More dumb antievolution statements from Jews

I suppose that, as a secular Jew (yes, Dave Silverman, they exist!), I am biased, but it really rankles me a lot when Jews come out against evolution. We’re supposed to be down with science, for crying out loud, and a Jew who opposes evolution seems like a lion who opposes carnivory.

But apparently the pages of The Jewish Press a major Jewish website, has been having a debate about whether “a frum [very pious] Jew can – or should – accept the theory of evolution considering that it doesn’t easily fit the text of Parshas Bereishis [Genesis, Chapter 1]”. That’s like debating whether a pious Jew can accept a spherical earth given that Scripture implies that the earth is flat.

I haven’t followed this debate, but the final contribution to the “discourse” is the piece below, written by Josh Greenberger, identified as “author of Fossil Discoveries Disprove Evolution Beyond A Doubt.” He also wrote a previous and similar creationist piece for this “newspaper,” “No, evolution is not a scientific fact,” which was handily taken apart by the Sensuous Curmudgeon.

Well, read the link below and weep, and weep harder if you’re a Jew, for one of your own has shown himself to be irredeemably stupid—or willfully ignorant in the service of G-d, which is suppose is the same thing.

A few quotes (indented) and my brief and my ascerbic responserew (flush left):sarrfrrr

Charles Darwin, the “father” of evolution, was neither a scientist nor an authority in any endeavor that might have made him an authority on biological life.

The profession of “scientist” wasn’t as established in the mid-19th century as it is today, but of course Darwin was a scientist, as he practiced what everyone would recognize as science. And as for his qualifications, he studied biology in school and throughout his entire life as an autodidact. Do note that Mendel, whom Greenberger much prefers to Darwin, wasn’t a scientist in that sense, either: he was a monk.

But let’s proceed:

Upon observing many life forms and some fossils, Darwin concluded that all species of organisms develop via small incremental changes and the natural selection of small, inherited variations that increase the organism’s ability to compete, survive, and reproduce. But Darwin never ran any experiments or discovered any empirical evidence to support his beliefs. Basically, his theory was based on pure imagination.

This is complete hogwash, or muttonwash if you need a kosher metaphor. Of course Darwin did experiments, and, more important, larded his books, including the seminal Origin of Species, with empirical information: information about embryology, morphology, biogeography, development, and artificial selection, all of this evidence so strong that within a decade virtually all rational people accepted the idea of evolution and common descent (acceptance of natural selection took longer).

Darwin himself remarked: “the number of intermediate and transitional links, between all living and extinct species, must have been inconceivably great.” The fossil record, though, shows life forms appearing fully formed – a “serious” difficulty in Darwin’s eyes.

The fossil record was indeed scanty in Darwin’s time, but now, as I show in Why Evolution is True, we have innumerable fossilized transitional forms between “kinds,” including between fish and amphibians, amphibians and reptiles, reptiles and mammals, reptiles and birds, and, of course, between our earlier ancestors and modern humans. Darwin’s difficult is no longer an issue.

Gregor Mendel, a contemporary of Darwin – and much more qualified to opine on biological life – challenged Darwin’s views. Darwin assumed there were no limits to biological variation and that, given enough time, a fish could eventually evolve into a human being. Mendel challenged this assumption, claiming evolution was restricted to within “kinds.” A drastic development, such as a fish evolving into a human being, could never happen no matter how much time was allowed, he said.

Mendel carefully designed and meticulously executed experiments involving nearly 30,000 pea plants followed over eight generations. However, the importance of his work only gained wide understanding in the 1890s, after his death, when other scientists working on similar problems rediscovered his research.

Mendel was wrong about evolution not occurring between “kinds”, no matter how you define them. As I said above, we have evidence from fossils, genes, and development for common ancestry of what are surely different “kinds”, like reptiles and birds. And Mendel didn’t ever study evolution: he studied genetics and never published a comprehensive theory of evolution.

Greenberger then recounts the experiments of Rich Lenski, wrongly characterizing them as showing that laboratory evolution aways produces the same result over and over again. But it didn’t!

