Dealing with creationists

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Richard Carnes

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Mar 8, 2002, 11:43:49 AM3/8/02
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One significant reason, I suspect, for the protracted stalemate in the
political battle between evolution and creationism is that those with
the strongest interest in defending evolution tend to be those who are
trained in the natural sciences and who have no particular
professional interest in understanding human beliefs and behavior.
Perhaps as a result, many if not most pro-evolution responses to
creationists have been comparatively ineffective or counterproductive.
I'd like to offer a few suggestions, for what they're worth, for
dealing with creationists effectively:

- Remember that creationists are not the enemy; the enemies are fear,
ignorance, and the human ego. Reply to creationists as if you were
responding to a friend or someone who you would like to be a friend.

- Righteous indignation is no more appropriate in response to
creationists than it is in response to mosquitos. This is not a
battle between Good Guys (us) and Bad Guys (them). Just as the
behavior of mosquitos can in principle be explained scientifically, so
can that of creationists, and a scientific understanding of why
creationists think and act as they do would be (it seems to me) of
great interest, even from the standpoint of evolutionary theory;
nevertheless there seems to be relatively little interest in this
topic on TO. But science does not stop at the blood-brain barrier.
Note that attributions of moral inferiority of some sort do not
qualify as scientific explanations.

- If reason, logic, and the facts are all on your side, why do you
need the rhetorical heavy artillery of sarcasm, insults, and the like?
Such tactics are almost always counterproductive; it's much more
effective to simply state your facts and reasons. It doesn't matter
if the other side was the first to fling the insults. "They started
it" has justified every war in history, for both sides.

In short, I would like to see some sophistication in responding to
creationists that approaches the scientific sophistication of many
contributors to TO.
--
Richard

Adam Marczyk

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Mar 8, 2002, 12:03:44 PM3/8/02
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Richard Carnes <car...@quip.eecs.umich.edu> wrote in message
news:a6apnt$k2$1...@quip.eecs.umich.edu...

I think the biggest mistake evolutionists make is thinking that this is a
scientific debate and not a religious one. If we could get a strong force of
qualified theistic evolutionists to speak out publicly and repeatedly on our
side, I bet creationism would die off before long, without even needing to refer
to the evidence.

--
And I want to conquer the world,
give all the idiots a brand new religion,
put an end to poverty, uncleanliness and toil,
promote equality in all of my decisions...
--Bad Religion, "I Want to Conquer the World"

http://www.ebonmusings.org ICQ: 8777843

Michael Altarriba

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Mar 8, 2002, 12:04:05 PM3/8/02
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Richard Carnes wrote:

<snip>


> - If reason, logic, and the facts are all on your side, why do you
> need the rhetorical heavy artillery of sarcasm, insults, and the like?
> Such tactics are almost always counterproductive; it's much more
> effective to simply state your facts and reasons.


<snip>

Actually, sarcasm and insults aren't "heavy artillery"... they are
blanks. They -sound- like live rounds, but don't actually do anything.

Jonathan v.d. Sluis

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Mar 8, 2002, 5:03:20 PM3/8/02
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Adam Marczyk <ebon...@hotmailNOTexcite.com> schreef in berichtnieuws
u8hrnea...@corp.supernews.com...
<snip>

> I think the biggest mistake evolutionists make is thinking that this is a
> scientific debate and not a religious one. If we could get a strong force
of
> qualified theistic evolutionists to speak out publicly and repeatedly on
our
> side, I bet creationism would die off before long, without even needing to
refer
> to the evidence.

I agree that a large part of the debate is about religion. Indeed, beliefs
are at the core of the issue. But there are definite scientific parts that
can be dealt with by referring to published research. Like the age of the
earth, the presence of 'intermediate forms' in the fossil record and the
possibility of variation and natural selection as a mechanism for changes in
species. Creationists always deny it, but these issues can be resolved
scientifically in favor of evolutionary theory, without resorting to
religious belief. That is the strength of the theory of evolution: it has an
overwhelming amount of favorable studies.

If someone claims that there are 'structural gaps' in the fossil record, it
will not do to reply that such a claim is just born from (dogmatic) belief.
The only credible reply is one that actually refers to fossils, not to
religion.

Jonathan.

Rubystars

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Mar 8, 2002, 5:09:59 PM3/8/02
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"Jonathan v.d. Sluis" <jonath...@planet.nlnospam> wrote in message
news:a6bcev$n9h$1...@reader08.wxs.nl...

I think that the main problem that a lot of people have is emotional. If you
can get over the emotional hurdle then people will be open to evidence.

-Rubystars


Jonathan v.d. Sluis

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Mar 8, 2002, 5:14:29 PM3/8/02
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Richard Carnes <car...@quip.eecs.umich.edu> schreef in berichtnieuws
a6apnt$k2$1...@quip.eecs.umich.edu...

> One significant reason, I suspect, for the protracted stalemate in the
> political battle between evolution and creationism is that those with
> the strongest interest in defending evolution tend to be those who are
> trained in the natural sciences and who have no particular
> professional interest in understanding human beliefs and behavior.
> Perhaps as a result, many if not most pro-evolution responses to
> creationists have been comparatively ineffective or counterproductive.
> I'd like to offer a few suggestions, for what they're worth, for
> dealing with creationists effectively:

<snip>

I would add one, which is perhaps difficult for some:

- Structural doubt towards scientific theories. Theories, unlike beliefs,
should matter little. We should not care if evolution is true - science is
not concerned with defending any viewpoint, but with finding out what is
right. So when defending evolution, make it clear that you are willing to
criticize or test any aspect of the theory. Creationists assume that
scientists defend evolution like a belief. This should not be the case. It
is important to tell creationists that accepting the theory is not a choice,
born out of preference for a certain worldview or anti-religious feelings,
but an inevitable result, that follows from logical interpretations.

Jonathan.


johns

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Mar 8, 2002, 5:39:50 PM3/8/02
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"Rubystars" <windst...@nospamhotmail.com> wrote in message
news:a6bcrn$d1tml$5...@ID-63471.news.dfncis.de...

>
> I think that the main problem that a lot of people have is
emotional. If you
> can get over the emotional hurdle then people will be open to
evidence.
>
> -Rubystars
>
>

I venture to guess that you've never had the pleasure of having an
online discussion with Ted Holden.

--
JCS

"I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god
than you
do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods,
you will
understand why I dismiss yours."
-­ Stephen Roberts

Max Phillips

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Mar 8, 2002, 5:42:11 PM3/8/02
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in article a6apnt$k2$1...@quip.eecs.umich.edu, Richard Carnes at

Excellent post. -Max

Rubystars

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Mar 8, 2002, 6:00:11 PM3/8/02
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"johns" <sto...@oco.net> wrote in message
news:u8ifdi8...@corp.supernews.com...

> "Rubystars" <windst...@nospamhotmail.com> wrote in message
> news:a6bcrn$d1tml$5...@ID-63471.news.dfncis.de...
> >
> > I think that the main problem that a lot of people have is
> emotional. If you
> > can get over the emotional hurdle then people will be open to
> evidence.
> >
> > -Rubystars
> >
> >
>
> I venture to guess that you've never had the pleasure of having an
> online discussion with Ted Holden.
>
> --
> JCS

I don't remember everyone I've talked to in here. The group is so full of
people :)

-Rubystars


jeffery joel bezaire

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Mar 8, 2002, 6:10:55 PM3/8/02
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In article <a6bfpr$d9c18$5...@ID-63471.news.dfncis.de>,

Rubystars <windst...@nospamhotmail.com> wrote:
>
>"johns" <sto...@oco.net> wrote in message
>news:u8ifdi8...@corp.supernews.com...
>> "Rubystars" <windst...@nospamhotmail.com> wrote in message
>> news:a6bcrn$d1tml$5...@ID-63471.news.dfncis.de...
>>
>> I venture to guess that you've never had the pleasure of having an
>> online discussion with Ted Holden.
>>
>> --
>> JCS
>
>I don't remember everyone I've talked to in here. The group is so full of
>people :)
>
>-Rubystars
>
>

you'd remember... ;-)

--

Ferrous Patella

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Mar 8, 2002, 6:27:30 PM3/8/02
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In article <a6bd41$npt$1...@reader08.wxs.nl>, Jonathan v.d. Sluis says...

Yeah, and the theory of gravity, too!
--
Ferrous Patella
"Jimmy, go to the chalkboard and write 'Rote memorization is the lowest form
of learning.' a hundred times."

johns

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Mar 8, 2002, 6:30:33 PM3/8/02
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"Rubystars" <windst...@nospamhotmail.com> wrote in message
news:a6bfpr$d9c18$5...@ID-63471.news.dfncis.de...

