s ever even acknowledged the misquote, let alone apologised for it.

    So I tend to take all those claims about gnasty gnus with a BIIIIIG truckload of salt.

    I’ll sign on to the open letter, but I’m an Australian, not from the US or UK so I’m not sure if I count for this purpose.

  158. vltava
    Posted April 24, 2011 at 11:43 pm | Permalink

    My real name is Michael Cooper and I hereby cosign this letter.

  159. AZSkeptic
    Posted April 24, 2011 at 11:48 pm | Permalink

    Also co-signing this terrific letter:

    John Schneider
    Phoenix, AZ

  160. Bjørn Are Wigtil
    Posted April 25, 2011 at 12:28 am | Permalink

    I wasn’t going to sign. As a Norwegian the issue is a bit removed to me.

    The behaviour of Stanyard on this tread convinced me to chip in.

    I realise that the N and the B are largely political institutions so here’s my advice: The first rule of politics is don’t lie (or rather, don’t get caught lying, but if you lie you will get caught sooner or later). Lying in a venue the people you are lying about is particularly daft.

    If I were Stanyards employer I would seriously consider if I had legal grounds for not being his employer anymore after his performance here. He is clearly either a very bad lier or very bad at basic comprehetion. He shouldn’t be either in his line of business.

    • Posted April 25, 2011 at 10:43 am | Permalink

      Your more than welcome to contact the committee of the BCSE and demand that they fire me as an employee for lying.

      Just to help you, the email is committee@bcseweb.org.uk Your message will automatically get to all committee members using this address.

      I would advise you detail where you think I lied. Committee members are unlikely to want to spend a lot of time second guessing your claims.

      • Harry
        Posted April 25, 2011 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

        Thanks for the email address. I have made my complaints known to them.

      • Ichthyic
        Posted April 25, 2011 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

        Your more than welcome to contact the committee of the BCSE and demand that they fire me as an employee for lying.

        Just to help you, the email is committee@bcseweb.org.uk

        do report back with their response, if you really want to man up, Roger.

        • Ichthyic
          Posted April 25, 2011 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

          …oh, and do let us know what their response to the actual letter was too.

          or maybe we should just ask them directly, since apparently there’s no reason to expect an honest reply from yourself.

      • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
        Posted April 25, 2011 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

        Oops. My comment just tripped a reload where I was made aware of Jerry’s problem with thread bloat. My apologies & last comment!

  161. Richard Stanton
    Posted April 25, 2011 at 1:20 am | Permalink

    I sign & wholeheartedly agree with this letter. As a Brit, I am also appalled by Roger Stanyards behaviour above. If his attitude is best of the BCSE then it’s in serious trouble.

  162. Mike B
    Posted April 25, 2011 at 2:06 am | Permalink

    Just had a look at the BCSE website, which has gone and spoilt my breakfast: its main article about Religion & Science says

    Properly understood, there is no conflict between religion and science…

    scientists will respect these beliefs of their religious colleagues, realizing they may very well provide those colleagues with the moral guidance which makes them better scientists

    and just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse,

    religion properly provides the individual with the moral courage to act despite the possibility of failure

    British Centre for SCIENCE? EDUCATION? It’s shameful.

    • Mike B
      Posted April 25, 2011 at 3:46 am | Permalink

      Uh, one more BCSE-ism. Sorry if it now spoils everyone else’s breakfast…

      Religion is responsible for humanity’s moral and spiritual guidance.

      Roger: as a Brit I’m ashamed of you.

      Can I sign too please? Mike Barnes

      • Posted April 25, 2011 at 7:24 am | Permalink

        Which is rather odd as this was not written by a brit, IIRC. It was written by Peter Hess of the NCSE.

        Personally, I don’t agree with it.

        Peter is entitled to post on our wiki what he feels fit with, as is anyone else, barring the obvious disclaimers about vandalism, off topic stuff and so on.

        If you want a good rant, there is also our community forum open to everyone.

        Feel free to use it (same to everyone here). Keep bad language and insults to yourself, though.

        You won’t.

        Shrug.

        • articulett
          Posted April 25, 2011 at 7:43 am | Permalink

          How comfortable would anyone feel posting there when you said this: “A goodly number of our members are religious, or indifferent to religion or are uncomfortable with New Atheism.”