More than a century later, experiments by evolutionary biologist Richard Lenski of Michigan State University, showed that Mendel was right and Darwin was wrong. In experiments that began in 1988 and continued for at least 20 years, Lenski demonstrated very clearly that speciation is the result of underlying genetic design, not chaos and randomness.

Lenski didn’t study speciation: he studied evolutionary change within a species: the bacterium E. coli. And he showed that different lines responded to selection in different ways: just what you’d expect if evolution depends on unpredictable (“random”) mutations that occur regardless of their adaptive value.

Lenski’s experiments demonstrated that Darwin’s notion that there were no limits to biological variation was false, and that beneficial biological changes are the result of a genetic predisposition that allows for very specific, predefined forms of life. A good analogy might be: If you hit balls on a pool table at random, they will fall into random pockets. But they can only fall into pockets prepared by the pool table manufacturer; the balls cannot drill new pockets on their own. In the same way, the evolution of life is only “random” in that it can choose, perhaps randomly, from a list of predefined organisms.

Lenski did no such thing—he showed that random mutation in some lines of the bacterium could enable them to adapt to a novel substrate, and different lines responded in different ways. That is evolution, and it’s evolution by natural selection. Those are two of the major points in Darwin’s “theory” of evolution. To buttress his Jewish faith, Greenberger is simply distorting what Lenski showed.

Finally, Greenberger has to deal with the question of why so many scientists accept evolution if there’s no evidence for it. His answer is the usual one, but again he’s wrong:

If there’s so much solid scientific evidence against Darwinian evolution, why do people embrace it? In my opinion, they do so because it allows them to believe in a universe without God. But for those to whom scientific truth and honesty mean something, there’s no getting around the fact that Mendel and Lenski demonstrated undeniable design in what appears to be genetic chaos and biological randomness. If that means there must be a God, so be it.

In fact, more than half of American scientists claim some kind of religious belief, so why would religious scientists like, say, Francis Collins and Ken Miller embrace evolution? Those two men are, respectively, an evangelical Christian and a Catholic. It’s risible, bogus, and reprehensible to say that scientists accept evolution because it buttresses their atheism. The fact that most scientists are not atheists is sufficient to refute this.

I have no words to describe how infuriating stuff like this is. Greenberger is obviously not insane, but he looks that way because he’s marinated in his faith. But, as I mention in Faith versus Fact, a 2006 poll of randomly-selected Americans showed that 64% of them would reject a scientific fact if it went against the tenets of their belief. Evolution is one of those facts, and Greenberger is one of the rejectors.

h/t: reader Mark

58 Comments

  1. Ken Kukec
    Posted November 2, 2018 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    A shanda, boss, no doubt about it.

  2. Posted November 2, 2018 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

    After thoroughly demolishing the case for miracles in “On Miracles,” David Hume said in effect that there may be miracles after all, since it’s nothing short of a miracle that any educated person is religious in the current day and age. I’d be inclined to say something similar about creationism.

    • rickflick
      Posted November 2, 2018 at 7:45 pm | Permalink

      Perhaps they are not actually educated despite any time they put in trying. How do they look at themselves in the mirror?

      • Michael Waterhouse
        Posted November 4, 2018 at 11:36 pm | Permalink

        Exactly.

  3. John Heskett
    Posted November 2, 2018 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    Is the description of Mendel’s views even accurate? I’ve heard that Mendel had annotated a copy of the Origin in his monastery’s library and that he conducted his experiments hoping to solve the conflict between Darwin’s view and “blending inheritance”.

    • Posted November 2, 2018 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

      Apparently that is true of Mendel, but sadly as we know, Darwin did not take in the value of Mendel’s work, or rather, did not like the math content and for speed of reading, needed to get it translated from German.

  4. Nicolaas Stempels
    Posted November 2, 2018 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

    The Sensuous Curmudgeon, I had nearly forgotten about him.
    He is absolutely devastating -and exhilaratingly brilliant- with his basics, such as showing that Darwinism did not result in Nazi or Communist Ideology, or that staircases cannot exist.
    Most of his later posts follow the nonsense spewn (spawned?) in all kinds of (mainly) US publications (and follows court cases). I found those less exhilarating, but still, he takes the trouble, and quite systematically at that. An unsung hero.

  5. W.T. Effingham
    Posted November 2, 2018 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

    I sometimes wander (tentatively) into the dregs of the Patheos websites’ and browse some of the “loyal opposition’s” comments on the topic of common descent. One person claims (paraphrasing here) “…despite (
    or because of) the recent advances in technologies related to genome studies, evidence for evolution remains sparse and provisional.” Worse than wrong, this particular commenter (and many others) were working under the assumptions promoted by AIG and other sources promoting Intelligent Design. Sparse and provisional MY ARSE! How about Data Rich and Seamless? While scientists from very different fields and backgrounds are able to collaborate and confirm and adjust hard evidence with each other (progress), these goofballs manage to haggle with each other over the meanings within a mistranslated, manipulation of a two thousand year old text (depending on whether you follow reverend Jebediah Bob Billy or the more Reverend Billy Bob Jebediah).

  6. Kirbmarc
    Posted November 2, 2018 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

    This is the “micro” vs “macro” evolution bullshit all over again, buttressed up by a reference to “kinds” as if there were actual, real “essential” separations between species.

    Not only is the difference between “micro” and “macro” evolution amply disproved by the fossil record, but the essentialist view about rigid “kinds” which limit evolution is disproved by genetics AND direct observation.

    Species are clusters of genetically close individuals, but the boundaries between them aren’t essentialist and absolute.

    Speciation has been observed in plants and, under controlled conditions in labs, for fruit flies and rat worms.

    Horses and donkeys can also reproduce and create mules, lions and tigers make ligers, coyotes, wolves and dogs are interfertile. Looking at genetic data, different populations of modern human beings are being recently shown to have interbred with Neanderthals and Denisovians.

    Of course the more genetically distant two species are, the more distant (usually) is their genetic ancestor, and the less likely are they to interbreed, to a point where two rather genetically different species cannot interbreed due to mechanical, chemical, temporal, behavioral, or gametic reasons.

    So since the common ancestors of modern fish species and modern humans is so distant there’s a steep division on a genetic and gametic between humans and, say, chimpanzees that can be classified as a “kind”, on a certain level. And MUCH more so for humans and some species of fish!

    But the Mendelian model of absolute “kinds” which limit evolution is not only wrong, but “wronger than wrong”. It simply is so untenable in terms of direct and indirect evidence that it’s not worth taking seriously.

    Comparison to flat Earth beliefs are very appropriate.

    • mikeyc
      Posted November 2, 2018 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

      Well, Mendel WAS right that genes are inherited in a particulate manner, not the blending that Darwin thought. Both were wrong about some things; that’s what happens when you’re first to discover anything. But both were right (and validated ad nauseum) on centrally important things.

    • James
      Posted November 4, 2018 at 7:58 pm | Permalink

      If you really want to get Creationists started, point out that there’s no single concept of “species”. I forget how many there are, but the main ones are genetic, biological, and morphological.

      Then throw chronospecies, such as the genus Bison, into the mix. They really don’t know what to make of those! 😀

      Part of the issue with kinds is wrapping your mind around ancestral species. Mendel is correct that MODERN organisms evolve only within certain limits (it’s called channelization in paleontology), but that’s a completely different question than the plasticity of ancient forms. Someone studying modern forms, in a time where the deep past was largely unknown, can be forgiven for misapplying the results of modern experiments.

      Another part to remember is that Mendel didn’t run the experiments. His underlings did. I remember reading once that Mendel’s experiments were attempted in a modern setting, and they couldn’t get the results Mendel did, because mutations occur. It was suspected that Mendel’s underlings fudged the data to make up for those variations. de Vries corrected that error, in spades.