> I don't remember everyone I've talked to in here. The group is so
full of
> people :)
>
> -Rubystars
>
>

Even if there were "... 1 to 10 raised to the 167,896 power..." people
in this group, you'd remember Ted Holden. Believe me :)

Thomas Griffin

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Mar 8, 2002, 6:52:56 PM3/8/02
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Creationists are not opponents in an intellectual debate. They
do not hold their views because the evidence they have available
to them supports creationism. Many of them will outright admit that
their position is emotion based and not grounded in evidence. They will
not
revise their beliefs in light of any amount of evidence or rational
argument presented.
Thus, to engage them as a mere intellectual adversary is a fruitless
endeavor.
So why engage them at all? Because, despite your claim, they are the
enemy. They are political enemies of anyone who values intellectual
freedom,
which is the only true freedom there is.
They must be fought, and trying to reason with them will be useless to
this end.

Ridicule is also useless towards defeating this enemy and I suspect most
TO members realize this.
TO regulars mock and deride creationists for 2 reasons:
1. It is good fun. Creationism is inherently funny b/c it is so
pathetically absurd and the desire to cling to this worldview is also so
sad as to be funny.
2. Creationists are a real threat as outlined above, and as such they
evoke a warranted angry backlash from those with the sense to realize how
close we are
to loosing all the political and intellectual ground gained in the last
few centuries.

The solution to dealing with creationists is to treat them like the
biggest threat to
democracy and scientific advancement that exist, since this is exactly
what they are.
Dealing with them directly in any form is probably a waste of time. They
must
be fought in the political arena and that of public opinion.

Thomas

Max Phillips

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Mar 8, 2002, 7:38:15 PM3/8/02
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in article 3C894FC5...@uic.edu, Thomas Griffin at tgri...@uic.edu

While both Richard and Thomas have valid points to make, I think Richard is
closer to the truth. I was once a literal-tradition anti-evolutionist, and
it took me 20 years of gradually accepting "new light." But I finally got
here, and I am a thoroughgoing Darwinian evolutionist today. But
evolutionists who ridiculed me and nothing to do with convincing me. Quite
the opposite: they made me dig my heels in more deeply. By far the biggest
inducer: hard, cold fact presented in a emotionally neutral atmosphere. Such
as the presentations made in visitors' centers in such places a the Grand
Canyon, Crater Lake, Yellowstone (stacked fossil forests), etc. I would buy
the books in the bookstores and read them. Eventually I started visiting
bookstores and libraries reading everything I could get my hands on,
beginning with Isaac Asimov, as I remember. And the more I read the more
convinced I became. -Max

Frank J

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Mar 8, 2002, 8:35:03 PM3/8/02
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"Richard Carnes" <car...@quip.eecs.umich.edu> wrote in message
news:a6apnt$k2$1...@quip.eecs.umich.edu...

Frank J

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Mar 8, 2002, 8:43:28 PM3/8/02
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"Richard Carnes" <car...@quip.eecs.umich.edu> wrote in message
news:a6apnt$k2$1...@quip.eecs.umich.edu...

One thing evolutionists should watch out for in debating the "intelligent
design" creationists is to not fall into their trap and promote an "argument
against design." Even evolutionists who believe in design often sound like
they are trying to disprove it. I know they know better, but finding the
right words is a talent that scientists often lack, and even among
scientists, I will admit to having a harder time than most with words. One
thing is that I have learned is to stop using the word "Darwinism."

Frank J

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Mar 8, 2002, 8:49:24 PM3/8/02
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"Rubystars" <windst...@nospamhotmail.com> wrote in message
news:a6bfpr$d9c18$5...@ID-63471.news.dfncis.de...
In ~5 months of regular visits to t.o I have only seen him post once, and I
thing someone suggested that it was not really him. In any case I understand
that he is a Velikofsky advocate like Ed Conrad. Ed does not reply to me
because I ask him to admit that he disagrees with young-earthers.

Max Phillips

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Mar 8, 2002, 8:53:56 PM3/8/02
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in article fPdi8.148740$pN4.7...@bin8.nnrp.aus1.giganews.com, Frank J at

You might also stop using the word "creationist" and substitute
"anti-evolutionist" in its place. When you say "creationists" are wrong her,
wrong there, etc., literal-tradition anti-evolutionists think you are the
devil talking and they shrink back in horror. Also stop using the word
"myth" to refer to the Genesis creation story. For the same reason. Use
"metanarrative" instead. Nothing is lost, and everything is to be gained.
-Max

Pat James

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Mar 8, 2002, 9:03:09 PM3/8/02
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On Fri, 8 Mar 2002 18:00:11 -0500, Rubystars wrote
(in message <a6bfpr$d9c18$5...@ID-63471.news.dfncis.de>):

Ted is... unique.

<http://www.bearfabrique.org/>

<http://www.ediacara.org/ted.html>


--
Si hoc legere scis nimium eruditionis habes

Frank J

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Mar 8, 2002, 9:56:49 PM3/8/02
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"Max Phillips" <obscu...@earthlink.net> wrote in message
news:B8AEAA9A.2529%obscu...@earthlink.net...

I actually find myself in the process of doing this. Too many people think
that "Creationist" means simply "one who believes in a Creator." This is the
too-broad Johnson definition, which includes ~1/2 of evolutionists. Others
think it means only "young-earthers" This is the too-narrow Behe definition.
In fact, we need a new word for "evolutionist" because evolution is not an
"ism."


When you say "creationists" are wrong her,
> wrong there, etc., literal-tradition anti-evolutionists think you are the
> devil talking and they shrink back in horror. Also stop using the word
> "myth" to refer to the Genesis creation story.

I rarely talk about Genesis, but when I do I call it an "allegory," and I
make sure to note that it is common for Judeo-Christians to also interpret
it that way.

Max Phillips

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Mar 8, 2002, 10:10:47 PM3/8/02
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in article URei8.154309$7a1.13...@bin5.nnrp.aus1.giganews.com, Frank J at

Thanks, Frank. I wasn't using the word "you" to appy to you specificially. I
would rather use the word "one" ã as in "one should stop using the word
'myth' to refer to the Genesis creation story" ã but that sounds too
stilted. -Max

Lisa Star

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Mar 8, 2002, 10:49:14 PM3/8/02
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"Jonathan v.d. Sluis" <jonath...@planet.nlnospam> wrote in message news:<a6bcev$n9h$1...@reader08.wxs.nl>...
> Adam Marczyk <ebon...@hotmailNOTexcite.com> schreef in berichtnieuws
> u8hrnea...@corp.supernews.com...
> <snip>
> > I think the biggest mistake evolutionists make is thinking that this is a
> > scientific debate and not a religious one. If we could get a strong force
> of
> > qualified theistic evolutionists to speak out publicly and repeatedly on
> our
> > side, I bet creationism would die off before long, without even needing to
> refer
> > to the evidence.
>
> I agree that a large part of the debate is about religion.

There can be no debate about religion. Religions are based on
doctrines, that is a teaching the acceptance of which is required for
admission to the religious group. This isn't true of all religions
but it is true of christian religion. You must believe in christ as
saviour to be a christian. Nothing else matters. This happens to be
in direct conflict with scientific facts.

Indeed, beliefs
> are at the core of the issue. But there are definite scientific parts that
> can be dealt with by referring to published research.

no, really, they can't. These people don't believe you because they
are not allowed to believe you. Doubting their church's doctrine is,
itself, a sin. They are not allowed to sin and they are afraid of the
consequences of sinning, for their immortal souls. This is what you
are up against.

>Like the age of the
> earth, the presence of 'intermediate forms' in the fossil record and the
> possibility of variation and natural selection as a mechanism for changes in
> species. Creationists always deny it, but these issues can be resolved
> scientifically in favor of evolutionary theory, without resorting to
> religious belief. That is the strength of the theory of evolution: it has an
> overwhelming amount of favorable studies.

You mention "published research" above, but anyone could get this
information out of a Little Golden Guide to Geology or Astronomy or
whatever. Creationists deny the facts of the world as it stands, and
they are most certainly not going to look up "published research."

> If someone claims that there are 'structural gaps' in the fossil record, it
> will not do to reply that such a claim is just born from (dogmatic) belief.
> The only credible reply is one that actually refers to fossils, not to
> religion.

No, really, religion is the issue. It's the only issue, really.

