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Evolution vs. Creationism by Eugenie C. Scott

Transcript from Eugenie C. Scott chat session on Thursday, December 14th, 2006 at 9:00 pm Eastern.



Transcript of live chat session


connected: ezChat version 0.54

Chris OConnor:: Howdy folks

garicker:: Howdy, Chris

Chris OConnor:: Be right back...have to get some food out of the oven before I burn my house down.

merlot5401 joined

Chris OConnor:: Hey Merlot

Frank 013 joined

Chris OConnor:: brb

Chris OConnor:: Frank!

Frank 013:: howdy

merlot5401:: Hi Chris - you're my favorite person today

Chris OConnor:: haha

garicker:: I haven't read Dr. Scott's book yet, although I plan to in the future. So I'm probably going to be very quiet once the discussion gets under way.

Chris OConnor:: I'm back. Went downstairs to get some spinach pies from the oven.

Chris OConnor:: You can still ask questions and interact. Have some fun. She is a really cool person. We spoke on the phone several times and she is super nice.

Federika22 joined

Chris OConnor:: Rika! welcome

Federika22:: Hello!

Chris OConnor:: Frank - do you know how to record a chat transcript??

Chris OConnor:: I plan on copying and pasting it, but there is always the chance I will accidentally log myself out, which would mean that all of the chat transcript up to the log out point is lost.

Chris OConnor:: So I have to be delicate. Our other chat room is much more sophisticated, but this one is ideal since it forces people to log in under the same names as their ezboard account.

Chris OConnor:: Travis - is this your first time on BookTalk? How did you learn of this author chat?

#Travis Vocino:: Chris, yes it is. A friend of mine thought I would be interested in this particular session.

#Travis Vocino:: So she sent me the information about an hour ago.

Frank 013:: Sorry I do not have much experience with chat rooms or how they work. So, no I do not know how to record this stuff.

Federika22:: How did you record the others?

Chris OConnor:: Travis - cool

#Travis Vocino:: I've been looking around though, and I have to spend some more time your forums in the future.

#Travis Vocino:: Grr, typos, sorry

Chris OConnor:: To record the transcript all you do is click on the "use text mode" and then copy and paste everything into a Notepad file.

Federika22:: oh

Chris OConnor:: Typos are fine.

Chris OConnor:: We will edit for typos before a transcript is posted

Chris OConnor:: Eugenie actually requested this!

Frank 013:: I'll bet she heard about zombie dog.

Chris OConnor:: Man, these spinach pies are good. If anyone wants one I will send one thru their CD drive

Chris OConnor:: haha I wonder how much she read of the Evolution vs. Creationism forum. She said she was going to read it.

garicker:: I don't think it would go with the gin and tonic I just poured.

Chris OConnor:: Does anyone have any questions in mind for Eugenie?

Chris OConnor:: She will log in under the name "Genie"

Chris OConnor:: My main interest is in what we can all do to support the teaching of evolution in our public schools

#Travis Vocino:: I agree.

Frank 013:: I want to know how she can be so polite to creationists.

#Travis Vocino:: Frank, I think it's very important.

Chris OConnor:: And this is of interest to our author, as she is the director of the NCSE

#Travis Vocino:: But I do understand, sometimes it's extremely frustrating.

Chris OConnor:: Frank - me too

Chris OConnor:: I battle with that frequently...as if anyone didn't know that

garicker:: I think in order to do that, we need to increase the general public's education as well.

#Travis Vocino:: Good point.

Chris OConnor:: I see her on the site

Frank 013:: I think part of the problem is that religious groups have had their way for far too long.

Chris OConnor:: I hope you all think of some questions to ask...

Chris OConnor:: don't be shy

Chris OConnor:: She is very cool

Chris OConnor:: You don't have to have completed the book to ask her some questions about the Evolution vs. Creationism “controversy”

Chris OConnor:: then again...it isn't a controversy for the educated

#Travis Vocino:: Chris, this chat application is not very fun in Mac OS, even running Firefox rather than Safari :P

Chris OConnor:: What is happening?

#Travis Vocino:: Every time a new line is posted, the color gets messed up.

garicker:: I'm using a Mac also, but it seems to be working well enough.

merlot5401:: I'm running on Mac OS 10 and not having any problems

Chris OConnor:: Travis - I'm not sure why that is happening, but do you have any rum and Coke? That usually gets my mind off annoying things

#Travis Vocino:: I do actually.

#Travis Vocino:: Anejo and Coke

garicker:: There you go.

Federika22:: Can you send me one of those?

Federika22:: yum

Chris OConnor:: No problem

#Travis Vocino:: Fixed.

Chris OConnor:: Anejo? hmm not familiar

#Travis Vocino:: Anejo is 8+ years aged rum

Chris OConnor:: Oh wow...I'll take two

#Travis Vocino:: Pronounced "In-yey-ho"

Frank 013:: is it moldy?

Chris OConnor:: Rum is my favorite

Chris OConnor:: no Frank

Chris OConnor:: lol

#Travis Vocino:: Definitely not moldy, it's actually smoother than regular rum

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#Travis Vocino:: I can drink it like water, haha

Chris OConnor:: Hey Eric - welcome

ecstian:: Hello Chris

Chris OConnor:: I usually drink Bacardi and Diet Coke

Chris OConnor:: I love it

#Travis Vocino:: Chris, are you the owner of Booktalk.org?

Chris OConnor:: Yes

#Travis Vocino:: Bacardi has an Anejo

Chris OConnor:: We've been around for about 5+ years

#Travis Vocino:: Sorry I haven't been here before.

#Travis Vocino:: I frequent evcforum.net, if you're familiar with that.

Federika22:: Travis, where are you in the world?

#Travis Vocino:: Palm Beach, Florida

Chris OConnor:: I bought my car down in Palm Beach

garicker:: Ha .. I'm in Palm Bay, Florida. Hi neighbor.

