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Defenders of the Faith - Comments

masubi's Avatar Comment 1 by masubi

Mr. Collins and the rest need to either practice what they preach or preach what they practice.

Hebrews 11:1-3
"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God's command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible."

Either you are going to be a scientist that looks for evidence to explain what we see, or you are going to be a "believer" that accepts what we see on faith...sorry Collins, you can't have it both ways.

Live a good life,


Tue, 14 Jul 2009 16:39:00 UTC | #379093

glenister_m's Avatar Comment 2 by glenister_m

PZ Myers continues his review of their ideas on Pharyngula. Suffice it to say he completely disagrees with their ideas, and supports his views with more evidence than they apparently do.

Tue, 14 Jul 2009 16:44:00 UTC | #379095

locutus7's Avatar Comment 3 by locutus7

Mr. Meechum, the editor-in-chief of Newsweek, is a big-time born-again Christian. So no surprise here.

Tue, 14 Jul 2009 16:56:00 UTC | #379098

HappyPrimate's Avatar Comment 4 by HappyPrimate

I haven't read the whole article yet but I am disappointed to see Chris Mooney standing up for making nice with the scientists who claim to be xians. The religious have no problem telling atheists that we are wrong and not only that but we will also be severly punished for being wrong. They feel they have every right to tell us this with absolutely no evidence on their side. However, should an atheist even hint that the holy believer might not have a case, nary a leg-to-stand-on, then whoa. Isn't that atheist being militant, strident and way off base. IMHO this is BullShit of the highest magnitude.

Tue, 14 Jul 2009 17:07:00 UTC | #379101

Alovrin's Avatar Comment 5 by Alovrin

Newsweek has slid further down in my estimation.
That is as superficial a polemic as you will find anywhere,
hack-kneed catch phrases abound.
It is doubtful the writer(author sounds too grand for this mess) has been in the same building as any of the "new atheist" texts s/he takes a swipe at.

"the US needs more scientists like Collins"?
Because some members of the great unwashed like a bit of sugar on their medicine?
And some of them are just a little grubby, not up to their eyeballs in shite?

I'll accommodate anyone in normal circumstances., but you people, your big invisible friend is just too messy, and doesnt pay any rent!
How many more times? *sigh*

Tue, 14 Jul 2009 17:11:00 UTC | #379102

mi9's Avatar Comment 6 by mi9

Scientists who blast religion are hurting their own cause.

What cause?

Anyway... the scientists that are at war with traditional creationism are happy. The others (new atheism) who want to forbid any public manifestation of supernaturalism are sad. But that's politics. You can't win every time.

Tue, 14 Jul 2009 17:11:00 UTC | #379103

blueollie's Avatar Comment 7 by blueollie

That's just wrong. The reasons that we don't have many scientists like Collins is because, for the vast majority of people, the kind of mind and attitudes that makes one a good scientist also makes one an agnostic or atheist.

Tue, 14 Jul 2009 17:13:00 UTC | #379104

Ignorant Amos's Avatar Comment 8 by Ignorant Amos

This fuckin' cracks me up!!!!

The stunning irony in the longstanding tension between science and religion in America is that many scientists who merely claim to be defending rationality from religious fundamentalism may actually be turning Americans off to science, doing more harm to their cause than good.

I really couldn't give a fiddlers fuck if the truth and the way is upsetting American fundmentalist religion...if it is what it takes then so be it....fuck em''s called hard cheese so suck it up.

Tue, 14 Jul 2009 17:16:00 UTC | #379105

deejay64's Avatar Comment 9 by deejay64

A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.

Refined sugar is the leading cause in childhood obesity and diabetes.

Tue, 14 Jul 2009 17:19:00 UTC | #379106

Ignorant Amos's Avatar Comment 10 by Ignorant Amos

Militant New Athiest? where do I sign?

It is war no matter what ya think!!!!

Tue, 14 Jul 2009 17:21:00 UTC | #379107

mi9's Avatar Comment 11 by mi9

Post modernists are more dangerous... and they are usually atheists. The only problem i see with the new atheist thing (Supernaturalism must die)... is that they are spawning their ideas beyond science... to the metaphysical.

