Catholics claim that lies are truer than truth

There’s a remarkable piece by Mark Shea in the National Catholic Register, “Does evolutionary science disprove the faith?”  It’s remarkable mainly for its claim that you can extract historical and scientific truth from the palpable lies of the Bible.

But let us begin at the beginning. Shea goes after me for my claim—which I stand by 100%—that modern genetics makes nonsense out of the Adam and Eve story, and thus invalidates the entire Christian theology of sin and redemption through Jesus.  We know now from genetics that humanity did not descend from only two ancestors, but from a population of ancestral apes that evolved into hominins, who themselves went through a population bottleneck of roughly a few thousand individuals. (For a full account of the scientific, historical, and theological issues, read Jason Rosenhouse’s posts here, here, and here).  To debunk my criticism, Shea simply cites an article by Mike Flynn at the TOF Spot.  Flynn’s main claim is that there could have been thousands of humans at the time of Adam and Eve, and some of these mated with the First Couple’s spawn, explaining the genetic data.

Dr. Coyne’s primary error seems to be a quantifier shift.  He and his fundamentalist bedfellows appear to hold that the statement:

A: “There is one man from whom all humans are descended”

is equivalent to the statement:

B: “All humans are descended from [only] one man.”
In other words, Flynn sees the solution in (A):
Traditional doctrine requires only A, not B: That all humans share a common ancestor, not that they have no other ancestors. . . . Dr. Coyne believes the mathematical requirement of a population numbering 10,000 somehow refutes the possibility that there were two.  But clearly, where there are 10,000 there are two, many times over.  Genesis tells us that the children of Adam and Eve found mates among the children of men, which would indicate that there were a number of others creatures out there with whom they could mate.
And, in his piece, Shea says this:
But this logical fallacy hinges on an equivocation of “one,” failing to distinguish “one [out of many]” from “[only] one.” Traditional doctrine requires only A, not B: That all humans share a common ancestor, not that they have no other ancestors.
Let’s dispose of this nonsense immediately.  As Jason shows, and a reading of Genesis immediately confirms, there’s no evidence that Adam and Eve were anything but the ancestors of all humanity. Now who their sons married (presumably their sisters) is a matter of theological dispute, but there’s simply no evidence that Adam was contemporaneous with thousands of other people who were created at the same time.  There’s nothing in Genesis to support Flynn’s claim that the children of Adam and Eve found mates among the “sons of men,” if those “sons” were anything other than Adam and Eve’s own spawn.  Both men are relying here not on the Bible, but on some “traditional doctrine” that that there were originally more than two created humans.
Well, there are lots of differing “traditional doctrines” (many of which affirm the literal truth of Genesis), and this version is an attempt to evade the blatant fictionality of the Genesis story by claiming that the book doesn’t say what it seems to say i.e., that it’s all a metaphor.  And to save the story, the theologians show another characteristic feature: they simply make stuff up.  In this case, both Shea and Flynn fabricate a huge population of humans, not directly related to Adam and Eve but living at the same time. There’s not a shred of evidence for that anywhere in the Bible.  It’s theology again, confecting stories to preserve its central message from the ravages of scientific fact.
But enough of that.  Beyond this kind of religious logic-chopping lies an attitude deeply disturbing to anyone who cares about reason. Here’s what Shea says about the Catholic Cathechism (its words are in italics):

As the Catechism itself says:390 The account of the fall in Genesis 3 uses figurative language, but affirms a primeval event, a deed that took place at the beginning of the history of man. Revelation gives us the certainty of faith that the whole of human history is marked by the original fault freely committed by our first parents.

How can Genesis use figurative language, but still affirm a primeval event? It can do it because mythic language is precisely the best way to affirm such an event, an upheaval that inflicted incalculable spiritual damage to the whole of the human race.

Translation: lies are the best way to affirm a truth. Flynn goes on in the same vein, but makes another statement that reminds me of John Haught’s assertion that a video camera recording the Resurrection wouldn’t have shown anything:

Genesis’ account of the fall does the same sort of thing. It uses figurative language to describe a real event which took place here in the real world, not in cloud cuckoo land: Our First Parents abused their free will, sinned against God and fell. The mythic language is truer language than newspaper language, because it brings us to the heart of what happened, which is far more important than a photographic record of what happened. A video of the first man committing the first sin would show us nothing, for the same reason that video of, say, a young Adolf Hitler sitting in a Vienna cafe and looking at an old Jew sipping his coffee would not reveal the momentous moment he turned from thinking, “Is this a Jew?” to thinking “Is this a German?” Traces of when sin, hate and evil are conceived in the heart cannot be detected in fossilized skulls.

Note carefully what Shea is claiming here: that an idle thought by one man (who, unlike Hitler, didn’t do anything!) doomed all humanity to a condition of sinfulness, only to be redeemed by the bloody death of an apocalyptic preacher. How can any rational person buy a story like that?

And if the language is figurative (and there’s no indication that it is: Shea simply realizes that the story wrong in light of modern science), how does he know the event is real?  Making miracles not only one-offs, but one-offs that can’t even be seen when they happen, puts the whole theological enterprise beyond the pale.  That means that there’s no way of knowing that miracles happened even if you were there.   This insulates all miracles from empirical demonstration, which of course means that we can no longer make people saints, and endeavor that depends on two verified miracles. 
Here’s another assertion by Shea in which he simply makes stuff up to save the central doctrine of Christianity:
Adam’s first sin was likewise probably invisible to the naked eye—the mere thought “No” directed at God or his own conscience would be sufficient. For all we know, it might literally have consisted of something as seemingly trivial as stealing a bit of fruit. But it was enough. It sent out shock waves in the heavens and down through human history. But the sciences can have nothing, yay or nay, to say about it.
The appropriate response is that of Delos McKown:  “The invisible and the nonexistent look very much alike.”

Finally, Shea touts the endless resourcefulness of Catholic theology:

Bottom line: There really are resources in the Catholic tradition for digesting this fascinating (but not, I think, anywhere near insuperable) challenge to the popular understanding of human origins and human sinfulness. The Church is in the very early stages of mulling over this matter and I am no prophet, but I suspect that, in a century or two, once the Church has finished puzzling out this matter, she will come down somewhere in the neighborhood of the territory Flynn (and others) are pioneering (though, of course, the science may be very different by then and scientists may, ahem, have come to incorporate or grasp insights to which it is presently blind due to its ignorance of St. Thomas and Catholic theology). Dr. Coyne’s approach is, alas, an example of that problem, but I will draw a discreet veil over that and simply point out that the rumors of the death of Catholic theology are greatly exaggerated.

Yes, we scientists (and rationalists) are severely disadvantaged in comparison to “Catholic tradition” and its theologians. We aren’t allowed to make up untestable stories to buttress our preconceptions, especially when they’re proven wrong.  There is nothing—no evidence in the world—that would make these folks finally admit that the Adam and Eve story and its tale of Original Sin, is a simple human fabrication.  They can always dig deeper into their goody bag of post hoc rationalizations.

345 Comments

  1. J.J.E.
    Posted September 16, 2011 at 8:10 am | Permalink

    Wow, the naked sophistry burns.

  2. Frank
    Posted September 16, 2011 at 8:12 am | Permalink

    Professor Coyne has hit upon the central point: Rationalizations about a literal Adam and Eve are varied and tiresome, but they illustrate that, in religion, you are free to make stuff up. Moreover, from my interactions with students, I have noted that religious apologists MAKE STUFF UP RIGHT ON THE SPOT. (In one case, this happened just after a student told me that her religion is based on eternal truths!). Isn’t it curious that, before modern science, no one made up these silly and indefensible rationalizations about what happened in Adam and Eve’s generation.

    • Posted September 16, 2011 at 8:46 am | Permalink

      Of course, the metaphor for “make stuff up” is right here in this apologist’s reply:

      Revelation gives us the certainty of faith that the whole of human history is marked by the original fault freely committed by our first parents.

      If neuroscience shows that our unconscious brain can decide something 10 seconds before we are aware of it, it doesn’t seem that much more of a leap to say that “revelation” is something that our unconscious mind made up seconds before we were aware of it; and this delay in awareness is why “revelation” seems to come from “somewhere else”.

      • Ye Olde Statistician
        Posted September 16, 2011 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

        Of course, it doesn’t show that. It shows that a part of the brain lights up on an fMRI shortly before the student says he decided to make a muscular motion. The difficulty is conflating empirical material facts (brain lights up on fMRI) with a metaphysical interpretation (moment of decision). Other scientists have pointed out that this equation is not justified and amounts to assuming that which was supposed to be proved. Some other researchers got similar MRI results on a dead salmon, so one must be ever cautious when drawing metaphysical conclusions from physical facts.

        • satan augustine
          Posted September 17, 2011 at 4:35 am | Permalink

          The dead salmon story sounds like a myth.

          • Ye Olde Statistician
            Posted September 17, 2011 at 9:54 am | Permalink

            http://prefrontal.org/files/posters/Bennett-Salmon-2009.pdf

            It is an argument for better correlation and for better process control of measurement systems. Scientists are often careless in this regard, and take the output of a measurement system as akin to an oracle, without pondering the capabilities of the instrument and the humans who operate it. Better QC! sez I.

            • ritebrother
              Posted September 17, 2011 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

              It is quite clear that you have no idea what scientists do. Nice try, though.

    • Gene Callahan
      Posted October 4, 2011 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

      “Isn’t it curious that, before modern science, no one made up these silly and indefensible rationalizations about what happened in Adam and Eve’s generation.”

      Lie. Church Fathers were noting that parts of the Bible had to be interpreted figuratively or allegorically in the first couple of centuries after Christ lived.

  3. Posted September 16, 2011 at 8:20 am | Permalink

    I get it…if it is a “religious” text, then the rules of perjury don’t apply. The words mean whatever you want them to mean. :)

  4. Jer
    Posted September 16, 2011 at 8:30 am | Permalink

    There is nothing—no evidence in the world—that would make these folks finally admit that the Adam and Eve story,

    Actually this is apparently not the case – this battle has already been won with Shea and you’ve quoted where he concedes that it’s just a story and not an account of a real event:

    “Adam’s first sin was likewise probably invisible to the naked eye—the mere thought “No” directed at God or his own conscience would be sufficient.”

    Translation: The story of Genesis is a metaphor, not something that really happened. Full-on punt.

    The waffle occurs because he wants to make it a metaphor that describes some other singular event that “really happened”. Give him some time – eventually it will be “Adam as a metaphor for humanity turning its back on God” – which, in fact, is probably why the original redactors of the Bible included the story in the compilation (they recognized Adam as a metaphor for Judea turning its back on God and being exiled from the Promised Land because of it).

    • whyevolutionistrue
      Posted September 16, 2011 at 8:35 am | Permalink

      Sorry, what I meant is that they must admit that there was some metaphorical meaning of that story based on some real incident a long time ago. What that incident was is the subject of debate, but if there was NO INCIDENT, then there’s no original sin. Now some liberal theologians dismiss the whole story, but that’s not who I’m talking about here. I’ve changed my language a bit based on your comment to clarify that. Thanks!

  5. Kevin
    Posted September 16, 2011 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    Shorter interaction:

    Coyne: It’s a fairy story.

    Shea: Is NOT! (stamps foot and whines like little kid being told Santa isn’t real.)

    When are theists going to grow up?

  6. Martin
    Posted September 16, 2011 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    “…in a century or two, once the Church has finished puzzling out this matter,”

    If the Church is even around in a century or two! Its claims to morality and explanations for human origins have long since become laughable, and as Catholics have to resort to increasingly absurd word twisting to justify their beliefs, the Church’s grasp on society can only continue to lessen – no matter what its theologians make up.

    Of course, the truth of Catholicism hasn’t been revealed to me, so with no evidence for their god, Jesus, or the dried-up or expired supply of miracles we read about in the Bible (not that I could see them anyway, apparently), I’m forced to rely on naturalistic explanations for the world I live in. Which can be a complicated and slow process, but at least it gets me closer to understanding reality than anything these clowns have come up with.

    • Diane G.
      Posted September 16, 2011 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

      I anything’s around in a century or two, my money’s on the RCC.

      • Diane G.
        Posted September 16, 2011 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

        If…

      • Hempenstein
        Posted September 16, 2011 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

        I’m not so pessimistic. If they lose a modest 10% per generation, which I think is more than realistic and you take 200y = 10gen, then their population in percentages of the total will only be ~1/3 the total – a very weakened state.

        It may also be of some comfort to remember Max Planck’s comment in re colleagues that cling to the scientific views of their earlier years: “Science progresses funeral by funeral.”

    • Marella
      Posted September 16, 2011 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

      I fear you may be right, but I do at least hope that it will be a tiny shrunken remnant of its past glory.

    • colluvial
      Posted September 17, 2011 at 10:06 am | Permalink

      My, oh, my! What a disadvantage those unlucky Catholics have to struggle against! Trying to puzzle out the mysteries of the universe by agonized contemplation of a dusty old book. And to think, it used to be so easy before science! Now it takes them a century or two to answer a question.

      • Ye Olde Statistician
        Posted September 17, 2011 at 11:25 am | Permalink

        Trying to puzzle out the mysteries of the universe by agonized contemplation of a dusty old book.

        Category error. By ‘mysteries of the universe’ do you mean ‘mysteries of the physical universe’?

        Augustine of Hippo
        In the Gospel we do not read that the Lord said: ‘I send you the Holy Spirit so that He might teach you all about the course of the sun and the moon.’ The Lord wanted to make Christians, not astronomers. You learn at school all the useful things you need to know about nature.
        — Contra Faustum manichaeum

        + + +
        And to think, it used to be so easy before science! Now it takes them a century or two to answer a question.

        Unlike science, which answered the problem of gravity thousands of years ago; I mean 700 years ago; I mean 300 years ago; I mean 100 years ago. Consider that they are not trying to answer the same questions.

        • Posted September 19, 2011 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

          Category error. By ‘mysteries of the universe’ do you mean ‘mysteries of the physical universe’?

          It doesn’t matter, because the Bible solves very few mysteries about anything (other than itself, like any book). Jesus has a few good moral insights, all of which are overshadowed by the bloodthirst and wrath of both Yahweh and himself.

          In the Gospel we do not read that the Lord said: ‘I send you the Holy Spirit so that He might teach you all about the course of the sun and the moon.’

          That’s irrelevant, because it remains the case that a literal reading of the Bible contradicts science (not just stays quiet about it), and in just the ways we would expect of humans living at the time. If the absence of a statement along the lines of “the Holy Spirit’s purpose is to teach you celestial mechanics” is enough to excuse the outright contradiction of science, then so too are sentences like “that was not intended to be a factual statement” all-purpose excuses.

          The story of Genesis is simultaneously a moral fable and an etiological myth. The ways in which it fails on both counts are important in the evaluation of the Bible and Christianity as a whole.

          Unlike science, which answered the problem of gravity thousands of years ago; I mean 700 years ago; I mean 300 years ago; I mean 100 years ago.

          Science doesn’t claim the advantage of recieving revelation from a perfect messenger. Also, the varioius models of gravity don’t contradict one another nearly so much as various interpretations of Biblical stories; later ones tend to include earlier ones as special cases with little refinement, whereas later Biblical interpretations often throw out the old ideas (almost) in toto.

      • Posted September 19, 2011 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

        italic fix?

  7. Dr. I. Needtob Athe
    Posted September 16, 2011 at 8:49 am | Permalink

    A Creaking and Ugly Edifice

    “In practice, people are very reluctant to give up a theory in which they have invested a lot of time. They usually start by questioning the accuracy of the observations. If that fails, they try to modify the theory in an ad hoc manner. Eventually the theory becomes a creaking and ugly edifice. Then someone suggests a new theory in which all the awkward observations are explained in an elegant and natural manner” — Stephen Hawking, Black Holes and Baby Universes and other Essays

  8. Posted September 16, 2011 at 8:59 am | Permalink

    A: “There is one man from whom all humans are descended”

    B: “All humans are descended from [only] one man.”

    These statements are equivalent. Only that one is in passive voice and one is in active voice. The “only” there is a red herring since it can be added to the first sentence without distrupting it. And can be subtracted from the second sentence just the same.

    Active voice: The man must have eaten five hamburgers

    Passive voice: Five hamburgers must have been eaten by the man

    • H.H.
      Posted September 16, 2011 at 9:15 am | Permalink

      Nice catch.

    • Dr. I. Needtob Athe
      Posted September 16, 2011 at 10:05 am | Permalink

      No, the two are not equivalent.

      I can say “There is one man from whom all of my children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren are descended”, which, of course, refers to me.

      However, I cannot say “All of my children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren are descended from [only] one man”, since they each have two parents, four grandparents, eight great grandparents, etc.

      • Posted September 16, 2011 at 10:16 am | Permalink

        The [only] is the only real difference between the two statements. Again, he only inserted the [only] in there to superficially assert that the two sentences were different.

        If you put the [only] in the first sentence, or take it out of the second sentence, they become equal again.

    • Ye Olde Statistician
      Posted September 16, 2011 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

      Try expressing it in modal logic notation and you will easily see the distinction.

      A. There is one man from whom all my first and second cousins are descended; viz, Daniel.

      B. But that does not mean my cousins are all descended only from Daniel. They in fact have other great grandparents; and we don’t always have all the same great-grandparents, other than the one we have in common.

      Please, in your efforts to flee, do not throw basic logic and reason overboard — and then pat your backs over being “logical.”

      I suggest Copi, Symbolic Logic, as a starter, only because it was the text I had in college.

      • ritebrother
        Posted September 17, 2011 at 7:35 am | Permalink

        See thread #20 below. Does that fit the bill (not that I can follow it-I’m a simple biochemist)?

      • ritebrother
        Posted September 17, 2011 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

        Yes, no?

    • Posted September 16, 2011 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

      Aren’t we having this same discussion about Mitochondrial Eve (and/or Y-chromosome Adam)? Naive readers imagine that she was our only female ancestor of that generation, and need to have it explained that she was one of many women, but a logical consequence of the way genetics works – the first common ancestor of all of us. So statement A applies (mutatis mutandis), and not statement B.

      Shea is saying something similar, but (unlike us) Just Making Up all the other ancestors.

      • Posted September 16, 2011 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

        *Flynn is saying…

      • Steve Norley
        Posted September 17, 2011 at 1:34 am | Permalink

        Wouldn’t that be ‘last common ancestor’, or better still ‘most recent common ancestor’?

    • Peter Hoffman
      Posted September 17, 2011 at 7:20 am | Permalink

      I realize that it would bore the average sloppy reader, but it baffles me why the problems of ambiguity in natural language cannot be avoided in important and very precise matters like this.
      That even applies to Jerry Coyne’s reply to the r. catholic bafflegab here, though that is not the main point of his reply of course. He realizes that this point (below) is rather elementary, and hardly needs belabouring.

      But here’s an example of being perfectly precise,
      I think, and avoiding this silly grammatical quibbling.

      (1) Even the dopiest agree:
      All humans have MANY lines backwards in time through ancestors.

      (2) Science has amply demonstrated:
      There is a female human (actually several, and also a male, and also you merely need pure logic and the most basic evolutionary facts if you don’t insist on a human) such that every human has AT LEAST ONE such line passing through her. (In fact, such a line is of course the purely maternal.)

      (3) It is completely obvious historically that christian religion, until recently shown wrong on this, has insisted:
      A female exists (and also her presumably unique sexual mate) such that every human has EVERY line passing through them.

      But people just cannot seem to tolerate the use,
      or at least the proper use, of quantifiers, simply writing down “every” or “at least one”
      whenever there is any chance of ambiguity. Many universities even give degrees in mathematics to people who never learn how to do it.

      Peter

  9. Billybob
    Posted September 16, 2011 at 8:59 am | Permalink

    Jerry

    Supposing there was an Adam and Eve who were part of a population of a few thousand individuals.

    Adam and Eves children would have had to mate with the other humnans and all decendants would carry their genetic information.

    This would show up in the genome?

    • H.H.
      Posted September 16, 2011 at 9:13 am | Permalink

      I think it should. A population bottleneck is a population bottleneck. If all of humanity was descended from two people for whatever reason–even undetectable ensoulment–then that fact should be evident in the genetics.

      If I’m wrong perhaps somebody can correct me.

      • Sajanas
        Posted September 16, 2011 at 10:30 am | Permalink

        Not to mention that it necessarily brings the souls out of their untestable, metaphysical realm, and adds genetics into things. What exactly about Adam’s sperm and Eve’s eggs passes a soul? And is it possible to have a loss of soul mutation? Or a soul duplication event? What about people who absorbed an embryonic twin? Are there varying degrees of ensoulment?

        It rapidly becomes angels on the head of a pin, but at the same time, its foolish to imagine a biological mechanism for spreading it without looking further into its implications.

      • Posted September 16, 2011 at 11:08 am | Permalink

        I maybe mis-remembering, but isn’t the point that the one man from whom all humans are descended (“Y Adam”) and the one woman from whom all humans are descended (“mitochondrial Eve”) lived (tens of?) thousands of years apart?

        /@

        • Ye Olde Statistician
          Posted September 16, 2011 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

          These are not necessarily the subjects of the mythos.

          And note that simply because all living humans are descended from one individual (Y-chromo Adam) does not mean that there was only one man alive at the time of this individual.

          • Ichthyic
            Posted September 16, 2011 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

            And note that simply because all living humans are descended from one individual

            that’s not what y-chromose inheritance implies.

            I don’t think you understand how this works.

            suggest you read the Ancestor’s tale.

            It’s a great read.

        • Lotharloo
          Posted September 16, 2011 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

          But the “Y Adam” and “mitochondrial Eve” did not live at the same time. That is also enough to destroy the Adam & Eve story.

          • Ye Olde Statistician
            Posted September 16, 2011 at 8:39 pm | Permalink

            Only if one supposed that these were the Adam and Eve of the myth. But the church only said that all men are descended from Adam, not that they are only descended in the male line. (Or from Eve only in the female line.)

            What these Chromo-Adam and Mito-Eve do demonstrate is that it is possible for all humans to be descended from one man (or from one woman) without claiming that there was only one man or only one woman. In the eras in which those two lived, surely there was more than one human being! Yet, there is no problem accepting them. There are similar sub-populations who trace their descent from a single woman somewhat later than Mito-Eve. In Europe, there are seven such women, who lived at seven different times, who were clade-mothers to entire current sub-populations. And these are through strict female descent, with is a tighter requirement than simple descent.

            • satan augustine
              Posted September 17, 2011 at 4:54 am | Permalink

              So are suggesting that there is evidence that we all descended from one man? I just want you to clarify because that sounds like a ridiculous and unscientific claim.

              • Ye Olde Statistician
                Posted September 17, 2011 at 10:04 am | Permalink

                There is Y-chromosome “Adam,” who is, I believe, a discovery of science. Not only do all humans descend from Yadam, but do so in strict patrilinearity. In your haste to jerk your knee, take care that you do not kick science out the window.