Chris OConnor:: Actually, bought it off of eBay

#Travis Vocino:: Hi

Federika22:: wow, lots of Floridians!

Chris OConnor:: I got a deal

Chris OConnor:: Yes, Floridians are awesome.

Chris OConnor:: lol

Frank 013:: one less Floridian soon

Federika22:: where are you going?

Frank 013:: New York state

Frank 013:: up state

Federika22:: job change?

Frank 013:: yep

Chris OConnor:: One second....be right back

Federika22:: Have you lived up there before?

Chris OConnor:: Frank, if she enters say hello!

Frank 013:: ok

#Travis Vocino:: So is BookTalk.org basically pro-evolution only?

Frank 013:: and no I have lived in Florida all my life except when I was in the army

Allan W Janssen joined

Federika22:: Hello Allen

Frank 013:: welcome Allan

Federika22:: Allan

Chris OConnor:: Ok, back. Someone sent us Poinsettias

Chris OConnor:: well, actually Tina sent them to us.

Chris OConnor:: lol

Frank 013:: don’t eat them!

Frank 013:: yucky!

MadArchitect joined

Frank 013:: hey mad!

MadArchitect:: hello all

Chris OConnor:: Travis - we are a community devoted to reading and discussing quality books. Not all of our members are pro-evolution

Chris OConnor:: Welcome Mad!

Frank 013:: that’s for sure

Chris OConnor:: So does anyone have questions ready for Genie Scott?

#Travis Vocino:: I'm sure I'll think of something

MadArchitect:: Is anyone apart from Asana pro-evolution, that we know of?

Frank 013:: what is her shoe size?

MadArchitect:: I plan on asking a little about the NCSE, of which she is executive director

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geniescott:: hello everyone. This is Genie

#Travis Vocino:: Hello Genie

Chris OConnor:: Welcome Dr. Scott! Thank you for joining us tonight. We all really appreciate you taking time out of your busy schedule to chat with us tonight!

Chris OConnor:: Shall we call you Genie?

geniescott:: I've been looking forward to it. Nothing quite so delightful as talking to people who has actually read my book! Yes, I'm perfectly happy with being called "Genie".

Chris OConnor:: Mad - I think Asana is the only member that has issues with evolution

Chris OConnor:: There really isn’t a format for this. We try to do things a little more casually around here. You can get interviewed in a formal setting anywhere, but this is an opportunity for your readers and hopefully fans to interact with you in a more relaxed atmosphere.

geniescott:: OK. Just let me know what you want me to do

geniescott:: OK. I assume I just respond to questions?


Frank 013:: Chris must be typing

Chris OConnor:: We'll all just chat about your book and views on the evol vs creationism controversy

Chris OConnor:: I type rather fast

Chris OConnor:: I was actually wiping spinach pie off my hands

geniescott:: sounds good -- remember, it's dinner time here in California!

Federika22:: Yes! Another Californian!

Chris OConnor:: What I'd like to know is what you think we can do, as individuals without much pull, to further science education in the United States
Chris OConnor:: Oh wow...we're dealing with a hungry one

MadArchitect:: For some of us, it's dinner time here on the East Coast as well...

geniescott:: if any of you are teachers or professors, then the most important thing to do is teach evolution better. I have some ideas for that. If you are a parent with children in the schools, then you need to support teachers so that they feel comfortable teaching evolution.

Chris OConnor:: BookTalk is dedicated to reading and discussing quality books. Science has always been our focus. But we struggle so much with attracting people that actually enjoy reading quality books.

geniescott:: … If you are living in a community where there are letters to the editor coming in about how weak evolution is, or how schools should be teaching "both views" (as if there were only 2) then sensible, responsive letters are called for. You can get help with all of these ideas on the NCSE web site

Chris OConnor:: We do have some teachers as members. Tara, one of our moderators, teaches elementary school

Chris OConnor:: I'll post the link in a second

MadArchitect:: Can you tell us a little about NCSE?

Allan W Janssen:: Allan is here. Are there really any creationists in this chat?

geniescott:: cool. Elementary school teachers who teach science are to be cherished. So many elementary school teachers are more interested in reading or math, and tend to be science phobic.

geniescott:: NCSE is a nonprofit that supports the teaching of evolution in public schools. http://www.ncseweb.org

Chris OConnor:: Be careful on clicking on this link as it might take you ought of this chat room. Always hold down the shift button to launch a new window

Chris OConnor:: http://www.ncseweb.org/

Chris OConnor:: Welcome Allan.

Allan W Janssen:: I'm back and forth with my blog.

Chris OConnor:: I fell in love with science in 7th grade due to the passion of my Biology teacher.

geniescott:: re: NCSE. We have about 4000 members, most of whom are scientists, and probably the next largest group is composed of people concerned about church and state separation. Third largest group is probably teachers, or perhaps "science fans" -- non professionals who just love science. We have a newsletter (a good one!) and the aforementioned web site

tomiichi joined

Chris OConnor:: But I agree that there seemed to be few teachers with the required interest or passion for the sciences. Some of us get our science fix by reading authors like you, Dawkins, Sagan, Pinker, Ridley, etc...

geniescott:: having a great teacher is truly a treat. I'm afraid I didn’t' have any great science teachers (my h.s. chemistry teacher was fun, but I didn't learn anything, I'm afraid). Still, I managed to remain interested in science anyway.

garicker:: I think one of the problem's is that for too long the ID - Evolution controversy has been presented as a scientific controversy when it's really more a public relations and political controversy. Am I wrong about that? It seems there is very little controversy among most scientists about the validity of evolutionary theory, though there is certainly controversy over some of the details.

Chris OConnor:: Genie - can BookTalk join as an organization? I have the paperwork here, but it would be nice to be able to join as a group that supports your mission

MadArchitect:: Does NCSE involve itself in any legal actions, or is it devoted mostly to research and commentary? Can you give us a sense of how it does most of its work?

