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Don't give creationists the attention they crave 
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Post Don't give creationists the attention they crave
To paraphrase Dawkins in the piece "Unfinished Correspondence with a Darwinian Heavyweight" (His correspondence was with Stephen J. Gould.)

Dawkins cites a creationist (Wells) claiming he "hit a home run" at a Harvard debate. Wells was referring to merely the accomplishment of being invited to Harvard, so he could claim that universities are taking the debate seriously.

Incidentally, at the end of the essay Dawkins briefly talks about his major disagreement with Gould, with Gould apparently disagreeing about Dawkins' focus on the gene as the unit for natural selection. I'm still trying to understand this debate, as I find Dawkins persuasive on this point, but I haven't read much of the opposing argument. And I haven't read all of the essays in this book about Gould yet.



Sat May 28, 2011 8:45 am
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Post Re: Don't give creationists the attention they crave
When we were reading The Selfish Gene and The Extended Phenotype, I was also looking for more information about the arguments between Dawkins and Gould. I don't recall the finer points of the debate right now, but here's something that Gould wrote that may shed some light:

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archive ... mentalism/

Also see this archived thread:

post57210.html?hilit=Gould#p57210


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Post Re: Don't give creationists the attention they crave
Those of us who teach English Composition sometimes worry about getting a "tin ear" by having to read so much writing that is frankly almost never very good and frequently terrible. Some of my fellow adjuncts actually worry about how this may effect their own writing and, indeed, apparently there are studies that back them up. (I haven't seen the studies myself).

I can imagine that arguing with creationists, besides being a complete waste of time, will ultimately do nothing for one's skill in rhetoric and, indeed, may dumb you down so much, you will not be very good at making more complex arguments with folks who haven't shut down the intellectual processes to make room for their gods.

I completely agree with Dawkins that those who engage the Creationists are actually giving them a platform. You could probably search the archives and find conversations with Stahrwe from a couple of years back and compare it with one of the current conversations and what you'll find is that nothing has changed. You guys are making the same arguments (and the same denials) over and over again. Think about the impression that this may leave on some of BT's guests. Some folks might come on BookTalk and stay for awhile, reading some of those ongoing religion threads. They very well may leave with the impression that Creationists must have legitimate arguments in favor of a 6,000-year-old earth (and all the rationalizations that go with it). Why else would these obviously intelligent people be arguing with them?


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Post Re: Don't give creationists the attention they crave
The devastating review of Gould that Dawkins discusses is available at http://human-nature.com/nibbs/02/gould.html

Gould was a great populizer of evolutionary thought, but made several massive errors. He argues that genes are the bookkeepers of evolution while species are the causal agents, where in fact the truth is the reverse. His theory of punctuated equilibrium is properly described as 'pushing at an open door', claiming great insight for something that is obvious, ie the changing pace of evolution. Dawkins makes the key point that the units of evolution are replicators, such as genes or memes. Species and organisms are not replicators in this precise sense of copy-fidelity, in that the thing that is replicated in heredity is the gene, not the whole organism.

On the matter of creationists and their efforts to stir up division, the review points to Dawkins' observation that his difference with Gould on punctuated equilibrium is rather as if the claim that the Jews took 40 years to get from Egypt to Israel under Moses means they moved at one yard per hour, and that this slow pace is somehow a criticism of the entire story. It is rather obvious that if they took that long (taking the story at face value) then they stopped along the way. It is similarly obvious that evolution has long periods of slow change with short periods of massive change.



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Post Re: Don't give creationists the attention they crave
geo wrote:
Those of us who teach English Composition sometimes worry about getting a "tin ear" by having to read so much writing that is frankly almost never very good and frequently terrible. Some of my fellow adjuncts actually worry about how this may effect their own writing and, indeed, apparently there are studies that back them up. (I haven't seen the studies myself).

I can imagine that arguing with creationists, besides being a complete waste of time, will ultimately do nothing for one's skill in rhetoric and, indeed, may dumb you down so much, you will not be very good at making more complex arguments with folks who haven't shut down the intellectual processes to make room for their gods.

