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Offline Hermes

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Attention Christians: This is how to behave...
« on: January 02, 2009, 09:03:46 PM »
Part 1 of 3 ...

Quote
Smoke and Mirrors, Whales and Lampreys: A Guest Post by Ken Miller
http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/loom/2009/01/02/smoke-and-mirrors-whales-and-lampreys-a-guest-post-by-ken-miller/

In September 2005, Ken Miller, a Brown University biologist, took the witness stand during a lawsuit known as Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District. The plaintiffs, a group of parents in Dover, Pennsylvania, objected to “intelligent design” being required to be presented as an scientific alternative to evolution. Miller, the first expert witness called by the plaintiffs, showed that the key claims made by advocates of intelligent design are false. The plaintiffs won the case, and the people of Dover voted out the members of the Dover board of education who had pushed through the intelligent design requirements.

Over three years later, advocates of intelligent design are still trying to relive the case.  In late December, the Discovery Institute unleashed a three-part attack on Miller’s testimony, focusing on the evolution of proteins that make blood clot. I pointed out the absurdity of their arguments with the case of the one-wheeled bike.

But there’s much more to this story, as Miller noted in an email he sent to me the other day–more science and more clues to the strategies intelligent design advocates will be using in the years to come.

While Miller is the author of a number of books and a frequent lecturer, he has not yet been absorbed into the blogosphere. And so I’ve invited him to share his thoughts in three posts. The first appears here; I’ll post the next two over the weekend.


One of the enduring fantasies of the intelligent design (ID) movement is the notion that it might have won the Kitzmiller v. Dover trial if it hadn’t been consistently “misrepresented” in testimony by witnesses from the scientific establishment.  Even worse, they point out, when their own heroes like Scott Minnich and Michael Behe attempted to correct those Darwinist distortions, Judge Jones, that liberal, ACLU-friendly activist, paid no attention.

More than three years after Kitzmiller v. Dover, Discovery Institute spokesman Casey Luskin is still trying to win the case.  During the trial itself, from which Discovery stalwarts William Dembski and Steven Meyer conspicuously withdrew, Luskin stood just outside the courtroom, spinning the day’s testimony for any reporter willing to listen.  Casey’s still spinning, and now he’s doing his manful best to resurrect one of Behe’s favorite arguments for “irreducible complexity” (IC), the vertebrate blood clotting cascade.  The culprit in its demise at the Dover trial, of course, was me.  But according to Casey, my testimony was nothing more than “Smoke-and-Mirrors.”

Here’s what he says:

1) The Mirror:  According to Luskin, I misrepresented Behe’s arguments (from Darwin’s Black Box) by pretending that they were “essentially identical” to those found in the ID textbook Of Pandas and People.  They aren’t, according to Luskin.

2) The Smoke:  Luskin claims that I then used that misrepresentation of Behe’s position to state that ID requires the entire blood clotting cascade to be irreducibly complex. Since Behe, according to Luskin, had actually limited his argument for irreducible complexity to a “particular segment” of the cascade, that’s simply “wrong.”

3) Then, another Mirror: Therefore, according to Luskin, any claim that the absence of three components of the cascade in the puffer fish refutes ID is absolutely false.

4) Finally, the Rehabilitation:  Behe’s actual ideas, according to Luskin, center around an “irreducible core” of components essential for the clotting reaction.  Luskin argues that the core idea, which supports the intelligent design of the system, has stood up brilliantly under scientific scrutiny.

The scientific reality, of course, is entirely different.  First, there’s a perfectly good reason why I compared the clotting treatment in Pandas to Darwin’s Black Box (DBB).  They are indeed nearly identical, and that’s because Behe himself wrote both of them.  Second, Behe actually did state that the entire pathway is irreducibly complex in DBB.  Casey might have skipped over those pages, but I didn’t.  Third, as a result, the absence of any components of the cascade in any organism is indeed a direct contradiction of Behe’s formulation of ID.  And finally, even Luskin’s “irreducible core” has fallen apart as the result of the most recent research findings on the system.

Casey seems to forget — or to ignore — the fact that Behe has never even attempted to do any scientific research to show that he is right. He ignores the fact that ID’s critics have produced a boatload of research showing Behe to be wrong while Behe himself has done no research on the system that might support Luskin. As a result, his attempts at rehabilitating the clotting cascade as an “icon” of ID are a complete failure.  So, for the umpteenth time, let’s go through this again.

Here are the details, one at a time.

1) The Mirror?  The essence of Luskin’s argument is that my testimony on the opening days of the Dover trial misrepresented Michael Behe’s position on the irreducible complexity of blood clotting.  I supposedly did this by falsely conflating Behe’s arguments with those in the ID textbook, Of Pandas and People.  According to Luskin, Behe’s actual arguments (from DBB) are “much more precise.”  To be specific, in DBB, according to Luskin, Behe limited “his argument for irreducible complexity to a particular segment of the blood-clotting cascade.”

The interested reader might begin by comparing pages 141-146 of Pandas to pages 81-97 of DBB (click here for both clotting diagrams).  As you will see, the books show the system in identical diagrams (p. 143 and 82, respectively), clearly indicating that both were derived from a common source.  That source, of course, was the author of both passages, Michael Behe.

More to the point, these matching diagrams show at least 16 different factors in the cascade.  Both books then use these complex diagrams to frame the essence of the clotting argument in nearly identical language in both passages:  All of the parts have to be present simultaneous for the system to work.  Here’s how he put it in the two books:

    “When the system is lacking just one of the components, such as anti-hemophilic factor, severe health problems often result.  Only when all the components of the system are present in good working order does the system function properly.” [Pandas, p. 145]

    “… none of the cascade proteins is used for anything except controlling the formation of a blood clot.  Yet in the absence of any one of the components, blood does not clot and the system fails.” [DBB, p. 86]

Writing in both books, Behe describes that as problem for evolution.  Although the narrative style differs, the meaning of both passages is identical.  Pandas notes similarities between some of the clotting proteins, which could be interpreted as evidence of common ancestry.  However, it waves away that possibility by stating:  “that even if this were the case, all of the proteins had to be present simultaneously for the blood clotting system to function” [Pandas, p. 146].

In DBB, the same issue is addressed this way: “The bottom line is that clusters of proteins have to be inserted all at once into the cascade.  This can be done only by postulating a ‘hopeful monster’ who luckily gets all of the proteins at once, or by the guidance of an intelligent agent” [p. 96]. [emphasis in the original in both quotations].