Allan W Janssen:: I hope there are some Creationists here because I'm in the mood to insult someone tonight ;-)

#Travis Vocino:: garicker: I agree. Only in the media of course, for the scientific community, we've always pretty much seen it the same.

geniescott:: No, creationism (I include ID) is not a scientific issue but a political one. Scientists have looked at the claims of creation science and of ID and rejected them (for cause!) But traditional creationists and ID proponents nonetheless continue the fight in the public arena

Chris OConnor:: Allan - ROFL

geniescott:: We are just thinking of having organizational memberships -- I'll have to get back to you on that


Frank 013:: Genie, after reading your book I found your description of creationism to be honest and respectful, how did you manage the respectful part?

Chris OConnor:: Genie - I'd appreciate that

geniescott:: Re: NCSE's legal actions... we have served as advisors to legal teams (as in Kitzmiller v Dover, the ID trial in PA) but we are too impecunious to bring suit ourselves -- and besides, that isn't what we're good at. We're good at the science and the politics

Allan W Janssen:: but seriously I have some thoughts on I.D. from my book The Plain Truth about God-101 (what the church doesn't want you to know) that you might find interesting

Allan W Janssen:: what does ROFL mean?

Chris OConnor:: It means "rolling on floor laughing"

Chris OConnor:: chat lingo

Chris OConnor:: I have to be careful because not everyone knows what those statements mean

geniescott:: Thank you for the kind words on the book. I am respectful of the people involved in the creationist movement -- we should always give people the benefit of the doubt until proven wrong -- but I do not believe their ideas are either good science or good theology. But it was my goal to present their ideas accurately, and I am pleased that creationists have complimented me on that

Chris OConnor:: Yes, that is something to be proud of

Federika22:: Do you think a lot of creationists have read your book?

Frank 013:: so part of the goal is good PR?

MadArchitect:: If you feel comfortable lodging an opinion on this, why do you think people take Creationist positions, and why are they so eager to make a public issue of them?

garicker:: Are you having much success getting the media to report the issues accurately, with less hysteria and more basic information?

geniescott:: chris: yes, I got a nice letter from Henry Morris telling me that the book was fair and accurate. But of course he felt that the creationist selections were better!

Chris OConnor:: have you ever done any debates with the big names in the ID world? Or are you more in line with Stephen Gould's opinion that science and faith can coexist in harmony as they don't overlap

geniescott:: Federica: I really don't know. The few who have read it (other than some negative Amazon reviews) have pretty much agreed w. HMMorris

Chris OConnor:: LOL of course he liked those sections better.

geniescott:: Mad: I think people take creationist positions mostly because evolution is incompatible w. their religious beliefs. If you are a biblical literalist, evolution isn't going to be able to be true

Allan W Janssen:: If we can learn to distinguish between the metaphorical and the

geniescott:: garicker: the media has great variation in accuracy of reporting of this issue. The biggest problem is those who treat the creos as if they have a legitimate scientific alternative to evolution

#Travis Vocino:: Genie: Having commented about your balanced opinion for respect. Not to say he is disrespectful necessarily, but do you think figures like Richard Dawkins, who are in some ways extreme in their outspoken ways, help or hurt the NCSE's mission?

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Chris OConnor:: Genie - exactly, which is what scares me. That fact that billions of people reject evolution and good science because of ancient myths is frightening.

Chris OConnor:: Welcome Rose

irishrosem:: Hey all, just observing

MadArchitect:: so you think that, on average, Biblical literalism precedes Creationism? Reading the historical sections of your book, I sometimes wondered if it weren't vice-versa -- that people were invoking literalism as a defense for what was more important to them: creationism.

Frank 013:: Hi, Rose

geniescott:: Richard's goal is to spread free thought. NCSE is not an antireligious organization, and our goals are to support evolution education. Richard is for the latter, of course, but his interest in promoting disbelief is counterproductive to increasing the number of people who accept evolution.

garicker:: Unfortunately, I think they consider that "balanced" reporting.

Chris OConnor:: interesting

Chris OConnor:: You're referring to Richard Dawkins I assume

MadArchitect:: yeah, interesting. How is it counterproductive? Because it polarizes?

#Travis Vocino:: Yes, in response to my question, Chris

Allan W Janssen:: If we can learn to distinguish between the metaphorical and the historical aspects of the scriptures then it makes it all the easier to differentiate between the divergent aims of scientific and theological schools of thought. Just as the far right claims biblical truth and rejects scientific evidence, the Darwinists are at a loss to explain how the Universe (The Big Bang) came into being from absolutely nothing. It s like comparing apples and oranges. Both are different and have a different purpose. To attempt a comparison is the same as looking for common ground when talking about two totally different things. With this in mind there is no real conflict between religion and science. God is by God s very nature unknowable. What I object to is the human trait of forming special interest groups whose sole job is giving only their explanation of God and even making proclamations and laws in God's name. This to me is the height of human arrogance and self-deception. We do not know how God interacts with our universe and should not use one philosophy (religion or science) to try and explain the other. Render therefore to Cesar the things which are Cesar's, and to God the things which are God's. In other words, I am all for teaching Creationism in school; as soon as they start teaching evolution in church!

Chris OConnor:: I guess I have a lot in common with Dawkins and his approach. Perhaps he is just an emotional person that doesn't suffer fools very easily.

Chris OConnor:: Allan - please use smaller chunks

geniescott:: Mad: Remember that Bib literalists believe that everything in the Bible has to be true, hence if one is to take Genesis metaphorically, what does that do to Revelations? “If Genesis isn't true, how can I believe Revelations ?”, as one preacher said to me. So it has to do with salvation. If Genesis isn’t literally true, how do you know you will be saved? And worse, if your kid learns evolution, they believe, he/she will give up believing in God, and then TRULY be lost to salvation. So it is a very important issue to them

Allan W Janssen:: ok

Federika22:: good point

misterpessimistic joined

Chris OConnor:: Biblical literalists conveniently ignore Leviticus

MadArchitect:: I think that ties in to some points made by (I think it was) George Steiner...

