Andrew Sullivan gets all militant about religion and creationism!

I can’t believe this: first we hear the guy is going to give up his blog and become a monk, and now Andrew Sullivan has become strident and militant against religion—well, some religions.  In a Daily Beast post called “Creationists’ abuse of fossils,” Andrew Sullivan says this after discussing creationists’ claims that dinosaur tracks are preserved alongside human footprints near Glen Rose, Texas (the “human footprints” are really more dino tracks):

What do you do when people use religion to perpetrate empirical untruth? In a free country not much. But on this kind of issue, it seems to me that Hitchens was right. These people need to be mocked mercilessly for ignorance and stupidity. This isn’t faith. It’s bullshit. And yet in this advanced country, it’s everywhere – and one political party panders to it.

Get that, people? Let me repeat: Andrew Sullivan said that creationists need to be mocked mercilessly for ignorance and stupidity, and that creationism is bullshit. This is Andrew freaking Sullivan, a devout Catholic. Take that, you accommodationists!  And yet this is the same fellow who said that the story of Adam and Eve was so palpably metaphorical that he cursed at me for thinking that anyone could taking Genesis literally (“Has Coyne read the fucking thing?“). I guess he’s finally realized that a lot of people do see it as literal truth. I spent much of last Thursday, for instance, arguing with four Christian creationists from the UK, all of whom believed the entire Noah’s Ark story, including the fact that Noah was 600 years old when he built it.

Or maybe Sullivan was just having a bad day . . .

h/t: Greg Mayer

92 Comments

  1. Tulse
    Posted April 24, 2012 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    I don’t know that someone who is gay and non-celebate, and pro-choice, can be called a “devout” Catholic. However fervently he may proclaim his Catholicism, many of his beliefs are strongly opposed by the Vatican.

    • Posted April 24, 2012 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

      More, or less, catholic than Hitler? YOU DECIDE!

    • gbjames
      Posted April 24, 2012 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

      It is one of God’s great mysteries.

    • Marella
      Posted April 24, 2012 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

      I doesn’t seem any more mysterious than the 99% of Catholic women who use birth control, or the 83% who say they are more likely to follow their own conscience than the Pope’s teachings. I have no idea what being Catholic really means. I don’t get it.

      • Achrachno
        Posted April 24, 2012 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

        It’s a club you’re born into, or not.

        • JohnnieCanuck
          Posted April 24, 2012 at 11:09 pm | Permalink

          Or marry into. That’s how my niece became Catholic. The church is now up four new souls, what with the three kids they’ve had.

          She had to convert or the priest would have refused to let them get married in the church.

          • Posted April 25, 2012 at 1:28 am | Permalink

            When my catholic mother married my protestant father her priest condemned to hell her and any children she might spawn. Guess that’s why I’m an atheist; and my kids.

            So, like bad refereeing decisions, they probably balance out at the end of the season, or the end of eternity.

            • twattybanjo
              Posted April 25, 2012 at 2:07 am | Permalink

              The best bit of a catholic/protestant wedding is the saying of The Lord’s Prayer. The protestant version has an extra verse and a lot of innocent pleasure can be had watching the two halves of the church bobbing up and down in the confusion.

            • twattybanjo
              Posted April 25, 2012 at 2:07 am | Permalink

              The best bit of a catholic/protestant wedding is the saying of The Lord’s Prayer. The protestant version has an extra verse and a lot of innocent pleasure can be had watching the two halves of the church bobbing up and down in the confusion.

          • bernardhurley
            Posted April 25, 2012 at 4:29 am | Permalink

            As far as I am aware it there has been no rule against Catholics marrying non-Catholics in church since at least the eighteenth century. The condition to entering one of these “mixed marriages” has been that the non-Catholic partner agree that any children be brought up as Catholics. Two of my sisters, both Catholics, married non-Catholics in church in the late 60’s as did my younger brother in the 80’s. My maternal grandmother married a non-Catholic in church around 1910 as did my paternal grandfather. A more prominent such couple would be the Blairs; Tony was not a Catholic at the time of their church wedding.

