The value of “stridency”: a creationist becomes a biologist

On October 23, 2010, I published (with the writer’s permission) an email I’d gotten from someone who’d been a dyed-in-the-wool, prosyletizing creationist, but had given that up because of this website. I verified his identity to be sure it wasn’t a hoax.  Here are two excerpts from that email:

I’m a 25-year-old fellow from the backwoods of the Appalachias with little education to speak of. I was raised Southern Baptist, donated time and money to the Discovery Institute, and participated in anti-evolution debates and seminars. I was one of the True Believers who would tell someone straight to their face that they were going to hell if they didn’t kneel down that instant and accept Lord Jesus into their hearts. And I’d say it with a smile. . .

[Interlude: reader describes reading about evolution to use as ammunition for his creationism]

You probably know the rest. The initial rejection of what I’d read, trying to get someone to explain to me why all the evidence pointed toward evolution instead of away, realizing that the answers that I was getting from the creationist side were either evasive, inconsistent, or deceitful. And the long, slow, painful process of shedding a belief I’ve had instilled in me since childhood.

The whole point of this mini-autobiography is that if people like you weren’t out there making such a ruckus, then people like me wouldn’t have the chance to break out of the destructive, irrational belief system that serves as a mental and moral cage. I know you don’t need me to tell you to, but I hope you’ll keep on being a strident, arrogant, uncompromising bastard. The world needs more like you.

I posted that letter to show that, yes, “stridency “does make converts, too. If you go back and look at the 94 comments following that post, you’ll see that many of you who were reading back then were very supportive, suggesting books to read, urging the reader to go to college—that the age of 25 was not too late—and giving some of your own experiences if you used to be a diehard Christian, too.

So here’s an equally heartening update: after two years, I’ve received an email from the same person, giving his progress. He’s in college and on his way to a biology-and-math degree. Oh, and he gives us a bonus kitteh.

Dr. Coyne,

I wrote to you a few years back giving thanks for your work in advancing reason in the United States (and the world), and for your part in helping people like me understand the value of evidence. The time has come, I think, for another bit of gratitude. These thanks are extended not only to you, but to the readers of your website.

In that letter, I mentioned my “biggest regret”–that I had never pursued the opportunity to study biology academically. I now proudly report that in another two weeks or so, I will have completed my first semester as an undergraduate in biology and mathematics. Your book, your site, and the comments of encouragement that your readers posted in response to my first letter were all instrumental in nudging me toward my current position in life. And I couldn’t be happier!

It took two years of work in the banking industry (blech!) in order to build up enough cash to see me through my education. The investment, however, has already paid off in spades. My first semester is not even fully complete, and I am already doing more with my life than I ever thought possible. I am currently working in my genetics professor’s lab as a research assistant for one of his grants, designing my own independent study project, and helping another professor write a textbook! (By “helping,” I of course mean “being an enthusiastic gopher.”) In another couple of years, I should be set to pursue a PhD—something I never would have even considered five years prior.

Many important things have happened in the interim between my first letter and the present that influenced this decision (including the extremely fortuitous acquisition of an Olympus CX21 microscope for my personal enjoyment), yet I feel that my current trajectory was certainly aimed by your initial influence. So, please accept the thanks of a 27-year-old former creationist from the hills of Appalachia for helping open his eyes to a world wider, deeper, and more beautiful than anything suggested by the ancient scratchings of superstitious goatherds and Greek cultists.

To a more reasonable world,
Daniel Metz (name NOT redacted!)

As a post-script, I have attached a photograph of my very best feline friend and companion, Shadow. He is 18 years old, and we have been together ever since I convinced my mother all those years back to let me adopt the little 5-month-old kitten at the local pound. Despite his age, he is as rambunctious as a kid goat. He and I both enjoy reading your website–especially the Caturday felid segments!

I explicitly asked Daniel if he wanted his name removed, and he said, “There is no need for redaction at this point. Your efforts, and the efforts of those like you, are daily reshaping the U.S. into a place where one need not hide his lack of faith for fear of repercussions.”

109 Comments

  1. BilBy
    Posted November 26, 2012 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    What an excellent story. Good luck Daniel.

  2. gbjames
    Posted November 26, 2012 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    A most excellent post!

  3. Posted November 26, 2012 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    Very moving.

    But you were never a strident, arrogant, uncompromising bastard, Jerry. Were you?

    • gbjames
      Posted November 26, 2012 at 9:14 am | Permalink

      All Gnu Atheists are!

      • Posted November 26, 2012 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

        Shrill, too. Don’t forget shrill. And unsophisticated.

        • starskeptic
          Posted November 26, 2012 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

          We all take classes in those things…

          • gravelinspector
            Posted November 27, 2012 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

            … particularly those of us who are naturally skilled in shrillness, stridancy and arrogance. We can always strive for greater shrillness, stridency and arrogance.

            • HaggisForBrains
              Posted November 27, 2012 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

              The rest of us can sit crossed-legged at your feet and learn in awe from the master.

        • joe3eagles
          Posted November 26, 2012 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

          … and hellbound. My favorite threat. I’m flying Space-A.

    • Frank
      Posted November 26, 2012 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

      Stridency is in the eye (or ear) of the beholder. But is interesting to see reactions like this one. One never knows the impact one might have. I recently ran into a former student from >10 years ago. She reminded me that she was in a Campus Crusade for Christ sort of organization back when she took my general biology class – and said to me at that time, “You really BELIEVE in human evolution?!” I told her, “Of course.” Well, she reminded me of all this and now laughs about it. She said, “I gave you a hard time about that stuff, but I’m a TOTAL atheist now!”

      • Posted November 29, 2012 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

        I know Richard gets accused of stridency & I used to think he overdid it, but when you consider many churchs’ attempts to have their dogmas enacted into laws, I can see the need to be vocal & loud. Go Richard!

  4. Ray Moscow
    Posted November 26, 2012 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    I hope you’ll keep on being a strident, arrogant, uncompromising bastard.

    That’s high praise indeed. I hope to hold to the same standard — regarding the important stuff, that is.

  5. Posted November 26, 2012 at 9:13 am | Permalink

    Absolutely brilliant post.

    Best wishes to Daniel.

    Cheers,
    Norm.

  6. Paul Sellick
    Posted November 26, 2012 at 9:14 am | Permalink

    The very best of luck to Daniel for a lifetime of discoveries and wonder.

  7. NewEnglandBob
    Posted November 26, 2012 at 9:15 am | Permalink

    Fantastic!!

