Wacko Creationist Indoctrination Footage

February 17th, 2007 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, religion | 105 Comments »

Superb. From a documentary called Friends of God“. All together now kids: “What is the bible?” “The history book of the universe!!!” Yaaaaaayyyyy!!! Has any person always been there? Noooo! Has any scientist always been there? Nooo! Who has always been there? Gooood! Who are you going to trust, the scientist, or god? GOOOOOODDDD!!! Yaaaayyy!!!!


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105 Responses



  1. Ambrielle said,

    February 17, 2007 at 6:40 pm

    scary as hell. it actually made me feel ill… and afraid….
    just another cult that should be shut down.

  2. jackpt said,

    February 17, 2007 at 6:48 pm

    It is wacko but I think given the target audience it’s also scary, because in those terms it’s a good propaganda piece. Putting together a sceptical rebuttal in terms that appeal to an audience like that would be very difficult, it would be interesting to know how people break out of an upbringing like that.

  3. spv said,

    February 17, 2007 at 6:57 pm

    It puts the fear of the God-fearing in me.

    More strength to the argument against allowing intelligent design (Creationism Lite) to gain a prominent place in the national curriculum. As part of RE (or whatever it’s called these days) yes, but in the context of an proposal to be debated, not as a “these people say God says it’s so, so God must have said it’s so, so it must be true” theory.

    As the late, great Linda Smith said, if God really wanted us to believe in him he’d exist.

  4. stever said,

    February 17, 2007 at 7:05 pm

    terrifying.

  5. spv said,

    February 17, 2007 at 7:07 pm

    There again maybe we’ll have the last laugh as we away from them.

  6. ed26h said,

    February 17, 2007 at 7:24 pm

    Errf. So depressing to see those kids trying to remember their lines.

  7. Dudley said,

    February 17, 2007 at 7:30 pm

    > Putting together a sceptical rebuttal in terms that
    > appeal to an audience like that would be very difficult

    Make that impossible.

    If you have deep, deep faith then “sceptical rebuttal” can only ever read as “attack”.

  8. ACH said,

    February 17, 2007 at 7:34 pm

    Deeply scary. Within a generation, the USA will be scientifically illiterate.

  9. jnex26 said,

    February 17, 2007 at 8:38 pm

    This is disturbing, first time i saw this I could not believe my ears, it’s like carbon dating does not even exist and the guy at the end wanting to win a Nobel prize had me banging my head against the wall.

    This is truly disturbing i agree with the above comment that within a generation America will be science Illiterate. I’m truly surprised by comments made in this documentory It’s like going back to the dark ages.

  10. Nebbish said,

    February 17, 2007 at 8:53 pm

    Just another Mech. Eng. lecture at Bristol University (paging Professor Burgess…).

  11. Dudley said,

    February 17, 2007 at 9:04 pm

    www.fstdt.com/top100.asp

    “Fundies Say the Funniest Things” top 100 comments. Enjoy!

  12. Xavier Kreiss said,

    February 17, 2007 at 9:25 pm

    I agree, Stever, terrifying. What is also terrifying is that the speaker is not just presenting the views of a lone eccentric, but those of a steadily growing body of people.

  13. imagineyoung said,

    February 18, 2007 at 12:08 am

    ‘Putting together a sceptical rebuttal in terms that appeal to an audience like that would be very difficult,’
    For the kids, it’s showing basic education techniques – be pretty easy to rebut if allowed similar access to kids.
    54,000,000 Americans accept creationism – or something like that was subtitled in movies.
    Put into context, isn’t that about 20% or less?
    Where would they come on the intelligence curve – (pretending that a belief in creationism is not an IQ selfdefinition!)?
    I wouldn’t be surprised if 20% or more of UK population rejects evolution in some or another.
    Ditto for other countries.

  14. zonknz said,

    February 18, 2007 at 6:40 am

    I really would love to see a copy of that film….

  15. JunkkMale said,

    February 18, 2007 at 7:22 am

    It’s funny, but I took it the total opposite way as a brilliantly subtle, mocking propaganda piece against the clunking efforts of such creationists to discredit evolution. From slick Woomera (he was an Aussie, right?) Willy at the start to our Nobel-aspiring Pierced Brosnan at the end, the whole lot of them seemed to me to pretty much do a pretty good job of showing where their brains are at from their own mouths. And it had been editted that way to do so (cut off on my view before any credist rolled). Didn’t the lady interviewer say she was pre-evolution when being put straight by the highly articulate goth yoof in the shades? And in that regard perhaps more effective than shutting anything down, which seesm to be what these guys were being held up for derision in advocating, placard after placard, song after song, confused kid after confused kid.

  16. relentlesspush said,

    February 18, 2007 at 8:52 am

    Just like Nazi Germany and the indoctrination of the Hitler Youth, only without the violence, maybe that comes later in a Creationist Holy War.

    It makes me very very angry to see childrens minds polluted in this fashion, especially when they are unable to rationalise the subject properly.

    Teaching this sort of hookum to kids should be illegal…

  17. JohnD said,

    February 18, 2007 at 10:04 am

    There is hope, brothers and sisters.

    “Evolution Sunday” – last weekend.
    Google for it, and the Clergy Letter Project and lift up your hearts.

    Also, if you think no one in the religious world has a sense of humour or the ridiculous, try the Ship of Fools website.

    John (the unbaptised)

  18. curranhung said,

    February 18, 2007 at 11:21 am

    I’ve heard similar stuff from Muslims who are quite normal in other respects. Some of my best friends are Muslim creationists! The trouble is that there is no arguing with them. You get to the word “God” and then there’s a brick wall. “It is so because it says so in the Q’uran” (make that the Bible in this case) and of course the Q’uran/Bible is the word of God.

    My brother (who is incidentally an ordained CofE priest) teaches the evolution of human behaviour to first year undergraduates and says he has the most problems with Muslim students. I dare say he would have similar problems in the American Bible Belt.

    I’m going to show him a copy of that video ….

  19. jackpt said,

    February 18, 2007 at 2:46 pm

    As some people have pointed out there is no IQ threshold on irrational beliefs and if only stupid people believed this stuff it wouldn’t be a problem. Speaking to people I know have broken free from essentially fundamentalist backgrounds of one kind or another leads me to the conclusion that cultural expose is as important as education. Making sure that kids mix with kids from other backgrounds means they’re at least aware that people do things differently.

    I imagine a lot of the kids in the above video are sent to ‘faith based’ schools or home schooled to make sure they’re uncorrupted by all of the secularists and others they’d be exposed to in the real world. In that regard I wonder whether the worst thing to do is shun the adult fundamentalists – whether that’s what they want. It’s a validation of their victim complex.

    I want to take one of these people to lunch. Preferably female, because if they punch me it will hurt less, but I think maybe exposing them to different ways of doing things could be a good thing. Plus, it’s an interesting experience, innit? Putting a human face to irrationality.

  20. Ambrielle said,

    February 18, 2007 at 4:13 pm

    thankyou thankyou dudley for introducing me to the FSTDT site… i have been laughing for an hour now!!!

  21. Zilram said,

    February 18, 2007 at 5:36 pm

    You know, I believe in God and the Bible. I believe that God created the all and the everything. I believe in heaven and hell and the devil and Evil. Yet, I can’t say that evolution does not happen in the past or in the mow. You can see it happening with domesticated animals and cockroaches. I just don’t worry about it. I would rather see kids not believing in evolution that not believing in God, Jesus, Mary, goodness, the Spirit; for not believing in those things gives free license to do whatever to whomever, no guilt involved. I don’t find the video so much disturbing and misguided and maybe even wrong religion, which is far different than wrong faith in God or Christianity.

  22. Zilram said,

    February 18, 2007 at 5:57 pm

    By the way, my husband has met Ken Ham. He says that he got few, if any, good vibrations from Ken Ham. Mr ham does use faulty logic.

  23. Nebbish said,

    February 18, 2007 at 5:57 pm

    “I would rather see kids not believing in evolution that not believing in God, Jesus, Mary, goodness, the Spirit; for not believing in those things gives free license to do whatever to whomever, no guilt involved.”