          It seems that you are more worried about the seeming comfort of your religious members than you are those who don’t find religion something we should be kowtowing too.

          That isn’t neutrality. Why should a science organization have to know or respect the supernatural beliefs of it’s member? why are those without supernatural beliefs being made to feel unwelcome?

          • Posted April 25, 2011 at 10:35 am | Permalink

            It’s just plurality of opinion. If you feel uncomfortable with people who may not hold the same opinions as you, that’s your problem – not anyone else’s.

            Shrug

            • articulett
              Posted April 25, 2011 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

              Another straw man!? Again, you hear what was not said and miss what was actually said! I think this makes you an extremely poor choice for furthering science communication.

              I have no problems working with religionists, but you have made it clear that the BCSE has problems with outspoken atheists– because, apparently, they make some of your members uncomfortable. I don’t see why the topic of religion even has to come up when the goal is furthering science!

              How many ways can you avoid hearing that we are asking you to be neutral? Are religious people so sensitive that they won’t help further science education if it means working with people who won’t show deference to their faith?

              How much more bigotry against “new atheists” are you going to be spreading under the title of the BCSE? Is there evidence that this furthers any goal?

              Read Jerry’s letter again. You seem to be working vry hard to completely miss the point.

              One of the basic skills in communication is being able to sum up what people are telling you.

              So far, you fail. You seem to be having an entirely different conversation than everyone else.

        • Mike B
          Posted April 25, 2011 at 7:43 am | Permalink

          This time you’re wrong about your own website, Roger. It’s under the heading ‘Education’ and it’s written by Timothy Chase, BCSE Member.

          • Posted April 25, 2011 at 8:36 am | Permalink

            Thank you for correcting me.

            Timothy has left the BCSE to concentrate on environmental issues in the USA.

            As I say, we have a number of different positions on religion amongst our current (and former) members. Everyone is free to hold whatever religious opinions they feel comfortable with. We even have a well known British creationist regularly contributing to our public community forum.

            Feel free to debate your opinions with him.

          • Posted April 25, 2011 at 8:38 am | Permalink

            For the record, BCSE members are free to post to our wiki; it was mostly written by them.

            • Mike B
              Posted April 25, 2011 at 8:49 am | Permalink

              Roger, this is disingenuous. The religious drivel quoted above wasn’t posted on a forum, it was on your main site under the heading ‘Education’.

              • Posted April 25, 2011 at 10:32 am | Permalink

                I never said otherwise.

              • Ichthyic
                Posted April 25, 2011 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

                I never said otherwise.

                then your saying what?

                your educational mission statement and/or public policy is written by anyone who happens by at the time?

                wtf?

            • Posted April 25, 2011 at 8:51 am | Permalink

              Feel free to use it (same to everyone here). Keep bad language and insults to yourself, though.

              You won’t.

              Shrug.

              Excuse me? Are you kidding? You told me yesterday to get something completely irrelevant to the point I’d made through my “thick skull.” You handed out a lot of insults to other people as well. Do you seriously think your language here has been uniformly polite and collegial?

              • Posted April 25, 2011 at 10:26 am | Permalink

                Grow up. The WEIT blog has been full of insults over the last couple of days, from both sides.

                It’s so bad that in private email I have negotiated a truce with RD.

              • Posted April 25, 2011 at 10:36 am | Permalink

                @Roger

                A truce? I am quite pleased to hear that. Now that such matters are taken care of, perhaps we could return to the issue that has animated this scuffle.

                While a small comment here might not be the best forum, I would like your (and other Gnu critics’) answers to these simple questions:

                (1) Are scientists ever allowed to criticize religion in public?

                (2) When religion makes irrational claims or causes people to act irrationally, may scientists point that out?

                The really is the heart of the Gnu philosophy. We say “yes” to both.

              • latsot
                Posted April 25, 2011 at 10:46 am | Permalink

                “Grow up. The WEIT blog has been full of insults over the last couple of days, from both sides.”

                I can’t remember whether I’m supposed to be rubber or glue.

                It seems to me that lies in the name of what we want to be true end up sticking to all of us.