    Congratulations to both!

  8. Hempenstein
    Posted November 26, 2012 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    Bravo!

  9. Nicolas Perrault
    Posted November 26, 2012 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    To both of you, Bravissimo!

  10. steve oberski
    Posted November 26, 2012 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    Daniel,

    Your friend and companion Shadow has choosen well.

  11. Posted November 26, 2012 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    Let’s hear it for de-redaction!

    You do realize, Daniel, don’t you, that you will now some day have to inspire students of your own the same way Jerry and your mentor have done?

    It’s the price of admission. Graduation. Whatever — it’s the price you’re now morally obligated to pay.

    Cheers,

    b&

  12. guilherme21msa
    Posted November 26, 2012 at 9:26 am | Permalink

    I have only two things to say about this: awww, so cute. I feel a warm feeling spreading from my heart.

  13. Donald L. Anderson
    Posted November 26, 2012 at 9:26 am | Permalink

    Jerry, thank you for the email and Dan thank you for being willing to think. And good luck as you work toward the PhD.

    Many years ago, I was an instructor in biology for teachers at the U of Pa. A nun struggled with similar issues in the class and two years later she showed up in my office to announce she had left the church.

  14. Dominic
    Posted November 26, 2012 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    Good for you Daniel.

  15. still learning
    Posted November 26, 2012 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    Daniel, you ROCK! There’s a big, wonderful, intriguing world out there…go for it!

    Love your kitteh, too.

  16. lamacher
    Posted November 26, 2012 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    Congrats Daniel! And whomsoever is close, in Kansas, go stick a wet finger in Rosenau’s ear.

  17. komponist1
    Posted November 26, 2012 at 9:43 am | Permalink

    Wonderful!

  18. marycanada FCD
    Posted November 26, 2012 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    Congratulations Daniel.

  19. Yi
    Posted November 26, 2012 at 10:07 am | Permalink

    Such a beautiful story. One more scientist! Way to go, Daniel!

  20. Marta
    Posted November 26, 2012 at 10:10 am | Permalink

    I admire your accomplishments, Daniel.

    Already, you’re an excellent teacher. As Charlie Brown said once, “nothing is as burdensome as a great potential”, but you’ve got it, and you’ll change the world.

  21. Eric
    Posted November 26, 2012 at 10:10 am | Permalink

    One more person doing science and at the same time one less person wasting their life promoting obvious nonsense. Love this.

  22. Posted November 26, 2012 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    This post reminds me of this video.

    youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=FyHYbsXt05k#!

    Similarly moving.

    • Posted November 26, 2012 at 10:47 am | Permalink

      Wow. Thanks much for the link. That’s extraordinary.

      Kinda puts me in mind of what the thugs of the Caribbean experienced when they first encountered the Taino in Hispaniola.

      Amazing record.

  23. BigBob
    Posted November 26, 2012 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    Terrific news, against all the odds eh?
    Congratulations Daniel, throw Shadow a sardine.
    Bob(Big)

  24. Posted November 26, 2012 at 10:42 am | Permalink

    Kudos to Jerry and Daniel!

  25. Rod
    Posted November 26, 2012 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    Daniel… Please share your enthusiasm and experiences with young people…. they need to hear you.
    Excellent!

  26. Posted November 26, 2012 at 11:34 am | Permalink

    Awesome, what an example of self discipline and intellectual honesty!

    Brilliant post. Thank you Jerry and Daniel for sharing.

    I wish Ellen DeGeneres would pick up your story, no doubt it might be “too controversial” even for her but this could be a great opportunity to reach more people and show that the “gnus can be gnice”. And Ellen loves cats too!

  27. Posted November 26, 2012 at 11:42 am | Permalink

    Congrats, Daniel, on all fronts. Your intelligence and interest in what is true are wonderful to see. Lovely felid also!

    Though there are many hurdles to be surmounted when trying to let go of religious superstition, it is less difficult to jump over them when you are met with unflinching honesty regarding the truth.

    Accommodationists being focused on regarding religious believers as fragile and therefore needing to be mentally/emotionally coddled, shamefully miss many are drawn to religion because of they believe it to be true. Jerry gives the truth to them via this website and WEIT, the book. Uncompromisingly? Yes, because he as well as many of his readers treat them as real people who desire and can understand the truth.

  28. aljones909
    Posted November 26, 2012 at 11:43 am | Permalink

    “a world wider, deeper, and more beautiful than anything suggested by the ancient scratchings of superstitious goatherds and Greek cultists.”. Well said.

    Here’s a similar story of personal revelation from former creationist Jon Scott.
    I’m fairly sure it’s genuine.

    http://genesispanthesis.tripod.com/inspiration.html

  29. ladyatheist
    Posted November 26, 2012 at 11:46 am | Permalink

    Welcome to Academia! I am a librarian and I frequently help students who are older-than-19 Freshmen. Older students have more passion, drive, and focus than younger students, and you are proof of my impression.

    Michael Shermer was a creationist until he started studying biology with the aim of debunking Darwin. Now he writes the skeptic column in Scientific American!

    My deconversion came from reading a book published in the 1980s — Not Necessarily the New Age, which debunked the alternative stuff I’d been dabbling in, and gave me the mental viewpoint I needed to start questioning the paranormal claims I heard in church on Sundays. Back then you had to be fortunate enough to live someplace where books like that could be found! (I found it at the library, of course)

    I think it’s no coincidence that atheism has been growing since the development of the web.

  30. Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    Posted November 26, 2012 at 11:52 am | Permalink

    Obviously Daniel is both determined and gifted.

    But I can’t help but wonder if a being owned by a kitteh has helped.

    In any case, good hunting to both of them!

  31. splendidmonkey
    Posted November 26, 2012 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

    Excellent story and good luck to Daniel. We need more people like him in the sciences!

  32. aldoleopold
    Posted November 26, 2012 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

    Many congrats Daniel! You’re on your way! Make sure to write back from time to time to let us know how things are going.

  33. Alektorophile
    Posted November 26, 2012 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    Great story. It definitely put a smile on my face. Good luck and have fun in your studies!

  34. Posted November 26, 2012 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

    At least this is good news coming from the States. we have had in the recent past not so good news; it has been schools in Louisiana with funny text books or shopping craze on black Friday[why is it black anyway?]
    Congratulations Daniel and Jerry and all those who encouraged him then to go to college

  35. nicklarue
    Posted November 26, 2012 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    Love these stories! Always makes me wish of going to back to college or university. Sigh, maybe one day I’ll get the chance.