Chris OConnor:: Nick! Welcome, but you're late.

misterpessimistic:: I know...life gets in the way once again!

misterpessimistic:: Is she here?!!!

Chris OConnor:: Yes, under Geniescott

MadArchitect:: to the effect that Creationism was about maintaining the validity of a view that says, all you heathens are going to pay when the Rapture comes

#Travis Vocino:: Allan, how are the Darwinists at a loss in not explaining pre-Big Bang events? Darwinism or Natural Selection has nothing to do with pre-singularity events.

misterpessimistic:: Ah I see now.

misterpessimistic:: Hello Eugenie!!!

#Travis Vocino:: Not having evidence for the pre-singularity physics in no way makings Natural Selection or Darwinian Evolution any less evidence

MadArchitect:: Biblical literalists conveniently ignore a lot of stuff, Chris. They're more about emphasis than they are about consistency.

Frank 013:: they have to be

MadArchitect:: I think they'd rather be.

Frank 013:: both then

Chris OConnor:: Genie, not necessarily right now, but I'd like to hear your opinion on how BookTalk might be able to better reach the people that most need to read books like yours. If that is something you need to think about then we could discuss it later, but I'd really like to figure out how we help the world of science and freethought.

MadArchitect:: but that's a topic we can canvass in the forums, unless Dr. Scott has something to add

geniescott:: Chris: I don't think Dawkins is especially emotional, but he has strong views and truly believes that religion is an evil. Where we differ is that I do not believe that all theistic views are injurious -- some inspire people to achieve great things, and to make the world a better place. I also think that humans are wired to learn religion (beliefs about a non-material reality, as I define it in my book) very quickly and easily , and the prospects of extinguishing this from humanity is small. Better to promote those more benign forms . I think I'm just more practical than he is!

Chris OConnor:: Ahh good point. I think many of us here would agree with you.

#Travis Vocino:: Genie, good points

misterpessimistic:: I agree to an extent, but I still try to do my part to 'extinguish' the malady from humanity!

geniescott:: Chris -- that's a tough question. I think your offering my book as a BookTalk issue is a huge compliment, and I appreciate it.

Chris OConnor:: perhaps a God Gene

MadArchitect:: Would you say you're more in line with Daniel Dennett on that point? If you're familiar, of course.

geniescott:: Mad: I've had some correspondence with Dennett, but I wouldn't say that he and I are eye to eye. And I am not sure I know his full range of beliefs on this topic. He's a wonderful writer, though, like Richard D.

Chris OConnor:: The feeling is mutual. I'd just love to be doing more for this world and I can't seem to get a handle on how to increase the scope of our reach. Imagine a world where science education replaces blind faith.

geniescott:: Chris -- critical thinking over blind faith would be a huge improvement over our current situation, for sure


geniescott:: sure

misterpessimistic:: Well Chris, the fact is that we are up against immense numbers of the who believe. And most have fingers in the ears. If they cannot or will not hear what is being said, how can we reach these people?

MadArchitect:: I guess what I was getting at is, do you think that religion is part of our make-up such that we're predisposed, either culturally or biologically, towards religious belief?

Chris OConnor:: What worries me about extinguishing faith entirely is that a HUGE segment of the faithful derive their morality and drive to do good things from their beliefs.

misterpessimistic:: I feel we might have to be content to find those who we can and focus on quality not quantity....for now.

Federika22:: Good question, Nick

Chris OConnor:: We'll edit out typos so type comfortably

Allan W Janssen:: Now, Dr. Dawkins is right when he states that we don't know the answer to consciousness, but I believe he is dead wrong in saying that a religious explanation has no merit. We have to look upon consciousness as our link with the Divine - since this seems to be the root of its purpose.

#Travis Vocino:: Genie, I've often wondered if NCSE has come across actual scientists that have a real understanding of evolution...

#Travis Vocino:: , that perhaps support the teaching of Intelligent Design under the term that String Theory is not falsifiable, but is still considered science by most of us.

misterpessimistic:: Thanks. I cannot type quick and correctly at the same time!

misterpessimistic:: There is no Divine though...so to someone like me, that phrase makes no sense Allen

garicker:: Nor to me.

Federika22:: nor to me.

irishrosem:: me neither

Frank 013:: sorry I got nothing

misterpessimistic:: I am conscious and have no connection to the 'Divine'...

Allan W Janssen:: Hard to put into words, without our consciousness there is no God! At least as far as we are concerned.

misterpessimistic:: Yes.

MadArchitect:: I think we're kind of losing the thread here. Let's focus on Dr. Scott while we've got her!

geniescott:: Travis: I haven't come across any scientists knowledgeable about evolutionary biology who believe that ID should be taught. The issue is not so much falsifiability but testability. Consider: the basic proposition of ID is that "evolution can't do the job, so the "intelligent agent' did it". In other words, "natural cause can't explain complexity, so Poof". Now, if you are positing an omnipotent agent, how would you test this? Any outcome of a test is compatible with the actions of an omnipotent power, so as science, ID doesn't make the grade. It's untestable.

misterpessimistic:: But what then is Divine?

Chris OConnor:: Ahh I have a question. And I'll sum this up as best as possible. My opinion is that the study of certain subjects tends to lead to non-belief. These subjects are science, critical thinking, history and comparative religion. Most of us have seen the results of the National Academy of Science study that shows that 93% of NAS members indicate they lack the belief in a god or gods.

misterpessimistic:: Genie: Why cannot everyone SEE THIS TOO!?

misterpessimistic:: Well said

misterpessimistic:: very simple

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#Travis Vocino:: Genie, I absolutely agree with you, I just wonder if such a thing has happened.