            Different priests have different attitudes to this and I don’t know how much personal discretion they have about performing such a ceremony. One priest from Belfast I knew as a child thought “mixed marriages” were a good thing as they increased the number of people being brought up in the Catholic faith. OTOH I believe Opus Dei members cannot remain members if they marry non-Catholics and it seems unlikely that a priest who was a member of Opus Dei would want to officiate at such a ceremony. Although there are not very many of these, only about 2000 world wide.

  2. Matt
    Posted April 24, 2012 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

    Speaking of mocking creationists, The Colbert Report last night had the infamous “We must stand up to the experts” Creationist former Texas Board of Education member Don McLeroy.

    • Reginald Selkirk
      Posted April 24, 2012 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

      Dinosaurs and men coexisted! Revise the textbooks.

    • darrelle
      Posted April 24, 2012 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

      How was it? Did Colbert make him look like the idiot he is?

      • Posted April 24, 2012 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

        Not enough. But it was still funny. The guy’s a dentist and he can’t even explain Creationism very well, much less real science.

        • Posted April 24, 2012 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

          Oh, shit. Sorry, I forgot it would embed the whole video. Tsk.

        • darrelle
          Posted April 24, 2012 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

          Thank you!

        • Posted April 24, 2012 at 7:38 pm | Permalink

          “Hot lava-on-lava action!”
          “I have personally chosen that it is true.”
          He’s quick!

        • Nom de Plume
          Posted April 24, 2012 at 9:45 pm | Permalink

          I have often wondered why people like this agree to appear on Colbert, and then I remember why people agree to appear on “Cops” and other such shows (their signed release is required to show their face): it’s because they’re fucking stupid.

          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted April 25, 2012 at 4:30 am | Permalink

            This is why all the ‘criminals’ you see on ‘Cops’ are stupid. The ones who aren’t flatly refused to sign a release.

          • Posted April 25, 2012 at 8:58 am | Permalink

            @Nomedeplume I know, do they not realize they are being made fun of??

        • David T.
          Posted April 25, 2012 at 8:35 am | Permalink

          People like Don McLeroy are the problem with the religious right, they obey the bible and ignore the facts. Its absurd, this guy is a dentist arguing against PhD level geologists, paleontologists, zoologists, biologists, ect….

          • microraptor
            Posted April 25, 2012 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

            Well, someone has to stand up to the experts.

  3. FrankZ
    Posted April 24, 2012 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

    Catholics are not (generally) creationists or fundamentalists. In the past 50 years, the Vatican has generally learned its lesson about denying proven scientific facts (like the age of the Earth) and switched to pushing a Gouldian NOMA strategy. As far back as the 1960’s, the nuns were telling me in elementary school that god created the world in 6 days – but the bible doesn’t say how long those days were, so…

    • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
      Posted April 24, 2012 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

      There is no NOMA to be had. All theists rejects the biological theory and says outright “godditit” by direct creating organisms, or conditions ‘creating’ organisms or ‘souls’, and deists think it.

      The most apt description is creationists. Why else the gods if they don’t actually do anything?

    • tomh
      Posted April 24, 2012 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

      Catholics are not (generally) creationists or fundamentalists.

      Depends who you’re talking about. The Catholic hierarchy, as you noted, accepts some form of evolution, but polls generally show that the Catholic rank and file believe in creationism at about the same rate as the rest of Americans. This poll, for instance, shows over 40% of Catholics deny evolution, just slightly lower than the national average.

      • Griff
        Posted April 25, 2012 at 12:32 am | Permalink

        I’d willing to bet that the “evolution” accepted by the Pope isn’t really evolution. To fully accept evolution, you’d have to acknowledge that there is nothing special about the human animal (i.e., not singled out for special treatment by god), and I don’t see any Christian of any kind accepting that.

