The L. A. Times gives dubious data in arguing for science/faith harmony

Monday’s Los Angeles Times contains a remarkably weak-minded op-ed pushing science/faith accommodationism: “Science and religion: a false divide.” The author is John H. Evans, a professor of sociology in the UC San Diego who has written two books on bioethics.  His point is that fundamentalist protestants in America aren’t the big opponents of science that we take them to be.

Evans claims to have conducted “survey research” showing that, compared with those “who do not participate in any religion,”

The conservative Protestants are equally likely to understand scientific methods, to know scientific facts and to claim knowledge of science. They are as likely as the nonreligious to have majored in science or to have a scientific occupation.

That may be true, but he doesn’t reference his survey.  And he draws a conclusion about these conservatives that doesn’t seem supported by his study—that is, he asserts this conclusion before he brings up his survey, and I find the statement dubious:

While many conservative Protestants disagree with the scientific consensus about evolution, you cannot infer their perspectives on other scientific issues such as climate change from this one view alone. Fundamentalists’ and evangelicals’ relationship with science is much more complicated than the idea that they “oppose science.”

The disagreement with evolution alone is telling, but it was my impression that conservative protestants were more opposed to the idea of anthropogenic global warming than, say, atheists or those of more liberal faiths. This is confirmed by a Pew Survey for Earth Day in 2009, showing that evangelical Protestants were far less likely than either other religious groups or the religiously unaffiliated to accept the idea of human-caused climate change—and far more likely to deny it. Here are the data from that survey (click to enlarge):

Note too that evangelical Protestants are more recalcitrant on this issue than “mainline” white Protestants or black Protestants.

And a Pew Survey in 2009 found that while 36% of Americans as a whole agreed with the statement that “science conflicts with your religious beliefs,” and 61% disagreed, the figures were quite different for white evangelical Protestants, among whom 52% found a conflict between science and their religious beliefs, and only 46% disagreed.

I would, then, like to see Evans’s own “survey” research.

Evans then uses his dubious results to make a case for comity between science and religion:

On most issues, there is actually very little conflict between religion and science. Religion makes no claims about the speed of hummingbird wings, and there are no university departments of anti-resurrection studies — scientists generally are unconcerned with the vast majority of religious claims and vice versa.

Of course there are departments of anti-resurrection studies: we call them physics departments and biology departments.  We’re unconcerned with the vast majority of religious claims because many of us (and most “elite” scientists) simply don’t accept them as worthy of consideration. Evans goes on:

There are, of course, a few fact claims in which conservative Protestant theology and science differ, such as the origins of humans and the universe. Here we find that typical conservative Protestants are likely to believe the teaching of their religion on the issue and not the scientific claim.

We could complain that they are being inconsistent in believing the scientific method some of the time but not always. Yet social science research has long shown that people typically are not very consistent. The people who are more consistent are those who are punished for inconsistency: philosophers, media pundits, political activists and politicians.

What is he saying here? That it’s okay to be inconsistent—to tell pollsters that you accept science but, when the rubber meets the road, deny science when it conflicts with your faith? As I told the audience in my debate with John Haught last night, a Time Magazine poll in 2006 showed that 64% of Americans would reject a scientific fact if it was shown to conflict with their faith. In such a situation, a general “support of science or the scientific method” means very little.

Evans homes in on something, however, that does seem true: much of American opposition to evolution (and science) is based on its perceived erosion of moral values:

The greatest conflict between fundamentalists, evangelicals and science is not over facts but over values. While scientists like to say that their work is value-free, that is not how the public views it, and conservative Protestants especially have homed in on the moral message of science. William Jennings Bryan, famed defender of the creationist perspective at the Scopes “monkey trial,” was not just opposed to evolution for contradicting the Bible but also concerned that the underlying philosophy of Darwinism had ruined the morals of German youth and had caused World War I.

The situation today is not that different: Contemporary “intelligent design” advocates, for example, are deeply worried that the teaching of evolution has a negative effect on children’s values.

It would have been nice, though, had Evans inserted a caveat that there isn’t a “moral message of science”; there are just scientists who use the objective findings of science to draw conclusions about what is good and what isn’t.  Most of those conclusions derive from personal and extra-scientific considerations.  And Evans might also have noted that in countries that have much broader acceptance of evolution than America—countries like Sweden, Denmark, France, or Germany—children and adults don’t have markedly debased morals.