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misterpessimistic:: Hey PC

pctacitus:: hi

#Travis Vocino:: A lot of creationists like to play the "Creation Science" card, and claim vast amounts of conversions from pure scientific reasonable thinking.

Chris OConnor:: I believe that anyone educated in critical thinking will have a high probability of not being able to accept faith. I'm interested in putting together an independent study of Critical Thinking college professors, similar to the NAS study, to find what sort of correlation exists between critical thinking education and the god belief.

#Travis Vocino:: I often wondered if NCSE or other organizations actually saw this.

geniescott:: Chris: take the NAS survey with a grain of salt. There are only about 700+ members of the NAS, and only about 25% (if memory serves) responded to the questionnaire. This is a pretty small sample to base decisions about the religious views of eminent scientists. In another study, about 40% of scientists expressed a theistic evolution view (members of American Men and Women of Science -- also not representative of scientists as a whole.) We don't have good data on the religious views of scientists

geniescott:: But I agree w. you on those topics being a challenge to traditional, literalist, dogmatic religion.

Chris OConnor:: Yes, I believe it was 200 members, but statistically this is a solid sample set.

Allan W Janssen:: I don't think a belief in science has to preclude a belief in the Divine. They are mutually exclusive

pctacitus:: just tell me what experiment(s) I can run to disprove that there is a creator or creators

geniescott:: Especially comparative religion. There is a reason why anthropology is not taught in high school! (think about it -- all the other social sciences are... history, sociology, even psychology in larger schools. )

misterpessimistic:: I think another error in the idea of "Creation Science" is that many people who forward this idea are thinking of science as some sort of other belief system, rather than a process of discovery.

Chris OConnor:: PC - do you have a blender, space helmet and flippers?

pctacitus:: mixer for protein drinks, that’s it

Chris OConnor:: Genie - but do you think there is an inverse relationship between science education and the god belief?

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geniescott:: Pctacitus: I don't believe that you can disprove the existence of a creator(s).

Chris OConnor:: Welcome Saint <-- that might look strange on the transcript LOL

pctacitus:: then how is it science?

Saint Gasoline:: I'm certainly no saint.

misterpessimistic:: How is what science?

geniescott:: Chris: I would not be surprised that there would be fewer people w. science training who disbelieved -- but we don't have the data. In general, belief decreases w. education -- that is well documented in many studies

#Travis Vocino:: pctacitus: That is why it's NOT science.

pctacitus:: creation science Mr. p

Chris OConnor:: Yes, pctacitus...not sure I'm following your question

MadArchitect:: Do you consider yourself an atheist, Dr. Scott? Or is that too personal a question?

pctacitus:: exactly Travis

Chris OConnor:: Genie - ahh ok

#Travis Vocino:: pctacitus: OK, I thought you were a trolling creationist for a second

geniescott:: I do not believe in God, but I don't call myself an "atheist" because the connotation of atheist is "antireligious" and I am not antireligious.

misterpessimistic:: Oh yes...it is NOT science. but "Creation Science" doesn’t seek to disprove the existence of a creator...does it?

pctacitus:: Chris vouches for, doesn’t he?

Chris OConnor:: Travis - he is definitely no troll. I'm surprised he is here though as he is now in the US Marines.

Saint Gasoline:: I'm curious, genie, what do you call yourself, then?

#Travis Vocino:: I'm curious as well.

garicker:: Besides, when we start talking about "god-belief" we have to remember the tremendous variety that exists. Lots of people plug "God" in as the answer to all our unanswered questions but, on close examination, really have no idea what the word means.

MadArchitect:: the public relations of atheism and freethinking has been a topic for debate lately...

#Travis Vocino:: I often call myself Agnostic, but that sometimes implies that there is some hope that I may convert to Christianity or some historic religion.

#Travis Vocino:: Which obviously is not the case.

geniescott:: mister: creation science doesn't seek to disprove the existence of a creator -- they are convinced that the creator is real, and that "he" specially created. Creation science is dedicated to disproving evolution, with special creationism being the default, winning position

misterpessimistic:: I for one do not care what connotations a word has. But I care little about what people think about me. I try not to call myself anything, but atheist kind of explains it...so I use that when cornered.

Chris OConnor:: Mad - go for it. Ask her. lol

misterpessimistic:: Genie: I knew that…I was just not sure what Pctacitus was getting at...

geniescott:: what do I call myself? A nontheist. Then people have to ask!

Saint Gasoline:: You're right Mad--there is a sort of schism arising between atheists who want to be vocal and passionately anti-religious and those who want to support moderates

geniescott:: Agnostic is also good

Chris OConnor:: Genie - yes, leave it open for discussion. Personally, I love discussing the subject and leaving it open invites questions.

Saint Gasoline:: I figured you would say "nontheist", that name seems to be gaining popularity among those who don't want to be associated with the negative connotations of atheism

geniescott:: remember I come from an anthropological background. Religion is part of being human. Religion doesn’t speak to me, but that doesn’t mean that it is wrong, or maladaptive, or that people are irrational for believing in it.

pctacitus:: I am just too strict in my definition of science to accept certain things as science

MadArchitect:: I think the trio of controversial books that have come out in the last year -- "Breaking the Spell", "The God Delusion", and "The End of Religion" -- speak to that schism as a national phenomenon

misterpessimistic:: genie: what are your thoughts on the Brights? Offensive moniker too?

#Travis Vocino:: Ooh, I like the Brights

misterpessimistic:: I joined, but not actively

#Travis Vocino:: But I never use the term, so I'm not much help.

MadArchitect:: do they sound anything like Franz Ferdinand?

misterpessimistic:: ditto

#Travis Vocino:: I do enjoy their newsletters.

misterpessimistic:: I hope not Mad

Allan W Janssen:: I seem to have the wrong opinion about I.D. since I never thought is proves or disproves anything.