                Yadam is not necessarily the adam [red clay man] of the myth, because the contention is only that all of us have descended from him through a mixture of males or females. So far we don’t have a way to test for that. Mitochondrial DNA is strictly matrilinear: it would never prove that I am descended from my great grandmother Matilda. Y-chromosome is strictly patrilinear and would never prove that I am descended from my great grandfather Anthony. Mito will show I am descended from ggmother Frances; and Y will show I am descended from ggfather Daniel, but all the other ggparents are invisible to either method.

        • Posted September 17, 2011 at 6:25 am | Permalink

          Ah, yes! Here it is: Adam and Eve: the ultimate standoff between science and faith (and a contest!) (2 June 2011):

          Mitochondrial DNA points to the genes in that organelle tracing back to a single female ancestor who lived about 140,000 years ago, but that genes on the Y chromosome trace back to one male who lived about 60,000-90,000 years ago. Further, the bulk of genes in the nucleus all trace back to different times—as far back as two million years. This shows not only that any “Adam” and “Eve” (in the sense of mitochondrial and Y-chromosome DNA alone) must have lived thousands of years apart, but also that there simply could not have been two individuals who provided the entire genetic ancestry of modern humans. Each of our genes “coalesces” back to a different ancestor, showing that, as expected, our genetic legacy comes from many different individuals. It does not go back to just two individuals, regardless of when they lived.

          These are the scientific facts. And, unlike the case of Jesus’s virgin birth and resurrection, we can dismiss a physical Adam and Eve with near scientific certainty.

          [my emphasis]

          Of course Y-chromosome Adam and mitochondrial Eve aren’t the subjects of the mythos. (That’s really the point!) Of course this doesn’t mean there was only one man alive at the time of this individual. No one is claiming that there was only one man or only one woman.

          But what genetics shows is that there is no couple, no Adam-and-Eve, no “First Parents” [Shea], alone (sola scriptura) or among many “children of men” (“figurative” hermeneutics), from whom we are all descended, and who “abused their free will, sinned against God and fell” [Shea].

          Thus, no Fall.

          Thus… no need for Jesus to be our “Saviour” or “Redeemer”. As Stephen Fry might have said to Him: “What are You for?”

          /@

  10. Posted September 16, 2011 at 9:03 am | Permalink

    Thanks for posting this. Very good. I read the original column and some of the comments and am dumbfounded by the confirmation bias therein. It seems that the author and his followers need to blind themselves to their illegitimate move to embrace speculation (e.g. figurative language) as fact. His illustration of the Old Testament story fails to understand that parable as a lesson can only work when a being’s behavior and relationships correspond to the observable world. The silliness is extreme. I do agree with one of their assertions, Catholic theology will abide because of people who need emotional commitments that don’t afford falsification.

  11. Jonathan Smith
    Posted September 16, 2011 at 9:08 am | Permalink

    “Flynn’s main claim is that there could have been thousands of humans at the time of Adam, but only two of them were chosen by God to be humanity’s ancestors:”

    Evidence for this claim either scientific or theological??????? This is just a personal opinion which is no more worthy than mine,yours, or my pizza delivery guy.

    • Posted September 16, 2011 at 9:13 am | Permalink

      Oh, well, theologians are a funny breed. They have to fill in all the holes, and it really doesn’t seem to matter, a lot of the time, what they fill them with.

      • Posted September 16, 2011 at 9:44 am | Permalink

        It seems like a common cognitive blindness where speculation replaces data.

      • Posted September 16, 2011 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

        Reminds me that universal gap-filler, commonly used by shonky car repairers, is known around here as “bog”.

      • colluvial
        Posted September 17, 2011 at 10:22 am | Permalink

        Reminds me of looking for your lost keys by sitting around thinking about where you might have left them but never actually looking for them. And then when you’ve imagined their most likely location, you declare the problem solved. Still no keys though.

    • Ye Olde Statistician
      Posted September 16, 2011 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

      http://www.nd.edu/~afreddos/papers/kemp-monogenism.pdf

      • Ichthyic
        Posted September 16, 2011 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

        so, your answer to the question:

        Evidence for this claim either scientific or theological?

        is that it is indeed theological, thus, not evidentiary.

        as to it being “old”, even the paper you cite suggests the idea only goes back to the mid 60’s or so:

        This paper replies to that objection, developing a distinction
        between biological and theological species first proposed by Andrew Alexander
        in 1964

        IOW, when the original poster concludes:

        “This is just a personal opinion which is no more worthy than mine,yours, or my pizza delivery guy.”

        they are absolutely correct.

        Theology is entirely vacuous.

  12. Rumtopf
    Posted September 16, 2011 at 9:09 am | Permalink

    If anything(and continuing to ignore the science), that explanation just raises more questions. How can he be satisfied with this dribble?

  13. Posted September 16, 2011 at 9:12 am | Permalink

    This Adam and Eve gig gets more ridiculous by the minute. It started last year (was it?) with Biologos. And remember how stridently Denis Alexander responded to criticism! But then it was taken up by Mohler, and now it’s even gone further. Now Catholics are worried — and for all the apparent confidence expressed by Shea, he’s worried. Trying to minimise the original event. It could just have been a passing thought “No!” which thereafter echoed through the centuries. But this is simply silly. It had to be an almost infinitely significant event. After all, humans are finite. Just asking questions or having doubts wouldn’t be enough. There would have had to be something which, like Babel, reached to heaven, in order to justify, not only the horrendous punishments that await human beings without redemption, but the more incredible thing, that God should himself come to earth and suffer and die for the sins of humanity, all of which are summed up in Adam’s first sin.

    There is no way to make this work, even without the problems of evolution. There is no way that this can work, which is why the doctrine of the atonement in Christianity has never taken a definitive form. It’s an open doctrine. No one really knows what is supposed to be meant by it. No one. Not even the pope! It is a mystery. So, of course, to say anything about it, you have to make stuff up. And theologians have been doing this for years. Anselm’s Cur Deus Homo (Why did God become man?) tried to answer the question, not altogether to everyone’s satisfaction, and there have been plenty of others, some of which wouldn’t actually depend on Adam’s sin. But nothing can explain (i) the horrible punishments promised; (ii) why it took the incarnation of God to settle the question. It might be explicable if in fact human’s were actually like gods, and had infinite or almost infinite powers of knowledge and will. Then one could understand. But we’re not. We’re finite, and we make mistakes all the time. So, it’s simply impossible to raise Adam’s — or anyone else’s — sin to a sufficiently serious level to work the kind of harm it has to in order to explain the two things above.

    But, at any rate, we’ve got ‘em on the run!

    • Posted September 16, 2011 at 9:50 am | Permalink

      I wonder if the Thomists who quote Aquinas as a definitive thinker, relative to humanity, ever apply their imagination to the reverence they have for his intellect, and wonder how the good Saint’s conclusions would have been different if he had access to modern scientific data (e.g. genetics)? There seems to be an inherent bias to their premise that they ignore in saluting St. Thomas’s philosophy, tied to the assumption of some sort of perfect interpretation of the natural world, predicated on medieval science alone.

      • Ye Olde Statistician
        Posted September 16, 2011 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

        Aquinas referred to “semen” rather than to “genes,” but otherwise pretty much explained the genetic argument:
        http://www.newadvent.org/summa/2081.htm#article3

        If we imagine that the origin of sin (i.e., original sin) is due to some “selfish gene” we may be on to something.

        • Posted September 16, 2011 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

          If you’re going to refer to Dawkins, you would do well to refer to the content of the book and not the cover.

          The book is about the gene-centric perspective of the Theory of Evolution by Random Mutation and Natural Selection.

          There is, as of yet, no known or hypothesized gene for selfishness.

          And that’s ignoring entirely the question of why one should take seriously an “argument” that attempts to “harmonize” with observed reality a story about an enchanted garden infested with talking animals and an angry giant.

          Just for shits and giggles, what’s your “sophisticated” theology have to say about talking animals? Was Eve a Parselmouth? If so, what happened to that gene? Why would something as useful as that disappear when something as horrifically deleterious as a capacity for evil not only be preserved but spread like wildfire?

          Seriously, does it even occur to you to think even one step beyond what your handlers feed you? Or to read even as far as the introduction of a book written in the past century?

          Cheers,

          b&

          • Ichthyic
            Posted September 16, 2011 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

            Seriously, does it even occur to you to think even one step beyond what your handlers feed you?

            his posting history here suggests… not.

            but he does use real purty language oft-times to cover the stench of the underlying laziness of thought.

            you can ascribe all of Ye moldy Statboy’s posts to “Courtier’s Reply”, and have done with it.

    • Posted September 16, 2011 at 10:18 am | Permalink

      What really irks me about how apologists function is that, if it were indeed shown that all of humanity descended from one couple, then they would be the first to assert that it is not all metaphor but literal truth.

      This is why intellectually honest people write down their positions first before examining the evidence, so that if their explanation is shown to not fit the evidence, they don’t have the wiggle room to claim metaphor.

      • Ye Olde Statistician
        Posted September 16, 2011 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

        The truth of the myth – myth in the anthropological sense, not the tendentious internet sense – is that all human beings, not matter what color, shape, or peculiarity, belong to one species and are to be treated the same way.

        It is also asked whether we are to believe that certain monstrous races of men, spoken of in secular history, have sprung …from that one man from whom they themselves were descended. For it is reported that some have one eye in the middle of the forehead; some, feet turned backwards from the heel; some, a double sex…; others are said to have no mouth, and to breathe only through the nostrils; others are but a cubit high, and are therefore called by the Greeks “Pigmies:” … So, too, they tell of a race who have two feet but only one leg… Others are said to have no head, and their eyes in their shoulders; and other human or quasi-human races are depicted in mosaic in the harbor esplanade of Carthage… But we are not bound to believe all we hear of these monstrosities. But whoever is anywhere born a man, that is, a rational, mortal animal, no matter what unusual appearance he presents in color, movement, sound, nor how peculiar he is in some power, part, or quality of his nature, no Christian can doubt that he springs from that one protoplast.
        — Augustine, 5th cent. City of God, Chap. 16, Book 8

        Dang theist!

        • satan augustine
          Posted September 17, 2011 at 5:25 am | Permalink

          So you’re interpreting the passage you quoted as an egalitarian statement? You credit Augustine (no relation) with the idea of the equality of all men? (Not women of course because this is Catholicism).

          If this is true then why hasn’t the church followed through on this? Why do they continue to show themselves as some of the most abominable bigots imaginable?

          Perhaps you could help me with interpreting this quote from Augustine:

          “There are some who can at will, and without any odour, produce a variety of sounds from their anus that they seem to be singing in that part.”
          – Augustine. City of God Against the Pagans, Book 14, chapter 25

          Thanks in advance!

          • Ye Olde Statistician
            Posted September 17, 2011 at 10:33 am | Permalink

            So you’re interpreting the passage you quoted as an egalitarian statement?

            Even if ET showed up, if he was possessed the powers of reason and volition, he would be a metaphysical human.

            You credit Augustine (no relation) with the idea of the equality of all men?

            No, it was St. Paul who wrote that in Christ there is no slave or free, no Jew or Greek, no man or woman, but all are equal. This notion gradually dissolved the old Greek (and Roman) culture, which had regarded barbarians as literally another species, capable only of barking.

            Not women of course because this is Catholicism.

            During the Victorian Age, the Church was always accused of being too feminine. Oh, well. Whatever the world is at the moment, it sees the Church as is-not.

            But perhaps we can ask the BVM, whom the Protestants derided so much, about the status of women in Latin Christendom. Or maybe even Felicity, Perpetua, Agatha, Lucy, Agnes, Cecilia, Anastasia, Abbess Petronilla of the dual-abbey at Fontevrault, Abbess Héloïse of the Abbey of the Paraclete, Gertrude of Helfta, Doctor of Theology; Canoness Hroswitha, “clamor validus Gandeishermensis”; Abbess Herrad of Lansberg; Hildegarde of Bingen, “the Sybil of the Rhine.” Maybe you could ask Eleanor of Aquitaine or Blanche of Castile, or Margaret, “the Ugly Duchess of Tyrol.”

            No wait. I know. You can read Regine Pernoud’s book Women in the Days of the Cathedrals about the liberation of women from Roman society.

            + + +
            Perhaps you could help me with interpreting this quote from Augustine:

            “There are some who can at will, and without any odour, produce a variety of sounds from their anus that they seem to be singing in that part.”
            – Augustine. City of God Against the Pagans, Book 14, chapter 25

            Can’t help you, as it appears to be a bogus citation. Book XIV is here: http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/120114.htm
            and you can scroll down to chapter 25.

            Perhaps you should check your copy of City of God. (Please tell me you did not pick this up on some web site with proof-texts passed around like a bad head cold.)

            • Posted September 20, 2011 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

              Not women of course because this is Catholicism.

              During the Victorian Age, the Church was always accused of being too feminine.

              That accusation is completely different than calling the church too sex-egalitarian. Even if “the church” was somehow “too feminine”, not a single one of its leaders, from pope to priest, was female, and incredibly, that exact situation somehow persists to this day. And it’s not just a matter of the various electors being sexist men but the rules themselves limiting power to men. All in spite of your wonderful, impressive list of important female Catholics.

    • Ichthyic
      Posted September 16, 2011 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

      There is no way that this can work, which is why the doctrine of the atonement in Christianity has never taken a definitive form. It’s an open doctrine. No one really knows what is supposed to be meant by it. No one. Not even the pope! It is a mystery. So, of course, to say anything about it, you have to make stuff up. And theologians have been doing this for years.

      hmmm.

      let’s see…

      Doctrine of Atonement open ended; nobody is sure which works will get you forgiven for original sin and get you into heaven (though some interpretations of the Talmud would say otherwise).

      so what to do?

      I know!

      We’ll make up a story where God himself sacrifices for us to forgive it all at once, and that if you just believe this story, all will be forgiven.

      We’ll have to start a sect separate from orthodox Judaism to foment this story…

      what should we call it, I wonder….

      • Ichthyic
        Posted September 16, 2011 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

        …CHRISTIANITY!

        woo hoo!

        *Jazz Hands*

        seriously, the idea that you can make shit up to cover your theological ass goes back as long as humans have been, well, making shit up!

  14. moochava
    Posted September 16, 2011 at 9:18 am | Permalink

    I’m interested in where the metaphor stops. At this point, do we have a metaphorical Adam metaphorically sinning, metaphorically damning humanity to a metaphorical hell unless saved by the metaphorical crucifiction of a metaphorical Jesus, son of a metaphorical God?

    Or does Shea want to insist, still, on a literal God? He really *ought* to, as a Catholic, right?

    Or (says my inner cynic) does he insist on a literal God when speaking to the faithful, but play these shell games when called to the carpet?

    • Posted September 16, 2011 at 9:52 am | Permalink

      You articulate my problem with all of this. They move speculation to actuality without ever justifying why anyone other than their preferred in-group should agree to their form of speculation. And seeing as how different Christians define the actual from their speculation different from each other, it seems that it takes more than believing Jesus is the Son of God, to clarify the actual origins of humanity.

  15. Posted September 16, 2011 at 9:24 am | Permalink

    Two characteristics of theology:
    (1) It is infinitely malleable;
    (2) It doesn’t like to admit mistakes, so just covers over problems by adding new theology.

    It looks to me as if religion is a bit worried. They see posts on the Internet, pointing out how ridiculous is their theology. And they know that they cannot prevent people from accessing the Internet.

    The edifice is showing signs of crumbling.

    • Posted September 16, 2011 at 9:53 am | Permalink

      You forgot the third step.

      3) When pressed, shame your interlocutor as prideful

      • Posted September 16, 2011 at 9:59 am | Permalink

        4) Profit?

        • Posted September 16, 2011 at 10:25 am | Permalink

          5) Lobby Government to secure your power interests

          • Diane G.
            Posted September 16, 2011 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

            Blackmail government. Do thus or we’ll tell our sheep to vote the other way.

    • Ichthyic
      Posted September 16, 2011 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

      It looks to me as if religion is a bit worried. They see posts on the Internet, pointing out how ridiculous is their theology. And they know that they cannot prevent people from accessing the Internet.

      well, if they were really worried about it, all they would have to do is see how the majority of Americans are now completely unconcerned about global warming, and that many don’t believe in that, to see that it’s easy enough to twist the message to convince people TO believe.

      naww, it’s the simplistic fictional stories that play to people’s long held preconceptions that will inevitably hold sway.

      It’s like the old saying says:

      Freedom takes constant vigilance.

      Likewise, keeping people on track to conclusions that violate their simplistic preconceptions takes constant effort.

      Any backsliding at all will result in a rubber band effect all the way back to square one.

      • Ichthyic
        Posted September 16, 2011 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

        where square one ~= dark ages.

      • Posted September 16, 2011 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

        Fucking rubber bands! How do they work?

        /@

        • Ichthyic
          Posted September 16, 2011 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

          same way as magnets, of course.
          ;)

          • Ichthyic
            Posted September 16, 2011 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

            IOW:

            I don’t know what the answer is currently, you’ll have to ask your local pastor/shaman, as surely the answer lies in the bible or equivalent religious dogma, and they will know what this week’s interpretation of that is.

            • Posted September 16, 2011 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

              Or, wait a century or two, and Shea will have an answer for you.

          • Posted September 16, 2011 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

            Exactly so!

            /@

  16. Posted September 16, 2011 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    They want us to believe all kind of religious gobbledygook based on just stating that it’s a fact. Yet if they don’t see something evolve right in front of them they won’t believe it. You just can’t win when they make up and change the rules on a whim.

    • Jacob van Beverningk
      Posted September 16, 2011 at 11:09 am | Permalink

      ” .. based on just stating that it’s a fact.”

      It’s amazing how fast and loose they sometimes play, in their efforts to backup their claims!

      Yesterday I came across this gem (on a website that PZ, for other reasons, pointed at), where a guy was pushing his own theological hypothesis. He encourages his readers to apply THIS ‘test’ to his hypothesis:

      “The only requirement for testing this hypothesis is simply accepting the assumption.”

      *blink*
      Isn’t that just plain brilliant? ;-)

      (See: http://thecreationmuseum.org/Hypothesis.htm .. in the paragraph that, ironically, starts with ‘Simple minded people ..’)

  17. Posted September 16, 2011 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    My favorite part is where Shea waxes poetic on the Fall as “an upheaval that inflicted incalculable spiritual damage to the whole of the human race.”

    The whole nasty business could have been avoided if Father-God had simply locked up his precious tree where the kids couldn’t get to it.

    In most courts, God would be convicted of negligence.

    • Sajanas
      Posted September 16, 2011 at 10:36 am | Permalink

      Or made a Pile of Crap of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Or not had a talking evil snake.

      Come to think of it, if that snake was the Devil, why is it that humanity is punished. Basically God put two new creations up against some ageless supernatural being, and was pissed off that they failed to defeat him with their slightly retarded pre-knowledge brains. Its like blaming children for being raped by a priest… you can’t expect innocents to be able to protect themselves from a predator, and you certainly shouldn’t excuse those who didn’t put adequate protections in place.

    • Posted September 16, 2011 at 11:18 am | Permalink

      What’s the phrase in US law, “an attractive nuisance”?

      /@

  18. Posted September 16, 2011 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    If sin is thoughtcrime, then Jesus is Big Brother.

    As evil as Hitler was, prosecuting even him for thoughtcrime is even more evil still.

    If I were to believe Shea’s claims of Jesus, I would have no choice but to support his immediate arrest on charges of conspiracy to commit crimes against humanity by giving aid and comfort to one Jesus of Nazareth.

    Cheers,

    b&

  19. Insightful Ape
    Posted September 16, 2011 at 10:03 am | Permalink

    Wait a second. I’m not sure I’m getting this right. But it seems to me, in order to “uncouple” A from B, he is suggesting that there were thousands of human beings around, yet they all mated with children of Adam and Eve. What is more, none of them left behind any descendants that were not related to such matings. Are we to imagine men and women alike were lining up in their thousands, waiting for their chance to hook up with the children of this couple? And all their other children somehow died?
    Not to mention that this claim is also contradicted by genetic evidence.
    How else could A be true without B?
    These people have extraordinary and dirty imaginations, that’s for sure.

    • Sastra
      Posted September 16, 2011 at 10:24 am | Permalink

      Not only were there thousands of human beings around at the time of Adam and Eve, but of these thousands apparently none of them — no, not one — had any trace of evil or sin in their heart, and not a single one ever directed the mere thought “No” at God or his own conscience.

      So why didn’t God just let the human race descend from one of these paragons of virtue? Since humanity was so corrupt by the time of Noah that God was forced to drown practically the whole lot of them, those who failed to mate with the descendents of Adam and Eve must have been sterile. I thought God could fix that sort of thing.

      I can’t help having a sneaking suspicion that maybe Mr. Shea hasn’t quite thought this theory through all the way.

      • Posted September 16, 2011 at 10:40 am | Permalink

        He also doesn’t understand his Darwin very well.

        For such a trait to spread universally through the population, it must have a powerful reproductive advantage. For it to do so rapidly, the trait must be dominant and the advantage must be dramatic. Even then I can’t think of a single mutation that’s ever taken hold in a population the way Adam’s sin is said to have.

        So, what’s the advantage conferred by the sin gene?

        Personally, I would have expected such a mutation to have died out after no more than a few generations.

        Worse, many Christians assert that evil not of human causing entered the world through Adam’s sin. What’s the gene for hurricanes and earthquakes?

        Cheers,

        b&

        • Sajanas
          Posted September 16, 2011 at 10:54 am | Permalink

          I think you’ve hit upon my big problem with the Adam and Eve story… it lauds ignorance and credulity. A&E were perfect when they were stupid, but gaining knowledge made them imperfect and unable be in paradise. But what would humans be if we weren’t clever? Even apes are clever in their own way… I think its the defining characteristic of our whole extended family of species. Accepting that story necessitates self loathing directed at our very best traits, and I find it despicable.

        • Kevin
          Posted September 16, 2011 at 11:26 am | Permalink

          …Not if the sin gene were the gene for sex…or orgasms?

          Before A&E, no sex? Or unpleasurable sex. After A&E…whoopee!!!!eleventy!!

          • Posted September 16, 2011 at 11:36 am | Permalink

            So, it’s a multi-porpoise jean with both positive and negative traits? But then how does one explain the existence of other humans without sex, or the absence of orgasm in humans while it’s present in all other mammals (and, at least, many other vertebrates and possibly even more divergent species)?

            b&

    • Adam M.
      Posted September 16, 2011 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

      I remember reading in The Selfish Gene the mind-boggling and fascinating statement that an individual in a population has about an 80% chance of becoming an ancestor to the entire surviving population at some point in the future.

      I think it’s due to the fact that the number of your descendants grows exponentially, up to the limit of the population size (although your individual contribution to each descendant is exponentially diluted).

      So it’s actually the rule rather than the exception that people eventually become ancestors to the whole race. Still doesn’t lend their argument much credibility, though. :-)

      • Ichthyic
        Posted September 16, 2011 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

        I remember reading in The Selfish Gene

        sounds more like Ancestor’s Tale.

        So it’s actually the rule rather than the exception that people eventually become ancestors to the whole race.

        not exactly.

        not ALL person’s genes come from ALL possible ancestors, of course.

        plus, the 80% value assumes a closed population.

        in an open population, you will get contributions from many different ancestors, such that you might be able to trace a single gene (or even allele) back to a single ancestor, but the entire genome of modern humans?