              • J.J.E.
                Posted April 25, 2011 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

                Roger, do you think that Ophelia’s post was childish? I don’t. Why did you tell her “Grow up.”? I feel that such a taunt to an earnestly asked question belies a hotheadedness and lack of maturity on your part, not Ophelia’s. I suspect that your proximity and personal stake in this discussion has eroded your objectivity. Please make a special effort to read the comments of your interlocutors with charity and respond in kind. I rather think you created the toxic environment you now wallow in by your hotheaded responses. Had you taken a more tactful approach, you could actually have engaged in communication rather than trading insults. Sure, you’d still get a few insults here and there, but that’s to be expected by people communicating publicly.

                Your track record here Roger indicates that you have a distinct deficit of skill in communicating your ideas and interacting with people skeptical of your ideas. Please work on it.

        • Tyro
          Posted April 25, 2011 at 9:37 am | Permalink

          Roger,

          I went through the BCSE site and I found some theology documents much like these. You appear to disavow these documents by saying that anyone can post them.

          But don’t you see what sort of a problem this creates? When we quote people that work for the BCSE, we’re told that they were speaking as individuals and don’t represent the views of the BCSE. When we quote documents on the official web site, we’re told that even these are still just opinion pieces that don’t represent the BCSE’s views.

          How then are we supposed to discern what the True BCSE endorses?

          That aside, can you at least recognize that when theology and pro-religion (and anti-Gnu) views are posted on the BCSE site or in editorials by members with the BCSE masthead, then outsiders like us can reasonably believe that these are official positions?

          If these are the official views, that’s a big problem and you seem to tacitly agree (you have tried to distance the BCSE from them). If these are opposed to the official BCSE view and yet are hosted on the BCSE site and appear with the BCSE logo, surely this is an equally big problem!

          Whatever the cause, I think there are some issues that the BCSE needs to resolve and they won’t go away by trying to shift the blame to us.

          • Ewan
            Posted April 25, 2011 at 11:07 am | Permalink

            You’re not supposed to discern what the True BCSE endorses. You’re supposed to sit down, shut up, and let them get on with the important work of ‘framing’ things to get the marks to play along. Do keep up.

          • Saikat Biswas
            Posted April 25, 2011 at 11:14 am | Permalink

            In all his responses, Roger Stanyard seems innately incapable of either making a point or getting it from someone else. He calls upon others to freely express their opinions without resorting to insults but when reminded of his own lapses, he changes tact and urges them to stop being cry-babies. How is anyone ever supposed to argue with such specimens?

            • Microraptor
              Posted April 25, 2011 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

              Simply put, you can’t. It’s impossible to have a productive discussion with someone who blatantly lies, continually changes his story, calls people names, and generally behaves as if he’s above the rules he insists everyone else follow.

              Quite frankly, based off the behavior he’s exhibited in the last week, I’m starting to wonder about his mental state.

              • J.J.E.
                Posted April 25, 2011 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

                This is usually a baseless statement in an argument, tantamount to an ad hominem. But I reluctantly agree with you in this case. Roger’s behavior is baffling to say the least.

    • Matti K.
      Posted April 25, 2011 at 5:26 am | Permalink

      The accommodationist dogma used to be that (moderate) religious faith is no handicap when doing science.

      Has their view changed now? Do they really think that (moderate) religious faith is actually an advatage when doing science?

      I disagreee strongly. I don’t think such ass kissing advances the acceptance of evolution among the faithful.

  163. Andrew Sinnott
    Posted April 25, 2011 at 3:45 am | Permalink

    I’d like to sign this.

    Andrew Sinnott
    Manchester UK

  164. Tim Martin
    Posted April 25, 2011 at 4:46 am | Permalink

    I cosign!

    Tim Martin
    New York, New York

  165. FraserH
    Posted April 25, 2011 at 5:14 am | Permalink

    I would like to cosign too – especially after visiting the BCSE website.

    Fraser Januchowski-Hartley

  166. Marc Epard
    Posted April 25, 2011 at 6:11 am | Permalink

    I cosign.