But the point I really want to make is that all of you folks shouldn't
be so hard on yourselves. I don't think there is any way you can win
with a confirmed creationist so don't bother to beat yourselves up
about it, and anyway I like to think the arguments convince lurkers
who may be less put off by the artillery, since it is not, strictly
speaking directed at them. And personally I enjoy TO for what I learn
about science from anyone posting here who has specialized knowledge
or who argues well. And I appreciate the humour/sarcasm. Go with it.

> Jonathan.

Lisa Star

Max Phillips

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Mar 8, 2002, 11:12:13 PM3/8/02
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in article e4c2daf9.02030...@posting.google.com, Lisa Star at

Religion (root "to tie back") is not based on doctrine. Doctrine is based on
religon. I did not accept Christ because of a stated church proposition or
creed, but because of my personal experience with God. Following that I came
to see the doctrine -- "the kingdom of God is within you," for instance
(Luke 17:20) -- to be true. I see no contradiction with scientific facts,
direct or indirect. In debate on this T.O website, beliefs are not the
issue, facts are. Not, is a statement to be believed, but is it measurable,
testable, confirmable, repeatable, etc. Faith has absolutely nothing to do
with it. This is one of the beauties of science: Hindus can do it, Jews,
Buddhists, atheists, Christians, agnostics, Taoists, pantheists,
panentheists, animists, wiccans -- none of their personal beliefs matters if
a beam of starlight actually bends when measured passing by the sun during a
total eclipse. Personal religious beliefs are irrelevant when doing real
science. -Max

Rubystars

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Mar 9, 2002, 12:05:45 AM3/9/02
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"Pat James" <patj...@newsguy.com> wrote in message
news:01HW.B8AED7770...@enews.newsguy.com...

Does he really think other planets did fly bys?

-Rubystars


Jonathan v.d. Sluis

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Mar 9, 2002, 5:11:12 AM3/9/02
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Ferrous Patella <mail1...@pop.net> schreef in berichtnieuws
3c8948db$0$5328$724e...@reader2.ash.ops.us.uu.net...

> Yeah, and the theory of gravity, too!

Do you mean that theory is completely correct? Is everything known about
gravity correct? Saying that we should not doubt the theory (is there only
one?) of gravity seems ridiculously presumptuous. What are physicists who
concern themselves with gravity supposed to do, take all accumulated
knowledge at face-value? It is exactly this kind of short-sighted reaction
that distorts the creation-evolution debate. It shows that there is still a
long way to go.

Jonathan.


Jonathan v.d. Sluis

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Mar 9, 2002, 5:45:24 AM3/9/02
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Lisa Star <aml...@hotmail.com> schreef in berichtnieuws
e4c2daf9.02030...@posting.google.com...

<snip>

> There can be no debate about religion. Religions are based on
> doctrines, that is a teaching the acceptance of which is required for
> admission to the religious group. This isn't true of all religions
> but it is true of christian religion.

<< You must believe in christ as saviour to be a christian. Nothing else
matters. This happens to be in direct conflict with scientific facts. >>

What? Trust me: I am an atheist and very critical of christianity. But this
is completely untrue. How can the belief in Christ as a saviour be ever in
'direct conflict with scientific facts'? You want to prove he really died
and stayed down, and therefore cannot save anyone? Do you really think that
is anywhere near the point? You are very ignorant of what christianity
actually entails.


>
> Indeed, beliefs
> > are at the core of the issue. But there are definite scientific parts
that
> > can be dealt with by referring to published research.
>
> no, really, they can't. These people don't believe you because they
> are not allowed to believe you. Doubting their church's doctrine is,
> itself, a sin. They are not allowed to sin and they are afraid of the
> consequences of sinning, for their immortal souls. This is what you
> are up against.

I was not talking about the people. Perhaps you did not read very thoroughly
but I said: 'Creationists always deny it, but these issues can be resolved
scientifically in favor of evolutionary theory...'. With this I mean that
the topics themselves, as scientific topics, can be resolved. Very easily,
in fact. Denying this means stating that science has no arguments against
claims that 'the earth is 6.000 years old' and 'there are strucutural gaps
in the fossil record'. We know these claims to be untrue and can prove it,
or do you think they cannot be proven? In that case, you should join the
creationists' ranks. Remember: I do *not* mean that creationists can be made
to accept the theory of evolution. That is not what I claimed, even though
you seem to be reading my post as such.

<snip>

>
> You mention "published research" above, but anyone could get this
> information out of a Little Golden Guide to Geology or Astronomy or
> whatever. Creationists deny the facts of the world as it stands, and
> they are most certainly not going to look up "published research."

I do not care if they are willing to look it up or not, that is completely
beside the point. This is not a debating game. We are not out to convince
others of the error of their ways. We are discussing actual issues. The
psychology and worldview of creationists is not my concern. You seem to be
very concerned with what they hold true - why? The only thing we should be
concerned about is what they try to contribute to scientific knowledge. That
can be debated. If they are not willing to look it up, that is not our
problem. The facts still stand.

<snip>

> No, really, religion is the issue. It's the only issue, really.

Do you really have no response to the claim that the earth is 6.000 years
old, other than: 'That is religion'? That is very sad indeed. If something
is religious, it is not necessarily untrue. Try referring to the dating of
chondritic meteors. That's a better idea.

Claiming that religion is the only issue leads to ignorance of creationists'
factual claims and biologists making theological statements. This will only
work to the advantage of creationism, because biologists would not be doing
what they are good at.

>
> But the point I really want to make is that all of you folks shouldn't
> be so hard on yourselves. I don't think there is any way you can win
> with a confirmed creationist so don't bother to beat yourselves up
> about it, and anyway I like to think the arguments convince lurkers
> who may be less put off by the artillery, since it is not, strictly
> speaking directed at them. And personally I enjoy TO for what I learn
> about science from anyone posting here who has specialized knowledge
> or who argues well. And I appreciate the humour/sarcasm. Go with it.

Try to remember this: this is not about 'winning'. And lurkers are
intelligent people, they know a good argument when they see it. If someone
does not want to be convinced by research results, there is little we can
do.

If you really think the debate is about religion, you should learn more
about religion, or at least its relation to science (try A. McGrath's
excellent 'Science and Religion - an introduction'). Stating that science
refutes the belief in Christ as a saviour is lousy theology, as well as
pretty crappy science.

Jonathan.
--
aa #1993


Pat James

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Mar 9, 2002, 9:20:52 AM3/9/02
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On Sat, 9 Mar 2002 0:05:45 -0500, Rubystars wrote
(in message <a6c572$cqpdv$5...@ID-63471.news.dfncis.de>):

ooh, yes. He went into great detail about it, over a period of at least 15
years. He was one of the reasons why the old original net.origins newsgroup,
with became t.o, was created, way back when. I wasn't around then, but I
understand that the battles between Ted and people like Tim Thompson were
titanic, shaking the very foundations of usenet.

Quick guide to TedBallistics:

The Earth was in Saturn orbit, departed, swung by Mars which deployed,
somehow (he explained but it's been a long time and I forget) a Magic
Mountain which caused a similar Magic Mountain to erupt on the Earth, and
Neanderthals flew on the backs of tetrahorns (either pteradactyls of some
kind or giant eagles) between the two Magic Mountains (yes, the tetrahorns
flew through space...) and carved the Face On Mars out and flew back. Venus
erupted from Jupiter, made a flyby of Earth and caused the Plague of Flies
(Venus is home to a lot of vermin, apparently...) then made another flyby and
caused the Parting of the Red Sea, made yet another flyby and delivered the
Manna In The WIlderness. (Venus, like Jupiter, is apparently full of
hydrocarbons. Some of the Venerian atmosphere scrapped off on that flyby and
transmuted itself to carbohydrates on the way down. Exactly what the vermin,
such as the flies deposited in the first flyby, breathe given the hydrocarbon
atmosphere, is unclear.) I _think_ that yet another flyby both stopped the
Earth's rotation for Joshua and knocked down Jericho's walls, but I'm not
certain. It's been a while.

Ted's My Hero. I figured that if _he_ could post what he did, then _anyone_
could post _anything_ and it would look sane in comparison.

You might want to do a Google search for 'felt effect of gravity' and 'Ted
Holden and the Flying Arctic Shark' and for 'unkillable mammoths'.

I still say that his very best effort was the time that he said that the P-51
Mustang proved that evolution can't work.

Those were the days, the days when the wild creationist herds thundered
across t.o in all their massed glory, the days when a Zoe or a Dave Pee would
be ignored because of the presence of Ted, Ed (before he lost it), Karl in
his Woodpecker Wackyness phase, even nameless when he was finding chariot
wheels in the Red Sea... There were Hindu creationists (who're _really
different_ from run-of-the-mill Xian creationists) and Jewish creationists
and Muslim creationists, and even one or two flat-earthers. We shall not see
the like again.

