Public university hires leader in intelligent design

Tanglebones wrote:

Not to speak for The Conformist, but I think it's a reference to the tone OG_Slinger particularly, and some other posters are using to denigrate people of faith, and things that they hold very dear, in a thread that really doesn't call for it.

Things that I hold dear:
- The idea that academe should be pure enough not to admit among its ranks a scientist who is closely associated with the subversion of science
- The separation of church and state, and hatred of those who subvert the political infrastructure of America in an attempt to destroy that wall

From pained hand-wringing to disingenuous arguing to sheer, nose-picking ignorance, the responses to those of us who believe this man's appointment is a Bad Thing is absolutely frantic-making.

I'll see you all when the Dominionists take over.

Valmorian wrote:
Tanglebones wrote:

Seriously. Look at how you're speaking, think about the Reddit-levels of smug self-satisfaction that are being generated, and maybe take a step back. Hell, maybe even apologize.

What are you talking about? I have nothing bad to say about religious people themselves. I think all faith based belief is dangerous, but I don't think religious people are stupid, or bad, or evil.

What would you have me apologize FOR? For thinking that believing things without evidence is a bad idea?

Perhaps calling them dangerous? I mean, some faith-based beliefs are dangerous, but that doesn't mean all faith-based beliefs are. Also, you seem to be going out of your way to not get how dissimilar different sects of Christians can be, and that just because one denomination believes something dangerous or harmful, it doesn't mean all Christians share that belief.

Tanglebones wrote:

Well, I meant that in the generalized sense of 'you', but if you, Valmorian, wanted me to be specific, I'd say that trying to logic shame people out of their religion in a GWJ thread is incredibly rude.

Huh? I've never once said you shouldn't be religious. If you want to believe things on faith, go right ahead. I just don't want those things legislated or enforced on others in any way.

Funkenpants wrote:

He's teaching to the curriculum, not his own beliefs, right?

He's *supposed* to be teaching the curriculum.

Gonzales has shown that he can't keep his religious beliefs separate from his academics. He wrote a book that essentially said that the only viable conclusion based on the tiny amount of information we've gathered about the universe is that god did it. He claimed that Earth is designed for life like no other planet and that it's uniquely positioned in the universe.

And he confidently asserted that in 2004 when his own supposed field of science had only found 110 other planet, all large gas giants.

Since then we've discovered nearly a thousand more as detection methods have improved and the pace of discovery has radically increased. In 2004 when Gonzales was penning his ID book, his fellow astronomers were discovering perhaps 20 planets a year. Now they're discovering hundreds every year.

An actual scientist wouldn't immediately assume that the Earth is unique when extrasolar planet discovery was barely a decade old. They'd wait until more data came in and refined their hypothesis over time. They'd also acknowledge the the limits of the detection technology and not immediately jump to the conclusion that because we can't currently see another Earth-like planet that there are none. And an actual scientist wouldn't ever come to the conclusion that because we haven't discovered any Earth-like planets yet, but there is an Earth, that god must have made it special for us because there's absolutely no other way that it could have been formed.

The thing is...I've read OG's posts, and he doesn't seem to come off as particularly vitriolic to the religious...just the religion. As a Catholic, I regularly watch my chosen faith get eviscerated on these boards -- mostly for just cause -- but attacking an institution upon which I rest my faith seems different than attacking me personally, and I've never once been attacked personally on these boards for being a Catholic. (Ironically, it's usually Protestants who do that. :))

Others may feel different, of course.

OG_slinger wrote:
Funkenpants wrote:

He's teaching to the curriculum, not his own beliefs, right?

He's *supposed* to be teaching the curriculum.

It sounds like this is a risk that BSU is willing to take.

Stengah wrote:

Perhaps calling them dangerous? I mean, some faith-based beliefs are dangerous, but that doesn't mean all faith-based beliefs are. Also, you seem to be going out of your way to not get how dissimilar different sects of Christians can be, and that just because one denomination believes something dangerous or harmful, it doesn't mean all Christians share that belief.

Sure, some are innocuous. Would you prefer I say something like "Faith based beliefs are as harmful as picking your beliefs randomly."?