        • microraptor
          Posted April 25, 2012 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

          I believe that it’s been pointed out here that Catholic doctrine still requires a literal Adam and Eve who were specially chosen by Dog and infused with a soul.

  4. xuuths
    Posted April 24, 2012 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

    Catholics are creationists because they believe the world/universe was created by god.

  5. Nom de Plume
    Posted April 24, 2012 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

    The key phrase here is “These people”. Like many religious people, Sullivan has no problem selectively opposing some religion, or applying a skeptical eye to beliefs that conflict with his own.

    This is little different from the fundamentalist Christians who stridently oppose Mitt Romney because he’s a Mormon. “Have you seen what those crazy Mormons believe? How can any sane person believe that nonsense?”. And this coming from young earth creationists in many cases.

  6. Tulse
    Posted April 24, 2012 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    It should also be noted that while Sullivan can at times get very prickly about attacks on religion, and demand that people be respectful of mainstream faith, he nonetheless was/is quite happy to ridicule Scientology in numerous of his columns.

    • Screechy Monkey
      Posted April 24, 2012 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

      Exactly. He’s made fun of Mormons, too, I believe.

      With Sullivan, it all comes down to whose ox is being gored.

  7. rhetoric
    Posted April 24, 2012 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    Yeah he is so far from an actual Catholic it is truly mind-boggling. He even had to invent the term ‘Christianists’ to isolate his liberal Christian brethren from those ‘other’ ‘Christians’ who are so obviously wrong.

    This is just a part of that – trying to isolate what Christianity has been for centuries to the Free Love Christianity he wants it to be today, all so he can finally, in his mind, believe that his god accepts him for loving dudes – despite all the evidence to the contrary.

    • Tulse
      Posted April 24, 2012 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

      Wait, is there actually evidence that god doesn’t like guys who love guys? Doesn’t that presume the existence of his god to begin with?

      • rhetoric
        Posted April 24, 2012 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

        It’s in the Old Testament. You know, the majority of the bible that no liberal Christian takes even remotely seriously.

        Try to have a Christian explain away all the obviously moronic parts of the OT, while still clutching to the parts that feel nice. The mental gymnastics are truly stunning.

        • Tulse
          Posted April 24, 2012 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

          My question wasn’t whether the Bible says that gay sex is wrong, but whether that counts as actual “evidence” for the existence of a god that rejects gay sex.

          • Reginald Selkirk
            Posted April 24, 2012 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

            Yes, it’s just very bad evidence.

          • Old Rasputin
            Posted April 24, 2012 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

            I believe Rhetoric was saying that there is plenty of evidence that “his god” (Sullivan’s god, presumably the god of the Bible) takes rather a dim view of homosexuality. He was in no way making an existence claim.

            There’s no shortage of evidence that Popeye liked (likes?) spinach, but it doesn’t imply a flesh and blood Popeye… or even a ground-of-all-being Popeye.

            I would fully expect anyone trying to float the Bible as evidence for the existence of Yahweh, Adam, Noah or anyone else, to be laughed off the stage on a website like this.

            • gluonspring
              Posted April 25, 2012 at 12:20 am | Permalink

              Thanks for the ground-of-all-being Popeye image.

  8. rhetoric
    Posted April 24, 2012 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

    Also, maybe you could prod him into explaining his ‘Trusty Biblical Metaphor Detector’ that a subset of his readers has been trying to get him to divulge for years.

    Adam and Eve? Obvioulsy metaphor, stupid!

    Guy being bled out and then coming back to life after 3 days in a cave? 100% fact.

  9. Posted April 24, 2012 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

    I am genuinely baffled by your comment “Take that, you accommodationists!”

    Here you have a bona fide Catholic calling out the creos for being the bullshitters they are. Surely this is to be welcomed. As we should welcome (real example, in which I was involved) getting the signature of a leading Catholic journalist (and a couple of Episcopalian canon theologians; and Richard Dawkins) on a letter used to shame a slippery Catholic Education Minister into clearly stating his official opposition to creationism.