        Good luck with that.

        • Adam M.
          Posted September 16, 2011 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

          You could be right that it was The Ancestor’s Tale. (I often wish I could search through my library for phrases I remember…)

          I did mention, though, that one’s contribution becomes exponentially diluted. I imagine at some point the contribution might be diluted to the point that some people descendants don’t even have a single gene that came all the way down from your direct line, in which you’d be a kind of homeopathic ancestor. ;-)

          I’m curious now, how long that would take…

      • Troy
        Posted September 17, 2011 at 1:00 am | Permalink

        I haven’t read the ancestor’s tale, but that 80% sounds like bullshit to me. In a population of size N, a neutral allele in a specific individual has a 1/N (<<80%) chance of becoming fixed in the long run.

        • Troy
          Posted September 17, 2011 at 1:00 am | Permalink

          Actually 1/2N in diploids.

        • Posted September 20, 2011 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

          It’s about the raw fact of ancestry, not a physical allele. One may argue, “then what’s the point?”, but for most people, accostomed to thinking of ancestry in both linear and exclusive terms, this is a highly surprising fact.

    • Ye Olde Statistician
      Posted September 16, 2011 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

      See above, re “Daniel” to see how A can be true without B?
      + + +
      suggesting that there were thousands of human beings around, yet they all mated with children of Adam and Eve. What is more, none of them left behind any descendants that were not related to such matings.

      Of course, they left descendants. We have the genetic evidence. But the fact that all my cousins are descended from Daniel does not mean there are no descendants left by Matilda, Fernand, Mary, Anthony, Sarah, Francis or Frances or the sundry other great grandparents the cousins have.

      The claim is that eventually all descendants of biological humans acquired the perhaps dominant gene possessed by the original two metaphysical humans. Otherwise we have to believe that the same gene popped up coincidentally in many individuals. There is no genetic mystery in how a dominant gene may spread from an original source until it occupies an entire population. (This is assuming the matter is genetic.)

      • satan augustine
        Posted September 17, 2011 at 5:39 am | Permalink

        Where is the proof that we all descended from a single couple? Hint: It didn’t happen! If you have some evidence though, I’d love to see it.

        Otherwise this is all science-free theological hand-waving.

  20. Bacopa
    Posted September 16, 2011 at 10:14 am | Permalink

    Could barely get past the Flynn citation. Flynn and Shea must not remember their first order predicate logic very well. The distinction between A “There is one man from whom all humans are descended, and B “All humans are descended from only one man” is most certainly not a quantifier shift. I will use Mx = “x is male” and Dxy = “x is a descendant of y”. And to further simplify things let UD = People alive today.

    Here is claim A:

    ∃x∀y(Mx & Dyx)

    Here is the quantifier shifted version of A, Let us call it “A'”:

    ∀x∃y(My & Dxy)

    Byt is A’ the same as B? Not at all! A’ reads “For each of us there is some male from whom we are descended.” A’ is the simple mundane fact that we all have a dad and in no way claims there ever was some male back there from whom we all happen to be descended. A’ is mundane. A is interesting and has recently been shown to be true by genetic analysis and might easily not have been true. But in any case. Flynn blew this by calling a quantifier shift fallacy, and Shea blew it by not recognizing this. They really need to brush up on their symbolic logic and they should have remembered that quantifier shift problems come up mostly when you move from weak claims like A’ to strong claims like A.

    So what is the formula for B? I think it goes something like this:

    ∃x∀y{(Mx & Dyx) & ∀z[(Mz & z≠x) → ~Dyz]}

    But this can’t be right as it implies that I have a father but no grandfathers. No one could possibly claim B as written. So let us use a modal tense operator like P and let UD = People alive at whatever time P happens to be. I know, that’s sloppy but it will have to do. That gives us:

    P ∃x∀y{(Mx & Dyx) & ∀z[(Mz & z≠x) → ~Dyz]}

    Which reads: “at some point in the past there was some one male such that everyone was descended from him and no other male is is such that everyone is descended from him.” Obviously this is not quite what B should express as it allows the possibility that that someone might be descended from himself, and we know Adam was not descended from Adam. I leave it as an exercise for the reader to add the appropriate non-identity statements. I don’t want to post a formula that won’t fit one line

    So as we see B is NOT a quantifier shifted form of A. These people fail symbolic logic forever.

    Crap! Where’s the Preview button? it’s super hard to code this stuff right in HTML without a preview button. But my point stands. There’s a lot going on between A and B that is not a quantifier shift problem

    • Posted September 16, 2011 at 11:22 am | Permalink

      Very impressive… but, sadly, I don’t have enough formal logic to know whether or not you’re right…

      /@

    • Diane G.
      Posted September 16, 2011 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

      What Ant said. Glad you’re on our team, tho. (& the html came out perfectly, AFAICT.)

      • Bacopa
        Posted September 16, 2011 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

        Indeed it did. I write out the formulas longhand on paper, then I use an HTML entities online cheat sheet to get the bits of entities code I need. But without seeing what it’s going to look like ahead of time, it’s easy to make mistakes. I wrote what I intended to write.

        The last two formulas were a bit of a logic wank on my part. I really only needed to establish that there was no quantifier shift going on between A and B. Quantifier shift problems are fairly basic stuff. When you first learn about quantifier shift fallacies in logic classes, the usual example is the First Cause argument.

        BTW, I generally suck at HTML.

  21. Posted September 16, 2011 at 10:14 am | Permalink

    The Church is in the very early stages of mulling over this matter…

    So why didn’t God just tell us?

    Religious people for centuries, of course, thought he did, which is why there’s no evidence that they took Genesis as anything other than completely literal before Darwin came along. The Summa Theologica doesn’t talk about “Adam and Eve and all the hominids they had sex with!” So Aquinas got it wrong; he must have been confused by, you know, what the Bible actually says. If God wanted to teach us something worth knowing, he would have told us all this stuff 2000 years ago. But he didn’t. He told us bullshit. And all Christians have been doing since then is saying “yeah but it could be true if you think of it this way.” Knowledge doesn’t come from wanting something to be true and saying “well the contradictions go away if we do this.” It comes from acknowledging that contradictions show you you were *wrong,* and then believing something less stupid.

    • Posted September 16, 2011 at 10:17 am | Permalink

      I meant to also say: Here‘s a fantastic video showing a few more things God/Jesus would have taught us if he actually gave a crap.

    • DrBrydon
      Posted September 16, 2011 at 11:03 am | Permalink

      We’re lucky this isn’t the Good Old Days, or Jerry might be under house arrest by the Inquisition while the Church mulls it over.

    • Stephen P
      Posted September 16, 2011 at 11:03 am | Permalink

      Yes, that “early stages” was the phrase that leapt out at me. At that point Shea effectively admits it’s all nonsense. If the Catholic God actually exists, then the church has obviously had two millennia to mull over it in communion with its maker. At some level Shea knows it’s all nonsense, but won’t admit it – perhaps not yet even to himself.

      • Ichthyic
        Posted September 16, 2011 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

        At some level Shea knows it’s all nonsense, but won’t admit it – perhaps not yet even to himself.

        that, to me, has always been the real, underlying definition of the word “faith”.

        • Ichthyic
          Posted September 16, 2011 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

          …in this sense, one could probably equate the word faith with denial, and be close enough for government work.

          • Diane G.
            Posted September 17, 2011 at 12:26 am | Permalink

            I was thinking more like, “lying to yourself and getting away with it…” ;)

            • Posted September 17, 2011 at 6:30 am | Permalink

              +1

              Need I quote Feynman?

              /@

            • Posted September 17, 2011 at 11:09 am | Permalink

              Denial is lying to yourself and getting away with it.

    • Dave Hughes
      Posted September 16, 2011 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

      “The Church is in the very early stages of mulling over this matter…”

      Yeah, they’ve barely had two thousand years to get to grips with it. Give’em a break, will ya?

      • Ichthyic
        Posted September 16, 2011 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

        “The Church is in the very early stages of mulling over this matter…”

        what he meant to say was that this iteration of circular logic had yet to incorporate modern terminology.

        same old circular logic, but with shiny new words attached!

  22. Posted September 16, 2011 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    This is why I have been encouraging both you and Jason to drop the “This could not possibly have happened” approach, and instead respond thusly:

    So, the best justification you can give for your beliefs is that it’s not completely impossible (only wildly implausible), and only then it’s possible only if Adam and Eve’s children fucked zombies? Okay then, have fun with that.

    • Posted September 16, 2011 at 10:18 am | Permalink

      I’m trying to think of “zombiefucker!” as an insult… but all I can think is that it sounds badass.

      • Bacopa
        Posted September 16, 2011 at 11:55 am | Permalink

        I’m not even going to try to see if “Rule 34″ applies here. What has been seen cannot be un-seen.

  23. Stephen Turner
    Posted September 16, 2011 at 10:29 am | Permalink

    Mike Flynn may like to know that there’s a memo from Pius XII denying precisely his point
    (of multiple first people).

    37. When, however, there is question of another conjectural opinion,
    namely polygenism, the children of the Church by no means enjoy such
    liberty. For the faithful cannot embrace that opinion which maintains
    that either after Adam there existed on this earth true men who did not
    take their origin through natural generation from him as from the first
    parent of all, or that Adam represents a certain number of first parents.
    Now it is in no way apparent how such an opinion can be reconciled with
    that which the sources of revealed truth and the documents of the
    Teaching Authority of the Church propose with regard to original sin,
    which proceeds from a sin actually committed by an individual Adam and
    which, through generation, is passed on to all and is in everyone as his
    own.

    This is interesting too.
    29. It is well known how highly the Church regards human reason, for it
    falls to reason to demonstrate with certainty the existence of God,
    personal and one; to prove beyond doubt from divine signs the very
    foundations of the Christian faith; to express properly the law which the
    Creator has imprinted in the hearts of men; and finally to attain to some
    notion, indeed a very fruitful notion, of mysteries.[7] But reason can
    perform these functions safely and well only when properly trained, that
    is, when imbued with that sound philosophy which has long been, as it
    were, a patrimony handed down by earlier Christian ages, and which
    moreover possesses an authority of an even higher order, since the
    Teaching Authority of the Church, in the light of divine revelation
    itself, has weighed its fundamental tenets, which have been elaborated
    and defined little by little by men of great genius. For this philosophy,
    acknowledged and accepted by the Church, safeguards the genuine validity
    of human knowledge, the unshakable metaphysical principles of sufficient
    reason, causality, and finality, and finally the mind’s ability to attain
    certain and unchangeable truth.

    Source:

    http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/pius_xii/encyclicals/documents/hf_p-xii_
    enc_12081950_humani-generis_en.html

    • Kevin
      Posted September 16, 2011 at 11:29 am | Permalink

      …so, what you’re saying is that Shea has acknowledged himself to be a heretic…

      And should submit himself to the Inquisition as quickly as possible.

      I think some mortification of the flesh is in order.

      • Posted September 16, 2011 at 11:37 am | Permalink

        You never know…he could be into that sort of thing….

        b&

    • Posted September 16, 2011 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

      I don’t think there’s a contradiction there. Pius refers to “true” humans, which means his statements are compatible with Flynn, who says that Adam was the first fully-human hominid.

      • Ichthyic
        Posted September 16, 2011 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

        the first fully-human hominid

        now all he has to do is define what in the fuck that means.

        ..and if you say “it has a soul” I will smack you through your computer screen.

        • Posted September 16, 2011 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

          It doesn’t matter. Humans can be defined by genetic and physiological traits that were added to our collective lineage over evolutionary time.

          For example, a primate can be defined as:

          any gill-less, organic RNA/DNA protein-based, metabolic, metazoic, nucleic, diploid, bilaterally-symmetrical, endothermic, digestive, tryploblast, opisthokont, deuterostome coelemate with a spinal chord and 12 cranial nerves connecting to a limbic system in an enlarged cerebrial cortex inside a jawed-skull with a relatively large braincase, with specialized teeth including canines and premolars, forward-oriented fully-enclosed optical orbits, and a single temporal fenestra, -attached to a vertebrate tetrapoidal skeleton with a sacral pelvis and wrist & ankle bones; and having lungs, tear ducts, body-wide hair follicles, lactal mammaries, and keratinized nails on all five digits on all four extremities, in addition to an embryonic development in amniotic fluid, leading to a placental birth.

          Add a few more characters to that, and you’ve got a human, specifically. Although evolution proceeds slowly and gradually – and we must be careful not to be essentialist in our thinking – it is a fact that a given organism either has a particular genetic trait, or it doesn’t. It is in theory possible to point to a particular individual in our lineage who had an evolved trait that his ancestors did not, and say that this trait was the last ingredient necessary to call him “fully human.”

          It’s a bullshit way of thinking about evolution, to be sure, because it tries to draw a very strong line between organisms with the mutation and organisms without, when there could not have been that much difference between them. Nevertheless, it is a biologically valid claim to say that there was a first organism to have Mutation X. My point is only to say that Pius and Flynn are arguing for the same thing, and thus do not contradict each other.

          • Ichthyic
            Posted September 16, 2011 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

            a primate can be defined as:

            sorry, not the first “TRUE” human.

            you’re in scottsman’s territory.

            and we must be careful not to be essentialist in our thinking

            what’s more essentialist than thinking you can define what is a true ™ human?

            • Posted September 16, 2011 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

              I’ve made two points.

              1. Flynn and Pius do not contradict each other.
              2. It is possible to separate one type of human from other on the basis of genetic or physiological traits.

              You don’t seem to object to either, so, good. My point is made.

              • Ichthyic
                Posted September 16, 2011 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

                1. I’ll not argue this, based on the direction you were taking.

                2. that does not equate with the notion of what it means to be a “true” human, so you will need to do better if you plan to keep including this as part of your argument.

              • Posted September 16, 2011 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

                You’re getting distracted by the word “true.” That part is irrelevant. The only important point for Pius and Flynn is that it *is* possible to draw some type of line between one member of a species and another (from whom we are all descended.) It could be a bit of genetic code that increased our encephalization quotient, for example. You asked Flynn to define specifically what bit of code it was, but the fact that he cannot is not fatal to his argument. It can in theory be done.

              • Ichthyic
                Posted September 16, 2011 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

                yes, in theory it can, but it isn’t relevant to the arguments the theologists are making.

                this is my point.

    • Ye Olde Statistician
      Posted September 16, 2011 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

      You forgot the part that comes before your excerpt.

      I think Pius was perfectly correct to say that no human alive today can be considered not fully human. Too many progressives were eager to use Darwin for political purposes and pushed the notion that different races had evolved independently. (Darwin himself did not think so, but he was clear in thinking that some races were superior to others that were “closer” to being apes. Everyone is a prisoner of his milieu.)

    • cornbread_r2
      Posted September 16, 2011 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

      “Now it is in no way apparent how such an opinion can be reconciled with that which the sources of revealed truth and the documents of the Teaching Authority of the Church propose with regard to original sin, which proceeds from a sin actually committed by an individual Adam and which, through generation, is passed on to all and is in everyone as his own.” — From the Encyclical

      The “Now it is in no way apparent…” part of this statement is what some theologians refer to as “the escape clause”. These theologians think this means: “It is in no way apparent, at this time, how such an opinion…” thereby leaving the door open for polygenesis if some whiz-bang theologian in the future can somehow reconcile that with Original Sin.

  24. Posted September 16, 2011 at 10:45 am | Permalink

    “They can always dig deeper into their goody bag of post hoc rationalizations.”

    I first read that as “gooey bag”, which I like better.

    /@

  25. TomZ
    Posted September 16, 2011 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    “…the mere thought “No” directed at God…”

    “No” to what?!? Was god actually present in nature prior to this Original Sin and making commandments or asking favors so that “Adam” had something to say no to? And the second someone replies “no”, god then hides from all observation as to appear like he’s not even there… at precisely the time where his precious little creations would NEED HIM the most?? So he’s ever-present when things are perfect before the fall, then is ever-missing when the cognition hits the fan.

    • bad Jim
      Posted September 16, 2011 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

      The fatal thought was obviously the commonsensical observation that there is no god. The original sin is atheism.

  26. TomZ
    Posted September 16, 2011 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    Also, notice in this rationalization that there is absolutely nothing special about Adam except for the fact that he flicked off god.

    So the moral of this admitted “metaphorical” story is that if you say “F*** the man in the sky!” and then have some kids, you could be the ancestor to later generations that cure diseases like smallpox, explore the universe, and trace the origins of the chemical elements that make up everything, among other things.

  27. Tim
    Posted September 16, 2011 at 11:12 am | Permalink

    My view on all this Adam & Eve nonsense is that Hitchens takes the correct (i.e., most productive) tack and that Jerry Coyne is spinning his wheels. Of course, Jerry is right. Of course, the theologians are spouting unadulterated sophistry. But anyone who would listen to them clearly is not bothered by sophistry. The massive contradiction between figurative, metaphorical A&E and the need for a “real” crucifixion and resurrection will never be acknowledged by people who have ever paid attention to theologians to begin with. Sadly then, Jerry is left preaching to the choir and the people he’s arguing with are deaf to the argument.

    Hitchens attack (which Jerry acknowledges, but doesn’t put front and center) is that the idea that A&E could by any action stain the souls of their descendents is morally repugnant. How could an idea that is about as self-evidently evil as any you could think of be the foundation of an edifice people believe to be a font of morality? It’s insane.

    • Diane G.
      Posted September 16, 2011 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

      I’ve always liked that approach myself.

      • Posted September 16, 2011 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

        Hitch’s approach is a winner, and I use it on occasion. But my own personal favorite is…well, you know. Ridicule.

        Christians are small children who still believe in enchanted gardens and wizardly wands and zombie porn, oh my.

        Cheers,

        b&

    • Posted September 16, 2011 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

      How could an idea that is about as self-evidently evil as any you could think of be the foundation of an edifice people believe to be a font of morality? It’s insane.

      That’s where theology and religious philosophy come in to explain that the insanity is only apparent and not actual.

      The constant complaint of the theologians and philosophers is that we’re not scouring through Augustine, Boethius, Abelard, Aquinas, and so on, to understand how our “insanity” charges have been answered over the course of 1500 years or so.

      This complaint has been answered amply, at least to my satisfaction, by JAC and others.

    • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
      Posted September 16, 2011 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

      Good reminder. I like that, but I don’t think it is weakening to have several approaches.

      As always we aren’t “preaching” to the deaf, but demonstrating to the sidelines and those whose cognitive dissonance becomes unsurmountable* that there is problems here. “Front and center” would be needed if some approach was observably more effective.

      ——————-
      * To my surprise, such individuals shows up in commentaries here and, reputedly, on Dawkins site. They seem to exist!

    • Ye Olde Statistician
      Posted September 16, 2011 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

      the idea that A&E could by any action stain the souls of their descendents is morally repugnant.

      The idea that A&E could by any action pass on a genetic disease to their descendants is morally repugnant. Well, no; that actually sounds possible. http://www.newadvent.org/summa/2081.htm#article3

      Don’t forget the distinction made by traditional theology, such as Augustine and Aquinas, between positive sin as an act of a man and origin-al sin as a disposition of man, the species.

      • Tim
        Posted September 16, 2011 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

        …and you take this argument seriously?

        • Ichthyic
          Posted September 16, 2011 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

          judging by his many previous posts, I’d have to say he does.

      • Drosera
        Posted September 17, 2011 at 3:13 am | Permalink

        So you imply that God created A & E complete with a genetic disorder? Or did their ‘sin’ (eating fruit from a tree that your Blue-beardian God had planted there) cause a genetic mutation? But that is like believing that cutting off the tail of a dog will cause tail-less puppies to be born. It’s not what we observe in reality.

        • Ye Olde Statistician
          Posted September 17, 2011 at 9:34 am | Permalink

          But that is like believing that cutting off the tail of a dog will cause tail-less puppies to be born. It’s not what we observe in reality.

          Interestingly, Aquinas specifically rejected Lamarckism as patently absurd – as a seminal (genetic) explanation.

          Yet if we look into the matter carefully we shall see that it is impossible for the sins of the nearer ancestors, or even any other but the first sin of our first parent to be transmitted by way of origin. The reason is that a man begets his like in species but not in individual. Consequently those things that pertain directly to the individual, such as personal actions and matters affecting them, are not transmitted by parents to their children: for a grammarian does not transmit to his son the knowledge of grammar that he has acquired by his own studies. On the other hand, those things that concern the nature of the species, are transmitted by parents to their children, unless there be a defect of nature: thus a man with eyes begets a son having eyes, unless nature fails. And if nature be strong, even certain accidents of the individual pertaining to natural disposition, are transmitted to the children, e.g. fleetness of body, acuteness of intellect, and so forth; but nowise those that are purely personal.
          — ST II-1,Q81,A2,respondeo.

          • Drosera
            Posted September 17, 2011 at 10:42 am | Permalink

            But I note that Aquinas made an exception for original sin, and that’s what we are discussing. How did that original sin pass into our genes? Either our genes were faulty to begin with, in which case God is to blame. But that makes the whole concept of sin even more absurd than it already is. Or the sinning by A&E caused a genetic mutation, but then we are back at the Lamarckian mechanism, which is equally absurd.

            I’m sure that you can come up with a rationale with which you suppress your own doubts, because if your postings on this site have proven anything to me, it is that you are a first class mental contortionist. But for all your cleverness you are singularly incapable of recognising made-up nonsense for what it is. So maybe you are not so bright after all.

          • Drosera
            Posted September 17, 2011 at 10:45 am | Permalink

            I may add that there is no such thing as the ‘nature of the species’, so Aquinas got that wrong.

          • Posted September 21, 2011 at 7:14 pm | Permalink

            Aquinas is simply wrong here, and is not making any meaningful distinction. His specific example about eyes is incorrect; if a person’s eyes are removed, this will not impact the eyes of their offspring. What is relevant is the genes, something it would take a much later man if the cloth to figure out the kinks of.

            In fact, the genes are relevant almost equally in both of his examples. The underlying skills which permit one to learn grammar are indeed inheritable, just like the genes that produce eyes are (and Aquinas appears to recognize this with his reference to “acuteness of intellect”), yet both the visual and grammatical abilities of an individual can change based on her environment and experiences.

            He seems to be suggesting that sin is more like eyes than grammar. Not only does the similarity appear weak (sin ought to belong in the realm of social behavior, along with grammar, no?), but Lamarckianism still doesn’t work any better for sin than it does for eyes. The only way to get it to work is to make an exception for “the first parent”, as Aquinas does in the quote, and then the whole thing is obviously circular.

  28. dunstar
    Posted September 16, 2011 at 11:15 am | Permalink

    Well like many other things people do in other areas, they like to invent phony problems just so that they can come up with phony solutions to make themselves appear to be doing real work. So maybe after a little while of doing that kind of thing they just can no longer tell the difference and start to genuinely believe their own invented crap. lol.

  29. DrBrydon
    Posted September 16, 2011 at 11:30 am | Permalink

    The doctrine of Original Sin is grotesque as it stood. I think the refinements offered by assertions that Adam and Eve were a couple along side other people only add to the potential for trouble.