In summary, there is at best only one difference between the two treatments, a passage found on page 86 of DBB:

    “Leaving aside the system before the fork in the pathway, where details are less well known, the blood clotting system fits the definition of irreducible complexity.   …   The components of the system (beyond the fork in the pathway) are fibrinogen, prothrombin, Stuart factor, and proaccelerin.” [DBB, p. 86]

By ignoring this important difference, according to Luskin, I had misrepresented Behe and misled the Court.  Behe clearly stated that the system contained just those parts past the “fork” in the pathway.  How dare I pretend otherwise?  Oh, the dishonesty!

So, where did I get the idea that Behe’s argument for ID actually included the whole system, just like Pandas’s treatment?  Easy.  Unlike Mr. Luskin, I read Behe’s whole book — including the parts before and after page 86, and I took Michael Behe at his word, as you will see.

2) The Smoke?  The claim that Michael Behe meant to include only a handful of components from the cascade in his “irreducibly complex” system would come as a shock to anyone who has actually read DBB.  Behe describes the system in great detail, asking us to consider the whole system in all its complexity, including each of its 16 different components.  In fact, Behe emphasizes how critical each and every component of the system is, pointing out that the absence of certain factors (VIII and IX) cause potentially fatal human diseases (hemophilia A and B, respectively).  But then, just as Luskin points out, on page 87, he suddenly seems to retreat, limiting the system to just four factors (fibrinogen, prothrombin, Stuart factor, and proaccelerin).  So any suggestion to the contrary is unfair to Behe and ID, right?

Not so fast.  Just keep reading.  He doesn’t actually limit his “irreducible core” at all in the way that Luskin now pretends.  Instead, on the very next page [p. 87] he discusses the hopelessness of evolution being able to change even a “slightly simplified system” gradually into a “complex, intact system.” Why?  Because adding even a single step to the pathway is beyond the range of evolution.  As Behe puts it, “From the beginning, a new step in the cascade would require both a proenzyme and also an activating enzyme to switch on the proenzyme at the correct time and place.”  Then he drops the bombshell that Luskin seems not to have noticed (or, at least he wasn’t willing to tell his readers about):

    “Since each step necessarily requires several parts, not only is the entire blood-clotting system irreducibly complex, but so is each step in the pathway.” [DBB, p. 87]

Got that?  The “entire blood-clotting system” is “irreducibly complex,” and “so is each step in the pathway.”  Which Michael Behe should we believe?  The pre-Dover trial one who described the whole magnificent system as an argument for ID?  Or the one who flip-flops to a tiny core of just four proteins? Or the one who flip-flops again a page later, and once again says that the “entire blood-clotting system” and each of its steps are irreducibly complex?

I wasn’t blowing any “smoke” when I characterized Behe’s views as pertaining to the entire clotting pathway in both books.  What I was actually doing, unlike Luskin, was taking Behe’s claims in their totality.  Behe really did argue that the whole system is irreducibly complex, and that it would be impossible for evolution to add so much as a single step to it.  That’s why I testified to the effect those missing clotting factors in the pufferfish were a fatal blow to Behe’s argument.  And so they are.  The only mirror I held up to the Court was the one that reflected Behe’s own written arguments in Pandas and DBB.

3) The Judge?  Luskin seems surprised that the Judge paid no attention to Behe’s attempts to “correct” my testimony on this point.  After all, isn’t the blood-clotting argument in DBB more carefully qualified than the one in Pandas?  Well, it may be.  It certainly is more detailed, since it is intended for readers a bit older than your average 14-year-old.

But there is something very strange, and even distressing, about Luskin’s contention that the obvious failings of the arguments in Pandas are somehow less important than the ones in DBB.  Why is it OK to give high school readers an argument about the irreducible complexity of the entire cascade that you know to be false (as Luskin admits), just as long as you modify that argument in another book?  Luskin seems to have forgotten that the Dover trial was about an issue much more important than the fate of ID…. It was about what should be taught to high school science students.  And, in that respect, the arguments in Pandas were the ones that really mattered.  And those arguments, as my friend Casey Luskin has implicitly admitted in his first web posting, were completely wrong.  Too bad he didn’t spin that message at the trial.

4) An “Irreducible Core?”  Here’s where things get really, really interesting.  Luskin maintains that the “irreducible core” is a “long-standing concept within ID thinking,” and argues that this concept is well-supported by current research on the system.  Well, is it? Does the blood-clotting system really contain an “irreducible core?”

Not even close.  Luskin’s own sketch of that core highlights seven (count ‘em) components in that core (click here for that image.  The core is the red box in his diagram). Those seven components are:

    Tissue Factor
    Factor VIII (Antihemophilic Factor)
    Factor X (Stuart Factor)
    Factor V (Proaccelerin)
    Factor II (Prothrombin)
    Factor XIII (Fibrin Stabilizing Factor)
    Fibrinogen

According to Luskin, these form an “irreducible core” without which blood clotting would not be possible.

Once again, ID fails, and the culprit isn’t a liberal judge, the ACLU, or even a slick-talking smoke-and-mirrors biology prof.  It’s nature itself, in the form of a collaboration between a nasty little beast called the lamprey (Petromyzon marinus), and a pioneering scientist who has spent his career working out the evolution of the clotting cascade.  That scientist is Russell Doolittle of the University of California at San Diego Diego (which, as it happens, is the very same university where Casey got two degrees in Earth Science while simultaneously founding and managing his creationist “Intelligent Design and Evolution Awareness” [IDEA] Club).

His 2008 paper [Doolittle et al, 2008] reports on a careful search through the lamprey genome. The lamprey, as luck would have it, has a perfectly functional clotting system, and it lacks not only the three factors missing in jawed fish, but also Factors IX and V.

Now, Luskin could object that Factor IX wasn’t part of his “core,” but Factor V certainly was.  And, as Behe pointed out at length, the absence of factor IX causes potentially-fatal hemophilia in humans, which was part of his argument for the irreducible complexity of the whole system. The lamprey genome does contain a single gene, somewhat related to Factor X and Factor V, but not identical to either.  As the paper’s authors put it: “In summary, the genomic picture presented here suggests that lampreys have a simpler clotting scheme than later diverging vertebrates.  In particular, they appear to lack the equivalents of factors VIII (or V) and IX, suggesting that the gene duplication leading to these factors, synchronous or not, occurred after their divergence from other vertebrates.” [p. 195].  To make things even worse for Luskin’s “core,” a previous study from Doolittle’s lab [Jiang & Doolittle, 2003] had already shown that the bits and pieces (protein domains) of most of the clotting factor proteins are present in a primitive, invertebrate chordate.  This is exactly what one would expect from an evolutionary trajectory leading to the current system in vertebrates — the assembly of a complex pathway from pre-existing parts.