    Congrats Daniel! Another one chalked up to the gnus! :D

  36. TC
    Posted November 26, 2012 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

    It’s great to hear that Daniel was able to see the value of science in life, and to give up the dogma of creationism. Adhering to dogma is never a good way to go through life, and scientific exploration is a great way to.

    On the other hand, as far as what Daniel’s conversion tells us about the value of “being a strident, arrogant, uncompromising bastard” (his words), I wonder how many dogmatic believers the arrogant stridency has turned away from science, compared to the number it has converted.

    Many good scientists hold onto religious faith while pursuing their scientific efforts.

    I can’t quite figure out the harm in accepting religious belief as a valid way to respond to the world, even if it is not the way that one prefers for oneself, and so long as one does not allow it to create dogma that interferes with positive behavior.

    • Posted November 26, 2012 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

      I can’t quite figure out the harm in accepting religious belief as a valid way to respond to the world, even if it is not the way that one prefers for oneself, and so long as one does not allow it to create dogma that interferes with positive behavior.

      Faith, in the religious sense, is belief apportioned other than in proportion with the strength of the available rationally-analyzed empirically-gathered evidence.

      It is the favorite tool of con artists and generally used exclusively by them. “No need to have your mechanic check this car; she’s a real cream puff. Have a little faith!”

      It is particularly pernicious in the religious context because it is used to con people into believing first in the existence of very powerful entities, and secondly into believing that certain con artists are the authorized agents of said entities. Those con artists then appropriate unto themselves the full authority of the very powerful entities, and they then can and do parlay that power into all sorts of unbelievably profitable enterprises.

      Now do you understand the harm inherent in religious belief, and why I consider it to be the single greatest threat to civilized society?

      Cheers,

      b&

    • gbjames
      Posted November 26, 2012 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

      You mean you don’t see what’s wrong with dogs as long as they don’t bark, growl, or bite?

      The problem is that religion isn’t true. It can’t be. A scientist who is a believer manages to be both only by partitioning his intellectual life and ignoring the dissonance.

    • Posted November 27, 2012 at 2:07 am | Permalink

      “I wonder how many dogmatic believers the arrogant stridency has turned away from science…”

      Well, if there really were any arrogant stridency, that might be something to ponder.

      As someone else remarked, it’s not arrogance when you’re right… and especially not when you frequently acknowledge that some truth-claims are only provisional. And no gnu atheist is strident in the way that evangelists and other preachers are strident.

      /@ | Phoenix, AZ

  37. Fergal
    Posted November 26, 2012 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

    What a wonderfully uplifting story, instilling hope that all is not lost in the US.
    I congratulate and commend you on both your academic achievement and your successful de-programming. The former is I suspect largely dependent on the latter.
    As another poster mentions, you do now have a moral responsibility to try and reduce the levels of ignorance displayed by many of your compatriots, an onerous task but one already underway thanks to Jerry et al.
    So, good luck young man and judging by your command of the language, I very much look forward to your own writings.
    Good tidings from the Emerald Isle.

  38. Jiten
    Posted November 26, 2012 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

    Jerry, you may be strident, uncompromising and many other things but you are NOT arrogant. Evolutionary biologists are often called arrogant by creationists, but they mistake being right with arrogance. Creationists have no option but to see you as arrogant as they simply can’t admit that you are making good arguments, for which they have no answer. So they resort to name calling.

    • teacupoftheapocalypse
      Posted November 26, 2012 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

      The only arrogance between the creationists and we evolutionists seems to be coming from the creationist side. The problem is that they are, for the most part, far too arrogant and dogmatic to see that.

      Daniel is an exception to that rule, and must be heartily congratulated. No doubt, he’ll be called a “sinner” and “heretic” by those from his old life, but he’ll know that’s untrue.

      • joe3eagles
        Posted November 26, 2012 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

        teacupoftheapocalypse said: No doubt, he’ll be called a “sinner” and “heretic” by those from his old life, but he’ll know that’s untrue.

        This, or he never REALLY believed.

        Cheers to you, Daniel!

  39. Dawn Oz
    Posted November 26, 2012 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

    Thanks Daniel. It reminds us that coming out of a religious trance is a process which takes time and courage. You had the bridge of science to help you apply your logical mind to an illogical set of assumptions and beliefs. You will be able to help others on this difficult journey, for indeed it is a journey. Yes, atheists are now out loud and proud.

  40. marcusa1971
    Posted November 26, 2012 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

    A wonderful article. I wish Daniel all the best in his scientific studies, and echo his call for more stridency.
    Also, I have never seen the phrase “a strident, arrogant, uncompromising bastard” used as a compliment before. Well done!

  41. Golkarian
    Posted November 26, 2012 at 8:31 pm | Permalink

    With my dealings with creationists I often feel that they are beyond hope and have to remind myself that I was (briefly in high school) a creationist. Forums were useful for me, it put my faith on shaky ground, and to try and bolster my faith I read “Finding Darwin’s God” and I started to distrust creationists, an attitude bolstered when in university I started using my access to journals to check the sources of “A Case for a Creator” and realized that creationists must have read them in bizarro world.

  42. M
    Posted November 26, 2012 at 11:44 pm | Permalink

    Excellent! and congratulations to the guy for going after his passion…I live in the deep south and its most gratifying to realize ppl can still wake up and decide for oneself.
    Kudos to you !!!

  43. Marella
    Posted November 27, 2012 at 12:13 am | Permalink

    Great news! So happy for you.

  44. Miles_Teg
    Posted November 27, 2012 at 3:46 am | Permalink

    I became a YEC at age 16, in 1974. I hated biology (because it wasn’t an exact science like physics and chemistry, and because I’d dissected a mouse as part of a science lab when I was 12, which really put me off). It was only in 1987 that I started drifting away. I came to the conclusion that the universe was indeed very old, but that some smaller part, say the solar system or the earth was young. The young, “special” bits kept getting smaller and smaller until by 1994 I’d abandoned creationism entirely and become quite hostile to it.

    In 1997 I started a science degree in biology to learn more about it (I’m not good at acquiring knowledge without the competitive pressure of the classroom.) Never finished it unfortunately.

    Full on stridency can work, but I prefer more gentle humor, at least with people I know. In my case the process was started by my own curiosity, and beginning to see the contradictions in creationism.

