Yes, the media does deliberately misrepresent and demonise creationists

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If by “creationism” we all mean the belief that evolution is false (and probably a lie from Satan) and that the Universe is almost certainly less than ten thousand years old, then I’m not a creationist. I do not have the dire issues with evolution that creationism has, and I think that creationists tend to have a wildly false understanding of the history of the universe.

But the enemy of my enemy is not my friend. The way the secular media here in New Zealand has treated creationists recently is unspeakably dishonest and wrong. In my home town of Kawerau, the following letter was recently distributed to mailboxes:

Are you a racist?

Evolution teaches “change over time.” The more something has changed, the more it has evolved.

Kids are taught in school that man evolved (changed) from a chimp. So I ask you who changed the most from a black chimp with black hair and brown eyes? A black man with black hair and brown eyes? Or a white man with blond hair and blue eyes?

Are you a racist? You are if you believe in evolution!

drdino.com, creationresearch.net bibleblievers.com, cuttingedge.org.

OK, you can see what the author is trying to say. According to evolution, humans evolved from chimps. Yes I know, he just failed evolution 101, but just follow the argument, see where it goes. Since evolution is change, the author says, the more different you are from a chimp (i.e. the more you have changed), the more evolved you are. Since – simply in terms of eye, skin and hair colour – black people are more like chimps than white people, if you believe in evolution you must say that black people are less evolved than white people, and that’s racist. So if you believe in evolution, you’re racist. The argument is supposed to be a noble one: Racism is bad, so you should give up evolution, because it implies racism. So racism is bad and evolution is bad. The argument goes like this:

1) If evolution is true, then black people are less evolved than white people
2) If black people are less evolved than white people then yay racism.
3) But actually, boo racism, and you should all know it.
4) So evolution is not true.

Just setting the argument out as clearly as this drastically improves it, and yet it’s still arguably the worst argument against evolution I’ve ever seen. In fact it doesn’t even argue against the truth of evolution, it just claims that anyone who believes in evolution is racist. The fact is, having the same hair, eye or skin colour as any other species of animal simply isn’t relevant in terms of a person’s value. Racism only occurs when people are de-valued based on their ethnicity. So there is no reason for someone who believes in evolution to be racist – that is, to regard black people as having less value than white people – on the grounds that they are similar in some respects to another species. The bizarre argument used here would imply that a baby born with four arms is more evolved (since it is less like a chimp than I am), and hence an evolutionist should value that child more highly than anyone else. But this just isn’t the basis on which we attribute value (unless we’re already racist apart from belief in evolution), and as such, the argument is a hopeless flop.

To make matters worse, the letter is just begging to be misconstrued. Clearly the whole point of the argument is that evolution is a bad thing to believe because racism is bad, and evolution is somehow racist. But if a reader is unscrupulous enough, they may well say “Hmmmm, what have we here? The author says that black people have the same eye colour (or hair or skin colour) as chimps. True or not, it’s racist! Creationism is racist!” You’d hope that any intelligent and honest reader would steer clear of that sort of tactic, but you should always assume the worst. It’s bound to happen. I don’t see how anyone distributing this letter could possibly think that anyone would be persuaded by it to reject belief in evolution. That should be the end of it: It’s a lame scare tactic that misunderstands evolution and doesn’t interact with evidence at any level.

But that’s not the end of it. According to a story by John Weeks at the New Zealand Herald, “Racist pamphlets horrified a top fashion model when she checked her mailbox last week.” Really? “Racist” pamphlets? Interesting. And which pamphlets would those be? You guessed it. Remember how I said that, regrettably, you have to assume the worst of some people? Here’s why. Although nothing in the story explains precisely why, the claim made throughout the story is that these pamphlets themselves are advocating racism. We are told, “It appeared the material had been downloaded from fanatical creationist websites.” “Fanatical” here means (I think) that they accept creationism and use strange arguments to defend their view.

Presumably to garner more by way of a reaction to the letters – and of course to generate more to say in the Herald in such a way as to link the letters to the alleged racism of the author, the letter was taken to the Race Relations Commissioner:

People who received the pamphlet should “rip it up and bin it,” said Vicki Hall, a spokeswoman for Race Relations Commissioner Joris de Bres. “The commission’s position is that the pamphlet is clearly offensive. However, there is no law that prevents someone from publishing it.”

To make matters even worse, the article quotes an employee of the Literature Board of Review saying that they do not deal with “hate speech.” No context was supplied, so we don’t actually know that this woman called this letter “hate speech,” but the connection has been made, and that’s enough.

And for good measure, the story closes by comparing this pamphlet to literature distributed by groups with neo-nazi sympathies such as “Right Wing Resistance”:

Racist pamphlets were distributed sporadically across New Zealand. Last August, the Right Wing Resistance group distributed pamphlets labelled “Stop The Asian Invasion” in Marlborough. Similar leaflets were found in Christchurch and Hawke’s Bay. Reports of creationist pamphlet drops were more unusual.

Reading this left me nearly speechless. A creationist group claims that if you believe in evolution then you must end up saying that black people are less evolved than white people, which seems racist. And racism is bad – and this is supposed to scare you away from believing in evolution. It’s a terrible argument in my view, but to compare this to a group that is anti-immigration and actually is racist is to willfully distort what a dislike religious minority is saying for no other apparent purpose than demonising them.

John Weeks at the New Zealand Herald should be deeply ashamed of himself for this. He’s not, rest assured of that. But he should be. Creationism isn’t true. But this response to it is worse than simply untrue. It’s dishonest in the utmost. I wanted to draw attention to this not because I sympathise with the beliefs of people who write pamphlets like this, but because I want us all to have a consciousness of the fact that creationists, right or wrong, are deliberately misrepresented.

Glenn Peoples

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{ 253 comments… add one }
  • Daniel Mann September 23, 2012, 4:19 pm

    Although this creationist argument is a poor one, the historical connection between evolution and racism has undeniable historical roots. The “Christian” evolutionist, Karl Giberson has written poignantly on the subject:

    • [Evolutionist] Ernst Haeckel nudged the racism of the Third Reich along its malignant road by suggesting that …”You must draw [a line] between the most highly developed civilized people on the one hand and the crudest primitive people on the other and unite the latter with animals.”( Saving Darwin: How to be a Christian and Believe in Evolution, 76)

    • How shocking it is today to acknowledge that virtually every educated person in the Western culture at the time …shared Haeckel’s ideas. Countless atrocities around the globe were rationalized by the belief that superior races were improving the planet by exterminating defective elements…there can be little doubt that such viewpoints muted voices that would otherwise have been raised in protest.

    • The Holocaust would have happened with or without Charles Darwin. There can be no doubt however, that the Nazi campaign against the Jews was assisted via rhetoric and rationalization with arguments from social Darwinism. (79)

    Racism seems to be endemic to the theory, even though this is strenuously denied today. While the Bible maintains an absolute distinction between man and beast, evolution postulates a gradual gradient, eliminating absolute distinctions, suggesting relative degrees of kinship.

    Although this man-beast association doesn’t disprove evolution, it should encourage discussion regarding its dangers.

  • Glenn September 23, 2012, 4:27 pm

    Daniel since none of that is an argument against the truth of evolution, none of it should be used in a discussion over whether or not evolution is true.

    I am also concerned at your use of quotation marks when you refer to ‘The “Christian” evolutionist, Karl Giberson.” I sincerely hope that you do not mean to imply that a believer in evolution cannot be a Christian.

    But my point here isn’t whether or not this is a good argument (although granted, I pointed out why it’s a terrible argument). The point is the shocking lack of honesty used in the Herald story.

  • Ken September 23, 2012, 5:23 pm

    Agreed, the Herald news story seems to have missed or confused the real issue (or perhaps that’s just the reaction of shocked readers of the pamphlet). But isn’t the real problem misrepresentation or deliberate distortion of scientific understanding of evolution? Mind you, I haven’t seen the leaflet and it could well have gone on to justify racism. After all creationists (and religions in general) have done so in the past and some still do. And there are some really loopy creationists around.

    But it’s telling that the first response (by Daniel Mann) to your post effectively launches into a common creationist lie about evolutionary science -that it “promotes racism and leads to nazism.” And that lie is not restricted just to the loopy end. It’s actively promoted by the “intelligent design” brigade which I think has a lot of influence within evangelical Christianity. In fact the attacks on people like Gibberson are often sourced from the Discovery Institute (The Wedge) people. They appear to have a real hatred for “theistic evolutionists” and actively campaign against them.

    I guess you are more concerned with the unfortunate connection of racism with “creationism.” But surely that word is thoroughly tainted by now – tainted by the fanatics and extremists who use the word to describe themselves and their ideology.

    But I think it would be more sensible to be concerned about the deliberate and malicious attempt to taint evolutionary science. It is very often misrepresented and maligned by creationists of one flavour or another. This particular argument, while it is water off a duck’s back to evolutionary scientists, is getting purchase amongst the Christian community. Propagandists of the ID movement do have influence there and can successfully get their material into that community. Effectively it encourages a significant proportion if Christian to come out against important areas if science – something that would really concerned me if I was theistically inclined.

  • Glenn September 23, 2012, 5:39 pm

    “But isn’t the real problem misrepresentation or deliberate distortion of scientific understanding of evolution?”

    Well, that’s an issue, yes. But at least in many cases that’s genuine ignorance. The misrepresentation in this Herald article is more sinister. What’s more, everyone seems interested in jumping on the bandwagon every time creationists get science wrong. But when people point out that people are misrepresenting creationists, people try to downplay or even ignore that. Ken, I see that happening in your comment, where you say that the “real issue” is not the misrepresentation of creationists at all. That may be the issue that concerns you more, but the real issue in the misrepresentation of creationists is the misrepresentation of creationists.

    “Mind you, I haven’t seen the leaflet and it could well have gone on to justify racism. After all creationists (and religions in general) have done so in the past and some still do.”

    Why would an article using an argument that requires the rejection of racism then go on to justify racism? That’s an interesting (!!) attempt to perpetuate the misrepresentation (and to hop on the old hobby horse of innuendo about religion in general), but in fact I reproduced the letter in its entirety. There’s no part of the pamphlet you didn’t see. It’s just a short letter, and you can view a copy here: http://zess.tumblr.com/post/11903029018/this-got-put-in-our-letterbox-are-you-a-racist I find it interesting that you call it “telling” that another commenter dragged up a bad argument against evolution, and yet you yourself dragged up a nasty innuendo about creationists. That is telling.

  • Ken September 23, 2012, 7:06 pm

    I am not sure what you see as a “nasty innuendo” in my comment. I will assume it’s the piece you quote: “After all creationists (and religions in general) have done so [supported racism] in the past and some still do.” Can’t see what’s wrong with that – perhaps I could have used “some” or “most” – but all ideologies have lined up with policies in the past we now see as inhumane or immoral and sects of these still adhere to such policies. It’s not innuendo – just factual.

    I don’t think most Christians and/or creationist necessarily think that way now and certainly did not suggest it.

    Thanks for the link to the pamphlet. I can certainly see why creationists were mentioned in the news article because the pamphlet is clearly attributed to creationist sources. And Weekes added his own qualifier of “fanatical.” (Perhaps you should be thanking him for that).

    I don’t see that “creationists” are being misrepresented in public comments because in normal usage it describes somebody who rejects evolutionary science. And as you can see from comments on the blog people really do not look sympathetically on that rejection.

    I think the problem might be that your are possibly trying to retrieve the word “creationist” for a more narrow meaning which does not include rejection of science. Good luck with that – I would think this word is by now thoroughly discredited and tainted and you might be better to consider something else. (Intelligent design proponent perhaps). But even the ID people protest vehemently when they are called creationists – it s a dirty word in their eyes too (Mind you they have been caught revising their documents to replace the word hence the typo “creaintelligent design proponentits”)

  • Glenn September 23, 2012, 11:07 pm

    “I don’t see that “creationists” are being misrepresented in public comments because in normal usage it describes somebody who rejects evolutionary science”

    Ken, I realise that this is what creationism here refers to, and of course the letter was linked to creationism. It was written by creationists! But that is not how these creationists are being misrepresented (obviously). Instead they are being accused of advocating racism, when in fact they are claiming that evolution somehow supports racism and that’s bad. That is the way in which they are being misrepresented and demonised. Nobody is helped by that kind of thing.

  • Daniel Mann September 23, 2012, 11:35 pm

    Why I put quotes around “Christian” in regards to Karl Giberson: in his book, he wrote:

    • Acid is an appropriate metaphor for the erosion of my fundamentalism, as I slowly lost confidence in the Genesis story of creation and the scientific creationism that placed this ancient story within the framework of modern science. Dennett’s universal acid dissolved Adam and Eve; it ate through the Garden of Eden; it destroyed the historicity of the events of creation week. It etched holes in those parts of Christianity connected to the stories—the fall, “Christ as the second Adam,” the origins of sin, and nearly everything else that I counted sacred. (Saving Darwin, 9-10)

    However, afterwards Giberson wrote approvingly of statements by Richard Dawkins about the OT God:

    • “tyrannical anthropomorphic deity,” “commanded the Jews to go on genocidal rampages”…but who believes in this [OT] deity any more, besides those same fundamentalists who think the earth is 10,000 years old? Modern theology has moved past this view of God.” http://biologos.org/blog/exposing-the-straw-men-of-new-atheism-part-five/

    I’ll allow others to judge whether or not to call him a “Christian.” I am merely citing his own profession.

  • Matthew Flannagan September 23, 2012, 11:38 pm

    Ken, if its wrong to misrepresent science is this because its wrong to deliberately misrepresent a persons position in general? or is it wrong only when its a view you agree with? Simple question.

  • Matthew Flannagan September 23, 2012, 11:49 pm

    “I am not sure what you see as a “nasty innuendo” in my comment. I will assume it’s the piece you quote:“After all creationists (and religions in general) have done so [supported racism] in the past and some still do.” Can’t see what’s wrong with that – perhaps I could have used “some” or “most” – but all ideologies have lined up with policies in the past we now see as inhumane or immoral and sects of these still adhere to such policies. It’s not innuendo – just factual.”

    Except, that was not the comment Glenn quoted nor was it what you said, what you said was as follows:

    “Mind you, I haven’t seen the leaflet and it could well have gone on to justify racism. After all creationists (and religions in general) have done so [supported racism] in the past and some still do”

    It was this quote in full, not the snipped part you refer to which Glenn cited. It was the full quote he clearly responded to. Anyone who reads the above can see this.

  • Glenn September 24, 2012, 12:23 am

    Indeed – the nasty innuendo was the innuendo that this letter itself went on to try to justify racism. This, even after I had quoted the letter in full. The innocent reply of “It’s not innuendo – just factual” is simply false.

  • Julie September 24, 2012, 6:07 am

    Glenn… in response to your comment ” I sincerely hope that you do not mean to imply that a believer in evolution cannot be a Christian.”…

    Of course… one can be a Christian and believe any number of untrue things. One can be a christian and believe many things the total opposite of what the bible says. One can be a christian and say parts of what Jesus said was wrong.

    Lots of christians do this. There are christians who believe in abortion, there are christians who believe in homosexuality, there are christians who believe in polygamy, there are christians who are ok with adultery, who are okay with lying, stealing and the list goes on.

    Does this mean their belief is good or sound? no.