    What utter stupidity. Have you ever actually met an atheist? Did he beat you over the head and take your wallet because he could and didn’t think he’d got to hell for it?

    What’s the weather like up your own ass?

  24. Zilram said,

    February 18, 2007 at 6:09 pm

    Before I was Christian. I was married to an atheist, and Athiest took free license to have me support while Athiest started a business. Athiest keeping all that money, of course. Athiest also felt no guilt to breaking vows, either. Athiest was free to do this. It is a free country. Athiest did not think Athiest would go to hell as there is no hell. So, what’s the problem?

    An as for the weather, I seem to have upset a plow hard with a short fuse. All I can say is God grant you a better day.

  25. Nebbish said,

    February 18, 2007 at 6:14 pm

    So the existence of one immoral atheist implies that all atheists are immoral? The same logic would imply that all christians are paedophiles. You really are stupid. And arrogant. And patronising.

  26. Dean Pentcheff said,

    February 18, 2007 at 6:26 pm

    If you are interested in an antidote film, try to get to a screening of Randy Olson’s “Flock of Dodos”. They’re still dickering about widespread release, so your best bet right now is to visit the film’s website and see if there will be a screening near you sometime. Unfortunately, that’s U.S.-only, as far as I know.

    Randy is a marine biologist who took a left turn into film making partway through his career. “Flock” is an excellent look at the evolution/creation (really ID) issue here in America today. It focusses more on the communication issues we (as scientists) tend to have.

    The film makes the point that, basically, we’re doing a lousy job of talking to the public about evolution. Scientists have a bad tendency of arrogance and dismissiveness towards fundamentalists. On the other hand, the creationist/ID side (at least at the ground level) tend to be sincere, decent, caring people They have utterly flawed ideas of reality, but don’t come across as spleenful or malicious.

    The film manages to be amusing (with cartoons and some wonderful interview footage) as well as thought-provoking. It’s not at all a dry documentary, but much more of a personal tour through some of the issues, livened up with several scenes from a wine-infused poker party of evolutionary biologists.

    See it if you can! The website is: flockofdodos.com

    -Dean

  27. Zilram said,

    February 18, 2007 at 6:33 pm

    Sorry if you feel that way. I never said that “all atheists are immoral.” Nor, did i intend too. I just feel that it is easier to do immoral things if you have no fear of having to, in the end, pay for them.

    My apologies for the “blow hard” comment. It is hard not to respond for comments like, “What’s the weather like up your own ass? What utter stupidity.” Do you not think that those statements are not arrogant, like, “You really are stupid.”?

    No excuses for pedophiles or any other christians (in name) who do evil things. I just think that worrying about children not believing in evolution is a waste of good time. Maybe all those born-again children will stay away for the evils of pedophilism (is that a word?) by following their faith even if they are wrong about evolution.

    Also, I meant the statement that God grant you a better day. I do. I can wish that even if I think you are overreacting and offensive. It’s OK. We disagree. So what? Is either of us going to hell for thinking differently?

  28. Nebbish said,

    February 18, 2007 at 6:42 pm

    Quote1: “not believing in those things [God, Jesus, Mary, goodness, the Spirit] gives free license to do whatever to whomever, no guilt involved. ”

    Quote2: “I never said that “all atheists are immoral.””

    There are, as it happens, many intelligent compassionate christians. See if you can find one and ask him to explain to you why quote1 makes you a nasty person and quote2 makes you a dishonest one.

  29. beebhack said,

    February 18, 2007 at 7:03 pm

    If a daily fix of this kind of idiocy would amuse you, I recommend Richard Dawkins’s site www.richarddawkins.net.

  30. Zilram said,

    February 18, 2007 at 7:05 pm

    I disagree with your logic. I do not agree that statement one makes me nasty, because in my experience, it is true. Many non-anything (for lack of a better word) people have said as much to me directly. “Being an atheist is nice. I can do anything I want, because I have no one to answer to.”

    Having said that, I state that the statement you quote is not all inclusive. Not every atheist takes advantage of the loop hole just as not every Christian follows their own faith.

    Therefore, quote number two does not make me deliberately deceptive, although, everyone lies sometimes.

  31. censored said,

    February 18, 2007 at 7:42 pm

    “not believing in those things gives free license to do whatever to whomever, no guilt involved”

    Utter nonsense and probably not even worth discussion…

  32. dissonance said,

    February 18, 2007 at 7:56 pm

    “Maybe all those born-again children will stay away for the evils of pedophilism (is that a word?) by following their faith even if they are wrong about evolution.”

    I believe the catholic church has some expertise in this area.

    As for no one to answer to, so they are not under the rule of law then?

  33. dolfinack said,

    February 18, 2007 at 8:39 pm

    holy shit ;)

  34. Zilram said,

    February 18, 2007 at 9:00 pm

    There are things that are legal yet not moral.

    I don’t think the Catholic Church has a belief that Genesis is fact. Also, there are pedophiles in every religion; it is just better “press” to wham a priest, minister of major religion. Hell, there are faiths where pedophilia is part of there practices. Don’t here any TV news specials on those.

    But, all this is getting away from the point; which is that there are far worse things to cause children to believe than anti-evolution. I know of drug dealers who put their 2 and 3 year olds (& up) on their laps to deliver crack in the middle of the night, and have them watch for the “pigs” during the exchange. Why worry about children learning to believe that Genesis is right when thousands of children are learning that crack and other drug abuse is not only OK but normal!

    Get a life people. Put a focus on real problems.
    Pax

  35. Ken Zetie said,

    February 18, 2007 at 9:06 pm

    #21 “I would rather see kids not believing in evolution that not believing in God, Jesus, Mary, goodness, the Spirit; for not believing in those things gives free license to do whatever to whomever, no guilt involved.”

    So you’re saying christians are only good because they fear going to hell, and we should teach our children to be good on that basis. Explain to me the bit I missed about why this is different from “Don’t do that or I’ll beat the *&!# out of you!”.

    Atheists have morals. We just don’t base them on a meaningless bit of 2000 year old fiction which has systematically been abused to give a bunch of pseudo-intellectuals power over the masses. We base them on a consideration of the meaning of our evolutionary heritage, our duties and the cosnequences of our actions. It’s called kindness. Christians do the same when they act nicely and choose which bits of the bible to follow – ie not the bits telling them to stone adulterers.

    Believing in the bible over science is very very dangerous – it’s what leads to nonsense like the religious right in the USA telling us not to worry about climate change becuase the rapture will be upon us soon and god will sort it all out. It’s as dangerous as assuming that the scientists will invent some wonderous technology to sort it all out. It’s our problem…we made it, we fix it, we take responsibility. That’s atheist morals.

  36. Zilram said,

    February 18, 2007 at 10:30 pm

    #35.
    A nerve seems to have been struck with the atheists. Feeling indignant is a natural response, as it is with Christians when others say that Christian based schools are dangerous. Yes, Christians fear hell and they fear displeasing God, whom they believe is all good and giver of all things. Most Christian kids have heard, “Do this or I’ll beat the holy #^*)_+_+@# out of you.” They have heard “spare the rod and spoil the child.” Do you really thing that the morals that are generally accepted in the Western world are not based on that 2000 year old faith? Where would the world be …?

    The far right saying that the rapture is coming soon is not as dangerous as the people who say “do unto others before they can do unto you.” Humans are naturally self-centered. It is survival instinct. We are all taught a concept of what is right and what is wrong one way or the other. Then we teach others. You read all the time about someone dumping waste, or ignoring danger signs in a factory, or purposely putting out a bad product. It’s, “You first AFTER me.” That is the way of the world. However, a true Christian will just say, “You first.”

    With the utmost respect for the atheists, you are wrong, and I pray for you. I mean no insult by saying I will pray for you. I teach science. It is very important, and always has been. Religions have suppressed true science on faith basis. It was ignorance that caused them to do that, and maybe a need for power. We all have a need for that, also. Sciences and faith are not mutually exclusive. Historically, any extreme will be harmful to human advancement.

