Big response to Bill Nye’s attack on creationism

Yesterday I posted Bill Nye’s anti-creationist “Big Think” video, and I didn’t expect it to be so controversial, particularly because it was on CNN and because I had supposed (without any evidence) that The Science Guy had dealt with evolution on his own show. And I didn’t realize that its location at the “religion” section of CNN would make it even more of a lightning rod.

Well, there were over 10.000 comments and tons of media attention. I didn’t realize just how big a deal The Science Guy really was. So CNN has just published an analysis of the comments, with blog co-editor Eric Marrapodi breaking them down into five groups. He gives an example of most of them, but I’ll let you go to the site see some of the lunacy. The indented parts are quotes from CNN.

1. Those using this controversy to bash religion. Atheists love the Internet, as we’ve chronicled on the Belief Blog. While they may be a small portion of the population, they seem to make up about half our commenters.  It was their chance to join with Nye and cheer him on.

I hope Marrapodi doesn’t include here those who say that creationism shouldn’t be fed to children because it’s nonsense based on an erroneous religious view. That’s not “religion-bashing”!  Were all of those “cheering Nye on” in this category? I’ve added a sixth category at the bottom.

2. Those who say wait a minute, being a creationist isn’t necessarily being anti-evolution. Lots of folks from the theistic evolution camp came out to say that believing God was involved doesn’t automatically make you anti-evolution.

Theistic evolutionists are creationists, pure and simple; they differ from straight fundamentalist creationists only in how much of life God was involved in creating, ranging from those who think God set the whole plan in motion, knowing it would culminate in that most awesome of species, US, to those who think that God tinkered with mutations to create the right species (see the philosophical work of Elliott Sober), to those who think that humans are set apart from other species because God inserted a soul in our lineage (that’s the official view of the Vatican).  That is being anti-evolution as scientists understand it, since we see evolution as a naturalistic process that has nothing to do with deities. Sadly, far more Americans are theistic evolutionists than naturalistic evolutionists: the proportions among all Americans are 38% to 16% respectively (40% are straight creationists, 6% are unsure). We have a long way to go.

3. Those who say that science is stupid and that young Earth creationism rules. Young Earth creationists, who believe the Earth is about 6,000 years old, appeared to be out in force in the comments.

Have a look at some of the comments supporting this view. Or rather, don’t. You already know what they say.

4. Those who say Nye should stick to his area of expertise.

This tweet was the most polite remark we could find on this subject. Other comments and tweets, not so much.

Greg: “Thanks Bill … but leave the teaching of my children to me. …”

Sorry, but Nye is an expert at teaching science, and parents aren’t.  And of course they’re teaching their kids fairy tales as well.

5. Those who say CNN is cooking up controversy where none exists. Lots of people suggested we were generating a story instead of covering one.

Yeah, right.  When The Science Guy speaks out against creationism when he hasn’t before, and in such strong terms, that is a story.  Not to mention that there is a continuing controversy in America about evolution, and a famous spokesman for science decided to take a stand.

But there’s one category missing, which I’ll add here:

6.  Those who say that Nye is right, and that creationism should not be taught in the schools, or to children at all!

It’s a measure of how strong Americans feel about evolution that even CNN’s postmortem report has 2,112 comments as I post this!  Have a look at some of them: many, like this one, make me weep for my country:

Doom

I feel it is everyone’s right to believe what they want. Free will. [JAC: LOL!] I believe in God. Regardless as to whether you believe in him or believe in evolution, I think that it is very arrogant for anyone to believe that they have all of the answers. On the one hand, evolutionists believe that it we came about by evolution, period. There is so much to this world that we are still discovering, to think that evolution is it, period, to me is assuming quite a bit. If you believe in God and the bible, it states that after Jesus comes again, there will be new scrolls opened, which also would mean we don’t know all of what God has in store for us. We might be amazed at the answers still to come if that is what you believe. Regardless, to act arrogant and to call those who believe in God as those believing in a myth is, to me, insulting and uneducated. You do not know for sure.

142 Comments

  1. gbjames
    Posted August 29, 2012 at 10:18 am | Permalink

    Is it possible to overestimate the willful ignorance of American’s religious? I don’t think so.

    • Scott near Berkeley
      Posted August 29, 2012 at 11:02 am | Permalink

      True. “Willful ignorance”.

      That is exactly it.

    • coconnor1017
      Posted August 29, 2012 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

      The religious seek comfort, not reality.

      • darrelle
        Posted August 29, 2012 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

        They seek comfort from reality.

        • coconnor1017
          Posted August 29, 2012 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

          Yep.

    • Posted August 29, 2012 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

      On the one hand, evolutionists have a warranted beliefve that it we came about by evolution, over a period of billions of years. There is so much to this world that we are still discovering, to think that evolution is it, period, to me is assuming quite a bit. Fortunately, scientists don’t make that assumption — otherwise they’d stop doing science. [Tip o’ the hat to Dara Ó Briain.] If you believe, without evidence, in God and the bible, it the latter states that after Jesus comes again, there will be new scrolls opened, whatever the hell that means, which also would mean we don’t know all of what God has in store for us and can make up any fairy story we damn well like.

      FIFY

      /@

    • Bebop
      Posted August 29, 2012 at 7:49 pm | Permalink

      Looks like it is a big deal to be an atheist in the US. I think for that reason spirituality can’t be looked objectively when surrounded by all those creationists and Jesus freaks…

      Again, there is a simple way to reconcile theism and evolution. It still can be a darwinian process except for one detail: consciousness is uncreated.

      So when when it comes to act on a space/time/material plane, it does its best to produce more and more complex and self-aware organic machines.

      From that perspective, even “random natural selection” is the best way to built efficient organic machines…

    • dunstar (@eightyc)
      Posted August 31, 2012 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

      lol. We should re-label the word “Christian” because the word has been around for so long that it has been embedded in society as being equated for being a good person instead of its superstitious, delusional and fairy-tale aspects.

      The new word should reflect it as being a Cult of Jesus. So everytime someone claims that they are Christian, we should correct them right away as saying “Oh you mean the Cult of Jesus”. Or whatever new word catches on.