  45. Posted November 27, 2012 at 4:15 am | Permalink

    I’ve sometimes thought that the phrase ‘And the Truth shall set you free’ a tad pompous, but in this case, Daniel, it’s entirely appropriate. Congratulations.
    I hope that your family and friends ‘back home’ are as proud of you and your achievements as we complete strangers are.
    I wish you the very best for your future – the world needs young people like you……

  46. papalinton
    Posted November 27, 2012 at 5:04 am | Permalink

    Good one, Daniel.
    There’s a lot to investigate out there and a great opportunity to contribute to humanity’s real knowledge base and understanding about us, our world and about our seemingly inextricable relationship in the environment.

  47. sschlichter
    Posted November 27, 2012 at 7:17 am | Permalink

    I find it confusing that evolution is seen as contrary to faith. I read the letter and had a similar experience. i.e. I was raised a young earth creationist and then I found out the world was old and evolution is true. I was majoring in biblical studies at the time when I came to this conclusion. I shrugged my shoulders and continued on in my faith. I really do not see the relationship between evolution and Christianity.

    it seems to me people are being taught to draw some extra-biblical fundamentalist line on rejection of evolution and when they feel the evidence crosses the contrived line, they then caved in on the gospel unaware that they have no relationship to one another. This is a line that did not exist among Christians long before the advent of empiricism.

    My point being – evolution is true, and it is pretty awesome. What does it have to do with God and Christianity?

    ~Steve

    • Posted November 27, 2012 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

      My point being – evolution is true, and it is pretty awesome. What does it have to do with God and Christianity?

      It’s pretty simple, actually.

      If Evolution is true (and it is), then there was no Adam & Eve (and there wasn’t). If there was no Adam & Eve, then there was no Original Sin. If there was no Original Sin, then there was nothing for Jesus to atone for on the Cross, making his sacrifice pointless and / or fraudulent.

      Of course, the real truth of the matter is that Jesus is nothing but a fantasy character in a third-rate faery tale, but Christians really have a hard time warping their heads ’round that one.

      Cheers,

      b&

      • Posted November 27, 2012 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

        Don’t forget that original sin was invented by Augustine and is peculiar to Catholicism and its descendant Protestantism. It is not universal in Christian churches, e.g. it’s not found in Orthodox Christianity.

        • blitz442
          Posted November 27, 2012 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

          Per the all-knowing wikipedia, Orthodox Christians also believe in a version of Original Sin:

          “Eastern orthodoxy accept the doctrine of ancestral sin which indicates that “original sin is hereditary. It did not remain only Adam and Eve’s. As life passes from them to all of their descendants, so does original sin ”

          The Orthodox Church in America makes clear the distinction between “fallen nature” and “fallen man” and this is affirmed in the early teaching of the Church whose role it is to act as the catalyst that leads to true or inner redemption. Every human person born on this earth bears the image of God undistorted within themselves. In the Orthodox Christian understanding, they explicitly deny that mankind inherited guilt from anyone. Rather, they maintain that we inherit our fallen nature. While humanity does bear the consequences of the original, or first, sin, humanity does not bear the personal guilt associated with this sin. Adam and Eve are guilty of their willful action; we bear the consequences, chief of which is death.”

          Again, it seems that the whole messy business of the Crucifiction on behalf of all of humanity makes little sense without something to be sacrified for.

      • Blaise
        Posted November 27, 2012 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

        Ben,
        It might be worth pondering the notion that even third rate fairy tales can motivate human learning and behavior, and as with all art, the message is that each receiver finds, not necessarily the one that the artists intends. That is why comparing religion to science is fraught with peril.

        • Posted November 28, 2012 at 9:05 am | Permalink

          If we’re now moving on to literary analysis, I have to wonder: why the Bible of Q’ran instead of Homer or Shakespeare or even Harry Potter?

          There are so many other sources for great literature that offer better insight into human nature, better guides to ethics and morality, and better storytelling. Privileging the religious texts is just going to get you and everybody else in trouble.

          b&

      • sschlichter
        Posted November 27, 2012 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

        No, evolution is true and Adam and Eve existed. Here is the problem. Christians pretend to be scientists and in response, biologists pretend to be theologians and experts in ancient literature.

        Adam and Eve were created in God’s image. It is not physically that they were created in God’s image – they do not look like God.

        The mechanism of evolution has no bearing on that. Original sin is common to all versions of orthodox Christianity (eastern orthodox, Catholic, and protestant). There is nothing of evolution that prevents the creation of Adam (in God’s image – spirit) from a species that evolved through an evolutionary process. There is also nothing about evolution that can prove or disprove anything related to the sin of that person created from that species.

        This science against God dichotomy is simply a false one. It is bad for both faith and science. When you tell people they have to choose between God and science, it is also bad for science because many will choose God and science will lose out on good people as well.

        ~Steve

        • Posted November 27, 2012 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

          No, evolution is true and Adam and Eve existed.

          That is a most extraordinary claim.

          On what evidence do you base it? When and where did they live, and how do you know that to be the case? And how do you reconcile your claim with the fact that there is overwhelming evidence that at no time in hominid history was there ever a two-individual genetic bottleneck?

          b&

          • sschlichter
            Posted November 27, 2012 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

            oops, looks like I am replying in the wrong place.

            some Christians see the fall as an allegorical reference to the fallen nature of man. Some always have.

            there is varying theories on population bottlenecks that may have occurred. I will wait and see on that. I expect if the evidence was really overwhelming as to when and where they have occurred, scientists would stop studying it.

            Evolution itself has changed quite a bit over the last 50 years. I think I will wait for the final release. At the same time, I see no reason to believe it will touch on whatever metaphysical realities that might exist.

            • Posted November 27, 2012 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

              there is varying theories on population bottlenecks that may have occurred. I will wait and see on that. I expect if the evidence was really overwhelming as to when and where they have occurred, scientists would stop studying it.

              Were I to show you a jar full of pennies and ask you to guess the value, chances are vanishingly slim that you’d answer with the exact correct number.

              But you’d be a fool to insist that, as a result, it’s reasonable to suggest that there are exactly two pennies in the jar.

              Such is the case with our knowledge of human populations. We will never know the exact numbers of various bottlenecks, but at no time did any such bottleneck constrict to only two individuals.

              Evolution itself has changed quite a bit over the last 50 years. I think I will wait for the final release.

              Yes and no.

              What has happened is that new insights have built upon the existing foundation.