So, what are we left with?  Nothing more than a vain attempt to pretend that ID’s collapse in the Dover case was the result of misrepresentation and deception.  For Mr. Luskin and his employers at the Discovery Institute, the generation of sound and fury continues, but in scientific terms, their continuing noise signifies nothing more than the utter emptiness of their failed ideas.

(Tomorrow: The fingerprint of evolution left in whale DNA.)
« Last Edit: January 02, 2009, 09:10:34 PM by Hermes »
Smart people believe weird things because they are skilled at defending beliefs they arrived at for non-smart reasons. --Michael Shermer

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Offline Hermes

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Re: Attention Christians: This is how to behave...
« Reply #1 on: January 02, 2009, 09:09:20 PM »
Why did I single out Ken Miller?

* He's a Christian.
* He stood up when ignorance and dogma was being pushed by other Christians.
* He did not stop when other Christians attempted to brow beat him.
* He continues to advocate knowledge over ignorance and dogma.

I ask you; are you on the side of knowledge like Dr. Miller, or on the side of ignorance and/or dogma like the Discover Institute and other ID proponents?
« Last Edit: January 02, 2009, 09:13:11 PM by Hermes »
Smart people believe weird things because they are skilled at defending beliefs they arrived at for non-smart reasons. --Michael Shermer

The history of religion is a long attempt to reconcile old custom with new reason, to find a sound theory for an absurd practice.  --Sir James George Frazer

Offline none

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Re: Attention Christians: This is how to behave...
« Reply #2 on: January 02, 2009, 09:30:16 PM »
I have a mutated chromosome number 2 that has two telomeres and two centromeres.
http://www.toarchive.org/faqs/dover/day1am2.html#day1am342

Offline Deus ex Machina

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Re: Attention Christians: This is how to behave...
« Reply #3 on: January 03, 2009, 04:40:36 PM »
Ken Miller FTW. :)
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Offline Cycle4Fun

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Re: Attention Christians: This is how to behave...
« Reply #4 on: January 05, 2009, 12:55:36 PM »
He gave a talk at Case Western Reserve U in Cleveland (my alma mater).  Prof. Miller was supposed to debate a creationist who backed out.  Luckily he expected this and was ready to give a presentation.  This talk occurred as Ohio was reviewing the science curriculum.  There was a push to put a disclaimer on evolution in the text books but it failed.

This is an excellent talk.  If you have the time it's worth the effort.  Consider the talk educational TV.

The Collapse of Intelligent Design:  Will the Next Monkey Trial be in Ohio?
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Offline Idioteque

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Re: Attention Christians: This is how to behave...
« Reply #5 on: January 14, 2009, 12:02:34 AM »
Quote
Why did I single out Ken Miller?

* He's a Christian.
* He stood up when ignorance and dogma was being pushed by other Christians.
* He did not stop when other Christians attempted to brow beat him.
* He continues to advocate knowledge over ignorance and dogma.

I ask you; are you on the side of knowledge like Dr. Miller, or on the side of ignorance and/or dogma like the Discover Institute and other ID proponents?

Ken Miller would be able to answer your generic "welcome new Christian to the boards / mailbag" question quite well Hermes.
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Offline Hermes

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Re: Attention Christians: This is how to behave...
« Reply #6 on: January 14, 2009, 07:29:22 AM »
Yep.  As it should be.  I'd have no problem with a planet of people with Ken Miller's character.  What puzzles me is why it is so hard for Christians to address the issue of Christians doing things wrong in the name of Christianity.  Swap out Christian for anything else and I doubt they'd be as reticent.
Smart people believe weird things because they are skilled at defending beliefs they arrived at for non-smart reasons. --Michael Shermer

The history of religion is a long attempt to reconcile old custom with new reason, to find a sound theory for an absurd practice.  --Sir James George Frazer

Offline Hermes

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Re: Attention Christians: This is how to behave...
« Reply #7 on: January 14, 2009, 07:33:09 AM »
Quote
Ken Miller’s Guest Post, Part Two
http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/loom/2009/01/03/ken-millers-guest-post-part-two/

In Part 1, I showed that Casey Luskin’s charges with respect to my testimony in Kitzmiller v. Dover were completely false.  Michael Behe did indeed argue, throughout his 1996 book, Darwin’s Black Box [DBB], that the “entire blood-clotting system” was “irreducibly complex,” and I cited examples from that book to prove it.  Therefore, the existence of a living organism missing so much as a single part of that system was indeed a falsification of ID’s blood-clotting argument. Given that we now have examples of organisms (jawless fish) missing at least 5 components of that “irreducibly complex” system (see Doolittle et al, 2008), it’s perfectly obvious that Luskin’s attempts to rehabilitate that argument are hopeless.

Ever the optimist, Part 2 of Luskin’s end-of-year project is to salvage Of Pandas and People, the creationist-turned-ID textbook that was at the heart of the Dover trial.  Incredibly, in trying to accomplish this feat, he fails to understand the very argument he’s trying to prop up.  What Luskin does not seem comprehend is that irreducible complexity is not an argument for design — it is an argument against evolution.  Simply stated, when a system is labeled as “irreducibly complex,” the ID proponent is making a claim for the unevolvability of that system.  The reason that such systems are said to be unevolvable is because their individual parts are supposedly nonfunctional until they are all combined into a single, working system. As Behe has said and written, “any irreducibly complex system that is missing a part is by definition nonfunctional” [DBB, p. 39].  As Behe further points out, since those parts are nonfunctional on their own, they could not have been assembled by evolution, because “…natural selection can only choose systems that are already working…” [DBB, p. 39].

That would be a powerful argument against evolution — if it were true.  Unfortunately, it’s not, and the Dover trial demonstrated that for at least three of ID’s favorite systems, blood-clotting, the bacterial flagellum, and the immune system.  By pointing out, in court, that individual parts of each of these systems do indeed have perfectly functional roles, we showed that Behe’s claim of unevolvability was false. (For details on the flagellum see Pallen & Matzke, 2006; the immune system, Bottaro et al, 2006; Jiang & Doolittle, 2003 present an evolutionary pathway for the blood-clotting system).