    Marc Epard
    Lawrence, KS

  167. Robotczar
    Posted April 25, 2011 at 6:20 am | Permalink

    The idea that atheists or scientists should adopt a position non-critical of religion so that science doesn’t lose support from weakly religious people has several flaws. It assumes that such support is beneficial. But, decades of pretending that faith and reason are compatible has led nowhere in the US. Irrationality and rejection of science seems to be growing. Pretending that science and religion are compatible has led many of the weakly religious to hold onto their mystical beliefs because such misinformation did not point out their beliefs are irrational and incompatible with a scientific perspective.Such believers must be confronted to make them reconsider their beliefs in light of the fact that the two ways of knowing are incompatible. Otherwise, they can continue along, honoring and protecting fundamentalism, without even looking at the topic.

    What is the evidence that weakly religious people will become more religious and reject science if confronted with the absurdity and ill effects of religious belief? Maybe a majority of such people will choose rationality. After all, these people have already chosen to reject aspects of fundamental religious beliefs. They deserve an honest assessment form atheists and scientists, not misinformation intended to keep them happy in their beliefs so science organizations do not offend majorities and damage political aspirations.

  168. Douglas Warren Kinne
    Posted April 25, 2011 at 6:48 am | Permalink

    I am a life member of NCSE. I fully support the open letter by Jerry Coyne.
    I hope the NCSE takes heed. I have personally seen how effective and successful the approach used by Dawkins et.al. is. We need more of it.

    • Douglas Kinney
      Posted April 25, 2011 at 6:51 am | Permalink

      Correction – for some reason the last letter of my name was dropped.

  169. Posted April 25, 2011 at 7:46 am | Permalink

    I, too, agree to co-sign this letter.
    Lynn S. Wilhelm
    Cary, NC

  170. Posted April 25, 2011 at 7:51 am | Permalink

    Cosigned.

  171. Joe Geiger
    Posted April 25, 2011 at 8:21 am | Permalink

    What #126 and #143 said!

    Happy to sign Jerry — letter is spot on.

    Joe Geiger
    Belleville, IL

  172. Rob Schneider
    Posted April 25, 2011 at 8:29 am | Permalink

    I agree with the position long advocated, and clearly expressed by Dr. Coyne. Please co-sign me, Robert A. Schneider.

  173. latsot
    Posted April 25, 2011 at 9:01 am | Permalink

    As a scientist and atheist I endorse every word of Jerry’s letter and cosign it.

    Rob Smith, University of Leeds, UK

  174. Judy Hastings
    Posted April 25, 2011 at 10:14 am | Permalink

    I co-sign with enthusiasm

    Judy Hastings
    Leicester UK

  175. Michael Coon
    Posted April 25, 2011 at 10:21 am | Permalink

    I wholeheartedly agree with the opinions and sentiments expressed by Drs Coynes, Dawkins and Myers. I hope the NCSE and BSCE take these criticisms in the spirit they were intended.

  176. M.
    Posted April 25, 2011 at 10:29 am | Permalink

    Good letter.

    This is the same reasons that applied to the whole Mooney disaster. “We are such good communicators of science that we managed to turn a 100% friendly audience into 100% unfriendly one. You should now let us communicate with our opponents!”

    If a person’s job is communication, and they display this level of sheer incompetence at it, there is very little room for complaints.

  177. Posted April 25, 2011 at 10:37 am | Permalink

    happy to add my name to the signatories of this letter.

    Antoine Vekris, PhD
    Bordeaux, France

  178. Posted April 25, 2011 at 10:57 am | Permalink

    “It’s so bad that in private email I have negotiated a truce with RD.”

    Not so private then.

    Something went badly wrong here. My view, for what it’s worth, is accommodationists thinking that “atheism” is one thing, like some kind of organised movement, that can be pointed in the “right” direction.

    It isn’t. If you want people to follow, you have to lead, not scold. And, insisting that others should follow your lead in cosying up to religion on some issues (no matter how effective you may think that is), is not going to attract that many atheist followers.

    I don’t know of the work you have done. Perhaps a summary of your activities and successes would be a good item to send to RichardDawkins.net, assuming that peace has been restored.

    I can speak only for myself – I’m not going to ally with any religious leader who supports evolution but who considers me evil. There is more to the fight against faith than the teaching of science – the whole structure of faith-based thinking needs to be brought down so as to remove bigotry and oppression. When that happens, acceptance of teaching of science will follow.