I completely agree with Dawkins that those who engage the Creationists are actually giving them a platform. You could probably search the archives and find conversations with Stahrwe from a couple of years back and compare it with one of the current conversations and what you'll find is that nothing has changed. You guys are making the same arguments (and the same denials) over and over again. Think about the impression that this may leave on some of BT's guests. Some folks might come on BookTalk and stay for awhile, reading some of those ongoing religion threads. They very well may leave with the impression that Creationists must have legitimate arguments in favor of a 6,000-year-old earth (and all the rationalizations that go with it). Why else would these obviously intelligent people be arguing with them?

Geo is absolutely right about this. I've come more to realize the truth of it lately. The two sides are too different to have any real debate discussion, or argument, and so they shouldn't. If this sounds as though I'm saying there is some kind of parity between the sides, I'm not. I believe that, whatever we call the opposite side, it is deeply wrong about nearly everything it holds true. But we can in this case deflect the inevitable charge of bias from the creationist camp. We can just observe that for any profitable discussion or debate to occur, there needs to be some commonality between the sides. This isn't the popular image of debate, but it's true, if we care about 'profitable.' When the sides don't share the same base assumption, the last thing that should happen is for the two to come together to talk. The conditions aren't right and may never be. The result will be a massive waste of time and effort such as geo has cited.

I sense geo hinting at a pact not to get into it with creationists/fundamentalists. I'll sign up.


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Last edited by DWill on Sun May 29, 2011 4:35 am, edited 1 time in total.



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Post Re: Don't give creationists the attention they crave
I engage in a lot of creationist debate, and i think its an important thing to do.

Not to try to convince creationists that they are wrong, because that isn't possible. But to shine the light on the absurdity of what they say. To bring that gnarled, mashed thing out of the cellar and shine a light on it. Dry up all that goo and let people see the horrid thing for what it is.

I know i won't ever convince stahrwe he's lived his whole life for a lie, and i am not really trying to do that. I want fence-sitters everywhere to take note of what passes for argument from a creationist and let them see the stupidity of it all before they get drawn into belief to the point that they no longer are ABLE to see the stupidity of it.


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Have you tried that? Looking for answers?
Or have you been content to be terrified of a thing you know nothing about?

Are you pushing your own short comings on us and safely hating them from a distance?

Is this the virtue of faith? To never change your mind: especially when you should?

Young Earth Creationists take offense at the idea that we have a common heritage with other animals. Why is being the descendant of a mud golem any better?

Confidence being an expectation built on past experience, evidence and extrapolation to the future. Faith being an expectation held in defiance of past experience and evidence.


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Post Re: Don't give creationists the attention they crave
DWill wrote:
I sense geo hinting at a pact not to get into it with creationists/fundamentalists. I'll sign up.


johnson1010 wrote:
I engage in a lot of creationist debate, and i think its an important thing to do.


Obviously it's a personal decision. I have thought about it and decided not to bother any more. Dawkins makes a very good argument that merely engaging Creationists gives them an appearance of legitimacy. We all know that behind every Creationist argument is a rationalization and promotion of a literal Biblical worldview. I personally don't want to give that air time on a public forum. I don't want to give the Creationist the illusion that he's being taken seriously.

Also, I do find it rather depressing to find myself thinking in terms of how to frame my arguments with respect to the Creationist worldview. We do take into account our audience, even if we're just posting on an online forum. And if we perceive that our most critical audience members will attack this point and that point, we will start to anticipate those points. In the good old days we took it for granted that the world is billions of years old and that the evidence overwhelmingly supports evolution and that everybody knows that. But now every time I read a bit of science news, I find myself thinking: what would Joe Creationist think of that? Or how would Joe Creationist respond to that? The bottom line is that it really bothers me that people actually believe this stuff. But have I dumbed down my thinking to take into account those who actually believe the earth is 6,000 years old? If so, I am losing something in the bargain. I choose not to do it any more.


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Post Re: Don't give creationists the attention they crave
I agree with the OP, ignore them they are going to evenually find out their wrong anyway.