Evans’s lesson: moar accommodationism is needed!  And most of that accommodation should, of course, come from by scientists and atheists, who simply have to be more accepting of right-wing religious people:

To move forward, we, as a country, need to lower the political conflict. Yes, the views found in fundamentalist churches are not exactly the same as those at the National Science Foundation. But we would see less of the polarizing “we real Americans” rhetoric from the religious right if its members were not ridiculed as know-nothings. Conservative Protestants are not fundamentally opposed to all science.

No, they’re just fundamentally opposed to those parts of science that contravene their faith, like global warming, evolution, and stem-cell research.  I’m sorry, but though I may not ridicule those people as morons, I do decry their ignorance—an ignorance that stems from blind adherence to unsupported superstitions. Evans’s prescription is weird:

No, it isn’t futile. Understanding what concerns the “other side” would help. Those wishing to affect public policy on issues such as climate change, for example, need to make it clear to conservative Protestants that the science of global warming is based more on direct observations than on analytic abstractions, that it is more like determining the average body temperature of a human than where humans came from.

This is like saying that if we simply made it clear to conservative Protestants that scientists’ acceptance of evolution is based not on abstractions but on hard evidence—evidence drawn from fields as diverse as paleontology, molecular biology, biogeography, and embryology—then those Protestants would simply roll over and accept evolution. Is anyone really stupid enough to believe that?

As I mentioned in my book, I once gave a lecture on the evidence for evolution to a group of conservative and religious businessmen in a rich town north of Chicago. At the end of my talk, one of them came up to me and said, “I find your evidence very convincing. But I’m not convinced.”  Why not? Because he was religious—one of the 64% who reject scientific facts that contravene their faith.

It’s naive to think that educating the public on the science alone is going to change minds.  That change is blocked by religious faith. And that’s why, if we want to solve the problem of evolution-denial and climate-change denial, we have a harder job ahead of us than simply purveying facts: we must loosen the grip of faith on the American mind.  When will people realize this obvious conclusion?

95 Comments

  1. jonathan
    Posted October 13, 2011 at 4:30 am | Permalink

    Why do so many more black protestants believe it’s due to natural patterns?

    • George
      Posted October 13, 2011 at 6:54 am | Permalink

      Probably because most of them are Democrats. It’s a compromise between the belief in God and Obama.

      • Duke
        Posted October 13, 2011 at 10:35 am | Permalink

        Ha…………..

      • Posted October 13, 2011 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

        “Probably because most of them are Democrats. It’s a compromise between the belief in God and Obama.”

        Can you provide evidence that more Black Protestants denied climate change science before 2008? Nevermind, of course you can’t.

        But I’m sure you’re right that Democrats are much more likely to accept scientific facts than conservatives, regardless of skin color.

  2. Posted October 13, 2011 at 4:39 am | Permalink

    The people who are more consistent are those who are punished for inconsistency: philosophers, media pundits, political activists and politicians.

    Are they? Because I see many of these people get away with inconsistencies all the time.

  3. Matt G
    Posted October 13, 2011 at 4:46 am | Permalink

    You don’t get to pick and choose in science – you follow the evidence to logical conclusions without prejudice.

    • Posted October 13, 2011 at 5:05 am | Permalink

      Yes, I simply don’t understand how you can claim you trust science, and its methods and procedures, while at the same time believe that large parts of science are involved in massive conspiracies against religion/conservatism/free market absolutism etc…

  4. Posted October 13, 2011 at 4:48 am | Permalink

    A recent survey showed that 55% of accommodationists didn’t have any survey data to back up their claims and a further 60% made claims that weren’t supported by the survey data that they did have.

    /@

    • Tulse
      Posted October 13, 2011 at 7:28 am | Permalink

      That’s not surprising — 87% of all statistics are made up.

  5. Posted October 13, 2011 at 5:02 am | Permalink

    No, it isn’t futile. Understanding what concerns the “other side” would help.

    Which is true, of course. It may even be true that their biggest concern is that evolution leads to an erosion of moral values, and that we should directly engage that idea. But what can scientists do more than that the idea that evolution leads to immorality is based on a misunderstanding of both science as well as evolution? What more can we do than to say that science is descriptive, not prescriptive? Or that evolution doesn’t always mean the survival of the strongest, but often also the survival of the most social? As far as the conservatives are concerned, scientists who believe in evolution are already morally compromised, so why should they trust them on any of this?

    None of this means we should lower the political conflict. In fact, what it really means is that we have to take back morality from religion first, and show that neither the Bible nor religion is necessary for morality, before we can expect to make much progress in acceptance of evolution.

    • Posted October 13, 2011 at 7:05 am | Permalink

      Meanwhile I’m concerned that religion leads to an erosion of moral values!