Tue, 14 Jul 2009 17:23:00 UTC | #379108

mi9's Avatar Comment 12 by mi9

Because of attitudes like this, don't you fear that people will start seing you like, to use the expression of Trey Parker, Bitchy Whiners?
I mean, even the South park guys see you like that. I think you should chill out... and start being pragmatic. It doesn't have to be a full scale war. You can go case by case in situations where religious belief and the public cross one another. I think Francis Collins don't desearve this criticism from Coyne and others...

Tue, 14 Jul 2009 17:30:00 UTC | #379109

Frankus1122's Avatar Comment 13 by Frankus1122

Consider the survey evidence, which shows that while most Americans want to have both science and religion in their lives, they'll only go so far to preserve the former at the expense of the latter. According to a 2006 Time magazine poll, for instance, 64 percent of Americans would hold on to a cherished religious belief even if science had disproved it. Many Americans who reject evolution—a stunning 46 percent, according to surveys—assuredly fall in this category.

This indicates a problem with rationality. "I don't care if it is not true, I will believe it anyway."
I just don't understand this.
You can't argue against such a position.
Can you?

Hopefully Collins will have the same attitude as the Dalai Lama:
"If science proves some belief of Buddhism wrong, then Buddhism will have to change."

I suspect he might. However, I am still leery of his belief in magic.

Tue, 14 Jul 2009 17:33:00 UTC | #379110

Dustin14's Avatar Comment 14 by Dustin14

I don't understand how Mooney can think that conceding to the anti-science crowd could at all help scientific literacy.

The problem with the accommodationist position is that it accommodates by misrepresenting the science. Take for example the idea of theistic evolution that Mooney seems to want more of, the idea that a higher power had some hand in beginning and shaping evolution but there is no science to support that position as well as the fact that it suggests a predetermined outcome which the science of evolution directly contradicts. Alternatively the idea that a god of some sort was toying with the process changing things along the way so that humanity would result, this leads to the same problem there is no evidence to suggest this, and once again leads to the idea that the process of evolution is determined by some conscious will.

I understand the argument they're making it amounts to conceding that their may have been some higher power involved in the process of evolution thus allowing the religious to learn and accept the science without it threatening there faith. Imagine however that someones faith requires them to believe the earth is 6000 years old the accommodationist position on this is that like Adam and Eve god created the world in an adult state explaining why all scientific evidence points to a much older planet. Now it seems to me that Mooneys argument also means we should accept this explanation after all people will now be able to learn and accept the science of carbon and radiometric dating without it threatening there faith, only one problem you still have people walking around thinking the earth is 6000 years old!

Which is why the accommodationist position fails we will have people who believe in evolution but believe it was consciously shaped and directed, which science contradicts. We will have people who believe radiometric dating works, but that the earth is actually 6000 years old which science contradicts. This position can only serve to further divide the public understanding of science from the actual science, which is what they are supposedly fighting against. Mooney seems to be advocating an odd strategy of victory through surrender.

Tue, 14 Jul 2009 17:42:00 UTC | #379111

Border Collie's Avatar Comment 15 by Border Collie

Deja vu all over again.

Tue, 14 Jul 2009 18:12:00 UTC | #379114

Ignorant Amos's Avatar Comment 16 by Ignorant Amos

It's a cake and eat it issue...ya can't have both!

Tue, 14 Jul 2009 18:14:00 UTC | #379115

Ignorant Amos's Avatar Comment 17 by Ignorant Amos

and why would you need or want to?

Tue, 14 Jul 2009 18:16:00 UTC | #379116

Daniella's Avatar Comment 18 by Daniella

A far better approach is to work with religious believers to help them separate their personal religion from everybody's shared science, and move toward a much needed middle ground.
IMHO there can be no middle ground. The minute science has to bow down to incorporate people's "beliefs" it ceases to be science. Facts are facts, evidence is evidence. No amount of wishful thinking or belief in a god can (or should) change that.

