March 29, 2008

A Christian Skewers ID

A recent exchange on the subject of Intelligent Design vs. Evolution/"Expelled", courtesy of the ABC News "Science & Society" blog...

TOM said;
"Anyone who believes we evolved from apes without a single transitional species to be found (and there should be "countless" millions of them in the fossil record) is clearly operating on blind faith.

There are SO many gaps in evolutionary theory, how it is so widely accepted is miraculous. This movie will expose alot of truth that has been withheld for too long."

To which my hero, RAYMOND, replied;
"Of course there are transitional fossils found! Any student of the subject would know this. And we really are beginning to collect an impression collection of human/hominid fossils stretching way back. Of course, every time a new fossil is found we create another "gap." So the abundance of gaps in the fossil record is a testimony to the abundance of fossils we have found, a huge amount of evidence. The evidence is not only in the fossil record itself, but also in our own DNA.

I am a former creationist. I have not lost faith in God one little bit, but I have lost faith in creationism and the pseudo-science that is done in the name of God. None of it is real science, none of it follows the evidence to come to a conclusion, but all of it, all of the evidence and interpretation of it in creationism is bent to a predetermined conclusion. Lying is pretty much an all-the-time event, including lying about what science says, what science is, what science does, and why it does it. These lies are blatant and fill their literature. They take what scientists say and remove the context and twist the words to make it appear that they are saying something else or admitting to something they are not. They easily ignore anything that does not agree with their predetermined position, and continue to repeat arguments or claim as evidence things which have been conclusively shown to be false.

Dawkins was absolutely right to be incensed by the trickery of these hypocrites. True Christians would have been straightforward and honest in their dealings. The interviews in the picture were stolen by lies.

So please, fellow Christians, forgive me when I say that no good thing can come from this. Any philosophy or position which must be supported by lying is corrupt, and creationism is about as corrupt as it is possible to get. Hmmm. Now what punishment did Christ say would be handed out to "workers of iniquity" who claimed to follow him?"

A thousand tips of the hat to you, Raymond!!!

Mark T.

March 25, 2008

Intelligent Design 1:2

Intelligent Design proponents are twistin' and spinnin'!

Premise Media, which is planning to release Ben Stein's "Expelled" on April 18th, had this to say about the PZ Myers affair:

“It is amazing to see the reaction of PZ Myers, Richard Dawkins and their cohorts when one of them is simply expelled from a movie. Yet these men applaud when professors throughout the nation are fired from their jobs and permanently excluded from their profession for mentioning Intelligent Design,” said producer Mark Mathis. Mathis was at the event that has raised this controversy.

Mathis continued, “I hope PZ’s experience has helped him see the light. He is distraught because he could not see a movie. What if he wasn’t allowed to teach on a college campus or was denied tenure? Maybe he will think twice before he starts demanding more professors be blacklisted and expelled simply because they question the adequacy of Darwin's theory.”

"...simply because they question the adequacy of Darwin's theory"... sounds rather scientific. But wouldn't "simply because they want to teach religion as science" be closer to the truth?

The truth comes out when one digs a bit deeper... here is an excerpt from the official "Expelled" blog:

"The proponents of evolutionism are so fanatical in promoting their belief system, and in forcing it in EVERYBODY, they just give no chance for any other explanation to be heard.

But here is the way it really is. It is called the Gap Theory, and it comports both with the Genesis account and the physical evidence:

Between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2... the most common variety of “gap theory” assumes that a chronological gap occurs between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2, during which vast spans of geologic time are presumed to have elapsed. It is thus postulated that the Earth was initially created in the distant past, and that all geologic events pointing to an old Earth transpired before some event that reduced the Earth to a state of formlessness or chaos as described in Genesis 1:2."

STOP!!! It's THAT "ridiculous book" again...

Mark T.

March 19, 2008

Cleveland's Freethinking Past

The Cleveland area was a hotbed of freethought in the late 1800's/early 1900's.

Here is an excerpt from "The School and the Immigrant" by Herbert Adolphus Miller (1916).


It is impossible to understand the Bohemians in America without some knowledge of Bohemian history. They are one of the national divisions of the Slavs. The Bohemians who dwell in the northwestern part of Austria, directly between Dresden and Vienna, have been the subject of more German influence than any other Slavic people, and in many respects are indistinguishable from the Germans. In 1415 the church and the state burned at the stake John Huss, a Bohemian priest, the first martyr to religious freedom. A revolt took place which made Bohemia Protestant until the Thirty Years War, which began in 1618. After that Catholicism was re-established, and to this day embraces nearly all the inhabitants of Bohemia.

In America, beginning more than 50 years ago, a reaction was organized until at the present time approximately two-thirds of an estimated million are aggressive free-thinkers. In Cleveland about half are Catholics and the rest free-thinkers, with only a few hundred Protestants. Both parties have many organizations and, while the feeling between the two is very strong, the common Slavic feeling manifests itself most strongly in antipathy for the German language. The free-thinkers are the more nationalistic, and fortunately so, for with the loss of the control of the church there is a tendency to materialism which can be counteracted only by devotion to some social cause. There is no group to which the mother tongue and national history can have more moral value. This is in part because their history is peculiarly rich. Commemus, one of the world's greatest educators, was a Bohemian, exiled during the Thirty Years War. The influence of Bohemian history has been such that the people refuse to accept dogma, and even the children argue theology.

Even the children? Must've been nice! Many Czechs who settled in this area were Freethinkers also.

May the Cleveland area be a hotbed of freethought once again! (eventually...)