      • Kelly
        Posted October 15, 2011 at 8:20 am | Permalink

        Agreement here. In my 60-some years on the planet, I have seen no evidence that believers are any more “moral” than non-believers!

    • Matt G
      Posted October 13, 2011 at 7:35 am | Permalink

      RE: evolution eroding morals – classic Argumentum ad Consequentiam.

  6. Posted October 13, 2011 at 5:29 am | Permalink

    there are no university departments of anti-resurrection studies

    Stupidest accomodationist quote ever?

  7. Posted October 13, 2011 at 5:31 am | Permalink

    It is NOT true that fundamentalist or sectarian protestants are just as likely to know basic scientific facts or to take scientific coursework in high school and John Evans damn well knows that! I sent him copies of my forthcoming scientific literacy paper months ago (at his request) and he even asked for another copy this weekend to get the final publication information. Using the same data which Evans has used I show that fundies and sectarians (what he mislabels “evangelicals”) are substantially and significantly less knowledgeable about basic scientific facts. My prior work on educational attainment used longitudinal data from parents and kids to show that that sectarians and fundamentalists opt out of college preparatory courses (like biology, chemistry, calculus…) in high school. Both studies control for a host of sociodemographic factors which might “explain” why fundies and sectarians are deficient.

    • Posted October 13, 2011 at 5:36 am | Permalink

      That paper sounds like it would be a fascinating (and perhaps depressing) read. Please let us know when/where it gets published.

      • Posted October 13, 2011 at 9:13 am | Permalink

        “Religion and Scientific Literacy in the United States” will be out in the next issue of Social Science Quarterly. It is a follow up on my 2010 paper “Religion and Verbal Ability.” which appeared in Social Science Research.

        • Kelly
          Posted October 15, 2011 at 8:36 am | Permalink

          Sherkat – thanks for your hard work kiddo – but I have to tell you, one can see this evidence in everyday life as well. Recently, while dining with an acquaintance, after she loudly verbalized some remark about her lord and savior to a public audience in a restaurant, I asked her how the dinosaurs fit into her religion. She stated, also loudly, that she didn’t know, she guessed god had killed them off at the time of the flood and the ark! Yes, true story!!
          I then asked her if she knew anything about when they lived or died off and if she had studied anything about the planet and its history. She informed me she didn’t “know god’s timeline” and “if science interferes with my religion, I don’t believe it. I get my information from biblical scholars.”
          This is what we are up against.

    • nick bobick
      Posted October 13, 2011 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

      There is some evidence that Evans’s methodology has been questioned by even his close colleagues:

      http://volokh.com/2011/05/27/did-dean-order-a-uc-san-diego-professor-not-to-publish-an-article-critical-of-a-colleague/

  8. TJR
    Posted October 13, 2011 at 5:53 am | Permalink

    For the results in the picture the sample size is quoted as 1500 all told, so if the groups are roughly evenly split that gives error bars of plus or minus about 5% each.

    This suggests that the overall yes v no is probably genuine for Normals v Evangelicals, but you’d be cautious about reading much more into it than that, especially given the rather ropey wording of the question.

  9. ManOutOfTime
    Posted October 13, 2011 at 6:04 am | Permalink

    One of these days, I will read an op-ed by a believer or faitheist, and it will be exhorting the religious to get over themselves and “accommodate” science and atheism. Not holding my breath; the continuing quarrel is a moneymaker. I find it amazing that people continue to disrespect science so. Do they not believe H-Bombs are true? Do they not think space probes and artificial satellites are real? Do they reject the premises of animal husbandry? Of course not. But when it comes to the origins of the universe and of species, apparently the majority of adults in this world know better than the hard-working, brilliant people who are at the leading edges of the field and are in a much better position to assess reality. All because of some warmed-over, convoluted Hebrew tribal legends.

  10. vel
    Posted October 13, 2011 at 6:06 am | Permalink

    It seems that Evans is arguing for hypocrisy, that we need to pat theists on the head and say “no dears, you don’t have to accept science if it conflicts with your myths. You can just keep hypocritically using that science as long as it makes you comfy and attacking it when it’s convenient for you.”

  11. Audra Watson
    Posted October 13, 2011 at 6:31 am | Permalink

    In time we will all come to the realisaton that Creation had to happen first and that Creation and everything in it is evolving.

    Putting it in language even the Young Creationists might understand, Essence + Mass + Space = Trinity of Creation. Creation cannot happen if one of the thee is missing, at least not in this universe.

    Oh ! and another thing, Creation is cyclical.

    • Matt G
      Posted October 13, 2011 at 7:38 am | Permalink

      Many claims here. Please provide evidence.