              There isn’t anything significant in Darwin’s seminal work that’s worng; all that’s happened is that we’ve filled in gaps in his knowledge. For example, he was ignorant of Mendelian genetics (and, of course, Mendel was ignorant of DNA), but Darwin still hypothesized some unspecified mechanism by which traits were inherited. We’ve since confirmed Darwin’s hypothesis and filled in that gap.

              It’s the same with physics. Einstein and Bohr and Shrödinger and the lot didn’t overturn Newton; Newtonian Mechanics are still what you want for basically everything at human scales. What they did was supplement Newtonian Mechanics at the very large and very small scales, where it was already known that Newton’s Mechanics wasn’t a very good fit with observations. And, though you could build a steamship or a locomotive or a slingshot or whatever using either Quantum Mechanics or Relativistic Mechanics and they’ll yield correct results, the added precision offered is a waste, especially in light of the added complexity. You still want Newtonian Mechanics for those sorts of things, and you always will.

              May I suggest? Our host, Jerry Coyne, has authored a superlative book whose name is the same as this Web site: Why Evolution is True Read it, and you will (fortunately or otherwise) have no excuse to display the ignorance you’re currently showing now. But don’t worry — it’s a delightful read and will leave you much the wiser.

              At the same time, I see no reason to believe [Evolution] will touch on whatever metaphysical realities that might exist.

              That depends on the scope of your metaphysics. Does it include an entity altering the natural course of the development of life on Earth? Then that matter is already settled. Just as you can be absolutely certain that there are no angry hippopotamuseseseses rampaging about you in the room with you as you read this, you can be similarly absolutely certain that no external force acted upon any facet of Evolution. Suggesting otherwise is tantamount to suggesting that the gods carry the Sun across the sky in a chariot, or that the Earth is flat; the evidence is comparably overwhelming (and said evidence is presented in Jerry’s book).

              Cheers,

              b&

              • sschlichter
                Posted November 27, 2012 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

                “Does it include an entity altering the natural course of the development of life on Earth? Then that matter is already settled.”

                Help me with some empirical evidence on how you settled this one?

              • Posted November 27, 2012 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

                Help me with some empirical evidence on how you settled this one?

                The evidence would literally fill a book — and, again, our host has conveniently collected said evidence into a book:

                Short version?

                There are many lines of evidence, with some of the most compelling being DNA analysis, biogeography, and, yes, fossils. All paint the same picture within their respective margins of error.

                If you would be willing to trust DNA analysis to determine your family tree, then you should trust the same analysis when it demonstrates that your family tree extends beyond humans to include chimpanzees, the rest of the apes, the rest of the primates, the rest of the mammals, the rest of the vertebrates, the rest of the animals, and the rest of life on Earth. The mapping of our extended family tree is extensive and thorough, and it is quite clear that we occupy no special place on it.

                If you’d like to browse that tree, a good place to start is here:

                http://timetree.org/

                You’ll note that every answer is given as a range of distributions and accompanied by references to the research on which the answers are based. You can, if you like, look up those references and critique the original work done — and even, if you’re sufficiently motivated, independently confirm (or refute) the evidence.

                Indeed, I’d rather hope that you’re sufficiently motivated, for in so doing you would be performing vital scientific work and actively contributing to the advancement of human knowledge.

                Cheers,

                b&

              • sschlichter
                Posted November 28, 2012 at 9:38 am | Permalink

                well, the reply link on your blog is not available on this comment – http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2012/11/26/the-value-of-stridency-a-creationist-becomes-a-biologist/#comment-328242

                However, you are making ridiculous claims that science has proved God does not exist, cited mechanisms such as DNA which has no bearing on your claim. dogmatic nonsense.

              • Posted November 28, 2012 at 10:17 am | Permalink

                Again, ceci n’est pas un bleargh.

                And I am not claiming that science has proven that your gods do not exist.

                Science doesn’t deal with proof. Proof only works inside the context of a closed system, such as math or law.

                What I am observing is that there are overwhelming mountains of evidence, including in our very DNA, that there has been no outside agency influencing the course of the development of life on Earth.

                You’re the one claiming that your gods have played a role in said development, but your claims are as empty as a claim that King Kong is, at this very moment, climbing the Eiffel Tower. Anybody can examine the evidence and notice a distinct lack of monstrous arboreal urban gorillas — outside, of course, of a particular class of fiction.

                It is ever thus with gods — all gods, not just those you bow down before. Their self-proclaimed official spokespeople make grandiose, easy-to-verify claims about them, and then get all upset when anybody notes that the evidence does not support, and generally contradicts, the claims made.

                Then there’s also the point that gods themselves are logically incoherent and can only be understood as literary devices, but that’s a topic for another discussion….

                Cheers,

                b&

    • Blaise
      Posted November 27, 2012 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

      SS – Precise, concise, and from the heart. There is no conflict between the theory of evolution, and religious beliefs. They serve 2 different cognitive and practical purposes, and thus are not mutually exclusive.

      I know that Jerry believes that creationism and religiosity suppress the generalized embrace of evolution as a scientific fact, and thus do a disservice to society, but I suspect that our culture would be better served trying to find the common ground available to the two camps, than by trying to suppress the group of believers by attrition or otherwise.

      • sschlichter
        Posted November 28, 2012 at 9:35 am | Permalink

        Yes, thank you. that was basically my initial point.

        What is ironic is that science has most to lose from the false dichotomy. I am frustrated by Christians when I feel they resist things like evolution but anymore, I understand because the conversation comes with the militant faith-invoking atheistic baggage exemplified in these recent discussions. The inability to discern between mechanism and agency.

        ~Steve

      • Posted November 28, 2012 at 9:59 am | Permalink

        Fundamentally, there is no common ground between religion and science.

        Religion is nothing without faith, which is belief apportioned other than in proportion with the available rationally-analyzed empirically-observed facts.

        Science is the diametric opposite, and holds that beliefs must be kept in proportion with the rational analysis of empirically-observed facts.

        And, it is an empirical observation that science works and that faith lies at the heart of all confidence scams.

        Take your pick, but one of them is a sucker’s bet.

        Cheers,

        b&

  48. sschlichter
    Posted November 27, 2012 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

    some Christians see the fall as an allegorical reference to the fallen nature of man. Some always have.

    there is varying theories on population bottlenecks that may have occurred. I will wait and see on that. I expect if the evidence was really overwhelming as to when and where they have occurred, scientists would stop studying it.

