Readers’ comments of the week

I’m not sure I’m going to make this into a regular feature, but this week my comments box has been positively overflowing with contributions from creationists, atheist-bashers, and sundry others. They at least give us some idea of what we’re up against, and it ain’t pretty.

Here are three comments that didn’t get approved (original text is unaltered):

From reader “Joe,” commenting on “Good news: belief in God and the supernatural appears to wane“:

It is not surprising since there has been an all out moral degradation and convincing of our youth of how meaningless and unspecial they really are. Kudos on all the conjecture and pictures that are drawn in our science books to explain how we came from rocks. I hear a lot if evolutionist talk but I hear no substntial evidence the same thing that us criticized from creationist. Everyone just excepts it as fact on faith alone. No proof just time and chance. Thus is what I am told by real evolutionist! Given enough time anything can change into anything. this constant dumbing down of our world has made it very easy to convince everyone they came from rocks. Where us the proof people???! Where is it? Honestly this is getting old. There were millions of years of transitions? Where the hell are they? Cambrian explosion ? How in the hell goes that fit with evolution? how has evolution made science better? honestly when intslkbto [sic; probably "I talk to"] an evolutionist I feel like my IQ is dropping.

The proof is, of course, in my book, and in many other books and on many websites. For someone in this day and age to argue that there are no transitional forms bespeaks deep and willful ignorance, for the fossil record is brimming with them. When somebody says that, you are justified in ignoring everything else they say about evolution, for such a claim shows a complete lack of familiarity with the evidence.

From reader Shan, who gives the URL of his website shanlim, “About tracing the ancient root of the Chinese people”. This is a comment on my post “A paleobiologist’s response to Darwin’s Dilemma“:

Quote: “Small steps can be made very quickly indeed – as with virus evolution today.”

Virus evolution? What does that mean? Does it mean some pre-viral thing evolved into a virus over the course of millions of years into current form of virus of today?

Or does it mean the current virus form has evolved into some form of living organism with a head,a trunk and arms and legs or probably with wings too?

By means of small steps that can be made very quickly do you mean it can get every anatomical parts in perfect symmetry and in their proper alignment, position and place, like the head in the proper caudal position and both legs extending towards the inferior position in relation to the trunk at the center and with both arms hanging at each side of the shoulder joint?

If evolution occurred very quickly in a hurry wouldn’t logic dictates that in a random process there is no telling where the arms and legs might form and where the head might pop up?

Wouldn’t it be possible that the head might end up growing out of the anus and the genital extends from the neck skywards with one arm sprout out the side of the neck and the other arm merging with two legs growing inside the body?

Where are all the fossil evidence for these evolutionary failures? Is there even one available?

I thought the virus we have today is still the same basic form of virus we had at the beginning of evolution time before the actual living thins began to exist. If so, the virus must be the exception that somehow defy the Darwinian Law of Evolution.

This isn’t even wrong, for the person hasn’t evinced even the slightest knowledge of natural selection. And of course we have no evidence of fossil “viruses” before life began, but it is highly contested whether viruses are a form of “life” that existed before true cells, or are in fact derived from them. But that doesn’t matter, for the failures of this comment are so pervasive—including the false notion that evolution is a “random process” and the equally misguided idea that the “Darwinian Law of Evolution” means that ancestral morphologies cannot persist along with more recently evolved morphologies—that it serves only to demonstrate that there are none so blind as those who will not see.

And finally, from reader Stan, who added his website Atheism Analyzed, bearing the motto “A former 40 year Atheist analyzes Atheism, without resorting to theism, deism, or fantasy.” I’m not sure whether that means he’s a former atheist or was formerly 40 years old. At any rate, here’s Stan’s comment on my post “Krauss on atheism in Hollywood“:

That’s totally absurd, and is a view into the persecution complex which atheists nurture. Who was the last atheist hanged? Who is suing whom in the USA, trying to establish their own religious viewpoint at the expense of the Other? It is the atheist and only the atheist.

Atheism has been at the root of the most horrendous evil ever during the 20th century genocides and mass killings of other atheists by the USSR and China and Cambodia and Cuba, etc. NOT Christianity.

The hatred oozing from atheists makes them unpalatable and incapable of generating trust. Further their lack of any fixed moral principles makes them suspect at best.

And finally, their Scientism makes it obvious that they do not understand actual science and its lack of ability to generated objective knowledge of the darks: dark mass, dark energy, string theory, abiogenesis, origin of the phenotypes in the Cambrian, actual causality in climate theory, actual observation of subatomic particles in high energy physics, etc. Inferential and Bayesian theories are not facts, but you’d never guess that by listening to atheists.