    If god chose or created a couple as his Adam and Eve, and they sinned, was there guilt shared by everyone else? That’s no more just (even more unjust?) than it being transferred to their descendants. If these other people existed before Adam and Eve (say before 6000bp), then they presumably were made of sterner stuff, having managed to exist without sin up til then. Was sin a late addition to Creation Or did they all get created together, and this was some sort of Prisoner’s Dilemma? (God continues to sound like a not particular scrupulous experimenter.)

    Or has the guilt only been transferred to the descendants of Adam and Eve? If so, that means (I think, not being a geneticist) that there are likely people who are not related to Adam and Eve. They, therefore, are not damned by original sin (whether it is genetic or not). All that can lead to is a type of religious racism.

    I agree that when you begin to discard the facts associated with the literal narrative, there can only be speculation. Of course, in our system of justice (which is not divine, but merely good) guilt must be proven, and speculation is not proof. Therefore, we must all be judged innocent.

  30. Sastra
    Posted September 16, 2011 at 11:44 am | Permalink

    Adam’s first sin was likewise probably invisible to the naked eye—the mere thought “No” directed at God or his own conscience would be sufficient. For all we know, it might literally have consisted of something as seemingly trivial as stealing a bit of fruit. But it was enough.

    The more I read about Original Sin, the more I think Christianity draws its persuasive force and power from the egocentric thought processes of a two-year old. “Come to Mommy for your bath.” “NO!” OMG, wasn’t that naughty. Bad, bad, bad. Disobedience to the parent — it’s enough to show how unworthy you are. And you can’t stop: you just have to keep on saying “no.” This is a crisis. You and Mommy are not the same and she can’t make you do things like you ought. Bad.

    It’s like they never quite got over it.

    • Ichthyic
      Posted September 16, 2011 at 11:55 am | Permalink

      yup.

      I also think that a lot of the appeal of the Abrahamic religions comes from the opposite feeling:

      that you can release control to the parent, and they will keep you safe and warm, and give you cookies!

      • Posted September 16, 2011 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

        Cookies? What kind?

        b&

        • Ichthyic
          Posted September 16, 2011 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

          well, truth be told they’re really flat, stale biscuits.

          but you can wash them down with cheap wine!

          • Posted September 16, 2011 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

            So…the cookies are a lie?

            Thanks, I’ll pass.

            Cheers,

            b&

  31. Ichthyic
    Posted September 16, 2011 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    …an upheaval that inflicted incalculable spiritual damage to the whole of the human race.

    exactly.

    but that event was:

    the invention of the Abrahamic God.

  32. god,no
    Posted September 16, 2011 at 11:56 am | Permalink

    Why would an entity like the christian god creat something that was capable of the fall?The whole thing makes no sense at all.This all powerful god creates this creature,who then proceeds to mess up?Why do people believe this nonsense at all?Why would the all knowing god be jealous of other gods?HEs all knowing,and therefore the “other gods” would just be-himself?right?

    • Posted September 16, 2011 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

      As to why people believe this nonsense, let’s not forget that this is — all together, now! — a story about an enchanted garden with talking animals and an angry giant. An adult who takes this seriously is not somebody to take seriously.

      Cheers,

      b&

    • Ichthyic
      Posted September 16, 2011 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

      Why would an entity like the christian god creat something that was capable of the fall?

      God is an alien scientist, trying to determine how authoritarianism works?

  33. Ichthyic
    Posted September 16, 2011 at 11:58 am | Permalink

    I’m wondering if this “New Traditional” (heh) view of the Adam and Eve story allows for interpreting them as aliens?

    See, what happened was that two aliens were sent on a mission to observe early humans, and they got a little too, uh, involved.

    Prime Directive violated!

    you can’t go back to your home planet after you’ve done that.

    • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
      Posted September 16, 2011 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

      If only religion had some sensible morality like the Prime Directive! Alas.

  34. Posted September 16, 2011 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

    This is another example of a literal mind, intelligence not withstanding, that doesn’t know what to do with a metapor or symbol.
    Myths, such as the Adam and Eve story deal in truths, not facts. These early prophets intuited the facts of human nature centuries before abstract reasoning discovered and formalized the facts. (It was true man could fly, but became a fact when the Wright brothers made it possible).
    It is true that we have original sin; when man has learned to control the urge for competitive mayham of greed and such exercises as shock and awe we can call the concept a lie.
    Men have dreamed of a heaven, a Shangri la throughout history. Freud says it is the Womb where men desire to return..or a childhood of innocence and no responsibility, etc. The apple of knowledge symbolizes, among other meanings, the trials of responsibility of knowldge and the guilt that haunts men and which, in acts of emotional displacement lands on women. Adam blames the woman for seduction, Sharia Law still reflects this and we still “Put the blame on Mame” in many households in this country.

    • Ichthyic
      Posted September 16, 2011 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

      Myths, such as the Adam and Eve story deal in truths truthiness(tm), not facts.

      fixed

      • Ichthyic
        Posted September 16, 2011 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

        These early prophets intuited the facts of human nature

        yes, intuited, not deduced.

        big difference.

        (It was true man could fly, but became a fact when the Wright brothers made it possible).

        wrong.

        man still cannot fly.

        it is the airplane that flies, not the person.

        It is true that we have original sin

        argument not in evidence.

        when man has learned to control the urge for competitive mayham of greed and such exercises as shock and awe we can call the concept a lie.

        you have thus defined “orignal sin” as greed.

        but that is not what original sin is defined as in the Abrahamic texts.

        congratulations on inventing your own religion, whole hog.

        but then, it’s not like millions before you haven’t done exactly the same thing.

        in fact, this is rather the point of the critique regarding Shea’s essay.

        Men have dreamed of a heaven, a Shangri la throughout history.

        in your ignorance, you have equated two entirely different things here. But even if you limit it to one thing, say, “a heaven”, the dreams of that concept alone vary drastically depending on where and when those dreams took place.

        so drastically, they couldn’t be regarded as anything other than culturally influenced.

        which is why Jung’s (yes, I jumped ahead of Freud) concept of the collective unconscious is laughable: it’s a square peg with the edges blunted so it fits a round hole.

        Sharia Law still reflects this

        the entire Abrahamic tradition is paternalistic.

      • Ichthyic
        Posted September 16, 2011 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

        These early prophets intuited the facts of human nature

        yes, intuited, not deduced.

        big difference.

        (It was true man could fly, but became a fact when the Wright brothers made it possible).

        wrong.

        man still cannot fly.

        it is the airplane that flies, not the person.

        It is true that we have original sin

        argument not in evidence.

        when man has learned to control the urge for competitive mayham of greed and such exercises as shock and awe we can call the concept a lie.

        you have thus defined “original sin” as greed.

        but that is not what original sin is defined as in the Abrahamic texts.

        congratulations on inventing your own religion, whole hog.

        but then, it’s not like millions before you haven’t done exactly the same thing.

        in fact, this is rather the point of the critique regarding Shea’s essay.

        Men have dreamed of a heaven, a Shangri la throughout history.

        in your ignorance, you have equated two entirely different things here. But even if you limit it to one thing, say, “a heaven”, the dreams of that concept alone vary drastically depending on where and when those dreams took place.

        so drastically, they couldn’t be regarded as anything other than culturally influenced.

        which is why Jung’s (yes, I jumped ahead of Freud) concept of the collective unconscious is laughable: it’s a square peg with the edges blunted so it fits a round hole.

        Sharia Law still reflects this

        the entire Abrahamic tradition is paternalistic.

        • Ichthyic
          Posted September 16, 2011 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

          huh, it duped on me.

          sorry.

      • Ye Olde Statistician
        Posted September 16, 2011 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

        No, truths. The commenter seems to have meant the scientific definition of myth, the science being anthropology and ethology. There is some discussion of this in Jan Vansina, Oral Tradition as History. Don’t worry. It’s safely secular, so you can read it without harming your soul.

        • Marta
          Posted September 16, 2011 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

          “Don’t worry. It’s safely secular, so you can read it without harming your soul.”

          Oh, I see what you did there.

          I must say, for such an apparently intelligent person, you seem to possess some knuckle-headed beliefs. Alas, intelligence and rationality don’t always correlate.

  35. Steersman
    Posted September 16, 2011 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

    Mike Flynn said:

    But clearly, where there are 10,000 there are two, many times over. Genesis tells us that the children of Adam and Eve found mates among the children of men, which would indicate that there were a number of others creatures out there with whom they could mate.

    And Dr. Feser said (“supposing” which actually seems ok since we’re only talking of Tooth Fairies and other denizens of the tormented and conflicted religious mind):

    Supposing, then, that the smallest human-like population of animals evolution could have initially produced numbered around 10,000, we have a scenario that is fully compatible with Catholic doctrine if we suppose that only two of these creatures had human souls infused into them by God at their conception, and that He infused further human souls only into those creatures who were descended from this initial pair.

    So, the sons and daughters of Adam and Eve – who had souls infused into them following conception in the approved manner – then subsequently “found mates among the children of men” – who supposedly had not been graced by the finger of God – and their “issue” on conception was so graced as well.

    But doesn’t that mating with the “children of men” (an incongruity since they presumably weren’t of the race “Man” until fingered by God) in the first place qualify as bestiality? And the Catholic Church turns up its nose at condoms even in a heterosexual marriage – sanctified by the Church itself.

    “Oh what a tangled web we weave, When first we practice to deceive” – particularly when it’s ourselves first then others.

    • Ichthyic
      Posted September 16, 2011 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

      qualify as bestiality?

      interesting tack to take.

      I wonder if this can somehow be humorously conflated with the nephilim myths too?

      • Steersman
        Posted September 16, 2011 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

        A theme for a new TV sit-com? Survivor – Eden? Lost – and Damned? Giant – the Prequel? Lots of possibilities I guess – once one disconnects from reality and any obligation or desire to have some feedback therefrom the sky is the limit – or maybe rather heaven or hell. Though it seems many of the religious are decidedly nonplussed – to say the least – at the implied or stated clinical term for that condition – delusional.

        • Ichthyic
          Posted September 16, 2011 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

          Giant – the Prequel?

          LOL

          yeah, that brings lots of humorous ideas to mind.

          • Ichthyic
            Posted September 16, 2011 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

            once one disconnects from reality and any obligation or desire to have some feedback therefrom the sky is the limit

            Did you ever catch that series “Dinosaurs”?

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dinosaurs_%28TV_series%29

            I envision a series something like that…

    • Ye Olde Statistician
      Posted September 16, 2011 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

      No, because the biological humans were still humans. All the pheromones, hormones, and other biological gimcrackery were there. It is not bestiality to mate within your own biological species. The philosophical conversations may have been limited, but they would have been so in any case. The rational powers possessed by metaphysical humans — the ability to abstract universal concepts from concrete particulars — will not automatically infuse knowledge (scientia).

      Besides, the other biological humans could not have been far from it: the animal powers of sensation and imagination are capable of a great deal. After all, matter cannot take on a form unless it is sufficiently complex to accept the form.

      So it’s not like futtering sheep.

      Honestly, do you suppose no one has ever thought of these things?

      • Ichthyic
        Posted September 16, 2011 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

        no, I’m sure they have.

        what’s funny is watching you think that taking them seriously is appropriate.

        You never cease to give me a chuckle.

      • Steersman
        Posted September 16, 2011 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

        No, because the biological humans were still humans.

        Dr. Feser seems to belabor the point about the difference between humans and animals being entirely dependent on that “infusion of the soul” that God, supposedly, according to the fantasy, performed only on Adam and Eve.

        Futtering? A neologism of your own? [I don’t find it in a quick search].

        Honestly, do you suppose no one has ever thought of these things?

        Didn’t give it much thought, and largely irrelevant in any case I think. Seemed to be a reasonable conclusion based on statements by Flynn and Feser. Although the exercise is sort of like talking about the warp capabilities of various isotopes of di-lithium crystals ….

        • Ichthyic
          Posted September 16, 2011 at 9:27 pm | Permalink

          Although the exercise is sort of like talking about the warp capabilities of various isotopes of di-lithium crystals ….

          exactly.

        • Posted September 16, 2011 at 9:38 pm | Permalink

          Everyone knows the true crystal is lithium. Dilithium is nonsense made up later by protestants.

          • Steersman
            Posted September 16, 2011 at 10:16 pm | Permalink

            Apostates and heretics all. I shall, like a good Christian following in the footsteps of Aquinas, look forward to seeing them all roast in hell:

            That the saints may enjoy their beatitude and the grace of God more abundantly they are permitted to see the punishment of the damned in hell. [St. Thomas Aquinas in his Summa Theologica; quoted in The God Delusion; pg 360]

            • Ye Olde Statistician
              Posted September 17, 2011 at 7:58 am | Permalink

              In which he argues in three Quaestiones that a feeling of happiness in inextricably annexed to such things. E.g., when one passes an auto accident, one feels happy that “it wasn’t me.” Read the Latin version for clarity.

              Never trust a proof-text extracted by a fundie from the context of the argument. Go to the original source data if you want to know what was actually argued.

              In English here:
              http://www.newadvent.org/summa/5094.htm

              The Latin text is not in the on-line Corpus thomisticum because the Supplementum, Q1-99, was not actually written by Thomas.

              Yours for accuracy in data,
              YOS

        • Ye Olde Statistician
          Posted September 16, 2011 at 9:56 pm | Permalink

          Not a neologism, an archaism. A humanist would have understood.
          http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/futter

          “infusion of the soul” that God, supposedly, according to the fantasy, performed only on Adam and Eve.

          If it were biological, then it were likely to have happened to one individual and then spread throughout the population after a number of generations. That still seems more likely than that such a “capstone” mutation would occur simultaneously to 10,000 hominids.

          However, you may be confusing the anima of the ancients and medievals with the Cartesian version, with its mind-body problem and other recent conundrums. The problem is, you have to understand what they meant before you can call them stupid-heads or apply other rational arguments. This may prove to be very different from what you mean, or what you feel they meant.

          There is actually a fairly decent explanation of form and other basics in a lecture series on natural philosophy here:
          http://home.comcast.net/~icuweb/c02000.htm
          The links to the figures are at the bottom of the page, as are the links to the next lecture. There are six lectures, each fairly short, so you needn’t worry about that. The author is a doctor of physics, but that should not daunt you, as he keeps things simple.

      • Posted September 16, 2011 at 8:15 pm | Permalink

        “After all, matter cannot take on a form unless it is sufficiently complex to accept the form.”

        Ah. Mm-hmm, mm-hmm. Yes.

        Wait.

        What?

        • Ye Olde Statistician
          Posted September 16, 2011 at 8:46 pm | Permalink

          When a water molecule is chopped into smaller pieces, it ceases to be a water molecule and becomes hydrogen and oxygen atoms. When these are chopped up, they become protons, neutrons, and electrons. When protons are chopped up they become quarks. A quark cannot take the form of a proton because it is not complex enough. A proton cannot take on the form of oxygen because it is not complex enough. Etc.

          A brain cannot support the rational form if it is not complex enough. (Compare a computer trying to run a particular program. If the computer is not complex enough, it might not be able to do it.)

          Does that help?

          • Posted September 17, 2011 at 6:44 am | Permalink

            Whoa, buddy. Put that tautology down.

            “Complex things need to be…complicated.”

            Anyway, this:
            “After all, matter cannot take on a form unless it is sufficiently complex to accept the form”

            is a problematic way of expressing the tautology because it imputes agency where there is none. It also puts the cart before the horse, claiming there are all these “forms” just waiting for the right “formless” glops of matter to come along and assume them.

            No, I didn’t have to read much Aristotle in conservatory. Guess I wasn’t missing much.

            • Ye Olde Statistician
              Posted September 17, 2011 at 10:58 am | Permalink

              Evidently you did not. Otherwise, you’d not mix Platonism in with Aristotle.

              In compound bodies, matter and form are inextricably one substance. The maxim was that “every thing is some thing.” Forms do not float around in some Platonic space. They are found empirically in compound matter and abstracted by the intellect. In the physical world, there cannot be a form without matter. The maxim was “No white without a white thing.”

              Matter is that of which a substance is proximately made: clay is the matter of bricks; bricks are the matter of a wall, and so on. But a thing is what it is in virtue of its form.

              The matter of sodium is: protons, neutrons, and electrons. But the matter of chlorine is the same! So why is one a flammable metal and the other a poisonous gas? It is the number and arrangement of the parts (the form) that give each atom its powers. So we can say that what a thing is is captured more clearly in its form than in its matter. A human being sheds and replaces cells all life long, so that in the course of iirc seven years, his matter has been replaced. Yet he remains the same being. So clearly matter alone is insufficient to explain him.

              While matter and form cannot be separated physically — what about the sphere-rubber “interaction problem” in basketballs? — they can be separated intellectually and considered as objects of the intellect.

              There is πρώτη ὕλη, or “prime matter” which is formless but it is the next thing to nothing there can be without actually being nothing. Heisenberg — oh, for the days of the real scientists! — thought the hule prote could be associated with mass-energy. But better candidates today are the quantum vacuum and Einstein’s relativistic aether.
              http://hylemorphist.wordpress.com/2011/02/15/zero-point-energygroundvacuum-state-vs-real-being-vs-logical-being-vs-nothing/

              • Posted September 17, 2011 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

                This comment (of yours) is a retreat from the implication of the comment (and its specific wording) on which I originally called you out.

                I’ll grant, in light of this clarification, that the original comment was simply worded poorly, and we’re having a semantic argument.

                Still, observing that complex things need to be complex and determining the actual atomic makeup of any given matter are distinct endeavors.  The former is tautological.

                And none of this is particularly relevant to Steersman’s tongue-in-cheek quip, which was probably intended (s/he’ll correct me if I’m wrong) to highlight the silliness of these A&E apologetics, not as a knock-down formal argument.  How do you theists know which theory is true, if any?!  It’s time to get real.

              • Lenoxus
                Posted September 22, 2011 at 9:41 am | Permalink

                SIWOTI! The seven-year thing is not terribly close to the truth. For example, you never grow new neurons in the cerebral cortex, and cardiomyocyte heart cells get replaced at a slowing rate over the course of your life. This doesn’t in itself invalidate YOS’s point, of course. It still is certainly true that you don’t have the exact same set of cells as you did a year ago. Although one could argue that speaking of oneself as the “same person” is just a matter of convenience, like the biological species definition.

        • Steersman
          Posted September 16, 2011 at 9:25 pm | Permalink

          Oh ye of little faith. You have obviously not yet grokked the fullness of those seven, count them – seven, tomes on Aristotelian-Thomist metaphysics …

          • Ichthyic
            Posted September 16, 2011 at 9:26 pm | Permalink

            very weighty, those tomes.

            especially in hardcover.

            • Steersman
              Posted September 16, 2011 at 10:23 pm | Permalink

              Pound-wise, probably; wisdom-wise, probably not so much.

  36. Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    Posted September 16, 2011 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

    More problems for Shea:

    But the sciences can have nothing, yay or nay, to say about it.

    Translation: facts are irrelevant to us.

    The Church is in the very early stages of mulling over this matter

    The Church has had two millennium of mulling over this matter. Considering that ‘facts are irrelevant’, what has changed?

    Oh, I know, the earlier cover-our-ass story is blown!

    • Ichthyic
      Posted September 16, 2011 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

      But the sciences can have nothing, yay or nay, to say about it.

      Also sprach das FSM*.

      *translation provided, if needed.

      • Ichthyic
        Posted September 16, 2011 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

          • Ichthyic
            Posted September 16, 2011 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

            no time or bandwidth to waste.

            you have a summary point to make based on that?

            • Richard
              Posted September 16, 2011 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

              Good point. Whether it’s a “waste” of time depends on who you are, though.

              Summary: We all appreciate humor, even that in the parody on Intelligent Design movement to be found in the Flying Spaghetti Monster. The parody begins to break down, though, and remains just that – a parody – if held up against the same accountability for evidence commonly lobbed at the Intelligent Design folks. Further, Henderson may have been a bit disingenuous or innocently ignorant in weaving into his parody on Intelligent Design claims which are more strictly associated with creationists, i.e., that the FSM with his noodly appendage intentionally manipulates the results of Carbon dating tests. (One does not necessarily have to be a creationist to hold Intelligent Design theory, but may rather adhere to theistic evolution. Some creationist claims sound nutty even to theistic evolution folks.)

              • Ichthyic
                Posted September 16, 2011 at 9:19 pm | Permalink

                The parody begins to break down, though, and remains just that – a parody – if held up against the same accountability for evidence commonly lobbed at the Intelligent Design folks

                you do realize that this is one of the main reasons for it, right?

                to exemplify exactly that:

                when help up to a reasonable level of evidence, it breaks down as just parody.

                this, in fact, is exactly what happens to religion.

                religion itself is no less a parody of reality than what FSM proposes.

                One does not necessarily have to be a creationist to hold Intelligent Design theory, but may rather adhere to theistic evolution

                both of which, when held to the same level of evidence, fail equally and for the same reasons.

                Have you considered that theistic evolution sounds just as nutty to many of us as intelligent design creationism?

                suggest you search this very blog for the host’s commentary regarding Ken Miller, for example.

            • Ichthyic
              Posted September 16, 2011 at 9:21 pm | Permalink

              “when help held up to a reasonable level of evidence, it breaks down as just parody.”

              • Richard
                Posted September 17, 2011 at 12:59 am | Permalink

                You asked for a summary and that’s what I gave you. I wrote it with a general tone without intending to articulate argument so much, so I am amused that you picked it apart as if I had. Perhaps you’re right, though – Intlligent Design may be a parody on the reality of such things as multiverses and superuniverse and geons and quantum foam. I suggest you listen to the whole podcast on the FSM if you are really interested in knowing its content. If you just want to argue, I am afraid I am going to let you have the final word on this one. Or you could just not respond and let me have it. Let’s see what happens.

              • Ichthyic
                Posted September 17, 2011 at 1:15 am | Permalink

                without intending to articulate argument so much

                what does that mean?

                you either did, or you didn’t.

                *shrug*

                either you take up a position counter to the arguments I made, or you don’t.

                up to you.

              • ToddQuesters
                Posted September 17, 2011 at 1:42 am | Permalink

                FSM is a poor parody of Intelligent Design since Intelligent Design suggests that an Intelligent Designer exists, without making any claims about the nature of the Designer’s being or about what the Designer looks like. Almost the whole parody of the FSM has to do with playing out these points, though. For example, to superimpose the FSM on Michaelangelo’s Creation of Adam misses the point that Intellent Design does not attempt to confirm this Biblical account.

              • Lenoxus
                Posted September 22, 2011 at 9:48 am | Permalink

                FSM is a poor parody of Intelligent Design since Intelligent Design suggests that an Intelligent Designer exists, without making any claims about the nature of the Designer’s being or about what the Designer looks like.

                I kinda hate to say it, but… I agree. The thing to parody about ID is its vagueness and everything-goes Big-Tent qualities more than the absurdity of young-Earth creationism (though ID nonetheless leaves a nonsensical amount of nudge-wink room for YEC).