    Evolution itself has changed quite a bit over the last 50 years. I think I will wait for the final release. At the same time, I see no reason to believe it will touch on whatever metaphysical realities that might exist.

  49. Vaal
    Posted November 27, 2012 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

    sschlichter,

    “some Christians see the fall as an allegorical reference to the fallen nature of man. Some always have. “

    What does that actually mean?

    It seems to imply that man was perfect at some point and then “fell.” And yet all biological evidence for evolution supports a continuum of gradual steps in our evolution with no “perfect” moment in there to be found. Paleontological and other such evidence also supports a generally hard life for all the hominids leading to us humans, as well as evidence of tribal conflict going far back, etc.

    We see no evidence for a “time before the fall” version of humans, and all the evidence we have suggests no such thing would ever have occurred.

    So what can you actually mean by “fallen nature” in concrete terms?

    Yes, some number of Christians have professed belief in evolution (though, when you look at it, it can’t be the evolution as described by science per se) but the point so often made in Jerry’s blog is that it’s only because such Christians haven’t done some solid thinking-through of their positions that they hold such beliefs together. So it’s not “Can you say you or any other Christian believes both in evolution and Christianity?” Rather, it’s: Can you or any Christian actually MAKE GOOD SENSE of believing in both?

    Answer thus far from every attempt I’ve seen:

    No.

    Vaal

    • sschlichter
      Posted November 27, 2012 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

      The Bible actually calls the physical creation good, not perfect. There is a Hebrew word for perfect but it is not used of creation, nor of man.

      Man was never physically perfect. The word for garden used is actually indicative of this – it references a walled protected garden.

      Man was created in God’s image from the species developed out of evolutionary processes at which point he becomes morally aware and falls.

      It is talking about the spiritual and metaphysical nature of man.

      What evidence would you be looking for that would prove or disprove something like this?

      • Posted November 27, 2012 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

        You could start with evidence that there is some aspect of Homo sapiens sapiens and other species (including other apes, extant and extinct) that is inconsistent with continuous evolutionary development.

        Or, you could identify something in the archaeological and / or fossil record that indicates such a break. That’d be even better, because it would permit us to date the event.

        We might be able to help you out: can you give an estimate of when this rebellion took place (and, again, how it is that you think your answer is correct)?

        Cheers,

        b&

        • sschlichter
          Posted November 27, 2012 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

          No, do I need to.

          Can you give me some explanation for why there is something instead of nothing? Only answer with empirical evidence as I will dismiss everything else you say as a matter of faith that should be discarded.

          • Posted November 27, 2012 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

            That which can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence. If you have no evidence to back up your claims, they are unworthy of debate — and, indeed, unworthy of more than idle curiosity even on your behalf. If I told you that I had a real St. George-style dragon in my garage but didn’t offer any evidence to support my claim, you’d think me as nuts as we’re starting to think you are.

            And I have made no claims as to why there is something rather than nothing, so there’s no need for me to offer an explanation. Indeed, “I don’t know” is a perfectly valid answer, and the only valid answer lacking suitable evidence.

            That’s where religious faith goes worng, by the way: you’re suggesting that any answer is preferable to no answer.

            That is, just because you don’t know the answer doesn’t mean that making stuff up constitutes an answer, or that somebody else who made something up and therefore has an answer is right. The answer may or may not be right, but it still needs to be evaluated on its own merits.

            All that writ, I would suggest that the question itself is as meaningless as asking what’s north of the North Pole. I would also point you to the recent work of physicists such as Stephen Hawking and Lawrence Krauss who have shown that it is quite likely (though not certain) that, given our knowledge of how the universe works (which is based on observations of the universe working), “nothing” as currently understood is inherently unstable and “something” is guaranteed to spontaneously come from it, as surely as an apple falls from a tree (and with similar lack of divine intervention).

            Cheers,

            b&

          • Posted November 27, 2012 at 9:50 pm | Permalink

            @ sschlichter

            “Can you give me some explanation for why there is something instead of nothing?”

            Can you give me some explanation for why there shouldn’t be something instead of nothing?

            Empirically, all we have ever seen is something.

            There is no evidence that ”nothing” exists or ever has. (Pace Hawking and Krauss, whose “nothings” are not property-less, and are therefore somethings.)

            /@ | Phoenix, AZ

            • sschlichter
              Posted November 27, 2012 at 10:18 pm | Permalink

              The question was why? Did you not understand that?

              If an external cause of the universe is somehow scientifically inadequate, I would assume you have some evidence for why that is.

              You are citing speculation as evidence. There is no evidence that ‘something’ always existed. Inf act, there is good scientific evidence that something began to exist about 13.5 billion years ago.

              “It is said that an argument is what convinces reasonable men and a proof is what it takes to convince even an unreasonable man. With the proof now in place, cosmologists can no longer hide behind the possibility of a past-eternal universe”
              – Alexander Vilenkin (Many worlds in one)

              • Posted November 27, 2012 at 11:48 pm | Permalink

                Well, I did understand that, but I don’t understand your premise. There is indeed good scientific evidence that something – “our” “universe” – began to exist 13.75 billion years ago, but that’s no reason to assume that that something was the very “first” ”something”.

                So, it depends what you mean by “external cause”. That our universe was caused by the collision of two m-branes is a plausible and adequate scientific hypothesis, inter alia. That our universe was caused by some external intelligent agency that has subsequently interceded within the universe is simply implausible as a scientific hypothesis for multiple reasons.

                Contrary to what you seem to assume, you don’t need evidence to dismiss some putative hypotheses. See Popper, Kuhn, Deutsch, et al..

                /@ | Phoenix, AZ

              • Posted November 28, 2012 at 9:09 am | Permalink

                sschlichter, can you not understand how it is incoherent to suggest that something not part of everything created everything?

                If everything needs a creator, then even the creators themselves need creators, leading to an infinite regress. But that regress itself obviously has no creator, and therefore the initial premise is disproven by contradiction.

                Cheers,

                b&

        • Lisa O
          Posted November 27, 2012 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

          I’m not sure if sschlichter would agree with me or not, we may or may not have the same idea on the matter but I will give you what I know that answers this question a bit. Early primitive settlements have been dated to 10,000 years ago in the area which was the garden of eden. This is widely known to be where modern day Iraq is. Early mesopotamia writings say the same thing about where eden is, and say similar things about creation of humans, and the flood. Archaeologists have suggested that a great flood overwhelmed this area during the Sumerian era which began somewhere around 5500 to 6000 years ago. So civilization began right where the bible claims it did and historians have confirmed this. So if it is as sschlichter suggests,this is when we got our conscious spirit, it does make sense and the timeline matches up. Now maybe you can tell me what significant changes are thought to have occurred 10,000 years ago in our evolution or brain size, it definitely shows in our culture, but I think it’s in our dna too. I’m not being sarcastic, I’m asking if you know of any significant changes during this time period.