Oh, yeah... Ted's the only creationist to attend a HowlerFest. Fitting, as he
was the one who first called evilutionists 'Howler Monkeys'. Apparently he
doesn't look deranged in person.

Frank J

unread,
Mar 9, 2002, 7:13:53 PM3/9/02
to

"Max Phillips" <obscu...@earthlink.net> wrote in message
news:B8AEBC95.254A%obscu...@earthlink.net...
> would rather use the word "one" < as in "one should stop using the word
> 'myth' to refer to the Genesis creation story" < but that sounds too
> stilted. -Max
>
>
Thanks. I didn't take it personally. I have to add that I find the process
of avoiding the use of the words "creationist" and "creationism" more
difficult than that of avoiding the use of the words "Darwinist" and
"Darwinism."

Max Phillips

unread,
Mar 9, 2002, 8:27:35 PM3/9/02
to
in article 4zxi8.399694$eS3.29...@bin3.nnrp.aus1.giganews.com, Frank J at

Tough, yes, tough for me too, and for all of us. When I first started
applying the word creationist to myself, I felt almost nauseated. But I
stuck with it, and I'm not sorry I have. The thing is, literal-tradition
anti-evolutionists (LTAs) have turned a perfectly good word, "creationist,"
into a garbage word. But I still think it is necessary not to give LTAs the
advantage of thinking and preaching that anyone who disagrees with them
doesn't believe that God created. They have hijacked the term, and I
believe it should be rescued from them and restored to its honorable status.
-Creationist Max

Adam Marczyk

unread,
Mar 9, 2002, 9:01:39 PM3/9/02
to
Max Phillips <obscu...@earthlink.net> wrote in message
news:B8AFF5E3.2650%obscu...@earthlink.net...

> in article 4zxi8.399694$eS3.29...@bin3.nnrp.aus1.giganews.com, Frank J at
> fn...@comcast.net wrote on 2002.03.09 4:13 PM:

[snip]

> > Thanks. I didn't take it personally. I have to add that I find the process
> > of avoiding the use of the words "creationist" and "creationism" more
> > difficult than that of avoiding the use of the words "Darwinist" and
> > "Darwinism."
> >
> Tough, yes, tough for me too, and for all of us. When I first started
> applying the word creationist to myself, I felt almost nauseated. But I
> stuck with it, and I'm not sorry I have. The thing is, literal-tradition
> anti-evolutionists (LTAs) have turned a perfectly good word, "creationist,"
> into a garbage word. But I still think it is necessary not to give LTAs the
> advantage of thinking and preaching that anyone who disagrees with them
> doesn't believe that God created. They have hijacked the term, and I
> believe it should be rescued from them and restored to its honorable status.
> -Creationist Max

As much as I sympathize with this, I have to say that for better or for worse
the anti-evolutionists *have* hijacked the term "creationist". If you use it to
refer to a religious person who accepts evolution without specifically
explaining why, lots of people are likely to get confused. I think, at least for
the moment, "creationist" is an acceptable term to use when referring to the
young-earthers, the IDers, and the like. People will understand what you mean.

--
And I want to conquer the world,
give all the idiots a brand new religion,
put an end to poverty, uncleanliness and toil,
promote equality in all of my decisions...
--Bad Religion, "I Want to Conquer the World"

http://www.ebonmusings.org ICQ: 8777843

Frank J

unread,
Mar 9, 2002, 9:12:58 PM3/9/02
to

"Max Phillips" <obscu...@earthlink.net> wrote in message
news:B8AFF5E3.2650%obscu...@earthlink.net...

> in article 4zxi8.399694$eS3.29...@bin3.nnrp.aus1.giganews.com, Frank J
at
> fn...@comcast.net wrote on 2002.03.09 4:13 PM:

(snip)

> Tough, yes, tough for me too, and for all of us. When I first started
> applying the word creationist to myself, I felt almost nauseated. But I
> stuck with it, and I'm not sorry I have. The thing is, literal-tradition
> anti-evolutionists (LTAs) have turned a perfectly good word,
"creationist,"
> into a garbage word. But I still think it is necessary not to give LTAs
the
> advantage of thinking and preaching that anyone who disagrees with them
> doesn't believe that God created. They have hijacked the term, and I
> believe it should be rescued from them and restored to its honorable
status.
> -Creationist Max

It's a field unto itself how words get coined. Although I would prefer that
your definition of creationist would be the common one, I doubt that that
will happen anytime soon.

Here's an anecdote: Back in '98, when I was just beginning to learn the
details of the debate (as well as the web) I clicked on a talk.origins link
to a criticism of Michael Behe's "Darwin's Black Box." by a "self-described
creationist." I expected to hear a young-earther complain about Behe's
acceptance of an old earth and common descent. Was I wrong! Perhaps you have
seen this:
http://www.asa3.org/evolution/irred_compl.html

Max Phillips

unread,
Mar 9, 2002, 9:30:14 PM3/9/02
to
in article u8lfju1...@corp.supernews.com, Adam Marczyk at

Agreed. Therefore, at least for the present, I need to keep signing off as,
Creationist Max

Max Phillips

unread,
Mar 9, 2002, 10:22:48 PM3/9/02
to
in article Ykzi8.164690$pN4.8...@bin8.nnrp.aus1.giganews.com, Frank J at

Thanks Frank J,

I did go to the above-mentioned website and read the page.
"Complexity--Yes! Irreducible--Maybe! Unexplainable--No!
A Creationist Criticism of Irreducible Complexity," by Terry M. Gray,
Department of Chemistry, Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Michigan

However, I was not suprised. There a lot of argumentation and change going
on within the YEC community. And Calvin college has for some time now been
one which is questioning the YEC position severely and causing sometimes
rancorous discussions at meetings in Evangelical churches across the land.
Much foment and ferment. This is an example.

I've imported an excerpt:

"The theistic apologetic ought to claim all of reality as evidence of God's
eternal power and divine nature. Every fact of creation drips with the
evidence of God as the creator. Every time we think or speak about a fact of
creation, it is either acknowledging God as the creator or denying him. It
is the unbelieving heart and the depraved mind that suppresses this truth.
According to Romans 1, these things are evident, both in creation and in the
human heart; we don't need some irreducible complexity argument from
molecular biology or some probability calculation to see these things."

As a creationist, I agree with this, absent the "It is the unbelieving heart
and the depraved mind that suppresses this truth" part. So it seems that
some T.O readers need to update their ideas of what it means to call one's
self a creationist. N'est pas?

-Creationist Max

TomS

unread,
Mar 10, 2002, 9:45:20 AM3/10/02
to
"On 9 Mar 2002 21:12:58 -0500, in article
<Ykzi8.164690$pN4.8...@bin8.nnrp.aus1.giganews.com>, "Frank stated..."

>
>
>"Max Phillips" <obscu...@earthlink.net> wrote in message
>news:B8AFF5E3.2650%obscu...@earthlink.net...
>> in article 4zxi8.399694$eS3.29...@bin3.nnrp.aus1.giganews.com, Frank J
>at
>> fn...@comcast.net wrote on 2002.03.09 4:13 PM:
>
>(snip)
>
>> Tough, yes, tough for me too, and for all of us. When I first started
>> applying the word creationist to myself, I felt almost nauseated. But I
>> stuck with it, and I'm not sorry I have. The thing is, literal-tradition
>> anti-evolutionists (LTAs) have turned a perfectly good word,
>"creationist,"
>> into a garbage word. But I still think it is necessary not to give LTAs
>the
>> advantage of thinking and preaching that anyone who disagrees with them
>> doesn't believe that God created. They have hijacked the term, and I
>> believe it should be rescued from them and restored to its honorable
>status.
>> -Creationist Max
>
>It's a field unto itself how words get coined. Although I would prefer that
>your definition of creationist would be the common one, I doubt that that
>will happen anytime soon.
[...snip...]

As a matter of the history of the word "creationist", I suggest that
you look into the Oxford English Dictionary. There are two meanings
given there. The older meaning referred to the theological opinion that
each human soul is individually created, rather than inherited. The
first use cited for the second meaning is from Charles Darwin, to refer
to those who did not accept evolutionary origins of species.

There is no "hijacking" going on by YECs. They are using the
term "creationism" in its old meaning. And, if you check out any
number of reputable dictionaries, you will find that they agree with
the YEC use of "creationism".

You are perfectly free to use the word in your own sense, but you
must be willing to accept that this is a rather new and unusual
meaning, and that people are apt to misunderstand you. Don't blame
them if they do.