    So sure, one can believe in evolution and be a christian – but it’s a pretty big slap in the face to Jesus to go against what He said he has done.

    But regardless of that, I find your statement “creationism isn’t true” shows a total lack of understanding of science. I mean no offense. Unlike most of what is called “theory” in science, both creation and evolution theories are not totally provable or totally disprovable. No one can go back in time, and there is no 100% proof belonging to either theory. From a scientific viewpoint, any accurate truthful scientist cannot state “creationism isn’t true”… unless he’s built himself a time machine.

    As a scientist, I find your statement laughable. Actually, as a scientist, I find evolution laughable too. It is an unproven joke that basically relies on magic to happen. If many members of the science community weren’t so determined to “prove” that no god exists, it would have been laughed out of consideration more than a century ago.

    There is a reason the intelligent design movement is growing – because evolution is ridiculous. Whether people believe in a 6 day creation less than 10,000 years ago, or in intelligent aliens creating everything billions of years ago… one only has to look at the universe – physics, chemistry, biology and everything in between – to see that there is no way this all just randomly fell into place by accident.

    There was a quote I heard in my early studies, and the chance of even a single cell organism evolving is smaller than the chance of a tornado blowing through a junk yard and putting together a 100% correctly formed boeing 747. billions of magnitudes smaller in chance. And an honest evolutionist will tell you this is true. Yet people choose to believe evolution still. We look at a 747 and know what it was created and built, but yet some people think a human being, something infinitely more complex just magically happened to get here?

    As a scientist and a rational, logical person who looks at the scientific evidence, I vehemently reject the joke of the theory of evolution. But hey… if you want to believe it, it’s not my job to convince you otherwise.

  • Julie September 24, 2012, 6:10 am

    But as a Christian… I can pray for you, mate. I haven’t read enough of your blogs, Glenn, to you know if you identify as christian, or just have lots of views on christianity, but if you are a christian, yes you can keep believing in evolution and still be a christian. You can believe any myth about how the universe got here you like and still be a christian if your goal is to love and follow Jesus.

    But Jesus makes it really clear He CREATED the world, and that He believed the account in Genesis, and if you are a christian, you know He is God and therefore perfect, and therefore what He says is perfect, so if you believe in evolution, you’re saying Jesus is wrong, and it’s kinda disappointing when a Christian says Jesus is wrong.

    Lots of them do it on lots of issues – it won’t stop them being saved, but it’s just kinda really sad to hear christians preferring their own beliefs over what Jesus said was the case.

  • Glenn September 24, 2012, 8:24 am

    Ken Ham also asks his readers to pray for those who disagree with him. He also (I think) insinuates that those who don’t share his views on creation must somehow not care what Jesus said, and prefer their own opinion. Julie, all this shows is a willingness to believe the worst of fellow believers, and it’s disappointing to see.

  • Ken September 24, 2012, 10:34 am

    Glenn, I have already acknowledged your point that accusations these particular creationists are racist are not warranted. And repeated that when you pointed me to the link where I could see the full text of their letter. Yes, I had suggested the possibility they had gone on to argue for racism – but I stress the word possibility. And yes I had been relying on the Herald report rather than your quote. Very lax of me – but that brings up some cognitive psychology.

    So lets please put that particular issue to bed – I certainly have.

    But here’s some naive psychology. How did people react to that letter:

    1: Me – I saw the deliberate misrepresentation of the science, a common misrepresentation by creationists. I am also concerned how creationists (including and most particularly the ID people at theDiscoverery Institute) are maliciously argueing that “Darwinism” leads to racism and Nazism and that they have gained some purchase for this idea in the Christian community (and also among Muslims).

    2: You – appeared to be mostly concerned with misrepresentation of creationists. Why the hell you should rush to the defence if this particular motley crew is beyond me. I thought you may be trying to preserve the word to describe a non-racist, pro-science form of creationism. As I said good luck with that – I don’t think it possible, the word is so tainted. But you don’t seem to want to pursue that one.

    3: Daniel wants to justify the argument that “Darwinism” leads to racism – which sort of justifies my concern.

    4: Julie – disagrees with you as she can’t see how a Christian can accept evolutionary science. That’s another argument actively promoted by creationists including the Dscovery Institute.

    5: The people of Kawerau – who knows? But I suspect very few were concerned with the misrepresentation of the science – or even with the origins of the leaflet. They probably reacted strongly to the argument they saw justifying racism. Jessie after all says: I’m pretty sure that saying this shit makes YOU the racist, racist. I’m just mind boggled and disgusted.

    It personally pleases me to see such rejection of racism. The finer point that the creationists arguements were extremely badly put and didn’t get across does not concern me. After all their real point was an attack on science so I am glad to see such failures.

  • Ken September 24, 2012, 10:46 am

    Matthew – I hope your sense of humour is available when I tell you your appearance out of the blue with an irrelevant question reminds me of Pancho coming Don Quixote’s aid against an imaginary windmill.

    My answer to your question is that surely intentional and malicious misrepresentation of facts or people is certainly wrong.

    But I also recognise that humans are not rational. It is just intuitive for us to select material to fit preconceived models. Such misandersanding can be overcome though by honest discussion.

  • AgeOfReasonXXI September 24, 2012, 11:24 am

    “because I want us all to have a consciousness of the fact that creationists, right or wrong, are deliberately misrepresented.”

    who cares, they are deluded morons anyway. like the religious 🙂
    oh, wait, they ARE religious…

  • Glenn September 24, 2012, 11:26 am

    Ken: “You – appeared to be mostly concerned with misrepresentation of creationists. Why the hell you should rush to the defence if this particular motley crew is beyond me.”

    Yes, I can tell that you seem confused over why I would defend people you disagree with when they are misrepresented.

    You will note, I am sure, that you left bits out in your depiction of my reaction (something that I think is informative, just as you left bits out of your previous comment that I took issue with, as Matt pointed out). I actually did several things. I firstly said that I think creationists are wrong. I also noted that they misunderstand the science (the chimp reference here was a good example), and I also explained why I think this argument against evolution involving racism is a non-starter. You didn’t mention any of this – I think this is because that would involve presenting my position as more fair and balanced, and that doesn’t serve your ends.

    But why I want to defend “this particular motley crew” is for the following reasons:

    Firstly, I do not want there to be even a shadow of misconception that I’m happy to sit by, turn a blind eye and let them be maligned because I disagree with them and therefore don’t care.

    Secondly, because there seems to be a widespread acceptance that this “motley crew” misunderstands the science. That argument scarcely needs to be made at all, which is why, beyond stating that I think they do misunderstand the science, I chose not to go on about it.

    Thirdly and most importantly, the above point in turn can easily lead to the attitude that those who criticise creationists can do no wrong, and that attention should always be focused on the false beliefs of creationists and any wrongs done to them should simply be overlooked. Indeed, I saw this attitude peeping through when, in response to my concerns, you assured me that this isn’t the real issue, the “real problem” is the way that creationists get the science wrong. You may well have (as quickly as possible) said that the story “missed or confused the real issue” – the critics of creationism couldn’t possibly do that sort of thing deliberately, but the creationists? Oh my, their sins are as willful as possible! This plays into the treatment of creationists as an easy-to-hate minority who should just take everything on the chin, and I think that is very unfair.

    These are the reasons why I chose to “rush to the defence if this particular motley crew.” Do they seem like fair enough reasons to you? I think your responses thus far show quite clearly why the third reason is reason enough.

  • Glenn September 24, 2012, 11:27 am

    I think AgeofReason has just made my point eloquently. I noted that these creationists are being misrepresented, and the response? “Who cares?”

    Thanks AoR.

  • AgeOfReasonXXI September 24, 2012, 11:42 am

    you’re welcome 🙂

  • Ken September 24, 2012, 12:48 pm

    OK Glenn – we seemed to have reduced the discussion simply to your defence of creationists. I get the message this is not due to desire to preserve the word for a more limited use – you reject creationist ideas full stop. Not just the ideas of the specific outfit (the motley crew I referred to behind the leaflet).

    I have learned something today.

    I may be guilty of lack of clarity or slowness in picking up your assurances (I plead this is understandable because there are plenty of Christian apologists trying to sneak elements of creationism into evolutionary science (or philosophy) at the moment). But all clear now – and contrary to your implication I didn’t have a specific agenda or reason for not quoting your post in its entirety.

    Your reasons do seem fair to me – if you still have a soft spot for creationists – even this specific motley crew. After all people and groups are “maligned” even falsely maligned, every day in the media. I just cant understand why you have this particular soft spot. You are not an equal opportunity critic of maligning in general, are you?

    Take for example the extreme malicious and false attacks on climate scientists in NZ and internationally. I don’t see you protest that today – in fact you joined in during the fall out from “climate gate.” You attacked NZ scientists too.

    Or were scientists an “easy-to-hate minority” at the time?

    So it’s still a question to me – why the soft spot for creationists (even these fanatical ones) but not for honest scientists actually working to find the truth about reality and help humanity deal with important problems.

    You see as “most important” the idea that “those who criticise creationists can do no wrong.” Where the hell do you get that idea? I guess as humans we all sort if think we can do no wrong – but creationist are the ones starting thus argument by attacking the science. Are you suggesting that when scientists point out their errors (as you did with this motley crew) we have the attitude that we can do no wrong? If you are that shows a naive understanding of the scientific process.

  • Glenn September 24, 2012, 2:05 pm

    “You see as “most important” the idea that “those who criticise creationists can do no wrong.” ”

    I don’t even believe that idea, let alone see it as important.

    But I certainly do see that in criticisms of creationists. The attitude seems to be that any negative comments about what creationists have to say is fair game – because they’re creationist dummies. This has little to do with my understanding of the scientific process. The sorts of attacks that bother me – like the one that I identified in this blog post – is not made on the basis of any sort of scientific process.

    As for the comparison with climate scientists – not even close. Contrary to your flamboyant language, those attacks were not extremist. The claim was made that some scientists had used or adjusted data inappropriately. I submit that this is not at all like attacking people as racists.

  • David September 24, 2012, 2:28 pm

    Glenn, you’re defending these creationists and arguing that they aren’t racist, but are merely pointing out the fact that chimpanzees look more like black people than white people. The thing is, most chimpanzees are fair-skinned! The resemblance between chimps and black people is all in the creationists’ minds. The accusation of racism is therefore entirely justified.

    Daniel (comment 1) says: “While the Bible maintains an absolute distinction between man and beast, evolution postulates a gradual gradient, eliminating absolute distinctions, suggesting relative degrees of kinship.”

    This is wrong too. The human lineage diverged from the chimp lineage some 6 million years ago. Much more recently the human lineage radiated to produce the limited degree of human diversity we see today. This means that all humans are equally related to chimps – no group is nearer the chimps than any other. Think about this Daniel, it’s important, and most people don’t get it.

    And Julie (comment 11) says “…yet some people think a human being, something infinitely more complex just magically happened to get here?”

    Uh, Julie, it’s creationists that believe that! The evolutionary view is that life developed through a process of cumulative selection of beneficial variations, each generation building on what had gone before, over a period of three and a half billion years. I have no trouble accepting that. What I do find hard to accept is that something as amazing as a blue whale or a monarch butterfly was poofed into existence in a single day by some invisible, magical entity who had his mind on a million other things at the same time.

  • Ken September 24, 2012, 2:59 pm

    I guess i just have to quote at greater length Glenn. You said:
    “Thirdly and most importantly, the above point in turn can easily lead to the attitude that those who criticise creationists can do no wrong, and that attention should always be focused on the false beliefs of creationists and any wrongs done to them should simply be overlooked.”

    Simply relying on the reactions of the citizens of Kawarau (who appear to have seen the leaflet as advocating racism) or the headlines of a newspaper simply doesn’t justify such an overarching claim. Especially as there is so much malicious maligning of honest science coming from creationists in general. And they give you Christians who accept evolution a pretty bad rap too – they malign you.

    The fact is most criticism of creationists results from attempts to get through to them the facts of the science. I imagine the group behind this leaflet will not be accepting the criticisms of them you made – perhaps they will say you think you “can do no wrong.”

    As for your attempt to claim the the attacks on climate scientist are not extremist I will have to disagree – clearly the accusation of scientific fraud was and is being made. None of the claims had any basis and have all been discredited. No-one here has apologised despite the High Court judgement.

    As a scientist I see accusations of scientifuc fraud as every bit as malicious and damaging (in some ways more so) as accusations of racism. After all how many of this motley crew would face loss of employment and banning from their profession (the usual minimum punishment for scientific fraud) because of racism accusations.

    I guess our positions cannot be reconciled – I have a soft spot for honest scientists – you have a soft spot for creationists and climate change deniers/contrarians/sceptics/cranks.

  • BobC September 24, 2012, 3:02 pm

    It’s almost impossible to find a racist biologist because they understand evolution. They understand that if person’s skin color is black, it’s because their ancestors developed to be best able to survive in a tropical environment where there is lots of sun that could cause skin cancer to people with lighter skin. If a person is white that person’s ancestors evolved to be able to survive in a northern climate where there’s much less sun. The lighter skin color makes it easier to absorb more vitamin D from what little sunshine there is. I’m white but where I live in south Florida, a semi-tropical environment, it’s dangerous for me to go outside without a wide brimmed hat. My black neighbors don’t have this problem so it’s fair to say where I live black people have an advantage I don’t have. They are more evolved to survive where I live.

    Anyone who says evolution is a racist idea have it completely wrong because the exact opposite is true.

  • Glenn September 24, 2012, 3:44 pm

    “The thing is, most chimpanzees are fair-skinned!”

    David: Well, it wouldn’t be the first scientific error they made, David. But that doesn’t make them racist. Remember – they were only talking about colour. You agree, I presume, that they are correct about eye colour and hair colour. Being wrong about skin colour doesn’t suddenly make them racist. They might be making a crazy argument, but that is another matter again.

    Ken: “Simply relying on the reactions of the citizens of Kawarau (who appear to have seen the leaflet as advocating racism) or the headlines of a newspaper simply doesn’t justify such an overarching claim”

    But I never made the case for this observation based on this article. Instead, as I tried to tell you, I responded to this one example in this way because of the many other observations I have made about this tendency – to give any form of a creationist bashing a free pass.

    Oh well.

    PS: The response of the court was to decline to settle the matter, deeming it not a proper matter for the court to settle as it is a specialist field of science. Just so you know. (http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/7634556/Climate-sceptics-fail-in-Niwa-case).

    I do note, however, your attempt to distract from the misrepresentation of creationists with an allegation that other people were (according to you), misrepresented too. So… this creationist motley crew should just suck it up. This reinforces my view that in spite of disagreeing with creationists, I really should stick up for them when they are misrepresented in the media and branded as hateful racists.

  • Ken September 24, 2012, 4:15 pm

    Glenn – you can’t pass off your personal responsibility that easily. The High Court ruled on the deniers charges – which were basically accusations of fraud. I pointed this out in my article “High court ruled on integrity – not science (“http://openparachute.wordpress.com/2012/09/10/high-court-ruled-on-integrity-not-science/). And this has basically been the case for every such extremist attack on climate scientists – investigations and court action has never vindicated the deniers. Never.

    No, of course the motley crew should not “suck it up.” They should come out and defend/explain themselves. It is very cowardly that they haven’t.

    But, their cowardice does not explain your willingness to defend them – after all you took the exact opposite approach when honest climate scientists were attacked. You stuck your boots in without thinking and parroted the denier arguments.