    Call me selfish if you like. Oh go on, you know you want to!

    • Posted April 25, 2011 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

      No. I respect you and if you come to that conclusion, it will have been well thought out.

      • Posted April 25, 2011 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

        Roger, if I may make a friendly suggestion. I think a positive step forward would be to take break from posting here, and produce a relatively brief report on the intentions, past actions, and successes of the BCSE, and try and submit to RichardDawkins.net. That will give people some background, an understanding of what you are up to, and if you have had successes, that will give a different perspective on things. I’m sure you will get some flak, no matter what you post, but at least that should make the position of the BCSE clearer.

        Some personal advice, you can, of course ignore (from someone who you know has fecked up on forums before). Take a break from posting for a few days, and let things calm down. It’s very easy to keep digging without realising, as I know from experience.

        Feel free to message me on facebook if you have any thoughts you need to discuss (hey, anyone is free to message me on facebook anyway)!

        We may disagree profoundly about “atheist politics”, but disagreements do not need to end up in a mess like this.

        • Posted April 25, 2011 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

          Will do Steve

          • Ichthyic
            Posted April 25, 2011 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

            Roger, the ONLY words you should be entering into a post here at this point should be something like these:

            “Yes, you’re right, in the heat of the moment I made an incorrect statement. I apologize and wish to clarify that Richard Dawkins never actually said anything I claimed to have recalled him saying, or even recalled having been related to me by others.”

            past that, your continued misreading of what people are saying, your inane and entirely irrelevant defense of the UK as “essentially religion free and nothing like the States”.

            …are doing nothing but digging you a bigger hole, and further convincing the rest of us that you have no business promoting science education.

            I mean, why on earth would I encourage an organization to utilize a spokesperson who evidently can’t read or listen correctly?

            seriously. look back at your comments in this thread.

            would YOU hire you to be a spokesperson?

            • Posted April 26, 2011 at 12:51 am | Permalink

              For the record, the conversation was with Larry Moran, not Richard Dawkins. The latter was not present.

              My statements are purely about what I recall Larry Moran told me.

  179. Posted April 25, 2011 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    Please add my name as a co-signer as well. Thanks,

  180. Ewan
    Posted April 25, 2011 at 11:21 am | Permalink

    I have little to add except to say that I’ve never come across an official spokesman as singularly artless and dense as Roger Stanyard. If I was tempted to support the BCSE at all his presence in their ranks would immediately see to it that I didn’t.

  181. Posted April 25, 2011 at 11:39 am | Permalink

    Signing with my real name, for what it’s worth (I’m neither American, nor British, nor a scientist)

    Seanna Watson
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

  182. Posted April 25, 2011 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

    I enthusiastically cosign the letter.

    Peter Nothnagle
    Iowa City, Iowa

  183. Anuradha Ramanathan
    Posted April 25, 2011 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

    Long-time reader and lurker, de-lurking.

    I’m not a scientist, but I AM a strong and strident supporter of the scientific method and good science. I am proud to co-sign this letter, with my full and real name – most excellently written and responded, Drs. Coyne and Dawkins!

    Anuradha Ramanathan,
    Seattle, WA.
    Atheist, Science supporter, Software Engineer.

  184. whyevolutionistrue
    Posted April 25, 2011 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

    I wonder if people think that this thread is worth continuing? The same points continue to be made over and over again. I have never closed a thread, and don’t intend to here, but is there any point to going on with this discussion?

    kthxbye

    • Ichthyic
      Posted April 25, 2011 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

      I thought the point was to continue to gather signatories.

      The rest is superfluous to that, right?

      • Posted April 25, 2011 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

        +1

      • whyevolutionistrue
        Posted April 25, 2011 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

        Yes, signatories continue, all others, bow out please!

      • Posted April 25, 2011 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

        Besides, Nick’s and Roger’s self-immolation actually seem to be attracting some signatories.

        • Ichthyic
          Posted April 25, 2011 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

          lol

          indeed, car wrecks do tend to attract attention.
          :)

    • articulett
      Posted April 25, 2011 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

      I sent my support of this letter via regular mail to the NCSE, because I have concerns about using my real name on this forum due to job concerns and atheist prejudice.