It certainly may be confusing. Because the "creationists" in
the YEC sense don't talk much about creation, their main concern being
that the human body is not physically related to the rest of life on
earth. (They don't even define or describe what the ver "to create" is
supposed to mean.)

Just one more complication: There are some of the Intelligent
Design people who don't like the label "creationist", even though
they rejct evolutionary biology to some degree. I propose that the
expression "evolution denial" may be a good blanket term.

Tom S.

Frank J

unread,
Mar 10, 2002, 10:52:31 AM3/10/02
to

"TomS" <TomS_...@newsguy.com> wrote in message
news:a6frh...@drn.newsguy.com...

Michael Behe, in particular. And to complicate it even more, his good buddy
Phillip Johnson uses the old definition.

Max Phillips

unread,
Mar 10, 2002, 11:27:57 AM3/10/02
to
in article a6frh...@drn.newsguy.com, TomS at TomS_...@newsguy.com wrote
on 2002.03.10 6:45 AM:

Excerpts from A NEO-PATRISTIC RETURN TO THE FIRST FOUR DAYS OF CREATION by
Msgr. John F. McCarthy, Part III - THE DAYS OF CREATION ACCORDING TO ST.
AUGUSTINE, accessible at http://rtforum.org/lt/lt47.html
 
St. Augustine made four distinct efforts to provide a clear and coherent
interpretation of the first chapter of Genesis ... having made an
unsatisfactory attempt at a LITERAL interpretation in his Letter of Genesis,
Unfinished Book, written in 393 A.D.

-----------

 St. Augustine sees the "six days" as a distribution only of narrative and
not of time. 19 Thus, in his view, God "created all things together"
(Ecclesiasticus 18:1), but separated them into six days in the account for
those who could understand only piece by piece.

-----------

And God said: Be light made. And light was made (Gen 1:3). St. Augustine
made several unsatisfactory attempts to find a chronological explanation of
the six days of creation in Genesis 1 while he was working on his
intellectual interpretation of its LITERAL sense. But he wondered why it
should have taken Almighty God six days to effect the creation, and he opted
instead for the simultaneous creation of the whole world. He puzzled over
the creation of light on the first day, if the sun, the moon, and the stars
came into place only on the fourth day. What would such a light-source be
and how could its encircling a formless, unsolidified earth for two days
have been able to cast the shadow of night? 28 Not having found a
satisfactory solution to this question....

Regarding the command of God, Be light made, Augustine reasons: "But if the
light which first was ordered to be made and was made is also to be
understood as holding the pre-eminent place in creation, this is
intellectual life, which, unless it should be turned to the Creator in order
to be enlightened, would fluctuate formlessly." 31 He maintains that, if the
SPIRITUAL light that was made is not to be understood as the "true light
which is coeternal with the Father," but as the "wisdom that was made before
all," then it is the passage of eternal wisdom into the sanctified souls of
rational creatures, provided also that it was the creation of spirits that
is spoken of under the name of heaven where it is written (Gen 1:1), In the
beginning God created heaven and earth, and that it was NOT THE PHYSICAL
heaven.

-----------

[Quoting Augustine:] For, though it is the material works of God that are
spoken of, they have certainly a resemblance to the SPIRITUAL." 41

-----------

 Augustine teaches as the more probable opinion that God "made all things at
once [rather than in six literal days].... The creation is divided in the
account into six days, he says, because, according to the inner nature of
numbers, 55 six is the first perfect (or complete) number....

-----------

..... unchangeable truth is meant to be understood, not in the proper sense
(of the words) but FIGURATIVELY, as it were, and ALLEGORICALLY....

-----------

[Quoting Augustine:] "the firmament was made between the SPIRITUAL waters
above and the corporeal waters below," but he later retracted this
interpretation as "having been stated without sufficient consideration,
although the thing is extremely recondite." 65 In The City of God he
expresses his mature opinion that the waters above and below the firmament
are material water whose creation by God in indistinct form is expressed in
verse 1 under the name of earth, or ground. 66

-----------

St. Augustine respected and adhered to the common opinion of his day that
the ultimate constituents of matter are the Four Elements: earth, water,
air, and fire, in that ascending order. 67 According to the model of the
universe following from this, earth tended naturally to be situated at the
bottom, with the water and the air successively above it and fire at the
top. Thus, he says, the expression in Psalm 35:6, "who established the earth
above the waters," cannot be taken LITERALLY, but only FIGURATIVELY, because
the normal place of the earth is below the water. 68 Nor, he adds, could
water normally stay above the fiery heaven, 69 unless, perhaps, in tiny
drops of vapor, 70 or as a sheet of solid ice. 71 Augustine DOUBTS whether a
sheet or globe of solid ice above the heavens can be seriously defended, and
he appeals against any rash assertions in this regard. 72

-----------

[Augustine] ALLOWS FREE SPECULATION in this regard as long as what must in
any case be believed is kept intact, namely, "that God is the Maker and the
Creator, and that there is absolutely no creature not having from Him the
perfection of its kind and of its substance." 74

-----------

.... Let the earth bring forth the green herb .... (Gen 1:11). In maintaining
that God made all things "together" (in a single instant), Augustine points
out that he is not implying that plants appeared before the appearance of
the sun.

-----------

 God "made all things together, instilling order into them, not over
intervals of time, but by causal relationship," forming them from the
"unformed and formable raw material, both spiritual and corporal....

-----------

 And the evening and the morning were the third day (Gen 1:13).... In
Augustine's view, the third day is not a chronological day coming after the
second day and before the fourth, but has simply the next place in the
ordered knowledge of the angels.

-----------

Augustine does not maintain that the various things described as made by God
during the six days of creation appeared full-blown in the first instant of
time. Rather, he says, when God made all things together, He made them
"hiddenly" and in the secret recesses of nature, 98 that is, potentially and
causally, so as to become visible over the due course of time.

-----------

For Augustine, the third day represents as many days as there are natures
covered by the angelic knowledge of the seas, the earth, and the vegetation
of the earth. Evening is the knowledge of these natures in themselves, and
morning is the elevation of that knowledge in praise of God and of the
Wisdom of God's plan.

-----------

St. Augustine brings into his explanation of the days of creation, not only
the natural and supernatural vision of the angels, but also the physical
sight of the animals and, incidentally, the rational sight of men. 109

-----------

From the above, and much more, I would maintain that modern
literal-tradition anti-evolutionists have indeed hijacked the words
"creationism" and łcreationist˛ for their own exclusive use, and certainly
from Augustine.

-Max

Max Phillips

unread,
Mar 10, 2002, 12:12:15 PM3/10/02
to
in article clLi8.172988$pN4.9...@bin8.nnrp.aus1.giganews.com, Frank J at

If I were a prognosticator, I would predict that ID is going to go down in
flames, and sooner rather than later. Too many good thinking scientists are
beginning to take notice and speak out, whereas before they were content to
ignore the literal-tradition anti-evolutionists (LTAs). IDists come on as
"more scientific" than do LTAs, and thus require more attention. Just my
opinion. -Max

Chris Ho-Stuart

unread,
Mar 10, 2002, 5:52:31 PM3/10/02
to
Max Phillips <obscu...@earthlink.net> wrote:

[snip many irrelevant extracts from Augustine; irrelevant because
they nowhere use the words or terms under discussion]

> From the above, and much more, I would maintain that modern
> literal-tradition anti-evolutionists have indeed hijacked

> the words "creationism" and "creationist" for their own


> exclusive use, and certainly from Augustine.

Huh? Nowhere, in any of your extracts, do the words "creationist"
or "creationism" appear.

The words were coined to refer to a certain mode of interpretation
of Genesis with respect to science; which is quite distinct from
Augustine's approach.

Many Christians object to these NEW words "creationism" and
"creationist" because they have "creation" as a root; but
this is a bit ridiculous, I think. It is fairly standard for
a movement or idea to become associated with a word that
has some link to their defining ideology without attempting
to be a complete description. And no one (usually) thinks there
is any problem with the word being "hijacked".

Are communists the only people who have communes, or who care
for community? Are socialists the only one who are social?
Are the Orthodox churches really distinguished by being
orthodox? Are salvationists uniquely associated with salvation?

I attended an American school for one year, way back in 1968;
year of the election of Nixon. Our class looked into the election,
and my view was:

The best person to vote for was George Wallace, because he
was an independent; and Independence was a very good thing.

The next best was Humphrey, because he was a democrat: and
democracy was also real important.

Finally, Nixon was last, because he was a republican; and
being a republic meant nothing much that I could see.

It was an army base school in South Korea; my classmates
were fairly solidly aligned with the republicans, and my
political insights were not well received. I was making the
same mistake you are making here.

