Friday, July 28, 2006

Nullifidian fundies

Anon: It's a great piece of reasoning for theists who can be honest about why they dismiss all other possible gods, and god claims, and even claims about their own gods they don't like.

SH: I’ve blogged on comparative religion many times before. Been there, done that.

And I don’t dismiss any claims about God in the Bible. You’re confusing the religious left with the religious right—which shows how little you know.

Anon: You're way too far gone for any honest introspection of your own beliefs.

SH: Unfortunately, I’m a byproduct of genes and memes. You know, naturalistic evolution, biological determinism, and social conditioning.

Anyway, Anon is still in bondage to the folk psychology of “beliefs.”

I guess when his Mommy was homeschooling him, she didn’t acquaint him with eliminative materialism.

Anon: That supserstious people have always made all kinds of unsupported god claims of relatively similar types, yet nowadays, it's fashionable for the typical deluded, self righteous , religious fanatic to deny all other claims in a form of special pleading that quickly escalates into tyranny, and violent persecution.

SH: i) Notice that he “says” we engage in special pleading, but he doesn’t “show” that we engage in special pleading. He’d rather talk about the facts than let the facts do the talking.

ii) And it’s not as if religion had a monopoly on special pleading:


Sagan's suggestion that only demonologists engage in "special pleading, often to rescue a proposition in deep rhetorical trouble," is certainly not one that accords with my reading of the scientific literature. Nor is this a problem unique to biology. The attempts of physicists to explain why their measurements of the effects of relativity did not agree with Einstein's quantitative prediction is a case no doubt well known to Sagan.


iii) But I also see that Anonymous suffers from a persecution complex. Who is persecuting him? The fundies? Are we giving him bad dreams? Does he need a nightlight?

The only pattern of violent persecution is hailing from the Muslims world.

Anon: Is there one god? Is his name Allah? Or are there three gods? Does god want you not to do any work on Saturday? Does god want you to pray facing Mecca? Does god want you to have a holy man sprinkle water on you? That god doesn't want you to use birth control of eat pork?

SH: Anon has strayed quite far from Roberts. The question at issue was the existence of any given God, not the commands of God given his existence.

Anon: Sorry you skipped biology 101 Fundy. Evolution simply desribes the process where genes change over time in breeding populations. It's not a "creation story", and there are no magical gods involved.

SH: Sorry you weren’t good enough to make the cut for Harvard, unlike Kurt Wise.

Had you only had the chops to get in, you might have learned a thing or two from Richard Lewontin:


We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is an absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.


Anon: No, it’s an appeal to the scientific method and the skeptical peer review process that requires scientists to publish their theories, predictions, experiments and data so that it may be challenged and/or corroborated by other scientists working in their field.

SH: Uh-Huh:


Despite its claims to be above society, science, like the Church before it, is a supremely social institution, reflecting and reinforcing the dominant values and views of society at each historical epoch.

As to assertions without adequate evidence, the literature of science is filled with them, especially the literature of popular science writing. Carl Sagan's list of the "best contemporary science-popularizers" includes E.O. Wilson, Lewis Thomas, and Richard Dawkins, each of whom has put unsubstantiated assertions or counterfactual claims at the very center of the stories they have retailed in the market.

It is said that there is no place for an argument from authority from science. The community of science is constantly self-critical ... It is certainly true that within each narrowly defined scientific field there is constant challenge to new technical claims and to old wisdom. ... But when scientists transgress the bounds of their own specialty they have no choice but to accept the claims of authority, even though they do not know how solid the grounds of those claims may be. Who am I to believe that quantum physics if not Steven Weinberg, or about the solar system if not Carl Sagan? What worries me is that they may believe what Dawkins and Wilson tell them about evolution.


Anon: LOL…I’m VERY conversant in empiricism, and I’m also aware that “reality” is a meaningless term outside the context of human perception.

SH: which is precisely the problem for Anon: the veil of perception.

Anon: If on the other hand you’re a Christian fundy who just wants to make some quick money appealing to the ignorance of the mass Christian fundy market, just write a bombastic book attacking evolution without ever doing any real science to support an alternative theory. Guys like Dembski, Johnson, and Behe have all made a pretty good buck using this approach.

SH: If on the other hand you’re a nullifidian fundy who just wants to make some quick money appealing to the ignorance of the mass nullifidian fundy market, just write a bombastic book attacking creation or intelligent without ever doing any real science to support an alternative theory. Guys like Dawkins and Dennett have all made a pretty good buck using this approach.