          • Posted November 27, 2012 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

            Lisa,

            I’ve got to run off to a rehearsal, so I don’t have the time right now to give you a thorough reply. Maybe somebody else here can pick up the baton and run with it.

            But the short version is that I believe you have a very distorted understanding of history. There have been no remarkable floods in the Middle East in the past dozen thousand years. Humans were present not just in the Middle East but all across the globe by 10,000 years ago; the first crossings of the Bering Strait and subsequent settlement of the Americas were likely about 40,000 years ago. And the fossil and genetic evidence is most emphatic: there have been no sudden changes in human morphology, and even humans from half a million years ago would fit within the same range of variation we see today.

            Again, much of the evidence for what I’ve sketched can be found in Jerry’s book. If you care to investigate the sources for your claims, I think you’ll find them ultimately lacking and, frankly, of the same quality as Bigfoot sightings and UFOlogy.

            Cheers,

            b&

            • sschlichter
              Posted November 27, 2012 at 10:09 pm | Permalink

              There is evidence of floods in that part of the world during the holocene epoch.

              There is no reason to insist on dates of pre-flood timelines. The desire to do so comes out of a lack of understanding of ANE literature.

              There does not need to be any change in human physical characteristics. the Bible does not have anything to do with that as it is describing metaphysical attributes (image of God) created in man after his evolution. One man, in particular. Other members of the species could have existed but they were created in the image of God.

              All of your objections seem to be based on willful misconceptions.

              • Posted November 27, 2012 at 11:54 pm | Permalink

                All of your notions seem to be based on very dubious hermeneutics.

                Where is your evidence that your interpretation – well, not really that, as you add much that is extra-Biblical – that your interpolations are true?

                Absent any evidence, they are just baseless speculations – no, that is too credulous – baseless fabulations.

                /@ | Phoenix, AZ

              • gbjames
                Posted November 28, 2012 at 5:35 am | Permalink

                “There is evidence of floods in that part of the world during the holocene epoch.”

                So?

                There is evidence of floods throughout the geological record. It appears that we are now finding evidence of flood waters on Mars. Discovering evidence of flooding is a trivial activity. It is not some sort of support for the existence of bronze age deities.

              • Posted November 28, 2012 at 9:16 am | Permalink

                There is evidence of floods in that part of the world during the holocene epoch.

                Erm…this is the Holocene. The current epoch is the Holocene epoch.

                And of course there’s evidence of floods in that part of the world. There’s evidence of floods in every part of the world. Flooding is a very common occurrence on Earth.

                And flood myths are also very common. As are volcano myths, storm myths, and myths of sea monsters amongst seafaring peoples.

                The flood fable in the Bible is very particular and specific, and there is no question but that absolutely nothing vaguely like it happened in the region of modern Israel and Mount Ararat, ever, at any point in the entirety of the history of Earth.

                There does not need to be any change in human physical characteristics. the Bible does not have anything to do with that as it is describing metaphysical attributes (image of God) created in man after his evolution. One man, in particular. Other members of the species could have existed but they were created in the image of God.

                So YHWH did all this to one couple out of the hundreds of thousands of people on Earth? Your theory, which is yours, has no bearing on either the Bible or reality. And you continue to assert it without evidence, making your theory as pointless as a theory that you have a fire-breathing dragon in your garage.

                The typical term for theories such as yours is, “delusion.”

                b&

      • Vaal
        Posted November 27, 2012 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

        sschlichter,

        “The Bible actually calls the physical creation good, not perfect.”

        Then the bible was wrong to use even use the word “good. It makes no sense to call “good” a creation that fails it’s very first test. That’s like an architect calling a bridge he made “good” despite the fact it collapsed upon the first bit of traffic. He can’t very well use the excuse “Hey, it WAS a good bridge…right up until someone tried to use it.”

        Man was created in God’s image from the species developed out of evolutionary processes at which point he becomes morally aware and falls.

        Except of course the creation account of the bible suggests no such evolutionary account, and tells a differing story of special creation; denying this is ad hoc kludging by Christians.

        Further, it hardly makes sense that man would just HAPPEN to form into “God’s image” via evolution as described in biology; there is no reason to expect such fortuitous forsight in the blind contingency of the process. So that is not reasonable to believe.

        Or…did God interfere and engineer evolution to arrive at a hominid that matches His image? If so, THAT is NOT the evolutionary process described in biology.
        So you would not really have your Christianity in consonance with evolution theory.

        BTW, when you write:

        “What evidence would you be looking for that would prove or disprove something like this?”

        Keep in mind that asked “Can you or any Christian actually MAKE GOOD SENSE of believing in both?”

        Even if you could come up with a merely compatible supernatural story that doesn’t answer the challenge. A physicist at CERN
        could say he believes in a fundamental particle that has properties no one has seen, and which does not interact detectably with any other particle, and even that it exists in a “supernatural” realm. But the fact he could hold such a belief that does not itself violate physics misses the point that he would be IRRATIONAL to believe in such a particle.
        That he understands what critical inquiry into a belief looks like when it comes to all the other particles he investigates, but makes a Big Exception for his magic particle, shows his inconsistency, and reason relies on consistency.

        Same goes for the Christian belief in a supernatural being riding along with their purported acceptance of evolution theory.

        Vaal

        • sschlichter
          Posted November 27, 2012 at 9:55 pm | Permalink

          actually, the Bible says the earth produced living creatures quite plainly. However, I do not see any reason to expect it to discuss evolution. Why would it? Who would it have made sense to?

          Nothing you said is an answer to my question. Instead of answering what would be prove or disprove, you simply restated your claim.

          You seem to think that God is being posited as some sort of explanatory hypothesis.

          • Posted November 28, 2012 at 12:00 am | Permalink

            Well, of course we are! Aren’t you offering God as an explanation of humanity’s supposed metaphysical creation in God’s image?

            Although I have to say that you remain remarkably vague on what this metaphysical creation is, what attributes humanity now has that it didn’t before God’s putative intercession.