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Post Re: Don't give creationists the attention they crave
I completely agree with the OP. Just let them have their beliefs and don't take their bait. If they are so ignorant to evolution and do not respect evolution as a whole why bother coming to a section of a website that deals with evolution and get into pointless debates. What do these creationists hope to accomplish? I just ignore them now, and I propose the idea that everyone else does as well.


Religious fundamentalists rely on masses of scriptures and fallacious reasoning with circular arguments.

Science relies upon nothing. Everything relies upon science.


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Post Re: Don't give creationists the attention they crave
DWill wrote:
geo wrote:
Those of us who teach English Composition sometimes worry about getting a "tin ear" by having to read so much writing that is frankly almost never very good and frequently terrible. Some of my fellow adjuncts actually worry about how this may effect their own writing and, indeed, apparently there are studies that back them up. (I haven't seen the studies myself).

I can imagine that arguing with creationists, besides being a complete waste of time, will ultimately do nothing for one's skill in rhetoric and, indeed, may dumb you down so much, you will not be very good at making more complex arguments with folks who haven't shut down the intellectual processes to make room for their gods.

I completely agree with Dawkins that those who engage the Creationists are actually giving them a platform. You could probably search the archives and find conversations with Stahrwe from a couple of years back and compare it with one of the current conversations and what you'll find is that nothing has changed. You guys are making the same arguments (and the same denials) over and over again. Think about the impression that this may leave on some of BT's guests. Some folks might come on BookTalk and stay for awhile, reading some of those ongoing religion threads. They very well may leave with the impression that Creationists must have legitimate arguments in favor of a 6,000-year-old earth (and all the rationalizations that go with it). Why else would these obviously intelligent people be arguing with them?

Geo is absolutely right about this. I've come more to realize the truth of it lately. The two sides are too different to have any real debate discussion, or argument, and so they shouldn't. If this sounds as though I'm saying there is some kind of parity between the sides, I'm not. I believe that, whatever we call the opposite side, it is deeply wrong about nearly everything it holds true. But we can in this case deflect the inevitable charge of bias from the creationist camp. We can just observe that for any profitable discussion or debate to occur, there needs to be some commonality between the sides. This isn't the popular image of debate, but it's true, if we care about 'profitable.' When the sides don't share the same base assumption, the last thing that should happen is for the two to come together to talk. The conditions aren't right and may never be. The result will be a massive waste of time and effort such as geo has cited.

I sense geo hinting at a pact not to get into it with creationists/fundamentalists. I'll sign up.


No commonality exists between science and religion?
None whatsoever?


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Thu Jul 21, 2011 11:07 am
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Post Re: Don't give creationists the attention they crave
ant wrote:

No commonality exists between science and religion?
None whatsoever?


Don't miss the context. We're not talking about religion in such a broad sense. We're talking about creationism which is a fringe subset. A creationist starts with the premise that the Bible is literally true and that the world is thousands of years old. This is willful ignorance of evidence that is the basis of much of our scientific knowledge. Within that context, there's really no commonality between the two sides.


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Post Re: Don't give creationists the attention they crave
Understood

Do you believe science and religion share some common aspects?


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Mon Jul 25, 2011 8:37 pm
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Post Re: Don't give creationists the attention they crave
Mr Erickson65 wrote:
I believe the Universe was created


Where is the evidence?

Mr Erickson65 wrote:
I don't go around proselytising because I do not belong to any religion.


You don't have to formally attend church services to be of a certain religion. To be a Christian all you have to do is accept the Bible as the word of God and Jesus as the son of God who died on the cross for your sins. Go to church or not people that accept the Christian Bible are Christians. Christianity is a world religion. Individual Christian churches are denominations. And your sentence doesn't make sense even without the claim that you don't belong to a religion. All members of all religion don't proselytize.

Mr Erickson65 wrote:
I find that Atheist are a little on the disingenuous side, they want to create the false impression that All scientists agree that Evolution is the only answer this is not true.


You're either brand new to this topic or just making stuff up.