                That’s why I’m more a fan of the Invisible Pink Unicorn, and even more so, Last Thrusdayism. The Flying Spaghetti Monster is better suited as a parody of “specific” religious claims.

              • Notagod
                Posted May 19, 2013 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

                To think that the one true god, that is FSM, is a poor parody of ID, we would need to forget that ID is a poor attempt to justify teaching the suggestion of christianity in the public schools of a nation needing to separate mythology from the affairs of the government.

                FSM is a poor parody of Intelligent Design since Intelligent Design suggests that an Intelligent Designer exists, without making any claims about the nature of the Designer’s being or about what the Designer looks like.

                In what way can FSM be a poor parody if ID makes no claims as to the nature or appearance of the imagined [D,d]esigner?

  37. Richard
    Posted September 16, 2011 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

    To claim that there is no evidence in the Genesis account to indicate it is to be read metaphorically, so therefore it isn’t to be read so, is just as much a post hoc rationalization as those of which Coyne accuses Shea and Flynn. This assumes that the Jewish author 3,500 years ago intended to indicate how the story should be read based on whether or not he provided evidence for it. And, that if the writer intended to indicate that the story should be read metaphorically, then he would have provided evidence for it. Based on Coyne’s own reasoning, then, if the Genesis account were to be taken literally, then, there should be evidence there to indicate that this is how it should be read. However, the author also left this evidence out, too.

    Genesis was written as a religious text to preserve what was very likely oral tradition of the Jewish nation many, many years ago. The fact that the creation account in Genesis 2 is slightly different than that of Genesis 1 (e.g., Genesis 2 is arranged topically with regard to the different groups of creatures God made while Genesis 1 is arranged chronologically) shows that in the first 2 chapters itself there is room for variation of how things are told and interpreted. Many scholars also agree that Genesis 2 is more ancient in origin than the creation story of Genesis 1. That the author included both stories shows openness to variation with regard to each story was told and is to be read, in that both stories -from Genesis 1 and Genesis 2- though slightly different, were both valued enough so as to be both included.

    • Ichthyic
      Posted September 17, 2011 at 1:20 am | Permalink

      Genesis was written as a religious text to preserve what was very likely oral tradition of the Jewish nation many, many years ago

      this does not clarify whether or not any particular reader of the written version of that oral tradition should take them literally or not.

      To claim that there is no evidence in the Genesis account to indicate it is to be read metaphorically

      I’m looking real hard to see where you present evidence to the contrary.

      nnnnnnope.

      not seeing it.

      shows that in the first 2 chapters itself there is room for variation of how things are told and interpreted.

      no, it doesn’t.

      well, no more so that the fact that there are 4 gospels means that.

      in which case, the entire christian religion is relative to the whatever the observer interprets it as.

      which means that religious dogma is just authoritarianism applied to fiction.

      which means that Jerry is correct.

      you simply can’t have it both ways.

      • Ichthyic
        Posted September 17, 2011 at 1:24 am | Permalink

        were both valued enough so as to be both included.

        I think you should check this out:

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biblical_Canon

        it will give you a start at really understanding why certain books were included or excluded.

        • Richard
          Posted September 17, 2011 at 7:38 am | Permalink

          We are not talking about why certain books are considered canon of scripture. We are talking about why two chapters within a single book – the respective creation stories of Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 were included – were included alongside each other.

      • Richard
        Posted September 17, 2011 at 2:17 am | Permalink

        If you’re looking for evidence to begin with in Genesis 1-3 to indicate how it should be read, you missed the point I made that you’re assuming the author meant to include such evidence. I would love to provide with such evidence if it were there. However, neither is the evidence there to indicate that it should be read literally. To suggest that evidence should be there to support either method of interpretation assumes this author meant to include such evidence. Where is the evidence that the author meant to include such evidence? Where is the evidence that such evidence as that indicating how the author intended the accounts to be read should be present? And so forth.

        Please explain how it is that no room for variation in reading Genesis exists when two varied accounts of creation are juxtaposed in Genesis 1 and Genesis 2. Are we to assume that the author didn’t notice that they were slightly different and include them both anyway? That’s seems less likely to me than the possibility that both accounts were varied accounts of oral tradition valued enough so as to be both preserved in writing.

        • Maverick
          Posted September 17, 2011 at 7:11 am | Permalink

          Look up “Documentary Hypothesis.” The Torah/Old Testament is not a screed of one individual, but the synthesis of multiple religious traditions.

          In any case, the Genesis story is certainly meant to be taken literally, as it provides the genealogy of the Jewish forefathers (Isaac was the son of Abraham, who was the son of Terach, etc. etc. all the way back to Adam and Eve). The explicit genealogy can’t possibly serve any metaphorical purpose (it doesn’t even describe some generations), and is obviously there because the authors that we literally traced our lineage to Adam.

          • Richard
            Posted September 17, 2011 at 8:13 am | Permalink

            My doesn’t necessarily revolve around whether there were one or many authors of Genesis – but whether they intended to leave evidence to indicate how it should be read. My point about the book beind a preservation of oral tradition presupposes the involvement of many individuals over time.

            Thank you for pointint out the fact that generations are left out of the geneology and thus we cannot take at least those parts delineating each generational phase so literally.

            • Richard
              Posted September 17, 2011 at 8:14 am | Permalink

              My POINT doesn’t necessarily revolve…

            • Ye Olde Statistician
              Posted September 17, 2011 at 11:13 am | Permalink

              The generations need be taken no more literally than those in the Irish Book of Invasions. Like many mythic accounts, they are there to justify the current-at-time-of-composition relationships of the tribes and clans: which clans are related, allied, enemies, and so forth. Thus, the Ui Briuin Ai and the Ui Briuin Seola are designated as descended from “Brian.” The Connaughta are descended from Conn the Hundred-fighter. And so on. The authors of Genesis were not applying for admission to the DAR, and it is gross chronocentrism – what some historians call “presentism” to attribute to ancient or foreign authors the intents of modern Western authors.

          • Richard
            Posted September 17, 2011 at 9:19 am | Permalink

            Upon giving the matter more thought, I find it ironic that this one place where there is room for interpretation – whether or not generations are skipped – is to be found in the geneology itself, which is your primary basis for claiming that the Genesis account is to be taken literally.

            • Maverick
              Posted September 17, 2011 at 11:27 am | Permalink

              My point is that there would be no point in including the genealogy if it wasn’t intended to be literal. Additionally, I can recall no point in the ENTIRE Old Testament where a genealogy skips generations (ie. where “son of X” means X was an ancestor, not necessarily parent), so I haven’t a clue what you mean by “I find it ironic that this one place where there is room for interpretation – whether or not generations are skipped – is to be found in the genealogy itself”. I think you are intentionally ignoring or changing parts of the scripture to make room for your interpretations of how the authors intended for the verses to be understood.

              • Richard
                Posted September 19, 2011 at 6:24 am | Permalink

                I am not claiming that the author(s) intended that Genesis be interpreted either way. I am claiming that we have to assume the authors intended to leave evidence for how Genesis is to read. But, that evidence isn’t there either way. So, Coyne is doing the exact same thing he accuses Shea and Fynn of – making post hoc rationalizations about how Genesis should be read.

                Coyne claims there is no evidence that Genesis is to be interpreted metaphorically, so it has to be read literally. But there is no evidence it is to be interpreted literally, either. It’s a double standard of being able to make an assertion against what the other side is saying based on the claim that the other side has no evidence for their claim, when there is no evidence for one’s own assertion either. It’s a sneaky tactic of argumentation that one will notice is used quite frequently by these folks if close enough attention is paid.

              • Posted September 19, 2011 at 6:40 am | Permalink

                Coyne claims there is no evidence that Genesis is to be interpreted metaphorically, so it has to be read literally. But there is no evidence it is to be interpreted literally, either. It’s a double standard of being able to make an assertion against what the other side is saying based on the claim that the other side has no evidence for their claim, when there is no evidence for one’s own assertion either.

                Hardly.

                Catholics claim that the Bible was authored and / or directly inspired in whole or in significant part by a profound intelligence of superlative knowledge and incomprehensible power. If one accepts such a premise, the only possible conclusion is that the book says exactly what “Author” wants it to.

                And, lacking any positive indication that the book is poetical metaphor, the only other alternative is that it is meant as literal fact. (Unless you can present a third option?)

                Of course, it’s just a collection of faery tales told by a bunch of genocidal goatherding warlords with delusions of grandeur. Believe me, Jerry knows this full well. But that’s not the point he’s making.

                He’s taking the claims of the religious and carrying to their logical (and absurd) conclusions.

                Cheers,

                b&

            • Richard
              Posted September 19, 2011 at 7:10 am | Permalink

              Ben Goren, In response to your response below (to which one is not allowed to respond):

              Your assertion “Hardly” is not supported by what follows it.

              I don’t know where you got your information on what “Catholics” think about how scripture is written and thus has to be interpreted. May I provide what the Cathechism of the Catholic Church teaches on the matter (Coyne cites the Cathechism in his article above, so, if it’s good enough for him…): “In order to discover the sacred authors’ intention, the reader must take into account the conditions of their time and culture, the literary genres in use at that time, and the modes of feeling, speaking and narrating then current. “For the fact is that truth is differently presented and expressed in the various types of historical writing, in prophetical and poetical texts, and in other forms of literary expression.” (no. 110) [citing Vatican II, Dei Verbum 12, section 3]

              The Catechism then goes into all the “senses” by which scripture may be iterpreted: literal, spiritual, moral, and anagogical (cf. http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/__PQ.HTM

              • Posted September 19, 2011 at 7:29 am | Permalink

                Had you bothered to read but a few more sentences further on, you would have found the Catechism explicitly confirming my point:

                According to an ancient tradition, one can distinguish between two senses of Scripture: the literal and the spiritual, the latter being subdivided into the allegorical, moral and anagogical senses. the profound concordance of the four senses guarantees all its richness to the living reading of Scripture in the Church.

                That is, it’s all either literal or metaphoric.

                However, they actually take it a step further than I suggest, and claim that it’s always literally true, and that the literal truth is the glue that bonds the whole:

                The literal sense is the meaning conveyed by the words of Scripture and discovered by exegesis, following the rules of sound interpretation: “All other senses of Sacred Scripture are based on the literal.” [emphasis added]

                Care to try again?

                Cheers,

                b&

              • Richard
                Posted September 19, 2011 at 9:12 am | Permalink

                In response to Ben Goren, below:

                Saying: “And, lacking any positive indication that the book is poetical metaphor, the only other alternative is that it is meant as literal fact.”

                is not the exactly same thing as saying:

                “It’s always literally true, and that the literal truth is the glue that bonds the whole”.

                Your first claim uses either-or logic (which, sorry, is not “explicitly” confirmed by the Catechism), your second, both-and.

                Nice try with the post hoc rationalization, though.

                Jerry’s position was that if there is no evidence for a metaphorical reading of scripture, then one has to read it literally. This is not exactly what the Cathechism is saying, either. But, if you think that what he is saying is like what the Cathechism is saying, I am pleased that you acknowledge he is following its exegetical standards.

              • Posted September 19, 2011 at 10:04 am | Permalink

                But, if you think that what he is saying is like what the Cathechism is saying, I am pleased that you acknowledge he is following its exegetical standards.

                That’s all Jerry and the rest of us ever do. We take the claims of religious at face value, examine them for what they are, and determine if the claims have any merit.

                In this particular and almost every other example, they’ve shown to be bullshit.

                The Church claims, as I quoted above, that the literal meaning of the text is primary, and that any metaphor must be based on the literal sense of the text. Thus, there literally was an Adam and Eve in an enchanted garden who ate some magic knowledge fruit on the advice of a talking snake to the displeasure of an angry giant. The metaphorical interpretation of the significance of those events are left as an exercise to exegetists, but the literal truth of the event is not open to debate.

                And that’s just fucking batshit insane.

                Cheers,

                b&

              • Richard
                Posted September 19, 2011 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

                In response to Ben Goren, below:

                If Jerry was really trying to take the Catechism’s teaching on Scriptural exegesis at face value he did a poor job. I really don’t think he was recalling the what the Catechism or the Church teaches at all, but only claiming that Shea and Flynn had no evidence for a metaphorical interpretation, so one needs to interpret Genesis literally. The Catechism does not go so far so as to establish any conditional criteria that if Scripture is to be interpreted metaphorically, there has to be evidence for it. It also does not use the either-or logic present in Jerry’s reasoning, but rather concedes that one can hold to a both-and understanding of the same passage.

              • Posted September 19, 2011 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

                [The Catechism] concedes that one can hold to a both-and understanding of the same passage.

                It does no such thing, as is made quite explicit in the passage I quoted earlier.

                Rather, it demands literalism at all times, and grants that literalism may be supplemented with metaphorical layers of understanding.

                That is, according to the Church, a real Adam and a real Eve really did eat a real piece of forbidden fruit, but it is orthodox to understand that the act of eating the fruit was the first human defiance of divine will (as opposed to merely an act of animalistic hunger).

                The only time that it would be permissible to treat an event as not having actually happened would be when it is presented as such — for example, in one of Jesus’s parables. But even still, the moral of the story would reign supreme. Therefore, when Jesus told the story in Luke 19 about “a certain nobleman [who] went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return,” one should understand that no such event literally happened (except insofar as it’s a metaphor for Jesus’s sojourn on Earth). However, when Jesus concluded the allegory with the command, “But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me,” it must be understood that the command to kill infidels was the whole point of the parable and therefore is a direct command from Jesus of how to treat those who reject the Christ. As the Church has repeatedly done in great numbers throughout the millennia.

                Again, that such nonsense is batshit lunacy is a problem only for Catholics, not for rationalists — except, of course, when the Catholics go ahead and act on their antisocial impulses.

                Cheers,

                b&

              • Richard
                Posted September 19, 2011 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

                In response to Ben Goren, below:

                How is it not a both-and understanding if “literalism may be supplemented with metaphorical layers of understanding” (even though that’s not exactly how the Cathechism puts it)? BOTH 1) the “literalism” AND 2) “the metaphorical layers” would be present, no?

      • Ye Olde Statistician
        Posted September 17, 2011 at 9:22 am | Permalink

        One way is to study the genre. Mythic or poetic writings use tropes that differ from historical writing. Compare the books of Kings and Chronicles, which claim internally, to be digests of the court chronicles of Israel and Judah, resp. Events are told in a straighforward manner, biased to the political interests of the Israelite state or the Judaic state.

        Mythic tales, like Gen 2 ff, use grand events, outsized culture heroes, give origin stories for the features of the cultural landscape of the writer’s time: nearby tribes, why they talk differently, mountains and rivers, tools and technologies, etc. Cf. the Kuba myth of the Nine Woots.

        E.g. (Vansina): ca. 1853-1856 ten Hopi were attacked by Navajos as they returned to First Mesa from Ft. Defiance. Hopi accounts were recorded in 1892 and in 1936. In them, we see myth emerge from event. The 1936 myth explained why a particular family held a certain role in the town and in the dancing society, and involved Coyote and other divine figures. It was not an account of the historical event, although the event was embedded within it. The 1892 account was more baldly factual. That the story became mythic did not mean the ambush had never happened. We see a similar slippage of Capt. de Brazza among the Tio (Congo): In 1880, when he arrived, anything earlier than c. 1800 was mythic “origin time.” By 1960, everything earlier than 1880 was becoming myth and deBrazza himself had become a Culture Hero.

        Gen 1, otoh, is a sophisticated poem in honor of the Sabbath, and was likely written by Ezra sometime before or after the end of the Babylonian captivity. You can tell it’s a poem because it is written in poetic form, complete with refrains, and with a formal structure, using a craftsman as a metaphor for God:
        Day 1. Turn on the light in the workshop.
        Day 2. Rough carpentry on the heavens.
        Day 3. Rough carpentry on the earth.
        Day 4. Fine carpentry on the heavens.
        Day 5. Fine carpentry on the earth.
        Day 6. Finishing touches and polish.
        Day 7. Kick back, open some brewskis and catch the game on the tube.
        IOW, Ezra was instructing the Jews that if the Sabbath was good enough for God himself, it was good enough for them. It is not an historical account of the formation of the world.

        Hope this helps.

        • Posted September 17, 2011 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

          Jesus Christ, man. Can’t you even avoid blatantly contradicting yourself in a single thread?

          First, you’re doing your damnedest to establish the actuality of Adam and Eve as real human ancestors, and now you’re dismissing all of Genesis as ahistorical poetic mythology?

          If you’re a Loki, please stop. It’s not funny. If you’re a troll, please go away and grow up. And if you actually buy this bullshit you’re spewing…please go away and grow up.

          Cheers,

          b&

          • Steersman
            Posted September 17, 2011 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

            Jesus Christ, man. Can’t you even avoid blatantly contradicting yourself in a single thread?

            Yes, I was wondering about that myself. For him to say “It [Genesis?, the Bible?] is not an historical account of the world” and then to be arguing for some literal Adam and Eve looked to me like one very large and sore thumb sticking out a mile.

            And which looks like it has been rather badly “nailed” by evolution and science. I think the Church has painted itself into a very tight corner on this one as Dr. Feser notes:

            … the doctrine of original sin is something the Catholic Church could “adapt” to. …. After all, the doctrine is hardly incidental. It is de fide — presented as infallible teaching — and it is absolutely integral to the structure of Catholic theology.

            They might be able to pull that chestnut out of the fire by going to a strictly metaphorical interpretation, although the ripples from that might be more than the structure could handle.

          • Richard
            Posted September 19, 2011 at 7:11 am | Permalink

            Ben Goren, I provide a response to your response in the thread above, which I provide somewhere above it as it is not possible to provide a response following.

            • Notagod
              Posted September 19, 2011 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

              Dear christian gods, can’t you take a moment from hanging on your sticks to help your slave Richard with posting comments?

              In blood and fleshy crackers yours,

              Notagod

        • Maverick
          Posted September 17, 2011 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

          Congratulations! You have the bravery to talk about something you know so little about you can’t help but prove the point you are arguing against in your conclusion!

          It would be meaningless for Ezra to tell the people “Keep the Sabbath! God did it, and so should you!” if God didn’t do it. Ergo, Ezra, the Jews, or both believed God LITERALLY rested on the seventh day of creation.

          Judaism commemorates a lot of events that we now know couldn’t have happened: Shabbat (God resting after creation), Rosh Hashanah (God creating the world), Yom Kippur (God forgiving the Jews in the desert), Succot (God leading the Jews through the desert for 40 years), Purim (God saving the Jews in Persia), Pesach (God saving the Jews in Egypt), Shavuot (God giving the Jews the Torah in the desert), Tisha Bi’Av (God getting really angry at the Jews in the desert),etc. etc.

          Does it make any sense at all to say that the Jews exerted so much effort to commemorate events they believed to be metaphorical? Wouldn’t it make a lot more sense if the Iron Age Jews believed the events described in their holy books actually happened? (Incidentally, try going to an Ultra-Orthodox community and telling them anything described in the Torah didn’t actually happen, although I would suggest ensuring your health insurance is still valid first.)

          • Richard
            Posted September 19, 2011 at 9:57 am | Permalink

            You seem to be arguing against my having said that everything in the Old Testament is to be interpreted metaphorically. Kindly redirect me to where I said that.

            • Richard
              Posted September 19, 2011 at 10:01 am | Permalink

              Sorry, Mav, I confused the threads. Please disregard my above response.

  38. Ye Olde Statistician
    Posted September 16, 2011 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

    As … a reading of Genesis immediately confirms

    Nothing like a Bible-believing atheist. Of course, the Eastern Orthodox and the Roman Catholic Churches have never taken a naive-literalist approach to the Bible. Since between them, they comprise about 2/3rds of all Christians, why constantly resort to the beliefs of Bill and Ted’s Excellent Bible Shack?

    The Orthodox trace their faith to the Holy Traditions (which include the Bible, but also include the actual practices and beliefs of the church that compiled that Bible.) The text was read from the POV of their faith. Augustine, in the West, noted that the anagogical reading of the text was the basic reading and over-and-above that reading, one may ask if the text can be considered a narrative of historical events. One of the tools he proposed was the use of natural philosophy, or science.

    there’s no evidence that Adam and Eve were anything but the ancestors of all humanity.

    Indeed. But the question is whether they were the only ancestors. Genetic evidence says they were not.

    there’s simply no evidence that Adam was contemporaneous with thousands of other people

    There is genetic evidence. This nicely supports parts of Genesis, such as where Cain fears that other men will kill him. What other men? Cain had intercourse with his wife. What wife? He founded a city. Where did he find people to populate it? So quite clearly there were other people. The notion that Adam and Eve had enough “spawn” to populate a city is ludicrous.

    (an interesting attitude to take toward human children.

    Both men are relying here not on the Bible, but on some “traditional doctrine”

    Heavens! Not fundamentalist Protestants? How dare they?

    This is a typical objection of Bible-thumpers.

    Of course it is not “some” traditional doctrine, but “the” traditional doctrine, the common heritage of the Orthodox and Roman churches (and largely of the Coptic and Assyrian churches as well). It’s been in use for well nigh 2000 years.

    Well, there are lots of differing “traditional doctrines”

    Most of the Protestant sects reject the Traditions, although some have been inching back toward them. They simply aren’t old enough to be “traditional.” The Orthodox church regards atheism as an extreme form of Protestantism, since both get upset when the Catholics and Orthodox “are relying not on the Bible, but on some ‘traditional doctrine’.” There are some differences, of course; but many of them were political or had their origins in the politics of long ago.

    • H.H.
      Posted September 16, 2011 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

      “The notion that Adam and Eve had enough “spawn” to populate a city is ludicrous.”

      Actually, nested within a story about talking serpents, flaming-sword-wielding cherubs and cursed fruit, it’s one of the less ludicrous elements.

    • steve oberski
      Posted September 16, 2011 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

      But the question is whether they were the only ancestors. Genetic evidence says they were not.

      No, the question is whether they existed all.

      There is no evidence that they existed.

      Until that is forthcoming, you can ramble on (and on and on and on) about Cain and the rest of the mythological dysfunctional family, but that’s all it is, rambling.

      And of course you’re doing what you do best, pulling a quote out of context and assigning your own warped (read dishonest) meaning to it.

      While you’re at it, what’s the genetic evidence that Zeus in the form of a swan fathered Helen and Polydeuces on Leda ?

    • Ichthyic
      Posted September 16, 2011 at 9:22 pm | Permalink

      Of course, the Eastern Orthodox and the Roman Catholic Churches have never taken a naive-literalist approach to the Bible.

      and no true scottsman ever would either, I’m sure.

      • Ye Olde Statistician
        Posted September 16, 2011 at 9:37 pm | Permalink

        Not even a true Scotsman?

        You are committing what Searle called in another context the “Give it a name” maneuver. (The Rediscovery of the Mind, p.5) Instead of coming to grips with a fact or an argument, one simply gives it a name, and then rolls one’s eyes and sighs, “Not the old [NAME] again!”

        (Don’t worry. Searle is a nonbeliever, so you can safely accept his thoughts without getting religion cooties.)