      • Michael Fisher
        Posted October 13, 2011 at 7:53 am | Permalink

        You are asking a Watson to do research prior to publishing ?

      • Audra Watson
        Posted October 13, 2011 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

        The evidence is all around us, above us and below us. We just need to know how to find it.
        Einstein’s famous theory held up for many years, but is now being questioned. It helped get us from there to here but there will always be something we don’t know YET.

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted October 13, 2011 at 7:48 am | Permalink

      To get the nasty “d” out of your “Audra”…

      Place an ordra
      For my special offer crystals
      & if you’re keen
      You can av ’em for Hallowe’en

      [all major credit cards accepted]

      • Audra Watson
        Posted October 13, 2011 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

        Einstein also has a famous observation about two things which are infinite.

        • Michael Fisher
          Posted October 13, 2011 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

          Well done Audra ~ a woo-free comment

          • daveau
            Posted October 13, 2011 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

            And nice and snarky!

      • Audra Watson
        Posted October 13, 2011 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

        My sincere apologies, that last reply came from the “mortal ” me not the “spiritual” me. It teaches me non retaliation but I fail miserably at times.

        • Michael Fisher
          Posted October 13, 2011 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

          The “me” that’s “me” says no worries sunshine

        • Posted October 13, 2011 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

          Not at all. Thanks for continuing to validate Einstein.

          /@

          • Michael Fisher
            Posted October 13, 2011 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

            Surgical strike 🙂

    • Sajanas
      Posted October 13, 2011 at 8:12 am | Permalink

      What do you consider ‘Essence’? Its like transcendental and spiritual… it a word that sounds deep and yet doesn’t really mean much.

      • Audra Watson
        Posted October 13, 2011 at 9:02 am | Permalink

        Essence is Spirit

        Essence is Light

        Essence is Freedom

        Essence is Joy

        Essence is The Root

        The Opposing Force of Essence is Substance (Mass)

        • Tulse
          Posted October 13, 2011 at 9:07 am | Permalink

          The Opposing Force of Essence is Substance

          So, if I follow you:

          Substance is Matter

          Substance is Dark

          Substance is Slavery

          Substance is Sadness

          Substance is The Leaf

          Does that about cover it?

          • Audra Watson
            Posted October 13, 2011 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

            We are now aware of “Black Holes” we know there nature.

            In life we can look at the Economics of the world and draw a comparison.

            As Steve Jobs said and I quote ” don’t be trapped by dogma, which is living with the results of other peoples thinking” unquote.

            He also said something about it being much easier to “connect the dots” when looking back
            rather than trying to connect them going forward.

            I think you have the Essence of what is, being proposed

            • gillt
              Posted October 13, 2011 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

              what does Steve Jobs and black holes have to do with creationism and evolution?

              • daveau
                Posted October 13, 2011 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

                I’m trying to connect the dots between Black Holes and Economics. The comparison is not obvious. But, as Steve Jobs said and I quote ”don’t be trapped by … thinking” unquote.

      • Posted October 13, 2011 at 10:16 am | Permalink

        Essence is Woo!

        /@

        PS. Essence is Light » Light is energy » energy is mass (Einstein) » mass is Substance

        Ergo, Essence is its own opposing “force”!

        • Tulse
          Posted October 13, 2011 at 10:37 am | Permalink

          Ant Allan, you clearly have a profound and lucid understanding of the ineffable nature of the cosmic mysteries. All in Existence is connected, even Essence and its Opposition.

          To have such a deep appreciation for the enigmas of Being, you must be at least a Level Seven Laser Lotus.

          • Posted October 13, 2011 at 11:05 am | Permalink

            Yep, I’m effing brilliant!

            /@

            • gruebait
              Posted October 13, 2011 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

              I miss Monty Python. This thread is not quite up to the quality of the Parrot Sketch.

    • H.H.
      Posted October 13, 2011 at 8:51 am | Permalink

      What the fuck is “essence?”

      • Audra Watson
        Posted October 13, 2011 at 9:06 am | Permalink

        The Root, everything that has life springs forth from it.

        • Posted October 13, 2011 at 9:09 am | Permalink

          So…it’s the LUCA? I’m sure we can all agree that it would be fascinating to know more about it, but methinks you’re attempting to endow it with just a wee bit more oomph than it actually had….

          Cheers,

          b&

          • Audra Watson
            Posted October 13, 2011 at 9:34 am | Permalink

            Yes, but also with an embedded spirit that leaves when the life form dies.