    • whyevolutionistrue
      Posted April 24, 2012 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

      Indeed, but he was militant and advocated mockery toward the religious: something that accommodationists generally don’t sanction. Of course I welcome Sullivan saying stuff like this; it’s great! But it’s not going to sit well with a certain class of godly-coddler.

      • Posted April 24, 2012 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

        Andrew Sullivan is not mocking anyone for being religious, nor would he, since he is religious himself. He is fiercely mocking creationists for peddling bullshit, and in doing this, on this specific issue, is clearly an ally.

        Strictly, Sullivan is the only person under discussion here who can correctly be termed “accommodationist”. He has, like his church, long since accommodated his interpretation of scripture to the realities of science. So why use “accommodationist” as a dirty word?

        • truthspeaker
          Posted April 24, 2012 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

          ‘Andrew Sullivan is not mocking anyone for being religious, nor would he, since he is religious himself. He is fiercely mocking creationists for peddling bullshit,’

          For peddling bullshit that comes directly from their religious beliefs.

          ‘Strictly, Sullivan is the only person under discussion here who can correctly be termed “accommodationist”. He has, like his church, long since accommodated his interpretation of scripture to the realities of science’

          Only selectively. He and his church accommodated their interpretation of the creation and flood stories in Genesis to the realities of science, but not the resurrection stories in the New Testament.

          • truthspeaker
            Posted April 24, 2012 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

            … or the virgin birth story in the New Testament, for that matter.

        • darrelle
          Posted April 24, 2012 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

          Coyne did not say Sullivan was mocking people because they are religious, he said Sullivan was mocking religious people. Clearly Sullivan was mocking them for the ridiculous claims they made. Claims that they believe due to their religious beliefs. Which both Sullivan and Coyne seem to be well aware of.

          Strictly, Sullivan is the only person under discussion here who can correctly be termed “accommodationist”. He has, like his church, long since accommodated his interpretation of scripture to the realities of science. So why use “accommodationist” as a dirty word?

          This is totally beside the point, a non sequitor even. Coyne was referencing exactly who he intended to by the term accommodationist, and it was not Sullivan. Perhaps you are unaware of the context in which Coyne typically uses the term?

          By the way, why not use accommodationist as a dirty word? Why should accommodationists have all the fun? At least the New (Gnu actually) Atheists came up with a new term instead of falsely redefining an existing one with the intent of concealing past history from their audiences.

    • truthspeaker
      Posted April 24, 2012 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

      “Here you have a bona fide Catholic calling out the creos for being the bullshitters they are”

      Which the accomadationists claim we shouldn’t do.

      Also, Sullivan is hardly a “bona fide” Catholic.

      • Kevin
        Posted April 24, 2012 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

        Ah. The No True Scotsman fallacy.

        Always stick with the classics, I say.

        Sullivan declares himself to be a bona fide Catholic. He believes in all of the church dogma except the stuff about gay sex being bad.

        He’s even spoken of becoming a monk. A Catholic monk. Presumably, he qualifies by virtue of being a Catholic and currently unmarried (to neither a woman nor a man).

        That’s not good enough for you? What else would you cite as being qualification for being a bona fide Catholic?

        Adherence to all church dogma? You mean like the 99% of American Catholics who eschew the church’s teachings on birth control?

        • darrelle
          Posted April 24, 2012 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

          Well, I don’t want to speak for truthspeaker, but I am pretty sure he meant that comment in the context of “from the viewpoint of the Catholic hierarchy”, and that at least part of his intent was to hilight the irony of Sullivan’s position vis-a-vis the Catholic Hierarchy.

          I am pretty sure you wasted that quite good response to the “No True Scotsman” fallacy on the wrong target.

        • truthspeaker
          Posted April 24, 2012 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

          “Sullivan declares himself to be a bona fide Catholic. He believes in all of the church dogma except the stuff about gay sex being bad.”

          And about the authority of the pope.

        • steve oberski
          Posted April 24, 2012 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

          You don’t get to “believe in all of the church dogma except”.