  2. Kieran
    Posted August 29, 2012 at 10:28 am | Permalink

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r-AyDtD6sPA Looks like the creation museum don’t like the video but also like most creationists don’t allow comments either

    • Posted August 29, 2012 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

      “A few words from two of the anti-science guys at the Creation Museum…”

      FIFY

      It’s just the same old stuff and nonsense. (What else could it be?)

      /@

  3. Posted August 29, 2012 at 10:30 am | Permalink

    “Regardless, to act arrogant and to call those who believe in God as those believing in a myth is, to me, insulting and uneducated.”

    Although, to be fair, it’s much, much worse than a myth.

    • raven
      Posted August 29, 2012 at 11:13 am | Permalink

      “Regardless, to act arrogant and to call those who believe in God as those believing in a myth is, to me, insulting and uneducated.”

      Calling it a myth is being polite. Fairy tale or lie is more accurate.

      Televangelist Pat Robertson says that “Satanic” atheists were to blame for the shooting at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin.

      I wouldn’t call their imaginary god a Sky Fairy if the fundies would stop demonizing, insulting, and threatening to kill atheists.

      Pat Robertson just called atheists “satanic” and blamed them for the Sikh mass murder is Wisconsin. You have to be a xian to even believe in satan, him being a godlike being in their mythology.

      • Posted August 29, 2012 at 11:37 am | Permalink

        Playful euphemisms of disregard will never provide sufficiently robust riposte in the face of Manichean lunacy. Thankfully, the onus is on them.

    • ManOutOfTime
      Posted August 29, 2012 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

      The selected comment states Spufford’s thesis much more succinctly and plainly than Spufford did. Or, put another way, Spufford makes no more sense than does a random Internet yahoo.

      • darrelle
        Posted August 29, 2012 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

        But he does sound better at not making sense.

  4. Posted August 29, 2012 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    Atheists love the internet? LOL.
    Yes, we can read, write and type. I know that’s more than can be said for…

  5. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted August 29, 2012 at 10:43 am | Permalink

    Often the measure of arrogance is not what you say but how you say it, and on this score Nye is about as mellow as you can get!!! (Though the fellow at the bottom of this post might have have been referring to other comments.) A problem is that even a measured temperate statement of anti-religious opinion is often proclaimed as “arrogant”.

    Sure, we don’t know, but we can make either informed guesses or wildly (and wishful) speculative ones.

    Nonetheless, I’m not sure it’s a good idea to expand the definition of “creationism” to mean anyone who believes in a creator God. Dictionary.com defines “creationism” as
    1) the doctrine that matter and all things were created, substantially as they now exist, by an omnipotent Creator, and not gradually evolved or developed.
    2) the doctrine that the true story of the creation of the universe is as it is recounted in the Bible, especially in the first chapter of Genesis.

    However, the point that there is no evidence for supernatural intervention in evolution (why did God saddle humans with backpains with a ribcage much better designed for 4-legged creatures?), that this is not standard science is appropriate.

    • Posted August 29, 2012 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

      “(why did God saddle humans with backpains with a ribcage much better designed for 4-legged creatures?)” — Original sin, dummy!

      😀

      /@

      • microraptor
        Posted August 29, 2012 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

        No, no, no!

        It’s clearly part of the degradation all organisms have suffered post-Noah.

        ;D

  6. Posted August 29, 2012 at 10:43 am | Permalink

    For younger scientists such as myself Nye was an influential person in our childhoods showing us that science is cool. I will never forget the fire tornado that he made early in his career. I think I was in high school or junior high when I first learned about him and thought he was awesome.

    I know that he has ties to Neil deGrasse Tyson as well and it would be really nice to see NDT come out on our side even though he has said the only “-ist” he wants to be described as is a scientist.

    • coconnor1017
      Posted August 29, 2012 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

      Bill Nye is a contributor to NDT’s podcast. I wonder if this will be discussed.

    • Mark
      Posted August 29, 2012 at 8:48 pm | Permalink

      I recall Tyson being quite critical of creationism. He has one video where he talks about early Islam and the anti-science reactionaries within that tradition. He not so subtly links them to modern religious zealots who attack science.

      In another, he goes through a long list of ridiculous facts of biology and astrophysics to ridicule the idea of a benevolent creator.

  7. teacupoftheapocalypse
    Posted August 29, 2012 at 10:43 am | Permalink

    The 2,000 year-old man (or man with a time machine):

    “As someone who is a born again Christian, (senior) mechanical engineer in the technology industry, and a firsthand witness of the risen Christ,”

    Oh really?

    • coconnor1017
      Posted August 29, 2012 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

      It comes to the loose definition Christians have when it comes to epistemology. Personal revelation counts as viable evidence inside the born again community. If one tries to apply this as a universal standard across all religions then the Christian has no epistemic warrant in denying competing religions their access to spiritual revelation.

      • Posted August 29, 2012 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

        Bingo!

        /@

      • microraptor
        Posted August 29, 2012 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

        No, see, you just don’t understand- born again Christians *know* that their experiences are real because God told them so. All those other religions are just fake.

    • Posted August 29, 2012 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

      “(senior) mechanical engineer in the chrono-technology industry”, obviously!

      /@

  8. TJR
    Posted August 29, 2012 at 10:46 am | Permalink

    Of course.

    Claiming that the creator of the universe talks to you = humble

    Pointing out that there is no evidence for this assertion = arrogant

    Its all so obvious now.

    • Sastra
      Posted August 29, 2012 at 10:52 am | Permalink

      That particular set of moral conclusions is derived from the Playpen Theory of Reality. From inside the theory (or the Playpen,) ALL the babies ought to recognize they are babies. Which means any uncertainty that we are all in a Playpen means uncertainty that we are only babies which means “naughty.”

    • Scott near Berkeley
      Posted August 29, 2012 at 11:06 am | Permalink

      And what are the particular differences between a person who claims they are Jesus Christ, and is confined in an institution, and a person who claims to be a “firsthand witness of the risen Christ” ??

      Any? Any important ones?

