Wednesday, August 31, 2011

My reply to P.Z.Myers: atheism is a small cup.

Stirring up the Pharyngula crowd is like suddenly opening the door on Tourette's clinic keg party. Fun, but not for tender ears. Luckily I don't have tender ears.

Myers replied to my observation that Darwin's theory reduces ultimately to 'stuff changes and survivors survive'-- which can be stated more rigorously, but less succinctly-- 'organisms heritably vary and relatively successful reproducers relatively successfully reproduce.'

Darwin's assertion that adaptation is the consequence of random variation and natural selection is banal (random variation) and tautological (natural selection). Stuff changes and survivors survive isn't much of a theory.

When challenged, Darwinists defend this witless 'theory' as if you had just taken a axe to their mother. Why?

Atheists are not a notably pacifist crowd, and when you mess with their creation myth, they try to make you pay. Take a look at the comments on my post questioning my professional competence, my sanity, my  honesty, you name it. Of course, I'm relatively immune from these nasties, but imagine if you're a young student, or a new post-doc, or a researcher trying to get established, and you have 'a few questions about Darwin's theory'. If you don't genuflect, you're toast, professionally.

So, on to Myers' reply.

Myers:


First of all, it is a significant advance to recognize that species are not fixed and do change over time. There was a time when this hypothesis was flatly rejected, and it's a sign of progress that even the creationists nowadays are forced to recognize evidence of patterns of change in species — they just usually try to impose artificial, unsupported claims of barriers that limit change. This is the fact of evolution: life has changed significantly over long ages, and we are all related to all other forms on earth.
So Darwin taught us that species are not fixed and do change over time.

Myers:

Darwin did not come up with that, though.
Oh. Yea, that's right. Animal breeding had been going since the dawn of man, and it's fairly obvious even to hunter-gatherers that changes in environment (e.g. predators) could change a population.

Darwin's contribution was an explanation for how that change occurred through differential reproductive success of variants in populations.

 "Differential reproductive success of variants in populations", which means precisely that "relatively more successful replicators relatively more successfully replicate". Colloquially, 'survivors survive'.

Myers invokes an obvious tautology.

Again, Myers:

Darwin's contribution was an explanation for how that change occurred through differential reproductive success of variants in populations.
Then he asserts that my simple observation of this explanation tautology is a "fallacious reduction":

Egnor has distorted that principle through a fallacious reduction to "survivors survive".
There's nothing fallacious at all about the reduction. 'Survivors survive' is just a colloquial way of saying "relatively more successful replicators relatively more successfully replicate", which is a precise restatement of Myers' "Differential reproductive success of variants in populations".

It's a tautology.

Myers avers:

That is not what scientists study. We do not go to a field area for a few years, notice that each generation of birds is the progeny of the living individuals of the previous generation, and declare victory; that would be a tautology. (The alternative, that the birds were spawned by the dead zombie corpses of the failed members of the previous generation, would be rather interesting though. Hasn't happened yet.)
Indeed evolutionary scientists don't do that. Scientists study adaptations, often in considerable detail, and then declare that the adaptations evolved in accordance with Darwin's theory.

Science:

Scientists study adaptations, often in considerable detail...

Tautology:

... and then declare that the adaptations evolved in accordance with Darwin's theory ('relatively more successful replicators relatively more successfully replicate').

Darwin's theory is a narrative gloss. The real science is the study of the adaptations.

Darwin's theory does no conceptual work. No lifting.

Myers:
Let's fix Egnor's erroneous reduction. "living things vary heritably and survivors survive" doesn't reduce to l"survivors survive". More accurately, it should be "living things vary heritably and better adapted variants survive and increase their frequency in the next generation".
Myers' "better adapted variants" are defined as those who "survive and increase their frequency in the next generation". What else could "better adapted variants" possibly mean? Variants that were... greener? Variants that were... silkier? Variants that were... fluffier?

The functional definition of species adaptation is 'survival in the environment'. There is no other consistent testable meaningful definition of 'adapted'. And of course survival is a prerequisite for relative reproductive success, and more or less correlates with it.

Survival at the species level means relative reproductive success at the individual level. Species survive because individuals reproduce successfully. 'Successful replicators successfully replicate' is natural selection at the individual level. 'Survivors survive' is natural selection at species level.

'Survivors survive' is a perfectly accurate synopsis of natural selection at the species level.

It's a tautology.

Myers:

That is not a tautology. We can assess degrees of adaptation to local conditions independently of simple survival.

That's the best Myers can do? Play on the difference between survival and relative reproductive success? 'Individuals replicate' and 'species survive' mean the same thing, on different levels. Replication of individuals is how species survive.

Myers is pitiful.

Myers provides a real-life example of the 'power' of Darwin's theory:
For example, look to the work of Peter and Rosemary Grant in the Galapagos (hey, look, we even have online exercises in which you can analyze the data!).
'Online evolutionary exercises': 'Ok class, one, two, three, four... keep those tautologies up... no slacking...!'
They examined, for instance, the effects of a major drought on their study island; they did not simply say, "some birds will die, some will live, survivors will survive", but instead made specific predictions that variants that were better able to exploit difficult or marginal resources in this time of starvation would be better able to survive. And that is what they saw: larger beaked birds that were able to crack the spiny, hard-shelled Tribulus seeds were better able to live through the drought, while the smaller beaked birds that couldn't eat Tribulus seeds at all died off in large numbers. And in the next generation, what they saw was a genetic and morphological shift in that beaks were on average significantly larger.
Let's focus on the woo:

they did not simply say, "some birds will die, some will live, survivors will survive"...

No no no... make sure you're seated...

...but instead made specific predictions that variants that were better able to exploit difficult or marginal resources in this time of starvation would be better able to survive.
Translated from 'evolution talk' to English, this means:

...but instead made specific predictions that variants that were better able to exploit difficult or marginal resources get food in this time of starvation would be better able to survive.
My head hurts.

Myers:
"Survivors survive" may be tautological, but "large beaked birds survive" is not.
Damn right. No tautology there. The Grants made specific predictions that birds who were better able to get food in a time of starvation would... be better able to survive. This I guess was in conflict with the research teams who predicted that birds who were better able to get food in a time of starvation would... be less able to survive. Evolutionary biology is contentious.

Myers:
Neither Coulter nor Egnor seem to have the slightest clue about what evolutionary biologists actually do...
I do now. It's not pretty. How much did we pay for this?

...and their proud ignorance invalidates what they claim to understand as the subject of study in evolution. Every study of evolution is built around specific hypotheses about mechanisms, not dumb blind counts of nothing but the living and the dead, but measures of differential reproductive success against some detailed parameter of their genetics.
Darwin's theory: 'Organisms heritably vary and relatively more successful replicators relatively more successfully replicate'.

All those terms Egnor cluelessly throws around — "natural selection, sexual selection, kin selection, group selection, reciprocal altruism, disruptive selection, diversifying selection, selective sweeps, background selection, adaptive radiation, punctuated equilibrium" — have specific, different meanings, and do not reduce to merely "survival".
Different shades of lipstick.
As expected, the outcome of the first Coulter Challenge is that one fool, Coulter, is multiplied into two publicly exposed fools, Coulter and Egnor. I like this game, let's play some more. Next?
I like this game, too. Let's keep playing.

A while back, I asked Myers (and other atheists) eight important questions-- about existence, laws of nature, moral law, etc. Myers' answers were pitiful. The sort of answers that atheists have no choice but to give.

Yet Darwin's theory animates atheists. It replaces 'shit happened' with 'organisms heritably vary and relatively more successful replicators relatively more successfully replicate'. Much of evolutionary theory is dedicated to hiding this banality and tautology under shovelfulls of science jargon.

Meanwhile, the real work of biology-- biochemistry, molecular biology and genetics, cell biology, microbiology, physiology, etc. goes on. Biologists learn early that they must pay homage to atheism's stupid creation myth if they are to continue their work and remain in the profession. Atheists are the gate-keepers.

Richard Dawkins asserts that Darwin's theory allows one to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist. As an example of the deep scientific insight provided by Darwin's theory, Myers notes that more successful replicators relatively more successfully replicate, and that birds that are better able to get food during famine are better able to survive.

Myers is an intellectually fulfilled atheist.

Atheism is a small cup.

208 comments:

  1. Mike,

    It's safe to say that you do not understand theory of evolution. Natural selection is not a tautology. If it were trivially true then it would apply in each and every situation. However, that is not the case. It is well known (Kimura) that selection only works in sufficiently large populations. In small population, random drift dominates over selection.

    This is textbook stuff, Mike. For some reason, you have decided to make a fool of yourself. I say you are succeeding beyond anyone's expectations.

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  2. In fact, even young-earth creationists with a few brain cells left have figured out that calling natural selection a tautology is a non-starter. What arguments are doubtful, hence inadvisable to use? Don't be a fool, Mike. Learn from other people's mistakes.

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  3. Oh no ... Doctor you gotta stop taunting the atheists seriously XD.

    * Actually Oleg... Is hard to say what Natural Selection is... I mean I always thought it was a selection that happens through a serious of occurences in Nature, that favored the most adaptated beings in that certain occasion... But apparently Natural Selection could mean more than just that. *

    For instance Oleg... What Natural Selection is in your view. A proccess? An outcome? A principle within Nature?

    I mean depending on what you think that Natural Selection is... Kimura's Genetic Drift becomes just another proccess, or Selection is merely an abstraction that we Humans created to indicate a phenomena within our Evolutionary Cronology, orrr ... I don't know XD something...

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  4. @Dr. Egnor
    ...opening the door on Tourette's clinic keg party.

    Very good description of the pharyngula croud!

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  5. @oleg
    It's safe to say that you do not understand theory of evolution...

    In English now:

    It's safe to say that you do not believe in the dogma of evolution...

    I don't either!

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  6. Edward,

    I agree. You don't know squat about the subject.

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  7. So, Mr. Egnor, you agree that species change over time and that the mechanism driving that change is natural selection in a constantly changing environment.

    You just think it's "obvious."

    That's an argument?

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  8. @oleg:

    [It's safe to say that you do not understand theory of evolution. Natural selection is not a tautology.]

    [If it were trivially true then it would apply in each and every situation.]

    Natural selection does no conceptual work. It does reduce to 'survivors survive', because ultimately the only testable reproducible criterion for adaptative change is 'that which augments relative reproductive success', which at the species level means 'survival of the species'. Thus, at the species level, 'survivors survive'. The epitome of science banality.

    [However, that is not the case. It is well known (Kimura) that selection only works in sufficiently large populations. In small population, random drift dominates over selection.]

    Neutral drift is not adaptive, by definition. The argument made by atheists is that evolutionary theory explains biological adaptation. Therefore, neutral drift cannot be invoked as an argument supporting the adequacy of Darwin's theory to explain adaptation.

    Interestingly, Andreas Wagner's work on neutral evolution and selection is a thinly-disguised recognition of Behe's irreducible complexity, and is an attempt to use neutral theory to account for evolution of irreducibly complex structures.

    [This is textbook stuff, Mike. For some reason, you have decided to make a fool of yourself. I say you are succeeding beyond anyone's expectations.]

    I don't give a shit what you think of me. I just want you thugs to have to publicly answer for your ideas. Everytime you do, you lose, because people can see that behind the bluster is awfully shallow science and crap metaphysics.

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  9. Pépé: It's safe to say that you do not believe in the dogma of evolution...

    Pépé, I understand that you are trying to be snarky, but there is nothing wrong with orthodoxy in science. Crack open some books on the history of science and you will learn that it is an inherently conservative enterprise. There is good reason why new ideas are resisted as long as they can be.

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  10. Now looking at the part where the possible tautology happens, I see both points: Egnor's and PZ's.

    I mean if I am not mistaken Bach have already said about how the reproductive success is key to evolution. However Dr Egnor's is not wrong is saying that relativally better replicator replicate relativally better. Maybe the survivors Survive is a bit too far, but it is exactly what the claim is.

    I mean Anon(KW) has spoken on how the best replicator will eventually become a major genetic player within the population, but still. Damn this Model only works for Male-Female especies that live together.

    Anyway like I said to KW, I think this will eventually lead to Genetic Drift. Too lazy to do all possible simple scenarios... But anyway, a simple technical question, I have no idea what the answer is and NO, it is not a trick question XD.

    How much better does the BEST REPLICATOR has to be to conquer the genetic pool?

    How much the difference in number of individuals, between the BEST and the OTHER replicators, we need to have for the BEST REPLICATOR to conquer the genetic pool?

    Actually One question take to the other really. All in all the question is something of the sort, How successful the Best Replicator has to be, or how many sons and daughters it has to produce in relation to it's peers so we can guarantee that it's genetic characteristics will be the dominant characteristics in the Genetic Pool.

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  11. Oleg, ... please show me what I don't know... your intimidation tactics will not work with me.

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  12. Egnor: Natural selection does no conceptual work. It does reduce to 'survivors survive', because ultimately the only testable reproducible criterion for adaptative change is 'that which augments relative reproductive success', which at the species level means 'survival of the species'. Thus, at the species level, 'survivors survive'. The epitome of science banality.

    Mike,

    You are not thinking straight. Take a deep breath. Step away from the keyboard.

    Natural selection does not reduce to survivors survive. Fitness can be defined separately from reproductive success. In fact, it has been. This paper [1] measured how the ability of a phage to infect bacteria increased in time. That is precisely how natural selection works.

    Neutral drift is not adaptive, by definition. The argument made by atheists is that evolutionary theory explains biological adaptation. Therefore, neutral drift cannot be invoked as an argument supporting the adequacy of Darwin's theory to explain adaptation.

    Category error, Mike! Concentrate! I did not use genetic drift as an example of natural selection in action. I used it as a counterexample. You said natural selection is a tautology, so it must be trivially true. I pointed out that it isn't. Natural selection works in certain limits, whereas it is dominated by other effects in other limits. So it is not trivially true but it does work in certain cases. That's typical of any scientific theory.

    (continued)

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  13. Egnor: Interestingly, Andreas Wagner's work on neutral evolution and selection is a thinly-disguised recognition of Behe's irreducible complexity, and is an attempt to use neutral theory to account for evolution of irreducibly complex structures.

    Oh, evolutionists are groping in the dark following the path led by the luminaries of ID! LOL! Not only can't Behe produce any original ideas (his irreducible complexity is borrowed wholesale from good old YECs at the Institute for Creation Research). His knowledge of his own field is so bad that he is spanked by beginning graduate students.

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  14. @anon:

    [So, Mr. Egnor, you agree that species change over time and that the mechanism driving that change is natural selection in a constantly changing environment.

    You just think it's "obvious."

    That's an argument?]

    Species do change over time, obviously.

    Natural selection is not a 'mechanism'. It's merely a restatement of species change over time (survivors survive) using science jargon.

    The 'mechanism' of species change, like the mechanism of all change in nature, is teleology, formal cause, efficient cause, and material cause. That is, change in nature is a complex interplay of processes that are the proper object of science.

    Natural selection is a banality that pretends to explain, but that does no explanatory lifting.

    It is atheism's creation myth.

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  15. Arguing like Egnor is fun! Let's dismantle economics:

    "The law of supply and demand" is tautological. Goods are expensive because people are willing to pay more for them? Duh! Adam Smith must have been a real dullard!

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  16. This paper [1] measured how the ability of a phage to infect bacteria increased in time. That is precisely how natural selection works.

    _____________________________________

    So Natural Selection is a proccess! Holy shit Oleg, was is it really all that hard to give a straight answer ???

    I mean I was here thinking to myself that You and BachFiend were pretty civil atheists in the NetWorld, but I retract my thoughts... BachFiend is pretty civil XD.

    Maybe KW ... whatever that means.

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  17. Edward,

    I am not trying to intimidate you. But this stuff is totally, mind-bogglingly wrong:

    I mean Anon(KW) has spoken on how the best replicator will eventually become a major genetic player within the population, but still. Damn this Model only works for Male-Female especies that live together.

    Anyway like I said to KW, I think this will eventually lead to Genetic Drift. Too lazy to do all possible simple scenarios... But anyway, a simple technical question, I have no idea what the answer is and NO, it is not a trick question XD.

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  18. @oleg:

    Explain Wagner's work.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Egnor: "Natural selection is not a 'mechanism.' It's merely a restatement of species change over time"

    By this logic, deliberate breeding of animals for certain characteristics isn't a "mechanism" either. It's merely the observation that Farmer Smith's sheep are getting woolier every year.

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  20. Egnor: Explain Wagner's work.

    I will. But first you will have to jump through some hoops.

    1. You apologize for calling me a thug. Which I am not.

    2. You learn some basic evolutionary biology. It will be a waste of time otherwise.

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  21. @oleg:

    [Category error, Mike! Concentrate! I did not use genetic drift as an example of natural selection in action. I used it as a counterexample. You said natural selection is a tautology, so it must be trivially true. I pointed out that it isn't. Natural selection works in certain limits, whereas it is dominated by other effects in other limits.]

    Tautologies have limits. 'A is A' doesn't work for 'B'. Where did you ever get the idea that that application of tautologies is unlimited? If I assert that 'heat is hot', which is a tautology, that tautology doesn't apply to music appreciation, which doesn't involve heat.


    [So it is not trivially true but it does work in certain cases. That's typical of any scientific theory.]

    Provide an example in which natural selection does not 'explain' adaptation. Note that I am specifically asking about adaptation, not neutral drift.

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  22. Mike, read the paper I cited. You'll learn something. That beats ranting in my book. Don't know about you, though.

    And apologize for calling me a thug.

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  23. Well Oleg then use your mind desboggler, and explain your point. Or Are too many light years ahead of me that you can't explain ???

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  24. @oleg:

    Explain Wagner's work.

    No preconditions. I'm saying that you know nothing of Wagner. Prove me wrong.

    And you get the appelation 'thug' removed when you emphatically disavow the professional and personal attacks on scientists who disagree with the atheist/materialist aspects of Darwinism.

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  25. Mike,

    I don't talk to people who call me a thug. They are just not civil enough for my taste.

    Retract your slanderous accusation, apologize, and we will move on.

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  26. @oleg:

    I'm being called uncivil by an atheist!

    What objective moral law is the basis for your accusation of civility? Or is civility just an evolved difference of opinion?

    You want me to apologize for my evolution? For my chemistry? After all, I have no free will, so I had no choice in calling you a thug.

    How can you hold me responsible for behavior that evolved, for which I have no freedom to choose or reject, and that is caused by my brain chemistry?

    Atheism is funny.

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  27. Egnor: "What objective moral law is the basis for your accusation of civility?"

    What objective moral law can theism claim, when its countless sects differ on all the major moral questions? Atheists don't have the key to ultimate knowledge, Mr. Egnor. And neither do you.

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  28. My hypothesis that Michael suffers from the Geschwind syndrome (hyperactivity of the temporal lobe cortex and limbic system) is getting progressively stronger.

    Talk about polygraphia. Are you certain you don't have temporal lobe epilepsy Michael? It need not be generalized.

    'Survivors survive' is the silliest summary of natural selection I've heard. Nothing survives forever. Actually, being able to live longest may actually be counterproductive in passing the individual's genes to the following generations. Each individual genome is a recipe for constructing bodies with variations in the proportions of the parts. Putting more energy into growing stronger bones and larger muscles in prey animals may allow them to run away from predators better, but there's usually a tradeoff with putting less energy into reproducing.

    An individual may even be very fit, but less fertile, or even sterile as in mules.

    Actually, I disagree with Oleg. Kimura was talking about neutral or near neutral mutations in small populations, largely with one triplet codon being replaced by a codon for exactly the same amino acid, or a very similar one.

    Formation of new species almost always requires geographic isolation of two or more breeding populations for sufficiently long enough with sufficiently different environments to allow sufficient genetic differences to accumulate to prevent successful interbreeding.

    And this may take a very long time to happen. Polar bear and brown bears diverged 800,000 years ago, and they're still capable of interbreeding.

    Small populations may change faster than larger ones, but they may not be actually better adapted for the environment. If you have two species formed by geographic isolation, which is then removed so that the two new species can mingle, no certain predictions can be made. The two species might be able to coexist, because they have adapted to eat different foods. The more numerous species might be better adapted and cause the less numerous species to go extinct. Or vice versa. European squirrels were well adapted to England, but as soon as Eastern American squirrels, which are very similar, were introduced into London, the native squirrels went extinct.

    Edward,

    I think you're confused thinking about the Best Replicator. You really need to think of evolution working at the level of the gene as in Richard Dawkins' 'the Selfish Gene' because in subsequent generations the genes in the genome are constantly being mixed and matched with different combinations of other genes. Queen Elizabeth II may be a direct descendent of William the Conqueror, but she almost certainly doesn't share many if any genes with him.

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  29. @oleg;

    [Retract your slanderous accusation, apologize, and we will move on.]

    What would ever make you think that I want to "move on"? You have just made a demand that contradicts your beliefs.

    You demand that I take moral responsibility for an act (calling you a thug) for which you have argued emphatically that I have no moral responsiblity.

    Atheism today reduces to philosophical naturalism. if philosohical naturalism is true, than there is no objective morality. There are only moral opinions of individuals. That leaves you with no objective moral law (i.e. 'calling someone a thug is uncivil') to which to appeal.

    You and I just have different opinions. My opinion is that you are a thug. Your opinion is that you are not a thug. There is no standard by which our different views can be judged, if philosophical naturalism is true.

    Furthermore, you assert that our minds/brains are entirely evolved material structures, and that free will is an illusion. How can an unfree material structure apologize? Do you ask a rock to apologize when you trip over it?

    Your metaphysics is bullshit. When you apologize for that, I'll apologize for calling you a thug.

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  30. Edward,

    Teddy Roosevelt, big game hunter, couldn’t see how zebra stripes gave the zebra any advantage because zebras remain extremely easy to see. What Roosevelt didn’t appreciate it only takes a very small selection advantage for mutation to spread through a population.

    According to the science of population genetics, a group of individuals with a new mutation that leave101 offspring verses an equivalent group without the mutation that leave 100 offspring have a selection coefficient s of 0.01. The formula for determining the number of generations for a mutation to spread through the population is.

    2/s ln(2N), where N is the number of individuals in a population, and ln is the natural logarithm

    For a population of 10,000 individuals, and a selection coefficient of 0.01, it would take 1980 generations for that mutation to become fixed in the population.

    The hard part is spreading the mutation when only a very few individuals posses it. Being 1% more likely to leave more offspring than your peers will do you no good if a tree falls on you.

    -KW

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  31. It's a sad spectacle, really. An old man, a tenured professor at a major research university, a frickin' vice chair of the neurosurgery department calls his fellow academic a thug. And can't to see how dorky he looks after that.

    Why would he do that? I will venture a hunch. He has recently converted from atheism to Christianity and wants to atone for his "lost years." No zealot like a convert.

    Well, go on, Mike. Keep making a fool of yourself. It's a free world. You are free to think that Ann Coulter is on to something. Or that Michael Behe and Bill Dembski are making a revolution in biology. There is no shortage of delusional people on teh interwebz and you will be in good company.

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  32. @bachfiend:

    Please cite an adaptation that is not the result of natural selection?

    If natural selection is not a tautology, there must certainly be empirical data that is not in accordance with it. No actual non-tautological scientific theory accords with ALL of the data.

    The challenge: one adaptation that is is inconsistent with natural selection.

    If you can't name one, then there are two options:

    1) Natural selection is the only scientific theory that accords with every single bit of relevant data in history.

    2) Natural selection is a tautology.

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  33. @Mike,
    On the abuse, I can 100% relate. I have only ever experienced the same kid of hysterical reaction from religious fanatics. One's skin thickens to it, but it NEVER ceases to amaze me what they come up with by way of insult, attack, and idle threat.
    "Survivor's survive" is what the idea/observation boils down to. I think it is a very fair reduction; perhaps a little too kind.
    For me 'sh!t happens' sums up the Atheist/Materialist position nicely. The finch beaks and crystal hopping RNA etc are all just the 'flies'.
    You wrote:
    "Much of evolutionary theory is dedicated to hiding this banality and tautology under shovelfulls of science jargon."
    Exactly. So nice to see this tactic shown for what it is.
    A 'snowjob' is the expression we would use up this way and in my walk. Any working stiff would recognize the tactic when used by salesmen trying to sell electronics or vehicles. We all know the pitch...Piles of technical terms and details to distract from the obvious drawbacks and pitfalls of spending your money. It is an insult to the intelligence.
    Clearly the noxious reaction to your position shows just how important it is to 'call it like it is'.
    *tips hat*

    @Pépé,
    Nor do I. I just do NOT see the Emperor's new clothes.

    @St Oleg the Myopic (martyr of NS),
    Oleg states that Pepe is trying to be snarky. I disagree. I think Pepe IS being very successfully snarky.
    St. Oleg rote:
    "Crack open some books on the history of science and you will learn that it is an inherently conservative enterprise. There is good reason why new ideas are resisted as long as they can be."
    So it is written, so it shall be done!
    Except when it's YOUR pet 'theory', right? Then all of the collected works of mankind (including Aristotle, Bacon, Newton, Aquinas, etc etc), centuries of thinking and philosophy, art, music, and theology can ALL be rubbished to justify Oleg's monistic materialism and it's pretentious position on scientific truth and origins theory....right? After all there may be no prime mover, no God that HAS to exist, but Atheists HAVE to at least LOOK smart. It's all they have.

    @ Edward,
    If I understand your question, you are asking how do variables such as population and sex/mating ritual/habit effect the evolutionary models; your inquiry also seems to infer that this makes predictions in such models extremely difficult (especially in wild populations). I too would like to hear an answer to this. You also introduce the notion of one genetic group that would 'conquer the genetic pool' into this conversation. Such conquest would necessarily reduce diversity, no? It would DETRACT from the gene pool, not add to it. Information would be lost, not gained.
    Further, I would like to suggest that such studies, when divorced from morality and directed at humanity could lead to eugenic / racialist kinds of movements.

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  34. Mr. Egnor, your opinion is that morality can only be derived from (some particular subset of) religious beliefs? And that this somehow constitutes an "objective standard?"

    Pardon me if that's not self-evident.

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  35. Oleg, oleg, why so testy?

    If philosophical naturalism is true, I have no free will, there are no objective standards of moral behavior, and I'm just evolved meat.

    Why do you get offended when I have no libertarian free will to do otherwise?

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  36. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  37. Plain and simple, Mike. It's called the golden rule. Theists don't have a lock on that.

    And testy? No, I don't think so. Slightly surprised and sad is more like it. I have a feeling that sooner or later you are going to regret your silly antics.

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  38. @anon:

    Anonymous said...
    [Mr. Egnor, your opinion is that morality can only be derived from (some particular subset of) religious beliefs? And that this somehow constitutes an "objective standard?"

    Pardon me if that's not self-evident.]

    Objective morality (moral law that has existence apart from human opinion) necessarily presupposes a Mind (a law is an intelligible principle) that is not human.

    If you are a philosophical naturalist (the form modern atheism takes), then there can be no extra-human moral law, because there can be no extra-human (supernatural) Mind.

    Atheists cannot invoke objective moral law without self-contradiction.

    Theists can invoke objective moral law without self-contradiction.

    The form that law takes is a matter for discussion, but you, as an atheism, can't be a part of that discussion, because you deny the existence of objective moral law.

    'Atoms and the void' doesn't get you a ticket to the debate.

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  39. Michael,

    The peacock's tail. It's an adaptation. It attracts the peahens. But it's certainly not a result of natural selection. It doesn't allow the peacock to run away or hide from predators as well as birds with less elaborate tails. It actually advertises honestly to the peahens that its bearer is so strong that it can survive the disadvantages of having such a large appendage.

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  40. @oleg:

    Why criticize me, if I had no free will to choose otherwise?

    How can you blame me for my evolution?

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  41. @bachfiend;

    [The peacock's tail. It's an adaptation.]

    Sexual selection is a form of natural selection. Duh.

    Keep trying...

    ReplyDelete
  42. Hey thanks people for replying to me XD.

    u_u I can't thank Oleg for doing that though.

    @Bach

    I surely see what you mean, I didn't want to get as low/small as the gene level, but sionce I have no choice. Bach, what if I treat the gene, as if they were individuals, and competing with each other ???

    is it Richard Dawkins overall take on his Selfish Gene or Gene-Oriented Evolution ???

    Would my question, if changed to gene ability to replicate still applies? Like, how good thew gene has to be to beat it's competitors?

    @Anon ( Who happens to be KW )

    Selection coefficient... Lemme me make a overall question. What about disadvantegeous mutation. Like a certain amount of sight lost. I mean how Could I guarantee that Natural selection will choose the Advantegeous trait, or how advantageous it has to be so natural selction will obviously choose that trait?

    Still KW, my question is sort of hanging... I mean in the 10,000 you spoke of, how many individuals would the mutant need to produce to gain the "game".

    So I think I made like 2 questions for you. Natural Selections "abilities", and More and less a number of individuals that are necessary to achieve the major "role" on the gene pool.

    @Crusade

    The idea really is more the description and the dynamics of the number within a population. No matter what I can never make sense of the numbers. I can surely see why certain traits spread like wild-fire within a population let's say. But still... Think of it as something like, 2 Alpha males trying to conquer the Savanna or the Zoo. but since they they have "sex" every month let's say, on the same rate, like twice a month both, the overall genetic pool is sort of 50-50, and with time it will be a hybrid genetic pool of those two. With some extremes here and there, but just pretend that the chances of mixing the traits is reidiculously high.

    In the end neither trait won, they just got mixed that is all.

    Maybe some information might be lost, or maybe the information as long as you are just changing within a especies, will remain overall the same. However a fullfledged take over will definatelly erase some information I suppose.

    See The Genetic code is hardcore, because it is like a command script, so maybe this question doesn't even apply at all. But if you were to think in a overall/idealized way, Hybridzation seems to win most of the times. I mean you could do a model with High Levels of Natural Selection, and say that A had better chances to win.

    But ... what if A had the trait of the 12 inch dick and B had the 13 inch dick... I mean that is kind of indifferent for Natural Selection; as long as it works...

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  43. “If you can't name one, then there are two options:

    1) Natural selection is the only scientific theory that accords with every single bit of relevant data in history.

    2) Natural selection is a tautology.”

    Number one. With the exception of abiogenesis, evolution explains all of biology. Even if certain particulars of evolutionary history remain forever hidden from observation, we can be confident that all life on earth shares a common ancestor, and that, broadly speaking; evolution is responsible for all aspects of biology.

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  44. I just want you thugs to have to publicly answer for your ideas.

    Awfully big talk for as man whose blog has a grand total of eight followers. Your influence is truly impressive.

    ReplyDelete
  45. Anon ...

    What about Natural Selection O_O ??? I thought that shit played a very important role somewhere.


    Actually ... the Common Ancestor idea is pretty falling slowly into the darkness. Ever heard about the Common Goods Model? or theory ?

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  46. Oh wait, it's actually only seven. Egnor is so pathetic that he had to follow his own blog to try to pad the numbers.

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  47. Egnor: "Objective morality (moral law that has existence apart from human opinion) necessarily presupposes a Mind (a law is an intelligible principle) that is not human."

    Nonsense. Morality might be "objective" (i.e., consistent with reality) from any number of perspectives. And the Mind you're talking about is a religious belief, very far from universally shared even within the vast panoply of human religions, and hardly an objective truth.

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  48. I notice Egnor's finely-honed objective sense of morality failed to prevent him from calling someone a "thug" on the basis of presumed) guilt by association. Somewhere out in the aether, "Mind" must be shaking his head sadly.

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  49. "Objective morality (moral law that has existence apart from human opinion) necessarily presupposes a Mind (a law is an intelligible principle) that is not human."

    Because there is actual evidence for neither, you don't really have a leg to stand on when you claim that you have any kind of moral code then. You bluster about it a lot, but it is entirely unsupported and unjustified bluster.

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  50. @anon:

    [Nonsense. Morality might be "objective" (i.e., consistent with reality) from any number of perspectives. And the Mind you're talking about is a religious belief, very far from universally shared even within the vast panoply of human religions, and hardly an objective truth.]

    The "Mind" I'm talking about is a logical prerequisite for a coherent understanding of moral law.

    "Objective" does not mean 'consistent with reality'.

    "Objective" means the antithesis of subjective. it means that moral law exists in a way that is independent of human minds.

    A simple test for the objectivity of moral law is this question:

    Is it possible for something to be morally wrong, even of all people thought it was right?

    If yes, then moral law exists in some sense independently of human minds.

    That leaves non-human Mind. Spooky...

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  51. @anon:

    [Because there is actual evidence for neither, you don't really have a leg to stand on when you claim that you have any kind of moral code then. You bluster about it a lot, but it is entirely unsupported and unjustified bluster.]

    It's logic, not evidence. If moral law is not in some real sense objective (independent of human opinion), then all claims of morality merely assertions of opinion. Killing Jews is wrong, but heck that's just my opinion. Eichmann is entitled to his opinion.

    Do you like raping babies? Is your belief just an opinion, or is there something about raping babies that is qualitatively different from, say, choice in flavor of ice cream?

    If everybody said it was ok to rape babies, would it still be wrong to do so?

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  52. Watch out Dr... soon RickK will show up and hype his materialistic view and ... well, he is just gonna ignore anything but materialism.

    Yeah ... he u_u didn't even cared about my reply in another thread XD. But whatever n_n right.

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  53. It's logic, not evidence. If moral law is not in some real sense objective (independent of human opinion), then all claims of morality merely assertions of opinion.

    The fact that you really really want your morality to be objective is not "logic". Absent evidence of some sort of non-human "mind" (that you assert it necessary), claims to objective morality are just wishful thinking.

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  54. Actually Doctor, Logic is the first front on inquiry. So even Logical conclusions can be considered evidence.

    Depending on what Epystemology one is talking about, the level of quality of a logical argument varies. And sometimes it becomes unacceptable because the conclusion somehow runs away from the parameters.

    Well Ontology can also play a role.

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  55. Anon that is not it. You first assert that Objective morality exist. Then you conclude that a Mind is necessary to create Laws, then you wonder Who's mind it is.



    Now let me guess your next move... Epystemological Barrier Tactic ?
    Ontological Barrier Tactic ?

    I bet it will be Epystemological Barrier... but if you are about to use scientism, I must warm you that Objective or Subjective morality are Ontological things.

    Epystemology won't do any good here.

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  56. You first assert that Objective morality exist.

    Ah yes, you assume your conclusion. How very convincing.

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  57. Egnor: " 'Objective' does not mean 'consistent with reality'."

    American Heritage Dictionary:

    1. Of or having to do with a material object.
    2. Having actual existence or reality.
    3.a. Uninfluenced by emotions or personal prejudices: an objective critic. See Synonyms at fair1.
    b. Based on observable phenomena; presented factually

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  58. One might also note that the question of whether one should refrain from insulting others is not a question of morality. It is a question of courtesy.

    Why one would take seriously the moral musings of someone who erroneously conflates the two is an open question.

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  59. Anon, I am sorry for using the wrong word. You try to conclude Objective morality.

    Just on a side note. Not trying to convince you of anything but how the argument goes.

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  60. Perhaps Mr. Egnor can tell us how we may distinguish between moral and immoral actions, given that the claimed approval of a supposed Mind is not in itself objectively demonstrable?

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  61. @Edward: That doesn't help your argument. Once again you are presupposing your intended conclusion. And you don't have any basis for your presupposition.

    There is no evidence for an "objective morality", just as there is no evidence for any kind of supernatural "mind" that Egnor asserts is necessary for such an "objective morality".

    The point is that Egnor's claims to have some sort of objective morality on his side are built on a foundation of nothing other than his raw assertion. As noted before, he is full of bluster on this point, but nothing backs up the bluster. His "logic" amounts to nothing more than wishful thinking on his part.

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  62. Golden rule is damn good evidence. A universel rule of morality that transcends Human opinion.

    And anyway, no evidence doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

    by the way I am not pressuposing my conclusion.

    Humans only form Subjective Morality
    Objective Morality exists

    so you have to find where that Moralities come from which will end up being God in the Christian argumentation.

    If subjective Morality is all there is, you are in no position to say what he is suppose to do. It means that even in instinct you believe that somethings are right and other things are wrong.
    Therefore Objective morality, Objective way to live your life, Things that are Right for real.

    Now if you believe that there is no real morality, than Dr Egnor can call you thugs as much as he wants. Not like that is gonna make difference right?

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  63. @Edward: "you have to find where that Moralities come from which will end up being God in the Christian argumentation."

    Which Christian augmentation? During the antebellum era, Christianity was deeply divided on the question of whether slavery was moral. Even if we suppose that the kind of objective morality you posit does in fact exist, Christianity doesn't appear to have any more reliable access to it than the rest of us do.

    In other words, theism is no more consistent or reliable on the subject than is atheism or pantheism.

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  64. Sharry, I guess I am talking about Christian Apologetics... c'mon that was easy to spot.

    You are confusing stuff Sharry. You are talking about Social phenomena and trying to infer the phylosophy/religion/ideology's ontology based on what it produced.

    For instance, Atheists say that Evolution through the Darwinian Machanism gave Human it's morals. They might be correct.

    Now what if I say that Materialism has done all sort of evil things to human beings because of it's own conception of the world, anything that materialism can say including Darwinism is worthless.

    See, it is not Theism or Atheism and Pantheism faults that people are just fucked up.

    So social arguments are no good to judge Ontology. Is not like people follow all the rules to begin with.

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  65. Golden rule is damn good evidence. A universel rule of morality that transcends Human opinion.

    No it isn't. First off, the Golden Rule doesn't appear to be universal. Many people don't adhere to it, and many societies clearly don't - the ancient Hebrews clearly didn't think it applied in their dealings with other tribes for example.

    Second, the Golden Rule, to the extent that it is accepted, is clearly a pragmatic rule, and hence has no need to be "objective" to be useful and valuable.

    And anyway, no evidence doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

    No evidence does mean there is no reason to believe it exists. It certainly means there is no basis for stating that there is some grounding for your assertions that you are somehow supported by objective morality.

    by the way I am not pressuposing my conclusion.

    Humans only form Subjective Morality
    Objective Morality exists


    How is this not presupposing your conclusion?

    so you have to find where that Moralities come from which will end up being God in the Christian argumentation.

    If you assume objective morality does exist first. That is presupposing your conclusion. And even if you do assume that, then there is still no reason to leap to "god" as the source. If you asserting a supernatural origin for something, you can't draw any conclusions about it at all.

    If subjective Morality is all there is, you are in no position to say what he is suppose to do. It means that even in instinct you believe that somethings are right and other things are wrong.

    You can have instinctual beliefs and not have objective morality. Some behaviors are clearly evolutionarily beneficial because humans are social animals. People who are predisposed to act in a way that promotes group cohesion would be advantaged in such groups, and thus groups they were in would be more likely to prosper. Groups composed of individuals less able to work together would do poorly, and die out.

    Therefore Objective morality, Objective way to live your life, Things that are Right for real.

    And you still have no evidence that there is an objective way to live your life. Your argument is still failing at a most fundamental level.

    Now if you believe that there is no real morality, than Dr Egnor can call you thugs as much as he wants. Not like that is gonna make difference right?

    You are confusing morality with manners. The one has nothing to do with the other. Unless you are going to try to assert there is an objective code of manners?

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  66. Edward: "Is not like people follow all the rules to begin with."

    Of course not. The question we're discussing is how people might determine what those rules are (if there are in fact rules)? Unless the alleged moral law (whichever one you choose to embrace) is objectively discoverable, then it's simply another faith object, hopelessly subjective.

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  67. Edward.

    All mutations start with a single individual. It only takes one. Given the rate of genetic mutation can be quantified, it’s possible that the same beneficial mutation could arise independently more than once, but chances are, depending on the value of the selection coefficient, that the first occurrence of the beneficial mutation would dominate is subsequent generations. Of course when only one, or a small number, of individuals in a population have a beneficial mutation, that mutation may indeed fail to spread in the population. For instance, if you’re slightly better at evading a predator than your peers, there’s still a chance you’ll be lunch.

    Most mutations are indeed detrimental to fitness. Some can be so catastrophic that the organism fails shortly after its conception. Mutations that have only a slight negative inpact of fitness can and do spread for many generations but will always be at a disadvantage.

    Common Goods Theory? What the heck is that? Don’t tell me, let me guess, another 13th century attempt at explanation? Please provide me with one fact that contradicts the notion that all life on earth shares a common ancestor.

    -KW

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  68. @sharry:

    [The question we're discussing is how people might determine what those rules are (if there are in fact rules)? Unless the alleged moral law (whichever one you choose to embrace) is objectively discoverable, then it's simply another faith object, hopelessly subjective.]

    No. The real question is whether moral law exists that is independent of human opinion. Objective moral law.

    Whether we can know it, how we can know it, etc are separate questions.

    I have only asked if it exists of itself, outside human opinion.

    I propose that it does, because denying it leads to necessary conclusions that we all accept as absurd.

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  69. Egnor: "No. The real question is whether moral law exists that is independent of human opinion. Objective moral law. Whether we can know it, how we can know it, etc are separate questions."

    Hardly. If an objective moral law exists but is unknowable, then you arrive at the same paradox you seem to abhor: Your guess is as good as mine.

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  70. Golden Rule, Pragmatism

    _____________________________________________

    Well it is still a rule among their people. It is just that our image of the human race changed over time. We started watching other country's people as equals.

    People can be Imoral Anon. Unless you pressupose that morality has to be strict, like no choice but do that, which would lead back to Amorality, since is not like you have choice to begin with, so therefore no Morality, and Dr Egnor's name calling is once again not wrong or right.

    Still, why the pragmatic essence of it has something to do with it's obejctiveness ??? objecctive rules can be pragmatic... Unless someone is just pressuposing that humans HAVE to FORM societies. Which would once again create a form of Objective morality, even if created by Evolution ( instincts )

    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

    Argumenting in circles objection and the Supernatural

    ____________________________________________

    Well the golden rule and our society constructing behavior con be considered Objective huh ???

    Second, that is bullshit, if we can't conclude anything about the supernatural how the fuck you concluded that we can't conclude anything O_Ohuh ??????

    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

    Evolution and meaning of the Word Morality
    _____________________________________________

    Nothing guarantees that they will die out to begin with... actually nothing guarantees that such group with no or poor social instincts existed in the first place.

    Second what do you mean by morality... You mean rules ??? Aren't rules actions ???

    So I guess Morality and behavior is connected somehow.

    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

    Manners...

    ________________________________________________

    Than Anon why you bust his balls about his manners... there is no objective code of manners XD to begin with right ??? So why should he NOT call you thugs, because he has to be good to other humans ??? but being good to other people is just bullshit, he can turn that off any time he wants to, so there is no real code for manners and therefore... errr he doesn't need to use it.

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  71. @Sharry,

    Exactly. What @Edward seems to be missing is that without some evidence that one can use to determine that this "objective morality" is actually real, then all claims to be applying "objective morality" are no more objective than the subjective morality that Egnor seems to be so derisive of. And since one has no way of determining what that objective morality might actually be, it's application is ultimately just as subjective as subjective morality. Egnor just cloaks his assertions of morality with unjustified significance over others, and the only basis for this is "he wants it to be so".

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  72. @Sharry

    Now you confused Epystemology of Ethics with Ontology of Ethics.

    What Dr Egnor is talking in the second one.

    But speaking of the first ... what options do you thinki we have.

    There are inumerous Ethical theories. What Method you suppose we should use: Reason ??? Science ??? Religion ??? Phylosophy ???

    there are ways ...

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  73. @ KW

    http://www.biology-direct.com/content/pdf/1745-6150-6-41.pdf

    Don't hate me man.

    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

    @Anon that is Anon

    Once again you are making the same confusion that Sharry is doing. Epystemology and Ontology are 2 different things... anyway if Objective morality is real, how do you think we could find it ???

    In human minds ??? Exploring the Nature of things ??? Watching Animals behave ??? Undrstanding Evolution ???

    ReplyDelete
  74. All mutations start with a single individual. It only takes one. Given the rate of genetic mutation can be quantified, it’s possible that the same beneficial mutation could arise independently more than once, but chances are, depending on the value of the selection coefficient, that the first occurrence of the beneficial mutation would dominate is subsequent generations. Of course when only one, or a small number, of individuals in a population have a beneficial mutation, that mutation may indeed fail to spread in the population. For instance, if you’re slightly better at evading a predator than your peers, there’s still a chance you’ll be lunch.

    Most mutations are indeed detrimental to fitness. Some can be so catastrophic that the organism fails shortly after its conception. Mutations that have only a slight negative inpact of fitness can and do spread for many generations but will always be at a disadvantage.

    __________________________________________

    KW, I still wonder how the advantage has to be. For instance, what should we talk about... Gene, morphology, Society... Dunno, what level should we discuss this advantage that will be chosen ?

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  75. Well it is still a rule among their people. It is just that our image of the human race changed over time. We started watching other country's people as equals.

    You asserted the rule's universility. And yet it is not universal.

    Still, why the pragmatic essence of it has something to do with it's obejctiveness ??? objecctive rules can be pragmatic...

    But the fact that a rule is pragmatic means it would be adopted whether or not it was part of some sort of "objective" moral code. And thus the Golden Rule, even if it were universal (which it is not), would not be evidence in favor of an objective morality. It is not evidence either way.

    Unless someone is just pressuposing that humans HAVE to FORM societies. Which would once again create a form of Objective morality, even if created by Evolution ( instincts )

    Not in the sense that Egnor asserts. He asserts that to have objective morality it has to come from a nonhuman source. In fact, he asserts that it must be a supernatural source. Hence, evolved behaviors are, in his opinion, "subjective morality".

    Well the golden rule and our society constructing behavior con be considered Objective huh ???

    Do you even know what Egnor means when he asserts that there is objective morality?

    Second, that is bullshit, if we can't conclude anything about the supernatural how the fuck you concluded that we can't conclude anything O_Ohuh ??????

    You really don't know what the argument here is do you?

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  76. I propose that it does, because denying it leads to necessary conclusions that we all accept as absurd.

    No. It leads to conclusions that make you clutch your pearls and shriek. That's different from "absurd".

    As before when you used the word "logic" to mean "Egnor's wishful thinking", you now redefine the word "absurd" to mean "things Egnor doesn't like".

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  77. @Edward: "There are inumerous Ethical theories. What Method you suppose we should use: Reason ??? Science ??? Religion ??? Phylosophy ???"

    Perhaps we could begin by not discarding reason altogether. And as I've pointed out, "religion" has endorsed so many contradictory ethical propositions that it can't plausibly claim to be a useful tool for choosing among moral alternatives.

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  78. No evidence does mean there is no reason to believe it exists. It certainly means there is no basis for stating that there is some grounding for your assertions that you are somehow supported by objective morality.

    _____________________________________

    OOPS didn't see this here, I am very sorry.

    Now I am not yet asserting anything, but of course I guess you know my position.

    Actually if there is no evidence we just don't know. I have no evidence of how your face looks like... then I can draw no conclusion at all, I can't affirm or deny anything.

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  79. @Edward: Yes, lacking evidence, you defer a conclusion. Egnor doesn't. Lacking evidence, he asserts that he has objective morality on his side.

    There is no evidence objective morality even exists. There is no evidence for the supernatural "mind" that he assumes is necessary for objective morality to exist. There is no evidence for what the code of an objective morality might be if it did in fact exist, since it has a supernatural source that is fundamentally unknowable.

    And yet Egnor still claims that objective morality is on his side and dismisses anyone else with derision. The problem is, since he doesn't have any evidence for any of his assertions concerning his "objective morality", his morality is just as subjective as the people he derides. Only his is dishonest to boot.

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  80. Sharry

    What if one religion is correct... but let's use reason than.

    Let's make very simple questions. you use your opinion and reason and I use mine.

    Is it correct to murder people??? Yes, No, Depends???


    I believe that humans are valuable creatures, as much as any other creature in this planet. I don't believe that killing anyone will bring any good to society, to ourselves, and will take away the person's chance to live his or her life.

    There ... answer you side and we discuss if our ideas have anything Objective to them. you can start out by critizing my side than I do yours. If reason is worth as Epystemological tool ... we gonna find out I suppose.

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  81. @Edward: Yes, lacking evidence, you defer a conclusion. Egnor doesn't. Lacking evidence, he asserts that he has objective morality on his side.

    __________________________________________

    Anon, let me make that pragmatic question again... do you think Dr Egnor is wrong ??? I think you do. Why ???

    Is it just because society has taughts us to be good to others... well maybe Dr Egnor is sick and tired of that... he has his right to do as he wishes.
    Once again... if the Supernatural is unknowable how the heck you know it is unknowable... ??? you are contradicting yourself all the time here.

    Like I said before... you think he is wrong... why ???

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  82. Anon, let me make that pragmatic question again... do you think Dr Egnor is wrong ??? I think you do. Why ???

    Do I think he's wrong about what?

    Is it just because society has taughts us to be good to others... well maybe Dr Egnor is sick and tired of that... he has his right to do as he wishes.

    This is incoherent. Are you trying to assert that you think Egnor is tired of the societal convention that we should generally be civil to others and that's why he claims to have objective morality on his side?

    Once again... if the Supernatural is unknowable how the heck you know it is unknowable... ??? you are contradicting yourself all the time here.

    The supernatural is definitionally unknowable because things that are supernatural exist outside of the natural universe.

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  83. Not so fast, Edward. I'm not about to match ethical questions with you. That would prove nothing, since either of us could be right for the wrong reasons. Let's assume we're both decent people who want to do the right thing, okay? So the real question is, how do we identify "the right thing"?

    My own very fallible answers to ethical questions would revolve around fairness, reciprocity, and human well-being. I don't claim to be able to offer final answers. Sometimes these questions are hard to answer because they involve balancing unavoidable gains and losses.

    If you have a better way of making such judgments, please share it.

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  84. About his conduct !!!

    No, I think that if Subjective Morality is correct, than Dr Egnor is just using his right to be "evil" to other people, that is all. He is not really wrong or right.

    What is the Natural Universe ????

    Once again, if you know nothing about the supernatural than you can't conclude anything. It might be knowable, it might not, it could exist it could not. that is it.

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  85. @Edward: "What if one religion is correct."

    And how would we know that?

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  86. @Edward: Except that manners are a social construct. One can choose to ignore them, but then one is unmannerly. Or in simpler terms: rude. The fact that something may be socially constructed does not make it inviolable.

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  87. @sharry:

    [If an objective moral law exists but is unknowable, then you arrive at the same paradox you seem to abhor: Your guess is as good as mine.]

    Whatever. My question remains:

    Does moral law have existence independently of human minds?

    It's a rudimentary question. Perhaps yes, perhaps no.

    If no, then it is necessary to admit that morality is opinion, only. Nothing is right or wrong, just thinking makes it so. If you believe that, you're a monster.

    If yes (there is moral law independent of man), the next question is: how can we know it? Eventually, the question will be: what is its Source?

    The Source question is the one that makes you squirm, and say all sorts of nonsense.

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  88. Once again, if you know nothing about the supernatural than you can't conclude anything.

    We know that by definition the supernatural (if it exists) is outside of the natural universe. if it was within the natural universe then it would not be "supernatural", but rather "natural". By definition. I think you are having trouble grasping this.

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  89. If no, then it is necessary to admit that morality is opinion, only. Nothing is right or wrong, just thinking makes it so. If you believe that, you're a monster.

    As usual, you engage in the logical fallacy of reductio ad absurdium to create a strawman to knock down. If morality is a social construct then "just thinking does not make it so". Social mores chosen by humans as a group then drive morality.

    Of course, this makes you squirm, since you prefer to abdicate your responsibility for morality to some sort of vague "source". Its a pretty childish position you take actually.

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  90. @Sharry
    __________________________________________

    Afraid of something XD ???

    Well, you see even if you were to match ethics with me, we would end up here anyway.

    Let me point what I think I would do.

    Ethics deep down is an existential question. Because it pretty muchs tells how we human beings should act, when there is no strict rules of ethics laying around.

    First I would look inside my memory for experiences. Good and bad experiences, why are those here. Do other people have them too ??? You know simple questions.

    So Imagine Pain... pain, I found it bad to harm others. Funny isn't it, no pain and well-being are related...

    Now Reason and logic kicks in. If Pain is bad, then no pain is good. So I need to understand what pain is, in order to be able to confront it.

    And all dances around No-Pain policy.

    Could be other things... No poverty... No Killings... No wars... no taxes XD!

    You see, logic and reason are mechanisms that we human being uses, but those mechanisms are build inside of our heads through our more intuitive abstractions. So there is where I need to look for ethics, getr what I am saying?

    Logic and Reason kicks in later. Because what if I wore to tell you that, good is to have 16 hours of sex daily... You could say that, you don't share the same feelings as me but you would like to know where I got that idea from???

    And I stop ... ... where the idea that 16 hours of daily sex is good for real ???

    it must be something that happens as an instinct. So where I would try to find Objective morality... well inside our deepest, most simple abstractions, our emotions, our desires, those things that makes use humans. And Use reason later.

    Catch my drift?

    ReplyDelete
  91. @Egnor: I'm sorry, but "whatever" is not a persuasive argument. It doesn't work for fifteen-year-olds, and it doesn't look becoming on you, either.

    "Does moral law have existence independently of human minds?" Perhaps morality consists of standards of conduct, and perhaps its objective existence is not in some ethereal "Mind" but in the real consequences of behavior for human individuals and communities.

    ReplyDelete
  92. @Edward: Your last post was not actually an argument for objective morality, since it assumes that human minds are at the root of morality. You are arguing for subjective morality based upon human decision-making.

    ReplyDelete
  93. @Edward: "Ethics deep down is an existential question. Because it pretty muchs tells how we human beings should act, when there is no strict rules of ethics laying around."

    So you're saying morality is intuitive and that there is no objective moral law beyond our subjective intuitions? Good heavens, Edward, I think you're more of a subjectivist than I am!

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  94. And how would we know that?

    _____________________________________

    Hope I might have given my type of answer to that question Sharry.

    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

    We know that by definition the supernatural (if it exists) is outside of the natural universe. if it was within the natural universe then it would not be "supernatural", but rather "natural". By definition. I think you are having trouble grasping this.

    ______________________________________

    I am... I want to give the characteristics of the Natural World so we can know how the Supernatural world are or could possibly, or what couldn't possibly be...

    And by the way ... what if I were a Pantheist... the Supernatural is unknowable strategy won't work, after all, ALL IS GOD.

    So what i want to do is ... talk about how is the natural world for you???

    * And I have a good reason to do so... we know just a small portion or the natural world... so you gotta suppose something to talk about the Natural World *

    ReplyDelete
  95. @Edward: "Ethics deep down is an existential question. Because it pretty muchs tells how we human beings should act, when there is no strict rules of ethics laying around."

    So you're saying morality is intuitive and that there is no objective moral law beyond our subjective intuitions? Good heavens, Edward, I think you're more of a subjectivist than I am!

    ____________________________________________

    hahhahaaa, not necessarily Sharry, We humans do look a lot alike. I can understand you, ytou can understand me. Our ethical ideas are not all that different.

    And ... what guarantees do I have that humans minds are really all that different ;) huh ?

    ReplyDelete
  96. I am... I want to give the characteristics of the Natural World so we can know how the Supernatural world are or could possibly, or what couldn't possibly be...

    I suggest you consult a dictionary for the meaning of the word "supernatural".

    ReplyDelete
  97. And by the way ... what if I were a Pantheist... the Supernatural is unknowable strategy won't work, after all, ALL IS GOD.

    If you were a Pantheist then you wouldn't assert that God is supernatural.

    ReplyDelete
  98. @sharry:

    [I'm sorry, but "whatever" is not a persuasive argument. It doesn't work for fifteen-year-olds, and it doesn't look becoming on you, either.]

    Whatever.

    It's not an argument. It's an observation that your assertion is not relevant to the issue at hand.

    [Perhaps morality consists of standards of conduct, and perhaps its objective existence is not in some ethereal "Mind" but in the real consequences of behavior for human individuals and communities.]

    You argue therefore that morality is "is", not "ought".

    All sorts of behaviors have "is" consequences. Not a single one, nor all together, make "ought", which is qualitatively different, not merely quantitively, different.

    Behavior X may diminish individual or group surival.

    But that is different than the assertion that it is "morally wrong".

    You need to account for "morally wrong". Perhaps it is a mirage, a fallacy.

    Perhaps it is real.

    You cannot say anything coherent on the issue of morality until you address that issue.

    ReplyDelete
  99. @egnor: "You argue therefore that morality is 'is', not 'ought'."

    I sense the careful construction of a straw man. Is this the argument you wish I had made? Sorry to disappoint you.

    Pain is an objective reality, death is an objective reality, indignity is an objective reality, and behaviors that favor these outcomes may be objectively condemned even without the authorization of supernatural powers.

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  100. Anon, give the characteristics of the Natural world, otherwise it is just you intuitive take and my intuitive take on the natural world, and then we are going to go nowhere.

    On the Pantheist thing... well maybe ... maybe yes maybe no. Still Being God is pretty awesome. Without saying that Pantheism sometime merge with Panemtheism, but anyway, back to the definition of the Natural World.

    What are it's characteristics. Atmos following very strict rules. Atoms following probabilistic rules. Redusctionist world. Matter is there is. Fields is all there is. Nothing exists. Is what I can verify with my 5 senses. Is all things you perceive in the world.

    You knoe general rules...

    ReplyDelete
  101. @sharry:

    @egnor: "You argue therefore that morality is 'is', not 'ought'."

    [I sense the careful construction of a straw man. Is this the argument you wish I had made? Sorry to disappoint you.]

    You sense the construction of a logical argument.

    [Pain is an objective reality, death is an objective reality, indignity is an objective reality, and behaviors that favor these outcomes may be objectively condemned even without the authorization of supernatural powers.]

    They may be 'objectively' condemned.

    But you have given no ground for "ought", only for "is".

    And in doing so, you have said nothing about objective morality.

    Here again is my quesion:

    Can something be morally wrong even if all men everywhere and always believe it to be morally right?

    I do not ask if it is likely, or has or will happen, but if it is possible.

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  102. @Edward: You know, playing at semantics doesn't actually do your argument any good.

    ReplyDelete
  103. You sense the construction of a logical argument.

    You wouldn't know a logical argument if it smacked you in the nose with a two-by-four.

    ReplyDelete
  104. @egnor: "Can something be morally wrong even if all men everywhere and always believe it to be morally right?"

    If by "morally wrong" you mean irrational, destructive, inconsistent, unfair, and possibly lethal, then yes, of course, an action can be morally wrong despite anyone's belief to the contrary.

    If by "morally wrong" you mean "offensive to a purported deity," then the question is meaningless.

    ReplyDelete
  105. @ Ano

    It is not a matter of semantics really.

    See if you were to say that it is just atoms with strict rules than things like choice and teleology are SUPER-NATURAL

    If you were to say that it is all you can verify with your 5 senses, than Thoughts, You, planets I haven't found, the future, the past, they all become SUPER-NATURAL

    If matter is all there is, than the Big Bang was Super natural, or the quantum fluctuation is supernatural since that is all energy.

    If fields are all there is, than matter... SUPER-NATURAL

    If Natural is what science can study, than Ethics, Aesthetics are SUPER-NATURAL, among other things, including science itself.

    If the String Theory's Multiverse is natural than I haveing Sex with you Infinite time is natural.

    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

    my point is... It is freaking hard to know what is the natural world. and depending on what you consider Natural... the Super Natural will be right around the corner.

    ReplyDelete
  106. @sharry:

    [If by "morally wrong" you mean irrational, destructive, inconsistent, unfair, and possibly lethal, then yes, of course, an action can be morally wrong despite anyone's belief to the contrary.]

    I agree. Whence the 'morally wrong', if all men believe it right? How does "ought" arise independently of man's opinion?

    [If by "morally wrong" you mean "offensive to a purported deity," then the question is meaningless.]

    You seem awfully nervous about deities. I don't blame you. Logic is dangerous.

    ReplyDelete
  107. Well anyway, KW, if anything we talk more about Evolution later.

    Anon that is Anon... errrr good day sir.

    Sharry ... good day... errr Sharry.

    Dr Egnor try not to taunt them to much. Pretty soon PZ is gonna be all over the place XD saying angry stuff XD.

    * well I check someday eventually... *

    ReplyDelete
  108. If Natural is what science can study, than Ethics, Aesthetics are SUPER-NATURAL, among other things, including science itself.

    So, you think the functioning of neurons in your brain would be supernatural under this definition?

    ReplyDelete
  109. Logic is dangerous.

    Do let us know when you start using some. Thus far all you've done is try to redefine logic to mean "Egnor's wishful thinking".

    ReplyDelete
  110. So, you think the functioning of neurons in your brain would be supernatural under this definition?

    ___________________________________________

    Science doesn't study Aesthetics and Ethics. You didn't get the point right. The subject that science can study. Science doesn't study Ethics and Aesthetics, it study your neurons xP c'mon, that wasn't hard to see.

    Oh don't forget that ... Logic and Math will be SUPER-NATURAL too... after all science pressupose them ;).

    Theistic Hugs xP!

    ReplyDelete
  111. @egnor: "Whence the 'morally wrong', if all men believe it right? How does 'ought' arise independently of man's opinion?"

    Didn't I just answer this question? If you really think a preference for not being tortured, murdered or enslaved is simply a matter of opinion, you might want to be more careful about throwing around the term "moral monster."

    Behavior is "irrational, destructive, inconsistent, unfair, and possibly lethal" in the real world, independently of opinion. Such behavior is as old as humanity, and so is human resistance and opposition to it. I can't see that Christian apologetics has affected that dynamic in any substantial way.

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  112. @Edward: But since they are the product of your functioning neurons, that definition would make them part of the natural world. You don't seem to understand - under the definition you proposed, our thoughts are part of the natural world. Ethics, aesthetics, logic, and math are our thoughts. Hence, they are part of the natural world. Our thoughts about the supernatural are part of the natural world, even if the actuality of the supernatural is not.

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  113. @sharry:

    [If you really think a preference for not being tortured, murdered or enslaved is simply a matter of opinion, you might want to be more careful about throwing around the term "moral monster."]

    I believe that "ought" is real, and has its Origin independent of man.

    [Behavior is "irrational, destructive, inconsistent, unfair, and possibly lethal" in the real world, independently of opinion. Such behavior is as old as humanity, and so is human resistance and opposition to it.]

    Yes.

    [I can't see that Christian apologetics has affected that dynamic in any substantial way.]

    I know you can't. You should. Rene Girard in "I See Satan Fall Like Lightning" has a masterful discussion of the difference the Christian idea has had in the world, especially regarding mob violence.

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  114. I believe that "ought" is real, and has its Origin independent of man.

    Neither of which you have evidence for. Just wishful thinking.

    ReplyDelete
  115. @egnor: "Rene Girard in 'I See Satan Fall Like Lightning' has a masterful discussion of the difference the Christian idea has had in the world, especially regarding mob violence."

    One has to ask: which particular Christian idea? There have been many, some benign, some baleful. Which is to be expected of any human cultural tradition.

    ReplyDelete
  116. @sharry:

    Girard argues that imitation is the core of what it is to be human.

    We imitate each other. Desire in human societies leads to intense competetion, and to stress, which escalates because we imitate each other's competitiveness. Ultimately it leads to violence, which can destroy the society.

    Barbaric societies deal with this self-destructiveness by what Girard calls the Scapegoat Mechanism. As societies become violently unstable, people pick an individual or group to (falsely) accuse of causing the disorder, and they expell or kill them, which temporarily restores stability by unanimity. The Holocaust is an obvious example of scapegoating.

    The traditional solution in stable societies is religion, which sublimates the scapegoating by sacrificing animals, rather than people, to maintain order.

    Christianity is the revelation of the scapegoat mechanism, and reveals the innocence of the victim (Christ).

    After Christianity, the whole process of scapegoating has lost its credibility. It doesn't mean it has disappeared, obviously, but it is no longer defensible among civilized people.

    Girard is a devout Catholic, and he sees the mob violence and scapegoating as Satanic, literally.

    An interesting read, even if you don't accept the theology.

    I think Girard's insights are revolutionary.

    ReplyDelete
  117. Any discussion of scapegoating is bound to be interesting, considering all the examples of it we've seen and continue to see even today -- witch-hunting, the Inquisition, homophobia, red-baiting, atheist-baiting...

    ReplyDelete
  118. @sharry:

    I don't mean to imply that Girard's insights exhaust Christianity's impact in the world. But he provides a brilliant framework to understand the Christian revolution.

    It is a revolution of astonishing power, deeply subversive of secular power, and (I believe) a very good and beautiful thing, although of course many will disagree. Many of those who disagree, however, argue from a Christian perspective without even realizing it, because our culture is deeply Christian.

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  119. @sharry:

    [Any discussion of scapegoating is bound to be interesting, considering all the examples of it we've seen and continue to see even today -- witch-hunting, the Inquisition, homophobia, red-baiting, atheist-baiting...]

    Atheist baiting is one thing (scapegoating); telling the truth about atheists is another (my blog).

    I'm open to criticism, and will of course change and make amends if I see that I'm wrong.

    Nothing I've seen so far leads me to alter my judgement that atheism is stupid and malevolent.

    Under no circumstances would I support scapegoating (violence) done to atheists. Niether would any other Christian, rightfully understood.

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  120. @sharry;

    [Any discussion of scapegoating is bound to be interesting, considering all the examples of it we've seen and continue to see even today -- witch-hunting, the Inquisition, homophobia, red-baiting, atheist-baiting...]

    Your other issues- homophobia, red-baiting,etc can (and certainly have at times) been scapegoating. As such, they are deeply evil. We Christians are sinners, and have much to account for.

    Girard correctly points out, however, that telling the truth about evil is not scapegoating. Deliberately harming human beings in ways that are not justified by wrongs they have committed is evil.

    Holding people engaged in evil (communist subversives) accountable for their acts, exposing them, and where appropriate, shunning or prosecuting them is not scapegoating. A member of the Communist Party USA who has been on Stalin's secret payroll for years is not the moral equivalent to a Jewish kid in Bergen-Belsen.

    Homophobia similarly is evil if it entails unjustifiably harming a person who is gay. That is scapegoating.

    Criticizing homosexual conduct because it is sinful and dangerous is not scapegoating if

    1) it is true

    2) it does not gratuitously harm the person.

    To be a scapegoat, in Gorard's framework, one must be innocent of the accusation and be punished unjustly.

    Resistance to scapegoating does not preclude justice and prudence.

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  121. I don't undestand how it is possible to be intelligent enough to be a neurosurgeon while saying idiocies such as "Evolution is atheism's creation myth." The human mind is really mysterious.

    ReplyDelete
  122. @Herpy:

    How about this, Herpy: I'll assert here two things:

    1) Boyle's Law is atheism's creation myth.
    2) Darwin's theory is atheism's creation myth.

    Which assertion will piss off atheists more?

    The one that pisses them off more.. is their creation myth. The truth of my assertion is atheists' response to it.

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  123. 1) Boyle's Law is atheism's creation myth.
    2) Darwin's theory is atheism's creation myth.


    Both statements are equally stupid. Only a true moron would seriously assert either. How's that for a response?

    ReplyDelete
  124. @Herpy:

    Here's another example, this time about Christians.

    Imagine a leading politician said two things:

    1) String theory isn't true.
    2) God didn't create the world.

    How would tell, judging by the Christian response to each of these assertions, which one was the Christian belief about creation?

    ReplyDelete
  125. The traditional solution in stable societies is religion, which sublimates the scapegoating by sacrificing animals, rather than people, to maintain order.

    Christianity is the revelation of the scapegoat mechanism, and reveals the innocence of the victim (Christ).

    After Christianity, the whole process of scapegoating has lost its credibility. It doesn't mean it has disappeared, obviously, but it is no longer defensible among civilized people.


    Explain non-Christian Japan.

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  126. @anon:

    [Both statements are equally stupid. Only a true moron would seriously assert either. How's that for a response?]



    The moronic/non-moronic nature of the assertions wasn't my point.

    My point is that criticizing Darwin's theory hits home, in a way that is unique.

    Atheists doth protest too much, and in doing so implictly admit the truth of the assertion.

    If Darwin's theory weren't your creation myth, you wouldn't be so pissed off when people question it. What other theories do you get so pissed off about?

    Arguing with you dolts is fun.

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  127. @anon:

    [Explain non-Christian Japan.]

    I don't know. The Japanese were certainly astonishly brutal in the run-up to WWII. Rape of Nanking, etc.

    They got more passive after 1945.

    Maybe Oppenheimer and McArthur had something to do with it.

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  128. I don't know. The Japanese were certainly astonishly brutal in the run-up to WWII. Rape of Nanking, etc.

    That would be post-Christian Japan. Or did you not know that the Jesuits sent missionaries there long before World War II?

    They got more passive after 1945.

    Maybe Oppenheimer and McArthur had something to do with it.


    So the solution you suggest to their actions during WW II was that they were bombed into submission. How does this demonstrate the civilizing influence of Christianity?

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  129. The moronic/non-moronic nature of the assertions wasn't my point.

    Well, given your propensity to say moronic things, that is predictable.

    My point is that criticizing Darwin's theory hits home, in a way that is unique.

    No. Not really. You confuse a rejection of humbuggery for something "hitting home". If there was a movement that was promoting the idea that the sky was painted blue every morning by blue-painting fairies then they would draw the ire of people interested in promoting actual science.

    Atheists doth protest too much, and in doing so implictly admit the truth of the assertion.

    If this is what you think passes for "logic", you are pretty weak in this area.

    If Darwin's theory weren't your creation myth, you wouldn't be so pissed off when people question it. What other theories do you get so pissed off about?

    The idea that people are "pissed off" about it is your fantasy. Of course, since Darwin's theory says nothing about creation, your entire premise is faulty. But since you seem to get things wrong with astonishing regularity, your erroneous assertion here is to be expected.

    ReplyDelete
  130. @anon:

    [That would be post-Christian Japan. Or did you not know that the Jesuits sent missionaries there long before World War II?]

    Yea, I know. The Kirshitan. 16th century. Lots of martyrs.

    [So the solution you suggest to their actions during WW II was that they were bombed into submission. How does this demonstrate the civilizing influence of Christianity?]

    It doesn't. Deliberate bombing of civilians is a war crime.

    War crimes were plentiful in WWII.

    The primary opponents of this tactic were, and are, Christians.

    The Catholic Church's formulation of Just War Doctrine (Augustine and Aquinas) was the first organized effort to limit war according to moral law and to protect innocents in war.

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  131. Yea, I know. The Kirshitan. 16th century. Lots of martyrs.

    So you gave a response that you knew was nonresponsive and hoped that your readers wouldn't notice. I always thought dishonesty was frowned upon in Christian circles.

    ReplyDelete
  132. It doesn't. Deliberate bombing of civilians is a war crime.

    So, the civilizing effect that calmed the Japanese down in your view wasn't actually Christianity. It was bombing them in a manner you describe as a war crime. So Girard's theory fails miserably when examined in even the most cursory way possible. And you tout it anyway.

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  133. @anon:

    [So, the civilizing effect that calmed the Japanese down in your view wasn't actually Christianity. It was bombing them in a manner you describe as a war crime.]

    Bunch of reasons. They do seem quieter.

    [So Girard's theory fails miserably when examined in even the most cursory way possible. And you tout it anyway.]

    Yea. Your combox quips have just about destroyed Girard's life work. He'll take it hard.

    ReplyDelete
  134. If Girard's work falls apart so easily, perhaps he should have done a better job.

    You still haven't answered the original question; explain non-Christian Japan. I doubt you will. You are good at ignoring evidence that doesn't fit your preferred fantasies.

    ReplyDelete
  135. You've made the argument that Darwinism can't be falsified. But as has been famously observed, finding bunnies in the pre-Cambrian would do that very thing. So why aren't you and your Discovery Institute buddies out looking for evidence like that rather than parasitically trying to leech off of the research efforts of others?

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  136. Michael,

    Golly. I see you're a 'lumper' and not a 'splitter'.

    But sexual selection isn't natural selection. Peahens selecting peacocks on the basis of the size or perfection of the peacock's tails (and it's not certain what the peahens find so attractive) isn't the same as peacocks dying early because they can't avoid predators or get enough food to survive.

    Why do Scandanavians have blue eyes, blond hair and fair skin. If you were an adaptionist, you'd say that in scandanavian winters there isn't much sunshine so having fair skin is a means of increasing vitamin D synthesis in the skin. Jared Diamond's explanation is that the small groups of humans who happened to reach Scandanavia after the end of the last glaciation just happened to be blue eyed, blond and fair skinned. He goes on to note that what humans find sexually attractive in mates is usually limited to what they see in their childhood, leading to xenophobia, so if anyone with a new mutation causing darker skin wouldn't be able to find a mate.

    Having blue eyes in snow conditions isn't an adaptation, because the individual would be more prone to snow blindness.

    Open to you now to mount a counterargument ...

    ReplyDelete
  137. @anon:

    [You've made the argument that Darwinism can't be falsified.]

    Cite an adaptation that can't be explained by natural selection.

    When you theory explains everything, it explains nothing.

    ReplyDelete
  138. Cite an adaptation that can't be explained by natural selection.

    I already did: bunnies in the pre-Cambrian. Nice attempt to dodge the question though. Seems to be your most common type of response to inconvenient questions.

    ReplyDelete
  139. @egnor: "My point is that criticizing Darwin's theory hits home, in a way that is unique. Atheists doth protest too much, and in doing so implictly admit the truth of the assertion."

    Ooh, two can play at this silly game, Mr. Egnor. The fact of evolution obviously hits home with religionists in a way that that is unique. By protesting so much, they implicitly admit that their faith is incompatible with scientific fact.

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  140. @oleg
    There is good reason why new ideas are resisted as long as they can be.

    That does not change my previous prediction:

    Darwinism, or evolution due to random mutations filtered by natural selection, will be bad history by the end of this decade (that's by 2020).

    Then it will be good riddance for good!!!

    PS: If I don't always make timely reply it is because I have a day job and a beautiful loving wife. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  141. Pepe,

    Evolutionary biology hasn't been 'random mutatations filtered by natural selection' for decades. So your prediction that it's going to be dead by the end of the decade is pointless.

    You really need to read other sources besides creationist ones to inform yourself as to what evolutionary biology actually is.

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  142. Pepe,

    Oops! I left out a 'just' in the above comment. Evolutionary hasn't been just 'random mutatations filtered by ...'

    ReplyDelete
  143. Pépé: Darwinism, or evolution due to random mutations filtered by natural selection, will be bad history by the end of this decade (that's by 2020).

    Congratulations, Pépé!

    You join a long line of fools who have been predicting an imminent demise of theory of evolution since its inception. You're in good company that includes Duane Gish, Henry Morris, William Dembski, and the like. Never mind that deadlines keep passing.

    ReplyDelete
  144. @Dr. Egnor
    Atheism is a small cup.

    It's not only a small cup, it's a small universe, less then 100 years. Atheists don't understand eternity and are ready to settle for much much less.

    Poor souls!

    ReplyDelete
  145. @bachfiend
    One thing I have to give you.

    You're a MICTGP (Master In Changing The Goal Post).

    If it's not black the it is white sums up your philosophy pretty well...

    ReplyDelete
  146. @oleg
    Are you a disciple of bachfiend or is it the other way around?

    ReplyDelete
  147. But since they are the product of your functioning neurons, that definition would make them part of the natural world. You don't seem to understand - under the definition you proposed, our thoughts are part of the natural world. Ethics, aesthetics, logic, and math are our thoughts. Hence, they are part of the natural world. Our thoughts about the supernatural are part of the natural world, even if the actuality of the supernatural is not.

    ________________________________________

    Is our thoughts part of the world ... or is the field variations part of the Natural world ???

    Careful, Science is filled with unprovable assumptions.

    Is Action and Reaction part of the Natural world ??? Or did we said so, and we have no real way to know what is action and what is reaction.

    Are Boson's exchanged in a collision Natural ??? orrrr Super-Natural... Nobody really sees them. WE just say that they were there, because of assumptions.

    Is the past and Future Super-Natural ??? Science can't go there... All we can do is infer from evidence now, of what might happen tomorrow or happened yesterday. So the time I wrote this to you has fallen into the Super-Natural really.

    And anyway, try proving thought's exsitance without thinking. Scientific method is thinking... I don't see where Scientism holds even as epystemology. Personally I would take that Empiricism is far more compelling.

    Anywayz dude I was holding myself not to reply XD I mean Blind faith Scientism is just awkward... I mean, if you were to strap yourself in a bomb and explode me, I would see more sense in such a crazy action. But Scientism is weird. Have total believe in Science, while Science can not produce total confidence, and must be always dependant on human Bias, equipament errors, Assumptions, Theoretical Inference, Social Pressure, Human abstraction ...

    I mean all that surely has it's shining bright side to it, but Scientism is just... no way around it I suppose... Don't know who or what have happened to you Atheists, especially Internet Atheists and Activist Atheists... but Scientism's Meme XD has really got a hold of you.

    I found like 2 Atheists on the Internet that weren't like that ... I mean, I wonder where the heck is this all coming from... Have you all people got Stuck in Positivism and that is really it... No more need to improve philosophy or anything like that... have Popular Atheist Scientists convinced you all that Scientism was the Answer... Watched too much Cosmos... Are you part of a World Wide Conspiracy to steal my Doritos...

    questions questions.

    Anyway, like I said before... This whole debate thing on the Net with Atheists... really take a toll on me. I can not and will not believe that Atheists are somehow different from other people, beyond their atheistic belief of course.

    Well whatever... I have been doing this shit for half a year, and I am already spent. I feel like String theorists trying to make sense out of their own Theory.

    Well anyway Anon... considered yourself a winner, seriously... I don't see any point in these internet debates, if every corner I will have to face Scientism dresses as the Flying Spaghetti Monster. I mean too unproductive seriously... Need me a Vacation or something.

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  148. "...have Popular Atheist Scientists convinced you all that Scientism was the Answer... Watched too much Cosmos... Are you part of a World Wide Conspiracy to steal my Doritos."
    ROFL
    You're a good sport, Edward.
    I hear you 100%.

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  149. Pepe,

    I'm not changing the goalposts. It's just that you don't realize that the game has changed.

    Philosophers tend to read the original texts. If they want to understand Aristotle, they read Aristotle.

    Scientists are different. They don't go back to the original sources for a scientific theory. Physicists wanting to understand General Relativity don't go back to the original papers by Einstein. Biologists wanting to understand evolution don't go back to Darwin's 'On the Origin of Species' first edition.

    The original sources with new scientific theories are mainly written with arguments about why the old theories were incorrect, in the case of evolution, why Creationism was wrong.

    Scientists don't care why the original proponents of accepted theories thought the old theories were wrong. They're wrong, so basta.

    Gallileo's arguments why the geocentric model were actually wrong. He thought that tides were due to the Earth's spinning, and that there was only one high tide each day, whereas everyone in his day knew that high tides were due to the Moon and that there were two high tides each day. His argument was wrong, but that doesn't mean that the geocentric model suddenly becomes reconfirmed.

    Scientists (unlike philosophers or theists) don't recognize authority. If something's wrong, then it's wrong, regardless of who propounded the theory. There have been many cases of Nobel prize winners actually getting their awards for scientific work that's wrong. Wendell Stanley's 1946 Nobel prize in chemistry for work 'showing' that protein was the hereditary principle, whereas Avery et al had shown in 1944 that it was actually DNA springs to mind.

    Science advances. Gets more data, refines theories, improves understanding. You can't shut yourself off from progress, as you demonstrate by your willingness to use the Internet.

    Theists complain about people like Richard Dawkins criticizing religion, arguing that theology has advanced, and that theologians have a much more sophisticated nuanced understanding of the nature of God (although most believers probably ascribe to the theology Dawkins attacks).

    You need to do the same thing and actually understand what evolutionary biologists CURRENTLY accept, not what was accepted decades ago.

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  150. Thanks Crusade XD... Comedy is all I got when Pogic seems to fail.

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  151. But Scientism is weird. Have total believe in Science, while Science can not produce total confidence, and must be always dependant on human Bias, equipament errors, Assumptions, Theoretical Inference, Social Pressure, Human abstraction ...

    You really don't understand what you are talking about, do you?

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  152. Do you Anon ???

    Or the question was just a rhetorical one?

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  153. Please don't tell me you are about to talk about the fairy tale that scientists are all beautiful people, that are all committed to the truth =3 ...

    because I study in a Physics Institute dude... I have seem the grass and it is not as green as it look in good old Pop Science magazines and books.

    Anyway ... good night! Folks.

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  154. Edward,

    You might be interested in Michael Brooks' book 'Free Radicals', which is a must read book (and also very entertaining). It discusses the chaotic nature of science research, far removed from the popular sanitized view of science. One of the chapters deals with Robin Warren and Barry Marshall and their work on Helicobacter pylori. I was just starting pathology training at a teaching hospital in Perth, the same one Barry Marshall had been seconded to, a year after he'd started studying Helicobacter, so I saw the research unfold right before my eyes, actually seeing the gastric biopsies he was taking, as it eventually led to a Nobel Prize. The author got the story exactly right, including the self experimentation.

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  155. @bachfiend
    ...If something's wrong, then it's wrong...

    Says who?

    How can you be certain, especially with historical science like evolution?
    Remember Nebraska Man (a.k.a. The Pig's Tooth)?
    Remember Piltdown Man? And other truths from evolutionary scientists?
    Is design in the universe only apparent and merely a mirage?
    Are we the result of blind and random events? Come on!

    This kind of science is bad science and bad philosophy.

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  156. It's funny, I had never heard of Nebraska man and Piltdown man before I came across creationist arguments.

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  157. Remember Piltdown Man? And other truths from evolutionary scientists?

    I love it when creationists trot out Piltdown Man. Because they think they are scoring major points by bringing it up when all they really are doing it making themselves look foolish.

    First off, Piltdown Man was regarded as suspect immediately. And it was exposed as a hoax, hot by creationists, but by evolutionary biologists. The story of Piltdown Man in this regard is an example of science working correctly: someone presented a forgery. Scientists investigating it uncovered the forgery.

    But the truly funny thing is that creationists like to crow about Piltdown Man being exposed as a forgery without realizing that if Piltdown Man had been and actual fossil, it would have done much more for their cause because it would have discredited much of evolutionary theory. You see, Piltdown Man doesn't fit with the rest of the fossil record (which is one of the reasons that it was regarded as suspect very soon after it was produced). If Piltdown Man were real, it would be an actual coup for the proponents of creationism. But sadly for them, Piltdown Man was exposed by scientists as a hoax, and as a result, the fossil record is strong evidence for the theory of evolution.

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  158. It's funny, I had never heard of Nebraska man and Piltdown man before I came across creationist arguments.

    There's not much reason to hear about Nebraska Man, except that creationists think they score a coup with it. Unfortunately for them, it is just another case of creationists misunderstanding how science works, and making themselves look foolish.

    A rancher in Nebraska found a tooth in 1917. He handed it off to a biologist in 1922 who thought it was from a primate. He sent it out to a bunch of other biologists, and most of them disagreed with him. An artist heard about it and drew an imagined appearance based upon nothing for a popular magazine. In 1925, further excavation at the site the tooth had been found at established that the tooth had not come from a primate.

    That's pretty much the whole story. One biologists misidentified a tooth, and within three years the misidentification was corrected. By scientists actually working in the field. For all the hoopla creationists make over Nebraska Man, you'd think there was more, but there isn't.

    And just as with Piltdown Man, the truly amusing thing is that if Nebraska Man were real, the fossil would go a long way towards casting doubt on the theory of evolution, because, once again, it wouldn't fit with the rest of the fossil record. Having the tooth turn out to be not a primate fossil helped demonstrate the truth of evolutionary theory. And creationists simply don't understand this.

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  159. Are we the result of blind and random events?

    Do you have anything other than wishful thinking to suggest otherwise?

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  160. @anon:

    [There's not much reason to hear about Nebraska Man, except that creationists think they score a coup with it. Unfortunately for them, it is just another case of creationists misunderstanding how science works...
    That's pretty much the whole story.]

    You left one thing out. Nebraska man was used by Clarence Darrow as evidence for Darwin's theory in the Scopes Trial, and Jennings was ridiculed because of it.

    Oops.

    Funny that you forgot that.

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  161. You know why not? Because Judge Raulston excluded all defense witnesses and evidence concerning evolution from the trial. And consequently, it was not introduced by Darrow at the Scopes Trial. The idea that it was used this way is a creationist fabrication.

    Either you didn't know this, in which case you are ignorant. or you did, and you were lying. Ignorant or dishonest, take your pick.

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  162. @anon:

    [And consequently, [Nebraska Man] was not introduced by Darrow at the Scopes Trial.]

    You're right. I was misinformed. I stand corrected.

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  163. @anon:

    For the record, Nebraska Man did play a significant role in the lead-up to the trial.

    Not a proud moment for Darwinists. One of many to be ashamed of.

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  164. One biologist came to an incorrect conclusion. That same biologist then responded to Bryan's haranguing about how Darwinism didn't even allow for Americans to be descended from an American ape, but had to be descended from a European ape.

    As an aside, one has to wonder how Bryan thought he could be descended from anyone but a European, since everyone in the United States except the original Native American tribes emigrated from the Old World. Then again, accuracy was never Bryan's strong suit.

    In any event, the person who kept harping on the tooth was Bryan. When the tooth turned out to not be a primate tooth, the exchanges between Bryan and Osborne continued, but Osborne dropped the erroneous information. As he should. Science accepts new information as it is demonstrated. Far from being something scientists should be "ashamed of" it is something that demonstrates the proper functioning of actual science. To the extent anyone on the side of science has any shame, it is confined to Osborne. Smearing the rest of the scientific community (which mostly rejected Nebraska Man from the get-go) is like saying that all people who are religious must be ashamed for the pronouncements of Mormons on the prehistory of the United States.

    The people who really should be ashamed are creationists because of the pile of lies and disinformation they have piled on the case of Nebraska Man, including people like Hitching who have falsely claimed it was introduced at trial and was somehow critical to the verdict. One has to wonder - if creationism is such a strong theory, why do its proponents have to keep repeating eighty-five year old lies to prop it up?

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  165. One has to wonder - if creationism is such a strong theory, why do its proponents have to keep repeating eighty-five year old lies to prop it up?

    The answer is simple. They feel that their faith is threatened by theory of evolution.

    They will have to modernize. There is no other way out.

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  166. @anon and oleg:

    If by creationism you mean YEC, I don't defend it at all. I think it is wrong by the evidence in all particulars except for the assertion that God created everything.

    I don't have any trouble with the concept of evolution, with two provisos:

    1) It is not evidence for atheism

    2) Natural selection is not science, because it is a tautology.

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  167. BTW, I wonder what Oleg, or Bachfiend, or whoever it was that was calling you a loser and your blog pointless due to the lack of comments has to say now?

    Of course, if new evidence were the sort of thing that changed their minds about a theory/worldview, they wouldn't be Darwinists/atheists in the first place.

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  168. If by creationism you mean YEC, I don't defend it at all.

    In this case, I include you. Since you felt the need to trot out disinformation about Nebraska Man when you could have informed yourself beforehand and gotten your facts straight. You should be ashamed.

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  169. Matteo,

    It's much easier to comment on Michael's threads when he strays into facts, such as evolutionary biology, as when he rambles around in vacuous pseudophilosophy fields as hylemorphic dualism.

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  170. @Matteo:

    [BTW, I wonder what Oleg, or Bachfiend, or whoever it was that was calling you a loser and your blog pointless due to the lack of comments has to say now?]

    Good point. Of course they were trying to shut me up, and using any tactic they could think of. If this blog were a waste of time, why would our opponents want us to stop wasting our time?

    I'm happy to see pointless atheist blogs. It means some atheist is unproductively engaged.

    Good.

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  171. Egnor: Good point. Of course they were trying to shut me up, and using any tactic they could think of. If this blog were a waste of time, why would our opponents want us to stop wasting our time?

    That's just silly. I have said many times that Egnor should be free to make a fool of himself. He keeps spewing laughable nonsense. Like natural selection being a tautology. IDiots indeed.

    As to a quick search in popularity of this thread, it is entirely due to an influx of PZ's fans. You, guys, can't put two and two together.

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  172. @bachfiend
    ...Scientists (unlike philosophers or theists) don't recognize authority...

    Oh ya!

    Unless a scientist goes to the trouble of repeating all and every lab experiences ever made to convince himself of the truth of science, he has to rely on authority.

    He has to rely on the authority of his teachers and professors, on the authority of the books and papers he has read, on the authority of the science establishment.

    Einstein theory of relativity says that a clock in motion will register a difference in time with a clock at rest. An experiment was done with atomic clocks on the ground and on an airborne aircraft and it confirmed the theory.

    If you accept the results of this experiment, without having reproduced it yourself, then you are relying on the authority of Einstein and those who did the experiment.

    Scientist love authority.

    And that’s the problem: when the scientific establishment is constipated, everybody suffers!

    Your statement should be rephrased:

    Atheists don’t recognise moral law.

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  173. Pépé,

    Perhaps it will be news to you, but students of science actually perform key experiments in their lab courses. Not every single experiment, but many of them. That's what sets science apart.

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  174. And of course the goal isn't to have every science student to repeat every experiment ever done. That would be a waste of time. The great thing about science is that experimental findings are not accepted until other experimentalists independently confirm them. That's the ticket.

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  175. @oleg
    ...students of science actually perform key experiments...

    ...and submit to the AUTHORITY of their professors!

    PS: have you ever conducted an experiment that confirms heliocentrism? If so, please tell me about it!

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  176. @oleg
    Please avoid generalities, be specific and AUTHORITATIVE!

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  177. @Bach

    Thanks for the ... advise of reading O_O.

    I will check the book eventually, very lazy XD very lazy

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  178. @Bach

    Thanks for the ... advise of reading O_O.

    I will check the book eventually, very lazy XD very lazy

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  179. Pépé: have you ever conducted an experiment that confirms heliocentrism? If so, please tell me about it!

    An excellent question, Pépé. Let's begin by establishing that the sun and the stars do not rotate around the earth and instead the apparent rotation of the sky reflects the rotation of the Earth.

    I hung a massive pendulum and let it swing for about 40 minutes. The plane of the pendulum rotated during that time clockwise, reflecting a counterclockwise rotation of the Earth (in the northern hemisphere). You can do that, too.

    I recall that one of the commentators is in Australia. He should observe a counterclockwise rotation of the plane of the pendulum.

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  180. @oleg
    Let's begin by establishing that the sun and the stars do not rotate...

    On what basis can you establish that? Unless you have prior authoritative knowledge...

    I hung a massive pendulum...
    Where did you get this idea? Galileo?

    I do hope that you realize that all of science is base on authority and faith, contrary to what you said earlier. Authority on scientists that came before you and faith in the fact that the universe is intelligible and designed and can be studied by science.

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  181. Pépé,

    You are an idiot. Pardon my French.

    I need no one's authority to put together a pendulum. It's an experiment that I can conduct myself, and so can you. It demonstrates that the Earth is not an inertial reference frame: if it were, the pendulum would stay in the same plane. It doesn't.

    And no, Galileo had nothing to do with it. The idea to use a pendulum to demonstrate the Earth's rotation is Foucault's.

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  182. Oleg bemoans:
    "I don't talk to people who call me a thug."
    In actuality, Oleg does not talk to people who destroy his arguments. Oleg is a student of CS as well as NS.

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  183. Comrade Oleg snorts at Pepe:
    "You are an idiot. Pardon my French."
    Pas de Probleme, mon petit Fausse-couche!
    But don't forget to cry and bitch when someone calls YOU a thug. Big baby.

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  184. @oleg
    You are an idiot.
    Ah, here we go again!
    It is really impossible to argue with atheists. They all get a relapse of coprolalia when their arguments are beaten in the ground.
    oleg, you are an intellectually fulfilled atheist, and that is not a compliment!

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  185. crusadeREX,

    I normally ignore your comments, but this time you made a good point (unwittingly, perhaps).

    Of course I don't mean that Pépé is an idiot. It was hyperbole. I wrote that in exasperation at the silliness of his argument. So, Pépé, I take it back and apologize. You are not an idiot, you just say silly things. I explained above why. Feel free to respond, but try not to be silly. Flex your awesome brain muscle.

    And that's the difference between me and Egnor. I suspect that he, too, does not mean to say that I am literally a thug. But when I called him on that, he doubled down.

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  186. OOOOOOOH! AHHHHHHHH!
    Oleg RESPONDS,
    "I normally ignore your comments, but this time you made a good point (unwittingly, perhaps)."
    In your universe there is no wit, only the illusion of it (wit). In your view your correctness must be based on some principle similar to sheer luck. Luckily, however, you are incorrect and your view is merely the illusion... created by bad philosophy.

    "So, Pépé, I take it back and apologize. You are not an idiot, you just say silly things."
    AWWW Shucks! I think I am going to cry now :')

    "Feel free to respond, but try not to be silly."
    Ja vol!

    "And that's the difference between me and Egnor...when I called him on that, he doubled down."
    No. The difference is that Dr. Egnor was right, and you are wrong. While his language may seem strong and is uncomfortable for you, I think the Doctor is being kind in using this term.
    While the term 'idiot' does not describe Pepe, the term 'thug' is a rather flattering way of describing the shouting down and name calling that takes place in these conversations. That is not including the childish attempts to ignore argument on the grounds of false offence.
    Thug?
    That's talking nice. Dr Egnor is a polite fellow.
    Oleg,
    Grow some thicker skin. Learn to deal with 'silly', and stop ignoring people who engage your ideas if you REALLY want to hear the whole debate.
    Otherwise your behaving like a thug - even if you're doing it 'unwittingly'.

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  187. Oh, I have a thick skin, crusadeREX. It's not like I find it offensive that Egnor insists that I am a thug. I find it silly. As in mind-bogglingly stupid. He loses all credibility when he characterizes peaceful people like myself as thugs.

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  188. Pépé,

    You need new glasses. Galileo studied the pendulum but he did not use it to demonstrate the rotation of the Earth. That was done much later by Foucault.

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  189. Come oleg, have a go at these questions, it should be fun.

    http://telicthoughts.com/an-open-letter-to-professors-jerry-coyne-and-richard-dawkins-on-the-nature-of-natural-selection/

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  190. Techne:

    Great post on natural selection. I've put together some posts based on it. Thank you!

    Mike

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  191. Techne,

    Those questions are pretty useless. Answers to them do not provide any insights for a biologist.

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  192. oleg,

    Not really. If a biologist can't answer them then the biologist is pretty useless.

    Nice evasion though.

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  193. LOL, techne! If a philosopher finds science "useless," well, too bad for the philosopher.

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  194. In fact, any person that talks about natural selection should at least ask those questions to himself or herself to see if they understand the concept.

    And you are talking on the behalf of biologists again. That is a bit arrogant from you and there is no need for that. You can just stop the evasion tactics and answer them if interested. If not, rather not speak on the behalf of others.

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  195. oleg: "LOL, techne! If a philosopher finds science "useless," well, too bad for the philosopher."

    Yeah, too bad for that philosopher. None here I see. Are you talking to yourself?

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  196. Techne:

    Thank you. Excellent posts.

    Mike

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