It is unfair and inaccurate to claim that all atheists argue anything specifically about evolution. All you know about atheists is that they lack the belief in a God or gods. Nothing more. Some atheists believe life arrived on our planet because of transpermia. Some believe aliens brought life here purposely. Some think evolution is nonsense. Some are complete idiots and just wanted to join a group of some sort. All atheists don't think alike and you don't have the evidence to argue that all of them are disingenuous. This is a biased and ignorant statement.

The fact is MOST scientists (not "all") are atheists and MOST scientists accept biological evolution as the theory that best explains the geological and fossil and genetic evidence we see. So now that I have made a claim you have the right to demand evidence. Fortunately, I have it. http://www.lhup.edu/~dsimanek/sci_relig.htm Numerous studies and surveys have been done to support the idea that science education and belief in gods are inversely proportional. Yes, some scientists don't agree with the majority. I ran the numbers last year and I believe it was 700 that accept evolution for every 1 that doesn't. This means that scientists that don't accept evolution are statistical outliers or extremely rare. I'd have to search BookTalk.org for the post I made that had the source for these numbers.

So the point is you're wrong about atheists if you want to argue that ALL atheists think ALL scientists agree with evolution. You would be accurate if you said MOST atheists think MOST scientists accept evolution. There is a significant difference between these two claims. The way you said it atheists are complete idiots. The correct wording shows atheists are educated.



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Post Re: Don't give creationists the attention they crave
Chris OConnor wrote:
Mr Erickson65 wrote:
I believe the Universe was created


Where is the evidence?

Mr Erickson65 wrote:
I don't go around proselytising because I do not belong to any religion.


You don't have to formally attend church services to be of a certain religion. To be a Christian all you have to do is accept the Bible as the word of God and Jesus as the son of God who died on the cross for your sins. Go to church or not people that accept the Christian Bible are Christians. Christianity is a world religion. Individual Christian churches are denominations. And your sentence doesn't make sense even without the claim that you don't belong to a religion. All members of all religion don't proselytize.

Mr Erickson65 wrote:
I find that Atheist are a little on the disingenuous side, they want to create the false impression that All scientists agree that Evolution is the only answer this is not true.





Science puts the onus on religion to prove the existence of an intelligence that is responsible for the creation if the universe and consciousness. So be it.

However, science has yet to explain the ORIGIN of life. It (science) can only explain in fragments the processes involved in the development of life.

Score:

Religion = 0
Science = 0

Quote:

You're either brand new to this topic or just making stuff up.

It is unfair and inaccurate to claim that all atheists argue anything specifically about evolution. All you know about atheists is that they lack the belief in a God or gods. Nothing more. Some atheists believe life arrived on our planet because of transpermia. Some believe aliens brought life here purposely. Some think evolution is nonsense. Some are complete idiots and just wanted to join a group of some sort. All atheists don't think alike and you don't have the evidence to argue that all of them are disingenuous. This is a biased and ignorant statement.

The fact is MOST scientists (not "all") are atheists and MOST scientists accept biological evolution as the theory that best explains the geological and fossil and genetic evidence we see. So now that I have made a claim you have the right to demand evidence. Fortunately, I have it. http://www.lhup.edu/~dsimanek/sci_relig.htm Numerous studies and surveys have been done to support the idea that science education and belief in gods are inversely proportional. Yes, some scientists don't agree with the majority. I ran the numbers last year and I believe it was 700 that accept evolution for every 1 that doesn't. This means that scientists that don't accept evolution are statistical outliers or extremely rare. I'd have to search BookTalk.org for the post I made that had the source for these numbers.


So the point is you're wrong about atheists if you want to argue that ALL atheists think ALL scientists agree with evolution. You would be accurate if you said MOST atheists think MOST scientists accept evolution. There is a significant difference between these two claims. The way you said it atheists are complete idiots. The correct wording shows atheists are educated.


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Mon Aug 01, 2011 10:25 pm
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Post Re: Don't give creationists the attention they crave
The absence of evidence is not the same as evidence of absence.


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