      • raven
        Posted August 29, 2012 at 11:18 am | Permalink

        What’s the difference between someone who claims to be a “firsthand witness of the risen Christ” and someone who claims to be a “firsthand witness to Apollo Helios dragging the sun across the sky in his chariot?”

        Or a “firsthand witness to UFO’s landing in the backyard”. Which BTW, I’ve heard myself from someone who was very serious about it.

      • coconnor1017
        Posted August 29, 2012 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

        Someone like Plantinga would say you’d assess their cognitive faculties in all other areas of their life. If you can assess cognition as operating within a framework of “normalcy” then you’d have to allow for the person’s revelation as valid. This of course doesn’t consider that non-Christian religions can claim access to spiritual revelation where their god(s) make themselves known to cognitively stable believers. The Christian would only counter as saying the other religious people are being deceived, which is of course a level of special pleading not allowed in their epistemic explanation. People use religious to make themselves feel safe in a random universe, they don’t use it to know what makes that universe random.

        • John Scarborough
          Posted August 29, 2012 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

          “People use religious to make themselves feel safe in a random universe, they don’t use it to know what makes that universe random”.

          I love this comment.
          I often wonder what percentage of people understand the fundamental randomness of the universe and if they did would it change religious belief.

          • MNb
            Posted August 29, 2012 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

            So do I, for instance when deterministic atheists deny free will by stating that the brain can’t operate in a slightly random way and that thus a good model might be based on probability.

            • Notagod
              Posted August 30, 2012 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

              So you reckon that pebbles falling randomly into one of three paths would give pebbles free will? How could randomness in a brain produce free will?

              Randomness in a brain could possibly provide different events that were not strictly predetermined but that doesn’t provide a mechanism for a brain to create randomness or to freely choose without adherence to the inputs that the brain has previously obtained through genes and environment.

          • Bebop
            Posted August 29, 2012 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

            What about if randomness is used on purpose…

            • gbjames
              Posted August 30, 2012 at 4:35 am | Permalink

              Well, that’s not randomness then.

              Sticking two mutually incompatible concepts into the same sentence dos not a profundity make. It is just the same old “married bachelor” trick so common to theology.

              • Bebop
                Posted August 30, 2012 at 9:38 am | Permalink

                Or it maybe shows the incapacity of language to describe the core of “reality”.

                Again, language is a dualistic process who looses its pertinence when it comes to what is non-dual. But it is only when you can reach a non-dual state that you are able to see by yourself the limitations of language and how language shapes our way to think…

                A randomness used on purpose cannot be called randomness, but that is due to the limits of language, not the limits of “reality”…

              • gbjames
                Posted August 30, 2012 at 10:03 am | Permalink

                Dualistic. Non-dual. Sigh. Some things never change.

              • Bebop
                Posted August 30, 2012 at 10:29 am | Permalink

                You don’t agree that language has limits and that reality, at its core, could be hardly described by language?

              • gbjames
                Posted August 30, 2012 at 10:46 am | Permalink

                I don’t agree that conversational progress can happen unless all parties avoid meaningless statements masquerading as profundity. Whether you think this is due to language not adequately representing the universe is not particularly interesting to me. We use the tools we have.

                I’m more inclined to think that unclear ideas can not be made clear simply by typing them onto a computer screen.

              • Bebop
                Posted August 30, 2012 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

                So let’s avoid the issue and stick to the limits of what our senses and science are able to tell because anyway, if it can’t be scientifically measured, it doesn’t exist.
                Is that it?

              • gbjames
                Posted August 30, 2012 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

                You can do what you like. Just call it poetry and don’t expect anyone else to think it is profound.

              • Bebop
                Posted August 31, 2012 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

                Or philosophy.

    • Posted August 29, 2012 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

      Tumblr’d!

      /@

  9. Sastra
    Posted August 29, 2012 at 10:46 am | Permalink

    As I mentioned in the other thread, the huge controversy is probably the result of a combination of at least 3 things: Nye is a mainstream personality who is speaking outside of the science/skeptic/humanist/atheist community; the subject is children; and Nye is not automatically genuflecting to the importance of religious faith by demurely stating he disagrees, but respects the ‘differences.’

    Nye isn’t just defending evolution: he’s coming out and more or less making the same stark statement Phil Plait once made:

    “The Universe knows what it’s doing, and the reality of it is what science seeks. If your religion cannot be reconciled with that reality, then your religion is wrong…”

    “Your religion is wrong.” OMG! Wrong? The unspeakable thing we’re not supposed to speak! The area of religious belief is supposed to be an accountability-free zone exempt from outside criticism. You can argue about what the religious DO and how they ACT — but you simply can’t come right out and say their precious, precious beliefs are wrong — and they should not be taught to their precious, precious children. Teaching one’s sacred faith to children is … well … sacred.

    • DiscoveredJoys
      Posted August 29, 2012 at 11:57 am | Permalink

      I guess Bill Nye has ‘magically’ become shrill and strident in the eyes of believers.

    • RWO
      Posted August 29, 2012 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

      Too bad, though, that Plait wrote that the ‘Universe knows what it’s doing.’ If it reads like he ascribes agency to the Universe to me, and it surely does, you may safely bet that at least some theists read that and process the notion that non-theists claim that the Universe is a Creator entity.

      It is not an absolute in every instance, but in general there are brains that process nuance and a plethora of possibility from which to select what is most right, given all the input for a given situation; and then there are brains that comprehend in either-or, one or the other, black or white, with little if any discernment of gray shades at all. And most importantly, a strong desire to filter out grays in order to solidify dichotomy selection criteria.

      It is important to be very, very mindful about vocabulary selection.

      • Sastra
        Posted August 29, 2012 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

        Agree. I originally intended to only quote the last sentence, but then thought the other was needed for context. We know it’s a metaphor: most ppl wouldn’t.

      • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
        Posted August 29, 2012 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

        The Bad Astronomers is a Bad Atheist := accommodationist. So however strong opinion he makes, it must have a gap-for-the-gods left.

  10. Matt G
    Posted August 29, 2012 at 10:51 am | Permalink

    An Anglican priest once suggested that I was an “arrogant scientist”. The perfect response came to me much later: Scientists make claims and back those claims with evidence. Theologians make claims, back them with NO evidence, and are usually contradicted by evidence. Now who is the arrogant one?

    • Posted August 29, 2012 at 11:11 am | Permalink

      That priest also claims to be an authority on the true intentions of the most powerful and intelligent entity imaginable, and to act on its behalf and speak in its name. Literally, too — he summons Jesus to manifest in wine and crackers, and ends the recitations he leads the congregation in with, “In Jesus’s name, amen (so let it be).”

      If that isn’t the very epitome of arrogant hubris, I don’t know what is.

      Cheers,

      b&

      • John Scarborough
        Posted August 29, 2012 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

        If god is omniscient I’d love to see his hardware specs.
        Humans have trouble computing the interactions of a few particles with our current technology.

        • Posted August 29, 2012 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

          See, right there, YHWH gets halted by the Halting Problem, and turns out to be not quite so omniscient after all….

          b&

        • Tim
          Posted August 29, 2012 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

          God knows the correct density functional.

  11. Posted August 29, 2012 at 11:06 am | Permalink

    “While [atheists] may be a small portion of the population, they seem to make up about half our commenters.”

    Last I heard, there are more “Nones” in America than there are Jews, and that the Nones are comparable in size to the Catholics (the largest single Christian denomination).

    We may be a minority, but so is everybody else when it comes to religion.

    Oh — and we’re also the fastest-growing religious (non-)affiliation, too. There isn’t a denomination out there that wouldn’t have non-stop wet dreams if it had population growth like we do. Especially considering that the religious sects are all generally losing membership, and holding steady at best.

    Cheers,

    b&

    • Scott near Berkeley
      Posted August 29, 2012 at 11:27 am | Permalink

      Yes, anecdotal evidence is fraught with problems, but I nonetheless agree: most religions cannot but envy the growth of atheism. What is happening more and more is that isolated atheists are finding support among each other, and finding each other. The lack of required dogma inside of atheism is a huge strength. Xtianity develops new splinter groups, worldwide, at a rate of three per day! It is religion’s biggest weakness.

      One thinks of India as a mixture of religions, but atheism has huge numbers there.

      • Posted August 29, 2012 at 11:44 am | Permalink

        To be fair, there are schisms amongst the non-religious, as well. See the next-to-latest post on the Squidly One’s Web site for an example in progress as we type.

        But the good news is that we, collectively, as a society, are moving away from splintering based on sincere(?) beliefs in bad fanfiction and towards splintering ourselves based on how we want to organize our society.

        Dr. King dreamed of a day when your skin’s melatonin content was only of concern to photographers using a spot meter, and that day is much closer today than at the time of his murder. I dream of a day when people promote their ideas directly, and stop hiding behind the skirts of imaginary friends.

        Let’s debate each other on the merits of the propositions, not on some old white dude’s latest reinterpretation of translations-of-translations of copies-of-copies of a millennia-old faery tale anthology.

        Cheers,

        b&

      • MNb
        Posted August 29, 2012 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

        It better has, India stands in a fine tradition. Consult the lemma Carvaka on Wikipedia.

      • Posted August 29, 2012 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

        While it is true that India has a significant number of atheists, some of that atheism comes from unexpected quarters. For example, the aggressively non-violent religion of Jainism had an atheist founder.

  12. Kevin Alexander
    Posted August 29, 2012 at 11:16 am | Permalink

    “it states that after Jesus comes again, there will be new scrolls opened,”

    While scientists spend all their time opening new scrolls and so get smarter and wiser all the time. Seriously, if god has infinite wisdom, why is he so stingy with it? Why didn’t you get any?

    • Scott near Berkeley
      Posted August 29, 2012 at 11:31 am | Permalink

      “..new scrolls”..??

      Didn’t they foresee a paperless universe?

      Probably, the “new scrolls” contain several new versions of “Ruby On Rails”…OY VEY!!

      • Posted August 29, 2012 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

        They’ll need Ant for version control then! 😀

        /@

        • gbjames
          Posted August 29, 2012 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

          Uh… … Maybe for building? 😉

          • Posted August 29, 2012 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

            Ah… I was getting myself confused with Subversion. Apologies.

            /@

      • teacupoftheapocalypse
        Posted August 29, 2012 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

        Papyrus and parchment, please!:)

    • Scott near Berkeley
      Posted August 29, 2012 at 11:32 am | Permalink

      And, neatly sidestepping the problem of the return of Jesus…which was supposed to happen before all the Apostles died.

      Wot hoppened????!!!

      • TomZ
        Posted August 29, 2012 at 11:43 am | Permalink

        That’s where that 2,000 year old man upthread comes in. See, it’s all so easy if you just realize that one dude that was alive then is still walking around. See the all-powerful creator of the universe uses loopholes in the rules he created.

        See… all so easy if you’d just THINK! Duh!

        Oh man, this pulling unevidenced assertions to back up a ridiculous premise gets easier with more practice.

    • raven
      Posted August 29, 2012 at 11:39 am | Permalink

      there will be new scrolls opened,”

      Which no one will care about. Scrolls were obsolete almost 2 millennia ago, replaced by bound manuscripts and then moveable type.

      These days you can buy 2 terabytes of storage for a $100 and we have robots on Mars and around Saturn.

      • microraptor
        Posted August 29, 2012 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

        Actually, there’s still some place in modern life where scrolls are very, very important. Especially if they’re at least two-ply.

        • Posted August 30, 2012 at 5:37 am | Permalink

          That’s “poopyrus”.

          • darrelle
            Posted August 30, 2012 at 6:50 am | Permalink

            For some reason that comment caused memories of the toilet paper common in public facilities in Germany, when I lived there in the seventies, to instantly pop into my mind. It was thick, tough, smooth surfaced similar to butcher’s paper, but so rough that wood shavings the size of 1 pfennig coins were frequent enough to guarantee a few with every wipe.

            • Posted August 30, 2012 at 8:54 am | Permalink

              I’ve seen similar stuff in St. Petersburg (Russia), late 90s.

              • krzysztof1
                Posted August 30, 2012 at 9:11 am | Permalink

                Before I went to Italy in the 1970s I was advised to take my own, as “European toilet paper is rather coarse.”

            • teacupoftheapocalypse
              Posted August 30, 2012 at 11:01 am | Permalink

              Did you mean “Poop into your mind”?:)

              While on the subject, you should have seen the stuff they used to install in UK schools back in the 60s and early 70s. ‘Izal’ brand, as I recall. A wonder of science. One side was shiny and nothing, but nothing would stick to it and it would stick to nothing, Probably inspired the invention of Teflon. Two such sides facing each other were 99.9% frictionless, which made folding for multiple layers a nightmare. The other side was more akin to sandpaper. Manufacturing QC was poor, so this could vary between 40 and 240 grit. Neither side was capable of absorbing anything whatsoever, least of all the screams of those forced to use it.

              • darrelle
                Posted August 30, 2012 at 11:24 am | Permalink

                Thanks for the laughs! I visited the UK several times in the mid to late seventies, but thankfully never encountered that stuff.

                I did get a strange look, and then a laugh, once from a waitress when I asked her for a napkin, though.

                I think the worst was Japan. Most public facilities don’t have any means of cleaning yourself. And yet the toilets in even a modest hotel room have $500 multifunction toilet seats that you need an operator’s manual and an 8 hour course to use properly.

                One day in Shinjuku we had dinner at what was reputed to be one of the best noodle shops in town. My bowl of noodles was fabulous. But, between slurping the noodles, it is considered rude not to so you must, and the spiciness, I like it hot, by the time I was half through my face was liberally coated with broth and it felt like I had snot running all the way down to my chin. Despite my best efforts at snuffling. AND NOT A NAPKIN TO BE FOUND. After that I learned to bring my own when out and about in Japan.

  13. twentynine
    Posted August 29, 2012 at 11:23 am | Permalink

    I read one comment saying you can’t obeserve evolution unless you have a time machine…

    i mean, seriously… these ppl’s minds work like 5 yr olds.

    And I’m not so sure we can blame religion for this… Sure religion might fill your head with a bunch of woo and crap, but still… a thinking person should be able to come up with a better way on how to observe something, such as evolution, than this cartoonish response of a time machine.

    • MNb
      Posted August 29, 2012 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

      Then I wonder if that person has observed the divine act of creating the whole shenanigan.

    • raven
      Posted August 29, 2012 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

      I read one comment saying you can’t obeserve evolution unless you have a time machine…

      It’s the same with Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection. Without a time machine you don’t know if the bible writers just made it all up.

      You can however, be sure of Moonie-ism. Moonie-ism happened in real time, inasmuch as Rev. Moon is still alive. BTW, it appears that Moon just…made it all up.

    • Sastra
      Posted August 29, 2012 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

      I think it’s a vicious circle: intuitive sloppy thinking leads to religion, which then encourages, promotes, and reenforces it when more cautious, objective, and analytical forms of cognition are in danger of over-riding the original “common sense.”

    • Posted August 29, 2012 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

      Oh, but you’re not making the proper distinction between observable science, which I call “here and now” science, and historical science… 

      Not me… one of the Creation Museum’s two (anti-)science guys; see #2.

      /@

  14. Posted August 29, 2012 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

    seems “doom” is exactly the ignorant and uneducated person people think that creationists are. My god is real, wah-wah-wah and no one else’s is. Poor hypocritical things.
    Marripodi is one more whiny Christian who wants to call anyone who shows him his religion is false a “basher”. Poor wannabee martyr. Of course, he can’t be bothered to acknowledge that creationists themselves hate each other for their differences in what this god did when.

    It may be willful ignorance, but I personally think it’s better called “malicious ignorance”.

  15. Posted August 29, 2012 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

    The quoted comment from “candyapple” in particular really struck me:

    “I believe in God, I believe in creationism and evolution. I think that we all came from one man and one woman (God created), and I think that the human race has evolved from this paring. I am a Christian and I love science…”

    Um…that’s not what evolution means at all. Not even a little bit. And science has repeatedly demonstrated that it’s literally impossible for the entire human race to be the descendants of a single man and single woman. Your claim to “love science” would be a lot more credible if you also demonstrated any understanding of science.

  16. coconnor1017
    Posted August 29, 2012 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

    It comes down to epistemology. Science seeks to prove itself wrong and religion seeks to comfort itself. The two methods don’t seem compatible.

    • MNb
      Posted August 29, 2012 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

      +1.

  17. Neunder
    Posted August 29, 2012 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

    Jerry, Thomas Nagel is coming out with a book titled Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False.

    See this article:
    http://www.christianpost.com/news/atheist-professor-intelligent-design-arguments-should-be-taken-seriously-80427/

    • whyevolutionistrue
      Posted August 29, 2012 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

      I’m on it already: the book is wending its way to my mailbox. Pity about Nagel, going the way of Jerry Fodor and all. . .

      • Posted August 30, 2012 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

        On the other hand, there always has been the myseterian nature of what he’s written, with the “What it is Like to Be a Bat?” stuff …

        Still a shame though.

    • Tulse
      Posted August 29, 2012 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

      Crap — I like a lot of Nagel’s work. I hate it when someone I admire acts stupid.

  18. Posted August 29, 2012 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

    There is progress. In the past no pop media outlet would EVER allow voice to these views.

    The good news is that pop media realizes anti-magical thinking stuff really draws eyeballs — crazy, crossed-eyed ones albeit.

    So we can expect more press for our radical (fact-based) ideas. That’s always a plus.

    • Hempenstein
      Posted August 29, 2012 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

      Yep, if Bill had come out and said that you can have it both ways, it would not have attracted any attention. The Goddiites would never have called each others attention to it.

      Instead by telling it like it is, the rebuttals to the tired claims they put forth are getting seen by people who have previously only listened to each other. They won’t change overnite, but a few may start thinking.

      • Posted August 29, 2012 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

        We are tiny little outliers but increasingly worth the ink to get eyeballs.

        Hey, we don’t want to join ’em so let’s irritate the heck outta them.

      • Posted August 29, 2012 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

        What’s the opposite of an accommodationist?

        A noroomattheinnist?

        Whatever it is, Bill Nye is it.

        /@

        • gbjames
          Posted August 29, 2012 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

          A no-vacancite?

          • saguhh00
            Posted August 30, 2012 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

            A confrontationalist

        • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
          Posted August 29, 2012 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

          Perfect!

  19. abrotherhoodofman
    Posted August 29, 2012 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

    If you believe in God and the bible, it states that after Jesus comes again, there will be new scrolls opened, which also would mean we don’t know all of what God has in store for us.

    One of the new scrolls is actually a menu for Heaven’s Cafe. The roasted atheist has gotten rave reviews!

    And yes, you can haz cheesburgers.

  20. E.A. Blair
    Posted August 29, 2012 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

    Anyone remember the reports of Mr. Nye causing an uproar in Waco, Texas, when he mentioned that the Moon doesn’t create its own light but only reflects it?

    • Tim
      Posted August 29, 2012 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

      He pissed off some fundies, though it probably is an exaggeration to call it “an uproar”.

      http://jimromenesko.com/2012/05/07/waco-tribune-is-not-protecting-bill-nye-the-science-guy/

      • E.A. Blair
        Posted August 30, 2012 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

        Okay, so I used the word “uproar” in a way you didn’t like. How about “tiff”? “Annoyance”? Any more nits you want to pick?

        I used to be annoyed whenever I heard Atheists stereotyped as hypersensitive; then I started reading posts here, and now I’m starting to agree with the cliche.

        • gbjames
          Posted August 30, 2012 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

          I wouldn’t call it hypersensitive, exactly. Perhaps we’re just sticklers for word choice.

          😉

    • JonLynnHarvey
      Posted August 30, 2012 at 7:03 am | Permalink

      Nye overtly drew attention the contradiction of this in Genesis “two great lights…the sun and the moon”.

      Waco is the home of David Koresh, who IMO ties with Jim Jones, Sun Myung Moon, and L Ron Hubbard as the four wackiest looniest religious figures in America of the 20th century.

  21. Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    Posted August 29, 2012 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

    I think that it is very arrogant for anyone to believe that they have all of the answers.

    I think it is very arrogant for anyone to claim that the useful results of observation and knowledge based on observation is belief.

    Besides the high insult of being dragged down to the same low level as religion, that is.

  22. MAUCH
    Posted August 29, 2012 at 7:25 pm | Permalink

    Let me see, using the logic of the musings of that comment left by the reader, because there is so much of this world that we are still discovering that gives me the right to make rediculus statements without fear of being challenged.

  23. Posted August 29, 2012 at 8:23 pm | Permalink

    I teach science in high school, and have often used Bill’s videos in class. A while back I was surprized, and somewhat suspicious, to find that the school’s video on evolution was either missing or damaged/erased. Fortunately I had other resources than Bill’s videos, but I was annoyed that that was only one of his that had had that problem.

  24. krzysztof1
    Posted August 29, 2012 at 9:28 pm | Permalink

    I was watching this video go viral and was amazed at the number of hits and comments, most of which I thought were beyond ignorant. Very saddening.

  25. jeffery
    Posted August 29, 2012 at 9:38 pm | Permalink

    One of the more delightful responses I saw in a heated exchange between an atheist and a “true-believer” was this by the atheist; after being bombarded with Babble verses, he said: “Trying to convince me by quoting from a book that I think you are insane to believe in in the first place is not going to work!”

  26. jeffery
    Posted August 29, 2012 at 9:51 pm | Permalink

    The most frightening thing about it is to realize that people like these are going to decide the fate of our country, come November. Walk down the street and ask a hundred people when the Civil War was; who we fought in WWII; have them point out Iraq and Afghanistan on a blank world map (or France, for that matter); ask them to explain the difference between Sunni and Shiite Muslims: if you’re not frightened now, YOU WILL BE!
    Studies have shown that people who are not experts in a particular field (say, economics)are lousy at estimating just how good they ARE at it. Worse yet, they’re even worse at deciding how good someone ELSE is! What this means is that all of the talk you hear about, “Obama’s going to break this country; the Teapublicans know how to jump-start this economy”, etc. is utter nonsense from people who, for the most part, have absolutely no idea of how the economy works or how our banking system is structured. The election will be won by whoever is able to get the most stupid people on their side!

  27. saguhh00
    Posted August 30, 2012 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

    “I feel it is everyone’s right to believe what they want.”

    I would add, as long as they don’t try to destroy science because it is incompatible with their pre-conpeptions based on no evidence whatsoever.Unfortunately, creationists are openly hostile to science. I shiver at how many people would lose their jobs and the conomy would plummet if flood “geology” were taught in geology class.
    Basically, almost all mining companies would go bankrupt.

    Beliefs influence the world, and wrong beliefs can nly lead us to the wrong way.

    Aids denial is a belief that, with creationism, can kill people (although indirectly).

    I shiver when I think were aids research would be if researchers ignored the EVOLUTION of the HIV http://endogenousretrovirus.blogspot.com.br/2007/08/michael-behe-please-allow-me-to.html

    Perhaps when he gets infected with a new strain of antibiotic resistant bacteria, then he will care about facts and evidence.

  28. verumtemplum
    Posted September 6, 2012 at 8:05 am | Permalink

    Its really annoying the atheists are just as bad as the ones Bill Nye was talking about.

    What I want to know from those that think Theistic Evolution is incompatible with Evolution is this: Why does it matter if I think God uses evolution as a method of creation or not? It doesn’t affect science. God being behind it or god creating the system in the first place cannot be proven and will never be in a scientific paper.

    So what is the problem? Why cant someone believe in both?

    I’m really tired of the “my way no highway option” among fundamentalists. fundamentalists of any world view.

    • krzysztof1
      Posted September 6, 2012 at 8:33 am | Permalink

      It doesn’t make any difference to me personally if someone chooses to believe in theistic evolution. But I do have a problem with the belief that there is scientific evidence that god guided the process or at least set it in motion. I think it would be unethical for a teacher to endorse such a view in the classroom.

      • verumtemplum
        Posted September 6, 2012 at 8:52 am | Permalink

        I agree with you. we can’t say that God did it in a classroom. We cant endorse it.

        Most people don’t understand that when you get out of young earth that generally science influences religion more than the other way around.

        My original comment was mostly about the people that are calling me an evolution denier because I believe that God had a part in evolution.

        Its not like I would ever in a scientific paper say “God did it”. I would in a sermon though say that God used evolution as a method. Its as if people think you can’t be both religious and scientific.

        • gbjames
          Posted September 6, 2012 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

          “Its as if people think you can’t be both religious and scientific.”

          I don’t think anybody is saying that, exactly. It is clear that people can hold mutually exclusive ideas in their brains. It happens all the time. But that does not mean that both ideas are reasonable or true. Perhaps you do chemistry work in the morning and sacrifice chickens to the god Zebu in the afternoon. This does not make Chemestry compatible with Zebu.

          • verumtemplum
            Posted September 7, 2012 at 5:20 am | Permalink

            Unfortunately I’ve gotten enough comments on other blogs to prove otherwise that people have been saying you can’t be religious and scientific. There are a lot of people using this to bash all religion.

            • gbjames
              Posted September 7, 2012 at 5:53 am | Permalink

              Well, all religion deserves bashing, IMO. And you can’t be thinking religiously and scientifically at the same time. I don’t understand why you are complaining.

              • verumtemplum
                Posted September 7, 2012 at 6:52 am | Permalink

                then you just proved my point. and the fact that you do not understand shows that you are just trying to upset people you should be allied with.

              • gbjames
                Posted September 7, 2012 at 7:50 am | Permalink

                Speaking honestly is not the same as “just trying to upset people”. We can be allies in some fights without needing to pretend agreement elsewhere.

    • krzysztof1
      Posted September 6, 2012 at 8:37 am | Permalink

      p.s. I also note that based on your comment, I think you would agree with my response. But I’m less certain of your views on mentioning god in the science class.

      • verumtemplum
        Posted September 6, 2012 at 8:47 am | Permalink

        Science class is science class. Meaning No religion in any way shape or form should be introduced. This would also include conclusions that attempt to prove the lack of God.

        I would also like faulty conclusions to be left out of science class for both childern and adults. There is a lot of junk science.

    • microraptor
      Posted September 6, 2012 at 11:47 am | Permalink

      One of the core principles behind the modern Theory of Evolution is that it is an unguided process with no goal other than the continued replication of successful genes. Theistic evolution is at odds with this because it relies on the claim that evolution is, in fact, guided and had the goal of producing humans.

      • Neo
        Posted September 6, 2012 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

        Theistic evolution is not a odds with evolution. It shocks me at how many assume 2 things. 1). That God couldn’t have wound the watch and let it run. 2). That you can actually observe randomness.

        The second one really bothers me. The best you can do is say it appears random. It doesn’t mean there isn’t one.

        • gbjames
          Posted September 6, 2012 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

          I’m shocked, Neo, that you don’t acknowledge that leprechauns didn’t wind the watch. That really bothers me.

        • gbjames
          Posted September 6, 2012 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

          Argh… I meant that the leprechauns did it and it shocks me not to have this possibility acknowledged.

          • verumtemplum
            Posted September 7, 2012 at 7:58 am | Permalink

            Why not make it aliens while we are at it.

            So we are bashing everyone now. lol. Makes me feel better. I thought I was being singled out.

      • verumtemplum
        Posted September 6, 2012 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

        I have two issues with your comment.

        1) you didn’t answer my question. Why does it matter if I think God uses evolution as a method of creation or not? At worst it would make me look for patterns that aren’t there. As a scientist you should be looking for them anyway otherwise your conclusion isn’t valid. Each time an experiment is done you should be looking to see if there is a pattern. Then you can say there is consistantly not a pattern. Otherwise you end up with bad science.

        2) You assume that theistic evolution has anything to do with evolution itself. There are many ways to look at it that do not impact the theory.

        For once I’d like a real answer for why I can’t believe God created humanity and believe in evolution. Why they have to be mutulaly exclusive.

        • gbjames
          Posted September 6, 2012 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

          1) It matters in the same way as if you believe that evolution is guided by little invisible unicorns. Would that matter? If someone believed that idea should we care? Only if we care about reasonability, I suppose.

          2) If “theistic evolution” can’t be assumed to have something to do with evolution itself, then what is the point of putting the two words next to each other?

          • verumtemplum
            Posted September 7, 2012 at 5:26 am | Permalink

            For the first point it should only matter if the person wanted to be like the young earth creationist and have it produce shoddy science.

            For the second. It matters in theology. In science it should be removed. It should never be taught as science. The point of putting the two words together is to show that God uses science. Its to combat the anti-science people in church. The problem is that Bill Nye never qualified his statements. Then the fundamentalists made things worse. Now I feel there are a lot of people calling me anti-science. Even though I’m not.

            I just wish people would realize that there are science defenders in religion.

            • gbjames
              Posted September 7, 2012 at 6:04 am | Permalink

              I’m sorry, but someone who believes in invisible pink unicorns is lacking in the Rational Thought Department. I do not want someone like that teaching biology classes. And I don’t see much value in saying that you think science is great except that we’re all supposed to respect your unicorn ideas.

              Here’s the problem… The Creationist has as as much reason to demand respect for his/her delusion as you have for your demand to have your “unicorns are compatible with science” stance.

              • verumtemplum
                Posted September 7, 2012 at 6:56 am | Permalink

                sigh. and this is why I posted what I did. I love it when “rational” people try to use a false dilemma and call it reason.

                More proof that many are treating science as if it were religion.

              • gbjames
                Posted September 7, 2012 at 10:52 am | Permalink

                What “false dilemma”?