            • Posted October 13, 2011 at 9:39 am | Permalink

              So, what, exactly, is this “embedded spirit”? How does one identify it? What does it do? Where does it go when the life form dies? How does it originate in the life form in the first place? What’s it made of, what energy source does it draw upon, how does it interact with the rest of the universe…?

              b&

              • Audra Watson
                Posted October 13, 2011 at 11:57 am | Permalink

                8 questions,

                1.The “embedded spirit ” is at the very core of that which it inhabits.

                2.You identify it by first acknowledging that its there.

                3.Its the “driver” of the “default” sense.
                and matures with whatever it inhabits.

                4.That is at the discretion of the Essence.

                5.When the Light blasted apart the Dark and the beginning of Creation.

                6.Ask the whatever is at your core

                7. It is a “Particle of Essence” its power source is infinite and eternal.

                8.By existing

              • daveau
                Posted October 13, 2011 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

                Let me translate there for you, Ben:

                1. It is what it is.
                2. I imagine it, therefore it is.
                3. Just kinda hangs out.
                4. Don’t know.
                5. Hallucinations.
                6. Don’t know.
                7. Nuclear fusion. (?)
                8. Deepity.

              • Kelly
                Posted October 15, 2011 at 8:50 am | Permalink

                @ daveau:
                Made my day! Morning chuckle. Thanks!!

        • Sastra
          Posted October 13, 2011 at 9:35 am | Permalink

          How do you know that “essence” is The Root and that everything that has life springs forth from it?

          What are alternative possibilities, and how would you test your hypothesis about “essence” against them so one or the other is ruled out?

          You can’t just make stuff up and expect everyone here to go along with finding ways to consider this wise or intuitive so we can all be spiritual together. Show a little humility, show a little curiosity … and show your work.

          • Audra Watson
            Posted October 13, 2011 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

            My answer to your questions may make you more skeptical, but here goes, “I have a connection”

            There maybe alternative possibilities, there may be other universes but my “finite mind” can’t go there, and that knowledge as not been made available to me.

            I’m not “making stuff up”

            My credentials are a life lived, many path’s followed, resistance to change, frustration upon frustration until I learned two disciplines.

            1. Surrender
            2. Acceptance.

            There are more, but those are the two that got me on another path

            • Posted October 13, 2011 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

              Hmm… well that might answer Sastra’s first question (“How do you know… ?”), but what about the second?

              What are alternative possibilities, and how would you test your hypothesis about “essence” against them so one or the other is ruled out?

              If you can’t answer that… well, Einstein.

              /@

            • gillt
              Posted October 13, 2011 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

              It’s disingenuous to attempt to manipulate our emotions with tidbits of your life story. Kindly, stick with supported observations and objective facts to make your case.

            • daveau
              Posted October 13, 2011 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

              More questions are raised by your answer:

              What kind of connection? Please describe.

              How is knowledge made available to you? How is it withheld?

              If you are not making this up, where does it come from?

              All of us here have lived, have followed many paths and have been frustrated. How is your experience special in a way that ours are not?

              Please, enlighten us. We’re not going to take your statements on faith.

              • Audra Watson
                Posted October 13, 2011 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

                About 25 years ago I had what one might call “a spiritual experience” I was searching for answers like most of us do. I was asked by one of my mentors if “I trusted God” I retorted rather quickly, ” Of course I do ” and at the time I thought I did.

                Sometime after that..weeks months I don’t really recall, I went to sleep one night and died..at least I had a dream that I had. I was hovering above the bed and I was leaving this earth…It was a most wonderful feeling but it was only a fleeting glimpse of ecstasy. A millisecond later I was given a “flash view” of horror that shook my very core. I screamed out the name I had turned to for help and it wasn’t God.In that same instant two words were “etched” into my core. “Trust Me” I didn’t hear the words and I didn’t see the words. I knew then that I didn’t trust God.

                That happened when I was 42 years old.

                Because I learned how to listen to my inner being I was able to survive a deadly cancer. It struck me when I was 50 years old. Well over 95% of people die from this one. I do not want to name the cancer here for obvious reasons but will do so by private mail.

                I am 67 years old at the end of this month.
                Born on “Devils Night” (smile) but we don’t believe in such things, do we?

                I have been swamped with thoughts of late,and there is so much more to disclose. Sorry for using the term “God” but that is what I was calling it at the time. I am 100% sure my spirit is part of something much bigger.

                I have an overwhelming feeling that its time for a “spiritual database update” and will try to relate only things I sense NOT what I think.

                I hope this helps you know where I coming from.

              • daveau
                Posted October 14, 2011 at 7:05 am | Permalink

                Well, geez no. I remain unenlightened.