  7. Nicolaas Stempels
    Posted November 2, 2018 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

    That article by Mr Greenberger is so distorted that the expression “not even wrong” comes to mind.
    Darwin not a scientist? He is the epitome of what a scientist is, and moreover he was the authority on barnacles. His explanation of the formation of atolls alone would have made him a great scientist.
    Darwin not doing experiments? He spent most of his life doing experiments, from seeds surviving in salt water, studying electrical stimulation of facial expressions, to breeding pigeons. Highly versatile.
    He predicted the origins of humans in Africa, he got evolution right despite a lack of knowledge about genetics, etc, etc.
    Note, I was not aware that Mendel rejected evolution. It is ironic that genetics confirmed it so well, that even without evolutionary record we still would have to accept evolution.
    And then his rantings of light going faster in the past, radioactive decay not being constant (it is random and hence, ironically, very constant when the numbers are great -and they are, at atomic level), made-up drivel without even a shadow of evidence.
    Etc, etc.
    Yes, not even wrong.

    • Nicolaas Stempels
      Posted November 2, 2018 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

      sorry: even without fossil record…

      • Kieran
        Posted November 2, 2018 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

        His work on plants is also still relevant today, particularly his work on orchids

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted November 2, 2018 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

      “And then his rantings of light going faster in the past, radioactive decay not being constant (it is random and hence, ironically, very constant when the numbers are great -and they are, at atomic level), made-up drivel without even a shadow of evidence.”

      That’s a classic YEC (Young Earth Creationist) trope, I think.

      See e.g. Answers in Genesis for pages of it.

      cr

    • James
      Posted November 4, 2018 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

      “Note, I was not aware that Mendel rejected evolution.”

      It’s not really as simple as that. Well after Darwin’s day there were known gaps in our understanding of evolution–Darwin presented a descriptive theory, and many (with good reason) objected to his theory on the grounds that he never got around to explaining why it happens. And there were questions about how far back evolution functions. There were many who believed that evolution occurred, but only within certain limits–see Gould’s “A Tale of Three Figures”. In Mendel’s time it was perfectly reasonable for a scientific man to reject Darwin’s concept of evolution, or pieces of it, and presume that life arrived on Earth–somehow–in the existing bins.

      Before we’re too hard on those folks, bear in mind that many today hold that what we generally think of as evolution (varying genetic frequency through time) didn’t get started until well after life evolved. Early life was so different from modern forms that it’s really not useful to think of them in modern terms. And we’re starting to really question how firm the barriers between taxa are.

  8. Posted November 2, 2018 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

    Darwin “larded his books …”? Maybe it would be more acceptable to the good rabbis if he had shmalzed them instead.

    • Christopher
      Posted November 2, 2018 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

      That deserves a chuckle, or a groaning oy at the very least.

      • Posted November 2, 2018 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

        I have a feeling that Jerry used the word “larded” deliberately, with tongue in cheek (no pun intended).

    • Posted November 2, 2018 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

      LOL, Joe made a funny!

      Good one!

      • Posted November 2, 2018 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

        Thanks. Though I do know that “schmaltz” in German is actually lard. In Yiddish only it is chicken fat.

  9. Merilee
    Posted November 2, 2018 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

    Sub

  10. DrBrydon
    Posted November 2, 2018 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

    Fixed it for Greenberger: If there’s so much solid scientific evidence for Darwinian evolution, why do people reject it? In my opinion, they do so because it allows them to believe in a universe with God.

  11. Mike Cracraft
    Posted November 2, 2018 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

    Does Greenberger have any scientific credentials ? (not that any are necessarily needed)

    • Posted November 3, 2018 at 10:19 am | Permalink

      Does a guy who thinks radiactive decay rates are affected by boiling water have scientific credentials? Hmmm, no.

  12. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted November 2, 2018 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

    I expect a pious Jew would be one who should view their scripture without grains of salt. So they should reject the theory of evolution, and they should also be open to the world being flat, that humanity emerged from a single pair of humans maybe 10,0000 years ago, and that humans more recently have rebounded from a small population after a great, world-wide flood.
    They should permit themselves to be good at math, chemistry, and physics; but they probably should make it a point to suck at astronomy, geology, and biology.

  13. Kevin
    Posted November 2, 2018 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

    Jerry, if, according to the Viennese and ICHR tribunals, claiming that the founder of Islam was a paedophile is offensive to Islamic sensibilities, isn’t claiming that Evolution is true and Genesis not equally offensive to religious Jewish sensibilities and therefore a legal offence (at least in Austria :)). Being secular won’t save you from prosecution, you know!

    ECHR:
    the conviction against E.S. balanced the
    “right to freedom of expression with the right of others to have their religious feelings protected, and served the legitimate aim of preserving religious peace in Austria,”

    The IHRA definition of antisemitism has blown back into the news again today: members of the Labour Party are seemingly under police investigation as individuals.

    I have tried in several other WEIT threads to broach the subject of definitions: what does Jewish mean under law, antisemitism, Zionism, anti-Zionism, the difference and dividing line between the last-two. The place of the modern State of Israel within such definitions and should it be include at all within any definition of anti-semitism.

    I note also that I touched a nerve on a few occasions, though my comments were intended to clarify definitions and widen debate in what is becoming a highly charged issue (it has always been so, but currently even more so).

    One concern I have is that the IHRA definition is not neutral and can be interpreted as being over protective of Israel (what might be called pro-Zionist). It is noteworthy that no Arab (Muslim) countries have signed it, and I feel that this is not to be read as ant-Semitism, but as a result of their position in relation to the State of Israel, the arguments at this point become largely political.

    In this sense, the IHRA definition is likely to polarise positions rather bring people together.

    Would a discussion of the IHRA definition be in order as a WEIT thread.

    • Posted November 2, 2018 at 10:01 pm | Permalink

      These are interesting talking points, but right now Jerry is traveling and may not be watching the threads all that closely.

      • Kevin
        Posted November 3, 2018 at 9:17 am | Permalink

        Thanks Mark. Can Jerry be written to directly, say as moderator?

  14. Roo
    Posted November 2, 2018 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

    We’re supposed to be down with science, for crying out loud, and a Jew who opposes evolution seems like a lion who opposes carnivory.

    Well, to be fair, I assume he does self identify as a religious person. Remember, it also drives many atheists nuts when religious people cherry pick from their religion and go “My religion is clearly 100% true and the word of God. Except for this part, and this and this and this and this, because metaphor. So the 100% true part is still valid because the parts that aren’t true all happen to be metaphors.” If he was saying he’s totally secular and Jewish in cultural tradition only that’s one thing, but otherwise, Judaism is in fact a religion.

    I am sensitive to the fact that it is hard to remain in a religion as largely a cultural and perhaps deliberately cherry-picked way of life. I feel my childhood church contains, much like Buddhism, many valuable contemplative traditions and processes that I value, even if I don’t take the Old Testament literally. That said, just as Dan Reynolds calls himself an “untraditional Mormon”, I feel like the onus is on me to self-identify as an “untraditional Christian”. It is only fair, to some extent, to own the fact that if I choose to self-identify with a religion but with a lot of caveats, that is not in fact what the letter of my childhood religion necessarily says (depending on who you ask.) The same is true of all religions, I think, Christianity, Judaism, Mormonism, and so on.

    • Posted November 2, 2018 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

      That is a good point. How much if your religion can you reject, or fail to believe, and still claim be be a member of that religion, and identity as a Christian, Jew or Muslim.
      Assuming no one believes completely with the dogma, where is the cut off point?
      Good question to consider.

      • Roo
        Posted November 2, 2018 at 11:47 pm | Permalink

        Yeah, with religion it’s kind of analogous to theories of the stock market – the Castle In The Sky theory (i.e., the current ‘true’ beliefs of any given religion are determined democratically by the current majority members of that religion,) vs. the Firm Foundation theory (i.e., the original scriptures as representing the religion.) As with the stock market, the actuality of the situation seems to be a pell mell mix. It’s very difficult to make a case that religion as we know it is fully one or the other. (I would say I fall pretty well outside the norm on either of those scales, btw, which is why I identify as ‘untraditional’, even as I realize that pretty much every Christian is ‘untraditional’ in one way or another if you take the Bible in its entirety literally.)