          It’s all or none.

          Or so says the man who talks to cloud people and wears a pointy hat, that is when he’s not busy moving paedophiles around, promulgating genocide in sub Saharan Africa or trying to subvert women’s rights round the world.

          Not that I’m against Sullivan taking RCC dogma and modifying it to his particular needs, that’s how the RCC got started in the first place so he’s on the right track.

          But he ain’t no Catholic.

          But then again that would include most self professed Catholics, either they reject the more repugnant parts out of hand or they don’t even know what the dogma is.

          This was a favorite pastime of Hitchens, he would corner a self professed Catholic and tell them that they did not believe in the immaculate conception (of Mary) to which the Catholic would hotly reply that they did so believe in it but then when asked to describe this belief what they were referring to was the virgin birth of Jesus.

          • steve oberski
            Posted April 24, 2012 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

            But they will still take your money.

            • Christian
              Posted April 24, 2012 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

              …or still count you as a Catholic to inflate their numbers.

              • bernardhurley
                Posted April 24, 2012 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

                According to the RCC’s criteria, once you have had what they consider a valid baptism you are a Catholic and there is nothing you can do about it.

        • bernardhurley
          Posted April 24, 2012 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

          He qualifies as not being married according to the RCC’s definition of marriage. Whether he or anyone else thinks he is married is beside the point.

  10. Posted April 24, 2012 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    I don’t quite get the term Accomidationist. I have friends who are fairly religious, while being every bit as furious at Creationism as anyone here. They will scream BULLSHIT just as loud as anyone else fighting to keep ID out of the realm of science.

    However, they grew up Christian (one of them is from Kansas). They pray for personal reasons, they do so in private, and they choose to attend church. They are 100 percent agaisnt Creationism and in fact they are both scientists.

    I don’t think it is “Accomidationist” to say they have the right to have a personal religion.

    Am I misunderstanding the term?

    • Posted April 24, 2012 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

      Accommodationist. Sorry. Spelling.

      • Sameer
        Posted April 24, 2012 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

        Amelie, the term ‘accomodationist’ is applied to atheists or agnostics who oppose the “strident” and “militant” criticism of religion by the Gnu atheists like Prof. Dawkins and Prof. Coyne. They claim that in order to convince the religious people to give up creationism and ID, the atheist critics should take a less critical, more accomodationist (for lack of a better word) approach. Dr. Coyne has repeatedly stated (with evidence) that this approach doesn’t work with creationists.

        The term will not apply to your friends because they are obviously not atheists. They are allies in the fight against creationism in school but they are not accomodationists, they are just religious people who selectively interpret their faith as methphor/not metaphor. It doesn’t apply to Andrew Sullivan because he too is not an atheist. I believe what Dr. Coyne is saying is “Look accomodationists, even a believer like Andrew Sullivan is saying that those who believe in creationism should be mocked mercilessly”.

        • rhetoric
          Posted April 24, 2012 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

          Thanks for saying what I was about too, only much better.

        • Posted April 24, 2012 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

          I agree Sameer, although what I was getting at was not my friends being called accomodationists, but rather, I have been called an accomodationist (not on this blog, somewhere else) for insisting my friends have the right to be religious if they want to.

          No one has the right to even say out loud that freaking species were created by God, or any other false crap about any science. But many of my religious friends agree, and they consider their religion a private matter.

          If Dawkins or anyone else were to call them idiotic or deluded, etc, I’d have to say that was arrogance on his part.

          • truthspeaker
            Posted April 24, 2012 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

            They have every right to be religious if they want to, and we have every right to call them idiotic and deluded.