  185. Posted April 25, 2011 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

    Please add my name to the list of signatories.

    Scot Rafkin,Ph.D.

  186. Lee Hartmann
    Posted April 25, 2011 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

    I’m late as usual, but I wish to cosign.

  187. Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    Posted April 25, 2011 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

    I cosign this letter.

    Torbjörn Larsson, PhD
    Uppsala, Sweden

  188. whyevolutionistrue
    Posted April 25, 2011 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

    Okay, from now on I’d like this thread to contain signatories of the letter only. No more unproductive back and forths–it’s clear that the parties involved are not going to change their mind, and that leads only to invective.

    Thanks.

    • Posted April 25, 2011 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

      JC, it might be worth adding that as an Update to the main post, for those that might reply to in stream comments before reaching this…

      Now bowing out.

  189. Posted April 25, 2011 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

    I fully endorse Prof Coyne’s letter.

    Not only is the non-evidenced mudslinging by accomodationists unproductive with regard to science education and potentially counterprofuctive with regard to atheist/secular-minded scientists, it may even be destructive in some areas, giving creationists the idea that some kind of schism exists within those who accept the fact of evolution and therefore casting doubt on the theory where none exists.

    Silly, unjustified hit-pieces about “tone” or “civility” are white noise at best, potentially destructive distractions at worst. Presenting a united front concerning science education is the only way to increase public understanding. This ridiculous non-argument begun by coddlers of faith will & should amount to nothing.

    Hank
    (Mandrellian)

  190. Bodhi
    Posted April 25, 2011 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

    Happy to cosign.

    Eric Jones
    Rome, Georgia

  191. Emanuele Oriano
    Posted April 25, 2011 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

    Another Canuck happy to co-sign.

    Emanuele Oriano, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

  192. A. Grace
    Posted April 25, 2011 at 10:30 pm | Permalink

    I fully endorse Prof Coyne’s letter.

    Angela Grace,
    Las Vegas, Nevada

  193. Mel Anderson
    Posted April 26, 2011 at 1:28 am | Permalink

    I (a Brit) agree with Jerry Coyne and Richard Dawkins and would like to co-sign this letter.

  194. Posted April 26, 2011 at 4:44 am | Permalink

    You can add my name (Aaron Heiss) to the list of signatories.

  195. Scott Baker
    Posted April 26, 2011 at 5:47 am | Permalink

    I endorse the letter. Thank you.

  196. Matthew Snook
    Posted April 26, 2011 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

    I encourage the NCSE to seriously consider Jerry’s letter. To ignore religion as the source of supernatural world views is self defeat.

    The conflict is not religion vs. evolution; the primary conflicts are between knowledge and superstition, which encompasses the suppression of human values by religion.

  197. Rick
    Posted April 26, 2011 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    I happily co-sign. Well said.

    Richard Laughlin
    College Station, TX

  198. TheBrummell
    Posted April 26, 2011 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

    I’d sign that letter.
    Martin Brummell
    PhD student
    University of Saskatchewan
    Saskatoon, Canada

  199. Sandra Albro
    Posted April 26, 2011 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

    Please add Sandra Albro to the list of co-signers.

  200. Chris B
    Posted April 26, 2011 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

    I am surprised to read that an organization led by the respectable Eugenie Scott could be guilty of trying to suppress the criticism of religion. If it is true (I have not followed the topic until now), I am disappointed. In any case, I wholeheartedly support the underlying message of this letter – to silence the critics of religion is as bad as giving preference to the religious evangelists and their superstitious views. Therefore, I, Chris Bloom, of Sarasota, FL, add my signature to this letter.

  201. Posted April 26, 2011 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    I hereby cosign. The advice given is hardly partisan, and merely sane. Any organization seeking to advance the cause of any natural science would do well to keep its hands well-washed of theology. Explicitly commenting upon an alleged compatibility with any given religion does not at all pass this sniff test.