        Of course, once you understand that there are accidental qualities and essential qualities and the former can be dispensed with, but not the latter; and for that matter realize that “true” means “faithful” to a thing, you realize that there really can be true Scotsman. Otherwise, how would you know when you had one? The same applies to a “true philosopher” or a “true biologist.” Nihilism such as you have adumbrated has a nasty habit of turning in the hand and injuring its wielder.

        But facts remain facts. The Eastern Orthodox and the Roman Catholic Churches actually do have official magisteria, official teachings, and they really have never taken the naive-literalist approach to the Bible favored by you fundies.

        • steve oberski
          Posted September 17, 2011 at 6:43 am | Permalink

          So they make their own stuff up instead of importing it.

          And speaking of hands injuring their wielder, you are in imminent danger of self inflicted injury yourself.

        • satan augustine
          Posted September 17, 2011 at 7:00 am | Permalink

          “…they really have never taken the naive-literalist approach to the Bible favored by you fundies.”

          You really should learn what a fundamentalist is before tossing it around. Atheists are not, by the nature of nonbelief, fundamentalists.” We have no doctrine with which to be fundamentalist about.

          • Ye Olde Statistician
            Posted September 17, 2011 at 11:04 am | Permalink

            There are +fundies and -fundies. They can be identified as the same species by their use of the same methods, tropes, and ways of thinking. Insistence on naive-literal readings, for example. They even use some of the same legends initially circulated by fundies against the “Whore of Babylon.”

            You will never get a clearer picture of the fundamentalist concept of God than by reading the current crop of atheists. Consequently, they never lay a glove on the Eastern Orthodox or the Roman Catholic understanding. (And like +fundies, -fundies find the Orthodox church nearly invisible.)

            • Posted September 17, 2011 at 11:36 am | Permalink

              ORLY?

              ‘Cuz this atheist from the current crop says that the Zombie of Zion who’ll have you mercilessly tortured if you don’t grope his guts is nothing more than a cheesy horror story used to frighten little children and mental midgets such as yourself.

              Care to cite an example of a fundamentalist who’ll agree with me? Or what this oh-so-sophisticated response would be from your ivory-tower heroes in the Orthodox and Catholic ossuaries?

              As Jerry makes it so clear it in the title of this thread, your protestations that we should believe your lies are almost as ludicrous as your lies themselves.

              Cheers,

              b&

    • Drosera
      Posted September 17, 2011 at 3:50 am | Permalink

      Of course, the Eastern Orthodox and the Roman Catholic Churches have never taken a naive-literalist approach to the Bible.

      Just like they have never taken a ‘naive-literalist approach’ to secular law.

      Where the Bible is obviously spouting nonsense, they declare it to be metaphor. Where secular law states that raping children is a crime they apply their own ‘canon law’ and transfer the naughty clerics to another diocese.

      By the way, a particularly gruelling case of abuse is just coming to light in the Netherlands, where it appears that in a Catholic institute for mentally retarded children in the 1950s, boys were not only sexually abused, but even murdered. This was then covered up (sounds familiar?).

  39. Posted September 16, 2011 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

    We listen to a lot of history of Old Test lectures. It appears:
    – The residents of that area were getting their butts whipped, since they were on the superhiway between Egypt and guys north of Israel.
    – So they needed to organize and come up with reasons they were getting whooped all the time.
    – “We did sumpting wrong to get whooped” was answer one
    – “Let’s make it a religion to support a King and army” answered #2.

    And it worked.

    Jerry should debate these guys. We’d pay to see.

  40. Elmer Snowdon
    Posted September 16, 2011 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

    I am amazed that such a shallow analysis of both scripture and evolutionary theory would come from a Phd at U. of C.! As if evolutionary theory has anything whatever to do with original sin…

  41. Richard
    Posted September 16, 2011 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

    ‘“Let’s make it a religion to support a King and army” answered #2.

    And it worked.’

    Except that the king came about 2,500 years after it was already a religion.

  42. Posted September 16, 2011 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

    No offence, but this really seems needless. These people go to ridiculous lengths in an attempt to maintain their faith when the evidence simply does not back them up.

    You’re original argument is the only logical conclusion – the bible only states that two humans where created and from there humanity was borne. They perpetrated the “original sin” and therefore the whole need to the Judeo-Christian myth.

    That there is not genetic evidence for first two humans, but rather evolution to the modern hominid, this ancient myth – which wasn’t formulated by any stringent means to begin with anyway – is nothing more than a story.

    The need for elaborate explanation just shows their desperation to hold on to it as fact.

    • Steersman
      Posted September 16, 2011 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

      No offence, but this really seems needless. …. The need for elaborate explanation just shows their desperation to hold on to it as fact.

      I’ll definitely agree with the last part, although not with the first for this reason:

      If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State. [Joseph Goebbels]

  43. Ken Browning
    Posted September 16, 2011 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

    I have a question about the science involved in this issue. Does the period of the bottle neck correspond to the development of language and attendant reasoning skills?

  44. Timothy
    Posted September 16, 2011 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

    Shea’s defense seems particularly silly given how even if he were right about Adam & Eve, Genesis 7:23 says only Noah and those with him in the ark were left after the flood. Gen. 7:7 says it’s Noah, his wife, his sons (no daughters, apparently), and his sons’ wives. So the two-person population bottleneck remains even still (plus there are unrealistic population bottlenecks for all other non-aquatic species). I suppose Shea would take refuge in a non-literal interpretation for Noah as well.

    • Posted September 16, 2011 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

      Is there a branch of science that doesn’t make those who take the Ark story even vaguely realistically as completely batshit insane?

      Cheers,

      b&

  45. MadScientist
    Posted September 16, 2011 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

    The fools believe that they are reconciling scientific fact with their myths; if they only bothered to read a little they would realize that the new ‘biblical truths’ which they are inventing (because face it, they’re not in the bible) are themselves inconsistent and at odds with scientific fact. I see Shea at least drawing from the “mitochondrial Eve therefore Genesis was true” nonsense without realizing what this “mitochondrial Eve” actually is. Shea talks about thousands of other humans being around when Adam and Eve were “created” (though ‘creation’ apparently now means ‘magically created with souls, unlike all the other same-species apes); however, any traits which are likely to be common with all humans are actually traits which belong to a common ancestor. I’m waiting for the next excuse: the ones with souls turned into modern humans while the ones without souls, such as the neanderthals, became extinct. Religion has the enviable capability to create facts out of thin air – to manufacture facts from fiction – or at least the religious believe that it is fact.

    • Ye Olde Statistician
      Posted September 16, 2011 at 8:33 pm | Permalink

      ‘creation’ apparently now means ‘magically [sic] created with souls, unlike all the other same-species apes

      Insofar as humans are concerned, it never meant anything else, except perhaps to naive literalists.

      Cautions:
      a) “Magic” means making use of hidden or currently unknown properties of matter.

      b) All living beings have souls, since the word “anima” translated as “soul” simply means “animated, alive.” It does not mean the Cartesian kludge, only invented by the scientists in the 17th century.

      c) The sensitive soul, vegetative soul, and the inanimate form (which is not called “anima” for obvious reasons) are material and their powers are embedded in matter. The rational annex to the sensitive soul – i.e., intellect and will – are immaterial in principle. See e.g., http://www.nd.edu/~afreddos/courses/43151/ross-immateriality.pdf It was this power to abstract concepts from percepts (and the appetite for them) that the church taught was infused to transform a material (biological) man into a metaphysical man. The purpose was anagogical, not scientific: all men now living are equally one species. The Greeks did not think so: there were Greeks and barbarians, and the distinction was not just linguistic. But the church insisted and eventually science proved it.

      d) It is vain to argue, as I have seen done, that religion “does not progress” and then at another time, like a whack-a-mole game complain that religion does change and refine its understandings in the light of new data. Especially so when it is a juvenile understanding akin to viewing genes as biological “atoms” or for that matter atoms as miniature solar systems. Such models may be useful, but genuine practitioners know better.

      Now, you don’t have to believe any of this. (Most people can get through life without believing in a great many things. What does heliocentrism matter to an auto mechanic? How does evolution help a plumber?) The point is that the usual criticisms are as much without basis as the typical creationist criticism of evolution.

      • H.H.
        Posted September 17, 2011 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

        “d) It is vain to argue, as I have seen done, that religion “does not progress” and then at another time, like a whack-a-mole game complain that religion does change and refine its understandings in the light of new data.”

        Change is not the same thing as progression. Continuing to tack on [i]ad hoc[/i] excuses in order to avoid admitting error is not progress. That’s [i]failing[/i] to progress, failing to move on and discard mistaken ideas.

        • Steersman
          Posted September 17, 2011 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

          Reasonable point I think. Reactionaries protecting their prerogatives probably doesn’t qualify as progress – which tends to have its inevitable consequences.

          BTW, in passing, the HTML brackets are the greater-than and less-than symbols ….

      • articulett
        Posted September 17, 2011 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

        So carrots and bacteria and puppy dogs have souls? Just not the immortal kind that can suffer forever for not believing the right thing? What about those other hominids that existed –the Neanderthals, Denisovans, and “hobbits”? Did they have the mortal brand of soul or did they get the everlasting kind that god’s “favorite creations” inherited? How do you distinguish these immaterial souls and gods from non-existent beings, myths, and illusions– or do you just not care whether they are real or not so long as you can get them all to make sense in your mind?

        Do you ever feel silly trying to make your religious myths fit with the facts? Do you think bad things will happen to you if you don’t “keep the faith”? Do you think the Muslims are willing to work as hard as you do in getting their faith to fit the facts? How about the Scientologists? When you fail, you can always denigrate science and imagine your morals come from on high just like those others, right?

      • articulett
        Posted September 17, 2011 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

        Do you ever feel like you are doing what the Mormons need to do in order to keep telling themselves Joseph Smith wasn’t completely wrong about the history of the Americas?

  46. Posted September 16, 2011 at 10:20 pm | Permalink

    The author of today’s article appears as another literal mind, intellect not withstanding, unable to deal with a metaphor. Myths reveal the truths of human emotional experience, which foreshadow facts to come of the intellectual experience. i.e it was a truth man could fly but not a fact until the Wright Brothers – a cliche example.
    Adam and Eve story is a metaphor for man’s sense of loss, the loss of innocence and safety in goodness, a heaven, or, as Freud’s theory would have it, the desire to go back to the womb. It is a persitant theme in the history of art, literature and religion… a fact, man trying to find this utopia again. What caused this loss? the old phrophets connected it to their feeling of guilt.
    The temptation in the form of the serpent symbolizes man’s inability to confront his own human nature it must come from a mysterious underground source.Well, it was underground, alright.
    original sin? It is as genetic as sexual pleasure, but not as nice. When has Aggression and Greed, whether explified in Wall Street or “Shock and Awe invasions not stretched back to the beginning of Mankind? Watch the little bullies on the Playground. testosterone, the amoral force for survival becomes immoral with knowledge and may end in the Acopolypse before the planet fries. Knowledge is a two edged sword.

    As for Eve, Adam still blames women for Eve’s seductions. She is the danger who screws up great enterprises,(sorry) not man who cannot behave himself. Sharia Law in Muslim territory, and emotional displacement everywhere else.

    God? The most abused word today, Any four letter word is more respectable and far more boring. God is in man, as well as the Devil. Maybe we will find him centuries from now as the Master Robot we built ourselves. But He is the truth now and the fact to come..What man has dreamed in myths and yesterday’s science Fiction has the habit of materializing. The Tech Mad Max world is upon us in spite of the hopeful Dawkins.

    Evangelical Christians trapped by literal minds have no more clue than autistic savants…which I read once in the N.Y. Book Review compose almost half of the Dept. of Physics in Princeton. The main, perhaps only task, of the Atheist movement is to keep the Hard Right out of politics. To do that one needs to shame them in their own religion with the truths of Jesus who was a rebel fighter for the poor and a master interpreter of the spirit of the Law, not the Letter. Even a literal mind can understand the Sermon on the Mount. Attack them with the Sermon.

    • Drosera
      Posted September 17, 2011 at 3:58 am | Permalink

      “original sin? It is as genetic as sexual pleasure, but not as nice.”

      The complete human genome is now known. Care to point out which sequence of A, C, G and T codes for original sin?

      What have you been smoking? Must be powerfull stuff.

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

        I was thinking the same thing… what a word salad– sprinkled with crazy– worse than ye’ olde statistician. How does one respond to crazy? Are they even TRYING to have a dialogue?
        I guess obfuscation is the only thing religionists have left to support whatever it is they imagine themselves “saved” and “moral” for “believing in”.It must be weird to feel compelled to put “faith” before “fact” in order to avoid the eternal torment of a loving (ha!) 3-in-1 deity. So many words… so little said.

        And I think this sounds like a valid “argument to a woo– they hear what they need to hear to keep the faith that their god is more than a voice in their own head:http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/notrocketscience/2009/11/30/creating-god-in-ones-own-image/#more-740

        Science seems to be getting in the way of their spinning their myths into glorious “higher truths”. It’s becoming harder and harder to do so and so they are resorting to “crazy” in the hopes that someone might mistake wackadoodlry for depth.

        I think that in their minds they are making some sort of point and that it shores up their faith or something– but from my perspective they seem to be using lots of words to say nothing at all. It must really bother them that there is no more evidence for their supernatural beliefs than there is for the mythologies they reject.

        There is no more evidence for immaterial souls than there is for immaterial penises sticking out of the theist’s head. But I can see why some people might see these illusions as compelling.

    • Posted September 17, 2011 at 4:55 am | Permalink

      Adam and Eve story is a metaphor for man’s sense of loss, the loss of innocence and safety in goodness, a heaven, or, as Freud’s theory would have it, the desire to go back to the womb.

      Eh, no.

      Not even close.

      First, of course, it’s a story about an enchanted garden with talking animals and an angry giant.

      Though there’s not much point in continuing with a literary analysis of such a clearly childish work…when one does, the picture is neither so rosy nor grandiose as you paint it.

      Instead, we discover a delinquent single father who leaves his kindergarden-aged children alone in the house. He tells them they shouldn’t drink the paint thinner he left in the apple juice bottle in the refrigerator because it’ll kill them. The dude’s deadbeat brother drops by and, on a lark, gets the kids to drink the paint thinner. When the dude comes home and finds the kids puking all over the carpet, he flies into a rage and kicks them, sick, naked, and crying, to the curb and makes sure the dogs will rip them to shreds if they ever darken his doorstep again.

      That Christians actually worship this monster of a “father” should tell you something about the contents of their characters. That priests have such a nasty habit of emulating this “father” really shouldn’t be all that surprising.

      Cheers,

      b&

      • Posted September 17, 2011 at 6:39 am | Permalink

        Adam and Eve story is a metaphor for man’s sense of loss, the loss of innocence and safety in goodness, a heaven, or, as Freud’s theory would have it, the desire to go back to the womb.

        But even if that were true, it no less undermines the Fall than science’s demolition of Adam and Eve (sola scriptura or not).

        “Jesus: What are You for?”

        /@

      • Steersman
        Posted September 17, 2011 at 10:56 am | Permalink

        Amen.

        Nice sermons this Sunday Brother Goren …

    • Posted September 17, 2011 at 5:05 am | Permalink

      Even a literal mind can understand the Sermon on the Mount. Attack them with the Sermon.

      What, that nasty rant that condemns to infinite torture each and every man who ever looked at a woman, thought, “Yeah, I’d hit that,” and then failed to immediately gouge out his eyes? The one that’s condemned innumerable women to lives of torture because they’ve feared Hell more than divorce? The one that commands not civil disobedience in response to injustice, but rather blind uncomplaining acquiescence to whatever evils others choose to heap upon you? The one which, in no uncertain terms, declares that Jesus bestows his blessings equally upon the evil and the righteous?

      Seriously. Have you ever even pretended to read the Bible?

      Cheers,

      b&

      • Posted September 17, 2011 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

        Your interpretation of the Adam and Eve myth is as literal as a rebel Child’s reply to the literal Evangelical Right. As for knowing the Bible, I not only can distinguish between the Sermon on the Mount and the rantings of the old prophets, but know and have taught the major religions and Eastern philosophy. My faith? I have none,in its place I’ve aquired enough knowledge to know the jury is out. Atheists should know their enemy…you guys do not…or you would use better weapons.

        As for the gene that conveys Original Sin, a a concept intuited by those deranged prophets: Today, the genetic behavorists and related scientific disciplines conclude that the urge (testosterone) to scatter one’s seed is the genetic causes of competitive greed, constant warfare and the impulse to want what the other person’s got. Read History or Again, watch the two year old children at play in a group without supervision. Too simple that inductive reasoning for you smart guys? The urge for survival, obviously an amoral force, becomes immoral when not controlled by civilzed and humane reasoning. Immorality gone with the wind, too? Feel free of it all? Go watch Mad Max again, or The Children of Men. Today’s myths are tomorrow’s facts.

        As I wrote before, most of the readings here reveal a mental entrappement in the details of materialistic reductionism. Post modern, or scientific knowledge is only a part of the Whole. Without knowledge of the psychological, philosophical, literary history of man. A rock is a rock is a rock and mommy and daddy kicked me out of heaven, forsooth! These renditions of reactions to this myth is on the same level of consciousness as that of the Evanglical or hard right of any religion, Hebrew, Christian and Muslim.

        • Drosera
          Posted September 17, 2011 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

          Yeah, those two year olds are full of testosterone.

          “As for knowing the Bible, I not only can distinguish between the Sermon on the Mount and the rantings of the old prophets, but know and have taught the major religions and Eastern philosophy.”

          Ah, that would explain the incoherent rambling. I feel sorry for your pupils.

        • Posted September 17, 2011 at 7:12 pm | Permalink

          As for the gene that conveys Original Sin, a a concept intuited by those deranged prophets: Today, the genetic behavorists and related scientific disciplines conclude that the urge (testosterone) to scatter one’s seed is the genetic causes of competitive greed, constant warfare and the impulse to want what the other person’s got.

          Genetic behaviorists conclude nothing of the sort; that’s not at all what testosterone does; and testosterone is far more ancient than not merely Hominidae, but than Vertebrata itself.

          So, what is it you’re trying for? Adam and Eve were asexual tubeworms or something equally bizarre from a billion or more years ago?

          You can spew all the poetic bullshit you like. Just don’t fool yourself that it has any bearing on reality — because you sure as hell ain’t follin’ the rest of us.

          Cheers,

          b&

          • Posted September 18, 2011 at 1:18 am | Permalink

            It takes a bizzare mind on its way to incoherent rambling to speculate I was aiming for asexual tubeworms… when myths by definition occur only with the evolution of man. As written before, they apply only to the emotional experiences of humans, not even the mating of lung fish.

            We are surrounded by “the poetic shit” of ancient myths, in our archtecture, our movies, our rituals, Science Fiction especially …they are harmless, beneficial or dangerous according to the abilities and temperament of the interpreter. The political mind uses them destructively, so does the the ultra conservative in Science and the literal minded in both religion and science.
            Until the sum of human nature beomes merely a chemical formula, or an equation, Adam remains the symbol of the witless YOU…, Eve your unfortunate partner,,, if not now, than later. the DNA chain may or may not be the Serpent within you, but no man escapes the seducer or the seduction whatever form it takes and each contributor here will endure A Fall from some height.
            .
            A few contributers already seem vulnerable to worshiping the future Great All Seeing, All Knowing Computer built by our future geniuses. Your children’s children will perhaps name it God.
            According to Post Modern thought, there is no meaning in anything anymore…a rock is a rock is a rock. As I read the replies and repostes on this Post, they give the lie to Post Modern thought.Tthere is too much passion, weakly disguised as snide humor, toward those contributors better than I who are well grounded and objective in their replies.

            You and I may live on different planets, but I respect the facts of Science, you refuse to accept, or cannot yet understand the “truths” of your human condition.

            • Posted September 18, 2011 at 10:58 am | Permalink

              It takes a bizzare mind on its way to incoherent rambling to speculate I was aiming for asexual tubeworms…

              Quite the contrary. It’s simple inference, that you should have learned in grade school.

              Here, let’s try a bit of remediation.

              1. All men are mortal.
              2. Socrates was a man.
              3. Therefore, Socrates was mortal.

              See? It’s easy.

              Now, for a only slightly more complicated example.

              1. Adam and Eve were responsible for committing the Original Sin. (Source: the Bible)
              2. The Original Sin has been passed through the generations in the form of the genetic structure that codes for testosterone. (Source: your incoherent ravings.)
              3. The genetic structure that codes for testosterone arose at least a billion years ago in an unknown animal that might have been an asexual tubeworm. (Source: evolutionary biochemistry)
              4. Therefore, Adam and Eve were asexual tubeworms (or something along those lines) who lived at least a billion years ago. (Source: induction)

              You and I may live on different planets, but I respect the facts of Science, you refuse to accept, or cannot yet understand the “truths” of your human condition.

              The first phrase you got right from a pop culture perspective, though, of course, not literally. The last two are, as Pauli might have put it, not even worng.

              Cheers,

              b&

              • Steersman
                Posted September 18, 2011 at 11:10 am | Permalink

                The last two are, as Pauli might have put it, not even worng.

                Amen. You got that rghit …. ;-)

        • Steersman
          Posted October 5, 2011 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

          A few contributors already seem vulnerable to worshiping the future Great All Seeing, All Knowing Computer built by our future geniuses. Your children’s children will perhaps name it God.

          As an alternative to “Jehovah” I would suggest “Vol”. Or maybe “V-ger”. And one could look forward to hearing, in various “climate-controlled rooms” with exotic fire-suppression systems – no burning bushes allowed, the muffled sounds of monks – in lab-coats – softly chanting “Quant. suff.” ….

          In any case I agree with at least some of your arguments or perspectives: something definitely to be said for retaining some of the metaphorical aspects of Bible – even if that does put me in the position of apparently singing out of key here. However, your apparently uncritical acceptance of the “Sermon on the Mount” as a weapon against evangelical Christians would appear to be as problematic – “if thine eye offend thee …” – as an outright rejection of any metaphorical value in the Bible – value which even Dawkins and Coyne apparently accept as being present – somewhat inconsistently in both cases, I might add.

          The problem, as I believe you suggested, is that there is still far too much acceptance of the supposed literal truth in the Bible. Though it’s nice to see that even the Catholic Church is starting to distance itself from that position even if they go through some amusing, if not painful, contortions in an effort to retain as much of that literalism as possible – for example those of Edward Feser. Though, in passing, his book The Last Superstition: A Refutation of the New Atheism is both a case of some quite valid arguments and some serious special pleading for that literalism – far too many “purity of essence” [POE] moments and cases of a thumb on the scales, so much so that I’m tempted to write a book detailing them [working title, “The Unethical Butcher: A Refutation of The Last Superstition”].

          But definitely somewhat amusing how the Church frequently is caught in a bind having painted itself into one corner or another, for examples Galileo and now the conflict between the Adam and Eve myth and modern evolutionary biology. It frequently promotes science when it apparently aids or advances the theology but shuts the door, posthaste, to the resulting enlightenment when various monsters lurking therein are blinded. That conflict between those opposing, if not fundamentally antithetical, perspectives or value systems reminds me of a scene from the movie Pete and Tillie wherein another character, Gertrude, was tricked into being the head of some bingo organization that required her to give her age to the police in the authorization process. As I recollect the conflict between her vanity and the obligations of her position caused her fainting or death. In the case of the Church I think it couldn’t happen to a nicer organization.