And of COURSE I get there are different denominations. I'm not sure how you would get the idea that I think ALL Christians believe X. There are some beliefs in Christianity that are so commonplace, however, that whenever that particular belief comes up you can be relatively sure there is organized Christian lobbying on that point. It's not a coincidence that there are so very few secular groups protesting marriage equality legislation.

Tanglebones wrote:
Valmorian wrote:
The Conformist wrote:

Man, I'm really glad I'm not easily insulted, because people can be down right mean here.

I don't think that's mean. Funkenpants is doing the philosophical equivalent to the argument that "Since we can't catch all criminals, law enforcement isn't valid."

Not to speak for The Conformist, but I think it's a reference to the tone OG_Slinger particularly, and some other posters are using to denigrate people of faith, and things that they hold very dear, in a thread that really doesn't call for it.

Seriously. Look at how you're speaking, think about the Reddit-levels of smug self-satisfaction that are being generated, and maybe take a step back. Hell, maybe even apologize.

You are quite correct. I've pretty much politely sat back and watched a few people equate what I owe my entire life to, basically a fairy tale, something that doesn't really exist, or a lie. I mean I get it, I can honesty take a step back and look at the situation and say to myself "if I were in their shoes" and I really understand their outlook on the Christian religion. It probably looks very very silly, unreasonable, idiotic and perhaps even frustrating that a person would flat out deny what science over the years has led us to believe. I also acknowledge that Christians can be very cruel, judgmental, and horrible people. I don't expect people to get it, but I have plenty of reasons throughout my life that have convinced me that God exists, have I doubted my faith? Of course! But things would keep happening to me that were the equivalent of being slapped in the side of the head saying "God exists".

I am a Christian, I try to live my life as positive and do my absolute best to adhere to the word of God. It doesn't always work out hah, but ya know, I try. But anyways, on to the topic! I think ultimately the guy deserves a chance, that's it, I think that's something we all would like in life right? An attempt to do something that no one thinks we are capable of? I say that if he can't walk that line then fine get rid of him, but don't deny him the opportunity to at least try.

complexmath wrote:

It sounds like this is a risk that BSU is willing to take.

We'll see if it's a risk BSU is willing to take once the sh*t storm calms down.

The university is already conducting an investigation of another astronomy professor, Eric Hedin, who is accused of making a one-sided argument for ID in his "Boundary of Science" course and straight out talking about Christianity and ID in his introduction to astronomy classes.

The fact there's already an ID guy in their science department casts doubt on Gonzalez's hiring process and poses a bit of a problem for the university: have your science department be seen as a hotbed of ID "research" or respect the scientific process and your students by getting rid of both professors.

I will occasionally attack/make fun of a specific person such as Pat Robertson or Kent Hovind (i.e.: people who sort of deserve it), but as a general rule I try not to get on people just for being religious unless their belief starts intruding upon my life or the lives of friends/family. I was there once and it can seem pretty convincing from the inside.

However, religion itself and religious institutions are entirely fair game. I think the primary issue that discussions like this suffer from is the fact that people tend to have difficulty distinguishing themselves from their beliefs and view criticism of them as a personal attack. It's not.

The Conformist wrote:

You are quite correct. I've pretty much politely sat back and watched a few people equate what I owe my entire life to, basically a fairy tale, something that doesn't really exist, or a lie. I mean I get it, I can honesty take a step back and look at the situation and say to myself "if I were in their shoes" and I really understand their outlook on the Christian religion. It probably looks very very silly, unreasonable, idiotic and perhaps even frustrating that a person would flat out deny what science over the years has led us to believe. I also acknowledge that Christians can be very cruel, judgmental, and horrible people. I don't expect people to get it, but I have plenty of reasons throughout my life that have convinced me that God exists, have I doubted my faith? Of course! But things would keep happening to me that were the equivalent of being slapped in the side of the head saying "God exists".

I am a Christian, I try to live my life as positive and do my absolute best to adhere to the word of God. It doesn't always work out hah, but ya know, I try. But anyways, on to the topic! I think ultimately the guy deserves a chance, that's it, I think that's something we all would like in life right? An attempt to do something that no one thinks we are capable of? I say that if he can't walk that line then fine get rid of him, but don't deny him the opportunity to at least try.