    AJ Milne
    Ottawa

  202. Jason A.
    Posted April 26, 2011 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

    Cosign

    Jason Ahrns
    Fairbanks, AK

  203. Gabby
    Posted April 26, 2011 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

    Oh hell, late to the party again.
    Sign me up.
    Gary A Gabbard
    Cincinnati, Ohio

  204. Nick Andrew
    Posted April 26, 2011 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

    Cosigned.

  205. Luis A.
    Posted April 26, 2011 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

    Cosigned.

    I agree 100%.

  206. Nicolas Keller
    Posted April 26, 2011 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

    happy to cosign.

    Nicolas Keller
    Munich, Germany

  207. Doug Jensen
    Posted April 26, 2011 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

    BCSE and NCSE websites are disturbingly supportive of anti-scientific themes. I also note they favor only a narrow range of superstitions. The websites have no instruction as to how others can have their favored superstition included. I would be less concerned if those websites and indeed the policies of the organizations were on not safe for children lists, as children of other persuasions will certainly feel less valued if they happen to see.

    Signing open letter:

    Doug Jensen

    Rapid City, South Dakota

  208. satan augustine
    Posted April 26, 2011 at 8:02 pm | Permalink

    Cosigned!

    Frank Wall
    Dayton, OH, USA

  209. Stacy Kennedy
    Posted April 26, 2011 at 8:05 pm | Permalink

    Cosigned.

    Stacy Kennedy

  210. Ned Freed
    Posted April 26, 2011 at 8:07 pm | Permalink

    I support this as well.

    Ned Freed
    Claremont, CA

  211. stephen sarbiewski
    Posted April 26, 2011 at 10:56 pm | Permalink

    cosigned this great letter

  212. Kagehi
    Posted April 27, 2011 at 1:15 am | Permalink

    Well, as if I need to do this, given my comments on the subject, but..

    Cosigned

    Patrick Elliott
    Lake Havasu City, AZ

  213. Posted April 27, 2011 at 3:10 am | Permalink

    I approve and therefore co-sign Professor Coyne’s open letter.

    Philippe Giordana, musician and science enthusiast, Nice, France.

    (Also known as Schroedinger’s Dog on AtBC and Pharyngula).

  214. Posted April 27, 2011 at 4:05 am | Permalink

    I support Prof. Coyne’s message.

    Michael Gray, BSc, MACS, MRIAus, MRSA.

  215. Stephen Norley
    Posted April 27, 2011 at 6:16 am | Permalink

    As one of the earlier additions to the NCSE’s ‘Project Steve’ I have become increasingly dismayed over the last few years with the increasingly accomodationist stance taken by the organisation. I therefore would like to cosign Jerry’s excellent open letter.

    Stephen Norley, Ph.D.
    Berlin, Germany

  216. Mathew Varidel
    Posted April 27, 2011 at 7:38 am | Permalink

    I cosign.

    Mathew Varidel
    Sydney, Australia

  217. Sven
    Posted April 27, 2011 at 8:26 am | Permalink

    If it is not too late, I’d like to add my signature to the letter.

    Sven Sinclair
    Columbia, MD

  218. Posted April 27, 2011 at 10:34 am | Permalink

    You have my support in cosigning.

    Glendon Mellow
    Toronto, Canada

  219. David Pitcher
    Posted April 28, 2011 at 3:54 am | Permalink

    I endorse the sentiments in this letter, and doubt the rationality of anyone that disagrees.

    David Pitcher, Kent, United Kingdom.

    I’d like to thank Roger Stanyard for revealing the true nature of the BCSE and bringing it to my attention.

    As a result of this I will be making sure that as many other people as possible find out exactly what it is and how its spokesperson behaves.

    To the owner of this blog, please do not remove any evidence that might help the casual reader come to an appropriate conclusion about Stanyard, Matzke and the BCSE. I found it enlightening…

    ..and not entirely unexpected in Mr Stanyard’s case having read Richard Dawkins.net’s front page news comment threads for many years.

  220. MattnDC
    Posted April 28, 2011 at 8:44 am | Permalink

    Cosigned.

    Matt Whealton
    Washington DC

  221. Marvol19
    Posted April 28, 2011 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

    Consider it cosigned.

    Marcel Volker
    Brighton, UK

  222. Lorenzo
    Posted May 2, 2011 at 7:48 am | Permalink

    Happy to co-sign this letter.