Chris OConnor:: I was there at the Atheist Alliance International Convention in Tampa, FL when they rolled out that new term. I didn't like it then and I don't now. Personally, I am proud to be an atheist, provided we define "atheism" as "the lack of belief in a god or gods," and not some sort of hard atheism subcategory.

#Travis Vocino:: Allan, have you read any Behe?

geniescott:: um, well, consider that the goal of the Brights is to convince others to be like them. It doesn't strike me as a very persuasive approach. "Be a Bright, but right now, you're a Dull". Atheists aren't very good salesmen, I'm afraid....

misterpessimistic:: It proves or disproves nothing...except that creationists are still trying to get a foot in the door!

misterpessimistic:: lol!!

Allan W Janssen:: yes

#Travis Vocino:: hah

misterpessimistic:: good one Dr Scott

#Travis Vocino:: I like that Genie

Chris OConnor:: Who do we get to represent us? Michael Shermer?

misterpessimistic:: I am usually distrustful of any groups...

Chris OConnor:: Penn Gillette?

pctacitus:: isn’t I.D. just a retread of the blind watchmaker?

misterpessimistic:: I like Shermer...Penn is ok..

Chris OConnor:: Or how about YOU Genie? Can we nominate you as our fearless leader?

geniescott:: ID is a retread of William Paley's Argument from Design

misterpessimistic:: Yup

misterpessimistic:: You can dress it up, but it is the same old dullard!

Saint Gasoline:: What do you think the next plan of attack for creationists will be against evolution, Genie? I've always wondered why they didn't go the post-modern route and try to argue that science is just a "cultural" way of knowing--as good as any other.

Chris OConnor:: and the watchmaker is blind

Allan W Janssen:: blind watchmaker is one belief used to explain the other, doesn't work!

misterpessimistic:: I see that approach sometimes Saint...I think our own Mad offers that up sometimes, no?

Chris OConnor:: It is an analogy used to destroy an invalid analogy

MadArchitect:: not I, Mr. P

misterpessimistic:: Sorry, I do get that from you...science is just another way of knowing and all
pctacitus:: I blame Marx for degrading the name of science

geniescott:: Yeah, ID really doesn't add much to Paley, just reduces the complexity of the vertebrate eye, an anatomical structure, to the complexity of the bacterial flagellum, a cellular structure. It's the same old 'evolution can't do the job, so God did it" argument. Confusing unexplained with unexplainable. And note that ID proponents don't pick on any of the complex structures for which we have good evolutionary explanations!

MadArchitect:: Dr. Scott, you've mentioned your background in anthropology a few times. Did your work always involve the evolution/creation debate, or did you start off with a different topic?

geniescott:: Saint G: the next plan is to just bash evolution and ignore a religiously-based alternative. If you can get students to believe that evolution didn't happen, or it's "just a theory" then students will automatically twig to the idea that God did it. Saves you problems w. the 1st amendment

misterpessimistic:: Dr Scott: Do you think we are seeing a retreat of ID and creationism, as shown by a few recent beatings it took in PA and...there was somewhere else no?

MadArchitect:: Mr. P: we can sort out the confusion in the forums later on.

Chris OConnor:: So Genie, you're not concerned that religion will be our species eventual downfall? Granted, much good comes out of belief in a loving creator, but what about the dangers? Don't the dangers outweigh the positives? If we could establish and maintain a distinct separation of state and church some of us would not care so much about the beliefs of others.

misterpessimistic:: Ok...I was not going to add any more anyway Mad

geniescott:: MAD: I'm a recovering college professor. Taught at the univ level for a dozen or so years, and then moved to nonprofit work. Taught physical (biological) anthro

geniescott:: which has a lot of evolution in it!

pctacitus:: recovering?

geniescott:: Chris: our species will eventually become extinct, like all of them. And I don't think it will have much to do with whether there is or is not a loving creator

geniescott:: most species become extinct

geniescott:: "recovering" joke.... ;>)


misterpessimistic:: Genie: extinct huh? Do you think we will make it off the planet eventually? I know it is far fetched, but can we eventually plant our seeds elsewhere?

geniescott:: MisterP: I don't think the ID/creos are going to retreat. They specialize in evolving in response to negative environmental stimuli, mostly legal

misterpessimistic:: alas!

merlot5401 left

misterpessimistic:: I will settle for a reprieve!

pctacitus:: please explain the joke

#Travis Vocino:: I like the use of the term "evolving" in that sentence

misterpessimistic:: hee!

misterpessimistic:: Just got that

Chris OConnor:: Genie - I can't help but hope that we can get all of our eggs out of one basket, so that our species doesn't have to go extinct just because our planet experiences another mass extinction. If we increase science education and passion we might get the drive to get off this rock and venture out into the galaxy

MadArchitect:: so, do you foresee an end to the controversy, or is it just going to keep changing forms until there's no longer an educational system to argue over?

garicker:: Don't you also think their real target isn't just the biological sciences but all science?

#Travis Vocino:: Genie, this might be somewhat off topic, but I sort of collect signed first editions of science books such as yours. Is there somewhere I could order one?

geniescott:: joke: "recovering" tends to be an adjective modifying "alcoholic", or "drug user", or "smoker" or someone who has overcome some adversity, generally negative. Sometimes when I talk at colleges I joke about being a "recovering college professor" which at least the people there find amusing. It isn't that good a joke.

misterpessimistic:: garicker: good question...'they' do not attack the other disciplines with as much fervor after all

Allan W Janssen:: Evolution seems to be our purpose and if we are good enough at it then we get off this rock

misterpessimistic:: pc...just laugh!!

pctacitus:: my dad is a college professor so i had to ask

Federika22:: Where did you teach?

MadArchitect:: I thought it was funny.