                I’m sure that you understand that your evidence falls into the category of “anecdotal”, “flimsy” or “not evidence at all, actually.” I don’t wish to deny that you experienced what you think you did, just that there are much more plausible explanations than a supernatural essence. Stress, for example. I, myself, have experienced shadowy frightening figures at the foot of my bed while in the process of waking up. (One of these was my brother threatening me with a gun, but that’s an issue for another day.) My mother regularly sees “ghosts” in the same manner. The mysterious number 42 suggests that Douglas Adams was somehow involved.

                Congratulations on beating your cancer. It happens. 5% of the time, apparently. I imagine that treatment has come a long way in the intervening 17 years, and the survival rate is now better than that. Unless someone can show a correlation between listening to one’s inner being and surviving cancer, it does not bear further discussion.

                “I… will try to relate only things I sense NOT what I think.

                Why don’t you try relating only things you have verifiable evidence for? Otherwise, write a book about it. I am positive it will sell well elsewhere. As David Hannum observed: “There’s a sucker born every minute.”

            • Filippo
              Posted October 13, 2011 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

              Do non-human animals have an essence too?

              Looking at a given human conception, what if any “essenic” influence affects which one of 25-40K eggs in an ovary (or is that the number in both ovaries?), will join with which one of 100M-250M sperm during a coupling? (Assuming the humans in question aren’t contriving to foil conception?)

              • Michael Fisher
                Posted October 13, 2011 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

                Filippo:

                …(Assuming the humans in question aren’t contriving to foil conception?)

                No, no it’s the contraceptives that come in foil.

              • Posted October 13, 2011 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

                You’re really on your mettle, Michael!

                /@

              • Audra Watson
                Posted October 15, 2011 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

                What if EACH sperm has a Spirit attachment??

                How many Spirits can ride on one neutrino??

                Why are there THREE different types of neutrino??

                Before asking for proof, tell me which branch of science we should use prove or disprove the first two theories.

                A Ghost is an apparition of a mind steeped in dogma.

                follow me on twitter at audrapg

    • Posted October 13, 2011 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

      How do you define your terms? What is “Essence” and can you point to any empirical evidence for it (other than “looking around us”)? What do you mean by “+”…what does that process look like? How do Essence, Mass, and Space interact with each other, and what does that process have to do with Creation? And what do you mean by Creation exactly?

      I look forward to reading your groundbreaking paper in the next issue of Nature or Science.

    • Posted October 13, 2011 at 9:01 pm | Permalink

      Lies!

      The universe came about because my morning bowel movement was so powerful it created SPACETIME that allowed it to occur in a nice timey wimey turn if events.

      And since the invisible gnome on my monitor named Deepak says it’s true, it must be.

      • Posted October 14, 2011 at 12:18 am | Permalink

        Sorry, is it the gnome or your monitor that’s named Deepak?

        /@

    • jonathan
      Posted October 16, 2011 at 11:19 am | Permalink

      stop replying to this – it is insane troll nonsense

  12. Posted October 13, 2011 at 6:47 am | Permalink

    Science and religion don’t conflict, except when they do and we can ignore that.

    Sorry, the scientific method is the same no matter the subject, so you can’t pick and choose based on beliefs. Basically, if you use a cell phone you, accept evolution.

  13. Posted October 13, 2011 at 6:52 am | Permalink

    [subscribing]

  14. Dominic
    Posted October 13, 2011 at 7:10 am | Permalink

    I have a strong view that believing something that is clearly wrong is in itself wrong, and that no one has the ‘right’ to hold beliefs that are in contradiction of evidence. I frequently argue about this with most of my friends.

    Any views on this?

    • Posted October 13, 2011 at 7:39 am | Permalink

      One might be tempted to ask you for evidence to support these claims….

      b&

    • Matt G
      Posted October 13, 2011 at 7:43 am | Permalink

      Holding something to be true with might be called knowledge. Holding it to be true without evidence might be called belief, and holding it to be true in the face of contradictory evidence might be called delusion. As far as “rights” are concerned, I don’t know. Passing these delusions along to others is either lying or bullshitting (in the Frankfurt sense of the term). [I hope my attempt at italics worked…]

    • daveau
      Posted October 13, 2011 at 8:18 am | Permalink

      I’d argue that my friends may have a right to believe something contrary to evidence, but I consider it stupid to do so.

    • BradW
      Posted October 13, 2011 at 8:54 am | Permalink

      I think that history probably supports that only very bad people have ever attempted to control anyone’s “right” to think whatever she/he does.