    You are not an equal opportunity defender of the rights of the maligned. Only where they conform to your soft spots. And then you exaggerate. Despite your denial the only support for your case that you gave was the Herald article. But in the process you maligned all the honest critics of creationism (which seemed to include yourself).

    Neither yourself (I assume) or myself, or all those honest evolutionary scientists have the attitude we can do no wrong, do we?

  • Glenn September 24, 2012, 4:38 pm

    “Glenn – you can’t pass off your personal responsibility that easily”

    I don’t have any! And again, you cannot distract or justify what is being said about creationists just because you don’t like what people have claimed about techniques used by NIWA. Your beliefs about the sins of one group do not justify the sins of another.

    “Despite your denial the only support for your case that you gave was the Herald article.”

    Ken, you’re not listening. I commented on the case seen in the Herald article not because I want to use it to show that there was a preexisting trend of people giving creationist bashers a free pass. It’s the other way around. It’s because I so often see people give creationist bashers a free pass that I decided to comment on this article in the Herald.

    There is nothing cowardly about the victims here – the creationists in question. How are they cowardly just because the Herald are viciously misrepresenting them? Or do you think that the people who put that letter in people’s mailboxes have the same access to having their side of the story printed in the herald? That’s not very realistic, is it? Bad argument or not, creationists have made it at various times on the internet, so it’s not like “their side” is some great secret that they’re scared of revealing.

    Do you think it would be appropriate for the herald to apologise for viciously misrepresenting these creationists as racists, Ken? I certainly do.

    Ken, with all due respect I think what’s happening here is that it’s just really uncomfortable for you to see the dreaded creationists simply as victims of wrongdoing, and you just can’t let the moment pass without throwing something back (like suggesting that maybe in the same article they went on to defend racism, or when that was shown not to be the case, pointing at unrelated cases where people in unrelated fields were accused of improper practices). Just take a deep breath, look in the mirror and say: “Creationists were wronged here. They did not deserve it, and people were dishonest in their treatment of these creationists. There is no excuse, and no other examples of anyone wronging anyone else can justify this. I will not wriggle, I will not point fingers elsewhere, I will not try to change the subject. This happened, it was done to creationists and it was wrong. End of story.”

    It’s hard to do when you have so much invested in disliking the victims! But even though I disagree with them, I have brought myself to say exactly this. Good luck doing the same, Ken.

    Do let me know whether or not you think an apology from the Herald would be appropriate. Cheers. 🙂

  • Ken September 24, 2012, 5:05 pm

    Some corrections, Glenn.

    The accusations against our NIWA scientists were that they dishonestly adjusted data to achieve a certain result. That is a charge of scientific fraud – an extremely serious charge which should never be made lightly and without evidence. Yet extremists did so and others, in their ignorance, blindly followed (to be charitable). These extremists continue to do do – in the process slandering Justice Venning and claiming all sorts of childish “vindications”. Although that may be trying to divert their own attention from the hefty costs they must now pay. They have never been so active within the walls of their Internet ideological ghetto.

    As for an apology from the Herald – it’s a mild case but I agree they should make one. How about you requesting it of them? I won’t bother – especially as the creationists concerned haven’t made a peep (wonder why?). And I honestly don’t see it as important – they misfired with their message, made fools of themselves, why should I help them? I have agreed with you that Weekes’s article was misrepresentative – but probably did reflect feeling in Kawarau.

    But come off it, the extreme charges made against climate scientists were so blatantly unjustified I think you and others who put the boot on have a moral responsibility to apologise on that issue. That is far more important and involves maligning of honest people who work for us all, not idiots with a bee in their bonnet who can’t tell fact from fiction on scientific issues.

    Surely an apology in this case is morally obligatory. I can understand you are now embarrassed about your former position but the issue is far more important than a few creationists in Kawarau making fools of themselves.

    Now you claim you “often see people give creationist bashers a free pass.” But the evidence isn’t there – only the Herald article. And who do you mean by “creation bashers.” People like you and me crtical of their naive misrepresentation of the science? Evolutionary scientists who answer their creationist critics?

    Be specific.

  • David September 25, 2012, 8:52 am

    Glenn, re Comment 24: (tried to respond to this last night but my reply disappeared into the ether when I tried to send it – hopefully this works better!)
    You say: “You agree, I presume, that they are correct about eye colour and hair colour. Being wrong about skin colour doesn’t suddenly make them racist.” But many Europeans have brown eyes and black hair. We also tend to be hairier than Africans, and have narrower lips, while chimps have almost no lips at all. I say the shoe fits – chimps don’t look any more like Africans than they do Europeans, and for these people to say they do makes them racists in my book.

    I suppose one should ask, why is there this readiness to accept that Africans look more like chimps than we do? Probably it has to do with an old creationist concept, the Great Chain of Being. This held that all of Creation could be ranked, from lowest to highest, from sponges to angels, in an unbroken chain. Since the Creation was the physical manifestation of God’s Thought, a gap in the chain would be like having a gap in the mind of God (as an aside, this is where the expression “missing link” comes from – missing links pre-date evolution and are actually more of a problem for creationism than they are for evolutionary theory). Under this view, the lowest humans must be little higher than the highest animals, and when Europeans first encountered chimps (back in the 16th century), that is the interpretation they came up with. They “knew” that they themselves were the highest form of human, and that Africans, whom they enslaved, were the lowest. The chimps were little different, in their view, from the pygmies running around naked in the forest.

    There is a lot about creationist thought that is profoundly racist. Modern creationists try to play down the ideas of their antecedents (or have forgotten them entirely), but occasionally the old prejudices show through. Evolutionary theory on the other hand, despite creationist claims to the contrary, makes it clear that all humans are very closely related, and all are equally distant from chimps – or for that matter any other species (see my Comment 22 above).

  • drj September 25, 2012, 2:48 pm

    Quite frankly, the letter was incoherent on all levels, and an example of the most awful of human stupidity – it ranks up there with launching firecrackers from your butt.

    They’re so stupid, I can’t conclusively say they aren’t actually raging, though [i]incoherent[/i], racists, that simply don’t understand the most obvious and most basic implications of their own statements. One might even say it takes a bit of a racist mind to carry one’s thoughts through that sort of reasoning process.

    I guess if we were offering the utmost charity, we could say these idiots were giving us a (wannabe) clever, pointed argument from consequence – but I can say you might be giving them far more credit than they deserve.

    The toughest part here is to figure out which sins are worse – the sins of a sensationalist media, twisting the facts so they are most flammable – or the stark, raving idiots who produced this ridiculous nonsense.

    In this case, I think the media committed the lesser sin.

  • Glenn September 25, 2012, 5:59 pm

    “They’re so stupid, I can’t conclusively say they aren’t actually raging, though [i]incoherent[/i], racists”

    DrJ: That’s pretty poor thinking there. They offered an argument (albeit a bad one) that only works if they tacitly reject racism. If you don’t think that indicates that they oppose racism, then there’s little to say to you about it.

    David: “But many Europeans have brown eyes and black hair.”

    Quite right. But that’s no objection. The author of this argument must simply say that those people, according to evolution, should be deemed less evolved (yes, absurd, I know). Their point was just that those traits are nearly always present in black people, so the evolutionist (allegedly) must say that all black people are less evolved. It’s a really easy argument to understand, even if it’s a really bad argument.

    I know it would be useful for some to brush these people who make these bad arguments off as racists. But that is not honest.

    And Ken – again, it’s silly to say that these creationists haven’t made a peep. How would you know? Do you expect them to have the same level of editorial access to major newspapers? Come off it… But as you wish, continue to draw attention to other issues. Thanks for the chat.

  • Ken September 25, 2012, 6:59 pm

    Glenn, interesting that you couldn’t produce any specific examples of “creationist bashing?”

    I am sure if the Kawarau Creationists had responded to the Herald article you would have told me. I imagine that they do not want to be public – no name or contact on to leaflet suggests a cowardly approach. I can’t see them fronting up to the offence they have caused. These sort of people never do – they generally have to be exposed – remember the Exclusive Brethren Fiasco in the 2005 election?

    Anyway if you really feel as strongly as you are maintaining I am sure you will stand up for them by asking for an apology. But I actually suspect you won’t.

    And as I pointed out – you really are not an equal opportunity complainant as your history sticking the boot into honest climate scientists shows. Oh yes, to save the response I agree I am not an equal opportunity complainant either being far less concerned about misrepresentation of these dishonest creationist fools than I am about honest scientists who have been attacked in such an unprincipled way.

  • David September 25, 2012, 7:38 pm

    Glenn, this is quite simple. They chose characters which they thought made black people look like chimps – namely hair colour, eye colour and (incorrectly) skin colour. They clearly believe black people look more like chimps than white people do. But if you choose other characters (degree of hairiness, thickness of lips) then you could equally (and equally absurdly) claim that white people look more like chimps. The big giveaway is skin colour – it’s usually fair in chimps (though there are exceptions) but these people seem to believe chimps have black skin.

    I saw this pamphlet myself when it did the rounds of my part of the rural Waikato a few months ago. I thought then that it was amusing how they were accusing others of racism when their own racism was glaringly obvious. The unexamined assumption at the heart of this pamphlet is that black people really do look like chimps – that is an incorrect and thoroughly racist view, and Danielle Hayes, the good people of Kawerau and the NZ Herald called it correctly. You do yourself no favours in attempting to defend this.

    Once again, I’m not brushing them off as racists because they’re making bad arguments; their arguments don’t come into it, bad as they are. I’m saying they’re racists because they believe black people look like chimps. Sorry to labour the point, but I’m obviously having trouble making myself understood.

  • Glenn September 25, 2012, 9:09 pm

    Ken: “Glenn, interesting that you couldn’t produce any specific examples of “creationist bashing?”

    You did not ask for any, nor did I look for any. You did, however, ask me what I meant, and I neglected to answer you: By creationist bashing I mean ridiculing creationists for being creationists.

    “I am sure if the Kawarau Creationists had responded to the Herald article you would have told me.”

    How would I know what they had said? Again – don’t assume that they have the same editorial access to a major newspaper that this writer does. That seems very unlikely to me.

    “Anyway if you really feel as strongly as you are maintaining I am sure you will stand up for them by asking for an apology.” I am maintaining that someone was dishonest in their treatment of creationists. I do not usually intervene and request apologies on other people’s behalf, so why would I start now?

  • Ken September 25, 2012, 9:18 pm

    Glenn, I’ll just repeat the question the from my previous comment:

    “Now you claim you “often see people give creationist bashers a free pass.” But the evidence isn’t there – only the Herald article. And who do you mean by “creation bashers.” People like you and me crtical of their naive misrepresentation of the science? Evolutionary scientists who answer their creationist critics?

    Be specific.”

    We have plenty of evidence of “climate scientist bashing” around here but you avoid a simple question. I don’t think you have evidence of any significant “creationist bashing.”

  • Glenn September 25, 2012, 10:52 pm

    Yes Ken, precisely as I said. You never asked for examples, so I didn’t look for any. Your question, which you quoted, was simply: “And who do you mean by “creation bashers.” People like you and me crtical of their naive misrepresentation of the science? Evolutionary scientists who answer their creationist critics?”

    I gave you my answer already: By creation bashers, I mean people who ridicule creationists for being creationists. I can’t answer any more clearly or specifically than that.

    If you now wish that you had asked me to go and fetch examples for you of people who have engaged in ridiculing creationists, that’s another matter. But you didn’t ask that. And if you had, I would not have chosen to run off and search on your behalf. If you have convinced yourself that there isn’t a tendency to ridicule creationists, then so be it. But like it or not, I simply don’t believe that you think this, and I don’t think this question would have been sincere, had you asked it (you didn’t).

    A few moments using Google could do the leg work for you, so I don’t need to. Maybe this will get you started:

    https://www.google.co.nz/search?UTF-8&q=creationist+idiots

    Thanks for stopping by, Ken.

  • Daniel Mann September 25, 2012, 11:51 pm

    Ken,

    If you are willing to hear some testimonial evidence, let me just share my observations. I have NEVER seen the US mainstream media give one ounce of recognition to creationism or even ID. Meanwhile, we are constantly bombarded with programming that pushes evolution.

  • Ken September 26, 2012, 10:45 am

    Daniel – you can’t be looking. Even from this distance I see US coverage of the antics of creationists/ID people all the time. Think about court cases like the Dover one. There are continuing attempts by creationists to introduce religion into science classes and education standards. Just recently I have read in papers like the NYT Nagel’s review of Plantinga’s book, and reviews of Nagel’s ID sympathetic philosophy book. I could go on. There us a very active struggle going on in the auS which very often makes mainstream media. (And a very active campaign of subversion of science in the the Christian community).

    If you are talking about science coverage – of scientific findings – no – creationism/ID doesn’t feature – how could it without doing any research. The problem they have is that they just haven’t even got a structured hypothesis to research. They are stuck with feeble attempts like “reinterpretation research” -inventing arguments like the one used by that silly Kawarau crowd.

    Glenn – you are pretty predictable – this is what I expected. Sort of confirms my claim that we are not a rational species – more a rationalising one. Your reaction is a text book example in cognitive psychology of how we tend to automatically go with our prejudices and restrict reasoning to discovering anything we can use as evidence for our bias and ignoring anything which doesn’t. It’s lazy but natural -and unfortunately these sort of Internet discussions usually confirm our biases rather than challenge us to put any effort into thinking.

    You have a soft spot for creationists so will protect them. For some reason you will believe the worst of scientists and will consequently look for any argument to avoid facing up to the reality of climate change and similar issues – because expert scientists are involved.

  • Jeremy September 26, 2012, 4:25 pm

    the trouble with “climate change” is that there are expert scientists on both sides of the debate as to whether or not it is anthropogenic in origin. this puts Glenn in a difficult position re climate change, because if he tends to think the worst of scientists [ as Ken insists ] then he will be prejudiced against both sides of the debate !!!

  • Jeremy September 26, 2012, 4:33 pm

    also just to recognise the clarity and depth of expression available in using the English language, i suggest that there is significant difference between ” US coverage of the antics of creationists/ID people all the time” and “US mainstream media give one ounce of recognition to creationism or even ID”.

  • Jeremy September 26, 2012, 4:39 pm

    finally for the moment, there is a fundamental difference between having a soft spot for creationists and objecting to wilfull mischaracterisation in the media [especially if its reporting rather than commentary that is involved].
    i admit that the current fashion for all news to have apparent commentary rather than strict reporting is a pet hate of mine, it makes news reports far less trustworthy.

  • Ken September 26, 2012, 4:50 pm

    Jeremy, the argument is not over attribution of current warming to humans but over the accusation of scientific fraud. This is what the deniers were unable to show in the high court judgement. That has been the case throughout the world where these accusations have been, and continue to be made.

    Personally I think people who have made those unfounded accusations, as Glenn has, and refuse to apologise have very questionable ethics.

    The vast majority of climate scientists accept the current position of the IPCC:

    1: there has been unusual global warming over the half century; that is unequivocal;
    2: this warming is most likely to be largely caused by human effects (primarily burning of fossil fuels).

    That position was derived from review of the scientific literature. In reality while 97% of publishing climate scientists accept the position, in reality there will be about 15% who think IPCC possible scenarios of future warming are an overestimate and 15% who think it is an underestimate.

    It’s a very conservative position which is likely to change drastically in the next review if current scientific findings because of the evidence for mechanisms leading to loss of land ice sheets.

    I don’t know what your point is with the creationists. Are you supporting Daniel who claims the media never covers their activity or Glenn who won’t see any criticism if creationists?

  • Ken September 26, 2012, 5:09 pm

    Jeremy, I should have explained that accusation of scientific fraud is extremely serious. It can lead to loss of job, banning access to funding and effectively banning from the profession. At a minimum. So it should never be done lightly or taken lightly.

    Misrepresenting of anonymous creationists from Kawarau in the Herald because of an unattributed, poorly written and argued leaflet and the strong reactions of the recipients cannot even be compared with accusation of scientific fraud.

  • Glenn September 26, 2012, 5:10 pm

    “Your reaction is a text book example in cognitive psychology” [etc]

    This gave me a genuine “out loud” chuckle. And it’s so appropriate that you used the word predictable. Back in the day, nearly every time you came along and ran out of arguments, you’d reach for armchair psychonalysis. Like the return of an old, cantankerous friend, there it is again in the first thread in which you re-appear and run out of arguments. 🙂

    Fair warning though: Further attempts to divert the thread into discussions of the persecution of climate scientists is going to be treated in the way that you agreed to when you said that you’d follow the blog policy (have another read if it’s getting hazy). If it’s that important to you, write a blog about it – just like I did when I wrote this blog post. Thanks.

    Again, thanks for stopping by.

  • Ciaron September 27, 2012, 7:03 am

    Pointing out that murder is a far more serious crime than shoplifting does not somehow make shoplifting less reprehensible.

  • Ken September 27, 2012, 8:14 am

    Charon, I guess though you would wonder at the ethics of an unrepentant murderer complaining about shoplifting.

  • Raul September 27, 2012, 8:52 am

    Glenn, have you ever thought of doing an episode on your podcast on creationism. I am interested in hearing more about your comments at the beginning of this article, and how you might differ with certain views of creation and evolution.

  • Matthew Flannagan September 27, 2012, 9:55 am

    Ken wrote: “Matthew – I hope your sense of humour is available when I tell you your appearance out of the blue with an irrelevant question reminds me of Pancho coming Don Quixote’s aid against an imaginary windmill.”

    Ken, perhaps you don’t see it as a relevant question, but actually it is, and I suspect most of Glenn’s readers recognize it is.

  • Ken September 27, 2012, 10:00 am

    Matthew – do I need to repeat my answer?

    “My answer to your question is that surely intentional and malicious misrepresentation of facts or people is certainly wrong.

    But I also recognise that humans are not rational. It is just intuitive for us to select material to fit preconceived models. Such misandersanding can be overcome though by honest discussion.”

  • Ciaron September 27, 2012, 1:21 pm

    Kun,

    Irrelevant. Both are still wrong.

  • Glenn September 27, 2012, 5:46 pm

    Quite so, Ciaron. I am not forbidden from identifying cases of wrongdoing unless and until I also chase up ever case where Ken believes other wrongdoings have been done, and also complain about them. Others are welcome to complain about what is important to them.

    This is a case where I thought it was important for me to do this for the specific reasons I have given, not least because I do not want people to falsely accuse me of giving creationist bashing a free pass just because I don’t share their views. That matters to me, and what matters to Ken really isn’t the concern of this blog.

  • Ken September 27, 2012, 6:55 pm

    Glenn & Ciaron – I think I have made my point and really don’t see anything to respond to in your attempted rationalisations. They really only illustrate my comments.

    However, thanks for the advice Glenn. I may well write a blog about the hypocrisy of this situation. People who should be ashamed of themselves for sticking the boot into our scientists are really trying to now avoid the issue. Although the ones still active have retreated into their Internet silos/ghettos and are beyond reason anyway. But why should the others get off scott free for their cowardly and brutish behaviour at the time?

    Might be fun to trawl through the old blog posts eh Matt and Glenn – worth a laugh even if it proves pointless to comment.

  • Matthew Flannagan September 28, 2012, 12:25 pm

    “But I also recognise that humans are not rational. It is just intuitive for us to select material to fit preconceived models. Such misandersanding can be overcome though by honest discussion.”

    Is this supposed to be irony?

  • Ken September 28, 2012, 12:34 pm

    No Matt, not at all. It’s an honest response.

    Why do you have problems with it?

  • Glenn September 28, 2012, 5:03 pm

    I just spotted this:

    “I don’t know what your point is with the creationists. Are you supporting Daniel who claims the media never covers their activity or Glenn who won’t see any criticism if [sic] creationists?”

    This is hilarious. After already saying to me: “you reject creationist ideas full stop. Not just the ideas of the specific outfit (the motley crew I referred to behind the leaflet). I have learned something today.”

    Ken is now saying that I won’t allow any criticism of creationists. One minute I reject their ideas, and the next I won’t allow them to be criticised! Any opportunity to make a snide comment without following the genuine discussion is being pursued, it seems.

    But I’m not interested in such tactics. The substantive matter in this blog post is pretty simple. Summary of facts: I’ve never been anti-science and I’ve never expressed anything like antipathy towards scientists per se. Individual people who are scientists, sure (but I am sure that Ken has criticised people who are scientists before as well). But all such chatter about what Glenn thinks of scientists (according to Ken) has been one big red herring. The bottom line is, I wrote this blog post to provide us all with a clear reminder that yes, in fact the media does misrepresent and demonise creationists.

  • Ken September 28, 2012, 5:46 pm

    Gee Glenn, you are a worryier – cant leave a dead bone alone.

    By the way, seeing you introduce the topic – what happened to your post from 2010 – “Climate scientists caught lying?”

    I was going to refer to it if I do the blog post you suggest as it is relevant. But it seems to have been removed (or otherwise removed from its link) – although you refer to it elsewhere.

  • Glenn September 28, 2012, 5:49 pm

    Ken, I believe it was you who kept trying to talk about climate science in this discussion. I certainly didn’t introduce it. And now here you are again trying to give it centre stage! I’m trying to talk about the misrepresentation of creationists.

    In future, queries about the location of unrelated blog posts can be sent privately. I can’t find the one you’re referring to. However I can find other posts that explain that because of comments in that discussion, I had to add a blog policy against libel. This is because a person in that thread engaged in libel, and it’s possible that this is why it was removed (since you brought it up – that person was you). I’ll honestly say that I don’t recall why I removed it, but this may have been the reason.

    I think, however, that instead of shooting back that I’m a “worrier,” you might actually see from the above that you’ve talked out of both sides of your mouth in this thread here, just to have a go at me for defending creationists. Changing your mind about what I think about creationists even. Ah well – I just wanted to get things back on topic (your new comment undoes some of that! Please don’t keep it up – this thread is about this particular blog entry.)

    [Further comments that are simply talking about climate change scientists or my earlier blog entries that relate to them will be removed, as they will be deemed intentionally off topic. Please refer to the blog policy, which all commenters here have read.]

  • Sandra September 29, 2012, 11:24 pm

    The reactions here are comical in the way that they seem desperate to avoid the point and get on to something else.

    Glenn says: I am not a creationist (in the sense I describe it here), but I’m still going to stand up for them: Look how badly they are misrepresented!
    A couple of creationists come along and say: What? You’re not a creationist? Christians should be creationists!
    Ken comes along and says: Ah, I see, this is because you have a “soft spot” for creationists.

    I can imagine Glenn facepalming!

  • Matthew Flannagan September 30, 2012, 5:41 pm

    “I have read in papers like the NYT Nagel’s review of Plantinga’s book, ” Given Nagel is an atheist, and Plantinga in the book in question critiques ID, rejects it and argues for the compatibility of theism and evolution, and explicitly rejects creationism, the suggestion that this is an example of “creationism” being given good press is odd.

    Perhaps if you reflect back on my comment about irony above you might see the point I was making now.

  • Ken September 30, 2012, 7:02 pm

    Matt, Plantinga actually uses the arguements of Michael Behe – one of the leading proponents of ID, to argue that random variation is impossible without some sort of guidance – and you know what guidance he wants. In the process he argues that evolution is incompatible with an atheist, or “naturalistic,” outlook. In my post “The paradoxes of theological compatibility” (http://openparachute.wordpress.com/2012/09/26/the-paradoxes-of-theological-gullibility/) I quote philosopher Marteen Boudry who shows how unscientific Plantinga is being by trying to introduce into science something with no more justification than “logical possibility:”

    But if the bar for rational belief is lowered to mere logical possibility, and the demand for positive evidence dropped, then no holds are barred. Evolution (or gravity, plate tectonics, lightning, for that matter) could as well be directed by space aliens, Zeus or the flying spaghetti monster.”

    Nagel may well be an atheist but philosophically he makes huge mistakes in his understanding of science by supporting this argument of Plantinga’s and by supporting ID by arguing that the success of ID as a science depends only on problems or imagined problems in one or other aspect of evolutionary science. This is just stupid. Simply by saying that random mutation cannot occur at a sufficiently fast rate (not empirically supported) and one can introduce elves, gods, aliens or the Flying Sphagetti Monster to provide the assumed guidance (the unwarranted “logical possibility”) this makes ID a science! Without any effort at all on the part of ID proponents to produce their own evidence or validation!

    Just being an atheist, or a theist, does not make one a good philosopher or make one immune from some of the utmost stupidity. Everybody’s argument must rest on its own strength, logic, evidence and validation – not authority or provenance.

    No I don’t see your point about irony. You referred specifically to my comment:
    “But I also recognise that humans are not rational. It is just intuitive for us to select material to fit preconceived models. Such misundersanding can be overcome though by honest discussion.”

    You still haven’t explained yourself. Nor have you attempted to deny my point logically.

  • Julie October 1, 2012, 2:00 am

    David whether it happened instantaneously or over billions of years, makes no difference. All the time in the universe can’t provide enough time for the magic needed for evolution to occur.

    Ignoring that it goes against the bible and makes no sense for a christian to believe it, at least theistic evolution makes more sense than non-theistic evolution. The universe just randomly arranging itself… life just randomly arranging itself… even many trillions of years would not be enough time for this to produce even a single cell organism by chance.

    Evolution without supernatural input is virtual impossible, and if you believe in a supernatural being who can make things happen, then you don’t need an impossible theory like evolution to explain how the universe and life got here.

    Any honest evolutionist will tell you that there are so many parts of evolution that cannot be logically explained.

  • Julie October 1, 2012, 2:28 am

    Glenn, I get the distinct feeling you took my comment as a personal attack. I am sorry you feel this way.

    Unfortunately nearly all christians reject some part of the bible (if not all, in a few cases), so it’s definitely nothing personal. I’m quite sure there are things I accidently reject in the bible without even realising. I am just as saddened by that as any of the other people who I see who are christians who reject parts of the bible. It’s definitely nothing personal – it’s something just about all christians are guilty of at some point in their walk with Jesus.

    However, I do find some of your comments insulting and hypocritical. You say you are against creationist bashing but you write comments like “stating that I think they do misunderstand the science, I chose not to go on about it”.

    What you are saying is that highly intelligent people, some with higher IQs than both you and I, who have gained doctorates in their respective fields (sometimes multiple doctorates), have less understanding about their scientific fields than you do?

    While it may not be bashing to the extent your original post mentions, it is still bashing creationists as a whole. You ARE saying they don’t understand science – not just some of them, but every single person who believes in creation, no matter how intelligent and educated, does not understand science properly.

    That’s quite a bold statement from someone who isn’t a scientist and claims to be against creationist bashing.

    As a scientist myself, I can tell you this – other than those who choose evolution from a religious viewpoint and don’t care about whether it’s at all factual, all honest scientists who believe in the THEORY of evolution, will tell you that it’s not proven, it’s unsure, and requires a lot of faith to cover the gaps in the theory that science just doesn’t provide the answers for. Scientists believing in evolution require just as much religious-like faith to believe it occurred as any belief in any god does.

    Anyone who can adamantly say that evolution is right and creationism is wrong is either misrepresenting the facts (as some atheist evolutionists have been caught out doing on many occasions) or doesn’t understand fully the scientific process – which is the trap many non-scientists fall into.

    There is no irrefutable evidence on either side of the argument, and both sides require faith in concepts that have no proof. Both creation and evolution are theory and to be sure one is wrong and one is right requires serious faith.

    To say one is right and one is wrong requires faith. To say one side doesn’t understand the science IS insulting and demeaning and “bashing”.

  • Glenn October 1, 2012, 6:44 am

    Julie, I do not believe it’s insulting or hypocritical to say that there are people – even highly intelligent and educated people in the sciences, who misunderstand the science. Not at all. That is not “bashing,” it is merely to say that you think one side is right and the other is wrong, which is what you yourself have done.

    I am sure that you don’t find it insulting or hypocritical to say that people much more educated than you in theology or biblical studies misunderstand the Bible in accepting evolution. Neither, then, is it insulting or “bashing” to say that educated people who accept creationism have gotten the science wrong. Mere disagreement is not bashing, and to take mere disagreement as an insult is to be far too sensitive.

    I have defended creationists against “bashing” (ridicule, unfair lampooning and the like), but that does not forbid me from saying that they misunderstand the science, for that is not bashing, but simply disagreement.

  • Julie October 1, 2012, 7:01 am

    I’m sorry but I disagree Glenn. Saying someone is wrong is very different on one particular subject is very different from saying they misunderstand the whole discipline. I disagree with you on one theological point (probably more than one), but I do not say you totally misunderstand theology as a whole. That would be insulting.

    To say that a scientist misunderstands science as a whole, because they disagree with you on the one scientific concept of evolution is insulting and “bashing”. To even say they misunderstand the science related to the origins of the universe and the origins of life based on the fact that they disagree is insulting enough.

    People can be wrong and still understand the area in discussion. I think you are very wrong in your theology in regards to the evolution vs creation debate. Do I think you don’t understand theology at all? No. I would not not insult you like that. Nor would I insult any theologian who I know to be wrong on the topic. Being wrong does not mean someone misunderstands the whole area – it just means they have usually got one small detail wrong.

  • Matthew Flannagan October 1, 2012, 3:02 pm

    Ken, actually Plantinga rejects the views of Behe in his book, and has a whole section p 225-236 critiquing Behe’s arguments and offering reasons why he thinks they are unsuccessful. Nor does he use them to show evolution and theism are compatible. He argues for that thesis in chapters 1 and 2 where he does not mention Behe at all.

    As for your comments about

    “I quote philosopher Marteen Boudry who shows how unscientific Plantinga is being by trying to introduce into science something with no more justification than “logical possibility:”

    “But if the bar for rational belief is lowered to mere logical possibility, and the demand for positive evidence dropped, then no holds are barred. Evolution (or gravity, plate tectonics, lightning, for that matter) could as well be directed by space aliens, Zeus or the flying spaghetti monster.”

    This shows how little you understand the argument in question, if the question is whether two beliefs A and B are logically compatible then all one needs to do to show they are is demonstrate a logical possibility of both A and B. Of course if you wanted to argue that the conjunction of A and B were both true you would need to offer something more and Plantinga would be the first to admit this, but as he points out he is not arguing A and B are both true he is arguing they are logically compatible.

    Like I said Ken your comments about not misrepresenting other people strike me and I suspect most people familiar with your MO as irony. Particularly when you claim an author who writes a book with 10 pages critiquing and rejecting an argument actually supports the argument and you continue to do so after its pointed out.

    S0me less charitable might call that lying. But then Plantinga is not a climate scientist and so all those apparent scruples about misrepresenting other people no longer counts.

  • Glenn October 1, 2012, 4:45 pm

    “Saying someone is wrong is very different on one particular subject is very different from saying they misunderstand the whole discipline.”

    Agreed. That’s different. Of course, neither of those is “bashing.” What’s more, I never said that creationists misunderstand all of science, and I didn’t even say that they understand all of biology, so the above difference isn’t really relevant. When I said that creationists misunderstand “the science” here, I would not have expected anyone to think that this means “all of science.” In fact, if you have a charitable re-read of the post of mine that you have quoted from, you will see that I am referring to those who produced this pamphlet, saying that they misunderstand the science, and I gave their claim about humans evolving from “chimps” as an example. You agree, I am sure, that this is a misunderstanding of evolutionary science, right? I am sure you do.

    But even if I had been talking about creationism more broadly: “The science” means the science that is relevant in this specific subject: The subject of creationism. So they may know a lot about cells, bones, nervous systems, and biology in general.

    “Do I think you don’t understand theology at all? No. I would not not insult you like that.”

    Nor would I insult creationists in the manner you are trying to suggest. Do I think that creationists have no understanding of science at all? No, and I have never said that. But I can tell that you do think I misunderstand “the theology” of creation. Similarly, I think creationism more broadly misunderstands the science that is relevant here. Every single part of it? No, but I didn’t say that – and certainly not every single part of science. Let’s interpret each other charitably. Is it possible that you are trying to read me as saying something over-reaching and mean-spirited because you think I’m wrong about creationism?

    So I will reiterate: I think creationists misunderstand the science on this issue, and I do not believe this counts as bashing. I have been defending creationists against bashing, and I don’t think my simply disagreeing with them in the manner outlined above counts as bashing. I’m sorry if you felt bashed or insulted.

  • Cornell October 1, 2012, 5:25 pm

    Ken says “Matt, Plantinga actually uses the arguements of Michael Behe – one of the leading proponents of ID, to argue that random variation is impossible without some sort of guidance – and you know what guidance he wants.”

    Not even close Ken,

    ” As far as I can make out, Draper is right: Behe’s argument, taken as Draper takes it , is by no means airtight. Behe has not demonstrated that there are irreducibly complex systems such that it is impossible or even monumentally improbable that they have evolved in a Darwinian fashion” (Pg 231 ‘Where the Conflict really lies’)

  • Ken October 1, 2012, 5:46 pm

    Yes, Cornell, I am aware of his qualifications around Behe. But his argument remains that mutations (variability) must be guided. (Or do you have a different explanation for why he says evolution is incompatible with evolutionary science? If so I am interested to hear it).

    Mind you, this is beside the point. I am not arguing here that Plantinga is a creationist – although I would argue that “theistic evolution” of this sort or calibre inevitably is no better than creationism and that Plantinga is both philosophically and scientifically wrong to argue simply on the basis of logically possibility.

    The original examples of Plantinga and Nagel’s were to show Daniel’s assertion that ID ideas never made the main stream media was wrong. Whatever Nagel’s and Plantinga’s beliefs ID was a central issue in their discussions which occurred in the NYT. And they were only single examples.

  • Cornell October 1, 2012, 6:05 pm

    “(Or do you have a different explanation for why he says evolution is incompatible with evolutionary science? If so I am interested to hear it).’

    Plantinga says Naturalism AND evolution are incompatible with science. This statement is in regards to his EAAN, not his views on Behe.

    “Mind you, this is beside the point. I am not arguing here that Plantinga is a creationist – although I would argue that “theistic evolution” of this sort or calibre inevitably is no better than creationism and that Plantinga is both philosophically and scientifically wrong to argue simply on the basis of logically possibility.”

    First off, let’s get something out of the way before we speak of whether or not Theistic evolution > Naturalist evolution.

    Philosophical naturalism has not been proven to be a scientific fact or proven by philosophical arguments, correct?

    Take Paul Draper’s definition of naturalism (which is what I mean by philosophical naturalism) “the hypothesis that the natural world is a closed system” in the sense that “nothing that is not a part of the natural world affects it.”

    It is the denial of the existence of supernatural causes. In rejecting the reality of supernatural events, forces, or entities, naturalism as defined here is the antithesis of supernaturalism.

  • Glenn October 1, 2012, 6:11 pm

    “Plantinga says Naturalism AND evolution are incompatible with science. This statement is in regards to his EAAN, not his views on Behe.”

    Just jumping in here before Ken misunderstands this – Plantinga doesn’t say that evolution is incompatible with science (he believes in evolution) and that naturalism is also incompatible with science. His claim is that the combination of evolution and naturalism is the problem (and he says that because he thinks naturalism is the problem).

    I explore this argument from Plantinga in the podcast, Episode 13. http://www.beretta-online.com/wordpress/2008/episode-013-plantinga-and-presuppositional-apologetics-part-2/

  • Cornell October 1, 2012, 6:13 pm

    ^Correct Glenn , I guess I could have been a bit clearer as all I put was ‘ Naturalism AND evolution’ so I can see how it’s possible Ken could be confused here, but I agree with Glenn here.

  • Glenn October 1, 2012, 6:18 pm

    I see that Ken is relying very heavily on Maarten Boudry’s very unfavourable review for his understanding of Plantinga – instead of reading Plantinga for himself. He has pinned his hope for a rebuttal to Plantinga on Boudry’s remark that “But if the bar for rational belief is lowered to mere logical possibility,” etc.

    The problem is, Plantinga doesn’t say that a belief is rational just if it’s logically possible. If Ken had read Plantinga for himself and understood his argument, he would know that.

  • Ken October 1, 2012, 7:02 pm

    Glenn, a correction. I only came across Marteen’s review a few days back – hence my blog post “The paradoxes of theological gullibility.” (http://openparachute.wordpress.com/2012/09/26/the-paradoxes-of-theological-gullibility/). It impressed me because he brought out some of the very conclusions I had come to after reading Plantinga’s original article. And of course much more clearly than I could.

    I am now very keen to read more from this philosopher because he seems to have a far better understanding of the real philosophy of science than many of those who politically speak for science.

    I do have Pantinga’s book but originally read it in article form as part of the debate with Dennett.

    Yes, Plantinga does refer to his divine guidance argument as a logical possibility rather than a fact (as did Elliot Sober). The stupidity to me is that giving credence to one logical possibility over all those millions of other logical possibilities is just not science or even good philosophy and doesn’t warrant a claim for divine guidance of variability (mutations) above guidance by demons or the magical flying spaghetti monste, etcr. I am not at all impressed by the arguments used by Sober, Nagel and Plantinga on this issue.

    It surprises me that you and Matt rush to justify Plantinga’s reliance on logical possibility as if I am not aware of the subtleties. It is the very subtleties that are at issue. They just don’t provide the warrant Plantinga argues for in his claim that naturalism is incompatible with evolutionary science. They are just an attempt to impose bad philosophical arguments on science. That is why I say we should keep philosophers like Plantinga, Sober and Nagel well away from science. They just really don’t understand the way science works or why it is so successful.

  • Ken October 1, 2012, 7:09 pm

    Cornell, I realise you were confused there for a while but am more concerned taty you did not answer my question. I repeat:

    “do you have a different explanation for why he says naturalism is incompatible with evolutionary science? If so I am interested to hear it.”

    It’s a genuine question. If Plantinga is not relying on his logical possibility argument to justify his claim of incompatibility what is he relying on?

    I want to know.

    (Although I realise Glenn could stop this discussion at any pint because it is a diversion from his post. If he does so please pass that information on to me at my blog article on the issue).

  • Ken October 1, 2012, 7:21 pm

    Matt – my comments to Cornell also apply to you (sorry I didn’t see your comment at first).

    As for your criticism of Marteen’s argument – I can’t see your logic. Are you insisting that claiming the mere logical possibility that mutations (variability) are a result of guidance by demons is sufficient “evidence” to assert that demons must be an essential part of a theory of evolution by variation and selection? Sufficient for you to claim that the theory of evolution is incompatible with “naturalism” (That is a word I don’t like) because it “excludes” demons?

    I think part of the problem is your misunderstanding of what science is. Evolutionary science is not a “belief.” It’s a collection of facts and resulting theories which make a coherent whole. It does not require “belief” in the way that you are talking about. One accepts science – one does not “believe” in science. Just as well as scientific knowledge is provisional, changing and improve all the time. It’s not a dogma. “True believers” just could not accommodate to that.

    Now, I can’t up understand why you continue to talk of irony – or s that another diversion? Careful!

  • Glenn October 1, 2012, 8:54 pm

    “It surprises me that you and Matt rush to justify Plantinga’s reliance on logical possibility as if I am not aware of the subtleties.”

    Whatever you’re aware of, what you say is what will be responded to. And you endorsed a reviewer claiming that Plantinga says that in order for a belief to be rational it merely needs to be logically possible. This is false, since Plantinga never claims this. Hence, the reviewer misrepresents Plantinga, as does anyone who endorses what the reviewer said.

    In fact (it was a while back and a bit hazy now, but I’m fairly sure this is what happened), in the past you have said that you reject Plantinga’s epistemology because of his concept of warrant – where he linked rationality to warrant, and not just logical possibility (I recall that back then you were saying that the idea of warrant just misunderstands science – the usual old line – but your reasons given were different from the ones you’re suggesting now). Have you reassessed your view of what Plantinga says now? It looks to me like you don’t really know what Plantinga’s argument is.

    I have a question. If you have ever read Plantinga claiming that in order for a belief / theory to be rational it only has to be logically possible, please indicate where Plantinga makes this specific claim. Please be specific with your reference. Thanks.

    PS, if you like, I can show you where Plantinga specifically denies this, and says that a whole set of beliefs can be coherent and logically possible, but not justified at all. But I will first wait for your quote from Plantinga where he says that logical possibility is enough for rationality.

  • Julie October 1, 2012, 9:11 pm

    Ken… that’s where you go wrong… evolutionary “facts” and theories do not form a coherent whole. There are massive gaps with little (if any) attempt at explanation of these problems. Hence why it requires religious-like belief to believe such a theory full of holes.

    Sadly the theory of evolution is a dogma that no matter how many times parts of it are proven wrong, people just stubbornly cling to it and try to save something from the broken pieces. Fundamentalist evolutionists are dogmatic in their beliefs and actions equal to, or greater, than any religious fundamentalist. It’s really sad. As I’ve said already (in slightly different words), if it were any other theory, it would have been discarded a century ago due to it being such an absurd joke, but its worshippers stubbornly cling to their belief in it and won’t let it die the way bad theories should.

  • Glenn October 1, 2012, 9:47 pm

    Julie – it’s interesting actually – a Christian (in my view) can truly afford to be open minded about evolution. Maybe that’s what happened, maybe not. Either is a genuine possibility. Christians reach different conclusions on the matter based on whether or not they think they evidence from all sources points one way or the other.

    For the atheist/naturalist, however, there’s really no other option. On the question of how we got here, evolution is the only game in town. I don’t doubt that for many or even most, they are quite persuaded that all the evidence supports their view. But the point is, whether it did or not, they would still have to hold it. It’s the view that (according to Dawkins) enables atheists “to be intellectually fulfilled.” They really do need it to be true, whereas Christians don’t.

    (I haven’t said that it’s true or not in making this observation. It’s just an observation about prior commitments that I think is important.)

  • Ken October 1, 2012, 9:51 pm

    Sorry, Glenn, I can’t quote Plantinga for you tonight – I won’t have access to my library for a day or so. Family and other commitments – you know. In the meantime, I have Nagel’s article and will just quote him:

    “Plantinga thinks we can reasonably believe that we are the products of evolution provided that we also believe, contrary to naturalism, that the process was in some way guided by God.”

    Perhaps Nagel gets Plantinga wrong – but either way that is so patently just not true. It is not at all reasonable.

    I recommend that you give up any attempt to attribute ideas to me based on a biased memory. Just ask me what my thoughts are and I will tell you. I am far more reliable than you in the subject of my understanding. Understand?

    However -perhaps you can answer the question I put to Cornell. What specifically do you see as the justification Plantinga gives for claiming evolutionary science is incompatible with naturalism (horrible word) or science as I understand and practice (and as Marteen seems to be clear about)? This is the question here – if he isn’t using a “logical possibility” as a justification what is he using?

    Incidentally, on’t you feel this is a diversion from your post and therefore something you should stop?

  • Ken October 1, 2012, 9:53 pm

    Julie – your dispute us with Glenn, not me. I am not interested in your arguments as so far presented.

  • Glenn October 1, 2012, 9:55 pm

    “I recommend that you give up any attempt to attribute ideas to me based on a biased memory. Just ask me what my thoughts are and I will tell you. ”

    That only tells me what you think now, though. I’m talking about what you said back in the thread on “What is Knowledge.” There, you attacked Plantinga’s view of warrant. Now, you are talking about him as though he had a very different concept of rationality.

    No need to be testy about it. It’s not like it’s a crime to change one’s mind. In any event, do let me know when you’ve located a quote from Plantinga where he claims that a belief is rational simply if it’s logically possible for it to be true. Thanks.

    “Incidentally, on’t you feel this is a diversion from your post and therefore something you should stop?”

    Given that I don’t think you’ve ever seen Plantinga make the claim you attribute to him (by endorsing the reviewer you praise so highly), or even use an argument that relies on this assumption, I can understand why you might like this to stop before it gets to the point where you realise Plantinga didn’t say it. But now you’ve got my curiosity piqued. I want to see what will happen. I don’t think you understand Plantinga’s argument, so I want to see you explain it. 🙂

  • Ken October 1, 2012, 10:06 pm

    Glenn – you ignored my question so I will repeat it:

    “What specifically do you see as the justification Plantinga gives for claiming evolutionary science is incompatible with naturalism (horrible word) or science as I understand and practice (and as Marteen seems to be clear about)? This is the question here – if he isn’t using a “logical possibility” as a justification what is he using?”

    Yes, I am enjoying the discussion too . Perhaps seeing you have warmed up sufficient,y that you can now respond to my comments about your sticking the boot into our scientists a few years back. In an attack that was completely unwarranted as almost everyone now accepts. And why not an apology for that misrepresentation?

    Actually far closer to the subject of your post than the intricacies of Plantinga’s argument.

    Seeing you want to see how a free discussion goes.

  • Glenn October 1, 2012, 10:07 pm

    “Glenn – you ignored my question so I will repeat it:”

    Fair’s fair, Ken. Your question can wait until you’ve answered mine and provided that quote from Plantinga. I asked first. 🙂 Before I look at your questions about the strength of Plantinga’s argument, let’s see you show that you understand it, as requested earlier.

    Cheers.

  • Ken October 1, 2012, 10:18 pm

    Glenn – I have given you Nagel’s understanding – do you disagree with it.

    Actually, Glenn, having launched into the argument you have this has cut you off at the knees because you cannot now justify Plantinga’s conclusion as explained by Nagel,

    I’ll show you mine after you show me yours is extremely childish in this situation. I can only take that as an admission that whatever argument you can think of suffers from the same argument as the logical possibility already used.

    You and I agree that Plantinga acknowledges that is not a proof. Marteen and I point out that logical possibility applies equally to aliens, demons, spaghetti masters, fairies, and whatever. The first point is not at issue -the second point (clearly put in Dennett’s “superman” argument) is fundamental but you have ignored it.

    However, there must be some reason Plantinga asserts as strongly as he does the point made by Nagel. And I don’t think you now know how to justify it.

  • Glenn October 1, 2012, 10:24 pm

    “I’ll show you mine after you show me yours is extremely childish in this situation.”

    That’s your opinion. I disagree. You made a claim about Plantinga’s view that I think is absurd and false, and I don’t really think you’re discussing his position in good faith. I think you’re misrepresenting him and attacking a straw man, and I don’t actually think you care. That is why I’m not really interested in discussing it further until you come up with the goods. I’m sorry if that bugs you, but I can’t even be bothered discussing it with someone who I don’t think is engaging in good faith. You are free to interpret that in any way you like.

    I’ll wait for the quote if you don’t mind (or even if you do).

  • Ken October 1, 2012, 10:30 pm

    Doesn’t bug me, Glenn. But doesn’t surprise me either because you have dug yourself into a hole which makes the dubious nature of Plantinga’s argument obvious. Rather confirms what I expected.

    Well, Cornell – I originally asked the question of you. Can you I any better than Glenn?

  • Glenn October 1, 2012, 10:40 pm

    I’m left wondering exactly how one digs oneself into a hole by merely asking for evidence that somebody said something. Oh well…. maybe I just don’t understand how science works. That must be it.

  • ropata October 1, 2012, 11:44 pm

    It’s a short step from castigating creationists, to summarily vilifying religion, to censoring free speech.
    This is why, even Voltaire would probably agree with Glenn’s original post.

    Atheism should not necessarily equate to misinformed and irrational anti theism, any more than Christianity equates to young earth creationism. (furthermore atheism != science …)

  • Julie October 2, 2012, 12:58 am

    Ken, my dispute is with misinformation, not a person. If a person is wrong, I will say something – there is nothing personal about it.

    And Glenn… you hit the nail on the head with your comment with “For the atheist/naturalist, however, there’s really no other option. On the question of how we got here, evolution is the only game in town.” Actually, on a side note, there are a few rather bizarre theories out there… such as human beings become so far advanced in the futhre that they’ve gone back in time and created themselves, ie that we are own creators… interesting but totally bizarre. But no more ridiculously bizarre than the theory of evolution.

    Your statement is exactly why evolution hasn’t been tossed out a century ago. Atheists have no sensible way to explain how the universe and life came about – so they stubbornly cling to what they see as the least illogical theory, fearing that if they let go of it, that they have to let go of the idea that the universe wasn’t created by a higher power. It’s a lousy reason to stick to a theory, but sadly there are a lot of fundamental atheists who do this. They know evolution makes no sense but it’s all they have.

    I just cannot see why anyone who doesn’t have this bias against a higher power existing would believe such a bizarre, unproven, illogical theory like evolution. I’m sure people have their reasons, but I cannot see why anyone other than a fundamentalist atheist who is adamant that a higher power cannot exist in any shape or form, would believe in the theory of evolution.

  • Glenn October 2, 2012, 7:04 am

    “but I cannot see why anyone other than a fundamentalist atheist who is adamant that a higher power cannot exist in any shape or form, would believe in the theory of evolution.”

    Well, the reality is that a very large number of very well informed – as well as sincere and deeply devoted – Christians do believe in evolution – people who certainly have no pre-existing reason do deny a higher power. So maybe some time you might want to revisit that assessment, regardless of whether or not you believe in evolution.

  • Ken October 2, 2012, 10:37 am

    Julie – if your dispute is with misinformation I am surprised because you just haven’t dealt with any fact or factual assertion. If you think I have written something factually incorrect you are welcome to discuss that with me -but be specific. What facts are you disputing? And if you want to dump on the current understanding of evolutionary science you will agin have to be specific – what are the established facts or conclusions you dispute and why? And have a bit of humility – scientists with greater minds and expertise than you or I are involved in this field so you might actually find they are right and you are wrong.

    It happens.

  • Cornell October 2, 2012, 1:12 pm

    Ken says ““do you have a different explanation for why he says naturalism is incompatible with evolutionary science? If so I am interested to hear it.”

    I don’t know what you mean by different explanation, as if his EAAN is correct, then perception and brain structures are definitely genetic and one has a defeater for trusting their cognitive faculties. Take the paranoid schizophrenic. His perception, reactions, and beliefs are impacted by his brain structure and chemistry. If evolution GIVEN NATURALISM were true, it is probable that we are all suffer from something akin to schizophrenia. This is why Theistic evolution > Naturalist evolution

    Let E = Evolution
    Let N = Naturalism (as I defined up above)

    On E&N, therefore, what we call ‘truth’ appears to be no more than just information which holds a heuristic benefit to survival. Alvin Plantinga has made a good case for this. If ‘truth’ is also the product of minds and not a mind then it seems difficult to refute the implication that there is not truth but truths. That it is inherently subjective and not objective [although majority agreements can cause the illusion of the latter].

    It does not look as though knowing what’s true is all that necessary for survival so it’s a huge epistemic leap to think we do. The advocate of E&N has a problem here. How do I know that I am not just evolved PURELY for the purposes of survival and nothing else? This means that what I take to be true is just what my genes want me to take as true because it is best for the heuristic purposes it is being put to task to perform. On philosophical naturalism a naturalist has a very good reason to think she may well be permanently deceived about a great many things!

    So I’m sure you’ve read his argument, so which premise of his argument do you disagree with?

  • Zia October 2, 2012, 1:42 pm

    “Logical possibility applies equally to aliens, demons, spaghetti masters, fairies, and whatever.”

    So, these entities have near-perfect knowledge of biology, evolution and genomics, and they have a sufficient reason to act on that knowledge? If yes, how do you know?

  • Ken October 2, 2012, 3:24 pm

    Zia, I don’t know, never claimed I did. So I have perfect deniability. But you must admit its a logical possibility, mustn’t you?

  • Ken October 2, 2012, 3:34 pm

    Cornell, your “explanation” looks like logical possibilities “all the way down.” I am familiar with Plantinga’s arguments here but find them childish and your explanation hasn’t helped.

    I agree that many of us are deceived about many things, perhaps some permanently. But that’s not surprising.
    Perhaps you need to detail this step better “theistic evolution> naturalistic evolution”. Reminds me of the “miracle” in the famous Harris cartoon.

    You could start by defining your terms – theistic evolution covers a multitude of sins and “naturalistic” is meaningless to me without your definition. I keep thinking of nudists.

  • T. B. Smith October 2, 2012, 5:01 pm

    It is tremendously difficult to feel sympathy for someone suffering from mangled aggressive illogical statements when they themselves are a shameless purveyor of mangled aggressive illogical statements.
    Few people are careful with deduction and the young earth creationists have amply demonstrated they are just another flavor of liar.

    If they can’t understand the shame they bring to their own beliefs with such awful tactics there’s really nothing you can do with them.

  • Glenn October 2, 2012, 5:11 pm

    T.B. Smith, if I read you correctly, you’re basically saying that since they are so bad at deduction, young earth creationists are therefore liars (wow…), and so we either can’t or shouldn’t sympathise when people in turn lie about them.

    Have I go that right?

  • T. B. Smith October 3, 2012, 1:57 am

    Glen. I said it’s difficult to sympathize with them. You reached for “shouldn’t”…which implies a moral imperative and is a bit untidy.

    I’ve ceased to believe they’re that bad at deduction. It’s not possible to be that bad at deduction. To get to the places they’ve chosen to go requires a lie.

    No intermediate species? Really?

    Radioactive dating is a massive global conspiracy. Really?

    I stood in front of a young earth creationist group last year and outlined the 25 intermediate species of whale that have been discovered since creationists in the 1980s scoffed at the lack of connections between land animals and whales.

    The response was “that’s not enough, where are the others.” Apparently, they are not going to be satisfied until every animal that ever lived is paraded before them.

    Liars? Yes.

    They’re de-legitimizing incredibly important things and degrading ethical and religious discourse on a global scale. They’ve crawled into the pit and you can’t help them until they decide to crawl out of it. Unless you have some special ability to call them to repent you’re better off getting away from them to keep the stink off you.

    I’ve done my bit. And I need a bath.

  • Glenn October 3, 2012, 6:44 am

    TB Smith, if we’re going to be picky, you said tremendously difficult.

    In any event, I said “we either can’t or shouldn’t sympathise.” OK, so it’s can’t.

    Your case that they are liars is very weak. They are so convinced of their position that they’ve raised the bar unfairly high when it comes to listening to evidence for other views – your whale example is an example of this. But this doesn’t at all justify your comment of “Liars? Yes.” No, that’s not what follows at all. And it certainly doesn’t mean that I should “get away” from them when people viciously lie about them and just let it happen as you suggest.

    You are seriously underestimating the power of presuppositions over the way people receive and understand evidence.

  • T. B. Smith October 3, 2012, 8:09 am

    Alright Glen. If you want to hang with that crowd, that’s your choice. I can respect that, but when it comes to science many others won’t.

    Your own title inclusively attacks “media” universally for viciously attacking creationists. All media? No. Yet you’ve attacked all media for the actions of a few. What will you have to say if you’re lumped in with the young earth creationists? They will have done the same thing you did. People are sloppy. And mean. That is the nature of things.

    There are also much more than presuppositions at play here. I think what you underestimate is the abdication of personal responsibility (i.e. lying) in the consideration of evidence. There are groups like the Discovery Institute deliberately peddling bad studies, contrived stories and outright falsehoods. They shop around these chestnuts to various faith groups who then swallow it whole because those guys are on “their” side. The argon dating from Mount St. Helen’s leaps to mind as an example. The studies the DI uses to “invalidate” the argon dating method don’t even use the techniques required to apply the method…and then they immediately turn around and discount the method. That’s nothing less than an unambiguous intentional lie, presuppositions or no.

    You may have another word for the people who absorb the DI line about argon dating. Failure to look at the data carefully and accept someone else’s word without looking at both sides of an issue is certainly a vice. They understand the logic. Whatever group loyalty or “presuppositions” cause them to do violence to that, at the end of the day, they’re still saying things are untrue. You may have another word for it, but “lie” is close enough for me.

    And that word “should” is not a quibbly one either. That’s where science and objectivity cross over into values and ethics and religion. It’s a bright line that one “should” cross with care and self awareness. No. I don’t think we “should” dehumanize young earth creationists, but it’s clear they’ve more or less done it themselves already…and through the political power they’ve accumulated they’re now doing it to me and my children.

    It is now almost impossible to have a coherent discussion about things like climate change, genetic medicine, astronomy, natural resource management and a host of other incredibly important things because of this young earth baggage. Add to that the militant types that have accumulated around their edges, and you have a real reason to sit up and take notice. These are not tempests in a teapot. They matter.

  • Ken October 3, 2012, 8:18 am

    Glenn, I think you just demonstrate well “the power of presuppositions over the way people receive and understand evidence” – through your own actions. Sometimes we can more popularly represent such cognitive processes as lying.

    On the one hand you think just maybe these poor creationists may be committing the very understandable small mistake of raising “the bar unfairly high when it comes to listening to evidence for other views.” But on the other hand you see critics of creationist tactics as “viciously lie(ing) about them.”

    My accusation of you having a “soft spot” for creationists was obviously far too polite and mild.

    This reminds me strongly of your headlined accusation that our honest climate scientists were lying while at the same time accusing me of libel when I pointed out how dishonest Treadgold and Denekind had been in claiming there was no evidence of a site effects when weather station sites were changed.

    Creationists, like all science deniers, have an extremely low bar when advancing their own pet anti-science delusions. What they have a high bar against is honest evidence.

    No that’s not a soft spot. But it is interesting psychologically.

  • Zia October 3, 2012, 10:05 am

    “Zia, I don’t know, never claimed I did. So I have perfect deniability. But you must admit its a logical possibility, mustn’t you?”

    No, it’s not logically possible for those beings to do what they cannot do. Unless you assert that they infact have the knowledge, power and reason to do so. But if you do, the reductio loses its force.

  • Ken October 3, 2012, 10:14 am

    OK, just to satisfy you Zia, I’ll assert they do have.

    Now don’t push me for a structured explanation how, and remember I am only suggesting it as a logical possibility. I retain deniability exactly as Plantinga does. Our arguments are basically the same. That is the whole point of the “superman” example Dennett used in the debate.

    Argue against me and you argue against Plantinga.

  • Zia October 3, 2012, 11:36 am

    “OK, just to satisfy you Zia, I’ll assert they do have.”

    So is it safe to say that “Logical possibility applies equally to aliens, demons, spaghetti masters, fairies, and whatever.”

    Should instead be stated as “Logical possibility applies equally to any being that has sufficient knowledge, power and reason.” ?

    The point of the first reductio is to show that, if we accept Plantinga’s statement, all sorts of absurd and false statements follow. But, the first reductio is incoherent, unless you change it, like in the revised statement. But then, it’s not a reductio anymore, it’s just a bad objection that fails to refute anything.

    It’s like saying “Oh, you say God can do X? I can imagine another being that can do X!” The statement does absolutely nothing to refute “God can do X.”

    And for the record, I don’t mind arguing against Plantinga. Even if we did encounter a biological structure that MUST have been designed by a sentient being, that does not necessarily prove that it was in fact God that was the designer.

  • Cornell October 3, 2012, 11:55 am

    “Cornell, your “explanation” looks like logical possibilities “all the way down.” I am familiar with Plantinga’s arguments here but find them childish and your explanation hasn’t helped.”

    Ok, so what exactly is childish about it? Which premise do you have a problem with?

    “I agree that many of us are deceived about many things, perhaps some permanently. But that’s not surprising.”

    So you admit to being deceived by your senses, so what is your discerning tool in which you use that separates the deception from non-deception regarding sense perception? How do you know this ‘tool’ is reliable?

    “Perhaps you need to detail this step better “theistic evolution> naturalistic evolution”. Reminds me of the “miracle” in the famous Harris cartoon.

    You could start by defining your terms – theistic evolution covers a multitude of sins and “naturalistic” is meaningless to me without your definition. I keep thinking of nudists.”

    Well, how about I just ask what definition YOU were using when you stated this before:

    “Mind you, this is beside the point. I am not arguing here that Plantinga is a creationist – although I would argue that “theistic evolution” of this sort or calibre inevitably is no better than creationism and that Plantinga is both philosophically and scientifically wrong to argue simply on the basis of logically possibility. ”

    How were you using ‘theistic evolution’ here?

  • Ken October 3, 2012, 12:05 pm

    OK, Zia – but you have already defined your god as something with “sufficient knowledge, power and reason” without saying so. All I have done is the same with superman, aliens, goblins, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

    No one is claiming that your god can do X. I am just saying my god, alien, superman, flying Spaghetti Monster, goblin, Joe Blogs down the road, etc., has the same powers as your god with respect to casuing variability (mutations). But notice I have had to say that – you didn’t. I wonder why? Why expect a structured explanation from me but not from Plantinga?

    You say: “Even if we did encounter a biological structure that MUST have been designed by a sentient being, that does not necessarily prove that it was in fact God that was the designer.”

    Of course – it could be Joe Blogs down the road, Superman or the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

    But that is ther problem withy relying on logical possibilities (even while including an out-clause for deniability) To be honest you have to consider an infinitely large number of possibilities.

    Much better to actually stick with evidence and test it against reality. Why bother with all this dishonesty of the evidence does not requiured a guided cause of variability as an explnation?

  • Ken October 3, 2012, 1:09 pm

    Cornell, re the childishness of some of Plantinga’s arguments I will just refer to his claim “Natural selection is interested, not in truth, but in appropriate behaviour.” (I am quoting Nagel’s quote of Plantinga here.) This is part of the particularly childish presentation of evolutionary understanding which thinks because selection favours the variation most suited for the environment it cannot explain things like intelligence or knowledge. After all it is not necessary that the disturbance in that bush is due to a lion – just that we assume it is – often falsely.

    Selection has helped evolution of animal species with degrees of consciousness, self awareness and an ability to reflect. Human’s are one example. The fact that we can then use those skills to make a far more thorough and validated investigation of reality even though this is not relevant directly to survival (but maybe often is indirectly as in understanding climate change for example) in no way argues against the selection process. (Nor is it a sensible argument for guided mutation). Any more than the fact that selection to enjoy sex is selected because of its value in reproduction means that we can’t enjoy sex for recreational rather than reproductive purposes.

    The errors in that sort of rationalisation seem so obvious that I call them childish. They are basic and yet Plantinga relies on them.

    You seem unwilling to clarify your use of “naturalism.” Yet it was an important question because these sort of attacks on evolutionary science rely on an incorrect idea that science only consider the “natural” or is restricted by a “naturalist” world view. This may well be argued by some philosophers (not uniformly – so please no cherry picking), theist and non-theist, but what do they know about how science operates. The fact is scientists do not make those sorts of assumptions – they go into their work to follow the evidence – and they can do that whatever their personal religious beliefs. Science really boils down to doing whatever one can to avoid being fooled by reality. In my scientific career I never once asked question about “natural” or “supernatural” before an investigation – I just got stuck in. If evidence had come up that the phenomena I was investigating was guided by gods, elves, goblins, or Flying Spaghetti Monsters I would have checked it out and if valid included such conclusion in my hypotheses.

    So reliance by Plantinga and his cohort on labelling science “naturalist” is both a red herring and a diversion – right from the start.

    I could go on about Plantinga’s other errors, but this is only a comment. I would rather put a more detailed consideration into a blog post.

  • Zia October 3, 2012, 1:32 pm

    Hi Ken, this will likely be my last post because I have a lab report due. I’ll leave you to debate the EAAN with Cornell.

    “OK, Zia – but you have already defined your god as something with “sufficient knowledge, power and reason” without saying so. All I have done is the same with superman, aliens, goblins, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster.”

    I don’t recall providing my definition of God. But if I did, it would be something like “a being that is omnipotent, omnicient, metaphysically necessary and otherwise maximally great” (Yes I know this sounds like an assertion, but the properties of God is a seperate argument). The reason I reject superman, aliens, goblins, and the Flying Spaghetti Monster is because they are finite beings. If you say the FSM is also “a being that is omnipotent, omnicient, and otherwise maximally great” then all you are doing is taking the essence/definition of God and simply giving it a different name. It is logically impossible for there to be more than one distinct maximally great being, you might as well say that married bachelors exist.

    The point of theistic evolution is to show that belief in God and evolution are not in conflict. This is also essentially what Plantinga argues. Simply shuffling the statement around to “belief in the FSM and evolution are not in conflict” does absolutely nothing whatsoever to the original claim.

  • Ken October 3, 2012, 1:51 pm

    Zia,

    Mr Key is a finite being – do you “reject” him?

    Actually what Plantinga is arguing is not that theistic belief and acceptance of evolution are in conflict – rather that non-theistic belief and acceptance of evolution are.

    He says the conflict is between evolution (or science) and atheism.

    Personally, having worked alongside atheists, Chrsitians, Budhists, Muslims, Hindus, agnostices, etc (even a member of the Act Party) I don’t see any conflict between religious belief and science. We were all capable of doing science in the same way. But there is a huge epistemic difference between relgion and science – and when pople try to inject relgion into science in the way Plantinga does, that creates a real conflict.

  • Ken October 3, 2012, 1:52 pm

    WTF is “the EAA”?

  • Cornell October 3, 2012, 2:31 pm

    Zia says “I’ll leave you to debate the EAAN”

    Ken says “WTF is “the EAA”?

    Ken I’m not sure whether or not you are trolling me, but this I must say this = /facepalm

    Also thanks for ignoring my question about ‘theistic evolution’ and what exactly your tool of discernment would be for the reliability of your sense perception.

    Anyways:

    The topic of discussion is EPISTEMOLOGY, so when I say naturalistic evolution, I mean Evolution without the guidance of God, hence for the sake of this argument of Plantinga’s God would not exist (Also I gave you the definition of ‘naturalism’ up above. I quoted Paul Draper, so from now NATURALISM = NO GOD)

    Plantinga admits his cognitive faculties are reliable, but he is arguing what they be like IF naturalism and evolution were true at the same time. Plantinga is definitely worthy enough to speak on topics of related the branch of philosophy called epistemology.

    http://certaindoubts.com/?p=761

    Along with his numerous peer-reviewed articles and published books.

    http://philpapers.org/s/alvin%20plantinga

    Also what you say here is totally wrong:

    You say “He says the conflict is between evolution (or science) and atheism.”

    No, He says evolution (or science) and NATURALISM.

    Naturalism =/= atheism

    cf: Buddhism

    Also we have atheist philosopher Stephen Law who stated he doesn’t commit to naturalism

    “I am not committed to naturalism either”

    ‘None of this is to assume naturalism is true, notice. It may not be. Personally, I’m undecided.’

    cf: http://christthetao.blogspot.com/2012/09/marshall-vs-law-is-resurrection.html

    Stephen Law’s 1st comment

    ————————————–

    Now for the 3rd time, I’m not interested in your approach to science, I’d like to know WHICH PREMISE DO YOU DENY in Plantinga’s argument, please write out the premise as it is in it’s formal syllogism.

    ty

  • Cornell October 3, 2012, 3:02 pm

    @Ken

    Zia said: “The point of theistic evolution is to show that belief in God and evolution are not in conflict.”

    And you (Ken) responded with:

    Ken “Actually what Plantinga is arguing is not that theistic belief and acceptance of evolution are in conflict”

    Actually Zia was correct, as Plantinga was making arguments to DEFEND Theistic belief and evolution as being compatible, because we have atheists like Richard Dawkins who have stated in the past that it WAS in conflict. Now if you read the book you might actually understand his position, instead of taking guesses through other peoples reviews.

    Dawkins states in the ‘Blind Watchmaker:

    “All appearances to the contrary, the only watchmaker in nature is the blind forces of physics, albeit deployed in a very special way…. Natural selection, the blind, unconscious automatic process which Darwin discovered, and which we now know is the explanation for the existence and apparently purposeful form of all life, has no purpose in mind…. It has no vision, no foresight, no sight at all. If it can be said to play the role of watchmaker in nature, it is the blind watchmaker”

    Plantinga states in ‘Where the conflict really lies:

    “The conclusion can be drawn, I think, is that Dawkins gives us no reason whatever to think that current biological science is in conflict with Christian belief. His reasoning was not impressive” (pg. 30-31).

    In conclusion, Ken is incorrect and I think he would be better off reading the book for himself, and Zia was correct, as I’m pretty sure he actually READ THE BOOK or at least did his homework pertaining to what the book was about.

    ty

  • Ken October 3, 2012, 3:04 pm

    Cornell – simply a matter of clarity – I think TLAs and FLA’s are disrespectful. Abreviations should only be used after prior definition or when common to a common discipline. Yours aren’t.

    And I still don’t know what you mean by “EAAN”

    I told you theistic evolution covers a multitude of sins – starting with those who accept evolutionary science but because of social pressure for their peers (church) feel obliged to add the T word. Plantinga is much further to the other extreme, of course.

    But, just a minute – I was the one seeking clarification from you – you refused to give it and now you pick on me for not including a detail after my already too long comment! Jees.

    “NATURALISM = NO GOD” but also “Naturalism =/= atheism” – bloody hell.

    Perhaps its just better to leave such confusing words aside and talk about evidence, testability and validation. That’s all scientists do. We never use terms like “naturalism”, or talk about such assumptions, before or while we investigate.

    So Stephen Laws doesn’t “commit” to “naturalism.” Neither do I – because its a confusing term and I think the philosophers who do use the term (not all do) create confusion.

    I am not sure you are correct to claim that “Plantinga admits his cognitive faculties are reliable” – I will have to check. If he thinks that he is decieved. Our cognitive faculties are not reliable in that they can only give us a model of reality – not reality itself. This is well understood scientifically. But it is childish to argue from that to a position which says that we cannot form a relatively accurate picture of reality, sufficient for us to get by, even change our environment and understand it. We just have to work at it.

    Now, I have already given you what I consider a fundamental mistake Plantinga makes in his understanding of evolutionary science. Did you not understand it? – or do you want to test my counting ability?

    So “when I say naturalistic evolution, I mean Evolution without the guidance of God” does this mean you are not talking about evolutionary science? Because in science we just don’t use terms like “gravity with/without god,” relativity with/without god,” etc. The inclusion of gods, demons, goblins. etc., in a theory of course rely on evidence, validation and testing. Our thoeries are derived from reality, not from religion or belief. To automatically include or exclude a phenomeon, object or postulate beforehand is hardly following the evidence. It is not scientific.

    You are acknowledging that Plantinga is talking about (or using underneath), epistemology, not science or evolutionary science. Hence the conflict that results. My point exactly. Plenty of believing scientists can do science, including evolutionary science, in the same way other scientists do wohtout any conflict. Because by the very process of science they use that are taking their ideas from reality, not from their beliefs – religious or otherwise.

  • Ken October 3, 2012, 4:02 pm

    Cornell, Plantinga gives the purpose of his book this way:

    “My overall thesis: there is a superficial conflict but deep concord between science and religion, and superficial concord but deep conflict between science and naturalism.” (The latter is of course his chief purpose.)

    And concludes:
    “I mean to argue that one can’t sensibly believe both naturalism and the scientific theory of evolution. If my argument is cogent, it follows that there is deep and serious conflict between naturalism and evolution, and hence deep conflict between naturalism and science. . . . .
    one can’t rationally accept both naturalism and current evolutionary theory; that combination of beliefs is self-defeating. But then there is a deep conflict between naturalism and one of the most important claims of current science.”

    And

    “there is indeed a science/religion conflict, all right, but it is not between science and theistic religion: it is between science and naturalism. That’s where the conflict really lies.”

    Perhaps you suffered from your unreliable cognitive faculties when you read the book (perfectly natural – that’s the way we evolved).

    Your quote from Dawkins does not say there is a conflict between science and religion as you claim (it doesn’t even mention religion – again your cognitive faculties have been unreliable). Dawkins has simply stated the basic understanding of modern evolutionary science (and after all he should know). It is a formulation that atheist, Christian, Muslim, etc., etc., evolutionary scientists agree on. It doesn’t conflict with their (reasonable) beliefs in any way. It is purely what the evidence shows and what has been validated by testing against reality.

    Now, Plantinga comes along and deigns to pronounce on a science for which he has not sufficient background. Specifically he wants to demand that evolutionary science must include guided evolution despite the evidence to the contrary. He claims scientists are “confusing evolution as such with unguided evolution” and says this “deserves not respect, but disdain.” (he is rather emotional about it, isn’t he?).

    Plantinga argues that “The scientific theory of evolution just as such is entirely compatible with the thought that God has guided and orchestrated the course of evolution, planned and directed it, in such a way as to achieve the ends he intends. Perhaps he causes the right mutations to arise at the right time; perhaps he preserves certain populations from extinction; perhaps he is active in many other ways.” Plantinga wants to throw away an important aspect of evolutionary understanding even declaring this blind nature of variation “is no part of the scientific theory as such.” (He is wrong there).

    He substitutes a role for his god, without any evidence, or even requirement. He in no way justifies this – except through logical possibility and usually makes his claims deniable anyway. (Notice all the “perhaps” above). Qualifications like “My quarrel is certainly not with the…

  • Ken October 3, 2012, 4:06 pm

    For some reason my last paragraph got chopped – here it is:

    He substitutes a role for his god, without any evidence, or even requirement. He in no way justifies this – except through logical possibility and usually makes his claims deniable anyway. (Notice all the “perhaps” above). Qualifications like “My quarrel is certainly not with the scientific theory of evolution. Nor is it an argument for the conclusion that unguided evolution could not produce creatures with reliable belief-producing faculties” are typical of him and allow his apologists like Glenn to deny practically any criticism his critics make.

    Simply put, one can believe in gods, Flying Spaghetti Monsters, etc., etc., yet not have a conflict with scientific knowledge based on reality. After all, it is a very jealous god which insists they be included in every aspect of knowledge despite no evidence. People have no problem understanding that in fields like plumbing, accountancy, mechanics, aviation, relativity, chemistry, etc., etc.,. Nor should they have a problem with the fact that to date it has not proved necessary to include your god or my flying spaghetti monster in evolutionary science. Nor is there any evidence for it.

    The conflict only comes when religious people demand inclusion of their god, despite the evidence of reality.

  • Cornell October 3, 2012, 4:49 pm

    Obviously Ken you have no idea what you are talking about and you are grasping for straws:

    You simply cannot LIST A PREMISE in fact you say:

    “And I still don’t know what you mean by “EAAN”

    So I don’t know what you are arguing against, you don’t even know what his argument is.

    Now let’s go through this garbage:

    First you say: “Perhaps its just better to leave such confusing words aside and talk about evidence, testability and validation. That’s all scientists do. We never use terms like “naturalism”, or talk about such assumptions, before or while we investigate.”

    Here is a scientist using the word “naturalism”

    “According to Steven Schafersman, president of Texas Citizens for Science, an advocacy group opposing creationism in public schools,[4] naturalism is a metaphysical philosophy opposed primarily by Biblical creationism”

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

    Website going over naturalism

    http://www.naturalism.org/

    American Physicist and philosopher of science THOMAS Kuhn

    “Much naturalistic epistemology looks to psychology and, in certain cases, the natural sciences to develop an understanding of knowledge. Especially in the philosophy of science, however, Thomas Kuhn’s work has inspired a naturalistic approach that applies the social sciences to epistemological questions. Kuhn-inspired naturalism is not incompatible with the naturalism that draws on psychology and the natural sciences. Such naturalistic epistemologists as Alvin Goldman and Philip Kitcher have fruitfully applied insights from both the natural and the social sciences in the attempt to understand knowledge as a simultaneously cognitive and social phenomenon.”

    http://www.iep.utm.edu/nat-epis/

    So that’s Ken’s first booboo

    “NATURALISM = NO GOD” but also “Naturalism =/= atheism” – bloody hell.”

    Yes Bloody hell, as I pointed out before one could be a Buddhist but not believe in a God, HOWEVER still hold to supernaturalism, though commiting to naturalism as I defined before from Paul Draper:

    “the hypothesis that the natural world is a closed system” in the sense that “nothing that is not a part of the natural world affects it.”

    Source: http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/nontheism/naturalism/

    So that’s Ken’s second booboo

    Back to this, let’s see modern scientists attempt philosophy, this is usually a good laugh. Now you say:

    “Perhaps its just better to leave such confusing words aside and talk about evidence, testability and validation. That’s all scientists do. We never use terms like “naturalism”, or talk about such assumptions, before or while we investigate.”

    Please verify the validation of the reliability of the senses? You’ve ignored this constantly, I’d like to hear how you deal with this? How do you test the reliability of sense perception via use of science?

  • Ken October 3, 2012, 5:41 pm

    Cornell,

    Yes, it’s easy enough to find philosophers of different stripes using the term “naturalism” – I already made that point and asked you not to cherry pick. Having read many of these people, seen where I think they are mistaken, and read others who disagree with them such cherry picking does not impress me. Intelligent reading of philosophy requires one to be aware of differences, and how other philosophers now see people like Kuhn and his ideas from the advantage of temporal distance.

    My point is that the term is confusing (for example you define it differently to others) and attempts to dictate to science how it should be done. It is far better to understand how science actually is done – many philosophers of different stripes don’t. I certainly don’t think Plantinga understands from the evidence of his pronouncement s on the subject. I, at least, am giving you my understanding achieved from over 40 years of doing science – in practice. Not just thinking about it and pronouncing on it.

    I don’t know how you can logically get from my point about how scientists actually work, without ever resorting to judgements of “naturalism” etc., to your question :

    “Please verify the validation of the reliability of the senses? You’ve ignored this constantly, I’d like to hear how you deal with this? How do you test the reliability of sense perception via use of science?”

    That is the sort of “trick” first year philosophy students and naive apologists like Craig resort to.

    Do you really imagine it’s not possible to check one’s perceptions? To actually look behind the bush when it rustles to check if it was a lion (as you assumed) or the wind. To run the video again to check the claim that a gorilla walked through the group although you didn’t see it first time around?

    Would you ever board a plane, sail in a boat, or do practically anything using tools produced by science and technology if you had no confidence that humankind was able to dig deeper than our faulty cognitive systems to check our perceptions and correct them (to the degree possible) using those same cognitive systems more rigidly and with suitable logical systems such as mathematics?

    The fact is science is continually validating ideas in practice. It is continually double checking perceptions in practice? You know that – and I know you know because you are using a computer relying on that science and validation. You demonstrate a huge confidence in that science because you continue to use it – without doubts, without even thinking. It’s part of your life.

    It’s just puerile to claim science is not capable of checking perceptions when your very actions show you assume it can.

  • Cornell October 3, 2012, 5:42 pm

    “You are acknowledging that Plantinga is talking about (or using underneath), epistemology, not science or evolutionary science. Hence the conflict that results. My point exactly. Plenty of believing scientists can do science, including evolutionary science, in the same way other scientists do wohtout any conflict. Because by the very process of science they use that are taking their ideas from reality, not from their beliefs – religious or otherwise.”

    Without being too unkind I think it’s fair to say that this is yet another indication of what Einstein thought. He said he thought scientists made lousy philosophers and it appears we have before us today a whole host of scientists just lining up [especially Non-Theist ones] to prove Einstein correct.

    I can tell that you are bit new to philosophy, so let me go through this:

    I’ll take an example that a friend of mine uses, let’s see if you actually understand how important it is for you to make an attempt to undermine the EAAN.

    Well I think you’re underestimating the problem here of unreliable cognitive faculties as the EAAN uses it. Let me give an example inspired by Plantinga himself. Suppose you ingest drug XX (at an overly spirited party perhaps) that causes global cognitive unreliability, but a small percentage of the population have a gene that blocks the effects of the drug. Later after you’ve taken the drug, you have a memory of getting a phone call from your doctor telling you that have the blocking gene. Should you rejoice? No, because that memory was probably produced by unreliable cognitive faculties.

    It’s the same sort of problem naturalism and evolution. You can’t rely on observation and alleged peer review (especially if your peers have unreliable cognitive faculties) because you’re still relying on cognitive faculties that are unreliable. Again I ask, if Rex takes drug XX, how does he know that peers exist or that their opinion is reliable? The answer: he doesn’t, just as Rex doesn’t know his doctor called him about his alleged immunity after he took the drug, because all such beliefs were produced by (probably) unreliable cognitive faculties.

    You haven’t listed a premise, because you don’t know the argument and you aren’t getting why the argument is crucial to the position of a naturalist. (AGAIN I DEFINED NATURALISM BY PAUL DRAPER’S DEFINITION) I will use his definition from here on out.

    “He substitutes a role for his god, without any evidence, or even requirement. He in no way justifies this – except through logical possibility and usually makes his claims deniable anyway. (Notice all the “perhaps” above). Qualifications like “My quarrel is certainly not with the scientific theory of evolution. Nor is it an argument for the conclusion that unguided evolution could not produce creatures with reliable belief-producing faculties” are typical of him and allow his apologists like Glenn to deny practically any criticism his critics make.

    Simply put, one can believe in gods, Flying Spaghetti Monsters, etc., etc., yet not have a conflict with…

  • Ken October 3, 2012, 5:44 pm

    Oh, yes, you still have not defined EAAN. I am beginning to suspect you copied and used the term to impress and actually haven’t a clue to its meaning. Why else avoid my question?

  • Glenn October 3, 2012, 5:49 pm

    Oh good lord… Ken, have you ever heard of Plantinga’s evolutionary argument against naturalism? You know, the one you think you understand well enough to call childish? The one that I am still waiting for you to show that you understand? You know, the one that is routinely referred to in the literature as the EAAN?

    Jut copied the term to impress you… just wow.

  • Cornell October 3, 2012, 5:55 pm

    “Yes, it’s easy enough to find philosophers of different stripes using the term “naturalism” – I already made that point and asked you not to cherry pick. Having read many of these people, seen where I think they are mistaken, and read others who disagree with them such cherry picking does not impress me. Intelligent reading of philosophy requires one to be aware of differences, and how other philosophers now see people like Kuhn and his ideas from the advantage of temporal distance.”

    I don’t know any philosopher in academia that is a naturalist and a Theist at the same time. It really makes no sense

    It’s not intelligence, it’s more of not being ignorant. You are ignorant when it comes to philosophy, I can tell. I’ve been asking you questions about Plantinga’s argument and asking you for which premise you disagree with and you finally answer with.

    “What is a EAAN?’

    And look at this, This made me laugh:

    “That is the sort of “trick” first year philosophy students and naive apologists like Craig resort to.

    Do you really imagine it’s not possible to check one’s perceptions? To actually look behind the bush when it rustles to check if it was a lion (as you assumed) or the wind. To run the video again to check the claim that a gorilla walked through the group although you didn’t see it first time around?

    Would you ever board a plane, sail in a boat, or do practically anything using tools produced by science and technology if you had no confidence that humankind was able to dig deeper than our faulty cognitive systems to check our perceptions and correct them (to the degree possible) using those same cognitive systems more rigidly and with suitable logical systems such as mathematics?

    The fact is science is continually validating ideas in practice. It is continually double checking perceptions in practice? You know that – and I know you know because you are using a computer relying on that science and validation. You demonstrate a huge confidence in that science because you continue to use it – without doubts, without even thinking. It’s part of your life.”

    The scientific method is NOT an epistemology though!! It can either assume rationalism or empiricism or some Kantian hybrid but it’s not a philosophy in itself. It’s a METHODOLOGICAL approach to discerning what is true about the physical world around us and, for that purpose, it works very well. But, try to take that method and apply it to metaphysics and you’re going to get rightly ridiculed

    The main argument, of course, is that hyperbolic skepticism about the external world cannot be resolved by pointing to the external world [as the epistemically naive do all the time]. What I’m asserting is that the mind has no assurance of the validity of corporeality

    What your doing here does no justice, I’m getting embarrassed for you now, your argument is circular. You are being asked to demonstrate the existence of the physical world and you are trying to use the physical world (cf: look at the planes and the boats) to demonstrate it. You’ve…

  • Cornell October 3, 2012, 6:01 pm

    “Oh, yes, you still have not defined EAAN.”

    /Godzilla Facepalm

    http://www.calvin.edu/academic/philosophy/virtual_library/articles/plantinga_alvin/an_evolutionary_argument_against_naturalism.pdf

    ^Here is an easy one to follow^

    He still doesn’t know what the EAAN is, I guess I shouldn’t feed the trolls anymore.

    It’s like:

    Ken: “Plantinga’s argument fails, although I don’t know what it’s called, and I don’t know the premises, but it fails because I said so.”

    Glenn I need to learn your patience, I don’t know how you do it, but God bless you!

    And I do apologize for getting a bit snarky, but I figured there was a good chance Ken is a troll that isn’t really interested in the truth. I guess this statement of his up above gives evidence that he is.

  • Cornell October 3, 2012, 6:19 pm

    This got cut out before:

    “your god or my flying spaghetti monster in evolutionary science”

    As a rule, an analogy needs to be analogous to have any potency.

    FSM = physical being living in our world
    FSM = a creature
    FSM = contingent being
    FSM = was born
    FSM = mentally limitted
    FSM = has some power

    God shares NONE of these characteristics. In fact, I think you’d be hard-pressed to find ANY AT ALL!!! So when there is nothing analogous so how can it be an analogy?

    FSM = physical and contigent, so it already fails the test at being necessary.

    “Do you really imagine it’s not possible to check one’s perceptions? To actually look behind the bush when it rustles to check”

    I’ll show you why this fails, ” I am conscious of the bush right now” That makes the assumption the bush exists, I think what you mean is that your are conscious of the sensory data being given to you (and which you classify as a bush). However sensory information cannot be shown to exist beyond consciousness, hence its all in your mind.

    “The fact is science is continually validating ideas in practice. It is continually double checking perceptions in practice? You know that – and I know you know because you are using a computer relying on that science and validation”

    Yeah and? It (Science) doesn’t tell us whether or not truth is important, PHILOSOPHY does.

    Also where is the scientific validation method that validated the premise ‘science must continually validate ideas?’ How does one use the validation principle to validate the validation principle? I notice you make alot of statements that aren’t validated by science, in fact they are just words on a computer, should I dismiss them as meaningless?

  • Glenn October 3, 2012, 6:25 pm

    Regarding the comments getting cut off: This blog has had a character limit on comments for some time now (3100 characters). Now that I’ve changed the blog’s theme, the countdown (see below) isn’t working properly. I’m looking into it.

  • Ken October 3, 2012, 6:44 pm

    Glenn, so that’s what EAAN stands for – wonder why Cornell couldn’t at least say that? Problem is that the FLA still does not express the argument and one must deal with details – not just pretend sophistication by using the FLA.

    Perhaps, rather than getting pretentious Cornell and you could deal with my critique of Plantinga’s arguments.

  • Ken October 3, 2012, 6:55 pm

    Cornell, I electronically searched through the linked document and EAAN isn’t there. You made it up didn’t you. All very pretentious.

    Why not just use Glenn’s words “Plantinga’s evolutionary arguments against naturalism.”? And isn’t that what I have been critiquing?

    Apart from that you seem to have gone off at an emotional tangent. I’m trawl through your comments and see if there is nothing worth commenting on.

  • Glenn October 3, 2012, 6:57 pm

    “You made it up”?

    Ken for crying out loud, Google it. http://www.google.co.nz/search?q=EAAN

    And as for people who just make things up, have you managed to find that quote from Plantinga yet? The one where he states that in order for a belief to be rational, it only needs to be logically possible. I’m sure neither you nor your new favourite philosopher made it up, so I’m sure you’ll get around to finding it.

  • Ken October 3, 2012, 7:19 pm

    No Glenn – it was more fun taunting Cornell’s pretentiousness. Really intrigued that he could not give a straight answer – telling I would say. I have never trusted people ho rely on TLAs and FLAs.

    As for quotes – I gave a few in a recent comment. I also note how Plantinga uses that old theological trick of qualification to enable a retreat when criticised – as you are well aware. I repeat for example:

    Plantinga argues that “The scientific theory of evolution just as such is entirely compatible with the thought that God has guided and orchestrated the course of evolution, planned and directed it, in such a way as to achieve the ends he intends. Perhaps he causes the right mutations to arise at the right time; perhaps he preserves certain populations from extinction; perhaps he is active in many other ways.” Plantinga wants to throw away an important aspect of evolutionary understanding even declaring this blind nature of variation “is no part of the scientific theory as such.” (He is wrong there).

    Here he is using what he thinks are logical possibilites, but at the same time inserts the word “perhaps”. In other places he is even more extreme in his deniability assertions.

    His whole argument is based on such “logical possibilities” even though made deniable.

    But he still ends with strong assertions.

    He gives the purpose of his book this way:

    “My overall thesis: there is a superficial conflict but deep concord between science and religion, and superficial concord but deep conflict between science and naturalism.” (The latter is of course his chief purpose.)

    And concludes:
    “I mean to argue that one can’t sensibly believe both naturalism and the scientific theory of evolution. If my argument is cogent, it follows that there is deep and serious conflict between naturalism and evolution, and hence deep conflict between naturalism and science. . . . .
    one can’t rationally accept both naturalism and current evolutionary theory; that combination of beliefs is self-defeating. But then there is a deep conflict between naturalism and one of the most important claims of current science.”

    And

    “there is indeed a science/religion conflict, all right, but it is not between science and theistic religion: it is between science and naturalism. That’s where the conflict really lies.”

    These are extremely strong assertions to base on a logical possibilities which even he concedes are only that. Hence the validity of Dennett’s superman argument which Plantinga could not refute but could only get upset about.

    Now, could you point me to the argument you claim is not reliant on deniable logical possibility? I haven’t seen it – but then again I may be more critical. But it is vital to his credibility, surely.

  • Glenn October 3, 2012, 7:23 pm

    “As for quotes – I gave a few in a recent comment.”

    I didn’t just ask for any old quotes though. You’ve endorsed a review that accuses Plantinga of lowering the bar of rationality to mere logical possibility. Thus far you have not shown where Plantinga does this. That is the quote I’m still waiting for.

    I know that this is not Plantinga’s approach, but since you’ve said that it is, I will wait for you to produce a quote where Plantinga affirms this. It shouldn’t be hard if he actually said it, so no need to be coy – out with it. I am waiting to see that you actually understand Plantinga’s argument.

  • Ken October 3, 2012, 7:56 pm

    No, Glenn, you misrepresent me (the old problem with our inaccurate cognitive facilities). I endorsed a review which said:

    “But if the bar for rational belief is lowered to mere logical possibility, and the demand for positive evidence dropped, then no holds are barred. Evolution (or gravity, plate tectonics, lightning, for that matter) could as well be directed by space aliens, Zeus or the flying spaghetti monster.”

    That resonated with what I thought when I read Plantinga’s book and listened to the debate.

    Marteen was pointing out the consequences of relying on logical possibility alone – which I think Plantinga does (until you provide a contrary example which do far you have refused). He maintains deniability but draws extreme and strong conclusions which he could have equally done with Superman – as Dennett pointed out.

    Marteen was not attributing to Plantinga an epistemic claim that logical possibility was all the evidence required. You put words into his mouth, unjustly.

    But until you explain where Plantinga relies on evidence for his assertion of guided mutation and selection I can only conclude that Plantinga is making that basic error while maintaining deniability. How else does he reach such strong conclusions specific to the god he believes in or something like it (not Superman)?

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