          • Sameer
            Posted April 24, 2012 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

            Amelie, it all comes down to the question of whether religion is compatible with science. Profs. Coyne and Dawkins say that science is not compatible with the Christian religion (to take a particular example) and it clearly isn’t. Your friends have found a way to accommodate their religious belief with science. Perhaps they believe in the theory of evolution but they think god guides evolution or god was responsible for the first life-form or god ‘fine tuned’ the universe so that humans could evolve…or any number of such rationalizations through which the ‘moderate’ believers accommodate religion and science. These may be less harmful than the outright – young earth, humans co-existed with dinosaurs – creationist beliefs but make no mistake, THEY ARE a sort of ‘creationism’ because they still believe there is a role for god in the evolution of life.

            I would say that outright confrontation with these ‘creationism-lite’ believers is not needed (as a matter of strategy) because we need them as allies in fighting the greater harm. But I wouldn’t say that no one has the right to criticize their beliefs, they are propositions not supported by evidence after all. I wouldn’t call Prof. Dawkins arrogant if he were to say ‘creationism-lite’ is still a delusion (because it is).

            • Posted April 25, 2012 at 8:24 am | Permalink

              I agree of course that religion has zero place in science. However, I think you’re misunderstanding the nature of certain religioius types. Those who attended church and enjoyed it (as did my Christian friends) don’t necessarily ever even think about “God’s” connection with the universe. To them God and praying may be merely symbolic, like carrying around a lucky charm. We don’t think that charms created the universe, did we? I think to them it is just a way of evoking good memories and maybe helping them focus in times of need. No reason to think that will ever cross over with their scientific careers or become any type of Creationism. They laugh at Creationists just as much as we do.

              • bernardhurley
                Posted April 25, 2012 at 9:27 am | Permalink

                You don’t carry around a lucky charm, do you?

              • truthspeaker
                Posted April 25, 2012 at 10:14 am | Permalink

                The people you describe are already atheists. We’re not criticizing their beliefs, we’re criticizing the beliefs they pretend to hold when they go to church and pray or recite their church’s creed.

        • Posted April 24, 2012 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

          I dont think this is an entirely accurate summary of the accomodationist position. I dont think they care if you ridicule Ken Ham – they care when you ridicule a Miller or a Collins or a Haught.

          • darrelle
            Posted April 24, 2012 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

            It is more of a spectrum. Some will yell at you for saying anything that might hurt any religious persons feelings, often regardless of what they claim, and some are more as you suggest.

            The main gripe Coyne, and many of similar thought, have regarding who they (we) call accommodationists is that these people are not willing to let us work on the religion problem using the tactics we deem useful without constantly yelling at us. Even though there is some decent evidence to suggest that these tactics work in some cases, and that there some decent evidence to suggest that their own tactics do not work half as well as they claim.

            Many, maybe most, Gnu Atheists are happy to let accommodationists use whatever tactics they think best. Cover all the bases, if you will. Of course, that may be becoming less true as accommodationists continue their often spurious attacks.

            • Posted April 24, 2012 at 8:07 pm | Permalink

              Oh I dont disagree. Miller’s or anyones beliefs are fair game – just as Hitchen’s views on war or Harris’ views on morality or Coyne on free will.

  11. Sunny
    Posted April 24, 2012 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

    The original article that Sullivan cites is worth reading. There are some gems such as:

    ————
    “Yeah, I don’t believe in the Darwin deal,” he says. “The Bible says God created everything, you know.”

    “What Baugh presents there [creation museum] is sometimes speculative—provocative, for want of a better term,” Snelling says. “That doesn’t mean he shouldn’t have those things, but people should realize it’s not the mainstream of the creation movement.”
    ————

  12. Reginald Selkirk
    Posted April 24, 2012 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    I wonder if Sullivan nkows what percentage of the US population is Cerationist.

    • bernardhurley
      Posted April 24, 2012 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

      No need to get cerative with the spelling!

      • Posted April 25, 2012 at 9:32 am | Permalink

        I carry around several!

  13. Mary - Canada
    Posted April 24, 2012 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

    “Andrew Sullivan said that creationists need to be mocked mercilessly for ignorance and stupidity, and that creationism is bullshit.”
    …is the only thing I agree to that Sullivan has ever said.