Luskin, however, ignores Behe’s own logic and pretends that irreducible complexity is really an argument about whether parts of an established system are superfluous.  In other words, to Luskin, the only way to show that a system is irreducibly complex would be to take a couple of parts out and see if it keeps working.  That stunning error of logic is why he actually believes that pulling a wheel off my Trek road bike would demonstrate the irreducible complexity of the bicycle’s design.  It’s also why he argues that it doesn’t matter that whales are missing one part of the clotting system, bony fish are missing three, and lampreys are missing (although he doesn’t seem to know this) five.

As a result, the only evidence he says he’d accept for evolution would be a knockout experiment “that removed certain components from the blood-clotting cascade, and found that the blood still clotted properly.”  But all that would actually show, of course, is that the system had superfluous parts.  Luskin would then take a tiny step back and claim that what was left behind was still irreducibly complex.

Incidentally, Luskin suggests that the lack of Factor XII in dolphins is the result of a “functional constraint” associated with the design of vertebrates living in water.  That, he presumes, is why dolphins and jawed fish both lack Factor XII.  In his view, “Darwinists” (like me) may believe that “dolphins are supposedly descended from land-dwelling vertebrates,” but that issue “will require further research to sort out.”  Really, Casey?  As I pointed out in my testimony at the Dover trial, the key reason why evolution is science is that it is testable.  If dolphins and other cetaceans are indeed descended from land-dwelling mammals, their ancestors should have had the genes for Factor XII in their genomes.  During the transition to water, those genes should have been deleted or inactivated, perhaps as an adaptation to deep sea diving, and today their traces might still be present in the cetacean genome, if only we care to look.

Would you like to take a look and place a bet on the results of that “further research,” Casey?  As much as I’d like to win a few bucks from my friends at the Discovery Institute, it wouldn’t be sporting, since such research was actually done more than a decade ago [Semba et al, 1998].  Whales possess a Factor XII pseudogene, an inactivated version of the very same gene carried by land-dwelling mammals.  That pseudogene is a direct mark of their common ancestry with other mammals, and disproves any suggestion that constraints on cetacean “design” required the absence of Factor XII.  Rather, ordinary genetic processes knocked out the gene, and today the pseudogene remains merely as evidence of their evolutionary ancestry.

Like just about everything that comes out of the Discovery Institute, Luskin’s idea of evidence isn’t intended to advance scientific understanding — it’s only designed to score debating points.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t do that, either.  What Mr. Luskin clearly does not understand is that irreducible complexity is really an argument about how a system came to be, not whether it contains dispensable parts.  And the argument, so clearly stated by Michael Behe in both of the books in question (Pandas and DBB) is that the whole system has to be assembled at once, in “one fell swoop,” because partial assemblies, containing just a few parts, are “by definition nonfunctional.”  How do you test that assertion?  By looking around in nature and seeing if partial assemblies of the more complex system do exist and are indeed functional.

What happens when you do that?  You already know the answer.  From the bacterial Type III secretory system to the simplified clotting system of the lamprey, each of the favorite examples of the ID movement have collapsed under the weight of scientific evidence.  Once you discover that the parts of the system do indeed have functions of their own, even in different contexts, you’ve answered the challenge from ID. As Behe pointed out, “…natural selection can only choose systems that are already working..”  Yup.  And that’s why once you’ve demonstrated that the parts of the system do indeed work just fine in other contexts, you’re answered the ID challenge fully and completely. Case closed.  Three years ago, in fact.  Case closed, and ID lost.

Casey, if you really want to defend Michael Behe, a good place to start would be by reading him.

[ References available in the original]
Smart people believe weird things because they are skilled at defending beliefs they arrived at for non-smart reasons. --Michael Shermer

The history of religion is a long attempt to reconcile old custom with new reason, to find a sound theory for an absurd practice.  --Sir James George Frazer

Offline Hermes

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Re: Attention Christians: This is how to behave...
« Reply #8 on: January 14, 2009, 07:34:35 AM »
Quote
Ken Miller’s Final Guest Post: Looking Forward
http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/loom/2009/01/04/ken-millers-final-guest-post-looking-forward/

If you’ve had the patience to follow Part 1 and Part 2 of my replies to Casey Luskin’s postings on the blood-clotting cascade, you might be wondering why he’s gone to such trouble to beat a horse (Kitzmiller v. Dover) that left the barn more than three years ago (when that decision was filed).  Quite frankly, I wondered a bit about that, too.

Now he’s revealed his hand in Part 3 of the series.  It’s now apparent that his employers at the Discovery Institute are kicking off a attempt to show that Judge John E. Jones III got it wrong, and the Dover case was wrongly decided.  What Casey is doing is laying down an artillery barrage designed to soften up the strongest part of the defenses against ID — its record of failure in the Dover trial.

Why is this necessary?  Why bother re-trying a case that Luskin’s colleagues have already lost?  Because the Dover decision remains an open, and potentially fatal wound to the ID movement.

If ID surrogates in Louisiana, Texas, and other states are to argue that evolution is a controversial idea with serious scientific flaws, they’ve got a problem.  They know that the parents and educators backing genuine science education for American students will pick up the Dover decision and cite chapter and verse from its ringing indictment of everything that Casey and the Discover Institute stand for.  They also know that state legislators and school board members will consider the legal troubles that beset Dover and decide to pass on Discovery’s persistent offers to guide them along the path of undermining evolution.  In short, if Kitzmiller v. Dover stands, they’re done for.

But they can’t appeal the case — only the Dover School Board could have done that.  Unfortunately for the Discovery Institute, it lost that opportunity in November of 2005, when the voters of Dover threw out their pro-ID Board and replaced it with one entirely happy with the decision that Judge Jones rendered six weeks later.

So, they’ve got only one recourse — to produce a revisionist narrative showing that the decision was flawed.  Clearly they hope that their surrogates will then be able to pick up that narrative and use it to counter the scientific and legal disaster that was Kitzmiller v. Dover.

What Casey Luskin has done in Parts 1 and 2 of his revisionist history is to argue:

1) That I supposedly misled the court in my testimony about the “irreducible complexity” of the blood-clotting system by incorrectly characterizing the position of ID scientist Michael Behe.