Chris OConnor:: I miss Carl Sagan so much

Allan W Janssen:: yea

Chris OConnor:: What an awesome man

MadArchitect:: but then, I'm also typing this from a university library... go figure.

geniescott:: Travis-- sure. First edition is available. You can order from us (we have some at the office) and I can sign it and send it to you. Or you can send me a copy and I'll sign it. Or if I'm speaking in your area, I can sign it if you come to my talk! Check our "events" button on our web site (which alas isn't very much up to date now, but soon...)

#Travis Vocino:: I will do that, thanks.

geniescott:: I also miss Sagan. He was amazing in his ability to communicate science, as was Gould, and R. Dawkins. Try Sean Carroll as an up and comber.

Chris OConnor:: Ann Druyan is doing a fantastic job of continuing Carl Sagan's passion

misterpessimistic:: Does anyone else here think that creationists are after the other sciences too?

geniescott:: creos are after astronomy because of age of the universe and big bang

geniescott:: and geology, of course


Saint Gasoline:: mister--of course!

Chris OConnor:: Yes, we have tossed around some Sean Carroll books - we will one day read one

misterpessimistic:: exactly what I would think too

misterpessimistic:: But it is just not that visible...

Allan W Janssen:: these guys are after anything that doesn't fit inerrant bible

Saint Gasoline:: I think the tax-evasion creationist--(either Ken Ham or Kent Hovind)--often argues against the Big Bang and cosmology

misterpessimistic:: I guess biology wins out because it involves humans...and god forbid we aint that special!

Chris OConnor:: Gould was an incredible educator, but he was very harsh and abrasive

#Travis Vocino:: I don't see them attack astrology

#Travis Vocino:: attacking*

geniescott:: Kent Hovind, bless him. Yes, Kent goes after virtually all of modern science


Chris OConnor:: Kent was arrested again last month

Saint Gasoline:: Also, the fact that they are attacking evolution also means they are indirectly attacking physics, geology, and other sciences, because all of these sciences are somewhat involved in it.

misterpessimistic:: I just got nauseas...can we not mention Hovind please!

geniescott:: Hovind is in jail as we speak

Chris OConnor:: lovely

Allan W Janssen:: yea

geniescott:: OK, no more on Hovind! But he sure is a colorful character

Chris OConnor:: I saw Kent Hovind on Da Ali G show and I almost peed my pants

Saint Gasoline:: Sorry to make you sick, Mister P

pctacitus:: hey, Dawkins made south park recently

#Travis Vocino:: Hovind being in jail makes me question the existence of a God for a moment

MadArchitect:: Dr. Scott, have you or anyone else at NCSE done any work on the Enlightenment and the background it's provided to modern science and the creationist controversy?

geniescott:: question or accept ?

#Travis Vocino:: Just kidding... as in "there IS a god!"

Chris OConnor:: Travis LOL

misterpessimistic:: At least I know my nausea reflex is working!

Saint Gasoline:: Ali G tore into Hovind for leaving a "floater"--that was hilarious

geniescott:: Mad: re: enlightenment. Probably best person would be Susan Spath, who has a Ph.D. in history of science. But most of us are familiar with the outlines

Chris OConnor:: Saint - I had to pause that episode about 6 times from laughing so hard

geniescott:: The Enlightenment is feared by literalists, naturally

#Travis Vocino:: Genie, do you have any book recommendations (besides your wonderful book, of course) that you might want to offer us?

Saint Gasoline:: Yeah, the Enlightenment not only brought about science that contradicted the physical claims of the Bible, but it also brought about Biblical Criticism

MadArchitect:: I would imagine so. In my experience, though, most people avoid the Enlightenment, even when that where their beliefs are rooted.

#Travis Vocino:: I'm interested in anything actually, anthropology perhaps?

geniescott:: Travis: books on what subject? c/e?

misterpessimistic:: What is wrong with the Enlightenment?

#Travis Vocino:: or c/e

Chris OConnor:: Genie - we're going to create some pages devoted to authors that represent our mission, such as yourself, and maybe they will drive a little bit of traffic to the NCSE

#Travis Vocino:: Anything you think is special.

MadArchitect:: Nothing's wrong with the Enlightenment -- there's just aren't very many people who care to learn about it.

misterpessimistic:: Genie: I first discovered you in the pages of SciAm...a Evo/Creat article. Thank you!

Chris OConnor:: Travis - excellent question. I'd love to hear some book recommendations. Maybe even some anthropology books....newer ideally

geniescott:: the classic book on history of c/e is Ron Numbers "The Creationists", which is now in its third edition -- just out. Legal history: Larson's "Trial and Error"; best single book on ID is Rob Pennock's "tower of Babel"; best on science of ID (Rob gets into a lot of philosophy of science) is "Why Intelligent Design Fails"

misterpessimistic:: Genie: Shameless self promotion here...but I would love for you to check out a cartoon I drew. It is my favorite (of mine...which are only ok compared to most!)

misterpessimistic:: http://www.mrpessimistic.com/Images/content/EvolutionCreation.jpg

Saint Gasoline:: That's probably my favorite of your cartoons, Mr. P

Allan W Janssen left

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geniescott:: I'll check out your cartoon -- thanks.

misterpessimistic:: Thanks Saint!

Chris OConnor:: I absolutely loved my Anthropology class in high school. When the teacher showed a video of the "peaceful" Tasaday I remember saying that I thought there was something wrong with such a social group. ALL animals compete for limited resources, including man, so I knew something was wrong. I felt relieved to learn 10 years later that the Tasaday were a hoax.

misterpessimistic:: Thank you Genie!

Allan W Janssen left

Allan W Janssen joined

Chris OConnor:: Thanks for those suggestions! I'll make them links in the transcript

geniescott:: friends, I hate to say this, but I have to leave. I have to take an early flight tomorrow. A very nice thing is happening this weekend: I am getting an honorary D.Sc. at my old alma mater the Univ of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. So I had better get some work done! Thanks all, for an interesting chat.

geniescott:: oh -- one more book

Chris OConnor:: I was about to say that Genie

Chris OConnor:: lol

geniescott:: Scott and Glenn Branch - Not in Our Classrooms : why intelligent design is wrong for our schools , published by Beacon Press.

geniescott:: bye all!