If he’s neither deist, theist, or atheist, what is this person? Again, we all know how to deal with such a person, but I’m fascinated that Stan think that atheist-scientists such as myself, Richard Dawkins, Lawrence Krauss, Steven Weinberg, ad infinitum, do not “understand the actual science.” That last paragraph is complete gibberish.

139 Comments

  1. Cara
    Posted March 9, 2014 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

    Mr. Coyne,

    I love to read highlighted comments of the week…. Yes, keep this feature.
    :-)

    • still learning
      Posted March 9, 2014 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

      I agree. We’ll need super deluxe irony meters though.

      • Sean
        Posted March 10, 2014 at 6:40 am | Permalink

        The irony in the statement:”persecution complex which atheists nurture” would probably melt any irony measurement device that we could build with today’s Technologey !!

    • Mark Joseph
      Posted March 9, 2014 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

      Agree.

    • lisa parker
      Posted March 10, 2014 at 8:37 am | Permalink

      Definitely keep them. As Lady Melbourne said We all need to keep a bit of the ridiculous in our lives.

  2. Posted March 9, 2014 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

    Joe feels like his ‘IQ is dropping.’ Can you have a negative IQ?

    • Merilee
      Posted March 9, 2014 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

      My ” sediments” exactly…

      • still learning
        Posted March 9, 2014 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

        Well, there’s that saying: Dumber than a box of rocks.

        • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
          Posted March 9, 2014 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

          Is that a box of rocks that lost its marbles?

          Stamped “Joe” no doubt…

          • Jeffery
            Posted March 9, 2014 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

            Is that the very same box of rocks that we all came from? I love it when Joe says, concerning evolution, “Everyone just excepts it as fact on faith alone.” How ironic!

            I’ve said for years that the real “struggle” in this world is not that of “good” v/s “evil”: it is the struggle between ignorance and knowledge- ignorance has, and always will have, an “unfair” advantage as it is far easier to stay ignorant.

        • Posted March 9, 2014 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

          But I don’t think those are sedimentary rocks. I think they’re ignoramus rocks.

          • Posted March 10, 2014 at 1:51 am | Permalink

            +1

            * witty joke about metamorphic resonance goes here *

            • Posted March 10, 2014 at 2:19 am | Permalink

              I was percolating on a metamorphic pun as well, and missed the low-hanging fruit that our esteemed Musical Beef so eagerly snatched… damn it all…

              • Posted March 10, 2014 at 7:43 am | Permalink

                Well, you know what they say: The early beef gets the low hanging fruit…

                They say that, right?

          • moarscienceplz
            Posted March 10, 2014 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

            That’s a gneiss comment you made, but please make sure you don’t take “Joe” for granite. ;-)

    • Timothy Hughbanks
      Posted March 9, 2014 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

      Kinda scary that “Joes” are so prevalent.
      How did Joe get through school actually thinking that he was smart? What made him “except” that notion?

      • Posted March 9, 2014 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

        You’ve got a point there – I am reminded of Joe the Plumber running for office…

      • Posted March 9, 2014 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

        It’s the same 5 crazy Christians hunkered down in Pat Robertson’s basement. They spend their days flooding the internet with this stuff…

      • Posted March 9, 2014 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

        Probably Messrs Dunning and Kruger convinced him of his acumen.

      • Jiten
        Posted March 10, 2014 at 2:32 am | Permalink

        Nobody would turn out this stupid or ignorant after an even basic school education except for the influence of religion. Religion makes you stupid.

    • lisa parker
      Posted March 10, 2014 at 8:40 am | Permalink

      @agileatheist

      Apparently so.

  3. NewEnglandBob
    Posted March 9, 2014 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

    “this constant dumbing down of our world” “…my IQ is dropping.”

    Ah, too easy…fish in a barrel.

    • Pliny the in Between
      Posted March 9, 2014 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

      “this constant dumbing down of our world”

      Nice of him to provide such a fine example

      • Mark Joseph
        Posted March 9, 2014 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

        Yes; a superb example of accidentally speaking the truth.

  4. Posted March 9, 2014 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

    “If evolution occurred very quickly in a hurry wouldn’t logic dictates that in a random process there is no telling where the arms and legs might form and where the head might pop up?”

    Mutations occur frequently enough. Check out any sideshow. Most mutations, however, do not live very long in the competitive wild. A mutation will only be kept if there is some advantage to it.

    “Further their lack of any fixed moral principles makes them suspect at best”

    Because we never see a religious person act badly. Ever.