  47. WhiteHawk
    Posted September 16, 2011 at 10:40 pm | Permalink

    I enjoy watching Ye Olde Statistician continuously annihilate the specious “arguments” in this combox one by one, and then for him and his posts to get nothing but mockery in response. Do you people honestly not realize that a sneer is not an argument?

    Whatever. Can’t expect much else from this crowd, I suppose.

    • Ichthyic
      Posted September 16, 2011 at 11:04 pm | Permalink

      continuously annihilate the specious “arguments” in this combox

      if that is what you see happening, you really should go see an ophthalmologist right away.

      • Steersman
        Posted September 16, 2011 at 11:31 pm | Permalink

        :-)

        Seems that the validity and soundness of logical arguments, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. Hence the need, I might add for others apparently unclear on the concept, for some empirical confirmation ….

      • Diane G.
        Posted September 17, 2011 at 12:47 am | Permalink

        Any chance WH is a sock puppet?

        • Ichthyic
          Posted September 17, 2011 at 1:13 am | Permalink

          seems unlikely.

          just saw something they thought reinforced their preconceptions.

          without thinking.

          though, it’s possible that I’ve seen that exact same reaction to a previous moldy statboy post here before, so they may come from another blog they both frequent.

          In which case, Moldy statboy has a … groupie?

          *shudder*

      • Ye Olde Statistician
        Posted September 17, 2011 at 8:02 am | Permalink

        WhiteHawk
        to get nothing but mockery in response.

        Ichthyic
        if that is what you see happening, you really should go see an ophthalmologist right away.

        YOS
        Is this a parody deliberately intended to prove Mr. Hawk’s point?

    • Steersman
      Posted September 16, 2011 at 11:35 pm | Permalink

      Do you people honestly not realize that a sneer is not an argument?

      Seems to me that you might want to consider that a bunch of statements in logic, regardless of how clever they might be, absent some tangible and valid premises along with some testable consequences predicted by your hypothesis really isn’t of much value or much of an argument either.

      • Ichthyic
        Posted September 16, 2011 at 11:51 pm | Permalink

        perfect.

      • Ye Olde Statistician
        Posted September 17, 2011 at 8:39 am | Permalink

        Oh, dear. There goes most of mathematics. Tell you what, why not measure the circumferences and diameters of a hundred empirical circles and see if their ratios are ever an irrational number.

        Better yet, what is the “tangible and valid premises along with some testable consequences” that inform the “hypothesis” that if a tensor A of type (1,1) is symmetric in its indices wrt every basis, then A is a multiple of the identity tensor.

        Or: We therefore must not recoil with childish aversion from the examination of the humbler animals. Every realm of nature is marvelous… [S]o we should venture on the study of every kind of animal without distaste; for each and all will reveal something natural and something beautiful.

        Or: Hannibal Barca was an inspiring general.

        The problem of scientism is the attempt to force-fit the methods appropriate to the natural sciences to other kinds of knowledge: mathematical, aesthetic, historical, etc. A carpenter does not use all the same tools as a plumber; and while some scientists (physicists and chemists) use (e.g.) mathematics extensively, others (biologists) do not.

        • ritebrother
          Posted September 17, 2011 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

          Do you really think that biologists do not use mathematics extensively? If so, it reveals a lot.

          • Ye Olde Statistician
            Posted September 17, 2011 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

            There is of course biophysics and biochemistry as well as population modeling in ecology, etc. (I have E.C. Pielou’s An Introduction to Mathematical Ecology, not to be confused with political environmentalism.) Genetics is very much a science. Also, there is considerable use of statistics, but it will startle the layman to realize that statistics is not mathematics. Newton’s law of universal gravitation was not established through statistical correlation.

            All the great theories of science resulted in mathematical models: Newton’s Laws, Maxwell’s Equations, Einstein’s Relativity, Planck’s Quantum Mechanics, etc. But where are Darwin’s Equations? (One may justly ask what are the metrical properties that would be related by such equations?)

            But our host has grown wroth that so many objections and obloquies have been directed at me, so that my responses have grown like kudzu and become repetitive (since the objections are also repetitive). In a void space inhabited by bobble-head dolls, it is not good to voice contrary opinions, for the echoes stand out; and so I have been asked to desist.

            Auf Wiederschreiben, meine Freunden. Perhaps another time.

            I leave you with one thought: in what way does the marriage of Adam and Eve symbolize a hidden wedlock of the inner man, and in that context what does the talking serpent symbolize? (Since one commenter seems obsessed over talking serpents, it should be mentioned that in Aramaic the term “serpent” is still used to mean “an enemy.”)

            • Drosera
              Posted September 17, 2011 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

              Bye bye, Michael. Don’t let the door hit you in the back.

            • Steersman
              Posted September 17, 2011 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

              But our host has grown wroth that so many objections and obloquies have been directed at me … and so I have been asked to desist.

              If I’m not mistaken, all he asked was that you not be sailing under false colours – methinks an entirely justified request as that seems decidedly unethical. A little incongruous for one supposedly championing the divine source of ethics in general ….

            • ritebrother
              Posted September 18, 2011 at 4:49 am | Permalink

              “But where are Darwin’s Equations? (One may justly ask what are the metrical properties that would be related by such equations?)”

              This is the part that I suspected was coming. Surely you are aware of the last 30 or so years of extensive mathematical modeling of molecular evolution that has has quantified our understanding of Darwin’s fundamental observations and hypotheses. Just take a look at some of the work by Masatoshi Nei and others who work in that vein. The “metrical properties that would be related by such equations,” if I am interpreting your obtuse wording correctly, are generally genomic DNA sequences.

    • Drosera
      Posted September 17, 2011 at 4:00 am | Permalink

      Dr. Feser, is that you?

    • Challenger Grim
      Posted July 13, 2012 at 7:11 am | Permalink

      Rather like watching a man trying to teach calculus to a bunch of five-year-olds who then sneer and laugh and “disprove” it by citing their basic sums, isn’t it? ;)

  48. Dominic
    Posted September 17, 2011 at 2:15 am | Permalink

    “How can any rational person buy a story like that?”
    They cannot. Anyone who makes such outrageous claims is an irrationalist NOT a rationalist.

  49. Posted September 17, 2011 at 2:52 am | Permalink

    If they can’t dazzle us with brilliance, they’ll baffle us with — well, you know how the saying goes.

  50. Lasorda
    Posted September 17, 2011 at 7:36 am | Permalink

    I am a Catholic. I have four children, so far. See you in the next generation! Or . . . maybe not.

  51. Rob
    Posted September 17, 2011 at 7:43 am | Permalink

    The comments after that Shea article are hilarious. You find Catholics reaming out Shea for not taking the Bible literally enough. So who has the real truth? Catholics who actually believe the bible, or Shea?

    The more I interact with this buffoonery, the more I realize all these guys have their own private religions, yet use the same label, rendering the label meaningless.

  52. Ye Olde Statistician
    Posted September 17, 2011 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    Intelligent Design suggests that an Intelligent Designer exists, without making any claims about the nature of the Designer’s being

    The inherent problem with ID is that it starts from a false mechanistic model of nature shared by Paley, Behe, Dawkins, and others. The success of goal-oriented Science™ in creating mechanisms in the 19th century led to an enthusiasm for applying the mechanistic metaphor to everything. (Just as today we apply computer metaphors to everything.) Under this metaphor, matter is “dead” (has no inherent organizing principle) and must be “pushed” from outside (e.g., Newton’s requirement for God to keep the solar system from flying apart: the math was inherently chaotic.)

    The basic error was to get the metaphor reversed. Dawkins, Behe, and others like them believe that Nature is like a Machine, when it is really that a Machine is like Nature. Art(ifact) imitates Nature; but Nature does not imitate Art(ifact). An organism is not like a mousetrap, because the parts of a mousetrap have no inherent tendency to come together, whereas the parts of an organism grow out of the organism wholistically.

    Thus, ID theory is false on teleological grounds. If you don’t believe in teleology, then ID becomes more credible.

    (Note, however, that this does not mean there is no intelligent designer, only that there is no need for theokinetics. If as their scriptures say, God saw that the world was good, it must at least mean that the world needs no periodic maintenance. That is why Aquinas’ fifth argument proceeds from the existence of natural laws and not from supposed exceptions to them. Darwin’s laws would be regarded by Aquinas as another bit of empirical support to the “fifth way” argument.)

    • whyevolutionistrue
      Posted September 17, 2011 at 11:35 am | Permalink

      I think this thread has run its course. I’m not closing it, but please consider whether those of you posting 25 or 30 times here still have anything new to say.

    • Posted September 17, 2011 at 11:46 am | Permalink

      You do know that Richard and Jerry are friends and colleagues, and that Richard occasionally posts here, don’t you?

      And that your caricature of Richard’s explanation of Darwin’s great discoveries are so utterly bizarre as to be completely unrecognizable?

      What on Earth would compel you to so blatantly lie to Richard about Richard’s own opinion of Richard’s life’s work?

      Really.

      Are you trying to completely and utterly impeach yourself as a witness and totally destroy the credibility of all Thomists by association? Becuase that’s exactly what you’re doing.

      Cheers,

      b&

      • whyevolutionistrue
        Posted September 17, 2011 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

        The claim that Dawkins and Behe share ANY views on nature and evolution clearly shows that this person doesn’t know what he/she is talking about.

        I think it’s time for the Olde Statistician to hold his tongue on this thread; the post above is complete nonsense.

        By the way, I have a very good car, but it needs periodic maintenance. :-)

        • Michael Fugate
          Posted September 17, 2011 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

          I am pretty sure that Mike Flynn and Ye Olde Statistician are one and the same. The O’Floinn probably is another name he uses.

          • articulett
            Posted September 17, 2011 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

            I agree with this; his posts on the Adam and Eve thread are word for word identical in points. But theists are known to plagiarize things that sound deep and true to them and try to pass it off as their own arguments– so who knows.

            Never underestimate the crazy that can come out of the mind of someone who imagines themselves “saved” for believing some very nutter things.

          • Drosera
            Posted September 17, 2011 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

            You are right. Just click on YOS’s avatar. You are then directed to a profile page for … Theofloinn. That name relates to the TOF Spot mentioned in Jerry’s post, and thus to Michael Flynn, apparently a writer of fantasy/sf novels.

            Isn’t it curious that a writer of such fiction is unable to recognise the Bible as just another fantasy novel?

            • Posted September 17, 2011 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

              It’s sheer cowardice that Flynn attacks me under his real name on his own site, and then comes over here under a pseudonym and says the same stuff. Ye Olde Statistician will be commenting here from now on under his own name, or he won’t be commenting here at all.

              • TOF
                Posted September 17, 2011 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

                That’ll teach him.

                What about the other folks here using non de plumes? Same rules?

                + + +

                The blog post did not attack you, but responded to the challenge that factual knowledge of genetics somehow disadvantages moral teachings. You were quite correct that modern genetics blows fundamentalist literalism out of the water. But it does not address Eastern Orthodox or Roman Catholic teachings.

                For a more scholarly take, consider:

                http://www.nd.edu/~afreddos/papers/kemp-monogenism.pdf

                which was written well before your challenge, but which accords well with the intuitions outlined in the blog.

              • Michael Fugate
                Posted September 17, 2011 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

                …because nothing can challenge your teachings. Your god exists without evidence and acts without leaving traces. Genesis is a story about how some humans perceive the world – they realize they will die and this differentiates them from other living things as far as they know. They blame themselves – death is punishment for “bad” actions or thoughts. Just people trying to make sense of the world, but truth?, unlikely.

              • Posted September 17, 2011 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

                Michael Flynn aka Ye Olde Statistician aka Theofloinn akaTOF wrote:

                That’ll teach him.

                Apparently not.

                What about the other folks here using non de plumes? Same rules?

                I personally have no problem with pseudonymity, and I don’t think Jerry does, either.

                But sockpuppetry is another matter entirely, and your feet stink to high heaven, Michael Flynn.

                Cheers,

                b&

              • WhiteHawk
                Posted September 18, 2011 at 9:17 am | Permalink

                1) Flynn has been posting at this website for a while under “YOS,” long before he wrote at his little blog about A&E and long before Coyne even mentioned him. It makes little sense for him to change his name starting now, particularly when what he’s said here has been said under his “YOS” handle almost verbatim on quite a few other WEIT threads.

                2) If Flynn was trying to attack Coyne from the shadows of anonymity out of sheer cowardice, do you not think it highly probable that “YOS” would’ve at least attempted to preserve his anonymity? The YOS -> Flynn “discovery” was only two measly clicks away, which bespeaks no attempt whatsoever at a serious “sneaky attack from the shadows.” Hence, no cowardice.

                It’s blindingly obvious once you imagine yourselves in the shoes of a bitter, pusillanimous person wanting to launch an online attack with no personal repercussions. In fact, many of you probably don’t even have to imagine it.

                But so much for scientific thinking. Make way for hysterical emoting!

                3) The idea that someone of Flynn’s erudition is intimidated by Coyne and Co. and hence feels the need to resort to cowardice is too hilarious for words. That’s on par with saying that William Lane Craig is afraid to debate the existence of God with Richard Dawkins.

              • Posted September 18, 2011 at 10:47 am | Permalink

                That’s a nice fantasy, WhiteHawk. Unfortunately, it has little to do with reality.

                Flynn has multiple sockpuppets, not just Ye Olde Statistician — and he appears to have created a brand-new one in response to Jerry’s public warning about his sockpuppetry.

                And it’s generally not cowardice that drives people to sockpuppetry, but rather a narcissistic desire to appear more popular than one really is — a description which would seem to fit Flynn to a “t.” It’s often associated with antisocial personality disorder, aka sociopathy…and Flynn has already demonstrated that he suffers from that condition. After all, he’s expressed his support of both ancient and modern child rape, of Torquemada, of the Church’s persecution of Galileo…really, he’s a textbook case.

                Cheers,

                b&

        • Posted September 17, 2011 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

          The best cars do!

          I drive a ’68 VW Camper that, of course, needs at least valves, timing, and carburetor adjusted every few thousand miles. (For me, that’s a couple times a year.)

          And I’m pretty sure all the Indy cars get a complete engine rebuild after a measly 500-mile race — and the top fuel dragsters get a rebuild after every quarter-mile run!

          Cheers,

          b&

  53. Schleierman
    Posted September 17, 2011 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    >”The claim that Dawkins and Behe share ANY views on nature and evolution clearly shows that this person doesn’t know what he/she is talking about.”

    Well, I’m sure that they both believe in the existence of biomolecules…

  54. Drosera
    Posted September 18, 2011 at 2:15 am | Permalink

    As some Catholics here treat Aquinas as the fountain of all wisdom, here is a highly relevant citation from their idol:

    Now it is evident that in the opinion of philosophers, the active principle of generation is from the father, while the mother provides the matter. Therefore original sin, is contracted, not from the mother, but from the father: so that, accordingly, if Eve, and not Adam, had sinned, their children would not contract original sin: whereas, if Adam, and not Eve, had sinned, they would contract it.

    Yeah, this Aquinas had an amazing grasp of genetics. Did you hear that, ladies? You just provide the flesh to your children, the genes come from their father, and only from him.

    • Steersman
      Posted September 18, 2011 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

      How does that square with the “mythology” of Eve being tempted by Satan – that snake in the grass – leading to expulsion from Eden? Isn’t that part of the deal why the Church has been so critical of women?

      Although consistency was never a strong suit for the religious … start by lying to oneself and it becomes very difficult to remember the details.

      • Drosera
        Posted September 18, 2011 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

        Half baked philosophy meets silly creation myth. A horrific hybrid results. Many centuries later, Michael Flynn and Edward Feser can’t stop gazing at the stillborn monster. “What a beautiful, wonderful baby,” they whisper.

        • Steersman
          Posted September 18, 2011 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

          Nice. I like it, J.B., I like it.

          Though the problem is, unfortunately, that the monster was not stillborn and sits there in the cradle waiting to devour the baby (and much else besides) – which seems, in my view, still to have some prospects – metaphorically speaking.

          Reminds me of a comment by a “Christian” minister, Gretta Vosper, who wrote a book titled “With or Without God” wherein she argues, among other points (I haven’t read it yet), for a “post-Christian church”:

          “Those who recognize the Bible’s claim to be the [literal] word of God as the monster in the tub with the baby are the ones who must throw that monster out with the bathwater” [MacLean’s, March 31, 2008].

          Absent turfing the monster, driving a stake through its heart? “What rough beast, its hour come round at last, slouches towards Bethlehem to be born”.

          • Drosera
            Posted September 18, 2011 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

            Perhaps you’re right. Maybe the monster is still alive. Maybe that’s why Flynn and Feser are prodding it. It’s their hopeful monster.

      • Drosera
        Posted September 18, 2011 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

        As for your question,

        How does that square with the “mythology” of Eve being tempted by Satan – that snake in the grass – leading to expulsion from Eden?

        Well, you see, it’s all a metaphor. Your question simply betrays your literalist-fundamentalist mindset. There was no snake, no grass, no forbidden fruit. It was all inside Adam’s head. Adam simply wanted to test his free will. He reasoned that having free will only made sense if he could do something he was not supposed to do. So he said ‘No’ to his maker. That’s it. Isn’t it glaringly obvious? Or do you think that the Book of Genesis, this sophisticated ontology of the world, this glorious edifice, of which the narrative of the Fall is only a small but crucial part, could have been conjured up by ignorant priests who had to chase the goats out of their temple every morning? Really!

      • Brian
        Posted September 18, 2011 at 9:44 pm | Permalink

        Well, it’s clear that everyone here, including our blogger, know very little about historic and orthodox Christianity – Catholicism and Orthodoxy. Except for Mr. Flynn, though.

        Pretty ghastly guys.

        • Drosera
          Posted September 19, 2011 at 1:08 am | Permalink

          The sad thing is that Flynn not only knows this stuff but actually believes in it.

  55. Posted September 18, 2011 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    It was the Biblical prophets who said that Adam and Eve committed original sin. Who among us here does not know that Free Will is an illusion in our deterministic universe? Once more you are jumping the gun assuming… projecting onto me your own wishful desires for my ignorance. In order that your brilliance may upstage the conversation?
    I do appreciate your atttempts to teach me syllogisms…I first read The Dialogues when I was 14, when did you come accross them, earlier perhaps?
    I stand by my observations, that only when human nature has disappeared into its mathmetical equation,will man be able chuck out the myths. Until than you are Adam conditioned by desires exemplified in the myths…an apple is an apple is an apple?.

    • Posted September 18, 2011 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

      I like how you criticize someone for trying to upstage a conversation with brilliance, and then you start up a pissing contest on who read The Dialogues at an earlier age.

      Classy.

    • Posted September 19, 2011 at 6:05 am | Permalink

      I stand by my observations, that only when human nature has disappeared into its mathmetical equation,will man be able chuck out the myths.

      So, until we all become like Spock, we’re best off believing in stories about enchanted gardens with talking animals and angry giants? And, once we all become like Spock, we won’t be able to enjoy a good ghost story any more?

      And this is a good thing? Or has any bearing on reality?

      Please.

      Grow up.

      The problem with the Bible is twofold.

      First, it’s a bunch of faery tales that billions of people thing really happened.

      Second, it’s bad myth. It’s poorly-told promotions of truly horrific “morals.”

      Trying to salvage the Bible by going all Joseph Campbell on us just ain’t gonna work. Sorry.

      Cheers,

      b&

      • Posted September 19, 2011 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

        B & G. If Adam and Eve were a bad myth it would have been successfully dumped from the world’s literary scene long ago.

        And Why does it it make you so angry? It doesn’t deserve such personal frenzy. Its as if a young son were beating a dead donkey for dying on him.

        Its the literal interpretation from the religious right that scientists should be beating on..its’ danger to scientific education of our citizenry with its continual political parade of regrades. Not Those who interpret the myth as one of the historical records of man’s emotional experiences. We do no harm, speak no harm, see no harm.

        Why does a literary point of view hurt you so? Why does anger here appear as vitriolic as the loss of the donkey? Could it be becAUSE its not a donkey, but the beautiful, grand steed of your forefathers
        pur literal minded scientists have trashed? Read Spinoza… a calm and beautiful mind.

        C. Hitchens and Dawkins are great, but too arrogant to remember Socrates’ “All that I know is that I know nothing” Spinoza was a scholar and secular saint. Read him.After this, re-read Dawkins, forget Hitchens.

        • Posted September 19, 2011 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

          If Adam and Eve were a bad myth it would have been successfully dumped from the world’s literary scene long ago.

          HA!

          Later in that same anthology, we get a talking plant that gives magic wand lessons to the reluctant hero…so the verbose vegetable can later have an excuse to unleash a genocidal campaign of biowarfare that would have made even Hitler blush. And the grand finale is a zombie with a thing for having his guts groped who’ll torture the living shit out of every last person who fails to grope his guts in just the right way.

          Never underestimate the staying power of bad myth.

          And Why does it it make you so angry? It doesn’t deserve such personal frenzy.

          Oh, yes it does.

          That single story has been used to justify more misogyny than you can imagine. Countless women have needlessly suffered excruciating agony during childbirth because people pointed to that story and said to provide anesthesia would make the angry giant even angrier, and we can’t have that, now can we?

          Today, because Christians recognize that, if the story is bullshit then Jesus died for bullshit, we have an all-out assault on modern biology and science education being waged by Christians.

          [F]orget Hitchens.

          Though I disagree with him on a non-trivial number of points not related to religion, my only complaint with Hitchens’s analysis of the Bible is that he’s far too generous in his assessment of it. But that’s okay. I suspect he’d privately agree with me on that point, but observe that what he says about the Bible outrages enough people as it is, and it won’t be that much longer before the Overton Window has shifted enough to really cut loose.

          Cheers,

          b&

  56. Posted September 18, 2011 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

    Vou are right to correct me here. Thank you Tim

    • Drosera
      Posted September 18, 2011 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

      Turning the other cheek. How nice.

  57. Posted September 20, 2011 at 5:36 am | Permalink

    B&G still cannot escape from a literal level of understanding…and on that level a valid attack… on the old Testament’s fairy tale…a myth which contains psycyological or symbolic truths for those who score high on one area in the I.Q. scale.
    The rebel Jesus is too offensive, especially historically for the Jews with their own historical travails, to bear witness to psychological facts within the legend of his life. For the Greeks, they had no problem, it was familiar territory. Nor do We question the manes for our technology , Neptune, Amazon, zodiac,, etc.
    .
    The historical Jesus was nailed to the cross because he was a dangerous rebel to the religious status quo… the letter of the Law killed the spirit of the Law. The literal mind is dangerous thing. Genius level can travel easily between the two opposites, however.
    . .
    Once any institution, especially in the field of religion, rewrites the inspired source and is re- interpreted by each generation, a mockery of the original action occurs.. Scholarship attempts unnravel the source.

    But why should you talented crew in Science not be educating instead of preening yourselves with your wit and self congratulations? For the furtherance of your convictions surely it is necessary to educate, and no depth learning can take place with scathing attacks or self congratulatory wit. Or is this remark too… cliched for the temper of the times?
    Until there is educating and leading in preference to adolescent competitive preening and cute derision, we in this particular boat will remain moving backwards…. What do you think the bird brain politicians are going to do with your ‘pure” science? and its step- child technology? Don’t care?
    with no Humanities?no perceptive rendering of the psychological myths to anchor competitive aggression and neurotic fears of the hoi polloi? what happens? Don’t care? Know what the average educational I.Q is in this country? Don’t Care?

    if your generation lives long enough, Norway will appear the heavenly archetype one is so eager to deride. The Scientific mind, whether pure or technical has to be a no sniggering leader in the widest sense of the concept..
    I am as old as dirt.. as the reader has no doubt guessed…no problem for me. But some of you may have children. .

    • Posted September 20, 2011 at 6:01 am | Permalink

      The historical Jesus was nailed to the cross because he was a dangerous rebel to the religious status quo…

      Okay. Hold it right there.

      You seem to be laboring under a misconception that Jesus was an actual, literal, real historical figure.

      Care to offer up even one example of a credible piece of positive evidence supporting such an assertion? Or to attempt to explain away the absence of evidence where such evidence literally must be found were the assertion true? (I refer, of course, to the Dead Sea Scrolls, Philo, Pliny the Elder, Seneca, all sorts of Roman satirists, etc., etc., etc.)

      Once we’ve established that you’re dealing in reality, and not simple childish wishful thinking, then we can have a productive discussion. Until then, all your ravings amount to no more than somebody waxing poetic about the differences in leadership style between Captains Kirk and Picard. Entertaining, perhaps, but otherwise irrelevant.

      Cheers,

      b&

      • Mary Angelica
        Posted January 31, 2012 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

        Tacitus mentions the Christians as followers of Christ in his history, and describes Christ himself as a Judean killed under the rule of Pontius Pilate (Annals 15.44). Pliny the Younger mentions the persecution of Christians as followers of a certain “Christus” in his letter to the emperor Trajan, as well as describing certain early Christian practices as seen through a pagan lens (see letters 10.96-97… Pliny the Elder died in the eruption of Vesuvius). and Josephus mentions the death of Jesus ( see Book 18, Chapter 3, paragraphs 1-5). Does this help?

        • Posted January 31, 2012 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

          Hardly.

          Not a one of those men were even born until a couple decades or so until after the best guesstimate of the alleged dates of the supposed “facts.” Except for Pliny the Elder, of course, who — though he was fascinated with exactly the sort of topics the Gospels are devoted to — noticed nary a thing, even though he would have been about ten at the time and had his entire life to learn about it. And, for that matter, they all three describe the beliefs and antics of Christians, not the actual facts on the ground.

          In contrast, all the libraries worth of contemporary sources — and I do mean, quite literally, at least an ancient library’s worth — are perfectly silent on the entire matter.

          Might as well cite Matt Groening as “evidence” that Paul Bunyan was a real, honest-to-goodness historical figure.

          Cheers,

          b&

  58. Johannes
    Posted September 20, 2011 at 9:26 am | Permalink

    The main objection that Professor Rosenhouse raises against Professor Feser’s interpretation, as stated in this post on his blog:

    http://scienceblogs.com/evolutionblog/2011/09/one_more_round_on_original_sin_1.php

    is that it plainly disagrees with the account in Genesis 2: 4-8:

    This is the story of the heavens and the earth at their creation. When the LORD God made the earth and the heavens—

    there was no field shrub on earth and no grass of the field had sprouted, for the LORD God had sent no rain upon the earth and there was no man to till the ground,

    but a stream was welling up out of the earth and watering all the surface of the ground—

    then the LORD God formed the man out of the dust of the ground and blew into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.

    The LORD God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and placed there the man whom he had formed.

    I will show that Professor Feser’s interpretation, or a modified version thereof, can perfectly agree with the Genesis account.

    I will use this notation:

    t-men = true men = theological men = metaphysical men = with an infused spiritual soul

    q-men = quasi men = without an infused spiritual soul

    where “men” above can be replaced by “women” or “people” as fit.

    We have two basic possible cases for the creation of Adam & Eve:

    1L. Spiritual-only Leap: they were biologically identical to the surrounding q-people, differing only by having been infused a spiritual soul.

    2L: Physical & Spiritual Leap: they underwent both a speciation event (DNA change) at conception (mainly affecting brain capabilities) AND the infusion of a spiritual soul.

    2L has a variation 2L+ involving more divine intervention, which was proposed by Drew in Professor Coyne’s blog on June 2, 2011 at 9:07 am:

    http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2011/06/02/adam-and-eve-the-ultimate-standoff-between-science-and-faith-and-a-contest/#comment-107005

    Now, even though Professor Rosenhouse may think that all human intellectual capabilities reside purely at the biological level, I assume he is kind enough to allow theists to posit that the highest of those capabilities derive from the operation of a spiritual soul.

    With that assumption, both basic possibilities for the creation of Adam & Eve perfectly agree with Genesis 2: 4-8, as q-people were just not intellectually able “to till the ground” by themselves. Which is plain obvious, since t-people actually started agriculture only 10,000 years ago. And it is also plain obvious that, from a metaphysical viewpoint, q-people, like chimps or gorillas, were just “dust of the ground”.

  59. Johannes
    Posted September 20, 2011 at 9:35 am | Permalink

    Comment 2 of 2.

    The proposed “Catholic concordant conceptual framework” is as follows:

    Biblical Adam and Eve were created according to either case 1L or 2L (including 2L+), as mentioned above.

    Biblical Adam is Y-chromosomal Adam. Mitochondrial Eve could be either Biblical Eve or a matrilineal ancestor thereof, as explained below. (Clearly, in creation case 2L+ they are the same t-woman.)

    Adam and Eve themselves had intercourse only with each other.

    Starting with Adam’s children, or perhaps grandchildren, t-people, and specifically t-men, had to start dealing with q-people competing for the same land, and they took care of them in the only way worthy of modern humans: by killing them all, with the possible exception here and there of some young attractive q-females, which were spared to be used as “wives”, or more exactly sexual slaves. Hey, they looked as good as t-women but did not talk! What else could a hard-working, hard-fighting t-man ask for? Thus, the restriction is simply that t-men mated with q-women as extensively as needed to satisfy C3 above, but t-women never mated with q-men. (Clearly, in creation case 2L+ no interbreeding with q-people is necessary to satisfy C3.)

    Here an objection could be raised about why a similar degree of interbreeding did not occur with Neanderthals or Denisovans in Eurasia after the Out-of-Africa event. The answer is quite simple: as the Neanderthal and Denisovan lineage had diverged from the lineage leading to t-men around 800-600 KY ago, Neanderthal and Denisovan females, in contrast with q-women, looked really awful from the perspective of t-men, so that very few t-men had such a terribly bad taste or were in such dire sexual need as to take them as sexual slaves.

    Regarding the offspring resulting from t-men having intercourse with q-women, there are two possibilities that satisfy C2:

    I1: Interbreeding resulted in t-men who were reproductively viable. Either there was no female offspring, or that female offspring was sterile. In this case Biblical Eve is Mitochondrial Eve.

    I2: Interbreeding resulted in both t-men and t-women who were reproductively viable. In this case Mitochondrial Eve was the matrilineal MRCA of BOTH Biblical Eve AND all the q-women that t-men mated with.

    This framework clearly satisfies C1, C2 and C3 by design. Satisfaction of C1 implies satisfaction of C5, as, in St. Thomas Aquinas words, “original sin is transmitted to the children, not by the mother, but by the father.” C6, though a much more loose constraint than the others, is also satisfied. Whereby we can now focus on C4.

    Since we have already shown that this framework fully agrees with the account in Genesis 2: 4-8, we will now focus on another passage, Genesis 6: 1-4, where we add between parentheses the corresponding elements of this framework, to show their remarkable (and quite unexpected by this blogger) degree of concordance:

    When human beings (q-people) began to grow numerous on the earth and daughters (q-women) were born to them,

    the sons of God (t-men) saw how beautiful the daughters of human beings (q-women) were, and so they took for their wives whomever they pleased.

    Then the LORD said: My spirit shall not remain in human beings forever, because they are only flesh. Their days shall comprise one hundred and twenty years. (Therefore the interbreeding was against divine will, as would be expected.)

    The Nephilim appeared on earth in those days, as well as later, (could “later” refer to the much less frequent intercourse with Neanderthals and Denisovans after Out-of-Africa?) after the sons of God (t-men) had intercourse with the daughters of human beings (q-women), who bore them sons. They were the heroes of old, the men of renown. (this seems to imply that those “children” born by q-women were only male, which would support I1 above.)

  60. Posted September 20, 2011 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

    Goren, obviously you are lacking objective research in a subject matter that offends you personally more than it should. The image that comes across is not the scholar but the adolescent delight in the kill. the thrill to debunk, a kind of adolescent fixation that obstructs scholarship. …
    .Evidence? Are you sane? I wouldn’t take the time to caugh up the past research that separates the few historical facts from the maybe’s of the myths and legends. . Tons of the prophet’s past have been dug up. Chris Hitchens too doesn’t have a clue as to the identity of his enemy.

    Your kind will not be helpful in the campaign to keep the church out of politics. ..since your disposition although on the opposite end of the pole is on the same linear, literal one note level as the religious right.. As for the Jesus guy. Long ago left such emotinal hangups or fixations behind.. Advise yu to do the same. Go be a good scientist.

    • Posted September 20, 2011 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

      Wait — you’re the one blathering on about the real-life antics of the Zombie of Zion as deduced from the (unidentified, as always) tons of evidence from his past, but I’m the one who’s being immature?

      Damn. They sure don’t make these irony meters the way they used to…anybody got a spare I can (ab)use?

      Cheers,

      b&

  61. Lars
    Posted September 21, 2011 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

    Well in the rear, here, and I’m probably beating a dead horse, but this is the second time that I’ve seen Flynn attempt to correct an expert on the subject of that expert’s own competence – another example is at Richard Carrier’s blog
    (http://richardcarrier.blogspot.com/search?updated-max=2010-01-15T09%3A53%3A00-08%3A00&max-results=2).

    I thought that YOS sounded familiar, but I had a Catholic education, and that tone of mild, gently-amused condescension and insufficiently-concealed disdain is one that most Catholic intellectuals use upon the paynim, and upon their own erring young (sorry, spawn), so I had plenty of opportunities to hear it as I grew up.

  62. Posted October 3, 2011 at 10:29 pm | Permalink

    Fascinatingly wagon-circling mechanism on display in the comments above.

    Disclaimer #1: Readers will note that I post this under my name. If for some reason one should encounter posts on other fora attributed to James, James J., James Jerald, Jim, or Jerry Brannon yet originated by me, do me the courtesy of not venturing accusations of fraud, fakery, or sock-puppetry. Some people use more than one cognomen in real life. I also have the nicknames “Buddy” and “Crash”.

    Disclaimer #2: Although, I have periodically over the last ~15 years visited the Talk Origins Archive, PZ Myers’ Pharyngula, and this site, among others, I am acquainted with Michael F. Flynn and came to this discussion through his LiveJournal site via the The TOF spot. For those who are slow — such as people who cannot connect “Bob” with “Robert”, “Jack” with “Jonathan” or “Pete” with “Pedro” — “The O’Floinn” is the Gaelic equivalent of “The Flynn”.

    Disclaimer #3: I am an admitted pantheist, although I am not a Christian, having exited stage left more than half a lifetime ago.

    Disclaimer #4: I have some slight, passing exposure to evolutionary biology.

    I’d like to correct a misapprehension. I understood that the ETS removed analogies from the Verbal SAT due to to gender inequity in the sub-scores.

    However, it has become clear from reading these posted comments that analogic, metaphoric, and poetic comprehension are beyond most of the commentators.

    Certainly irony is.

    Could any of the other posters here have taken a moment to check on the dead-salmon reference before condemning it as a “myth” [misusing the term]? It was a fairly notorious incident and I believe I was the culprit… I mean, attentive science news reader… who first showed it to MF^2 — me culpa! — I should say Michael F. Flynn, since many of you seem to be baffled by a change of hair-do.

    The case should be cautionary tale for scientist in love with their conclusions and who confuse correlations with mechanisms.

    If one is to be be blamed for propagating that example here, let it be me.

    Of course, my college biology teacher may share some of the blame for honing a skepticism of experimental outcomes in this his humble student.

    JJB
    [another short form of my name]

    • Posted October 4, 2011 at 3:43 am | Permalink

      Thanks for that cautionary homily, Jar Jar Binks.

      /@

      • Posted October 4, 2011 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

        My, my, Ant Allan. How clever!

        You must be only the two-dozenth person to make that ad hominem riff on my name in response to one of my posted comments on some fora instead some adult, cogent reply to the substance of my remarks.

        So, to reiterate: is it a discourteous, close-minded, knee-jerk reaction to dismiss as “myth” [misusing that term] a reference to a widely-publicized scientific experiment rather than granting that the commentator mentioning it may actually know of what he spoke?

        Similarly, is it appropriate to suggest — on the basis of that same commentator identifying the source for that experiment upon request for someone too intellectually indolent to fact-check — that the OP must be unaware “what scientists do”, when it is readily apparent that the responder has no notion of what statisticians do in general or Mr. Flynn does in particular [as would be remedied had the posters been more diligent to check his undisguised profile]?

        Nothing in The O’Flainn’s comments strikes me that he does not know “what scientists do”. However, knowing Flynn and all the scientists he has/had as personal or professional acquaintances, the allegation strikes me as hilarious.

        My advice? To mine LMB: “Check your assumptions. In fact, check your assumptions at the door.”

        Also, regarding science and superstition, please enjoy the video attached to my profile.

        JJB

        • Posted October 4, 2011 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

          It was, wasn’t it, sport? Not only was it a riff on your initials fit to your predilection for a variety of handles but it also alludes to how annoying you are.

          Yes, you have a valid point regarding the doubting of the salmon, but did you really have to make it with such a verbal effluvium rather than being short and to the point and thus deserving of a cogent reply?

          And have a care when you criticise others of the mote of misusing “myth” when there’s the beam of your misusing “ad hominem”: I was merely being facetiously insulting and not in any way trying to dispute your point about the doubting of the salmon thereby.

          You should, in any case, make your points directly in reply to satan augustine (who may in any case have been facetiously referring to one of the themes in the OP and comments) and ritebrother.

          /@

          PS. And it’s mea culpa. But we already know that Latin is not your strong suit.

          • Posted October 4, 2011 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

            Yes, you have a valid point regarding the doubting of the salmon, but did you really have to make it with such a verbal effluvium rather than being short and to the point and thus deserving of a cogent reply?

            Thank you, finally for the acknowledgment.

            Effluvium? I reject the opprobrium. Had to? To say what I cared to say rather than what you would choose to hear? Yes, in my judgment.

            Now am I to understand in your world, length rather than the quality of content, is the sole criterion for “deserving” the application of courtesy?

            And have a care when you criticise others of the mote of misusing “myth” when there’s the beam of your misusing “ad hominem”: I was merely being facetiously insulting and not in any way trying to dispute your point about the doubting of the salmon thereby.

            Please elucidate. Insult, facetious or otherwise, is “ad hominem” by definition. Such as your use of “effluvium”.

            You should, in any case, make your points directly in reply to satan augustine (who may in any case have been facetiously referring to one of the themes in the OP and comments) and ritebrother.

            Mayhaps. *If* I had witnessed anyone here, as a group, responding fairly to what Flynn wrote rather than to the baggage of presumption they themselves carried in with them or if either of those particular individuals seemed to demonstrate a sense of humor, which might be a lapse in my perceptiveness. This is why I add an emoticon — a smile or wink — to insure transmission of the proper tone.

            Mayhaps, too. *If* anyone here had displayed a grasp of the proper use of the term “myth”.

            PS. And it’s mea culpa. But we already know that Latin is not your strong suit.

            I concede that Latin is not my strong handkerchief, let alone my strong suit.

            However, unlike someone with a compulsive ad hominem ax to grind, I would have credited the elision as a simple “typo” rather than spin a supposition whole-cloth from the omission.

            I might even go as far as to allow that the person preparing the message — one admitting fault in a light-hearted, self-deprecating manner — may possess some physical impairment to one’s typing skill.

            Rather than that minor omission which I hadn’t noticed, why not tar and feather me for neglecting the “of” that should have nestled among “instead some adult, cogent reply”.

            There’s four salient points to my objection; you’ve acknowledged one.

            Aside from the accusatory Salmon of Doubt, there’s 2] the baseless allegation that Flynn does not understand “what scientists do”, apparently derived from him linking to the scientific poster of a scientific experiment critiquing, by a relevant scientist in his own field, on the flawed methodology of other scientific experiments; 3] that Flynn somehow committed fraud, fakery, or sock-puppetry by employing a previously-used handle — O noes! An alternative handle used on the Intertubes!!! — that directly linked to him [I don't see Flynn barring Coyne from Flynn's website even if Coyne were to use that "evolutionistrue" moniker. Crikeys! How would anyone figure that was Jerry?]; and 4] the astonishing notion that one must only lay upon the Procrustean bed of literally factual or false.

            I’m supposing, therefore, no one here’s ever read, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” and not concluded that the French Revolution never occurred because both clauses could not be simultaneously true.

            A man can truthfully say that his wife is the most beautiful woman in the world, without that statement being literally *factual*. Rebut him at your own risk. I favor my skin.

            See http://www.pcahistory.org/documents/deliverance.html for the earliest publication of the Five Fundamentals.

            One — who is not a fundamentalist of the First Order [Inerrancy] — could see that it is fitting for a literally literary work to be both truthful without *necessarily* being factual in detail.

            To do otherwise is akin to judging a Renoir by burning the original in order to evaluate its worth by spectroscopy or judge the merits of the “William Tell Overture” by examination of its signal pattern via an oscilloscope.

            If one cannot concede that flaw in Dr. Coyne’s approach in the original essay, whatever else the merits, then I have nothing more to say here, because to accept such a stance is to adopt the very closed-mindedness I thought we deplored in Fundamental Creationists.

            We cannot afford to become Fundamental Evolutionists out to stifle courteous and considered dissent.

            JJB

            • Posted October 5, 2011 at 3:22 am | Permalink

              Ooh, a point-by-point rebuttal… 

              1. Not length over quality, but concision. If you chose to wrap what you could have said simply in convoluted flapdoodle, more fool you.

              2. *Sigh* See, for example, “The Ad Hominem Fallacy Fallacy”.

              3. Mayhap. (And if you’re going to affect archaisms, do take the trouble to get them right. Although you might argue that it’s just another of your yptnig errors…)

              4. Well, of course it was a typo! (And how witty to deliberately misconstrue the sense of “suit”! What a card!)

              Your other points are better addressed by others here, I think, than me.

              /@

              • Posted October 5, 2011 at 6:42 am | Permalink

                1. So?

                I was saying the other day that the OED fails miserably at concision. Rather intolerant of another’s style, aren’t you. As for “flapdoodle”, again with the ad hominem. See 2.

                2. No. Other sources — http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/mathew/logic.html#hominem or http://philosophy.lander.edu/logic/person.html — [for two] better address the notion that any argument intended to denigrate *irrelevantly* the value of the pertinent credentials of one’s opponent is ad hominem.

                Or that’s how my college logic & philosophy professor instructed us. Relevantly addressing the credentials of the opposition is permissible, however. Forex, constantly deriding the usage, word choice, or typing of another on an Internet forum is the hallmark of a posturing cyber-bully.

                3. Thanks for the tip. I’m always on the look-out for self-improvement. Pity us poor Yanks with our constantly evolving Americanglish. Why, speaking of the OED, who knows how this back-construction of “maybe” and “perhaps” might fare against the older “mayhap”. See http://www.grammarphobia.com/blog/2010/06/mayhap.html

                4. I thought it was a worthy sally. Again, my gratitude for an attentive audience.

                Your other points are better addressed by others here, I think, than me. — Ant Allan

                I certainly hope so because your example of deliberate focus on the trivial rather than the substantial is exactly the sort of poor conduct against Flynn of which I was complaining and which, overall, devalues this website.

                JJB

              • Posted October 5, 2011 at 10:54 am | Permalink

                @ JJB

                1. Am I intolerant of another’s style? No. Openly critical? Yes. Especially when it obfuscates meaning. In my profession I write a lot for publication and I write well (in the opinion of my managers, peers, and clients). I also do peer review and do that well (as above). Many of my colleagues are cleverer than me but will sometimes bury that under tortuous and baffling prose. Am I making a personal attack when I tell them so? No. Nor here.

                2. I quite agree with both those articles you cite. Neither supports your position. Again, I was simply being facetiously insulting for its own sake because your original comment was annoying. I wasn’t taking issue with any of you points (not all of which I disagree with, in any case). I’m sorry if you feel bullied. I am in any case a precisionist (or overly pedantic, if you’re being critical). But my intent here was only to mock not to intimidate or impress.

                3. Mayhap “mayhaps” is gaining currency as others on the web affect an erroneous archaism. It’s still an affectation, however, and — here’s a tu quoque for you — that’s the hallmark of a poseur. 

                4. See? If we take heart, stop being stubbornly adamant, and club together, with a little spade-work we can build bridges.

                Well, I meant rather that it would be presumptuous of me to speak on behalf of those others (who all seem to have moved on happily from this thread). I was only ever criticising your style, but that, I thought, was not trivial (except perhaps in the sense that it pertained to grammar, rhetoric, and logic), as it was substantially detracting from your points.

                And that is all I have to say on the matter.

                /@

  63. Posted October 4, 2011 at 8:50 pm | Permalink

    Entirely on another topic, Dr. Coyne, considering the faculty size, while I realize there is a small but non-zero probability of occurrence, do you happen to be acquainted with Laurie Butler [Chemistry] or Michael Stein [Statistics] at University of Chicago?

    JJB

  64. Posted October 5, 2011 at 11:25 pm | Permalink

    Using a plain text reading of the book of Genesis, Chapters 1 thru 5 are handed down by way of Noah & family (since they were the only survivors after the great flood). The Noah story is notoriously skimpy on details (especially compared with Exodus or later books in the Bible). Further, a plain text reading of the Bible also tells us that when humans were divided into different language groups at the fall of the tower of babel, there was much confusion among humanity.

    The Bible also strongly implies none of this got written down until Moses’ time (the first mention of any sort of written record is in Exodus).

    So basically the Bible is telling us Genesis chapts. 1 – 6 represent the story as Noah remembers it to the best of his understanding while chapts. 7 – 9 show he’s not that much of a detail oriented guy and chapt, 11 tells us information got garbled even worse.

    In other words, readers are being tipped that while the early Genesis stories represent some sort of truth, they may not be 100% accurate or factual.

    How can something but true but not factual? Same as saying George Washington was the father of his country. Yeah, he was, but not biologically.

  65. Posted January 26, 2012 at 11:15 am | Permalink

    I find this debate so interesting – I spent so much time reading the comments!


4 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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