The article even stated that 64% of Americans would rather “hold on to a cherished religious belief even if science had disproved it.” So scientists are supposed to what – throw away any evidence that might jeopardise these people’s precious delusions so as not to rock the boat.

What Mooney and Kirshenbaum seem to be proposing is a watering and dumbing down of science so people can still fill in the gaps with [insert woo here].

Where is the integrity in that?

Fuck off.
EDIT: As PZ would say :)

Tue, 14 Jul 2009 18:17:00 UTC | #379117

Quine's Avatar Comment 19 by Quine

The idea that the religious mind cannot be changed is quite silly, else we would still be worshiping Zeus, et al. I am sure that 64% did not include teenagers, or if so, what is said and done are two different things. No, for the sake of our young people who will be making the decisions of the future, we need to speak the truth, always the truth, and let that truth show through.

Tue, 14 Jul 2009 18:27:00 UTC | #379118

Irat's Avatar Comment 20 by Irat

Sometimes I wonder: can these people really be making these arguments? It seems to take so much energy, so much processing power, increasingly more processing power, to retain these superstitious beliefs than to accept the evidence and rational argument. And this makes me wonder: perhaps they're doing it on purpose...perhaps they're steadily building up their brains' processing power, so that one day, they might be more intelligent than they perceive us to fancy ourselves to be?

Tue, 14 Jul 2009 18:38:00 UTC | #379120

prolibertas's Avatar Comment 21 by prolibertas

What's the alternative? Respect everyone's unfalsifiable beliefs (a.k.a closed-minded dogmatism)? It's unfalsifiable dogmatism that is contributing to the death and misery of people the world over every single day.

Disrespect for unfalsifiability is the only defence against this, and since falsifiability is the key aspect of scientific method, it is that disrespect that by extension is the only true defence of science that we can mount.

After all, it's not just the findings of science we must defend, but the very scientific means of apprehending the world that give us those findings in the first place.

Tue, 14 Jul 2009 18:54:00 UTC | #379121

Bonzai's Avatar Comment 22 by Bonzai

It is a big assumption and probably wishful thinking that wishy washy Christian scientists like Miller and Collins stand a better chance to bring science to believers who are hostile to science that challenges their beliefs.

I don't have scientific polls, but based on some Christian sites I scanned I have the impression that Miller and Collins' are not really more credible than Dawkins'in the fundamentalist circle,--exactly the audience that the authors think someone like Collins would be able to reach. In fact the fundies probably hate them even more because they are seen as traitors and false Christians who seek to subvert the faith from within, thus being more underhanded and worthy of scorn.

Tue, 14 Jul 2009 19:22:00 UTC | #379124

Mango's Avatar Comment 23 by Mango

When about half of Americans reject evolution because of their religious beliefs, maybe in this moment we do need people like Francis Collins and Ken Miller to be the public faces of science (?).

Tue, 14 Jul 2009 19:30:00 UTC | #379125

kraut's Avatar Comment 24 by kraut

It is rather simple - when discussing science, I do not give a shit about your religion. When you talk science, I have no desire to know which god you worship. So - when you publicize science, leave your particular god at home.
Do not try to mix science with religion - simple, isn't it?
And if someone claims that his/her particular god or gods influence is observable - then someone has to set him straight or ask for testable, falsifiable evidence, or tell him/her to just fuck off.

It is rather simple. Just try to prove with evidence, unequivocally, which one of the several million proclaimed manifestations between christianity, hinduism, shamanism, judaism, shintoism, islam, ketherers, paganism, gnosticism
etc. etc. pp/pp is the right one.

Other than that - leave fucking religion out of any, and I mean any, discussion regarding scientific topics.
That how far my accomodationism goes. And if you insist to mix the two - you deserve your arse getting kicked. Simple.

Tue, 14 Jul 2009 19:46:00 UTC | #379129

squinky's Avatar Comment 25 by squinky

Mooney is really starting to piss me off! His arguments are so vapid: 'be conciliatory, be gentle, be accomodating' which is another way of saying 'be dishonest'.