        • Posted November 3, 2018 at 1:04 am | Permalink

          I have found that if I ask or orherwise find out what other people in my church congregation believe I get some surprising answers or information that I did not expect.

  15. Steve Pollard
    Posted November 2, 2018 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

    There are times when I am tempted to suggest that those who deny science should be forced to forgo the benefits of that science. Flat-earther? No mobile phones or satellite TV for you. Don’t believe in evolution? No gene- or antibiotic-based treatments for you.

    Bu I hope I am a bit better than that. Shame about them.

  16. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted November 2, 2018 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

    “But Darwin never ran any experiments or discovered any empirical evidence to support his beliefs. Basically, his theory was based on pure imagination.”

    (my emphasis)

    So geology is not a science either? How do you ‘run an experiment’ in geological time?
    Ditto astronomy.

    I’ll concede that with modern technology, increasingly probing observations have been possible and some of them may be verging on ‘experiments’; but I think, in Darwin’s day, no astronomer or geologist could have claimed to run an ‘experiment’ either.

    Greenberger is talking bunk.

    cr

    • Posted November 2, 2018 at 10:10 pm | Permalink

      He did a number of experiments within the ambit of what he could do. Darwin studied the anatomy of a great variety of domesticated pigeons, and tried his hand at artificial selection. He studied how birds might disperse seeds to islands by collecting the gut contents of seed eating birds and finding that some seeds could still germinate once they were pooped out.
      I may be a little bit wrong on details, but those do summarize some of many experiments that he did concerning his theory.

      It should be noted though that he is sneaking in his criticisms of evolution theory by criticizing imagined shortcomings of its parent. Generations of evolutionary biologists have followed, with ginormous amounts of experimental and observational data, and they are not finding the theory to be wanting.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted November 2, 2018 at 10:58 pm | Permalink

        Yes I noticed that Darwin did do some experiments. I suspect Greenberger was just straining to rationalise his idiotic claim that Darwin was ‘not a scientist’ and trying to contrast him with Mendel.

        What struck me was, there are some sciences – astronomy, geology, vulcanology, meteorology – where experiments are virtually impossible. Does this make their practitioners less ‘scientific’?

        And yes, it’s certainly the case that Greenberger (and hordes of others) have sought to attack Darwin personally as a backhanded way to discredit evolution.

        cr

    • Posted November 6, 2018 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

      Geology does lend itself to experiments but not of course in the timescales found in nature, necessarily. (Same is true of human development in a lot of cases.)

  17. Damien
    Posted November 2, 2018 at 11:13 pm | Permalink

    “We’re supposed to be down with science, for crying out loud, and a Jew who opposes evolution seems like a lion who opposes carnivory.”

    Is that a joke ?

    We do not know the same Jews, it seems.

    • JonLynnHarvey
      Posted November 3, 2018 at 12:33 am | Permalink

      I evidently know the same Jews as Jerry Coyne. (They are also in favor of “carnivalry” as well. 🙂 )

  18. Matti K.
    Posted November 3, 2018 at 12:49 am | Permalink

    Why should jews be scorned more because of stupidity than f. ex. christians? Racism of increased expectations?

  19. Diane G
    Posted November 3, 2018 at 1:03 am | Permalink

    sub

  20. Doug
    Posted November 3, 2018 at 11:50 am | Permalink

    Do creationists understand that there is more to evolution than Darwin? They seem to think that debunking Darwin on this or that point is equivalent to disproving evolution, in the same way that debunking the Bible would disprove Christianity [or, in this case, Judaism].

    • James
      Posted November 4, 2018 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

      I think you hit the nail on the head: They think in terms of all knowledge about a topic stemming from a single book, and cannot comprehend an epistemological structure where that’s not the case.

      I was once accused of being uninformed about evolution since I’ve never read Darwin’s book in full. Never mind that I’ve gone through school and have worked for 8 years as a professional paleontologist; since I didn’t read one single book I obviously have no idea what I’m talking about!

  21. Jeff Morgan
    Posted November 3, 2018 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

    Dear Professor Coyne

    Please don’t think I am being cheeky or disrespectful but I do not understand the concept of a “secular Jew”. It always seems to me to be a strange combination – one does not hear of secular Christians or Muslims for instance.

    I have long wanted to ask this question and I hope you can enlighten me.

    Yours sincerely Jeff*

    *And lest you think me some troll (I think that is the word), my address is 82 Cherry Tree Rise Keighley West Yorkshire BD214RU so you can see I am not hiding behind internet anonymity.

    • Posted November 6, 2018 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

      In fact, although I also don’t understand the label exactly, there clearly are people who call themselves such, our host included.

      And there are “secular Muslims”, of a similar sort, too. In fact, there is an interesting recent book _The Atheist Muslim_ which is about that.

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted December 11, 2018 at 11:41 am | Permalink

      @Jeff A quarter mile from you is the Long Lee Cricket Club & the Druids Arms pub is just around the corner. As you’ll know, the latter was renamed The Dickie Bird a few years ago in honour of the cricketer/umpire.

      This sort of thing is ‘tribalism’ – even if you hate cricket you’ll defend Yorkshire cricket, because you’re a Yorkshireman! If you’re a Yorkshireman you’ll have a series of jokes ready to put down guys from London as ‘soft southern jessies.’

      You’ll put up with losing the historical name of a pub because cricket.

      If you’re a Yorkshireman you’ll most likely regard that thief & liar Arthur Scargill as a demi-god. 🙂

      Your identity will be wrapped up with being a Yorkshireman, with coal mining, with steel, with heavy industry, with the beautiful moors & so on. There may be bits of the Yorkshire identity you don’t like particularly – perhaps you despise Geoff Boycott! What you do then is keep such things to yourself to stay in well with the tribe that brings you comfort.

      Secular Judaism is just the same as “Yorkshire born & bred lad”, but there’s two senses of “secular Jew”
      [1] There’s practising, worshipping, believing Jews who separate their faith life [only in private] from their public [or secular] life
      [2] What you mean which is the non-believer, but why throw away all that culture & tradition of being argumentative buggers [like Yorkshire people] just because god is dead? Secular Jewish identity is hard to leave behind – forgetting origins, losing pride in the intellectual achievements of your heritage, the stoic strength pushing back against all adversity [Yorkshire again].

      Also it’s not as if anti-Semites would let you forget it! There was no ‘get out of the camps’ card activated by proclaiming non-belief.

      You’ll always be a Yorkshireman even if you left the county & never spoke of Yorkshire concerns again.

  22. James
    Posted November 4, 2018 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

    I love the “X isn’t/wasn’t a scientist!” argument. Know how you become a scientist? By DOING SCIENCE! (Not sure if the Spider Jerusalem quote would be acceptable here…) I know that there is at least one paleontological journal (a museum journal in Europe) where a senior editor is a professional fire fighter. He’s also a self-taught leading expert on xanthid crab evolution, with some fascinating specimens showing evidence of xanthid predation on ammonites. There’s also a paper published by an 8th grade class on bee behavior that’s a legitimate, all be it minor, contribution to scientific knowledge.

    Science is a process. Do the process, and you are in fact a scientist. How you’re taught the background information is largely irrelevant; universities are a nice shortcut, but they are demonstrably not the only way to learn anything.

    There’s also an issue of what constitutes an experiment. Most people–and every Creationist I’ve encountered–think an experiment is something where you go into a lab, set up conditions perfectly, change one single variable, and do it over and over and over again. The concept of a natural experiment (where we look at something that occurs in nature and draw conclusions from it) is completely alien to them. Yet that is what “experiments” in paleontology amount to. And Darwin quite famously did propose such an experiment–that there would be an intermediate form between reptiles and birds. Archaeopteryx was found not long after that prediction was made. Can’t get much better than a pre-registered hypothesis being found to be true!

  23. Posted December 10, 2018 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

    Anti-evolution statements are more than warranted. Evolution is unfounded and goes against anything resembling logic or truth. What is presented as evidence in support of evolution is nothing short of conjecture.

    • rickflick
      Posted December 11, 2018 at 9:40 am | Permalink

      Conjecture?

      • Posted December 11, 2018 at 11:48 am | Permalink

        “The evidence of evolution pours in, not only from geology, paleontology, biogeography, and anatomy (Darwin’s chief sources), but from molecular biology and every other branch of the life sciences. To put it bluntly but fairly, anyone today who doubts that the variety of life on this planet was produced by a process of evolution is simply ignorant — inexcusably ignorant, in a world where three out of four people have learned to read and write. Doubts about the power of Darwin’s idea of natural selection to explain this evolutionary process are still intellectually respectable, however, although the burden of proof for such skepticism has become immense.” [my emphasis]

        Daniel C. Dennett, Darwin’s Dangerous Idea : Evolution and the Meanings of Life (1995)

        /@

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted December 11, 2018 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

      Copy/pasted from “Earl’s Thoughts and Rants. That’s one way to look at it…” website:

      A little bit to think about

      Although you may have attractions to the opposite same sex, homosexuality is still a choice. Nothing is causing you to act on your urges, but yourself.

      [Earl, Uncategorized, December 9, 2018]

      There goes the neighborhood…

      The world is most assuredly going to end. You can see it in the way people behave. Entitlement, “alternative truth”, “safe places” for the snowflakes; all indicators for societal degradation. Things are unravelling at a daily rate.

      [Earl, Uncategorized, December 10, 2018]

      I assume there’s an error in your very first post on your sparkling new website Earl. I’ve corrected it by striking through the apparent mistake. Couldn’t help myself with the second correction since a “daily rate” makes sense only in the context of quoting for work or the payment of wages.

      Well you are a one! You are obviously religiously motivated since that’s largely the sector which regards non-vanilla sexuality as a threat & who chooses to believe homosexuality is a disease that can be cured.

      On that basis you are not worth engaging because you regard evidence for evolution as “conjecture” whilst simultaneously spouting unsupported garbage on your midden of a site.

    • Posted December 11, 2018 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

      It is conjecture on the massive evidence found by scientists all over the world. That includes fossils, bones and other physical evidence. Conjecture is another word for reason or thinking. Thinking about explanations of the source of the evidence. There is also the comparison of DNA between animal groups and thinking about why such groupings take place.

      There us also the evidence of breeding of animals to change the breed. That had been done with dogs to achieve new breeds and with hirses and other animals. Many animals are much different
      now then they were a hundred or more years ago because of selective breedin

      Give it some thought/conjecture.

    • Posted December 12, 2018 at 5:11 am | Permalink

      On the contrary. Evolution by natural selection is as close to a necessary truth as we get in empirical science.
      Given three properties: Inheritance, differential reproduction, mutation of the heritable elements, then evolution by natural selection cannot not occur (given time)
      The heritable element has now been described in details (genes) and the similarity between the genes of every living thing is itself indepedent and irrefutable evidence of comon ancestry (it would take more than the lifetimes of universes for this to have occured by chance).
      So the ball is in the court of the denier. They have to produce convincing evidence of why some (trickster?) god produced overwhelming evidence of evolution by natural selection, then gave us the brains and evidence to find this out, THEN tried to trick us into saying it isnt true.
      If thats your god then, frankly, you can keep her.
      Peace be with you.

      • Diane G
        Posted December 13, 2018 at 3:19 am | Permalink

        Great reply!

  24. Frank Bath
    Posted December 11, 2018 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    Earl, if it was proved to you that evolution was a fact of life and you accepted it, where would go from there? How would you handle it?

  25. Posted December 11, 2018 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    When they (the anti-evolutionists) die they will certainly be in a much much better place.

    • Zetopan
      Posted December 15, 2018 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

      “… they will certainly be in a much much better place [especially for the rational people].” Creationists arguments assume that willful ignorance is just as valid as the results that science produces.


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