Some Christians object to the creationists using a new word
which has "creation" as its root to describe themselves.
They want to hijack these words "creationism" and "creationist"
and give them a new more general meaning, which is almost no
meaning at all; in that they apparently want it to apply to
any theist who considers God to be creator.

I can sympathize, to some extent; but it seems awfully
pointless. The words "creationist" and "creationism" have
solidly established meanings. Those words have never had
the more general meaning of anyone who things the wolrd is
created. And trying to change their meaning to denote a such
a vague and general position would mean that the words would
be just about useless. It ain't going to happen.

If you respond to this post, please answer this one question,
along with any other comment you might have to contribute.

The term "salvationist", these days, is widely understood
without any great ambiguity or concern, to refer to members
of the "Savlation Army". Do you object to this term?

Cheers -- Chris

Max Phillips

unread,
Mar 10, 2002, 6:31:35 PM3/10/02
to
in article 3c8b...@news.qut.edu.au, Chris Ho-Stuart at

Blessings to you Chris. -Max

Herb Huston

unread,
Mar 10, 2002, 6:41:59 PM3/10/02
to
In article <3C894FC5...@uic.edu>,
Thomas Griffin <tgri...@uic.edu> wrote:
}Creationists are not opponents in an intellectual debate. They
}do not hold their views because the evidence they have available
}to them supports creationism. Many of them will outright admit that
}their position is emotion based and not grounded in evidence. They will
}not
}revise their beliefs in light of any amount of evidence or rational
}argument presented.
}Thus, to engage them as a mere intellectual adversary is a fruitless
}endeavor.
}So why engage them at all? Because, despite your claim, they are the
}enemy. They are political enemies of anyone who values intellectual
}freedom,
}which is the only true freedom there is.
}They must be fought, and trying to reason with them will be useless to
}this end.

With regard to the subject of this thread, I'd recommend a chlorpromazine
drip.

--
-- Herb Huston
-- hus...@radix.net
-- http://www.radix.net/~huston

Chris Ho-Stuart

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Mar 10, 2002, 7:00:50 PM3/10/02
to
Max Phillips <obscu...@earthlink.net> wrote:
> in article 3c8b...@news.qut.edu.au, Chris Ho-Stuart at
> host...@sky.fit.qut.edu.au wrote on 2002.03.10 2:52 PM:

[snip]

>> If you respond to this post, please answer this one question,
>> along with any other comment you might have to contribute.
>>
>> The term "salvationist", these days, is widely understood
>> without any great ambiguity or concern, to refer to members
>> of the "Savlation Army". Do you object to this term?
>>
>> Cheers -- Chris
>
> Blessings to you Chris. -Max

Thanks, Max; but do have any actual comment on the subject?

Why did you mention Augustine, when in fact he does not use
the words "creationism" or "creationist"? What do you feel about
the term "salvationist"?

I'm trying to give a friendly but robust critique of your
post here. Are you interested or not?

Cheers -- Chris

Max Phillips

unread,
Mar 10, 2002, 7:04:22 PM3/10/02
to
in article a6gr02$aa3$1...@saltmine.radix.net, Herb Huston at hus...@Radix.Net

When it comes to winning battles for the teaching of evolution in public
schools, it is suicide to call these folk "the enemy." Why? Because that
persuades swing-voters to swing away from the evolutionist position and
toward the anti-evolutionist position. Politics is the art of the possible.
-Max

Max Phillips

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Mar 10, 2002, 7:54:31 PM3/10/02
to
in article 3c8b...@news.qut.edu.au, Chris Ho-Stuart at

Hi Chris,

In Webster's 10th "Salvationist" refers to a soldier or officer of the
Salvation Army only when it is capitalized. When not capitalized,
"salvationist" refers to an evangelist.

As far as Augustine is concerned, he was a creationist whether or not the
term was applied to him at the time. Today he is referred to as a
creationist, though. You are correct in that "creationism" per se is a
modern movement arising largely if not entirely as a response to Darwin and
his theory of evolution. Creationism as a modern movement around the turn of
the 19th into the 20th century was part of a much larger Fundamentalist
movement arising in reaction to "liberal" textual and higher criticism of
the Bible in Europe, primarily Germany. I don't need to pick apart bones
over whether or not use of the term "hijacked" is appropriate when applied
to the word "creationist" or "creationism." It can be shown historically,
though, that literal-tradition anti-evolutionists have indeed hijacked the
concept of "creationism." Much of the "word problem" arises from the fact
that when this modern creationist movement really started picking up steam,
in the 70s, beginning in San Diego, the term "scientific creationism" was
introduced. This is the real source of the "word problem," for the term was
shortened from "scientific creationism" to just "creationism." And, you're
right, Augustine could by no stretch be called a "scientific creationist."
He was a creationist nonetheless. It's just that he used his head and paid
attention to the realities of nature as he knew them. Modern
literal-tradition anti-evolutionists -- including the "scientists" among
them -- don't.

-Max

Chris Ho-Stuart

unread,
Mar 10, 2002, 8:21:56 PM3/10/02
to
Max Phillips <obscu...@earthlink.net> wrote:

[snip]

>> Why did you mention Augustine, when in fact he does not use
>> the words "creationism" or "creationist"? What do you feel about
>> the term "salvationist"?
>>
>> I'm trying to give a friendly but robust critique of your
>> post here. Are you interested or not?
>>
>> Cheers -- Chris
>>
> Hi Chris,
>
> In Webster's 10th "Salvationist" refers to a soldier or officer of the
> Salvation Army only when it is capitalized. When not capitalized,
> "salvationist" refers to an evangelist.

I have not ever heard the latter usage, myself.

> As far as Augustine is concerned, he was a creationist whether or not the
> term was applied to him at the time.

And here we have the problem in a nutshell. I frankly don't know
how to interpret this statement. If it was anyone else speaking,
there would be no problem. We could get into a substantive
examination of the question of whether or nor Augustine's views
were creationist views, by the normal use of the word; but with
you and I we are already agree that his views are NOT correctly
associated with the notion that is called "creationism".

So all that is happening is that you are using the word
"creationist" with your own preferred meaning, and actually
I don't know what that meaning entails, or why you are singling
out Augustine. My *guess* is that you would prefer to have the
term "creationist" refer to ANYONE who thinks that the universe
is in any sense created. The term "theist" probably comes pretty
damn close to your meaning, pragmatically speaking. Not quite the
same, I grant; but on the other hand I cannot see that there is
any practical use for the term with such a broad meaning.

In that sense, the discussion is not about Ausgustine at all;
it is simply an attempt to beg the question of appropriate
usage and assert that your usage is the one to use.

I don't accept that. And I don't accept that anything which has
been said so far about Ausgustine has shed any light at all on
the question of the use of the term "creationist".

> Today he is referred to as a
> creationist, though. You are correct in that "creationism" per se is a
> modern movement arising largely if not entirely as a response to Darwin and
> his theory of evolution. Creationism as a modern movement around the turn of
> the 19th into the 20th century was part of a much larger Fundamentalist
> movement arising in reaction to "liberal" textual and higher criticism of
> the Bible in Europe, primarily Germany. I don't need to pick apart bones
> over whether or not use of the term "hijacked" is appropriate when applied
> to the word "creationist" or "creationism." It can be shown historically,
> though, that literal-tradition anti-evolutionists have indeed hijacked the
> concept of "creationism."

I do not understand this sentence. What concept has been hijacked?

As far as I can see, a particular form of literal-tradition
anti-evolution has come up with a concept, which we refer to as
creationism. Is there some other concept which has been hijacked
along the way, in any sense at all?

> Much of the "word problem" arises from the fact
> that when this modern creationist movement really started picking up steam,
> in the 70s, beginning in San Diego, the term "scientific creationism" was
> introduced. This is the real source of the "word problem," for the term was
> shortened from "scientific creationism" to just "creationism." And, you're
> right, Augustine could by no stretch be called a "scientific creationist."
> He was a creationist nonetheless. It's just that he used his head and paid
> attention to the realities of nature as he knew them. Modern
> literal-tradition anti-evolutionists -- including the "scientists" among
> them -- don't.

When you say "Augustine was a creationist", what do you even mean
by this? How can we tell what you mean by this?

Cheers -- Chris

Frank J

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Mar 10, 2002, 8:32:46 PM3/10/02
to

"Max Phillips" <obscu...@earthlink.net> wrote in message
news:B8B0D34C.2743%obscu...@earthlink.net...