    • Posted September 7, 2012 at 7:28 am | Permalink

      Religion is nothing without faith, and nothing is more antithetical to science than faith. The ultimate goal of science is to apportion belief according to empirical observations; the ultimate goal of religion is to believe in a certain proposition not merely despite a lack of evidence but even in the face of contradictory evidence. So long as religion considers faith virtuous, religion will be anti-scientific and anti-science.

      Specifically, the evidence is overwhelming that there is no room for hidden variables, theistic or otherwise. Not one observation ever has been reported that even hints at divine intervention, and innumerable ones (such as the recurrent pharyngeal nerve) argue emphatically against it.

      That you and other religious individuals are adept at doublethink is irrelevant. Yes, a person can certainly be both religious and a scientist; Francis Collins is the poster child example. But so what? Hypocrisy abounds in the human condition: there are Jews for Jesus, Log Cabin Republicans, and vegetarians who eat fish. Christian (small-“s”) scientists are no different. (Mary Baker Eddy Christian big-“S”) Scientists are mere ordinary religious nutjobs, of course.)

      Cheers,

      b&

      • verumtemplum
        Posted September 7, 2012 at 8:07 am | Permalink

        cheers lol. Like that makes it better.

        Atheists are just as adept at double speak. its ok to make it so a theist cant say anything that is not in the data but an atheist can say what the data doesn’t say.

        theism/atheism has no business in science unless it can be measured.

        • Posted September 7, 2012 at 8:29 am | Permalink

          theism/atheism has no business in science unless it can be measured.

          Exactly right.

          If there were gods even vaguely matching the description of any put forth by any religion, measuring their effects on the world would be trivial. And, yet, without fail, all such measurements have been utterly devoid of evidence of gods. For but one trivial example, Christian prayer does not heal patients.

          Just as we’ve done the measurements and concluded that there is no luminiferous aether, that mental illness is not caused by daemon possession, and that there are no horses pulling the Sun in its chariot across the sky, we’ve done the measurements for all the rest of the failed hypotheses and ruled them out.

          Gods are the ultimate in failed hypotheses.

          Atheism is an evidenced conclusion of science, while the existence of gods is an a priori unassailable assumption of religion.

          And the “no gods” conclusion of science isn’t just some minor, inconsequential side issue. Rather, the whole march of progress of science has been to test that which was attributed to the gods, only to discover that the gods were missing. Where else do you think the phrase, “god of the gaps” comes from, and why those gaps have shrunk out of existence?

          At the dawn of the age of systemic human reasoning, the gods personally tossed thunderbolts at humans and each other. They drove the planets around the sky, and they both sickened and healed the masses. They created everything, especially life, most especially human life.

          Today? They’re reduced to maybe secretly altering the radioactive decay of single atoms in critical-but-supposedly-undetectable ways…and, even then, statistical analysis of the possible effects of such manipulation reveals outcomes ever bit as randomly unguided as the inputs have already been determined to be.

          …which is why, of course, the religious do their damnedest to keep the spotlight of science pointed away from religion. All y’all know that, as soon as that light turns upon your favorite fantasies, they’ll go <poof /> just like all the other ones before.

          What you fail to realize is that they actually went <poof /> a loooong time ago, and the rest of us have long since grown up and moved on.

          Cheers,

          b&

          • verumtemplum
            Posted September 7, 2012 at 8:39 am | Permalink

            lol. there is no evidence either way. God and there being no God was removed from science long ago. Or at least is was supposed to have been. Dogma was supposed to have been removed too. Or at least it was supposed to have been.

            This whole conversation reminds me of what happened in a church that believed that consumption of alcohol was wrong in all forms. The debate should have been on whether or not that was true. The debate was instead whether or not someone could disagree with it and still be a pastor. eventually they said no you had to agree with them on all points. Even though the personal opinon didn’t matter as the people in question did not drink nor did they say that drinking was correct in any form.

            And people wonder why I say there is dogma in science. There is a lot of dogma in science. Try getting a paper publishes that challenges the accepted theory. good luck. its even hard if its a replication of someone else that was published.

            The thing that we disagree on is that a lack of a God has been removed from science. Its currently being introduced. Science is not supposed to attempt to prove anything that cannot be measured.

            non-theism should be in philosophy not biology.

            • Posted September 7, 2012 at 9:00 am | Permalink

              there is no evidence either way.

              I’m sorry, but this is the purest, most unadulterated bullshit possible.

              And it’s especially transparently dishonest of you to claim as much in response to a post that included several examples of evidence disproving a wide variety of gods, both ancient and modern.

              So…what? Do you disagree that there have been studies into the efficacy of Christian prayer? Are you seriously arguing that the jury is still out on celestial mechanics, the nature of disease, or the origins of life?

              Or are you arguing in favor of some powerfully obscure god whose domain is some minuscule gap I’ve not yet mentioned?

              If you’d like to continue the conversation, kindly identify one single specific phenomenon that you think is unexplained in a manner not inconsistent with the actions of a deity. If you can’t do that, then I have no interest in helping you voice support of whatever scam it is you’re profiting off of.

              Cheers,

              b&

              • verumtemplum
                Posted September 7, 2012 at 9:04 am | Permalink

                got to love the straw man you setup.

                I can’t prove God exists. You cant prove God doesn’t exist. Any more than I can prove a computer can create a random number.

                I’m not the one being dishonest here.

              • Posted September 7, 2012 at 9:26 am | Permalink

                One last try: define what you mean by the word, “God.”

                Clearly, your definition encompasses an entity responsible for neither answering the prayers of Christians nor the origins and evolution of life on Earth, two examples I’ve repeatedly given of phenomenon which we’ve proven (as much as one can prove that apples fall from trees) are purely atheistic.

                Since your definition of “God” is so radically different from that used by everybody else who uses it, I think it only fair that you should eliminate the confusion you’re causing by intentionally abusing language.

                Cheers,

                b&

              • gbjames
                Posted September 7, 2012 at 11:01 am | Permalink

                “I’m not the one being dishonest here.”

                If not, then you are being disingenuous.

                Your use of the “…and you can’t disprove…” argument is as shabby as me making the same argument about you and invisible unicorns. If the best you have is “You can’t disprove X”, you need to hang it up because you have no argument at all.


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