    Lorenzo Braschi,
    Madrid, Spain

  223. Posted May 4, 2011 at 7:50 am | Permalink

    One more name to add to the list as a co-signer!

    Jan Stephan Lundquist
    Bow, NH

  224. brian Tarr
    Posted June 2, 2011 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

    i hereby cosign this excellent open letter. everything salient has pretty much been said, so there’s not much i can add; but, i do think it would be in the N&B’s best interest to notice how much support($$$) they are losing from people, as is evident from many of the comments in this thread.

    brian Tarr
    Moraga, CA

  225. Posted January 15, 2012 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    It is just me or does anyone else really hate the term ‘open later’?

    Eurgh.

  226. Douglas W. Kinney
    Posted January 15, 2012 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    I fully agree with Jerry on this matter.

  227. Posted July 6, 2012 at 7:06 am | Permalink

    Wow that was strange. I just wrote an really long comment but after I clicked submit my
    comment didn’t show up. Grrrr… well I’m not writing all that over again. Anyhow, just wanted to say great blog!


11 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. [...] A bright spot at The Chronicle and an open letter: Stanyard has not responded, preferring instead to yammer on endlessly about somebody who compared Matzke to “vermin”.  That was an unfortunate remark—the kind of name calling I don’t like on this site, but Stanyard glommed onto it like white on rice, or Kwok on a Leica. [...]

  2. [...] Read on and note especially at the end Jerry’s open letter to NCSE and BCSE, suggesting that they should look askance at the strident and shrill accommodationists among their supporters, advocates of ‘niceness’ whose whose own nastiness towards their fellow atheists exceeds that of those fellow atheists towards religion. Incidentally, if you notice a resemblance between the piece by the admirable David Barash and PZ Myers’ ‘Couriter’s Reply’, it is a genuine coincidence. Barash was not acquainted with the Courtier’s Reply until it was shown him by a reader, and he promptly quoted it, with admiration and in full in his next article. [...]

  3. [...] A bright spot at The Chronicle and an open letter When is The Chronicle of Higher Education going to put the kibosh on the irrelevant and incoherent tirades of [...] [...]

  4. [...] Read on and note especially at the end Jerry’s open letter to NCSE and BCSE, suggesting that they should look askance at the strident and shrill accommodationists among their supporters: advocates of ‘niceness’, whose whose own nastiness towards their fellow atheists exceeds that of those atheists towards religion. Incidentally, if you notice a resemblance between the piece by the admirable David Barash and PZ Myers’ ‘Courtier’s Reply’, it is a genuine coincidence. Barash was not acquainted with the Courtier’s Reply until it was shown him by a reader, and he promptly quoted it, with admiration and in full, in his next article. Share and Enjoy: [...]

  5. [...] Jerry Coyne, author of Why Evolution is True (which coincidentally I started reading yesterday, and is so far excellent) has published an open letter criticising the NCSE and the BCSE for cuddling up to the religious at the expense of atheistic scientists.  The full text of the letter follows: Dear comrades: [...]

  6. [...] who works for the BCSE and has lately been telling Jerry and co. to stop dissing religion because, tried to explain about how the UK is different from the US. This was entirely beside the point, as several people tried to explain in return, but Stanyard [...]

  7. [...] Coyne, as an act of his usual standing-up-for-the-truth-ness and general badassery, has posted a letter to the NCSE and BCSE criticizing their policies of alienating atheists in the evolutionary community by sucking up to an [...]

  8. [...] A bright spot at The Chronicle and an open letter « Why Evolution Is True [...]

  9. [...] “New” Atheist open letter strikes a nerve – The other day, Dr. Jerry Coyne wrote an open letter to the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) and British Centre for Science Education [...]

  10. [...] of such prominent atheists to responding in favor of Coyne’s position such as PZ Myers and Richard Dawkins. And now Roger Stanyard of the BCSE is firing back with a complete straw man position that just [...]

  11. [...] Jerry Coyne wrote an open letter to the NCSE and BCSE complaining of a perceived pro-liberal Christianity bias within the organizations, and a tendency for people who work for them to bash “New Atheists”, alienating their allies. [...]

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