Saint Gasoline:: have a good flight

Chris OConnor:: Genie, we sincerely appreciate your time tonight

garicker:: Bye,

Chris OConnor::

misterpessimistic:: Genie. Congrats and thank you much for chatting with us!

Chris OConnor:: Thank you very much!

#Travis Vocino:: Thank you Dr. Scott!

Federika22:: Thank you very much!!

MadArchitect:: thank you, and please drop by again

Chris OConnor:: And thank all of you for coming.

Chris OConnor:: This was quite fun tonight

Frank 013:: Bye and thanks for dropping by!

misterpessimistic:: Yes. Sorry I was late!!!

misterpessimistic:: I am gunna hafta run guys. See ya all around!

MadArchitect:: better late than never

#Travis Vocino:: I have to run too, nice meeting you all

misterpessimistic:: Yes...true!

misterpessimistic:: Bye!

garicker:: Enjoyed it. Great fun. Good night to all.

#Travis Vocino:: I'll have to drop by your forums and argue with you sometime

Allan W Janssen:: bye :-)

misterpessimistic left

MadArchitect:: good turn out, and I thought that the conversation held together much better than some of the past chats

#Travis Vocino:: I mean.. discuss

garicker left

Allan W Janssen left

geniescott left

Chris OConnor:: This was a lot of fun.

Chris OConnor:: What did you all think?

Saint Gasoline:: It was good for the little part that I witnessed. Damn work, making me miss the majority.

Chris OConnor:: We had 14 people tonight

Federika22:: Is that a little or a lot?

pctacitus:: well, I came in late, but I didn’t see any problems

Chris OConnor:: What do you do for a living, Saint?

MadArchitect:: she did a great job. Getting fired at from all directions can be frustrating, but she was very gracious, and made an effort to address as many comments as she could

Chris OConnor:: Well, I was hoping for over 20

Saint Gasoline:: Ha, I work at a fucking grocery store.

Federika22:: I agree Mad

Chris OConnor:: But 14 was enough to have an awesome chat

Chris OConnor:: I will never complain if we have 14 in an author chat

Saint Gasoline:: So it's not really a "living"--more like a slow death.

Federika22:: I'm surprised more people didn't show

Chris OConnor:: Yes, she was awesome. Richard Dawkins got a bit frustrated with the format.

Chris OConnor:: Me too Rika

Chris OConnor:: And Michael Shermer went and ate some pizza and had a beer during our live chat

Chris OConnor:: LOL how strange

Frank 013:: I have to run as well, I suddenly have a lot to do.

pctacitus:: men are destined for short nasty brutish lives, women long miserable ones

Federika22:: LOL

Frank 013 left

Chris OConnor:: LOL

pctacitus:: who remembers where that came from?

Federika22:: Would Dawkins return, do you think?

Chris OConnor:: Ok folks...I am logging too. Vote for the next group of books tonight if you haven’t!

Chris OConnor:: Yes, Dawkins would return. I am sure.

Saint Gasoline:: That's from Leviathan, I think.

MadArchitect:: did anyone find any of her answers somewhat surprising or particularly interesting?

Saint Gasoline:: If not from Leviathan, it's definitely a Hobbes quote, Pctacitus.

Chris OConnor:: I will call him the moment we know for certain his book wins...I haven’t checked in a few days

Federika22:: I was surprised she didn't find religious belief irrational

Chris OConnor:: Mad - yes, I did.

pctacitus:: no, its a paraphrase

pctacitus:: it was in Lucifer principle

Chris OConnor:: I was surprised she felt that religious belief wasn't irrational or didn't render the believer as irrational

MadArchitect:: Fed: I thought she might go either way on that one -- I wasn't sure based on the book what she thought

Chris OConnor:: to be honest

Saint Gasoline:: I was surprised she was an atheist--I thought for sure she was an enlightened theist

Chris OConnor:: Rika - hah! We read each others minds!

Federika22:: lol

pctacitus:: it was one of the opening quotes from one of the chapters

Chris OConnor:: It takes all kinds to make the world go around. I respect her views, but don't necessarily agree

Saint Gasoline:: wait, that quote is a play on Hobbes', never mind

MadArchitect:: I hesitated to ask that one. But I felt like she was dropping so many unintentional clues that it would be best to bring the topic out into the open

Saint Gasoline:: I didn't read it very closely

Chris OConnor:: Mad - always good to just ask...I loved it

Chris OConnor:: One sec

MadArchitect:: I would have liked to have known what other anthropological topics she's worked on

Federika22:: Do you know where she taught?

pctacitus:: Hobbes when he said it, included lonely

Chris OConnor:: You can read about her on Wikipedia and on the NSCE site

Chris OConnor:: I will create a single page devoted to her soon

ecstian:: i thought the chat went well - much less sporadic than others

Chris OConnor:: Ok, I have to go see my fiancé. We both worked all day and I am ignoring her.

ecstian:: and yes Chris, at least she didn't leave to eat dinner for 20 minutes

Chris OConnor:: Eric - yes, I agree

Chris OConnor:: I think it has a lot to do with how the author handles things

Chris OConnor:: She was great

Federika22:: ok, thanks for a great chat!

Chris OConnor:: LOL

ecstian:: makes me want to read her book

Chris OConnor:: Ok, night guys

pctacitus:: night

ecstian:: goodnight Chris

Chris OConnor:: Eric - good! That is good to hear

Chris OConnor:: Adios peoples

Federika22:: night!

MadArchitect:: Berkeley, I think? Or... the book is published by U. of California Press, so maybe there




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