Religions are not typically wrong about everything (although the older they are, the less they seem to get right about the world itself). You can lead a fine life by following religious dictates at every turn. Even hardcore religious belief systems that modify *everything* about daily life thrive in the modern world. It would make no sense for a religion that leads people to an early death through stupid behavior to even stand a chance of lasting several thousand years. (Although, take a look at the number of religions that don't exist anymore and that might not mean very much...)

The question atheists pose is, why should we take on a belief system that has some or many inaccuracies when we have a better way of knowing the world, and we have the ability to separate morals from religion? We'd give up time, energy, thought, and even in some cases social credit in order to appease a Power based on a flawed understanding of the world. I mean, why? The answer is utility, and also simply indoctrination by friends and (to a lesser extent) family. In most ways, you believe what the people around you believe as you grow up.

If you need or even just want to believe that God exists in order to have a better, easier time through life, great, more power to you. There is no harm in that. There's little penalty for carrying an anti-elephant stick around NYC, and you'll never see an elephant loose there endangering you, so the stick is proof of it's own power. That's fine. God exists and His Stick helps you lead a fear-free life. I feel like I want one of those myself much of the time.

But at some point, one of several possibilities come up. One is the obvious; you might that your belief puts you on the wrong side of reality. If your belief in God tells you that modern medicine has no efficacy, you're likely going to die before your cohort's average. Not guaranteed, mind you, but you raise your risk. Another problem comes when your belief in God requires that others be led into behaviors that you see as righteous, whether or not they want to.

This is a big one. Righteous behavior is not the same as moral. If Christianity stopped with *Jesus's* moral rules, then by some of the Apostles we'd basically worry more about the Golden Rule than any of Deuteronomy. But what comes with the belief in God for many many people is the belief in the whole package. When people are told that their friends and neighbors will spend eternity in a lake of fire for not converting, don't you think they will see a little nagging as beneficial in the long run? Why would they not want to see Biblical proscriptions made into law? Sure, other people disagree, but they don't have God's approval. How much can one little law matter, anyway? Or another one, who can object to this one Bronze Age rule that God put in place for Very Good Reasons, I mean, really?

Most people have a built-in limiter that tells them things like "don't march into your neighbor's house, break all his liquor bottles and tell him you'll beat him if you catch him with alcohol". But religion does not have that limiter. In the US, that means that people who are perfectly genteel will prohibit anyone within their town limits from drinking alcohol, subject to imprisonment. In other countries, you *could* be beaten or killed for it. In each case, the reason is "because it's the right thing to do", because "God said it was right".

That's the problem with equating most religions with the *people* they represent. People are on the whole more flexible and kind and tolerant than religions. But where they see their *beliefs* threatened, even if it's a fake threat ginned up by paranoid politicians or a calculating press with an agenda, they will fall back not on their own judgement, but on God's. How many stories do we tell about the "righteous man" who does "a terrible thing" in "the name of Justice"? That's where things can go off the rails.

There's a huge difference between the way *individuals* act, and the way *groups* act, and religion acts on groups in very different ways than it does on individuals. Right now, for the last 50-odd years, we've had a large increase in the number of people who want the country to move in the direction of what God says. They put laws in place, they change services for people, and condemn or raise up groups and people according to how they are willing to act to bring that to fruition. And part of that is that when people stand up and say "No, wait, this is a bad idea", they get vilified for it. No one wrote books against Richard Dawkins until he became involved in shutting down Creationists. Now he's equated to Hitler and Stalin. That's not individuals speaking, that's Religion.

It's important to keep the two understandings separate, and realize that what can be healthy and harmless for one individual might be toxic for millions. Communism worked great in that group house in college, but less well in East Germany. As a way of explaining the world and laying out rules for dealing with it, religion has a similar, if much longer and more distressing track record. And it has the same Achilles heel - when it's not properly implemented, it will torture everyone exposed to it in times of stress. We see examples of this in the modern world as well as the ancient.

I found this topic interesting originally and am sad to see it has devolved from its original topic.

Oh hey, I'm sorry if anything I said was offensive upthread. Poor choice of words there at the end. My bad.

Robear wrote:

One of the first things I learned in an intro Astronomy course was how Edwin Hubble established that the universe is expanding, and how that allows us one method of dating the age of the universe. If Gonzalez is in any way a Young Earth Creationist, then that would directly affect how he conducts his research and teaching, since he'd be biased against the usual aging methods based on his religious beliefs, not on accumulated data.

Has anyone been able to find out if GG is a young earth guy or a theistic evolution guy? I'd imagine the difference for the discussion in the thread would be significant.

It would not make a difference from me. I happen to have a problem with biology teachers implying that the Theory of Evolution implies that atheism is The Truth. I would have the same problem with an astronomy professor implying that anything he teaches implies Intelligent Design. Keep that out of science, please. So long as he teaches the course well and keeps his nose out of the material, opposing his appointment on the basis of what he believes is discrimination.

Nomad wrote:

Has anyone been able to find out if GG is a young earth guy or a theistic evolution guy? I'd imagine the difference for the discussion in the thread would be significant.

Nope. He's already come to the conclusion that the Earth is too unique of a place to exist without god's intervention. That's a terrible conclusion for an astronomer to have come to considering how little we know about the few planets we've discovered.

It would be the same as if he saw a thimbleful of sand and confidently claimed he knew the composition of every beach on the planet based on that (and his deep faith in Psamathe).

Rubb Ed wrote:
Valmorian wrote:

Rubb Ed, if you don't mind me asking, how do you reconcile the clearly laid out prohibition against homosexuality in the Bible with your faith?

The other aspect of it is that I recognize the Bible as being part of the time in which it was written, when Jews and Christians were minorities. In those circumstances, when they were trying to keep their tribe from dying out, I can totally understand a prohibition against homosexuality. However, nowadays, not having enough people in your tribe for Christians isn't an issue. So, like most of the other Levitican laws, I don't put too much effort into thinking they should be kept around.

Given the percentage of homosexuality that occurs in the population at large I doubt that not having enough people breeding was a reason to ban it. Even the most generous estimates put the number of homosexuals in the population at something like 4%.

bandit0013 wrote:
Rubb Ed wrote:
Valmorian wrote:

Rubb Ed, if you don't mind me asking, how do you reconcile the clearly laid out prohibition against homosexuality in the Bible with your faith?

The other aspect of it is that I recognize the Bible as being part of the time in which it was written, when Jews and Christians were minorities. In those circumstances, when they were trying to keep their tribe from dying out, I can totally understand a prohibition against homosexuality. However, nowadays, not having enough people in your tribe for Christians isn't an issue. So, like most of the other Levitican laws, I don't put too much effort into thinking they should be kept around.

Given the percentage of homosexuality that occurs in the population at large I doubt that not having enough people breeding was a reason to ban it. Even the most generous estimates put the number of homosexuals in the population at something like 4%.

I hardly think a nomadic tribe living in the early to middle iron age was intellectually adept at understanding the lack of statistical threat of non-procreative sexual intercourse. I would venture to guess the Levitical laws would be rather dichotomous similar to how the ancient peoples of Palestine and Sinai saw the world around them.

Seth wrote:

The thing is...I've read OG's posts, and he doesn't seem to come off as particularly vitriolic to the religious...just the religion.

I agree. I'm seeing an awful lot of the no true scotsman argument going on here and quite a bit of the arguing from ignorance/authority thing going on as well. OG is simply trying to battle that as well as make his point(s), and he at least offers citations from time to time.

Seth wrote:

Others may feel different, of course.

I can also agree with that.

Phoenix Rev wrote:

I hardly think a nomadic tribe living in the early to middle iron age was intellectually adept at understanding the lack of statistical threat of non-procreative sexual intercourse.

I agree, although I also think that too many times people attribute some sort of reason into things that can just as easily be dismissed as superstition. Do we really need to come up with elaborate rational explanations for things like not wearing two fabrics or boiling a goat in its mothers milk?

NSMike wrote:
Duoae wrote:

All beliefs are by definition based on "faith".

I'm afraid this is incorrect. You see, if I hop, I believe that my feet will come to the ground again. And, as long as I'm standing on anything with a reasonably strong gravitational field, I also happen to know that will happen, because it can be tested and reproduced. And has been. Knowledge is actually a subset of belief, and I don't think you'd say knowledge is based on faith.

To be fair, I disagree. I'm looking at the dictionary definitions of "belief" and "faith" and neither one mentions "knowledge". They both state that they are based on a confidence that something is true without the certainty that it is. That jives with my understanding of the words.

plavonica:

It's not the "one true scotsman" argument. When you say "The Catholic leadership in America sucks," you're referring to the Catholic leadership. When you say "Catholics sucks," you're referring to me. I'm a Catholic. You're saying that I suck. Whenever someone like OG generalizes by saying that "Christians," do X, he's saying the same thing, only he's telling all the Christians on this board that they're the bad thing he's demonizing.

So yeah, that gets a little personal, and it's not a True Scotsman argument. If he wants to avoid telling lots of people around here what they think and how they're evil people, I think more precise wording can help. That is, unless that is precisely what is meant, in which case no amount of precision wording is going to help.

FWIW, I also have to be very careful around here about saying "Americans are X," because there are a lot of Americans here and they/you tend to take it personally when they/you mind the characterization. Same thing.

LarryC wrote:

plavonica:

It's not the "one true scotsman" argument. When you say "The Catholic leadership in America sucks," you're referring to the Catholic leadership. When you say "Catholics sucks," you're referring to me. I'm a Catholic. You're saying that I suck. Whenever someone like OG generalizes by saying that "Christians," do X, he's saying the same thing, only he's telling all the Christians on this board that they're the bad thing he's demonizing.

Not to mention his inability to admit that all humans are just the same once they get into their own specific cabal. It's not about religion (referencing his "all the bad things religions have done over the millennia) it's about a myopic mentality that even atheists (especially when talking about religions), governments and any group large or entrenched enough possesses that stems from the "not one of us" tribal human instinct.

Honestly, that's intellectually offensive to me because it's demonstrating exactly the problem that people are having with ID and "Christians" or whatnot. I think Robear states it quite well:

There's a huge difference between the way *individuals* act, and the way *groups* act

And by everyone saying "group X" is bad and unwanted and that they *must* act this way it is entirely ignoring the reality of the situation in that each and every person doesn't necessarily subscribe or act the way that is prescribed to them.

It's as if people view the scientific profession above reproach and the scientific method as some sort of perfect thing that is adhered to by its proponents at all times.... I work in the scientific profession, I know this to be as untrue as people saying that all christians must hate gay people.

LarryC wrote:

plavonica:

It's not the "one true scotsman" argument. When you say "The Catholic leadership in America sucks," you're referring to the Catholic leadership. When you say "Catholics sucks," you're referring to me. I'm a Catholic. You're saying that I suck. Whenever someone like OG generalizes by saying that "Christians," do X, he's saying the same thing, only he's telling all the Christians on this board that they're the bad thing he's demonizing.

So yeah, that gets a little personal, and it's not a True Scotsman argument. If he wants to avoid telling lots of people around here what they think and how they're evil people, I think more precise wording can help. That is, unless that is precisely what is meant, in which case no amount of precision wording is going to help.

This is where I thought people were going astray too.

Duoae wrote:
NSMike wrote:
Duoae wrote:

All beliefs are by definition based on "faith".

I'm afraid this is incorrect. You see, if I hop, I believe that my feet will come to the ground again. And, as long as I'm standing on anything with a reasonably strong gravitational field, I also happen to know that will happen, because it can be tested and reproduced. And has been. Knowledge is actually a subset of belief, and I don't think you'd say knowledge is based on faith.

To be fair, I disagree. I'm looking at the dictionary definitions of "belief" and "faith" and neither one mentions "knowledge". They both state that they are based on a confidence that something is true without the certainty that it is. That jives with my understanding of the words.

Dictionary definitions of words are not compendiums of their associations. Ask yourself this simple question: Do you know things that you don't believe?

Yep.

Duoae wrote:

Not to mention his inability to admit that all humans are just the same once they get into their own specific cabal. It's not about religion (referencing his "all the bad things religions have done over the millennia) it's about a myopic mentality that even atheists (especially when talking about religions), governments and any group large or entrenched enough possesses that stems from the "not one of us" tribal human instinct.

When I have ever said anything like this? We're human. We're social, primarily tribal, animals. We're hardwired for the whole "us versus them" routine.

But I would hope that even you could concede that there is a massive difference between the actions and attitudes of the atheist and Christian cabals.

Duoae wrote:

And by everyone saying "group X" is bad and unwanted and that they *must* act this way it is entirely ignoring the reality of the situation in that each and every person doesn't necessarily subscribe or act the way that is prescribed to them.

I say "Christian" or "Christians" because it's the easiest way to get my point across without having to specifically name which of the 40,000 different sects of Christianity--and, for added accuracy, which specific church and which pastor is running things--I'm referring to. Never mind that from the outside the differences between the various sects are relatively trivial and it would likely be difficult for an average member of one sect to explain exactly how their sect differed from others.

As a former Catholic, I fully understand that each and every person doesn't necessarily subscribe or act the way that's prescribed to them. But, as a former Catholic, I also understand that each individual has to take on a level of shared responsibility for the actions of the group. I didn't decide the Church's stance on birth control, but my continued membership (and direct financial support) in a completely voluntary and optional social group meant that I was in some way responsible for all the results of that policy. The only way to absolve myself of that responsibility was to leave the group.

And that's what this thread is full of: individual group members largely failing to take any responsibility for the actions of their group. It's classic diffusion of responsibility. This thread is full of people professing that they're one of the good Christians and that they have nothing to do with any of the bad things that Christians have done or continue to do. And, on one level they can. There's 40,000 different Christian sects: there's always another group to blame.

And when you tack on the highly, shall we say, selective way people choose which bits of their religion they follow and which they don't and you get another level of diffusion of responsibility that can be called upon when the group they actually belong to does something bad. It always boils down to "I'm not responsible. I didn't do anything wrong."

What that also means is that there's little need for any one group to ask bigger questions or reflect on its own behavior or the behavior of Christianity as a whole. That's because they think they haven't done anything wrong.

But someone in some sect of Christianity actually decided that gay marriage was so terrible that they needed to do something about it. And others agreed. And they organized a nationwide campaign to ban gay marriage, including forming multiple dedicated PACs, think tanks, and more. And others joined and helped to organize dozens of statewide campaigns to ban gay marriage. And still others donated money, voted for political candidates who said they'd ban gay marriage, volunteered their time, or all of the above. And still others vocally supported the ban on gay marriage and even more simply gave their quiet consent.

But at the end of the day, it seems I'm supposed to believe that no one in Christianity is responsible for any of this. It was "them." And it seems I'm considered by some to be an insulting meaning for pointing out that one hell of an organized effort literally involving tens of millions of Christians just might point to some serious underlying issues in their faith.

I'm having a bit of a problem with the implication that Phoenix Rev has been and continues to be complicit in the injustices perpetrated against him and his husband.

Tanglebones wrote:
Valmorian wrote:
The Conformist wrote:

Man, I'm really glad I'm not easily insulted, because people can be down right mean here.

I don't think that's mean. Funkenpants is doing the philosophical equivalent to the argument that "Since we can't catch all criminals, law enforcement isn't valid."

Not to speak for The Conformist, but I think it's a reference to the tone OG_Slinger particularly, and some other posters are using to denigrate people of faith, and things that they hold very dear, in a thread that really doesn't call for it.

Seriously. Look at how you're speaking, think about the Reddit-levels of smug self-satisfaction that are being generated, and maybe take a step back. Hell, maybe even apologize.

This is one of the reasons that a lot of posters who used to post here with some frequency no longer do. The orthodoxy of the forum isn't welcoming or open to people that disagree, unless you want to be insulted. (Not by you, but by other posters)

Remember, that one poster here a few years ago when I was talking about my wife's death called me stupid and my wife's belief that she was going to die because she was strong enough to handle it (which she was) and that we'd see each other again. Called me stupid and insulted me and my wife. And this is from the people that view themselves (again not all posters but the strongest pushers of the P&C orthodoxy) as far more compassionate and much smarter than the people they disagree with. After that I mostly have washed my hands of getting involved.

NSMike wrote:

Dictionary definitions of words are not compendiums of their associations. Ask yourself this simple question: Do you know things that you don't believe?

LarryC wrote:

Yep.

Ah. Well. Yeah. Shouldn't post while still waking up. To go back to an earlier example, of course, you know about Santa Claus, but you probably don't believe in him. But ultimately, your perception of the story has changed, it's just a matter of which part is known, and which part is believed.

I still contest the idea that knowledge is not a subset of belief. And, in fact, Dvowels' appeal to authority in the dictionary kinda demonstrates that. If belief lacks the certainty, knowledge adds it. If you gain certainty, at some point, you weren't certain.

This is really arcane and probably not adding anything to the discussion, though.