  14. SLC
    Posted April 24, 2012 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

    OT but has Prof. Coyne seen the screed that Josh Rosenau posted on his blog?

    • Badger3k
      Posted April 24, 2012 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

      I skimmed it briefly when it appeared in my rss reader, and it seemed to miss the point (knowing Josh, it probably really missed the point), and of course Nick “truth is a popularity contest” Matzke is surely praising it to high heaven on PT now (I saw it but haven’t gone to read it. In reading the last post I suffered Tard-overload and don’t want to risk a relapse)

  15. corio37
    Posted April 24, 2012 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

    “This isn’t faith. It’s bullshit.”

    But it’s not just bullshit, Andrew; it’s the RESULT of faith. And as long as you hold to an illogical faith of your own which flatly contravenes observed fact, you are in no position to criticise anyone else’s.

    Are human footprints overlaying dinosaurs’ more or less probable than a transubstantiated wafer?

    • Screechy Monkey
      Posted April 24, 2012 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

      Wacky stuff other people believe in = “Bullshit”

      Wacky stuff Sullivan believes in = part of the “complex mystery” that is faith

      (If anyone hasn’t read Sullivan’s online debate with Sam Harris, do so — Sullivan’s retreat to “mystery” is quite compelling.)

      • Screechy Monkey
        Posted April 24, 2012 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

        By “compelling” I mean in the sense that a train wreck is, not in the sense of being persuasive.

  16. Mark Joseph
    Posted April 24, 2012 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

    Too good to pass up. The Sullivan article links to Tracking Creation in Glen Rose at http://www.texasobserver.org/postcards/item/18410-tracking-creation-in-glen-rose which includes this unintentionally marvelous quote from a Glen Rose fundy: “Most everyone in Glen Rose that I know believes man and dinosaurs coexisted,” Alice Lance tells me at the annual tractor pull. “The only conflict we have is when people move from metropolitan areas and have different value systems. I think some don’t have a strong [religious] belief system, and they’re more likely to go with science than faith.”

    Hey, Alice, you say that like it’s a bad thing!

  17. Achrachno
    Posted April 24, 2012 at 10:16 pm | Permalink

    “Or maybe Sullivan was just having a bad day”

    Sounds more like he finally had a good day.

  18. Griff
    Posted April 25, 2012 at 12:56 am | Permalink

    Sullivans objection is only that he takes issue with people who believe in things that are trivially disproven by science. He will hold to a core set of values which HE thinks science cannot answer, but in reality are equally stupid.

    • Posted April 25, 2012 at 12:57 am | Permalink

      He’s the poster boy for both cognitive dissonance AND the effectiveness of Catholic indoctrination, especially of people Catholicism despises.

      • microraptor
        Posted April 25, 2012 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

        Stockholm Syndrome?

  19. Posted April 25, 2012 at 12:56 am | Permalink

    OT: over at PT, Matzke is getting all worked up about Rosenau’s response to JAC’s paper. The comment thread is once again a hive of gnu-bashing and mentions of Prof Dawkins’ “extremism”. YAWN!

    Prof Coyne, Matzke appears to have quite the chip on his shoulder about you and all things Gnu. But I’m pretty sure you knew that already.

    Here we go again: http://pandasthumb.org/archives/2012/04/josh-rosenau-on.html

    • Sigmund
      Posted April 25, 2012 at 4:49 am | Permalink

      Has anyone the intestinal fortitude to withstand reading an entire Josh Roseneau post?
      From the amount of it I could manage (I think I read the first 27 pages – well that’s what it felt like – it was probably four or five paragraphs) I understand that ‘Che’ Roseneau is suggesting an alternative hypothesis that it is not religion but rather economic disparities that cause the low levels of acceptance of the scientific consensus on evolution.

      Well, I think we should at least appreciate the fact that he has suggested a hypothesis that is falsifiable.