    • Pete Moulton
      Posted March 10, 2014 at 5:57 am | Permalink

      “A mutation will only be kept if there is some advantage to it.” Or, at least no major disadvantage. Remember: natural selection is not “the survival of the fittest,” it’s the survival of the fit enough.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted March 10, 2014 at 11:33 pm | Permalink

        “Remember: natural selection is not “the survival of the fittest,” it’s the survival of the fit enough.”

        Oh, I [cough] do so [gasp] love [gurgle] that [twitch] quote! It [wheeze] gives the rest of us [choke] hope and a warm [tremble] fuzzy feeling deep down. [sigh]

        [Editors note: the warm fuzzy feeling was later found to have been due to incontinence, but one takes ones warm fuzzy feelings where one can find them, these days]

  5. Posted March 9, 2014 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

    With regard to “Joe”, how much lower can his IQ drop, how many points (in single digits) does he still have?

    • Achrachno
      Posted March 9, 2014 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

      Now, be nice! I’m sure he still has 7 or 8 points. That’s pretty good isn’t it, considering?

      • Posted March 9, 2014 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

        My initial impression was that he still had 8 points, but I wasn’t sure.
        :D

        • moarscienceplz
          Posted March 10, 2014 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

          All on top of his head.

  6. Bruce Gregory
    Posted March 9, 2014 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

    My mother taught me never to engage in a battle of wits with an unarmed man.

    • Achrachno
      Posted March 9, 2014 at 7:12 pm | Permalink

      Yes, the Black Knight is very persistent.

  7. Alex Shuffell
    Posted March 9, 2014 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

    Joe’s comment is a strange one: “Kudos on all the conjecture and pictures that are drawn in our science books to explain how we came from rocks.” It says in Genesis 2:7 we came from dust. It is only creationists that say we came from dust, rocks or clay, not scientists. Joe has been colouring in the wrong books.

    • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
      Posted March 9, 2014 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

      Ha, I was 1 minute late. =D

      • Alex Shuffell
        Posted March 9, 2014 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

        You may have got there first, then carried on typing.
        Do you, or anyone else here, know why some people think (I use that term quite loosely) that we think that we evolved from rocks? It is quite an odd thing to assume. It would not take very long to find out whether we really believe that, but genuinely asking questions requires a bit of curiosity and skepticism. Too much hard work for those people who live by the motto “ignorance is bliss.”

        • Timothy Hughbanks
          Posted March 9, 2014 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

          Do you, or anyone else here, know why some people think … that we evolved from rocks?

          Ignorance of the chemistry of aluminosilicates?

          • moarscienceplz
            Posted March 10, 2014 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

            From Wikipedia Abiogenesis:

            “A model for the origin of life based on clay was forwarded by A. Graham Cairns-Smith in 1985 and explored as a plausible illustration by several scientists. The Clay hypothesis postulates that complex organic molecules arose gradually on a pre-existing, non-organic replication platform of silicate crystals in solution.”

        • NewEnglandBob
          Posted March 9, 2014 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

          But I do think that some people had devolved into rocks. See above post.

        • R J Langley
          Posted March 10, 2014 at 2:25 am | Permalink

          It’s one of Kent Hovind’s strawman arguments.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted March 9, 2014 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

      I thought the same thing. I think Joe is reading the wrong “science” books.

  8. Posted March 9, 2014 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

    Stan is no doubt a Christian judging by: “NOT Christianity”, and likely lying (Surprise!). And presumably the revulsion he feels for atheists doesn’t extend to himself for his claimed 4O year atheist stint. If it does, perhaps a little self flagellation would be appropriate.

    • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
      Posted March 9, 2014 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

      I’m very curious to see the “atheist” regimes that Stan refer to. Not even Soviet were atheist, even if its party was – religion was always allowed, if not always protected from prosecution as the rest of society.

      Albania under the dictator Hoxha was the only nation ever declared “atheist”, but that wasn’t its founding principle. (How could atheism at large be a wholly basis for politics? It’s like asking that curry recipes or impressionist paintings should be a full basis for politics.)

      • Posted March 9, 2014 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

        I didn’t know that about Albania. It would explain why Mother Teresa saw fit to pay tribute to the ex-dictator.

      • Posted March 9, 2014 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

        Stalin’s regime was certainly anti religion, perhaps a reaction to his own religious upbringing. But, atheism on it’s own doesn’t imply anti religious sentiments, any more than say a disbelief in dowsing makes one want to persecute dowsers.

        Generally, I think, people tend to persecute those who are close to them, but not too close, since those are likely competitors. That would account better for Stalin’s reaction, given his upbringing, and also suggests why persecution of Jews by Christians has been so common.

        • colnago80
          Posted March 10, 2014 at 5:12 am | Permalink

          It could be argued that Dialectal Materialism is a form of religion as, like religion, it is a philosophy based on no evidence.

          • colnago80
            Posted March 10, 2014 at 5:13 am | Permalink

            Dialectical!

          • Posted March 10, 2014 at 5:45 am | Permalink

            Or you could argue, as Popper did, that dialectical materialism is a scientific theory – one that has been falsified by the experience of actually trying it out on numerous occasions.

  9. Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    Posted March 9, 2014 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

    Kudos on all the conjecture and pictures that are drawn in our science books to explain how we came from rocks.

    As opposed to abrahamistic creationism, where humans magically appear out of mud? “And [magic happened that] formed man of the dust of the ground”. [ http://www.ebible.org/kjv/Genesis.htm ]

    Safe to say, we didn’t come from “rock” and no one has claimed that. But serpentizined (oxygenated, hydrogenated and carbonated) rocks were likely vital parts of the process that formed the first organic filled compartments.

    “I feel like my IQ is dropping” like a rock. :-/

    actual science and its lack of ability to generated objective knowledge of the darks: dark mass, dark energy, string theory, abiogenesis, origin of the phenotypes in the Cambrian, actual causality in climate theory, actual observation of subatomic particles in high energy physics, etc.

    Never mind that we have objective knowledge in all those areas:

    – dark matter is ~ 20 % of the universe matter- energy content, it doesn’t interact with matter, it is partly responsible for the relative heights between acoustic peaks 1, 2 and 3 in the CMB spectra, and it is particulate

    – dark energy is ~ 80 % of the universe content, it is responsible for the current exponential increase in the expansion rate of the universe, it is partly responsible for the relative heights between acoustic peaks 1, 2 and 3 in the CMB spectra, and it is not particulate

    – string/M theory is a mathematical theory

    – abiogenesis seems to connect us with serpentinized geochemical systems of the Archean by shared traits

    – Cambrian phenotypes all originated with the Hox box, AFAIK

    – climate theory* is currently seeing a regime forced by anthropic greenhouse gas release

    – individual electrons* can be studied in ultra-cooled CMOS transistors, no need for high-E physics

    *Stan is anti-science in so many ways. I assume he is an example of the Dunning-Kruger effect.

    Or he has been taken in bye the creationists, whose fountains of anti-knowledge are seen to be so afflicted…

    • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
      Posted March 9, 2014 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

      Amends: With the now confirmed dating of a 4.4 Ga old zircon, a cool early Earth seems well enough established. so make “geochemical systems of the Archean” of the Hadean instead.

      Duh: Individual subatomic particles, aka photons, are seen by our own eyes under weak enough ambient light, I’m now reminded of.

      • Posted March 9, 2014 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

        Thanks for that flood of info. A minor question on a detail, though… I recently mentioned the single photon assertion – then thought to try to check it for a source, and got some contrary info from a physics FAQ. It would stand to reason that a single photon would necessarily cause a reaction, but not that it would be “seen”, at least by humans. (perhaps by some cephalopods, though?) Would be interested to know if there’s better info on this (?) Still, if the info in the link is correct, 5-9 photons within 100ms is a pretty damn sparse bit of stuff for a human to see…

      • Pete Taylor
        Posted March 9, 2014 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

        I seem to recall that the Apollo astronauts reported seeing mysterious flashes of light every so often.

        Weren’t these later identified as cosmic rays, specifically high-energy protons, presumably hitting the retina individually?

        • Posted March 9, 2014 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

          I don’t know, but a little clarification… cosmic rays are photons, just of an extremely high energy (frequency) — and a quick check of the not-definitive wiki would seem to indicate likely candidates are direct excitation by cosmic rays, or creation by cosmic rays of electron-positron pairs (not protons, which are hugely massive in comparison) which then react with the eyeball goo to create the flashes. I have no idea how definitive this stuff is…

          • Pete Taylor
            Posted March 10, 2014 at 4:07 am | Permalink

            Well, according to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cosmic_ray the rays themselves are protons & atomic nuclei.

            Mind you, if Richard Bond (below) is correct, it looks like the protons were only an indirect cause: the flashes were actually caused by Cherenkov radiation. Sounds plausible to me, so technically I was incorrect.

            Thanks both.

            • Posted March 10, 2014 at 4:18 am | Permalink

              Thanks much for that — looks like I was living in the past, re: cosmic rays. I took the meaning of the phrase to mean essentially gamma rays of the tallest order. Serves me right for not bothering to update my knowledge on cosmic rays before commenting. So I suppose now the “proton wind” belching from our sun adds to what is now called cosmic rays. And Torbjorn’s 2-year-old comment on the other site I linked to (re: anti-protons) now makes more sense, too. Gracci.

        • Posted March 9, 2014 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

          Torbjorn was here. ;-)

        • Richard Bond
          Posted March 10, 2014 at 3:32 am | Permalink

          They were bursts of photons, generated by the Cherenkov effect. When high-energy protons entered the astronauts’ eyes, they were going faster than the speed of light in water. (Eyes are mostly water.) As they rapidly decelerated, they emitted light.

    • Draken
      Posted March 10, 2014 at 1:49 am | Permalink

      Seems like Stan awarded you a whole posting.

      • Posted March 10, 2014 at 2:00 am | Permalink

        I think that Stan’s existence is purely inferential in nature, and not directly observable.

        /@

      • Posted March 10, 2014 at 2:29 am | Permalink

        Wow… the Dunning and the Kruger is especially fierce with that pea-brain. He then allows an obvious troll comment through, and characterizes it as typical of the behavior exhibited here… by “Leftist, atheist, etc…”

        What a marooooon. Even provides roolz of truth and logic, which he obviously wouldn’t know, if it bit him in his arse.

      • Posted March 10, 2014 at 5:12 am | Permalink

        Amongst the BS: “Historical claims are all necessarily inferential…speculation”

        The common fallacy that we can’t do science with historical data. Geology would not be a science if that was the case. Of course we can obtain evidence about events in the past since they leave traces that we can analyze in the present, such as the fossil record. Such science is just as valid as watching bubbling test tubes.

        Stan appears thoroughly confused about how the scientific method actually works in practice. Also, quite what he imagines the term “atheist” to mean is far from clear. If he was an atheist for 40 years, and claims not to be a theist, what is he now? Presumably, he wants to define atheism as some sort of absolute knowledge that there are no deities, in which case he must have been incredibly stupid for the 40 years he was an atheist.

        • Posted March 10, 2014 at 5:16 am | Permalink

          P.S. I Bet that in reality he is a stealth christian…

          • Diane G.
            Posted March 10, 2014 at 11:59 pm | Permalink

            Noooooooooooooooo!

            • Posted March 11, 2014 at 4:59 am | Permalink

              Boring isn’t it. You might think we’d get believers in Zeus or Thor on the site, to add some spice, but all we actually have to contend with is common or garden christians and their omnidull god.

        • Draken
          Posted March 10, 2014 at 10:06 am | Permalink

          He doesn’t claim to be a theist; rather, his blog’s motto is that it
          “analyzes Atheism, without resorting to theism, deism, or fantasy”.

          I suppose that this way, he can simply pick and choose everything science doesn’t understand yet and criticise it without fear of needing to forward better alternative theories.

          • Draken
            Posted March 10, 2014 at 10:07 am | Permalink

            I meant to say ‘doesn’t claim NOT to be a theist’.

          • Posted March 10, 2014 at 10:35 am | Permalink

            It’s a quite a common conceit of theists to hide their beliefs, since admitting to them gives away their vested interests in trying to undermine science where it impinges on religion.

            “I was an atheist until I discovered X” is another common tactic, intended to establish authority – i.e. to imply that their intelligence has enabled them to move beyond atheism. Alistair McGraph (A Brit theological type who piggy backs off Dawkins), for instance uses this tactic, as do many others. The idea is to belittle atheists and to establish an intellectual high ground that only really bright people like themselves can aspire to :).

            Stan has managed to mix the two above into a single solution for establishing his credibility and expounding on topics that he doesn’t understand. I looked at his blog and found it quite funny in a sad sort of way.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted March 10, 2014 at 6:36 am | Permalink

        He went full on Dunning-Kruger too.

  10. Barry Lyons
    Posted March 9, 2014 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

    Yes, please make this a regular feature. I think selecting just three letters (how many do you get each week of this kind?) would be great.

    • Achrachno
      Posted March 9, 2014 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

      Yes, more than three would be … discouraging?

      • Ken Phelps
        Posted March 9, 2014 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

        It’s a lot like listening to the Shaggs – morbidly fascinating for a few minutes, but you don’t want the whole album at one sitting. I think 2 or 3 a week would be nice.

  11. Posted March 9, 2014 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

    “the persecution complex which atheists nurture”

    The religious attacks that I have experienced were not delivered because I was an atheist, but because I was not a Christian.

    • Achrachno
      Posted March 9, 2014 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

      They’d attack equally if you were the wrong kind of Christian.

      Muslims are the same way — Sunni generally can’t put up with Shiites and neither will tolerative the Ahmadi.

  12. abrotherhoodofman
    Posted March 9, 2014 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

    Who is suing whom in the USA, trying to establish their own religious viewpoint at the expense of the Other?

    It’s hard to see how removing bibles from public places constitutes a religious viewpoint.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted March 9, 2014 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

      Yes, Christians don’t like it when they have privileges removed. It isn’t taking something from someone else in favour of another, it’s making it fair for everyone by removing religion out of public areas. No one is stopping the practicing of religion – just not in public areas! It’s a secular state for a reason!

      I remember hearing Annie Laurie Gaylor on Fox once and she managed to get in, while being shouted over, that there shouldn’t be a promotion of religion or irreligion in public – it should be neutral.

      These people – they give me gas!

      • Achrachno
        Posted March 9, 2014 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

        Human beans.

      • still learning
        Posted March 9, 2014 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

        gas = Nitrous oxide?

  13. Posted March 9, 2014 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

    You think you are special because Jesus died for your sins? Dude, a STAR died to create the phosphorus that forms the spirals of your DNA.

    • D. Taylor
      Posted March 9, 2014 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

      Nice!

    • Mark Joseph
      Posted March 9, 2014 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

      +1

    • Diane G.
      Posted March 9, 2014 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

      Really cool.

    • Posted March 10, 2014 at 1:25 am | Permalink

      Those death stars always have a weak spot.

    • Posted March 10, 2014 at 2:04 am | Permalink

      IIRC, phosphorus is created in a living star; its death creates elements heavier than iron, but simply scatters the already-created iron and lighter elements.

      /@

    • lisa parker
      Posted March 10, 2014 at 9:03 am | Permalink

      I have always told my children that “a star must die for a child to be born.” A bit of poetic license; there isn’t a one to one relationship.

  14. Posted March 9, 2014 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

    “Wouldn’t it be possible that the head might end up growing out of the anus…?”

    As shanlim clearly has his head up his ass, s/he may actually be on to something here.

    • Diane G.
      Posted March 9, 2014 at 6:41 pm | Permalink

      Beat me (and probably a number of others) to it. Shan was actually repeating him/herself here, having earlier referred to “…the head in the proper caudal position .”

      • D'oh
        Posted March 9, 2014 at 8:19 pm | Permalink

        Yeah, I got a good chuckle out of “head in the proper caudal position.”

      • Posted March 10, 2014 at 2:05 am | Permalink

        Thereby hangs a tail … 

        /@

        • Posted March 10, 2014 at 2:31 am | Permalink

          +1 …ba-zinga!

        • Diane G.
          Posted March 10, 2014 at 11:54 pm | Permalink

          Thus we may see,’ quoth he, ‘how the world wags…

  15. Posted March 9, 2014 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    Oh, Stan’s a piece of work – when he’s not spouting ill-informed gibberish he’s talking to you like you’re some wet-behind-the-ears conversational debutante. I answered his “ten atheist gotchas” at my place (he adorably called them “questions”) and realised immediately it was a colossal waste of time. Stan doesn’t honestly analyse atheism and has no desire to; if he did he’d realise the questions he asks and the statements he makes are based in purest horseshit. Now it appears his analyses of science (“Scientism?” Really?) is about as rigorous and intellectually honest as his analysis of atheism.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted March 9, 2014 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

      I think Stan doesn’t really understand the word, “analyze”.

      • Achrachno
        Posted March 9, 2014 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

        Or most of the other words.

      • Posted March 9, 2014 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

        He appears to define it as “destroy a caricature of.”

  16. Diana MacPherson
    Posted March 9, 2014 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

    I like this crazy email/reply feature on this site because it’s good to understand what we’re up against. I tend to hide out here as a refuge from the insanity because I just get too worn down with ignorance. Sometimes it’s nice to view these comments from a safe place (this site) with smart people (these commenters).

    • Mark Joseph
      Posted March 9, 2014 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

      I tend to hide out here as a refuge from the insanity because I just get too worn down with ignorance.

      I agree. Being a thinking person in America can be very lonely, which is why I spend so much time on this website.

      • abrotherhoodofman
        Posted March 9, 2014 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

        Yes, this website is a fine place to spend time. Jerry obviously works extremely hard to provide interesting content on a daily basis. I’ll take this opportunity to give my thanks to Ceiling Cat!

        • Posted March 9, 2014 at 7:09 pm | Permalink

          Ditto on the kudos to Dr Coyne / your labors here. I wholly concur.

          And, thus too, re Mz Diana’s ” just get too worn down ” part cuz of all of the inanity and wooish vapidity.

          Don’t we though ! ‘Tis exhausting. So, so oft makes one wanna remain a hermitess / a recluse.

          My thanks for ALL o’these … … Thinking Threads.

          Blue

          • lisa parker
            Posted March 10, 2014 at 9:13 am | Permalink

            I am a hermit, I don’t think I ‘talk’ to much of anyone but you people. Even though you get nasty about Texas.

      • Posted March 9, 2014 at 11:10 pm | Permalink

        Didn’t realize it was this bad!

      • lisa parker
        Posted March 10, 2014 at 9:11 am | Permalink

        @Mark

        Right there with ya. And I’m not even an atheist!

    • Jonathan Wallace
      Posted March 10, 2014 at 12:39 am | Permalink

      I am not sure it really shows us what we are up against. There’s really not much of a problem if all we are up against is a few frothing at the mouth ravers like Stan.
      We can have a good laugh at inanities like heads randomly sprouting from anuses and why there are still monkeys and can easily rebut what these pop-eyed loons fondly imagine are killer arguments against evolution but it seemingly makes little inroad into the prevalence of creationist views.
      What we are really up against is the fact that powerful people, institutions and media outlets share these views and massive resources are channelled into promoting woo. Purdue University has been bullied into an unsatisfactory fudge regarding the promotion of religion in a public university by $$$ and the threat of legal action not by the merit of any arguments for divine intervention.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted March 10, 2014 at 6:34 am | Permalink

        Don’t forget that these people vote.

        • lisa parker
          Posted March 10, 2014 at 9:19 am | Permalink

          These people voting is why we are up against powerful people, institutions and media outlets that claim to share these views and why they channel massive resources promoting woo.

  17. John Harshman
    Posted March 9, 2014 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

    “Cambrian explosion ? How in the hell goes that fit with evolution?”

    One interesting effect of Stephen Meyer’s book Darwin’s Doubt is that creationists have now heard of the Cambrian explosion, though they have no idea, apparently, of what the term means or even how Meyer explains it (though in fact he doesn’t). I suppose that’s good.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted March 9, 2014 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

      Caused by nuclear weapons in the pre-Cambrian, no doubt…

      • Posted March 10, 2014 at 2:07 am | Permalink

        Just like the Big Bang was caused by nuclear weapons in the pre-Universe … 

        Oh. Wait.

        /@

        • lisa parker
          Posted March 10, 2014 at 9:23 am | Permalink

          Well if they can cause all those Godzilla movies, the Cambrian explosion and Big Bang are just piffle.

    • Chris
      Posted March 10, 2014 at 5:03 am | Permalink

      I don’t think that they quite understand that an “explosion” in geological terms is un-noticable in human terms…

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted March 10, 2014 at 6:46 am | Permalink

        Or extinctions. We’re probably living through a big one now & can’t really notice.

  18. Posted March 9, 2014 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

    Could it be that some of these are from a ‘poe’?

    • Achrachno
      Posted March 9, 2014 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

      No, I don’t think so. These look to be sincere efforts by the religiously impaired.

      • Posted March 9, 2014 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

        But that is the idea. Of course, if someone is trying to parody a creationist and they are spotted, then they are technically not a Poe. Sort of like a Heisenberg principle for Poe’s Law.

  19. eveysolara
    Posted March 9, 2014 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

    Stan is that breed of Christian apologist that leaves their religion in the closet because they know its indefensible. They just want to be on the offense.

  20. Faustus
    Posted March 9, 2014 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

    “Wouldn’t it be possible that the head might end up growing out of the anus and the genital extends from the neck skywards”

    Well there seem to be quite a large number of creationists with their heads up their anuses, and with genitals extending from their heads, does that count…

    • lisa parker
      Posted March 10, 2014 at 9:25 am | Permalink

      Yes, I saw them in the MIB movies.

  21. cherrybombsim
    Posted March 9, 2014 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

    As a geologist, I was pleasantly surprised by Joe’s accusation that “we came from rocks.” This is a much more satisfying theory than the one that “we came from apes.”

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted March 9, 2014 at 7:08 pm | Permalink

      I suspect Joe was thinking of Thing or maybe sees Thing as our common ancestor.

      • Posted March 10, 2014 at 2:11 am | Permalink

        Blasphemer! There is only one true Thing!

        /@

        • lisa parker
          Posted March 10, 2014 at 9:29 am | Permalink

          Bigger Blasphemer! What about Thing 1 and Thing 2! Tremble ye before Ceiling Cat and his hat!

  22. Posted March 9, 2014 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

    On an obliquely related note, just got done watching the new Cosmos. I am very pleased overall. Our knowledge about our actual place in the universe stands in stark contrast to the backwards and blinkered views of the commenters we are discussing here.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted March 9, 2014 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

      I recorded it because I was watching The Walking Dead (don’t judge). I will watch during the week.

      • Posted March 10, 2014 at 12:34 am | Permalink

        Boy, they laid the Bruno story on thick. You are right… look for outrage tomorrow. I’m too busy to check it out, but did scan it briefly, and the anti-religion / authoritarianism gets really thick, right before Bruno gets crispy. I also noted how Bruno is depicted in cross-like fashion, ascending in his imagination to the heavens… given a chance to kiss a crucifix, which he refuses… it’s time for some cultural popcorn.

      • Posted March 10, 2014 at 12:55 am | Permalink

        Too early to taste their tears for real, but this God-coddler has already decided, 6 hours before it aired, to get his cat-licks in, based on what a reviewer wrote.

      • Dominic
        Posted March 10, 2014 at 2:24 am | Permalink

        The walking dead? Jesus?!

      • Posted March 10, 2014 at 4:00 am | Permalink

        The Walking Dead replays again at 11. So we watched Cosmos with the kids, then sent them up to watch our WD. I think we both made good choices and have excellent taste in our viewing habits.

  23. coldthinker
    Posted March 10, 2014 at 12:54 am | Permalink

    Jerry, you have my respect. I suddenly realized how You and I must have very different wiring in our brains, because I could never stay sane reading such continuous chain of idiotic, arrogant email from utter morons. I feel priviledged to have the luxury of living in oblivion of those people.

    My hat’s off to all teachers, educators and other people with tolerance in front of ignorance and stupidity.

    • Larry Gay
      Posted March 10, 2014 at 3:50 am | Permalink

      My hat is off to educators like Jerry who do not tolerate ignorance and stupidity, but come out of the ivory tower swinging. My hope is that people like the commenters in Jerry’s post will be made aware of the fact in school that their ability to analyze is limited. Maybe they would then be slightly more careful and humble. Anyway, I’m not giving up hope just yet.

  24. Dominic
    Posted March 10, 2014 at 2:23 am | Permalink

    Bloody hell – there are a lot of VERY STUPID PEOPLE out there. This is why universal suffrage is not a good idea – we get idiots electing idiots!

    • Posted March 10, 2014 at 2:46 am | Permalink

      I agree… except I draw a blank on alternatives that don’t reek of Jim Crow. But I really think the toppling of the balance of powers by an ignorant electorate could be our undoing. We can try to educate, but I fear the clock has run out, and the deck has been hopelessly stacked in favor of Americur’s dipshits. (and besides… you can lead a horse to water…)

      • Posted March 10, 2014 at 3:46 am | Permalink

        See _Idiocracy_ (2006) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0387808/

        /@

        • lisa parker
          Posted March 10, 2014 at 9:36 am | Permalink

          The difficulty with dealing with voters is that, as in most cases when dealing with people in groups as opposed to individuals, you are dealing with Mob Mentality.

  25. gbjames
    Posted March 10, 2014 at 4:29 am | Permalink

    The week is only beginning and already I’m depressed.

  26. Larry Gay
    Posted March 10, 2014 at 5:17 am | Permalink

    One of the hostile commenters (Stan?) played the victim card. For those interested, Bob Edwards will interview Candida Moss tomorrow (Tuesday). She wrote “The Myth of Persecution” about how Christians are the new victims. I haven’t read the book so won’t comment on it yet.

  27. gravelinspector-Aidan
    Posted March 10, 2014 at 6:21 am | Permalink

    This isn’t even wrong, for the person hasn’t evinced even the slightest knowledge of natural selection.

    Shan has some pretty severe problems with anatomy too, let alone little things like logic, biology etc.
    “Not even wrong” may be a bit too generous.

  28. lisa parker
    Posted March 10, 2014 at 8:23 am | Permalink

    First re Joe. I’ve heard a lot about monkey and/or ape ancestors, but the rock is new to me. Perhaps he refers to us oldies and still goodies and our “all hail rock and roll.” Or maybe “Rock of Ages.” I never even had a pet rock.

    Re Shan and the evolution of viruses that so confuses him, although I’ve generally heard it referred to as ‘mutations’ (perhaps those small, quick steps he refers to), I invite him to join my current battle with swine ‘flu and see if that clarifies things for him.

    As for Stan, well, no matter what sciences he has or has not studied or understood, he certainly has never gotten reasonably close to a world history book.

  29. stephen
    Posted March 10, 2014 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

    Please keep ‘em coming,Professor Ceiling Cat, many of your fans like to have their lower instincts scratched from time to time!


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