He writes:
Someone like Collins, by contrast, can convince those who think science conflicts with their beliefs that this needn't be the case...It's not just Collins; consider the words of the Dalai Lama: "If science proves some belief of Buddhism wrong, then Buddhism will have to change."
So which is it Chris? There's no conflict or the conflict means that religious beliefs are wrong (Dalai Lama). Science throughout history has castrated religious thought and philosophy with every contact.

Mooney is a fuckwit and his accomodationism is hurting our chances of ever ridding the Earth of supernaturalism with its only antidote: reason and evidence. Since Mooney told Coyne to shutup, I'll return the favor. Mooney, shut the fuck up!

Tue, 14 Jul 2009 20:02:00 UTC | #379137

Rev.JeffroBodean's Avatar Comment 26 by Rev.JeffroBodean

Besides completely misrepresenting PZ Meyers position (and, by the way, the communion wafer incident), their argument is ass-backwards. The only thing scientists are required to present is evidence that supports their claim. Whether or not that evidence agrees with someones beliefs is irrelevant.

Tue, 14 Jul 2009 20:07:00 UTC | #379139

Steven Mading's Avatar Comment 27 by Steven Mading

I haven't yet read the article, but here's my guess as to the summary of what it says: Blah blah blah NOMA blah blah NOMA blah blah fundamentalist atheist blah blah blah NOMA blah blah closed-minded blah blah NOMA blah NOMA.

To anyone who took the time to read it, is this pretty much it, like pretty much every other article that has come out in this vein? If so, I don't see the point in reading it. These articles all make exactly the same point, all based on the incorrect notion that religion plays nice and stays out of the domain of science when clearly this is not the case.

Tue, 14 Jul 2009 20:09:00 UTC | #379140

Dr Doctor's Avatar Comment 28 by Dr Doctor

Post modernists are more dangerous... and they are usually atheists. The only problem i see with the new atheist thing (Supernaturalism must die)... is that they are spawning their ideas beyond science... to the metaphysical.

I don't know about you, but I find that terrifying. But then I leap onto tabletops when mice scuttle across the kitchen floor.

masubi put it right:

Either you are going to be a scientist that looks for evidence to explain what we see, or you are going to be a "believer" that accepts what we see on faith...sorry Collins, you can't have it both ways.

Tue, 14 Jul 2009 20:10:00 UTC | #379141

Frankus1122's Avatar Comment 29 by Frankus1122

Comment #396516 by squinky

...'be conciliatory, be gentle, be accomodating' which is another way of saying 'be dishonest'.

Collins and Miller are 'Truth Lite'(TM).

Tue, 14 Jul 2009 20:24:00 UTC | #379143

Raiko's Avatar Comment 30 by Raiko

Case? I tell you what the case is, Mr. Mooney and Mr. Kirshenbaum: The 'case' is intolerance, the suppression of minorities and even majorities like women, murder (abortion doctors), cruises against freedom of speech and the rights of women over their bodies, the protected abuse of children, the most ludicrous justifications for wars and crimes... do I need to continue?

Do these ignoramuses really think that these problems can be addressed and treated by coo-talking religion, babying faith-heads and patting apologetics? Do they seriously think, even if their approach had only a fraction of a point to it, that it is just and good to NOT speak out about these things and their root cause in very distinct and direct, alerting ways?

We're NOT talking about a couple weirdos here in the Brazilian rain forest or the Australian desert! We're talking about large groups among us who try to impede onto the rights of everyone and wish to push their backdated ideas of moral and education upon us and our children.

It looks to me as if Mr. Mooney has indeed relocated to the moon from where the earth is just a pretty, happy blue planet - while Mr. Kirshenbaum is sitting in his cherry tree, his vision heavily clouded by white and pink leaves and his tummy filled with the sweet cherry taste of prosperity and social security. Sadly some atheists are sending out not-so-pretty postcards from planet earth, and that's a problem. Postcards should be made all pretty with photoshop!

Well, you two - get the hell off the computer. There's a world with some real problems out there.

Tue, 14 Jul 2009 21:56:00 UTC | #379152