      The idea of “thought police” gives me the willies.

    • Sastra
      Posted October 13, 2011 at 9:44 am | Permalink

      I think you need to make a distinction between epistemic right and legal right (before you get into the idea of moral right.)

      To avoid totalitarian dictatorships and oppressive force, one grants people the legal, social “right” to believe whatever they want without violent repercussions. But this legal right is very different than an epistemic right. By the rules of reason and logic, no — you don’t have a right to believe whatever you damn want.

      And I think that the moral right — the practice of virtue — comes from this recognition that one’s beliefs ought to be reasonable. People of faith already agree with this because they always think their faith views ARE reasonable: if not from the evidence, then from the emotional side.

  15. SLC
    Posted October 13, 2011 at 7:13 am | Permalink

    William Jennings Bryan, famed defender of the creationist perspective at the Scopes “monkey trial,” was not just opposed to evolution for contradicting the Bible but also concerned that the underlying philosophy of Darwinism had ruined the morals of German youth and had caused World War I.

    The “philosophy of Darwinism” that this moron cites has nothing to do with Darwin or the, “Origin of Species.” It is a perversion of Darwin’s ideas by people like Herbert Spencer who developed the theory of “social Darwinism”. Mr. Bryan failed to understand that “social Darwinism” is a perversion of the theory of evolution so that his opposition was based on a false assumption.

  16. Posted October 13, 2011 at 7:19 am | Permalink

    Personally, I don’t have a problem with accommodation, as long as that means religion accommodating itself to the actual evidence. But, somehow, that kind of accommodation seems unlikely to happen.

    • Matt G
      Posted October 13, 2011 at 7:46 am | Permalink

      Reality isn’t going to change to suit a person’s religious beliefs, so people’s religious beliefs had better conform to reality (which basically means they need to be discarded).

  17. BradW
    Posted October 13, 2011 at 8:43 am | Permalink

    Hmmmm; very strange that Evans doesn’t come up in a general search of the UCSD home page. Nor does his name appear in a “faculty” search on the site.

    Anyway, just goes to show that everyone who holds a PhD is not necessarily a strong or consistent logical thinker. Even a PhD from Princeton!

    Evans says, “I’m not a member of the religious right.” Has anyone found what his personal religious beliefs(if any)are? Might be enlightening as to why the nature of the article is what it seems.

  18. Posted October 13, 2011 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    Here are some interesting tricks John Haughty uses. Dishonest but clever.
    – Competing Personalities and Authorities – “Scientists tell us.” No, data tells us. Specific experimental evidence, data and peer-reviewed and double blind experiments and rigorous attempts to falsify tell us.
    But saying “Scientists tell us.” frames the debate in terms of personalities and authorities. So then theological authorities are on the same level as scientific data and evidence since it’s all just about people, and what they believe.
    “Why does Dawkins trust his intelligence?” He doesn’t, to the contrary, he trusts the intelligence of a diverse group of other professionals. Like a school of fish. Duh.
    Clever.
    – “Science” as an Epistemological Belief System — Framing evidence as a belief system is a slick way to subsume the data and evidence into another discussion of natural language rhetorical arguments and belief systems. So philosophers and “philosophers of science” — whatever that is, act as a 5th column by letting this fake framing be applied in the arguments.
    – It’s All About Emotions and Storytelling – He indulges in all sorts of stories, myths, metaphors, poems, etc. Very effective at evoking emotions and shutting down critical thinking. Anytime Teilhard De Chardin is mentioned – head for the exits!! Or Einstein.
    Of course, he doesn’t do this purposefully. Like all pop celebrity speakers he just feedback what the audience responds to. He is a mere cipher for the emotions of his audiences.

    • Posted October 13, 2011 at 11:38 am | Permalink

      +1 Insightful!

    • Matt G
      Posted October 13, 2011 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

      Yup. Creationists can’t talk about evolution with mentioning Darwin, and global warming deniers can’t talk about global warming without mentioning Al Gore.

    • jay
      Posted October 14, 2011 at 10:08 am | Permalink

      Evolution is a good marker because it directly contravenes religious tenets, i.e if evolution is true than part of their religion is wrong.

      the discussion of warming does not contain that element. There is no part of religion that would be altered by it, and while it has attracted many fundies, the most articulate critics of the warming consensus tend to be atheists, or non religious at least.

      The warming is a *political*, not religious, argument, which just happens to fall roughly along some religious lines.

      • jay
        Posted October 14, 2011 at 10:11 am | Permalink

        example, Matt Ridley, articulate defender of evolution is quite skeptical.