2) That my testimony about missing parts of the blood-clotting system was supposedly irrelevant, since I hadn’t done any experiments to show that the system would work despite the absence of several parts in some organisms.

And, now, what he’s argued in Part 3 is that as a result of points (1) and (2), Kitzmiller v. Dover was a case wrongly decided on the basis of bogus scientific testimony.  That means, according to Mr. Luskin, that it should not be used against the ID movement.  And, just for good measure, he complains that key parts of Jones’ decision were “copied” from statements provided by the plaintiffs.

As I showed in earlier responses to Luskin’s revisionist history of the Dover trial, his narrative is wrong on each and every count.

• First, I didn’t mislead anyone when I testified about the blood-clotting system on the opening days of the Dover trial.  In fact, it’s Mr. Luskin who is trying to mislead his readers today by misrepresenting Michael Behe’s very clear written claims about the irreducible complexity of the system.   Behe made that claim very clearly in his portion of the ID textbook Of Pandas and People, and he did it again on page 87 of Darwin’s Black Box where he stated:

    “Since each step necessarily requires several parts, not only is the entire blood-clotting system irreducibly complex, but so is each step in the pathway.”

• Second, Luskin’s willingness to misread Behe is then followed by an even more brazen attempt to misrepresent, “irreducible complexity,” ID’s own argument against evolution.  The one strength of that argument is that it makes a testable prediction, namely, that the individual parts of an irreducibly complex biochemical system should have no function until all of those parts are assembled together.  The difficulty, which Luskin has worked mightily to obscure, is that “irreducible complexity” fails that test at every turn.  So he pretends that the existence of fully-functional clotting systems that are missing as many as five parts of the “irreducibly complex” system is no big deal.    It is, in fact, a very, very big deal — because it shows that his argument, the claim of “design,” and his revisionist account of the Dover trial are all dead wrong.

• What all of this means is very clear.  The case that Luskin has attempted to make against the Kitzmiller decision is rotten from the ground up.  The testimony I presented in court was accurate, the scientific case for the evolution of the blood clotting system is getting stronger every day, and his plea to ignore the facts case is an act of desperation from a side unable either to do scientific research or to assemble a coherent legal argument.

The only relevant question at this point is why the Discovery Institute keeps highlighting its own failings in this way. Why are Casey and his employers now — three years after the Dover trial — trying to rehabilitate the tattered credibility of both Michael Behe and Pandas? What mischief are they planning now? The only conclusion I can draw is that they must be maneuvering for the next round of state board hearings or legislative sessions — and I’m concerned.  These folks are a whole lot better at politics and public relations than they are at science, and that means that everyone who cares about science education should be on guard.
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Offline Hermes

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Re: Attention Christians: This is how to behave...
« Reply #9 on: January 14, 2009, 07:35:20 AM »
...added Parts 2 and 3. 
Smart people believe weird things because they are skilled at defending beliefs they arrived at for non-smart reasons. --Michael Shermer

The history of religion is a long attempt to reconcile old custom with new reason, to find a sound theory for an absurd practice.  --Sir James George Frazer

Offline Hermes

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Re: Attention Christians: This is how to behave...
« Reply #10 on: January 20, 2009, 09:39:14 PM »
First Freedom First
http://www.firstfreedomfirst.org/media/video

http://www.youtube.com/user/FirstFreedomCampaign

A partnership of;

The Interfaith Alliance Foundation
http://www.interfaithalliance.org

Americans United for Separation of Church and State
http://www.au.org/

No Religious Discrimination
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pRpeSZyNEpI[/youtube]

No Religious Discrimination (parts 1 & 2)
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f8Pw8aWHezA[/youtube]
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t1ObSaw5nR0[/youtube]

Worship or Not
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EtzZYNHDxg8[/youtube]

Separation of Church and State
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EJ8HT24ivsU[/youtube]

A discussion of intelligent design
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JDCaizXRvRk[/youtube]
Smart people believe weird things because they are skilled at defending beliefs they arrived at for non-smart reasons. --Michael Shermer

The history of religion is a long attempt to reconcile old custom with new reason, to find a sound theory for an absurd practice.  --Sir James George Frazer

Offline Hermes

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Re: Attention Christians: This is how to behave...
« Reply #11 on: February 13, 2009, 06:57:29 PM »
Here's a Christian -- DonExodus2 -- that takes on creationists;

Questions for people who don't accept evolution.
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=63LRfLyR-JU[/youtube]

The question to Christians is this;

* If you are a creationist, why do you have a different opinion from many if not most other Christians?

* If you are not a creationist, what are you doing about the ignorance being spread by your creationist peers?

DonExodus2's YouTube channel; http://www.youtube.com/user/DonExodus2
Smart people believe weird things because they are skilled at defending beliefs they arrived at for non-smart reasons. --Michael Shermer

The history of religion is a long attempt to reconcile old custom with new reason, to find a sound theory for an absurd practice.  --Sir James George Frazer

Offline wetlandman100

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Re: Attention Christians: This is how to behave...
« Reply #12 on: February 18, 2009, 03:16:08 PM »
hermes I have to say that you are right.  it kills me, but Christains should speak truth and stand for what is right an not be swaded from truth.  So Ken Miller's behavior is how a christain should act. 
« Last Edit: February 18, 2009, 03:18:23 PM by wetlandman100 »

Offline screwtape

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Re: Attention Christians: This is how to behave...
« Reply #13 on: February 18, 2009, 03:31:49 PM »
Great thread, Hermes.  I wish there was karma to give out.
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Offline Hermes

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Re: Attention Christians: This is how to behave...
« Reply #14 on: February 18, 2009, 06:35:25 PM »
[ tips hat in gratitude ]
Smart people believe weird things because they are skilled at defending beliefs they arrived at for non-smart reasons. --Michael Shermer

The history of religion is a long attempt to reconcile old custom with new reason, to find a sound theory for an absurd practice.  --Sir James George Frazer

Offline Tails_155

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Re: Attention Christians: This is how to behave...
« Reply #15 on: February 20, 2009, 12:01:47 AM »
I thoroughly respect DonExodus2, he has done a lot for the service of destroying the beast of anti-intellectualism
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Offline Hermes

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Re: Attention Christians: This is how to behave...
« Reply #16 on: March 08, 2009, 10:21:47 PM »
Quote
Ignoring Complaints: Business as Usual for Military Equal Opportunity office (MEO)
Source: http://undergroundunbeliever.blogspot.com/2009/03/ignoring-complaints-buisness-as-usual.html

Previously, I posted about Col. Toney who sent an email across several Air Force bases. The email was about a man missing all four limbs who was a dedicated Christian.The letter implored the reader to accept Christ. This email also contained a link to an extreme-right Catholic hate site, which contained various defamatory statements about Pres. Obama.