> in article clLi8.172988$pN4.9...@bin8.nnrp.aus1.giganews.com, Frank J
at
> fn...@comcast.net wrote on 2002.03.10 7:52 AM:
>
(snip)

> >
> If I were a prognosticator, I would predict that ID is going to go down in
> flames, and sooner rather than later. Too many good thinking scientists
are
> beginning to take notice and speak out, whereas before they were content
to
> ignore the literal-tradition anti-evolutionists (LTAs). IDists come on as
> "more scientific" than do LTAs, and thus require more attention. Just my
> opinion. -Max
>

I'm not so sure. If anything, it seems to be slowly replacing
young-earthism. Even AIG is converting to a more ID-based strategy. By not
committing to a model (partly because all models can be stated as
"naturalistic") ID advocates have managed to get many (non-professional)
young-earthers under the "tent." Jonathan Wells, in particular, has caught
the ear of a wide range of evolution deniers with his all-negative "Icons of
Evolution." IMO the Supreme Court banned the teaching of "LTA" for the wrong
reason - that it promoted religion rather than it misrepresented science. If
there is a battle to ban ID, another approach may be necessary.

Max Phillips

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Mar 10, 2002, 8:51:35 PM3/10/02
to
in article 3PTi8.179425$7a1.15...@bin5.nnrp.aus1.giganews.com, Frank J at

I'm not sure either. But remember that enough members of the Kansas school
board were voted out of office by the people of the State of Kansas (if akk
States) to give me some hope. -Max

TomS

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Mar 11, 2002, 11:21:29 AM3/11/02
to
"On 10 Mar 2002 20:32:46 -0500, in article
<3PTi8.179425$7a1.15...@bin5.nnrp.aus1.giganews.com>, "Frank stated..."
[...snip...]

>I'm not so sure. If anything, it seems to be slowly replacing
>young-earthism. Even AIG is converting to a more ID-based strategy. By not
>committing to a model (partly because all models can be stated as
>"naturalistic") ID advocates have managed to get many (non-professional)
>young-earthers under the "tent." Jonathan Wells, in particular, has caught
>the ear of a wide range of evolution deniers with his all-negative "Icons of
>Evolution." IMO the Supreme Court banned the teaching of "LTA" for the wrong
>reason - that it promoted religion rather than it misrepresented science. If
>there is a battle to ban ID, another approach may be necessary.
>

I don't know whether there is a legal precedent for banning something
from being taught in the public schools because it is stupid. As things
stand, in the USA, the only way that anybody has thought of for banning
"creationism" (so-called) is that it is a doctrine of particular religions.

If some state legislature decided to enact a law that said that
1+1=17, I don't know what the courts could do about it.

The frightening thing is, that I could make an argument that
evolution-denial is *not* a specifically religious doctrine. Rather
that it is simply that it is yucky to think that we are physically
related to the rest of the world of life on earth. And that the
imagined religious objections are not religious ... no more than the
supposed scientific objections are scientific ... or, for that matter,
that the supposed philosophical objections are philosophical. It is
simply an emotional thing, which some people like to tie to their
religion.

Tom S.

TomS

unread,
Mar 11, 2002, 11:39:16 AM3/11/02
to
"On 10 Mar 2002 17:52:31 -0500, in article <3c8b...@news.qut.edu.au>, Chris
stated..."

What you are talking about is the "etymological fallacy".

In this particular case, becaue the word "creationist" contains
the word "creation", that it *ought* to refer to anyone who believes
in creation.

But that isn't the way that it works. The historical sense of
the word "creationist", as coined by Darwin, refers to those who do
not accept the natural explanations of the origins of species. And
most good dictionaries of the English language agree, more or less,
with this idea.

If someone wants to use the word "creationist" in some other use,
he/she must recognize the possibility of misunderstanding, and, I
think, must make some effort to say something like, "When I use the
word 'creationist', I'm using it in a novel way, different from the
recognized historical usage and dictionary definition."

Unless, of course, you are able to cite earlier usages, including
perhaps usages from non-English literature. For example, if Augustine
said something like, "Sum creationistus". Sort of like, in the usage
of Augustine, "mathematicus" meant "astrologer", not "mathematician".

Tom S.

Ferrous Patella

unread,
Mar 11, 2002, 12:27:29 PM3/11/02
to
In article <a6cn3n$f6k$1...@reader08.wxs.nl>, Jonathan v.d. Sluis says...

>
>
>Ferrous Patella <mail1...@pop.net> schreef in berichtnieuws
>3c8948db$0$5328$724e...@reader2.ash.ops.us.uu.net...
>
>> Yeah, and the theory of gravity, too!

I was supporting your (snipped) statement by drawing a parallel between ToE
and ToG.

>Do you mean that theory is completely correct? Is everything known about
>gravity correct? Saying that we should not doubt the theory (is there only
>one?) of gravity seems ridiculously presumptuous.

It is the very unknown (and known incorrect) elements of ToG that make it a
good analogy. Scientists are not concerned that ToG is "true" or not. I fact
they know it is "false". Yet they still use it. Why? Because it works. It make
many very good predictions and make sense out of a lot of different data. ToG
contradicts a literal reading of the bible but for some reason biblical
literalists are not attacking the ToG.


>What are physicists who
>concern themselves with gravity supposed to do, take all accumulated
>knowledge at face-value? It is exactly this kind of short-sighted reaction
>that distorts the creation-evolution debate.

I fail to see the distortion. I think the parallel is there.


>It shows that there is still a long way to go.
>
>Jonathan.
>

I think that showing how untenable the creationists stance is is an important
step in the right direction along the right way.


--
Ferrous Patella
"Jimmy, go to the chalkboard and write 'Rote memorization is the lowest form
of learning.' a hundred times."

Richard Carnes

unread,
Mar 11, 2002, 1:57:27 PM3/11/02
to
In article <3C894FC5...@uic.edu>,
Thomas Griffin <tgri...@uic.edu> wrote:
>Creationists are not opponents in an intellectual debate. They
>do not hold their views because the evidence they have available
>to them supports creationism. Many of them will outright admit that
>their position is emotion based and not grounded in evidence. They will
>not
>revise their beliefs in light of any amount of evidence or rational
>argument presented.
>Thus, to engage them as a mere intellectual adversary is a fruitless
>endeavor.
>So why engage them at all? Because, despite your claim, they are the
>enemy. They are political enemies of anyone who values intellectual
>freedom,
>which is the only true freedom there is.
>They must be fought, and trying to reason with them will be useless to
>this end.

To say that creationists are not the enemy does not mean that they
should not be opposed in the courts and legislatures. But they can be
opposed effectively or ineffectively. The ineffective way is to
demonize them by self-righteously treating them as morally inferior to
our noble selves -- the talk.origins Standard Model. The effective
way is to regard them as human beings whose experiences in life have
been rather different from our own, and whose perception of reality is
a result of these experiences (at least in part -- perhaps genetics
enters into it as well). It is those who have treated their enemies
and oppressors as human beings rather than as demons, such as Gandhi
and Martin Luther King, who have effected positive and lasting changes
in the world. The others (examples too numerous to mention, but Osama
bin Laden comes to mind) have ended up shooting themselves in the foot
(feet?).

So by all means oppose the creationists in politics and in the courts,
but at the same time let's avoid a victim mentality that blames others
for an unsatisfactory state of affairs. The less we attempt to pin
blame on them, the more effective we will be in combating the
creationists' political aims.

I agree that many anti-evolutionists are difficult or impossible to
reason with concerning evolution, at least at first. This, to me, is
a highly interesting fact that ought to arouse our curiosity about the
way the human mind works. While we have live specimens here on TO, my
suggestion would be to study them rather than trying to domesticate
them.

--
Richard

Thomas Griffin

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Mar 11, 2002, 3:26:29 PM3/11/02
to

Max Phillips wrote:

I didn't say to call them "the enemy", I said to treat them like the enemy.
That means to attempt to be vigilantly aware about their goals and tactics and
to employ whatever political strategies that will most effectively thwart their
ends
without abandoning the goals (or principals) you are trying to defend.
I agree that calling them the enemy in public discourse is not an effective
strategy to these ends. However, convincing swing voters that creationists'
goals are a direct threat to scientific literacy and free thought is another
question.
One need not paint creationists motives as "evil" in order to point out that
their
goals and tactics are harmful to principals that many people value (although
many creationists are fascists at heart and thus their motives are in fact evil
:)


Max Phillips

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Mar 11, 2002, 3:45:53 PM3/11/02
to
in article a6ili...@drn.newsguy.com, TomS at TomS_...@newsguy.com wrote
on 2002.03.11 8:21 AM:

Your illustration, 1+1=17, reminds me of a news item I read about 20 years
ago. In a Midwestern state, Indiana or Ohio or Iowa, parents of school kids
got huffy puffy about their kids having to do unreasonable math problems. So
they petitioned the State legislature. And in response those politicians
actually passed a law stating that for purposes of classroom instruction
pi=3.14 and no more! -Max

Max Phillips

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Mar 11, 2002, 3:53:19 PM3/11/02
to
in article a6imi...@drn.newsguy.com, TomS at TomS_...@newsguy.com wrote
on 2002.03.11 8:39 AM:

I'll keep that in mind. -Max, a creationist

Max Phillips

unread,
Mar 11, 2002, 4:31:49 PM3/11/02
to
in article a6iul3$aug$1...@hobart.eecs.umich.edu, Richard Carnes at

Right on, Richard. I would point out, as well, that there are many "swing
voters" involved in this national debate, who are easily swayed away from
people who manifest a vituperative disposition, regardless of the content of
what they say. -Max

Laurence A. Moran

unread,
Mar 11, 2002, 4:33:11 PM3/11/02
to
In article <a6ili...@drn.newsguy.com>, TomS <TomS_...@newsguy.com> wrote:

[snip]

> I don't know whether there is a legal precedent for banning something
>from being taught in the public schools because it is stupid. As things
>stand, in the USA, the only way that anybody has thought of for banning
>"creationism" (so-called) is that it is a doctrine of particular religions.

How does it work in other countries? They seem to have done a good job of
banning creationism from the schools without resorting to wrangling over
interpretations of their constitution.


Larry Moran


Max Phillips

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Mar 11, 2002, 4:38:47 PM3/11/02
to
in article 3C8D13E4...@uic.edu, Thomas Griffin at tgri...@uic.edu

Point taken. Thanks. -Max

Bill Shatzer

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Mar 11, 2002, 4:46:00 PM3/11/02
to

On 11 Mar 2002, Max Phillips wrote:

-snips-

> Your illustration, 1+1=17, reminds me of a news item I read about 20 years
> ago. In a Midwestern state, Indiana or Ohio or Iowa, parents of school kids
> got huffy puffy about their kids having to do unreasonable math problems. So
> they petitioned the State legislature. And in response those politicians
> actually passed a law stating that for purposes of classroom instruction
> pi=3.14 and no more! -Max

Not quite - and the bill was never actually enacted into law.

For the straight story, see,

http://www.urbanlegends.com/legal/pi_indiana.html

http://www.straightdope.com/classics/a3_341.html


Which, brings me to an interesting factoid included in
Steve Jones' book, "Darwin's Ghost". Jones claims that
the ratio between the straight line distance from a
river's source to its mouth and the actual length of
the river (following the meander of the stream) equals pi.

Is this so? And if so, why?

Cheers and all,

Chris Ho-Stuart

unread,
Mar 11, 2002, 5:04:45 PM3/11/02
to
Max Phillips <obscu...@earthlink.net> wrote:
[snip]

> Your illustration, 1+1=17, reminds me of a news item I read about 20 years
> ago. In a Midwestern state, Indiana or Ohio or Iowa, parents of school kids
> got huffy puffy about their kids having to do unreasonable math problems. So
> they petitioned the State legislature. And in response those politicians
> actually passed a law stating that for purposes of classroom instruction
> pi=3.14 and no more! -Max

There is only one real case of the definition of pi being a subject
of laws; which was in 1897 in Indiana. The proposer was a local
eccentric and mathematical crank Edwin H. Goodwin (MD). He probably
proposed the law as a way of getting recognition for his "discoveries".
In return for recognition of his work in law, he would allow Indiana
text books to use his discoveries without paying a royalty; and no-one
in the house knew enough maths to recognize the nonsense in the bizarre
mathematical material of the bill.

It would have set Pi to 3.2, sqrt(2) would have been 10/7, and so on.
This bill died in the senate; where it provoked much hilarity before
being dropped as worthless.

See
<http://www.indianahistory.org/pub/traces/ed902.html>
<http://www.daft.com/~rab/liberty/Miscellaneous/Pi-bill-Indiana>
(which includes the text of the bill: must be seen to be believed)

Briefly, your story about pi being set to 3 is a variation on
the story which has mutated considerably along the way.

Also relevant to urban legends and how stories change over time...
Check out the May 1998 POTM at
<http://www.talkorigins.org/origins/postmonth/may98.html>

It concerns a deliberate hoax posting about a bill to set pi equal
to 3 in Alabama; and how the hoax was picked up, propagated,
mutated, etc. Fascinating reading.

The urban legends people have also reported on this wonderful prank.
See
<http://www.snopes2.com/religion/pi.htm>

Cheers -- Chris

Thomas Griffin

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Mar 11, 2002, 5:51:59 PM3/11/02
to

Richard Carnes wrote:

Whether the "different but not wrong" model of social change is more
effective is
a separate question.
My issue is that the consequences of creationists' goals and their
anti-scientific means
of achieving them are something that must be opposed and fought in the most
effective
manner possible.
That being said, the most "evil" people in history can be said to be just
ordinary people
with the wrong genes and the wrong experiences at the wrong time. So, I
don't
know what it really means to say that creationists are just people who
happen to
be exposed to certain info or happen to have a certain disposition towards
that kind
of worldview.
The fact is that creationists tend to be more authoritarian and anti-freedom
in general than
the average person and tend to be in opposition to the political principals
that ground our
constitution (there are numerous studies in the psychology of religion and
political psychology showing this).
It makes some sense that it takes a relatively authoritarian person and one
not prone to forming rational beliefs
to blindly accept an idea as absurd as creationism and to reject the rather
obvious evidence that counters it.

Thus, at a general level, those who strive to replace science with
creationism are in fact the enemy on
many levels and on many fronts. If such groups achieved their ultimate
theological political goals
there would be nothing in America to worth defending from Osama and nothing
that a fellow fascist like Osama
would attack.
Keep in mind that by authoritarian I mean that they prefer hierarchical
systems of social (and intellectual)
power, not that they all want to be personally in power over others.

> So by all means oppose the creationists in politics and in the courts,
> but at the same time let's avoid a victim mentality that blames others
> for an unsatisfactory state of affairs. The less we attempt to pin
> blame on them, the more effective we will be in combating the
> creationists' political aims.
>

You may be correct about the most effective way to combat them, but that
does not mean that creationists are not fundamentally and generally a threat

to core intellectual and social values.

>
> I agree that many anti-evolutionists are difficult or impossible to
> reason with concerning evolution, at least at first. This, to me, is
> a highly interesting fact that ought to arouse our curiosity about the
> way the human mind works. While we have live specimens here on TO, my
> suggestion would be to study them rather than trying to domesticate
> them.
>

Again, I agree that their level of unquestioned commitment is something to
be
understood. I think that the minds of terrorists and serial killers should
also
be studied and understood. However, regardless of why they do what they do,
and regardless of whether they had a disposition towards such acts or if it
was all
a matter of contingent experience, they are still the enemy by any
reasonable definition
of the term.

Creationists are a threat to intellectual freedom and rational public
discourse, thus
it is natural (perhaps unavoidable) for anyone who holds these things in
high regard
to feel some hostility towards them. The fact that many Creationists possess
general
anti-intellectual values that are also a more general threat to free thought
simply adds fuel
to this understandable fire. It is not simply their values and views that
make them a threat
that elicits a negative reaction, it is the added fact that their political
and social power combined
with the scientific illiteracy in the US makes them a very real threat in
every school district.
Will such perceived hostility towards creationists affect the leanings of
intellectually unprincipled
"fence-sitters"? Perhaps. Should we attempt to repress and deny this
natural emotional response
that arises from the very real threat they pose? Perhaps, but this could be
as realistic as telling a woman
being raped to repress any negative emotions she is feeling because they may
interfere with her attempts
to escape the situation.

In any case, none of this alters the fact that the hostility is there, nor
that it is an expected and natural
response of anyone committed to rather laudable intellectual values.


Thomas


>
> --
> Richard

Greg

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Mar 11, 2002, 7:19:01 PM3/11/02
to
car...@hobart.eecs.umich.edu (Richard Carnes) wrote in message news:<a6iul3$aug$1...@hobart.eecs.umich.edu>...

<snip substance of post in order to add trite comment>

> The others (examples too numerous to mention, but Osama
> bin Laden comes to mind) have ended up shooting themselves in the foot
> (feet?).
>

Is that why he walks (walked?) with a cane?

--
Greg

Boxing is for sissies. Two grown men wear satin shorts, fighting for a
belt and a purse, while wearing gloves. That's some serious
accessorizing!

David Jensen

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Mar 11, 2002, 8:00:25 PM3/11/02