  19. abb3w
    Posted October 13, 2011 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    Checking GSS Results via the SDA for questions SCITEST1, SCITEST2, SCITEST3, SCITEST4, SCITEST5, ASTROSCI, HOTCORE, RADIOACT, BOYORGRL, LASERS, ELECTRON, VIRUSES, BIGBANG, CONDRIFT, EVOLVED, EARTHSUN, SOLARREV, TERRASOL, and TOMATOES, simplifying the SCITEST responses to True/False, and specifically selecting conservative (POLVIEWS 5-7) protestants (RELIG 1) to compare against both atheists/agnostics (RELIG 4, GOD 1-2) and other “Nones” (RELIG 4, GOD 3-6)….

    Generally, A/As did better than Nones. However, comparisons are a bit of a mixed bag. Unless I’ve made a stupid mistake in here…

    Questions where Conservative Protestants were worse than both: SCITEST1, SCITEST4, HOTCORE, LASERS, BIGBANG, CONDRIFT, EVOLVED, EARTHSUN, SOLARREV

    Questions where Conservative Protestants were between the A/A and Nones, and better than the combined types of nones as a whole: SCITEST5, RADIOACT

    Question where Conservative Protestants were between the A/A and Nones, and worse than the combined types of nones as a whole: ELECTRON

    Questions where Conservative Protestants were better than both: SCITEST2, SCITEST3, ASTROSCI, BOYORGRL, VIRUSES

    Question where Atheists did WORSE than Nones, who were WORSE than Conservatives: TOMATOES

    Conservative Protestants thus look at least somewhat comparable on science knowledge. However, I’ll note that where there are gaps, the gaps subjectively seem to be larger; when conservatives go wrong, a lot more go wrong.

    GSS Questions SCISTUDY, EXPDESGN and EXPTEXT would seem usable to address the claim “conservative Protestants are equally likely to understand scientific methods, to know scientific facts and to claim knowledge of science”. Short form: no.

    I’ll also note that the relation between attitudes on evolution and climate change is not simple. That said, conservative protestants tend to have more doubts on climate change, in large part to the fraction who have issues with evolution.

  20. truthspeaker
    Posted October 13, 2011 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

    “But we would see less of the polarizing ‘we real Americans’ rhetoric from the religious right if its members were not ridiculed as know-nothings.”

    I don’t suppose Evans offers any evidence to back up this assertion.

  21. Marella
    Posted October 13, 2011 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

    Jerry, I hate to be OT but could we just all take note that the phrase is “home in on” NOT “hone in on”? It’s referring to homing as in a homing pigeon or other homing device which has the goal of locating something. Hone means “sharpen” as in “honing a blade” it doesn’t mean locate.

    Normally I leave this sort of thing, language evolves etc but this is beneath your dignity.

    I wonder what happened to the Hispanic Catholics, why aren’t they reported in the Pew survey?

    • whyevolutionistrue
      Posted October 13, 2011 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

      I’m perfectly aware that it’s “home in on”; this was purely a morning-induced typo, which I’ve corrected. Thanks.

      HOWEVER–“beneath my dignity”? What does that mean? Are typos beneath my dignity?

    • Posted October 13, 2011 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

      It’s a well-known eggcorn that, like it or not, seems likely to become mainstream English.

      See the discussion of “jerry rigged” in an earlier thread.

      /@

  22. Papalinton
    Posted October 13, 2011 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

    “It’s naive to think that educating the public on the science alone is going to change minds. That change is blocked by religious faith. And that’s why, if we want to solve the problem of evolution-denial and climate-change denial, we have a harder job ahead of us than simply purveying facts: we must loosen the grip of faith on the American mind. When will people realize this obvious conclusion?”

    This is why input from exchristian ministers such as John Loftus [Debunking Christianity.com] and Dan Barker [Co-founder of the Freedom From Religion Foundation] must be actively welcomed as an integral part of the wider non-religious discourse. They have talked the talk, walked the walk over decades. They understand the mindset of religious faith. They have a deep understanding of the lure of woo and its negative impact on reason and logic. And they have a genuine role to play. We should seek to acknowledge and support their untiring efforts in the broader discussion towards a secular society.

  23. Jim Mauch
    Posted October 13, 2011 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

    It seems that those not labeling themselves religious conservatives still pick up a good deal of their ideology through the media. As Bill O’Reilly says, “…the tides come in, the tides go out, sun go up, sun go down. Don’t think it could’ve happened.”

  24. Posted September 14, 2012 at 3:34 am | Permalink

    Wonderful post however I was wondering if you could write a
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