MSgt. Jeffery Thompson contacted me via email this past week and added a few details that were not mentioned in the Stars and Stripes article. He had contacted the Military Equal Opportunity office not once, but several times to file a complaint. He was ignored. The MEO staff seemed confused why a Christian would file a complaint about the matter. They seemed completely unable to understand that even if someone is not offended personally by the story in the email, they could understand why others might be. In addition to ignoring complaints, the MEO office leaked MSgt Thompson's complaint to the Col. Toney. This is a direct violation of AF regulations and a violation of the trust between the MEO office and the service member who comes to the MEO office with a complaint.

Here is the original letter in its entirety, posted here with MSgt Thompson's permission:

Quote
    2 Feb 2009

    MSgt Jeffrey L. Thompson

    [Address removed]

    Colonel Kimberly K. Toney

    501 CSW/CC

    APO AE 09470

    Col Toney,

    Our MEO NCOIC, MSgt XXXXXX, suggested that I write you a letter regarding the inspirational email that you sent out to the wing. I initially approached MSgt XXXXXX to get his opinion on the email because I had a concern that your email about Mr. Vujicic seemed to be wing leadership promoting, advancing or endorsing Christian faith. MSgt XXXXXX invited me to his office to discuss the issue. I had expected anonymity IAW AFI 36-2706 (3.18.1 / 4.3.12.7 / 5.2.12.3) to protect my identity until I decided how to proceed, but MSgt XXXXXX informed me that that he has told you my identity regarding this issue. I appreciate that his intentions were good, but approaching the wing commander on what I perceived as a foul has made me very nervous. No one wants to be on the wrong side on their wing commander.

    Here is why I perceived the email as proselytizing: Your email to the wing asked us to look to Mr. Vujicic as an opportunity to think about our lives and how we handle our personal and professional challenges. Mr. Vujicic, in the article written just above the video, is described as someone whom the Lord has given an unquenchable passion to share his testimony and hope in Jesus with the world as he introduces Jesus to others and tells of His great desire to know them personally by allowing Him to become their Lord and Savior. By this language, this was Mr. Vujicic's intent and basis of his inspirational message.

    MSgt XXXXXX told me that any endorsement of faith by your email was unintentional. My own impression of your email was an organizational endorsement of Christian faith because the email, article and video compelled us to witness an exercise in religious-specific faith that I felt was in conflict with DoD neutrality on religion. Although I am of Roman Catholic faith, I have always felt passionately about keeping religious events out of our mandatory military functions because faith is such an intensely personal, private and emotive issue. A basic tenant of some fundamentalist Christian faiths is their mission to convert others to their faith. When practiced openly or aggressively, this creates an exclusionist atmosphere for those of other faiths and those who reject religion entirely. Perhaps I am especially sensitive to this issue because I have been persistently pursued by fundamentalist Christians throughout my 23-yr career to convert; from supervisors, to subordinates, to the once agenda-covert Military Marriage Seminar, and more recently strong anti-Muslim sentiment and characterization of our current operations in Southwest Asia as a mission from God by the then deputy undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence Lt General Boykin. For me, some of the pieces of the puzzle fell into place when the Air Force academy scandal was uncovered in the media. Our top Air Force leaders were being "character-shaped" into a fundamentalist Christian mindset with the help of organizations the Campus Crusade for Christ and The Military Ministry who has run Military Marriage Seminars in order to proselytize.

    MSgt XXXXXX disagrees with my perception that your email was proselytizing. He made the point, if I understood him correctly, that because the wing chaplain programs belong to you, that you are able to publicize religious programs. He made the point that the Air Force has legitimate concern in its members' spirituality (not necessarily in a religious sense, but which can include faith). He made the point that after his own thorough review of DoD guidance, AFIs, and chaplain program guidance, he cannot see a direct MEO violation by the email. He made the point that you were unaware that the video and website had a religious association; again if I understand him correctly it was a simple oversight. Despite those clarifications and the context put forth by MSgt XXXXXX, I still cannot set aside my own impression that, even if unintentional, the email promoted and endorsed Christian faith, which creates an environment of exclusion of others that do not share that faith.

    I am a deeply reflective person and I thoroughly considered MSgt XXXXXX's reasoning against my own perception of this event. In an attempt to grasp some additional perspective on this issue, I reviewed the MEO AFI and researched other resources such as the Military Religious Freedom Foundation website [www.militaryreligiousfreedom.org] and contacted Mr. Mikey Weintstein, the foundation's president and founder. He is an AF Academy Honor Graduate, served as Judge Advocate General for 10 years, served as the Whitehouse legal counsel to President Reagan for 3 years, and was General Counsel to Mr. H. Ross Perot. He is an attorney and has extensive expertise in MEO religious issues. I requested his perspective and discussed the issue in depth. The act of sending out an email with religious affiliation may not necessarily constitute an MEO institutional barrier. But there are indeed AFI's other DoD regulations that control such distribution, especially from chaplains. In contrast, such messages coming from the commander, as in this situation, almost certainly raises serious issues of Constitutionality. In any event, important legal issue aside, it certainly creates the likely potential to negatively impact the human relations climate of the wing by sending a message of exclusion to those who do not share that faith. Also, by AFI, commanders' support of religious beliefs and practices must be in a manner that is consistent and fair to all. The Official Air Force Core Values Handbook (The Little Blue Book) specifically addresses Religious Toleration under part 2, Service Before Self: "Religious toleration. Military professionals must remember that religious choice is a matter of individual conscience. Professionals, and especially commanders, must not take it upon themselves to change or coercively influence the religious views of subordinates."