  37. curranhung said,

    February 18, 2007 at 11:48 pm

    I think Zilram is a troll and trolls should not be fed.

  38. Andrew Clegg said,

    February 18, 2007 at 11:48 pm

    Zilram, the point you seem to be making is that people are incapable of being well-behaved and nice to others without the fear of God to compel them to act in a constrained manner.

    So I take it you have a very low opinion of your own moral strength then? As you seem to discount the possibility that people can be nice human beings out of a genuine wish to do so and without any fear of divine retribution.

    Such kow-towing to a paternalistic authority figure just looks to the rest of us like craven time-serving, when there’s no reason why rational humans can’t live their lives in a decent way under the guidance of endogenous moral and ethical principles. Change, as the proverbial Zen master says, comes from within.

    Andrew.

  39. Nebbish said,

    February 19, 2007 at 12:14 am

    Zilram, I am, as you may have guessed, an atheist. I also work hard to provide for my family, bring up my children to know right from wrong, donate time and money to good causes without telling anyone or expecting a reward. If I were to find a wallet in the street I would try to find the owner and return it, even though I could just help myself to the contents and no one would know. I don’t cheat on my wife and try to help my fellow man. In countless ways I put the needs of others before my own. In short, I behave pretty much like christians are supposed to, apart from the going to church bit. In fact that I’d argue that I am prepared do more for others than christians are capable of, since If necessary I would be prepared to sacrifice my life for my family, sincerely believing that I would have no afterlife, I would simply cease to exist, whereas a christian would believe he’d go to heaven for it.

    I’m far from alone in this, there are undoubtedly more people in my position than there are christians, in this country anyway. I don’t do any of these things because I fear hell, or any punishment from God in this life. So how do you explain my behaviour? Am I just too stupid “to take advantage of the loop hole”? Do you imagine that I secretly want to deprive my family so that I can have more of what I want, steal from my neighbours if I can get away with it, cheat on my wife as long as she doesn’t find out etc. but don’t just because I haven’t worked out that it wouldn’t make any difference to me?

    The offensive views you have espoused are a very deep and serious insult to many millions of decent, moral atheists without whose goodness you would undoubtedly be worse off than you are in many ways. To continue to express them is quite simply an evil thing to do. Praying won’t get you off the hook; only thinking, learning and changing your shameful behaviour will.

  40. dolfinack said,

    February 19, 2007 at 12:41 am

    hehe. Troll.

  41. Zilram said,

    February 19, 2007 at 2:59 am

    Of what should I be ashamed? I know perfectly well that there are millions of decent atheists. The discussion, I thought was about Ken Ham and the garbage he s preaching and others believe. My comments about life come from life experiences, but are not intended to be all inclusive. I get the since that, had I joined in the Christian bashing, I would not have been called stupid and a troll that should be dead. Is it OK for and atheist to be aggressively offensive? Am I evil because I do not agree with an atheist? Would I give my life for my family? Of course. And, Yes I would hope to go to heaven. Would the earth be better if everyone were Christian? NO. Look at Ireland Protestant Christians killing Catholic Christians. Ken Ham lives in KY and it is highly believed he is in it for the money and power. Historically, powerful Christians were evil. Power corrupts.

    Would the world be better if everyone could love and forgive? Yes. If Christians were true to their faith? Yes. No, I do not believe the things you imply. It never crossed my mind. Do you think I am an idiot for having faith in a loving God and teaching science? Oh, that’s right the consensus is I am a stupid troll not to be fed. And why? Because I believe in God and that your soul is worth some prayers. Why can we not agree to disagree? The comments made to me are offensive, yet I am the only evil one. What about the shamefulness of the offensive views you have espoused are a very deep and serious insult to many millions of decent, moral Christians without whose goodness you would undoubtedly be worse off than you are in many ways. To continue to express them is quite simply an evil thing to do. Praying won’t get you off the hook because you don’t pray; only thinking, learning and changing your shameful behavior will help. I feel that God knows my intentions and the working of my mind and soul. He sees without the prejudices of humanity, mine as well as yours. You judge me harshly and call it fair, yet only my opinion is evil?

    AND, WHY DOES SCIENCE AND FAITH HAVE TO BE MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE?

    God bless you all, The Stupid Troll

  42. Kurmudge said,

    February 19, 2007 at 3:04 am

    It is, of course, pretty easy to caricature an entire enormous group of very diverse people by erecting a straw man composed of the bottom 10% and offering conflated and simplistic information in “support” of the pre-determined view.

    There are many scientifically illiterate people who buy anything tossed at them, there are others who are so bound up in their convictions that they go looking for (or making up) selective data to support their preconceptions; I would put the “Answers in Genesis” fellow, Ken Ham, in that category.

    Now, how do you characterize Hoyle? As a naive moron? All he said was that the putative “science” put forth so far doesn’t work even remotely within the time frames that we know and recognize- 4.5 b years for the earth and 17 b for the universe. And that is all the intelligent design people say, period. Nor do the majority of them say that ID should be taught in public schools.

    Howver, there is room for a debate here- if we are honest about science and debate. The debate is not between True Science and young earth creationists, the cartoon characters that people alway try to set up as the opponent, but between those who honestly look at the world and see that none of the multiple origins theories can handle more than one element of the problem, and those who think that you are not supposed to ask any questions or point any flaws in any origins theories of True Believer Darwinists or you are letting in religion to overrun all the poor scientists who couldn’t hold their own.

    The challenge to all of you is to knock off the sophomoric ad hominem commentary about a subject that most know very little about, and go read what non-religious scientists have written about every single origins theory so far. There was a very good reason that Francis Crick seriously suggested that life on earth originated via transpermia, why Simon Conway Morris admits that the Cambrian Explosion is a huge problem for Dawkins, et al. These are not religious perspectives, they are honest science.

    There are some things we probably will never “know”- and one of the biggest problems is that we can’t do experiments with history. We can try to posit methods and demonstrate them, as Miller-Urey did (unsuccessfully, BTW- there was a little flawed assumption about oxygen in the atmosphere built into the 1951 tests), we can paint apparently logical pictures, and so on. But we will never know. We can’t- we weren’t there.

    Painting every scientist who asks questions about other bad (conclusory) science as some kind of religious nut isn’t going to help the debate much at all, but it does illustrate how little so many eager commetners actually know about the subject other than what they read on some snarky web site!

  43. relentlesspush said,

    February 19, 2007 at 9:05 am

    #41

    Indeed, the Stupidest Troll of All.

    I find “God bless you all” very, very, very, PATRONISING!

    “I feel that God knows my intentions and the working of my mind and soul. He sees without the prejudices of humanity, mine as well as yours. You judge me harshly and call it fair, yet only my opinion is evil?”

    You are quite clearly MAD and SELF OBSESSED.

    “Look at Ireland Protestant Christians killing Catholic Christians.”

    I live in Northern Ireland and lived through 30 years of terrorism and believe me when i say that it was nothing to do do with CHRISTIANITY that so many people died. It was a tad more complex than that, cultural differences etc. But then that’s how Christians liked to view it, a war all about God.

    I get the impression from the tone of your post that you would absolutely love to bring down the wrath of God on all non believers, and that is the true face of Christianity.

    As for feeding the troll, why not? The troll serves as a warning that right wing Christianity is never far from the surface.

  44. JQH said,

    February 19, 2007 at 9:13 am

    Zilram

    Mrs H’s first husband is a Christian. He is an adulterer and deserted her and her child. Now that Mrs H is with me, I am contributing to the upbringing of his child. He contributes nothing. I am an atheist and proud of it. The problem with christians is that they think they can do anything they like so long as they ask for God’s forgiveness afterwards. Hence the cocaine snorting, hooker shagging TV evangelists.

    To use your logic, my experience shows atheists to be moral caring individuals and god-fearing christians to be immoral adulerous scumbags.

  45. simongates said,

    February 19, 2007 at 10:22 am

    Re: #41: “AND, WHY DOES SCIENCE AND FAITH HAVE TO BE MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE?”

    Well, in a way, they aren’t, because there are plenty of people who are believers in some sort of god and scientists (I’d guess fairly confidently that they were not a majority of scientists though).

    I’m genuinely interested in how they manage this, and I suspect it must be by keeping matters of science and faith in separate compartments in their minds. To me, this is avoiding the issue. If you look at faith and religion with a really open mind and apply to it the same standards of evidence and proof that we as scientists usually demand, it starts to look pretty far fetched to put it mildly.

    Rephrasing Zilram’s question: why should we apply different standards of evidence to gods than we apply to everything else?

    Richard Dawkins has of course expounded these arguments in The God Delusion.

  46. aldo_14 said,

    February 19, 2007 at 10:49 am

    “A nerve seems to have been struck with the atheists. Feeling indignant is a natural response, as it is with Christians when others say that Christian based schools are dangerous. Yes, Christians fear hell and they fear displeasing God, whom they believe is all good and giver of all things. Most Christian kids have heard, “Do this or I’ll beat the holy #^*)_+_+@# out of you.” They have heard “spare the rod and spoil the child.” Do you really thing that the morals that are generally accepted in the Western world are not based on that 2000 year old faith? Where would the world be …?”

    I think it’s more likely that this 2000 year old faith simply picked up morals existing beforehand; morals that are the result of human behavioural evolution – for example, the idea of sharing food can be traced back as part of evolved mating behaviour (sexual selection), and also as part of being a socially minded animal.

    On the side of aetheism… you married a dick, pure and simple. Happens with people whether aetheistic or religious. Aetheism is no more or less moral than religious belief. I don’t believe in any form of invisible diety, not even the invisible Spaghetti monster, but I don’t go about acting the twat because I recognise I live in a social society, where acting the twat will be swiftly reciprocated. ‘do unto others’ isn’t something biblical in concept, it’s common sense and for most people basic human nature.

    Finally, with regards to evolution… evolution is the process of many decades of scientific observation and rational thinking. Teaching creationism says to children that it’s better to make shit up rather than look for the tough answers (not that evolution is a particularly hard concept, most IDers / creationists I’ve seen have simply been indoctrinated and fed pseudo-scientific sounding bullshit) – these children are being put on a track to grow up and be unimaginative, uneducated (why learn when ‘God’ – or your nearest preacher – has the answers already? Gravity? Why, it’s just gods hand pulling you down…. physics? God in motion!) adults without the capacity for intelligent rationalisation.

    I’m lucky, I guess. I was brought up a protestant, educated decently in other religions at school, and given enough exposure to proper science to determine that religion is unnecessary for understanding the universe. (incidentally, this is why faith and science are incompatible – faith fundamentally relies on unprovable – faith – assumptions of something, science has to reject ALL – unproven or unprovable – assumptions to worl)

  47. aldo_14 said,

    February 19, 2007 at 10:51 am

    *NB: when I say incompatible, i’m not saying scientists can’t have beliefs. They just have to discard them to do science, or rationalise them around the science…. it wouldn’t do much good for a scientist to get just deep enough to go ‘ah, God can handle this bit’, would it?

  48. yogurt said,

    February 19, 2007 at 11:51 am

    It’s depressing to see children mislead like this but the truth shines out from the evidence. I was taught all this rubbish as a child too and I came to see it was all nonsense over time. When you’re a child you feel like you have to agree with adults even when they don’t make sense. Still, it makes me sad to see what an impoverished education these children are getting.

  49. Martin said,

    February 19, 2007 at 12:48 pm

    I’m glad that the Badscience site has attracted people with an alternative viewpoint (Zilram and Caitlin), but I’ve been appaled at how badly they’ve been treated by some people here.

    If you don’t agree with their viewpoint, argue with them. Try to see why they have the view they do; don’t just slag them off.

    One of the criticisms that’s sometimes leveled (erroneously) at “the scientific community” is that we aren’t open to new ideas. So listen, then if you’re sure of your point, argue it. Otherwise you’re no better than trolls yourself.

  50. pv said,

    February 19, 2007 at 1:47 pm

    Martin how has Caitlin been mistreated? It seems to me that everyone has tried to be helpful to her, and your comment here is uncalled for.
    As for Zilram, although I have only read the posts and not responded, he or she comes across as provocative and abusive; especially in his(?) first post. The “troll” accusation was justified. I have read posts from individuals defending themselves against his(?) claims but, apart from the “troll” accusation I haven’t read anyone slagging him off. If disagreeing is slagging off then can I take it that your own post is slagging off the other contributors?

  51. Tristan said,

    February 19, 2007 at 1:59 pm

    I’d kind of agree with you regarding Caitlin, though plenty of people have tried explaining to her the basics of the scientific approach, why certain things (eg .homeopathy) are nonsense etc. without being too aggressive. I think there’s been some good discussion on there, though ultimately it can’t really be much of a balanced debate since a lot of what she says we’ve heard before and can show to be wrong.

    Zilram on the other hand is different, and I can understand a lot of the vitriol he’s inspired here. I read his first postings as implying that we atheists have no morals, and no amount of back tracking will convince me otherwise. I took offence at that, and can understand why others have too.

  52. Martin said,

    February 19, 2007 at 4:14 pm

    I felt at the time that Caitlin was mistreated after her first few postings. It did calm down, though.

    Zilram has said some pretty vitriolic stuff, and I was sorely tempted to smack him down. However, by responding with vitriolic comments we’re no better.

    If he has any worthwhile comments to make, I suggest he makes them, and we can debate. If he continues with an abusive attack, we should ignore him.

    Martin (agnostic – I know I don’t know the answers, and I’m proud of it).

  53. Dudley said,

    February 19, 2007 at 8:39 pm

    Ambrielle –

    No worries. Nothing can beat number four:

    “One of the most basic laws in the universe is the Second Law of Thermodynamics. This states that as time goes by, entropy in an environment will increase. Evolution argues differently against a law that is accepted EVERYWHERE BY EVERYONE. Evolution says that we started out simple, and over time became more complex. That just isn’t possible: UNLESS there is a giant outside source of energy supplying the Earth with huge amounts of energy. If there were such a source, scientists would certainly know about it.”

  54. curranhung said,

    February 19, 2007 at 10:30 pm

    Actually, pv, I now withdraw my accusation of “troll” against Zilram. At first I thought she must be a troll because I just couldn’t believe anyone could seriously believe what she wrote. Now I realise that she was quite sincere. Quite mind-boggling, really, but there you go.

    Apologies, Zilram. You are not a troll, but I’m not going to waste my time on replying to you.

  55. relentlesspush said,

    February 19, 2007 at 11:04 pm

    OK, OK, OK… the troll stuff was probably a bit insulting and I joined in, it seemed funny at the time. I am also sorry and very very contrite. Anyway, please don’t censor this series of posts Martin, they do serve a purpose.

    Remember… Opinions are like arseholes, everyone’s got one…

  56. urbane legend said,

    February 20, 2007 at 1:13 am

    I think this kind of indocrination is a form of child abuse. How can such children hope to compete in the real world?

  57. jnex26 said,

    February 20, 2007 at 10:01 am

    As i see it if a child grows up in a enviroment being told one thing a unified message from everyone and no one challenges these remarks, It makes it very difficult for the child to develop his or her own opinion about these things.

    As for these children surviving in the outside world well that’s different, i suspect that alot of these children will never venture outside of their community, constatly under supervision of their pastor and will probably pass these views onto their children, the ones to show self inititive and challenge creationsim will probably be shunned by their socieity they grew up in. I think that in time the devide between the secular soceity and the regious socieity will be come more devided especially as our understanding of the universe expands, I’m hoping that I am wrong.

    Atheist – and damn proud of it.

  58. wilsontown said,

    February 20, 2007 at 11:24 am

    I’m a scientist, and while I don’t see any compelling evidence that there is a god, nor do I see any compelling evidence that there isn’t a god. I wonder how the scientific atheists can be so certain that there is no god? It seems like a mirror image of the certainty of some people that there is a god.

    Aside from that, I find the demonisation of scientists in the film a little sinister. After all, if you’re ill, who are you going to trust? The scientist, or God?

  59. ZombieWomble said,

    February 20, 2007 at 12:27 pm

    “I wonder how the scientific atheists can be so certain that there is no god? ”

    This comes back to the old “invisible elephant” argument, doesn’t it? Obviously, in a completely impartial point of view, it’s pretty much impossible to fully disprove an idea deliberately constructed to be difficult to test – but such ideas are typically discarded out of hand, as it is bad practice to postulate the existance of things without a reason (More specifically, the postulate should both explain the phenomena in question, as well as offer some predictive power which can be used to verify its accuracy. A theory which lacks the latter is usually a flag of some sloppy science going on).

    So, to begin with, we have no reason at all to postulate the existance of a God, beyond a desire to anthropomorphise things we don’t understand. Furthermore, postulating the existance of God runs into numerous further logical problems – even neglecting the philisophical minefield of omnipotence, omniscience and free will, there is the issue of just where God came from. Dawkins did a nice comparison in the God Delusion, dubbing God the “Ultimate 747″, in a parody of the Creationist caricature of the evolution of humanity which suggests it’s like a tornado blowing through a junkyard and leaving a fully constructed 747. Given the purported complexity of God, the liklihood of the spontaneous creation of Him would presumably be vastly less than the spontaneous creation of the universe.

    Or, in short – the God Hypothesis does not serve as an effective concept to address any observations of the world around us, and mainly serves to raise additional questions, making his existance about as unlikely as possible for such an ill-defined concept, which in most cases is good enough to be referred to as “certainty” in day-to-day use.

  60. Martin said,

    February 20, 2007 at 12:38 pm

    ZombieWomble,

    So God evolved? That’ll be interesting for the creationists to argue.

  61. Delster said,

    February 20, 2007 at 12:59 pm

    Dudley #53… umm…. that would be the sun right? huge amount’s of energy etc?

    To be honest, IMHO, with you no scientist with a good understanding of the scientific method should describe themselves as atheist rather they should be agnostic. Or to put it another way they should be saying that the data sample they have is insufficient to draw a working hypothesis from.

    It is not possible to prove a negative… This is important.

    You can prove that a stated positive is false… eg the statement that if you combine water and sugar you get potassium permangenate…. blatently false as any GCSE chemistry student can tell you.

    However how can you disprove the statement “There is a god” or for that matter actually prove it in the first place. The answer is it is not possible to do so with current scientific methods and technology.

    Just remember that when Evolution is taught in schools it is taught as “The Theory of Evolution” which is as it should be.

    Who know’s when evolution might be disproved by other scientists. Evolution does have a good body of evidence behind it that is being steadily added to all the time so any competing theory is going to have to come up with a better explanation for that.

    Then again, if you get the religiously orientated to drop their 4000 year old earth idea, can you think of any more elegant method for (a) god to have created the life on a planet than through evolution?

    your friendly neighbourhood Agnostic

  62. manigen said,

    February 20, 2007 at 1:13 pm

    @ Delster

    I know a few people who justify their faith in a similar sort of way to that; “Science explains this far and then the rest is god”. The problem that’s always struck me is that you end up with a God of the Gaps – a deity whose limits are determined by human ignorance. So a few hundred years ago god kept our feet on the grounds and the birds in the air – but then theories of gravity and fluid dynamics came along and it wasn’t necessary to explain these things with god anymore. But that was okay, because god still created the firmament and shaped it for us – until we came to understand geology and developed theories of plate tectonics and the formations of planets. So then god created each and every one of us and all the other animals and plants – until that was explained by evolution.

    It’s just all so inelegant, so why have a shrinking god at all? Why not just admit that we don’t know the answer yet, but we’re working on it and we keep chipping away at the ignorance?

    Agnostic – on a technicality

  63. wilsontown said,

    February 20, 2007 at 1:36 pm

    Manigen,

    Yes, I think that’s the key. Ultimately, the question of whether there is or is not a god is not really amenable to scientific enquiry. You can always take the things that remain unexplained and say that some supernatural being is responsible. So to say that there is a god is utterly useless as a scientifically testable proposition. That doesn’t mean we’ve proved that there is no god, though. It is a technicality, if you like.

    This is why something like intelligent design has no place in science class, to my mind. It’s not a scientifically testable hypothesis. Even if the ID people accepted that evolution was a real phenomenon, they could still just decide that it was god who set up the universe to work that way.

    On the other hand, perhaps you could include ID in science class as an example of something that can’t really be tested scientifically. It might give the kids a better idea of how powerful science is, and what its limitations are.

  64. jnex26 said,

    February 20, 2007 at 1:49 pm

    @Delster

    What your talking about is the concept of “Negative proof” the point being that If i can’t prove somthin the reverse must be true and in the scientific community this is obviously not true.

    Your argument would have held ground with the expetions of a few details.

    Firstly. As manigen stated god’s powers are shrinking as our understanding evolves, This is important. as recent discoverys start to encroach on “God’s” territority, (Anti-Matter)

    Secondly. Negative Proof only works on the premise that there is NO proof against the idea of a God. it could be construde that as Manigen stated god’s deminishing powers could be taken for evidence against the existence.

    So with these in mind we could develop a theory of God’s non existance, this would obviously annoy some (if not all) relgious people. so as far as i’m aware no one has done this, but the same with evolution there is evidence but it’s not 100% prooven so some could argue so is the Theory of god’s non existance.

    Note this discussion is hypothetical…. but interesting.

  65. Min said,

    February 20, 2007 at 2:30 pm

    Wilsontown – I suspect very few atheists would state that there categorically, absolutely is no god; it’s untestable and so to say so would just be a matter of, well, faith. However, most of us agree that the likelihood of there being a god is so vanishingly small that it’s not even worth thinking about. If anyone can find an accurate test for god-ness then we’d be delighted, one way or the other.

  66. Despard said,

    February 20, 2007 at 3:25 pm

    I agree with Min. I’m as strong an atheist as you can be without actually being Richard Dawkins or PZ Myers (scienceblogs.com/pharyngula) but I wouldn’t go so far as to assert that there absolutely, categorically, certainly are no gods whatsoever in any forms anywhere in the Universe. Same as with leprechauns, really. I don’t think they exist but I can’t say for certain.

  67. ceec said,

    February 20, 2007 at 5:07 pm

    Some people seem to need spirituality more than others, so I’m all for letting them get on with it.

    The strange part is when that personal spirituality gets mixed up in rabid crusades.

    Unfortunately humans have a tendency to be nasty to one another whenever possible and perhaps spirituality allows some people to pretend that their hatred can be justified (because if you’re not with me, you must be against me).

    Atheists have no particuar moral or intellectual advantage, just less likely to invoke god as an excuse for bad behaviour.

  68. Ken Zetie said,

    February 21, 2007 at 8:29 am

    Re #61: “Just remember that when Evolution is taught in schools it is taught as “The Theory of Evolution” which is as it should be.”

    There is a danger of falling into the creationist’s trap of “it’s just a theory”. Evolution is not just an idea to explain observations, it is mathematical, predictive and testable as well as tested by ideas in vastly unrelated areas of science. It is right and proper that, in schools, the *evidence* for scientific ideas is considered in detail.

    Last week I was teaching my year 9s about atomic theory…the idea that all matter is made up of atoms (“just a theory”..?). In spite of having been to some of the best prep schools in London and made it into a highly selective academic school, not one of them had ever been presented with any evidence or discussion of the evidence of the existence of atoms. They could all tell me what atoms were and what they were made up of, but not a shred of evidence had been passed their way.

    I really think that is something to be shocked about.

    Back to the atheism point, as well as the ‘god of the gaps’ problem, the other difficulty is that just becuase you cannot disprove the existence of a god doesn’t mean one exists – it could mean an infinite number exist. I hand the burden of proof back over to the judeo-christians, the cargo cultists, the hindoos, the greek olympians, the pagans…

    I may not be able to disprove the existence of any god, but as I can find no evidence that gods in any way at all affect my life* I see no reason to hypothesise them.

    Ken

    *As opposed to other people’s belief in gods, which does affect my life, unfortunately

  69. Delster said,

    February 21, 2007 at 1:24 pm

    Manigen & jnex26

    I think you missed that last point i made. Assume for a moment that there is a God and he created everything. All we are doing by improving our knowledge of, say gravity and fluid dynamics, is bettering our understanding of the way “He / She / It” set up the universe.

    The fact that we understand the why and how of things does not mean that this assumed god’s powers are diminished, it simply means that we are coming to an understanding of the way the universe they created works. It is in no way proof, or for that matter dis-prove, of god’s existance. It is simply knowledge.

    Ken in post #68 you partially quoted me with

    “Just remember that when Evolution is taught in schools it is taught as “The Theory of Evolution” which is as it should be.”

    and present the following argument

    “There is a danger of falling into the creationist’s trap of “it’s just a theory”. Evolution is not just an idea to explain observations, it is mathematical, predictive and testable as well as tested by ideas in vastly unrelated areas of science. It is right and proper that, in schools, the *evidence* for scientific ideas is considered in detail.”

    you ignored what followed my initial comment, which was

    “Who know’s when evolution might be disproved by other scientists. Evolution does have a good body of evidence behind it that is being steadily added to all the time so any competing theory is going to have to come up with a better explanation for that.”

    As it happens i have to disagree with you on one point. Evolution IS only an idea to explain the observed facts. It is however the one that best fits the facts and covers all the bases (to the best of my knowledge). I personally believe that evolution is the correct explanation for the variety of life we see around us and until somebody can advance a theory that fits the facts better i will hold to this view point.

    None of these things however point to a non-existance of a god (or god’s for the pantheists among us). Who can say that “god” did not just brew up a mix of chemicals, set up the physical laws that govern the universe and then sit back (presumably on the 7th day) and say “let’s see what happens next”

    Certain things in that video can be refuted though, such as the 4000 year existance of the earth. I’m fairly sure that the people in that video would agree that Rome was around 2000 years ago…. any dinosaurs in roman frescos? nope! and so on back through the traceable history of human beings civilisations. Ancient mesopotanian drawings or references to dinosaurs… nope again! So they really shouldn’t still be holding to that one.

    what i’m saying is that science, at present, can present no proof for god’s existance or non existance.

  70. manigen said,

    February 21, 2007 at 1:58 pm

    Delster, I quite agree, and I did see that point in your post @61. My idea is not a scientific one concerning proof and disproof. I did not intend to disprove the existence of any god because I don’t regard it as a testable hypothesis. That’s my point right there, in fact.

    If we have no evidence one way or another for the existence of a god, then why introduce one to our ideas about the universe? It creates additional complications. An example might be the question “why are we here?” A monotheist might answer this by saying “because god created us”, but this immediately poses two further questions: “why did god create us?” and “why is god here?”. Not only do we find ourselves with more questions, but we have even answered the first question satisfactorily – “why is god here?” is more or less a restatement of “why are we here?”.

    Occam’s razor is relevant here and was, ironically, thought up by a monk. Why include god at all if it achieves nothing? That’s not to say that there isn’t at least one god, just that in the absence of evidence why should we conclude that there is one?

    I’m not attacking anyone’s faith. Indeed, one possible answer to my last question above is “because I have faith”. That’s not unreasonable, but then neither is it persuasive.

  71. Delster said,

    February 21, 2007 at 2:35 pm

    Manigan,

    I agree, God is not testable which is the point i was making.

    Science is quite happy to restrict itself to the areas of testable knowledge and rightly so.

    Unfortunatly we’re in the position where there are certain sections of the “faithful”, of whatever flavour, that want to believe that some word’s written down hundreds of years ago, by ordinary people who were seeking to establish their faith as the main belief system are gospel (if you’ll forgive the term).

    This is despite the fact that there are a number of versions of the bible (anybody know how many?) and that the content of the bible itself is contradictory.

    It’s these people who want to see their views (and, without evidence, thats all they are) taught as “science” without hard evidence to back them up. This drags science into the fray to defend itself and evidence v belief ingrained since childhood is an uphill struggle, doubly so when when the other side refuse to even examine or question their belief system.

    Any good scientist would or should be willing to question the theories they believe to be correct if somebody can present evidence the theory is wrong…. faith on the other hand means doing the opposite.

  72. manigen said,

    February 21, 2007 at 3:07 pm

    Absolutely

  73. Ambrielle said,

    February 21, 2007 at 5:42 pm

    Dudley, I might have to disagree with you there, I think #2 and #19 are in the running too…

    “No, everyone is born Christian. Only later in life do people choose to stray from Jesus and worship satan instead. Atheists have the greatest “cover” of all, they insist they believe in no god yet most polls done and the latest research indicates that they are actually a different sect of Muslims.”

    “What does a functioning brain have to do with the Bible?”

    Oh, man, where do I start????

  74. Andrew Clegg said,

    February 21, 2007 at 6:37 pm

    If you think Fundies Say The Darndest Things is good, check this lot out:

    adultthought.ucsd.edu/Culture_War/The_American_Taliban.html

    … and remind yourself occasionally that some of them are quite influential in Bush’s Christian-conservative axis of doom.

    Andrew.

  75. Ken Zetie said,

    February 21, 2007 at 10:15 pm

    Delster: You (and quite a few others) take the view that god is untestable, so science essentially cannot comment on gods. This is sort of like the ‘non-overlapping magisteria’ approach which says that science is for one thing and religion for another. Not that you are saying this, but people often go on to say that religion is about morals and how people behave and spirtuality and the like. This makes me gag because, again, these are areas science can and does comment on – Dawkins does this very well naturally.

    An important defence of atheism here is that science doesn’t just work by disproving hypotheses – it can’t as there are an infinite number. Nor does it work by pure pattern matching and building on observations. Instead it is some kind of synthesis of the two. In practice hypotheses are only tested if they are worth considering by someone, and the more extraordinary the hypothesis, the more extraordinary the ‘proof’ or test required. God isn’t a hypothesis as it isn’t an explanation – as Manigan said, it simply puts back the question one layer.

    I don’t see that as meaning that god is not testable scientifically. My take on that (quesitonable I know) is that the god hypothesis is just not meaningful scientifically and that, if one is to work and believe in science you may well believe that science ultimately will answer all questions. Is that faith? Or just extending the scientific method to say that what has worked so far will continue to work?

    It’s a judgement call, I admit…

  76. Ambrielle said,

    February 21, 2007 at 10:38 pm

    Andrew: Thanks very much… you just scared the hell out of me!!! I think I’m going to forget about doing a post-doc in the US. And I think I’m becoming a rabid atheist!

  77. Andrew Clegg said,

    February 21, 2007 at 11:21 pm

    I would avoid the US university system like a plague at the moment, having read this:

    “Surveys of introductory courses at UCSD show that about 40% of our students are Creationists, believing that the Earth is 6,000 years old, that humans did not arise from evolutionary processes, or that humans were contemporary with dinosaurs.” — adultthought.ucsd.edu/

    This is UCSD! Not some backwoods bible college… Fear.

    Andrew.

  78. Robert Carnegie said,

    February 22, 2007 at 12:22 am

    Is tt a bad thing if the U.S. becomes scientifically illiterate? If for instance they lost the secret technique of internal combustion, the world could be a nicer, quieter, probably less populous place. At least with fewer Americans in.

    I go to the talk.origins Usenet (and Google) discussion group and when they say American science education is doomed I’m like “Yeah, baby!”

  79. Andrew Clegg said,

    February 22, 2007 at 12:50 am

    As long as they don’t decide to bomb everyone else back to the Dark Ages too.

  80. arctral said,

    February 22, 2007 at 5:39 am

    Oh. Dear. God.

    I may just console myself with the fact that if I visit those parts of the US, at least the kids I buy hamburgers from will be decent, God-fearing folk. That or President.

    Signed, a Darwin-believing Christian.

  81. simongates said,

    February 22, 2007 at 10:40 am

    I’ve just watched the film again, and it’s no less scary second time around. What I think is most frightening is the children who have basically been indoctrinated by their parents and preachers to disbelieve evolution and believe in creationism and all of the other nonsense. It’s very clear from the interviews with them that this is not their own informed choice but that they believe this because it’s what they have been told is right by the adults that they trust. They have never had any rational explanation of why they should believe this, and being children , of course they have never demanded one.

    Dawkins calls this a form of child abuse and it’s hard to disagree.

    I think a strong case can be made for criminalising religious indoctrination of children, though it’s hard to square it with freedom of speech.

  82. pv said,

    February 22, 2007 at 12:12 pm

    “Dawkins calls this a form of child abuse…”

    And so do I. What else could one call it?

  83. Delster said,

    February 22, 2007 at 1:38 pm

    Ken Zetie post #75

    I think you meant my last post…. the previous one did say untestable with current scientific methods etc but didn’t include that bit on my last one. Who know’s what the future will bring?

    As for science not just being about disproving hypothesis, it is in large part about that. Somebody puts forward a theory to explain the observed facts and then everybody else tries to break it. If they can’t then it’s accepted (for the moment) as correct.

    Re the indoctrination / child abuse comments… it’s certainly hard to disagree.

    I was raised roman catholic but was not discouraged from scientific study. One Religious education teacher i had (not at an RC school i admit) covered various religions and could quote chapter and verse from the bible and a couple of other religous texts. At the end of it i just came away with the basic concept of “be nice to each other” and do we need any more than that?

  84. simongates said,

    February 22, 2007 at 4:54 pm

    It’s been said many times but the depressing thing about arguing with people with strong religious convictions is that they can’t bring any rational arguments to support their stance. All their arguments come down to “I’m right, you’re wrong, I just know it, so there”. Not the sort of open minded position scientists are more comfortable with.

    You can see this in the film. All they are doing is picking on what they see as holes in rational science (actually they’re just their ignorance and prejudice) and claiming that if science can’t explain something then th correct explanation must be god. Who says? Just because one thing is wrong doesn’t mean another is right. It never occurs to them that if science is wrong about, say, fossils, then they might be too. God has yet to produce any rational evidence for his existence so if he’s reading this (as any omnipotent deity worth worshipping surely would be)… could he please oblige?

  85. Kinky The Cat said,

    February 22, 2007 at 7:07 pm

    Film + Fundies = www.capalert.com/capreports/index.htm

  86. KP said,

    February 22, 2007 at 8:34 pm

    Religious fundamentalism is an idea that has always given me the greatest trouble to understand. My girlfriend had to stay with a family of Christian fundamentalists for a while, and she smuggled out one of their texts and photocopied the juiciest bits. It’s called The Answers Book, and poses as a textbook that can demolish all that sciencey stuff, and is filled with some hysterical gems, particularly notions like race is a straightforwardly mendelian characteristic, and that not only did dinosaurs not exist, they were dragons anyway (following the logic is quite fun in a harrowing kind of way – as if the Grim Reaper had asked you outside for a cigarette and started a conversation about Britney Spears’ shaved head).

    My point is (surreal diversions aside), that part of the book tries to demolish the notion of radiocarbon dating. In it they use some scientific notions, but completely distort the meaning of both data and theory, to try and construct a false model to argue against.

    So what, you’re thinking (assuming anyone’s still reading after 85 posts) – a strawman is standard creationist tactic when grappling with evolution. It’s fine as a rhetorical device but falls apart when you examine it closely, so why so troubled?

    The problem is, looking at the argument itself, it’s clear to me that the authors must have known they were lying to their readership. How do you live with yourself, knowing that you are responsible for lying to the ignorant? Seriously. I know I must sound like some wide-eyed Candide here, but (and Zilram is guilty of this line of thought, cf #21) if you know you are lying in order to make your argument credible, don’t you have to know that your argument inherently lacks credibility? And if so, and if you know that the argument you are trying to dismiss satisfies the actual conditions you’re having to lie about, don’t you know that you are undermining the better case to an audience who are relying on you to be honest with them?

    I suppose a similar case can be made against Holford, McKeith and Rath et al, but they strike me more as straightforward conpersons like you find at any period in history – people like Mesmer. In this case, it’s the pushing of an entire ideology that is predicated upon what at least some of its proponents must know is false. Honestly, and I know it’s a very tall order – does anyone have any idea why anyone would behave like this? And I don’t mean in terms of cynical one-liners either.

    Bloody hell, I am Candide. I’ll shut up now.

  87. Delster said,

    February 23, 2007 at 12:31 pm

    KP… we’re still reading… there are longer threads than this on here!

    To be honest i’m fairly sceptical about organised religion.

    Personal religion is fine… after all if God is everywhere and know’s everything then why do you need to go to church, just behave nice and do good things for people and all will be fine for you.

    On the other hand, the 1 hour a week you spend in church is being done so you can repent your sins (presumably), why repent? so you can be saved…. which is a purely selfish aim with no benefit to anybody but yourself (excepting to pay the priests wages… who is incidently working on the holy day) and surely being selfish goes against the teachings of most faiths? which means that going to church should actually have the opposite effect to that intended?

    Anyway… organised religion = big business… there’s money to be made out of those poor dumb folk who’ll lap up whatever is presented to them in the name of god.

  88. Ken Zetie said,

    February 23, 2007 at 2:35 pm

    Delster write (cynically, but I quite agree): “Anyway… organised religion = big business… there’s money to be made out of those poor dumb folk who’ll lap up whatever is presented to them in the name of god. ”

    Perhaps more importantly (at least, originally historically, but in the light of things like the ID debate important again) there is political power in organised religion. I become head of a ‘church’ and get followers. They do my bidding and I speak on their behalf. When I speak to a politician it’s not my view but those of ‘my church’ – so I gain more political influence. Also it gives me a great lever over the gullible masses to make them do silly things. See Dilbert for examples…

  89. pv said,

    February 23, 2007 at 5:21 pm

    www.badscience.net/?p=367#comment-11026

    “… after all if God is everywhere and know’s everything then why do you need to go to church, just behave nice and do good things for people and all will be fine for you.”

    Somewhere in the Bible it does say more or less just that . It’s not one of the more popular texts with organised religion and bombastic evangelists as you can guess.

  90. Zilram said,

    February 23, 2007 at 9:24 pm

    It does say in the bilble to “keep holy the lords day.” not go to church. Many people need the reminders heard at church. Others are just deaf at church as anywhere else.

    One has to learn things somewhere. While one person thinks of gravity as a law of physics, I think of gravity as one ove God’s laws called physics,gravity. As someone here said, “God’s hand in motion.” A person can understand evolution and still have faith in that unseen God. I see the kind of stuff shown in the video as an attempt to keep the masses in line. Lucky I was encouraged in science as well as in faith, art, history, gardening, cooking…well, you get the idea. I still feel..better to have some faith that includes “badscience” then no faith at all.

  91. Zilram said,

    February 23, 2007 at 9:53 pm

    Tristan & Martin ~~ Vitriol? Hatred was NEVER part of it. Let me try to explain. If a person in trying to be an honest Christian, they will, in true charity, try to convince someone they believe to be mistaken to see things differently. (did that make sense?)
    One can hate an idea and care about the person. I was trying to make that point. When “God bless you” was used, it was not meant to patronize, just show a kindness of heart. However, having said that and trying to look from you angle, I can see why people might have been offended. No one here knows the inner workings of anyone else. If I were a monk fresh out of the friary, would you be offended by the same words?

    My apologies to all who felt I judged them too harshly, or came across to strongly, or tried too hard.

  92. Nebbish said,

    February 25, 2007 at 7:27 pm

    Zilram, what a vanity-ridden self-serving excuse for an apology. I doubt that anyone thinks you judged anyone too harshly, came across too strongly or tried too hard. What you did was judge people too stupidly, came across too stupidly and didn’t try at all to examine your own bigoted religious-supremacist position Like I said before, intelligent christians exist but you’re not one of them. Find one, show them what you’ve written here and ask them to explain why they are the thoughts of a nasty person.

  93. Zilram said,

    February 26, 2007 at 4:27 am

    Nebbish, As you feel are much more clever than I, possibly YOU could explain, with out name calling or supremacist attitudes? If you have any real arguments on the subject, I’d like to hear them. Convince me that caring is nasty. As I have found you (so to speak) Please, explain.

  94. simongates said,

    February 26, 2007 at 10:23 am

    Going back to the film (again), the interviewees/speakers make a great deal about disbelieving evolution. But actually (and sorry if this has been said already) it makes no sense to disbelieve evolution happening. We know that evolution happens, we’ve seen it happening. The only argument is about HOW it happens – but the religious/creationist lobby don’t seem to understand this. Darwinian natural selection seems to be a damn fine mechanism that explains evolution pretty well, though I’m sure virtually all evolutionary biologists would agree that is conceivable that other mechanisms such as Lamarckian inheritance might possibly have a role.

    So what do the creationists propose as the mechanism to explain evolutionary changes that we have seen occurrring in the natural world? Presumably it’s god who is tinkering around with the population gene frequencies of all the bacteria, amoebas and beetles, though you have to ask why an omnipotent deity needs to bother – if you want a new species, why not just create it? Perhaps it just gives him something to do.

  95. Abhorsan said,

    February 26, 2007 at 11:18 am

    I think that science and religion should not be mixed. Science cannot explain everything, that i agree with. But it also explains a darn lot. IF there is a God then i believe he/it designed science and therefore designed natural selection and evolution to happen. Also, the Bible is a 2000 year old record of a lot of peoples ‘experiences’. What they believed they saw, witnessed back then, can most probably be explained by science now. Also superstition was a huge part of society in those times, so it is likely that they wanted to believe something happened so much, they actually after a while believed it really did happen. Also whenever this sort of topic crops up about the bible being a strict code i always think of chinese wispers.

  96. Abhorsan said,

    February 26, 2007 at 11:23 am

    And as for the video, just unbelieveable. The Bible should not be taken literally, and science should not be dismissed for the sake of a 2000 year old book, that contains the beliefs of people that did not truly understand the world.

  97. Martin said,

    February 26, 2007 at 1:16 pm

    #84:
    God can’t prove he exists; for proof denies faith and without faith…

    #87:
    As far as I’m aware, priests don’t “work” on the Sabbath; saying mass is a calling.

  98. pv said,

    February 26, 2007 at 7:22 pm

    www.badscience.net/?p=367#comment-11070
    11:18 am

    “I think that science and religion should not be mixed.”

    Probably in the same way that Einstein’s Theory of Relativity and “The X Files” should not be mixed. :)

    “Also, the Bible is a 2000 year old record…”

    Record? Collected writings, mostly in the epic heroic style of Homer, in ancient languages, from ancient superstitious tribes with a largely oral tradition of story telling, of uncertain provenance and veracity, interpreted, translated, edited, abridged, re-edited, re-interpreted, re-translated, re-edited, etcetera, etcetera, by a cast of hundreds if not thousands, into its original American English language. Must be reliable then.

  99. jnex26 said,

    February 26, 2007 at 10:43 pm

    @Delster

    I Uderstand your comments on religion, trying to disproove a deity on a weblog comment page would be pointless as there are many people with differing opinions.

    However your evolution comment, It is more than just a theory microevolution is proven mathematically, in labs and in the real world and even in simulations.

    The controvisty that is used to disrupt evolutionis macroevolution from my understanding (although not being biologist i could be wrong) is that macro evolution is huge leaps in biological makeup (EG. moving from water to land in just a few generations) This is what is being used as the flaw in evolution,

    Just wanted to clear that up….

  100. Delster said,

    February 28, 2007 at 3:10 pm

    Re #98 “it’s original American English” please tell me your being sarcastic?

    jnex26

    I never said that evolution does not work. Evolution can be observed and yes it can even be simulated. Simulations however are set up to allow it to happen.

    But it is still a theory. All scientific propositions are theories untill they are disproved. They can still be accepted as correct whilst still being theories but a scientist should always be willing to question is additinal data comes in.

    If we find a new fossil we can look at it, identify it if it’s a known species, classify it if it’s not and see where it fit’s in on the evolutionary chain. What happens one day if somebody turns up say a fossil of a dragon (plucking example out of the air) or to put it another way… a long necked, four legged creature with wings… no prior examples in the fossil record, no prior examples of 6 limbed creatures (talking vertebrate here)… time to re-examine the theory guys.

    However i don;t think i’ve ever heard a theory saying creatures moved from true aquatic creatures to true land creatures in just a few generations.

    The final part of the move might have happened relativly quickly but before that there would have been a lot of changes happening over a lot period of time to set that up.

    Look at creatures that are aquatic today but have the capability to cross dry land as well. This can be seen several species… those that were better at it would have the chance to move to new pockets of habitation that were further away than the individuals that were not as good, this would give them an unexploited area to grow into…hence strenghtening that trait.

    Indeed if a pool dry’s out and the closest water is further away than, say 90% of the individuals of a species can manage all of a sudden you have a breeding population that now contains only that top 10% of the species… do that a couple of times and your talking about a huge evolutionary pressure which creates these sudden leaps.

    As for trying to disprove a deity on here… my comment was more that you can’t prove something does not exist… at least not until you can catagorically say you have located everything, on every dimension in the universe (in all universes according to some theories) plus have the knowledge of how every single thing within that interacts. Who know’s… one day science might come up with a device that can communicate with a deity?

  101. Delster said,

    March 1, 2007 at 12:05 pm

    PV

    you have to remember that a lot of american’s don’t “get” sarcasm so i thought i’d double check :-)

    and you’d be dumbstruck by what some of them believe….

    One once tried to convince me that racial segregation in south africa was ok because the blacks were trying to displace the original white population…. i was so gobsmacked i had trouble speaking!

  102. Martin said,

    March 1, 2007 at 1:04 pm

    Actually, the history of the make-up of the South African population is very interesting.

    The original populations were the Khoi and San who were displaced by the Xhosa. When the first white men arrived (Dutch) they found both the Xhosa and Khoi/San peoples, but they wouldn’t work for them, so they started importing slaves from Madagascar and India. Descendents from these are confusingly known as Cape Malays (despite there not being any Malaysian link). Some Dutch farmers (Boers) married the Cape Malays and they are known as ‘Coloured’

    The British annexed Cape Town around 1800 and pushed into the interior, encountering the Zulus who lived in the north-east of what is now South Africa. Britain subsequently fought both the Zulus and Boers.

    The make-up of South Africa is about 80% ‘Black’ (almost anyone with any Zulu or Xhosa ancestry), 10% ‘White’ (Afrikaners or other europeans), and 10% ‘Coloured’. The Khoi, San or Xhosa could claim to be the original population (although they were nomadic), but there’s hardly anyone left who can claim Khoi or San ancestry.

    The first people to really settle were the Dutch, so your American friend wasn’t quite as daft as he sounds.

  103. Andrew Clegg said,

    March 1, 2007 at 2:03 pm

    “The first people to really settle were the Dutch, so your American friend wasn’t quite as daft as he sounds.”

    Martin — does this mean you don’t count the Khoi, San, Xhosa, or Zulu as indigenous because they didn’t build towns??

    Andrew.

  104. Delster said,

    March 2, 2007 at 5:52 pm

    the american in question maintained that the “whites” were there BEFORE the “blacks”

    i tried rational argument but to no avail….

  105. Andrew Clegg said,

    March 2, 2007 at 6:09 pm

    Sorry Martin, with you now.

    Of course, said American might have wanted to say something a bit more intelligent and current about large-scale migratory gerrymandering operations by the ANC resulting in entire townships of people being moved to parts of the country where there’s no jobs or infrastructure to support them… But that’s another story.

    Andrew.