March 11, 2008

Recent CFT Ruminations

Here are some excerpts from the Cleveland Freethinkers' recent email threads...

JOSH, on a common misinterpretation of atheism:

I think atheism (as most I know define it) is misunderstood. It's not the belief in no god, but rather the lack of a belief in god. There is a big difference. I don't say "there is no god". I say "whether there is god or not, I've seen nothing to make think he has any effect on my life, so I choose to live as if he does not exist". Does that make sense? I'm through and through a skeptic, so I'll always leave open the possibility that I'm wrong, but I don't let it affect the way I live.

RICHARD, on the value of an Atheist speaking his/her mind to a Theist:

It does much to speak words of reality to those that try to live outside of it in their own minds. It takes more work to protect their religious minds than it takes for us to simply live. The majority of religious people do not work very hard to protect their dogma... they become vulnerable to glimpses of reality.

CLOUDBERRY, on the "atheist's burden" (the challenge to "prove" that God doesn't exist):

The thing about the God dilemma is that it seems to be hinging on this: If I say I believe in God, and I don't consider myself stupid enough to believe in something unless it exists, then I believe God exists... and it is an insult to me to say that God doesn't exist. So, if I say God exists, and someone questions that, I begin to revert to the methods of childhood. I get mad, and then I say, "all right- you think I'm so wrong, prove it. I bet you can't."

The trouble is, there is no way I know of to prove that something does not exist- even something simple, like an apple. If I am holding an apple and I say I believe this apple exists, because I can see it and touch it and smell it and eat it, then almost everyone will agree that the apple is real. Very few people will argue the apple does not exist. They might call it by another name, but they will agree there is such a thing as an apple. But, if I have no apple, and no one has ever seen or touched or eaten an apple, and I insist that I have a vision of an apple in my head and I believe it exists, does that mean it is real?

GORDON, in response to the following statement: "Agnosticism leads to truth and investigation without limitations."

Just for clarity, when one arrives at truth, does it have to be taken on faith?

Zinger! More to follow.


March 2, 2008

Three Points of Atheism

In a recent Cleveland Freethinkers discussion thread, I attempted to present three points of evidence on which I base my atheism.

Joining me in this part of the discussion (which has not concluded as of yet) are Paul, an Agnostic (as far as I know)- and Michael (CFT's Blogmaster), an Atheist like myself. Both Paul and Michael gave their analysis on each of the three points.

Here is what ensued... (Mark blue, Paul red, Michael black)

1) The distinct and obvious lack of ANY empirical evidence for the existence of a Supreme Being (all hearsay & manipulated science are ruled out).

1) I agree with the above because it is true. However if we flip the coin we have: The distinct and obvious lack of ANY empirical evidence for the non-existence of a Supreme Being etc....

1) The argument of evidence, or lack thereof, in defense or critique of god, is one that I feel very strongly about, and on that I personally believe best illustrates the nature of the debate. A person who claims that the lack of evidence of non existence can be construed as possible evidence of existence is revealing them self to be guilty of wanting that existence to be true, to the extent that they are willing to reject any argument that conflicts with that desire. Desire does not have any influence over reality, and as such cannot be used in defense of a position.

2) Being human myself, I know of the human mind's propensity for falling prey to both fear of the unknown and wishful thinking.

2) We can wish there is a God and we can wish there isn't a God. This statement proves nothing other than human beings can wish. It doesn't add anything credible to whether or not God does or does not exist. It simply levels the conversation to one of choice!

2) As I said previously, desire does not have any influence over reality. You clearly recognize that thinking along these lines reduces the argument to one of choice- I have to ask, why then should we dismiss the significance of choice in defense of the the god hypothesis? I think we can all agree that we are, by nature, atheist at birth, needing to be influenced by our environments and families in order to embrace any understanding of a higher power. Why cannot it be argued that those who believe in a higher power are doing out of no more compelling motivation than their own selfish desires? Why is the natural position, one of atheistic agnosticism, the position that must do all the intellectual heavy lifting?

3) The observable, measurable natural universe is capable of self-organization, self-regulation, and self-replication within the framework of nature itself- no "intelligent designer" needed!

3) Says who? You! A person can say: The observable ............of nature itself needs an intelligent designer. Your statement is faith based because you can't prove it. There are colors the human eye cannot see and sounds we can't hear. Because we can't see or hear a thing with our five senses does not mean it doesn't exist! Therefore something could be standing next to us made of a color we can't see, speaking to us in a range we can't hear! I'm a philosopher but I'm also a realist and admit what I can't prove to be true or false.

3) I have to point out that you have not addressed Mark's statement with your comment, but rather suggested that he makes it out of faith. I agree with Mark's position that the natural world functions without intervention, and that there is no omnipotent, invisible hand manipulating things in our absence. I disagree with your assessment of that position being a faith claim. As I understand it, a faith claim has it's origins in the human mind, not in the observable natural world. We can, and have, and do, and will, for our entire lives, be able to observe and interpret and manipulate with great effect the machinations of the natural world. This is no faith claim. I can plant a seed, give it water and light, and in time it will grow into a adult specimen of a plant. If I planted a sunflower seed, I could have faith that it would grow into a pear tree, but the reality of nature dictates that things operate independently of our thoughts and desires, and that I would be disappointed with the outcome, as every person is who bases their faith outside of what is real, determined through observation, reason, and experimentation. god is not obervable, his existence cannot be proved through experimentation (I will argue that is have been disproved through experimentation), and the very notion of it's existence is unreasonable (though understandable). Therefore, god cannot be real.