Anon: The facts of biological evolution have been OBSERVED in the lab and in nature. They are completely verifiable… Biological evolution and common descent is completely falsifiable.

SH: Uh-huh:


Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection in particular is hopelessly metaphysical, according to the rules of etiquette laid down in the Logic of Scientific Inquiry and widely believed in by practicing scientists who bother to think about the problem. The first rule for any scientific hypothesis ought to be that it is at least possible to conceive of an observation that would contradict the theory. For what good is a theory that is guaranteed by its internal logical structure to agree with all conceivable observations, irrespective of the real structure of the world? If scientists are going to use logically unbeatable theories about the world, they might as well give up natural science and take up religion. Yet is that not exactly the situation with regard to Darwinism? The theory of evolution by natural selection states that changes in the inherited characters of species occur, giving rise to differentiation in space and time, because different genetical types leave different numbers of offspring in different environments... Such a theory can never be falsified, for it asserts that some environmental difference created the conditions for natural selection of a new character. It is existentially quantified so that the failure to find the environmental factor proves nothing, except that one has not looked hard enough. Can one really imagine observations about nature that would disprove natural selection as a cause of the difference in bill size? The theory of natural selection is then revealed as metaphysical rather than scientific. Natural selection explains nothing because it explains everything.


Anon: Sorry Fundy…the earth is 4.5 billion years old, single cell microorganisms show up ~ 3.5 billion years ago, the first vertebrate fossils ~ 525 million years ago, the first mammals ~ 120 million years ago, the first bipedal hominid ~ 4 million years ago, and our species, H. Sapiens, shows up ~ 200,000 years ago.

SH: Anonymous has a sloppy habit of acting as if every critic of evolution has to be a YEC. Some critics belong to the OEC camp while other critics like Denton and Berlinski have no religious ax to grind.

Anon: “Evolutionary psychology” has nothing to do with the FACTS of science I’m talking about.

SH: Anon is such a babe in the woods. Evolutionary psychology cuts its own throat. The FACTS of science are only as good as the MIND of the scientist.

But I guess his Mommy didn’t teach him evolutionary psychology when she was homeschooling him.

Anon: The Heaven’s Gate cult was just another evolved religion that combined elements of Christianity and beliefs in UFOs.

SH: Ufology is a secular cult. It’s the problem child of secular humanism.

Anon: Feel free to link to any article in a peer reviewed science journal that challenges biological evolution with a better, falsifiable, scientific theory.

Oops…you can’t do it.

SH: Here’s a very informative link on the whole subject:

Anon: LOL…who said anything about the science of “memetics”? Not me. I think you’re imaging things again fundy…seems to be a common infliction of your cognitive dysfunction.

SH: Anon was the one who talked about a “Christian mind virus,” which is straight from the playbook of memetics.

But Anon is forgetful. Seems to be a common infliction of his cognitive dysfunction.


  1. 1) It's pretty dishonest to use a site so obviously set up for creationist quote mining
    2) I wrote a pretty thorough review of the Sternberg martyr myth.

    The facts don't support what IDers want them to (that they can't get anything published). Why, you ask? Well, simply put, the Disco Institute has the ways and means to publish technical articles online, or publish an e-journal of their own, considering their abundant supporters and contributors. Why don't they publish their own "research findings"?

    Answer: there are none

  2. Daniel, why is it dishonest? After all, a link is supplied. Please explain this one, because I don't understand. Heck, it's not even naughty. Lazy perhaps.

    To Anon, I note that religious persecution in the Anglo-Saxon world, where the distinction between state and Church was fairly well established largely ended by the late nineteenth century.

    If he has a real complaint about Christians persecuting him, he ought to see a judge. If he wants to believe he's being picked on, then who am I to stop him?

  3. Danny, it would only be dishonest of the quotes were taken out of context and unrepresentative of Lewontin's true sentiments. You haven't made any case to that effect.

    I've read these quotes before in context in the original source.

    But when I'm blogging, it's useful to the reader to use publicly available material whenever possible.

  4. Oh, you tried replyin' to me, eh Stevie Wonder? You want a real naturalist/theist SmackDown? You makin' fun of my Mommy? That Oh-fends my inter-subjective value judgments, Mr. Little Brain! As soon as I get a few minutes I'm gonna cut-and-paste some intelligent sounding stuff from Then I'll rant and rave for several paragraphs, and then I'll insult you and every other Christian moron out there. You bunch of ignorant Calvinistas! Grrrr...

  5. Daniel,

    $3.00 will get you the entire Lewontin article, en toto, here:

    Then you can compare the context and see exactly what he originally said.