            /@ | Phoenix, AZ

          • Vaal
            Posted November 28, 2012 at 7:15 am | Permalink

            sschlichter,

            “actually, the Bible says the earth produced living creatures quite plainly. However, I do not see any reason to expect it to discuss evolution. Why would it?”

            Because evolution is the ACCURATE depiction of how life REALLY formed. Why would God misrepresent the truth? (The obvious answer is the people who wrote the bible simply didn’t know the truth, so the God they made up could not know it as well. Yet, daily, millions upon millions of Christians miss this blazingly obvious fact).

            YOU declared the Biblical claims to be consonant with evolution and this utterly fails. Among the many scientific inaccuracies, the Bible says “quite plainly” that the first woman was made from the rib of a man. This is in contradiction to the scientific evidence of human evolution. You can’t talk of how things are “plainly” written in the bible and expect anyone to miss this.

            Further, while we are talking of “plain statements” the bible says: “Then the LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.” 19Out of the ground the LORD God formed EVERY BEAST of the field and EVERY BIRD of the sky, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name. “

            So the Bible has God creating beasts of the field and birds AFTER He created man. Yet we know scientifically that such creatures far pre-date man, both earlier hominid versions and certainly homo sapiens which reached modern anatomy around 200,000 years ago. Whereas birds arose around the Jurassic period HUNDREDS of millions of years ago.

            “Nothing you said is an answer to my question.”

            Everything I said was in answer to your question. You just ignored it, as you do the parts of the Bible that are inconvenient to your claims.

            And you also ignored the fact that YOU repeated the biblical claim that God made us in His image, and that I pointed out you can not have a God engineering evolution and still have it be the evolution theory that science actually depicts. If our evolution were intelligently guided, then the scientific explanation appealing to natural selection (and other natural mechanisms0 are WRONG. Hence your Christianity is NOT consonant with evolution theory as you portray it to be.

            It is when Christians actually roll up their sleeves and try to actually put the puzzle of their religious beliefs together with science, that some finally realize they don’t fit. Which is why we have examples like Daniel whose intellectual scruples led him to where he is now.

            Vaal

  50. Kevin
    Posted November 27, 2012 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

    daily reshaping the U.S. into a place where one need not hide his lack of faith for fear of repercussions

    What repercussions?

  51. sschlichter
    Posted November 27, 2012 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

    I see my mistake now. I thought this was about evolution and accidentally stumbled onto a atheist religious blog.

    • gbjames
      Posted November 27, 2012 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

      “atheist religious blog”

      Wrong wrong wrong. “Atheist religious” makes no more sense than “married bachelor”.

      And had you waited a while before jumping in with your deity, you would know that it is a website, not a blog.

      • sschlichter
        Posted November 27, 2012 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

        look carefully at the mention of theism and where it started. Notice how I stated that my religion is not impacted by evolution.

        A blog is on a website. This website is run on a blogging tool called WordPress.

        atheism, like any other set of presuppositions forms creates a substrate for other beliefs and dogma. You are naive if you think that atheism is different from other sets.

        • Posted November 27, 2012 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

          You are misinformed and / or confused if you think that atheism typically starts with an a priori assumption of no gods.

          Indeed, the overwhelming majority of regulars on this site grew up in religion and were true believers for at least some time. We have ex-priests and ex-seminarians in our audience.

          Rather, atheism is generally a conclusion based upon rational analysis of the available evidence.

          For example, it is a typical claim of most religions that there are one or more very, very powerful entities who desire good things to happen to humanity and who wish for bad things not to happen to humanity; yet, the world is still torn by war, strife, disease, and famine.

          To that end, many of our horrors would have taken but trivial interventions to avoid; imagine, for example, had a lowly Greek Muse taken Hitler under her wing and granted him but a little more inspiration: he would likely have freely chosen to have become a brilliant (though perhaps disturbed) artist, and the world would have been spared the Holocaust.

          And imagine if somebody had sounded the alarm but a few minutes before the Christmas Tsunami struck! It’s something we hope to be capable of in the not-too-distant future; why should it be so difficult for a god?

          The only possible conclusion is that there are no such powerful entities who are both willing and capable of bestowing their good graces upon us, and that we are all on our own.

          But is that such a terrible thing? It is, after all, no different from what any adult must learn to embrace.

          Cheers,

          b&

        • gbjames
          Posted November 27, 2012 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

          “A blog is on a website”.

          Yes. And as a newcomer to these parts don’t get the joke.

          A bit of humor at your expense, but with the purpose of illustrating that you are unfamiliar with the terrain. You are saying nothing that hasn’t been thoroughly dissected, repeatedly, here.

          Take Ben’s advice go pick up (and read) a copy of WEIT (the book). Then come back and make a more informed case.

          • sschlichter
            Posted November 27, 2012 at 9:58 pm | Permalink

            Your inside joke is not at my expense. You have not dissected anything. You are simply making claims that lack any substance and offer me a book on evolution when I already accept evolution.

            • Posted November 28, 2012 at 12:12 am | Permalink

              Evidently you don’t, because you suppose God’s intercession with humanity in some metaphysical way, which is theistic evolution, and that is not evolution at all, as Jerry has taken pains to set out in previous posts on this website. (Search for “theistic evolution” in the box at the upper left.)

              /@ | Phoenix, AZ

              PS. And the joke certainly was at your expense. When you pedantically explained about WordPress, we were laughing at you, not with you.

              PPS. GB was not claiming he’d dissected anything, only that the ideas you are now espousing have been dissected in many previous posts on this website.

            • gbjames
              Posted November 28, 2012 at 5:40 am | Permalink

              And now we get to chuckle again.

              Willful ignorance is not an admirable quality.

  52. Posted November 28, 2012 at 6:23 am | Permalink

    Reblogged this on Science and Atheism and commented:
    I know Jerry and the other Gnu Atheists helped me to choose my post-grad subject.

  53. Posted November 28, 2012 at 6:25 am | Permalink

    Good for you mate :)

    I returned to university at the age of 32 and it was one of the best decisions I have ever made. After reading WEIT and many other books I switched from CS to Bioinformatics to study evolution, so Jerry had a direct hand in helping me to choose to study biology as well.


2 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. [...] The value of “stridency”: a creationist becomes a biologist [...]

  2. [...] now shrift of all the lies and is studying biology — the link to which, thanks to Sunny, is here. Time, Mr. Wade, for a [...]

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 28,782 other followers

%d bloggers like this: