Readers’ weekly attacks on evolution and atheism, and Scalia on the devil

Here are a few of the comments (not approved) that creationist readers have tried to post this week. Again, this is just to keep your finger on the pulse of America. And believe me, there are a lot more comments, similar to these, that I didn’t put up.

Reader “Rasputin” comments on my post “Surprise: Pope Francis believes in Satan and demons“:

We only know the world as far back as our modern science has been able to reach into. What took place aeons before that? Is the current human race the first to appear on this planet? If not, who or what was here before us? Did we just “evolve” or were we “created”? Has science answered all the questions that perplex the mind of man? What really proves that satan does not exist, or God, for that matter? Let’s try to discover the very moment we fall asleep. That is an easier endeavor than proving the non-existence of satan. Cynicism or skepticism is not the answer.

I believe the onus is on those who posit the existence of Satan to provide the evidence! And, of course, “modern science” has reached back to the Big Bang, about 13.8 billion years ago.  Ergo we have a pretty good view, from the fossil record, of what life evolved on Earth over the last 3.5 billion years.  (Remember, though that we probably know of less than 1% of the species that ever lived, for fossilization, and the uncovering of fossils, is rare.) And that evidence shows that yes, Mr. Rasputin, we evolved.  As for science answering every question that perplex the mind of man (what about the mind of woman?), the answer is of course no, but we’ve answered many. Religion, on the other hand, hasn’t answered a single question.  Can you tell me, with the same degree of confidence that we know that evolution occurred, whether there are any gods, and if so one or (as polytheists believe) many?

***

Reader “john st laurent” comments on the same post:

You are entitled to believe anything you want, whether it be the devil, God, or the insane notion that we magically came from monkeys when you haven’t a shred of evidence outside of assumptions to prove it. Point being that evolution is a religious belief based on faith in something you cannot see, just like any other religious belief. Isn’t it time for you evolutionists to be honest and admit it?

Where is the science? (by science I mean proof, not your silly theories)

My “theory” is that john is a 13 year old writing this stuff from his parents’ basement. That’s the only way I can explain such stupendous ignorance.  And as for “something you cannot see,” well, he can go to a lot of museums and see casts of Australopithecus afarensis or Homo erectus.

Besides, if we magically came from monkeys, why are there still monkeys? QED

***

Reader “ozdawn” comments on the same post:

IF “belief in Satan and Hell is as, “about as retrograde a belief you can have in our modern world””, THEN why has there been such a growing number of Devil-worshipers since the Church of Satan was “officially” founded in 1966?

WHY does most of society today especially the entertainment business mirror and embrace the morals of Satan while rejecting those of Jesus and the Holy Bible?

I’ll leave this one to the readers (the sane ones).

***

We have two comments on the post “Ask and ye shall receive: Oklahoma’s stupidity brings a monument to Satan to its capitol grounds“, about the plan to put a statue of Old Nick on the Oklahoma capitol grounds. (All misspellings are from posters.)

From reader “Alex L”:

For anyone who supported this satanic staue shame on you supporting this evil and teaching to children that’s it’s ok to allow such evil into America . Any human alive knows that satan is evil and that staue should not be allowed plus putting the future of our children at stake people should really be ashamed of themselves for not evening thinking of the negative things that should happen this staue should have a petition to ban it forever.

and from reader “Kayla”:

Nobodys wants your satan monumement in Texas! Lmao get out of here with all that nonsene.

Lest you think this is some metaphorical Satan people are believing, remember that a 2007 Gallup Poll showed that 70% of Americans believe in the existence of “the devil”.

I could go on, but among the people who believe in the devil is one of our Supreme Court justices. Guess which one? Of course it’s Antonin Scalia, who had this interchange last October with an interviewer from New York Magazine. Questions are in bold, Scalia’s answers in plain type:

Oh. So you don’t know where I’m going. Thank God.
I don’t know where you’re going. I don’t even know whether Judas Iscariot is in hell. I mean, that’s what the pope meant when he said, “Who am I to judge?” He may have recanted and had severe penance just before he died. Who knows?

Can we talk about your drafting process—
[Leans in, stage-whispers.] I even believe in the Devil.

You do?
Of course! Yeah, he’s a real person. Hey, c’mon, that’s standard Catholic doctrine! Every Catholic believes that.

Every Catholic believes this? There’s a wide variety of Catholics out there …
If you are faithful to Catholic dogma, that is certainly a large part of it.

Have you seen evidence of the Devil lately?
You know, it is curious. In the Gospels, the Devil is doing all sorts of things. He’s making pigs run off cliffs, he’s possessing people and whatnot. And that doesn’t happen very much anymore.

No.
It’s because he’s smart.

So what’s he doing now?
What he’s doing now is getting people not to believe in him or in God. He’s much more successful that way.

That has really painful implications for atheists. Are you sure that’s the ­Devil’s work?
I didn’t say atheists are the Devil’s work.

Well, you’re saying the Devil is ­persuading people to not believe in God. Couldn’t there be other reasons to not believe?
Well, there certainly can be other reasons. But it certainly favors the Devil’s desires. I mean, c’mon, that’s the explanation for why there’s not demonic possession all over the place. That always puzzled me. What happened to the Devil, you know? He used to be all over the place. He used to be all over the New Testament.

Right.
What happened to him?

He just got wilier.

He got wilier.

Isn’t it terribly frightening to believe in the Devil?
You’re looking at me as though I’m weird. My God! Are you so out of touch with most of America, most of which believes in the Devil? I mean, Jesus Christ believed in the Devil! It’s in the Gospels! You travel in circles that are so, so removed from mainstream America that you are appalled that anybody would believe in the Devil! Most of mankind has believed in the Devil, for all of history. Many more intelligent people than you or me have believed in the Devil.

“He got wilier” is one of the funniest statements I’ve read all year, but remember that Scalia isn’t joking here. The saddest part is that his last statement is absolutely true.

And remember, this is one of the nine people responsible for enforcing the Constitutionally-mandated separation of church and state in the U.S. Is it any wonder that wall is crumbling?

~

 

 

87 Comments

  1. Stonyground
    Posted May 15, 2014 at 11:27 am | Permalink

    “WHY does most of society today especially the entertainment business mirror and embrace the morals of Satan while rejecting those of Jesus and the Holy Bible?”

    I presume that this commenter hasn’t actually read the Holy Bible. According to the Bible the morals of Satan are not that bad, it is YHWH who is the totally evil character.

    • Mark Joseph
      Posted May 15, 2014 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

      Exactly. I’d say the answer to his question is “because the people in the entertainment just aren’t that into genocide, slavery, and misogyny.”

  2. Adam Pack
    Posted May 15, 2014 at 11:27 am | Permalink

    I have a question, pursuant to a conversation I had with a friend last night. It’s not precisely relevant to this post, but the first crazy person you quote above reminded me of it.

    We were talking about the fossil record, and how mind-blowing Deep Time is, and so on. I said that if there’d been a species of intelligent dinosaurs, that had developed up to, say, 19th century levels of technology, we probably wouldn’t ever know about it, because of how little stuff gets fossilised, etc. My friend said that was utter nonsense.

    What do you think? Obviously I’m not saying there were intelligent dinosaurs, just that there could have been and we wouldn’t know.

    Sorry if this seems frivolous.

    • darrelle
      Posted May 15, 2014 at 11:35 am | Permalink

      I think that yes, it is likely we would have found some traces by now.

    • Posted May 15, 2014 at 11:36 am | Permalink

      Nineteenth century means massive buildings and steam-powered heavy equipment and extensive railroad infrastructure and aqueducts and agriculture, as well as lots of steel tools and the like — all much more durable than soft tissue. And on a global scale, too. No way could we have missed that sort of thing.

      b&

      • Adam Pack
        Posted May 15, 2014 at 11:41 am | Permalink

        Would they have lasted 65 million years, recognisably, though?
        It was a pretty daft thing to say, I grant you. But I still wonder.

        • Posted May 15, 2014 at 11:49 am | Permalink

          Their bones did. Why not their pocket watches?

          Or, for that matter, why not the flint-tipped bone clubs of their own ancestors? Why not the garbage pits showing their prey to have been slaughtered not by teeth and claws but by spears and arrows?

          b&

          • Adam Pack
            Posted May 15, 2014 at 11:51 am | Permalink

            Solid point. I’ll tell my friend I was talking rubbish. I doubt she’ll be surprised.

      • Posted May 15, 2014 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

        Actually, taking into account plate tectonics, erosion, corrosion and the like over a period of 65 million year, it’s highly unlikely that any large scale architectural and technological stuff would survive is a recognisable state.

        Steel tools and other small personal items, like rings and gemstones is going to be more what you’d expect to survive in a reasonably intact state plus you’d also imagine that a culture that’s technologically sophisticated enough to build railways and aqueducts would have its own burial customs, so you might find grave goods or suspicious looking regularities in the positioning and orientation of fossils in a particular fossil bed which suggest that bodies have been deliberate deposited in specific manner.

        • Posted May 15, 2014 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

          I wouldn’t be too sure about that first point. There are impact craters much older than the dinosaurs and of a scale comparable to that of the Giza Necropolis. For example:

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

          Over twice as old as the oldest dinosaur, ten times older than Chicxulub….

          b&

    • Kevin
      Posted May 15, 2014 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

      Too much evidence: distribution of elements in some places that would be profoundly unnatural, like Fe, Ni, Cu, Sn, etc. for tools. Ceramics on the scale of cities, even if decayed, certainly proof that something advanced put them there. Not to mention that adaptations would have categorical placements which would make sense to us having only having been part of society, like petrified desks or writing utensils from carved wood.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted May 15, 2014 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

      Hmmm, dinosaurs of pre-Tertiary age and 19th century technology. That sounds like my territory.
      (I don’t recognise “Adam Pack” as a frequent contributor, so by way of introduction, I’m one of the regular geologists around here. I’m currently an oil company’s hotel at their head office, after meetings to wash up one exploration well and prior to going out to work on another well for them. Normally I’m the one with a hard hat and a beard, but I had to shave the beard off because of poison gas risk on the last well – interferes with the breathing apparatus, don’tcha know?)
      The precise choice of 19th century as a tech level makes it hard to answer this question clearly one way or another. It precludes the presence of atomic technologies that would lead to long-lasting isotope anomalies. By long lasting, I specifically point to the incontrovertible (unless you discount essentially all of physics, in which case you could benefit the human species by searching for exceptions to Newton’s description of gravity using increasingly high cliffs. Enjoy! ; I’ll bring popcorn.) evidence for a series of natural nuclear reactors operating 1700 million years ago in what was (in the 1970s and 1980s) a uranium mine at Oklo in Gabon. Which mine was the subject of chin-wag in the pub about an hour ago. Bloody geologists : group-think!
      But the 19th century dateline precludes such nice, clean persistent evidence, and we have to rely on much murkier evidence.
      I’d like to think that my geologist colleagues and I would recognise in the lithological record large amounts of brick debris and other ceramics (a point raised by Ben and Kevin), but there are selection pressures operating against such a discovery : geologically boring places like quiet estuaries and dull, dull plains are where we tend to live and build cities, but they don’t generally generate metal or hydrocarbon deposits, so don’t really receive a huge amount of scrutiny. There is, to be frank, no money in investigating such areas deeply. I’d like to think that if we drilled through a horizon of (say) brick debris, we’d recognise it. But to be honest, we might well just look at the brick dust (cemented by the aeons into firm rock), call it a red bed, use it as a correlation tool (a marker of a time horizon in the rock sequence ; fossils are the textbook correlation markers, but many other things can be too), and move on in our pursuit of $INSERT_NAME_OF_RESOURCE$. We don’t have an infinite budget. On the other hand, material such as brick dust does spread widely, and I know specialists in (for a relevant example) tracing the provenance of the sediments that go to form clastic rocks who I think would say “WTF is going on with this red material – it looks like brick dust, but form the JURASSIC? WTF?” (Second thoughts : it’ll red-flag to anyone doing clay mineral characterisation as an adjunct to wellbore stability studies. Not regular clay X-ray diffraction patterns. this isn’t done routinely, but the data is worth tens of millions when it’s needed.) And while it might not be a resource, those “WTF” questions are the sort of things that we talk about in the pub after a good day of hunting fossil fishes.
      (Sideline : ProfCC says

      fossilization, and the uncovering of fossils, is rare.

      … which is not untrue. But at least one person in this conversation has 20kilos of slabs from a world-famous fossil site sitting in his garden shed, awaiting the tender ministrations of a dental drill and a lump hammer, and hopefully containing magnificent fish fossils. I want to do my bit to weaken the “uncovering” bit. But, to be honest, they’re probably only going to be scrappy fillets. But you live, and dig, in hope.)
      Concentrations of various metals and minerals (per “Kevin” and “Unity”), are unlikely to be large enough to attract attention as resources, and therefore unlikely to get more than cursory attention. If you pounded New York flat (isn’t there a Godzilla movie in the pipeline?) and treated the debris as iron ore and brick and concrete and other debris … it probably wouldn’t be worth mining. Particularly if there was a hundred metres of overburden (non-productive rock and soil) on top of it.
      Ben’s suggestion of (for example) flint tools, and Unity’s suggestion of gems (especially a cut diamond!) are nice “smoking guns”. But diamond globally is not common, so the chances of recovery are, frankly slim (they do have real potential for gigayear persistence though! What’s another gigayear to a 3Gyr old diamond?). And flint … is actually a naturally-formed rock type, and on the 100Myr time scale is prone to dissolution in some parts and “overcoating” in others. We do look for such issues (imagine what this chemistry does for the porosity on what might otherwise be a wonderful oil reservoir sandstone), but I’d hesitate to say that we would definitely spot a Jurassic arrowhead. Particularly because, as archaeologists know, outside the fairly restricted confines of “home” and “factory”, in the wider landscape, arrowheads are rare.
      I’d like to say, with my hand on my hard hat, that we conclusively would both find and recognise the archaeology of a Jurassic dinosaur civilisation. But I don’t honestly think that I can do that. I can say that I’ve never found anything that would provide evidence for such a scenario (and you’ve made me think about it now!), but beyond that, I’d have to be relying on Ockham’s Razor.
      I really hated writing this. I just know that some creationist quote-miner is going to dig this up and throw it back (or a few syllables of it, carefully shorn of meaning) in my face. Then the Flat Earthers and Alien Abductees will catch on, and I’ll never hear the end of it. But … well you asked a fair question, and you get a considered response.

      • Adam Pack
        Posted May 15, 2014 at 11:19 pm | Permalink

        Thank you for that incredibly thorough answer; I’m flattered you gave it that much thought. I would just like to emphasise that I don’t think there was a dinosaur civilisation (Occam’s Razor, as you say). I just find it fun to think about as a possibility.

        (And no, I’m not a regular commenter here, but I visit most days and always read the comments. I just haven’t had much to say recently).

        • gravelinspector-Aidan
          Posted May 17, 2014 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

          I enjoy exercising the braincell between rotting the brain in meetings with clients and burning the throat out in the Indo-Chinese restaurant.

      • Posted May 16, 2014 at 11:38 am | Permalink

        I really hated writing this.

        But I’m really glad you did, and I thank you for it. Your perspective has tweaked mine.

        I also did, though, have a thought, inspired by your description as a millions-years-hence Manhattan as a low-grade iron ore deposit. And that’s that the reverse would also be true. The professional side of your passion is in searching for high-grade mineral deposits, and that job is getting harder every day because we’re doing such a superlative job of distributing the concentrations of raw resources. Would not that show up? That is, wouldn’t somebody notice that certain elements are much more widely dispersed than they have any right to be, and that there’s just no good place to find something very useful that should be plentiful if it hadn’t already been mined out?

        Going back to the Victorian Era theme, I’m not sure we had yet started to make an appreciable dent in anything. We most certainly have by now, though.

        And, another thought. Humanity is, and has been for quite some time, causing a mass extinction event. And, certainly by the nineteenth century, biodiversity had radically shifted, with huge numbers of cattle and pigs and chicken compared to previously. I’d think similar patterns would have to show up for any other comparable civilization. Gotta feed all the people doing all the industrious things necessary to discover and build the technology. Even if they didn’t eat meat — especially if they didn’t eat meat — they’d still have to have agriculture, and I think we’d see signs of that in the fossil record as well.

        b&

        • gravelinspector-Aidan
          Posted May 17, 2014 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

          such a superlative job of distributing the concentrations of raw resources. Would not that show up?

          It probably would show up … but if you take a Poisson (but the exact distribution doesn’t matter, could also be a Power Law. I think.) distribution of element concentrations (the high concentrations being “ore”), and take out 90% of the top 10th percentile of deposits, 30% of the next percentile, 50% of the next percentile, 50% of the next percentile, 30% of the next percentile, and 10% of the next percentile, (graph it – you take out most of the good ores, but leave the poorer ores) … then you’ll end up with a distribution that would be very similar to the original distribution, but with a lower mean concentration (and median, and mode, of course).
          Long story short : getting data to prove it would take a LOT of data gathering.
          Puncturing another popular trope – we’re not strip mining ALL the Earth’s resources, leaving nothing for a second flowering of the cockroach after we bomb ourselves back into non-existence. There would be fewer really good ores, but there’d be plenty of not-particularly good ores.

          And, another thought. Humanity is, and has been for quite some time, causing a mass extinction event

          That, on the other hand is global, affects all (well, many) types of life, and affects lots of different habitats. That is very likely to show up in the fossil record for the foreseeable future (say – until the Sun’s red giant phase hornfelses the crust from the top down).

          • Posted May 18, 2014 at 10:04 am | Permalink

            But wouldn’t there be differential distribution between resources? You’d expect energy-rich deposits and useful mechanical deposits — oil and metals — to be depleted faster than stuff that’s as common and useful as dirt.

            b&

            • gravelinspector-Aidan
              Posted May 18, 2014 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

              Define “useful.”
              Until the early 1940s, uranium was a minor metal used for (IIRC) a little steel alloying (offset, again IIRC, by it’s habit of forming nitrides at high temperatures in air, which didn’t do the alloying you wanted. So it was an awkward beggar to use.), making glass a delicate green (the colour of chlorine gas) and … errr, that’s it.
              After that the usage patterns changed greatly, and the amount and type of mining changed drastically.
              It would take a huge amount of work, and a large degree of luck in the preservation game, to preserve enough deposits to be able to confidently claim such patterns in preservation of mineral deposits. Frankly, I think it’d be incredible. Literally.

              • Posted May 19, 2014 at 8:59 am | Permalink

                Hmmm…still, might be useful for somebody’s dissertation, especially to comb through such a variety of published data….

                b&

              • gravelinspector-Aidan
                Posted May 19, 2014 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

                Oh, it’s a fun what-if. If I were marking essays, I’d be interested to read a good argument on the topic. More interested than, for a recent disappointing story on “The Geology of Middle-Earth”.

          • Jo5ef
            Posted May 19, 2014 at 5:33 am | Permalink

            Whereas there’s no mass extinction event associated with the dinosaurs… Oh wait

            It is a cool idea, and not so easy to refute. I recall a doctor who from when I was a kid that had this theme. John Pertwee was the dr, and it was scary, but I suppose it would look pretty lame now.

            • Posted May 19, 2014 at 6:55 am | Permalink

              You may be thinking of the Silurians (a misnomer) and Sea Devils.

              The Silurians made a comeback in *new* Doctor Who, in the episodes *The Hungry Earth* and *Cold Blood*. And there is also recurring character, a friend of the Doctor, who is a Silurian (and a lesbian, a Victorian detective and a swordswoman, to boot). The new Silurians are prettier than the old ones.

              /@

            • Posted May 19, 2014 at 6:56 am | Permalink

              PS. http://tardis.wikia.com/wiki/Silurian

            • gravelinspector-Aidan
              Posted May 19, 2014 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

              Whereas there’s no mass extinction event associated with the dinosaurs… Oh wait

              There’s no otherwise inexplicable mass extinction event, etc, etc.
              Why the present mass extinction during interglacial 5 of a we-don’t-know-how-many-long series of ice ages? There’s nothing particularly obvious. But at the Cretaceous-Palaeocene mass extinction there was a large impactor in the middle of a major LIP (Large Igneous Province – “flood basalt” to Discovery Channel script writers), and at the Palaeocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum … well, guess!
              OK – we’re doing our own PETM at the moment (“The Blast In The Past” to quote a Nature commentary article on the PETM), which will muddy the waters a bit, I’m sure. But hey, I’ve made my living to 15 years landing oil wells horizontally onto a surface 120-150kyr below the PETM. It’s one of the bits of rock that I am really, really bored with. That and the Cimmerian Unconformity. And, it has to be said, the K-T boundary itself. Old friends, passing by the window.

            • gravelinspector-Aidan
              Posted May 19, 2014 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

              Fighting talk, in the voice of Crocodile Dundee : “That ain’t a Dr Who. THIS,” [pulls out a Tom Baker] “is a Dr Who!”

              • Posted May 19, 2014 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

                That’s fighting talk. Pertwee was *my* Doctor!

                /@

              • gravelinspector-Aidan
                Posted May 19, 2014 at 11:54 pm | Permalink

                [flicks scarf - takes out an eye]
                Your shot.

              • Posted May 21, 2014 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

                Ha! [Venusian aikido!]

                /@

    • John Scanlon, FCD
      Posted May 15, 2014 at 11:22 pm | Permalink

      Whether we found evidence would depend on the relative sea level at the time of the saurian technological revolution. When the sea level is low or falling, there is rapid and widespread erosion of the land surface and not much deposition of terrestrial and shallow-water sediments; times of high erosion are bad for agriculture but good for discovery and extraction of minerals. Of course there’d be local variation in erosion/deposition due to individual plate motions so a global civilization would be very hard to miss, but if confined to a small number of basins and a relatively short time during a weathering/erosion phase, we might miss them completely.
      This is very important for time-travel fiction, or should be.

  3. Diana MacPherson
    Posted May 15, 2014 at 11:31 am | Permalink

    Morals of Satan? You mean how he was ambitious but God saw his ambition as uppityness & kicked his ass out of heaven? Sounds like a proletariat uprising to me, not the morals of Hollywood.

  4. Posted May 15, 2014 at 11:31 am | Permalink

    Either Scalia was being serious, or he was “having fun” with the interviewer.

    Neither interpretation is consistent with his suitability for a position anywhere in public office.

    b&

    • Posted May 15, 2014 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

      Perhaps in Soudan?

    • Diane G.
      Posted May 15, 2014 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

      It sounds to me like his own version of the little people argument–“it’s useful to the real power brokers that the normal run of people buy into this stuff.”

      • Posted May 15, 2014 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

        Quite possibly.

        …not, of course, that any of us — you, me, Jerry, or even diehard Christians — would excuse his behavior any more on that account. Quite the contrary, I’m sure….

        b&

      • Posted May 15, 2014 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

        Much the same comment was made by Seneca as follows:- “Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by rulers as useful”

        • Diane G.
          Posted May 15, 2014 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

          He stole all my best stuff.

          • Mark Joseph
            Posted May 15, 2014 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

            You’re older than you look. Or, should I phrase it, you look younger than you must be?

            • Diane G.
              Posted May 15, 2014 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

              Either sounds just wonderful, thanks!

  5. darrelle
    Posted May 15, 2014 at 11:32 am | Permalink

    “You travel in circles that are so, so removed from mainstream America that you are appalled that anybody would believe in the Devil!

    No, SCJ Scalia. That interviewer was not appalled that anybody believes in the Devil, but that a person holding the position of Supreme Court Justice in the present day, supposedly modern, USA. Big difference.

    I’ve said it before. I hear all the time from his supporters and his opponents that he is “really smart.” They say he likes to make outrageous comments just for the fun of making a bit of trouble. Implying that 1) he doesn’t really think those things, and 2) that amusing oneself like that is evidence of a “really smart” person. I just don’t see it. I see Dunning Kruger symptoms from a smug asshole.

    • Posted May 15, 2014 at 11:54 am | Permalink

      Many of my lawyer friends used to (10-15 yrs ago) say that although they generally always disagreed with Scalia, at least they respected his intelligence, ability to write, and ability to craft a well reasoned and logical argument for his position. They don’t say those kinds of thing anymore. The same people now mention his hypocrisy and religiosity more than anything else.

  6. Alex Shuffell
    Posted May 15, 2014 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    There has been a growing number of Satanists since the Church of Satan was founded in 1966, not Devil worshippers, because it is an interesting philosophy for people who are annoyed with Christianity, especially because it tends to encourage people to say with confidence things they can have no understanding in.

    I don’t know why Scalia and Alex L keep saying the Devil is evil, from reading the Bible he seems like a decent chap. He was one of the few honest characters. He told Eve the truth of the fruit when God told her she would die the day she ate it. Every time we meet the him he is always trying to teach us something when God is all anger, vengeance and vanity. But of course they are just old stories that bare little resemblance to reality.

    I am not a Satanist, I do not care for pride and individualism, vengeance or indulgence. There are other nice things about it, more than cool statues.

    • E.A. Blair
      Posted May 15, 2014 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

      “…he seems a decent chap.”

      If you go by death toll, he is much, much better than god. The numbers come out to Satan: 10, Jehovah: 2,476,633. If you follow th link, you find that the numbers in the latter case are probably much higher, as the only include incidents for which specific numbers are given.

  7. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted May 15, 2014 at 11:38 am | Permalink

    Re

    “Most of mankind has believed in the Devil, for all of history. Many more intelligent people than you or me have believed in the Devil.”

    Scalia evidently doesn’t know that Judaism has and never had any concept of “the devil”. The Jewish Bible posits no link between the serpent in the garden, “Satan”, or the fallen angel Lucifer, and Satan appears as a prosecutor not a malignant evil. These three were conflated by Christian tradition.

    I have no quarrel with intelligent people believing in the devil before the advent of modern medicine and especially neuroscience.

  8. Posted May 15, 2014 at 11:41 am | Permalink

    “Well, there certainly can be other reasons. But it certainly favors the Devil’s desires. I mean, c’mon, that’s the explanation for why there’s not demonic possession all over the place. That always puzzled me. What happened to the Devil, you know? He used to be all over the place. He used to be all over the New Testament.”

    I’ll throw this up as a crazy alternative to the Sneaky Satan hypothesis. The huge decrease in alleged instances of demonic possession is because we’ve replaced magical explanations of mental illness with scientific ones.

    There’s enough wiggle room here for a Catholic who believes in demonic possession. They could say that it has always been a rare occurrence, and that it was simply overreported in the past. Um, er, science hasn’t ruled out demonic possession, and all that.

    Maybe Scalia cannot abide by even this, because a lot of this overreporting seemed to occur in the Bible, which would therefore undermine its veracity?

  9. E.A. Blair
    Posted May 15, 2014 at 11:52 am | Permalink

    “…why has there been such a growing number of Devil-worshipers since the Church of Satan was “officially” founded in 1966?”

    The same can be said of Pastafarians. Does that require belief in the existence of the Flying Spaghetti Monster?

    “He got wilier.”

    Oh noes! The devil is a coyote!

    • Posted May 15, 2014 at 11:59 am | Permalink

      If the devil is Wile E. Coyote (Super Genius), does that make god the Roadrunner?

      • Diane G.
        Posted May 15, 2014 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

        God is Acme Manufacturing, supplier of worthless “solutions.”

        • Merilee
          Posted May 15, 2014 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

          + 1

        • E.A. Blair
          Posted May 15, 2014 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

          The value and effectiveness of Acme’s products has already been addressed.

          • Diane G.
            Posted May 15, 2014 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

            Ha Ha! I love it that people come up with these things!

          • Rikki_Tikki_Taalik
            Posted May 15, 2014 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

            Judge Homer Simpson, Presiding

            Poor Wiley. You know you are screwed when the presiding official can be bought off with a doughnut and a few beers.

        • gravelinspector-Aidan
          Posted May 15, 2014 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

          I hear they’re expanding into solutionless worths soon.

    • Posted May 15, 2014 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

      Meep! Meep!

      /@

    • E.A. Blair
      Posted May 15, 2014 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

      “Does that require belief in the existence of the Flying Spaghetti Monster?”

      I worded that carelessly. What I meant was that if you accept increasing numbers of Satanists as proof of the devil’s existence, that necessarily implies that increasing numbers of Pastafarians requires a more or less universal acceptance of the existence of the FSM, even if you are not a follower.

  10. Posted May 15, 2014 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    “Skepticism is not the answer” – that’s gotta be amongst the most moronic things one could say. Except – if he really means it, he should be the best client of any insurance broker.

    • Rikki_Tikki_Taalik
      Posted May 15, 2014 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

      Indeed. It’s like saying “Who needs logic, reason, and evidence? Just chuck that out and go with faith and gullibility.”

      “Rasputin” would make Ned Ryerson’s day.

      (FWIW Stephen Tobolowsky has done some awesome AMAs on Reddit. The one at the top of the list is my fav. It was on the day Harold Ramis died.)

  11. Posted May 15, 2014 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

    Check this out, Rasputin:

    http://shar.es/SPe2t

    Concentrating on how you fall asleep tends to makes it not happen, so it’s impossible to understand the process by doing it. Here’s the neuroscience of what’s going on.

    There are several daily newsletters at livescience.com besides this one that might answer questions you haven’t even thought of yet, Ras.

    • Posted May 16, 2014 at 9:43 am | Permalink

      This (to tie two recent threads together) is the only piece of wisdom I have ever gotten from reading C. S. Lewis. Somewhere in _Prince Caspian_ is the line that you will have trouble falling asleep if you try to do so. (I assume he meant without sedatives!)

      • Posted May 16, 2014 at 8:52 pm | Permalink

        Personally, I only need to consider that I work approximately 120 feet from here: http://www.holyseemission.org

        Then, I drown my sorrows with any one of a plethora of good stiff drinks available in the area, and I sleep like a baby.

  12. Posted May 15, 2014 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

    🐾

  13. Kevin
    Posted May 15, 2014 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

    When my respectometer goes below 1 (on a scale of 11) I usually have to make a quality control battery check. In Scalia’s case, with the dial pegged at zero, I am certain the battery is fine without checking.

  14. Toni
    Posted May 15, 2014 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

    Are you listening out there Sophisticated Theologians™??

    • Derek
      Posted May 15, 2014 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

      Hey now… Scalia does not actually believe in a real devil with horns and a pitchfork. That is just an atheist strawman. If you were to really ask Scalia what he means by “the devil” you would learn that he is talking about an anti-ground of being quantum thingy that cannot really be pinned down so any criticism of IT can be dismissed.

      • Posted May 15, 2014 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

        Yeah, everyone knows the story of Satan tempting Jesus in the desert was about the very opposite of the reason things exist at all. Whatever that means.

  15. Taz
    Posted May 15, 2014 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

    We have to face the fact that there isn’t a shred of evidence for evolution. john st laurent looked in his pockets AND under his bed.

  16. Posted May 15, 2014 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

    I saw Matt Dillahunty make a very simple, but also brilliant point about Satan once. If Satan really wanted to get people on his side, and he has freedom to do so (at least until God comes back to cast him out permanently in the end), why not go on a PR campaign? Why remain hidden? Why not prance about the earth and say, “Hey, look at me, I’m not such a bad guy, God just says that because he’s jealous. Look, pray to me, I’ll actually answer…”

    Surely, assuming that God remains silent and hidden, this would be a fantastic way to win followers. After all, the first enormous advantage to present evidence of existence…

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted May 15, 2014 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

      Piers Anthony used this trope in his “Incarnations of Immortality” cycle of novels.

    • Mark Joseph
      Posted May 15, 2014 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

      “Please allow me to introduce myself,
      I’m a man of wealth and taste.”

      • John Scanlon, FCD
        Posted May 16, 2014 at 2:45 am | Permalink

        That was a paid advertisement. He does pay better than God.

        • Posted May 16, 2014 at 6:26 am | Permalink

          In that case, I think he’s currently working for the Vatican bank.

    • E.A. Blair
      Posted May 15, 2014 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

      Back in my high school days (early 1970s), I was in an English class that did a unit on drama, and we had to work in groups to give a presentation. I got together with a couple of friends and we did a fake Marx Brothers routine that that had the teacher (a dedicated Marxist) going nuts trying to figure out which movie it was from. When we told him it was original, he challenged us to do another that was clearly ours. Riffing of the initials of the then-famout Merill, Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith, and did a commercial for a soul brokerage called Mephistopheles Lucifer, Puck, Fiend & Satan. One of out tag lines was, “…with MLPF&S, not only do you get your pie in the sky, you get it à la mode!”. If Satan were real, he’d be on Wall Street. Come to think of it, that may be the real proof…

      • E.A. Blair
        Posted May 15, 2014 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

        Typo apology: “then-famout” should have been “then-famous”.

  17. Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    Posted May 15, 2014 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

    That first one is either a Poe or pitifully uneducated.

    “We only know the world as far back as our modern science has been able to reach into.” Heck, yeah! Compare to abrahamic mythology, that goes only as far back as 6 000 years according to some readers of it, or 0.000 000 4 times as far as science.

    That is pitiful mythology by all measures, by the way. I’m far more inspired with the grandiose scale of Indian or American mythology, that beats everything in comparison. Even if it is more proof that neither mythology has the means to get anything right. =D

    evolution is a religious belief based on faith in something you cannot see,

    Go tell that to painfully dying cancer patients, when their metastases evolves resistance against chemical therapy. I think they rather not “see” evolution happening.

    But it is observably so, from days (T cells) to years (cancers, viruses) to millenniums (humans acquiring lactose or height tolerance where none of those traits existed before).

    Similarly with speciation, years (citrate eating bacteria in the lab; multicellular yeast in the lab, twice) to millions of years (fossil record).

  18. Keith
    Posted May 15, 2014 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

    “Many more intelligent people than you or me…”
    I’m not sure which is worse: that a Supreme Court justice believes in the devil or that he has to resort to an appeal to authority to defend it.

  19. madscientist
    Posted May 15, 2014 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

    As Marlowe put it: Be gone and return in the form of a Franciscan Friar for it is that holy shape which best fits the devil.

    So we have evidence that over 400 years ago some people already realized that religion is evil.

  20. Vicki
    Posted May 15, 2014 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

    He doesn’t come close to answering the last question, he’s too busy sneering at the interviewer. I don’t know if any of the intelligent Christians I know believe in the devil, but if they do, I expect their answer to “Isn’t it frightening to believe in the devil” would be either something like “yes, but not believing wouldn’t make the danger go away” or “it can be, here’s how I cope with it.”

    There are frightening things in the world; whether I’m afraid of (for example) Mount Rainier erupting soon has absolutely no effect on whether it will do so. My fear might affect how close to the mountain I want to spend an afternoon, or whether I’d consider moving to Tacoma, but it won’t stop (or cause) an eruption.

  21. Posted May 15, 2014 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

    I think this link says it about as well as it can be said when it comes to explaining why Satanist are on the rise when the literal belief in “satan” is on the demise: http://www.religiondispatches.org/archive/culture/7878/black_mass_hysteria_at_harvard__the_real_story

    • Posted May 15, 2014 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

      I read an article about this on the CBS website the other day. The reader comments were nearly 100 percent atheist bashing or complaints that Christians are being persecuted. Irony doesn’t even begin to describe it.

    • Posted May 15, 2014 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

      I do hope people click your link and read that RD article. Spoiler alert: Catholics, other Christians, and some secularist accommodationist types get wrapped around the axle over what they think a Black Mass has to to be all about (Satan).

      What the people in this group think constitutes a Black Mass, and its historical reality, are almost literally exact opposites.

      So instead of learning something useful, defenders of religious correctness succeed in suppressing speech, and reinforce a false stereotype, as they hysterically slam the victim card down on the table with their shaking sweaty hands.

      And yet another deplorable instance of university administration choosing pussy capitulation to ignorance, instead of championing free inquiry, goes into the books.

  22. Posted May 15, 2014 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

    Scalia: ah yes, since many people have believed that disease is the displeasure of god, then we should not indulge in chemotherapy or antibiotics. yet one more candidate to put on an island and allow to die from something like typhoid.

    Oz is about as ignorant. “WHY does most of society today especially the entertainment business mirror and embrace the morals of Satan while rejecting those of Jesus and the Holy Bible?”

    Hmmm, the Jesus that says to kill anyone who disbelieves in him? the Jesus that takes a fit about a fig tree not having figs when it is out of season. That damn fool? I’m quite happy to note that few people in the entertainment business are that stupid or violent.

  23. Old Rasputin
    Posted May 15, 2014 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

    Although I don’t comment here all that often, I hasten to point out that I am not the Rasputin featured in this post.

    Also, I very strongly suspect that Scalia is not a credulous believer; he’s just an asshole. I perceive a strong undercurrent of “wink wink, nudge nudge” in his words.

  24. Golkarian
    Posted May 15, 2014 at 9:42 pm | Permalink

    “just evolve” those statements anger me more than anything, as if all the work done by evolutionary biologists can be squeezed into that ‘just’.

  25. Susan
    Posted May 16, 2014 at 2:53 am | Permalink

    ” and from reader “Kayla”:

    Nobodys wants your satan monumement in Texas! Lmao get out of here with all that nonsene. ”

    I am kind of, sort of, maybe more than a little convinced that Oklahoma City is not in Texas. But maybe her gob said Oklahoma City is in Texas, which would make it true no matter what those heathen maps say.

  26. Daoud
    Posted May 16, 2014 at 5:44 am | Permalink

    Oh that Wile E. Diablo! He was always my favourite on Saturday morning cartoons!

  27. Ken Kukec
    Posted May 16, 2014 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    When I first read that Scalia interview in New York magazine last Fall, I thought that, in making his comments about the devil, Scalia must be pulling the interview’s Poe — the feigned ingenuousness, offered up unprompted, in a stage-whisper.

    Then it hit me that bringing up the devil was Nino’s way of giving a shout-out to his good buddy, duck-hunting Dick Cheney. Not name-checking Vice was probably Scalia’s little homage to Mick and Keith (“Hope you guess my name”). Though if he were doing a Stones’ homage, Scalia should have gone the full pastiche route and sampled some lyrics (“I shouted out who shot his lawyer in the face … “)


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