    There is an additional issue. The 4Marks.com website that you linked to in your email explicitly promotes an atmosphere that is hostile to our commander-in-chief, which is potentially detrimental to the good order and discipline of our unit. This website prominently host political extremist media directly linking religion to citizen's voting obligations for and against specific political candidates, such as arguing on religious grounds that "voting for Obama would be wrong," that Catholics were "morally obligated" to vote for McCain-Palin, and that Catholics could not have voted for Obama "without endangering their immortal soul." That Obama "is not fit to our commander-in-chief." That our former President Clinton and our Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are "career criminals." That one of the videos pushes that to vote for Obama "would be to assist in his evil," and, "cooperating with evil," and that President Obama is "soft on terrorist." [http://www.4marks.com/videos/details.html?video_id=699]

    Especially offensive content include: That President Obama is "a veritable forerunner of the Antichrist." That suicide-cult leader Jim Jones "would be proud of these Democrat pied pipers leading their sheep to slaughter." That Obama wants to "kill babies." That our commander-in-chief is "anti-American," influenced by Satanism and inspired by domestic terrorists. That "a good Christian in his right state of mind could [not] vote for such a monster like Obama." That President Obama's mind is "twisted," that his voting record is "sick" and that Vice President Biden is an "American Judas." That in an article titled "America's Dead," President Obama's "election to the presidency, free speech and freedom to practice and freely worship our God may be denied." That, "Given the election of Obama, I fear that the days of the Third Reich are being revisited." That one article is preceded with a photo of President Obama depicted as Hitler, wearing a Nazi uniform and holding a Nazi flag [http://www.4marks.com/articles/details.html?article_id=2451]. These are not forum discussions, but are posted articles and videos that make up the message of the 4Marks.com website, just as the video and article of Mr. Vujicic do. One video I saw on the 4Marks website was sponsored by "www.NoHussein.org " who sell anti-Obama merchandise such as a bumper sticker that reads "Obama=666." The 4Marks.com website that your email linked to, seems to part of a network that is contemptuous and disparaging toward our president. These issues are perhaps more relevant to Dissident and Protest Activities, but the organization actively uses religion to discriminate between candidates aggressively uses religion to persuade those who view the website to vote for or against a specific candidate or political party. I believe that MSgt XXXXXX has referred the organization's website to AFOSI to determine if it falls under Dissident and Protest Activity. Additionally, because of 4Marks.com's open and extreme contempt toward President Obama and our other elected officials, and with all respect to you, I am especially troubled that wing leadership linking to, or promoting, the website may violate UCMJ article 88-Contempt Toward Officials.

    I do not know what resolution is needed to put right this situation. As a commander you wield a tremendous amount of power over the four Air Base Groups and the 8 installations in the U.K. and Norway that make up our wing. What you say, write, or send out sets our direction and instructs us how to get there. I feel passionately that our job as military members is to defend, among other Constitutional concepts and rights, religious freedom which is understood and consistently defined by our courts as the secularity of government balanced by each individual's freedom of religious faith. We also defend the very core of democracy; individuals voting their conscience, free from coercion and well-informed by our Constitutionally protected press. With all of this said, I will respectfully meet with at your convenience to discuss this issue if you desire for me to so. However, because of my very strong feelings on this subject and the seriousness by which I believe this issue needs to be addressed, I am proceeding with a formal complaint.

                                  Very respectfully,

    JEFFREY L. THOMPSON, MSgt, USAF

Thank you MSgt Thompson for speaking out. It looks like it is business as usual for the MEO, who have previously ignored cases of rape, sexual harassment, and the rising number of suicides. The latest stylish trend for the MEO is ignoring senior officers who abuse their position of authority by shoving their religion in everyone's faces.
Smart people believe weird things because they are skilled at defending beliefs they arrived at for non-smart reasons. --Michael Shermer

The history of religion is a long attempt to reconcile old custom with new reason, to find a sound theory for an absurd practice.  --Sir James George Frazer

Offline Hermes

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Re: Attention Christians: This is how to behave...
« Reply #17 on: July 19, 2009, 06:55:13 PM »
Quote
Former US President Jimmy Carter Severs Ties with Southern Baptists over Gender Equality Issues

Former President Jimmy Carter may still be religious (despite the misleading headline in the linked piece), but he has left the Southern Baptist Convention after 60 years.

His reason: the treatment of women in his denomination and beyond.

Quote
    It was, however, an unavoidable decision when the convention’s leaders, quoting a few carefully selected Bible verses and claiming that Eve was created second to Adam and was responsible for original sin, ordained that women must be “subservient” to their husbands and prohibited from serving as deacons, pastors or chaplains in the military service.

    This view that women are somehow inferior to men is not restricted to one religion or belief. Women are prevented from playing a full and equal role in many faiths. Nor, tragically, does its influence stop at the walls of the church, mosque, synagogue or temple. This discrimination, unjustifiably attributed to a Higher Authority, has provided a reason or excuse for the deprivation of women’s equal rights across the world for centuries.

    …

    It is simply self-defeating for any community to discriminate against half its population. We need to challenge these self-serving and outdated attitudes and practices — as we are seeing in Iran where women are at the forefront of the battle for democracy and freedom.

I find it hard to believe Carter just came to discover that religion has a habit of oppressing women. Those of us who aren’t religious have known that for quite some time.

Where was Carter on this subject for the past couple decades, when he had even more influence?

It’s a great piece, and it’s worth the read, but it may be too little too late.

Link: http://friendlyatheist.com/2009/07/19/jimmy-carter-severs-ties-with-southern-baptists-over-gender-equality-issues/

Source: http://j-walkblog.com/index.php?/weblog/posts/jimmy_carter_quits_church/
Smart people believe weird things because they are skilled at defending beliefs they arrived at for non-smart reasons. --Michael Shermer

The history of religion is a long attempt to reconcile old custom with new reason, to find a sound theory for an absurd practice.  --Sir James George Frazer

Offline Hermes

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Re: Attention Christians: This is how to behave...
« Reply #18 on: August 08, 2009, 03:10:52 PM »
Very good video  ;D -- but not embeddable.   :(

Quote
Video: Texas citizen confronts anti-gay bigotry

The below video is of Lisa Turner as she addressed the El Paso City Council. At first, Lisa was going to talk about the city budget, but instead commented on the religious rants many of the other people present who were complaining about the city’s decision to provide medical benefits to domestic partners.

http://lifewithoutfaith.com/?p=1958

She's right on all points -- unless Christianity is not actually about teaching goodness.  Is it?  How would a non-Christian know?
« Last Edit: August 08, 2009, 03:12:30 PM by Hermes »
Smart people believe weird things because they are skilled at defending beliefs they arrived at for non-smart reasons. --Michael Shermer

The history of religion is a long attempt to reconcile old custom with new reason, to find a sound theory for an absurd practice.  --Sir James George Frazer