      If economic differences are to blame for producing badly educated citizens then what should we also expect to see?
      It shouldn’t be just science that suffers. What about other areas that require higher levels of education – law, medicine, business management etc? If Roseneaus thesis is correct we should also see these occupations affected by the religious/economic/educational disparity.
      If it is just science and evolution that is affected then his hypothesis is falsified.

      • mandrellian
        Posted April 25, 2012 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

        There is a very strong correlation between economic disparity and religious belief – it’s exceedingly common (but not of course universal) that the poorest societies or communities are the most religious.

        There is in turn a strong correlation between religious belief and non-acceptance, plain ignorance or outright denial of evolution; in fact, I don’t know that I’ve ever encountered or even heard of an evolution opponent/creationist/ID-booster who wasn’t religious (though I’m sure they exist). Certainly, the major public opposition to evolution comes from religious groups or individuals, and for religious reasons (much as they may try to convince people otherwise).

        Now, I don’t think religion causes economic disparity, but economic disparity can be a major contributing factor to religiosity. Desperation, poverty and lack of opportunity can easily reinforce one’s belief in supernatural saviours and anticipation of luxurious, eternal, blissful afterlives. Further, some religious doctrines hold that a person’s current position has been bestowed from on high either as reward or punishment, for sin or for virtue, which could create inertial thinking and fatalism. Doctrines such as karma, Calvinism, predestination, the Prosperity Gospel; these all tell us our current situation is our own fault/our reward, or worse: that nothing can be done to alleviate or alter it.

        Economics aside, I do believe that religiosity, however attained, is the number one cause of evolution denial – I struggle to understand how it couldn’t be, to be frank. Evolution implies, very strongly, that humanity isn’t as “special” as most supernatural theistic religions make it out to be. This suggests that the more devout or fundamentalist you are, the less likely you are to accept that you’re an animal with an oversized brain.

        If I read you correctly, Sigmund, Rosenau’s hypothesis appears to be – ahem – missing a link.

  20. Galactor
    Posted April 25, 2012 at 4:55 am | Permalink

    Actually, the more at odds the beliefs are from reality, the more faith is needed. Which is why people like Dawkins “admire” the fundamentalists above the “moderate” theists. At least they go the whole hog.

    What Sullivan is of course saying is “6000 year old earth – bonkers! Wafer turning into flesh, wine into blood, wine into water, feeding thousands with a few loaves and a bit of fish, resurrected zombies zooming into outer space – that’s perfectly plausible.”

  21. gravelinspector
    Posted April 25, 2012 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

    Apologies from the UK for letting some of our creationists out. They’re a dirty little secret who we generally keep locked up inthe attic rooms, but they do escape from time to time.
    We’ve even got some Muslim creationists, and they’re full-on whackjobs!

  22. Kevin
    Posted April 25, 2012 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

    The story of Adam and Eve is not metaphorical. By its own logic it is not an eyewitness account, but it does describe an actual event of critical significance to religion – the fall from grace. It is not a metaphor for something else.

    • bernardhurley
      Posted April 25, 2012 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

      Religious people’s attitude to stories like Adam and Eve has always puzzled me. My dad did not believe in a literal Adam and Eve but he thought it was terribly significant what God said to them when he threw them out of the garden of Eden.

  23. Posted April 26, 2012 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

    §

  24. joey
    Posted April 28, 2012 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

    arguing over the actions and philosophies of a mythical characters is getting sucked into their vortex of bs.

    its ALL shite.

  25. dbgb1986
    Posted March 31, 2014 at 7:17 am | Permalink

    I recently read a debate between Sam Harris and Andrew Sullivan, and the further the debate went on, the more points Sullivan conceded, without realizing it at some points, and the more Sullivan used religion’s utility and wishful thinking as an excuse. I have lost all respect for this “thinker,” this self-proclaimed intellect, this hypocrite. Andrew Sullivan is an intellectual fake. I’s too bad, for on many matters, he is intelligent. But his defense of religion, while somehow attacking it, shows inconsistencies with which even most ten-year-olds wouldn’t be caught dead.


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