Offline William

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Re: Attention Christians: This is how to behave...
« Reply #19 on: August 09, 2009, 08:35:23 AM »
Very good video  ;D -- but not embeddable.   :(
Thanks Hermes. 
I watched that video - I was uplifted by the courage she demonstrates. 
Such courage!
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Offline Hermes

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Re: Attention Christians: This is how to behave...
« Reply #20 on: August 12, 2009, 09:17:24 PM »
Quote
Blog: A Great Work

...and I cannot come down (Nehemiah 6:3)


Scarlet ‘A’ for a Day

Source: http://pastoraaron.info/2009/08/11/scarlet-a-for-a-day

… or Creation Among the Atheists



Several weeks ago it came to my attention that the Secular Student Alliance (SSA), a group of people who would be considered atheist and agnostic, were planning a trip to the Creation Museum as a preface to a conference that would occur in the same area.  What started out as a mild curiosity became fascination and eventually action.  What would it be like to be a Christian and a fly on the wall as a group of atheists peered at exhibits that attempted to prove them wrong?  How would the creationist lecturer react to challenges and would he gloat when he wins a point?



I did not decide until the week before to take the day off to go.  So it was that I rode with my wife to the Creation Museum for what may be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.  I can honestly say that I was not prepared for what we experienced.

My wife had been there before, and as we pulled into the parking lot her first reaction was to how many extra security were visible.  She said that she did not remember  more than one or two officers on her last trip, but even before we left the car there were at least 6 clearly visible in front of the facility.

To ensure that we would be able to be included with some of the SSA members in the tour (and because we got $12 off on each of our admission prices) we signed up with the group.  What we did not know was that we would also get name tags with the SSA logo printed prominently on them.  We also had to sign an agreement which said that we would be respectful and appropriate during our time on the grounds.  Emails had gone out over the course of the days leading up to the event to ask the very same and to forbid those who would come for the sole reason of causing a scene from coming at all.  “We want to show what even as godless atheists we have morals.”

The Social Experiment

Not only were we wearing name tags which clearly said that we were there with SSA, but many were also wearing atheist shirts.  Most were subtle, in the sense that if you did not know what you were looking at you may not have even noticed.  I overheard some people (obviously not with the group) talking about the shirts and what they meant.



If you are familiar with the book The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne you will understand the reference.  The story takes place in a Puritan community where a woman is accused of adultery and as a consequence is forced to wear a scarlet letter ‘A’ for the rest of her life to identify her sin.  With the label she was also subject to ridicule and utter rejection by the rest of the community of Puritans (Christians).

While I did not have a T-shirt (a symbol anyway) it was obvious that there was a distinctive way that we were being treated because of the shared identification.  There were hateful glances, exaggerated perceptions, waxing surveillance by security, and anxious but strong ‘amens’ accompanying a lecture on “The Ultimate Proof of Creation” by Dr. Jason Lisle.

Is this how Christians treat people?  Is this how we follow Jesus’ commandment to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us?  I cannot help but think that many Christians are fearful of atheists.  It is a sort of xenophobia that runs along lines of faith and belief.  What we tend to forget is that atheists, agnostics, and evolutionists are people too.  If our attempt to preserve our belief means that we are treating these people like animals, are we really holding up principles that are based on a creation worldview?

There have rarely been times in my life that I have been ashamed of people that I call “brothers and sisters in Christ.”  This was one of them.  To be judged by people that share my beliefs because of the name tag I wore was appalling.  We forget that Jesus not only commanded that we love our enemies and pray for them, but he also sought out people who were rejected by the religious order, embraced them, spent time with them, and partied with them.  It was not a covert operation to get them to say the sinner’s prayer (which was not invented until the 20th century) and get them to change their ways.  Jesus knew that spending time with them was like good medicine: those who are well do not need a doctor.

What Then? … No Excuses

Do not miss this: belief must not be a reason not to engage in relationship.  This is not about being right or wrong.  This is not about having the answers.  This is not about their tactics and how they have been rude or dismissive.  This is not about a fundamental difference in the way we approach the world.

What this is about is relationship.  It is about listening to other inhabitants of the planet, regardless of what we believe about how we got here.  It is about having dialogue and getting to know one another.  It is about sharing a cup of coffee, a glass of beer, or a soda and enjoying one another’s company.  It is about realizing that we have more in common than we have in opposition.  It is about being like Christ, which in fact is the largest issue that keeps us apart.

STAY TUNED FOR FURTHER REFLECTIONS



Note: The emphasis that was added was not in the original, but was in Zack Ford's blog; http://zackfordblogs.com/2009/08/12/what-are-those-christians-actually-afraid-of.

This reaction reminds me of the video, especially the last part of that video.

The question I have for Christians is this;

If Christianity is correct, why does the behavior described by Aaron Gardner in the A Great Work blog match the behavior in the video?  What positive purpose does this behavior serve?  Why are people fearful or even hateful?  Did the video get it right?
« Last Edit: August 12, 2009, 09:25:46 PM by Hermes »
Smart people believe weird things because they are skilled at defending beliefs they arrived at for non-smart reasons. --Michael Shermer

The history of religion is a long attempt to reconcile old custom with new reason, to find a sound theory for an absurd practice.  --Sir James George Frazer

Offline Petey

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Re: Attention Christians: This is how to behave...
« Reply #21 on: August 13, 2009, 12:51:40 PM »
This thread makes me happy in the face.

Wonderful examples of Christians being honest when it comes to science and treatment of others.  It's just too bad that they are an extreme minority.

He never pays attention, he always knows the answer, and he can never tell you how he knows. We can't keep thrashing him. He is a bad example to the other pupils. There's no educating a smart boy.
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Offline Hermes

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Re: Attention Christians: This is how to behave...
« Reply #22 on: August 13, 2009, 01:58:51 PM »
I'd be happy if Christians who were pro-science or simply for knowledge and honesty regardless of source would stand up more often and say something about the ignorance pushed by other Christians on society at large and among their own members.

The people mentioned in this thread are doing something positive, and for that I thank them.  If they recruit more Christians to act the same way, there will be more people to be thankful to.
Smart people believe weird things because they are skilled at defending beliefs they arrived at for non-smart reasons. --Michael Shermer

The history of religion is a long attempt to reconcile old custom with new reason, to find a sound theory for an absurd practice.  --Sir James George Frazer