More Creationism in the Wall Street Journal

We’re getting increasingly worried about the Wall Street Journal. A few years ago we wrote Wall Street Journal: Are They Creationists?, when it seemed they were getting too cozy with the Discovery Institute. And about six months ago they published a column by an author the Discoveroids like — see Creationist Wisdom #445: A Great Big Miracle.

Now they’ve done it again with a column by Eric Metaxas. We’ve written about him before — see Discoveroids’ Revolutionary Revival Meeting. He was one of the speakers at a Discoveroid revival, along with John Lennox, who has also appeared at other Discoveroid events. In today’s column by Metaxas, he quotes Lennox as one of his sources. It reminds us of the way Klinghoffer quotes Casey.

The Metaxas column in the Journal is titled Science Increasingly Makes the Case for God. It reads exactly like something posted at the Discoveroids’ blog. There’s a comments section at the end with over 300 comments so far. We scanned the first half-dozen — it looks like Metaxas brought his creationist cheering squad.

Okay, let’s get started. The opening paragraphs of the column are about SETI (the search for extraterrestrial intelligence). Metaxas emphasizes how many factors need to be present before a planet can develop intelligent life (it’s the Guillermo Gonzalez Privileged Planet scenario), and he sneers that nothing has yet been found out there.

After that it gets worse — much worse. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:

As factors [required for intelligent life] continued to be discovered, the number of possible planets hit zero, and kept going. In other words, the odds turned against any planet in the universe supporting life, including this one. Probability said that even we shouldn’t be here. Today there are more than 200 known parameters necessary for a planet to support life — every single one of which must be perfectly met, or the whole thing falls apart.

We haven’t seen a “zero” estimate before — except from creationists. Then he says:

Yet here we are, not only existing, but talking about existing. What can account for it? Can every one of those many parameters have been perfect by accident? At what point is it fair to admit that science suggests that we cannot be the result of random forces?

See what we mean? Material like this could easily be found at the Discoveroid blog. Yet here it is in the Journal. Let’s read on:

Doesn’t assuming that an intelligence created these perfect conditions require far less faith than believing that a life-sustaining Earth just happened to beat the inconceivable odds to come into being?

Sound familiar? The more typical form we see from drooling creationists is: “It takes more faith to believe in evolution than it does to believe the bible.” We’ve seen that claim in dozens of letters-to-the-editor. But Metaxas — like the Discoveroids — jazzes it up to make it seem like science. He continues:

There’s more. The fine-tuning necessary for life to exist on a planet is nothing compared with the fine-tuning required for the universe to exist at all.

Yeah, yeah — fine tuning. We’ve discussed that clunker too many times to repeat ourselves here — see the section Anthropic Principle in our Common Creationist Claims Confuted.

Then he does some quote-mining. He also quotes some actual creationists — like Fred Hoyle and Discoveroid fellow-traveler John Lennox. Metaxas seems to use all the creationist techniques. Here’s his final paragraph:

The greatest miracle of all time, without any close seconds, is the universe. It is the miracle of all miracles, one that ineluctably points with the combined brightness of every star to something — or Someone — beyond itself.

So there you are. Ordinarily, because this Metaxas thing is such a typical pile of creationism, we might not bother to post about it — especially if it appeared at one of the usual creationist websites where we expect such nonsense. But this is in the Wall Street Journal — a publication we have always respected. What’s going on there?

See also: Klinghoffer: Metaxas Column Based on Science.

See also: Casey: Metaxas Column Is Mainstream Science.

See also: Lawrence Krauss Rebuts Eric Metaxas.

Copyright © 2014. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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146 responses to “More Creationism in the Wall Street Journal

  1. You read it so we don’t have to. Thanks for taking one for the team

  2. WSJ is an organ of Fox News. Their editorial/opinion articles/programs cater to people who, on the whole, tend toward creationism, revisionist history, and theocracy. OF COURSE the creationist lie would appear in WSJ. It’s not the paper we knew as kids, Curmie.

  3. A few months ago I found some evidence that WSJ is, despite common perception, anti-capitalist. By that I mean that they were more interested in “selling” than actually producing something that “sells itself” (i.e. letting the market decide). I was going to write to complain how I could not remove their ad (an envelope stuck to the pages) without damaging my magazine. but decided that I had better things to do.

    But this adds more evidence. For 17 years I have known that the DI is all about selling. They know better than to try to develop (and test) scientific explanations that would stand on their own. So they quote mine and play other word games to dissuade people from “buying” the “product” that actually works. Nothing sells better than catering to people’s emotion (instead of reason), and nothing does that better than creationism/ID.

  4. Curmy wonders—

    “But this is in the Wall Street Journal — a publication we have always respected. What’s going on there?”

    Aiming for an even wider readership by giving the people what they want, not what they need, I’d hazard.

  5. Easy to criticize without dealing with the details. Which detail do you challenge and why?

    I see not a single one.

  6. @Len: If you’re referring to the purported “scientific” details in Metaxas’ article and the inferences he makes from them, you might want to browse this blog a bit first, because they’ve been dealt with before.

  7. “It takes more faith to believe in evolution than it does to believe the bible.”
    Ah, my dear SC, replace “evolution” by “abiogenesis” or “naturally formed inhabitable planet” and you have mainstream philosophy of religion – ahum, apologetics. Variations on this theme are presented by Craig, Plantinga, their Dutch counterparts and every single other colleague as well.
    Sorry to disappoint you (but have I?), but you only have shown that creationism (including IDiocy) is just a subset of mainstream apologetics. My inductive conclusion is therefor that apologetics leads to the rejection of science. Only the extent of that rejection differs.
    The exception might be Swinburne, but nobody understands him.

  8. @ Frank J: “They know better than to try to develop (and test) scientific explanations that would stand on their own.”
    But now and then some of them do try it – and invariably fail. One example of long ago is “the mousetrap is irreducibly complex” – Behe in Darwin’s Black Box.

    @ Len doesn’t “see not a single one”
    and hence must be blind.

    “The greatest miracle of all time, without any close seconds, is the universe.”
    Maybe he is that ignorant (or he’s just another Liar for Jesus, the difference is often hard to tell), but no single Big Bang Theory involves any supernatural intervention. We don’t know which BBT is correct, due to lack of empirical data, but we do know there is no miracle involved. Of course SC doesn’t need to explain this on his blog, because every single regular here has understood this since long. We only quibble about questions like “is it meaningful to talk about The Big Bang as a Theory iso a historical fact?” (Spoiler: my answer is no).

  9. Fox News has been known to be more of an entertainment division rather than a news division. Their desire to promulgate a neo-con/Tea Bagger agenda shouldn’t be surprising to anyone paying attention to their antics, Benghazi anyone? They’re not shy about forcing their religious world view upon all of their divisions and clearly the WSJ is no exception.

    As to Len’s issues I just assume too much Yuletide egg nogging going on. Clearly the Curmudgeon pointed out one of the inherent fallacies in the article:
    As factors [required for intelligent life] continued to be discovered, the number of possible planets hit zero, and kept going.
    Curmudgeon: We haven’t seen a “zero” estimate before — except from creationists.

    What credible astro-physicists has said that the number of possible life supporting planets has hit zero? What we have seen is an incredible variation in solar system design but that doesn’t equate to a zero estimate. Creationists, like most of the Fox News base, consists solely of people living in their own news bubble, one that feeds and nurtures their own deluded world view. All other news need not apply, particularly information from the jaded mainstream liberal media and those government supported scientists.

  10. We haven’t seen a “zero” estimate before — except from creationists.

    I have “calculated” the “probability” that life as we know it would result from the design of designer(s) which have no constraints on what they would do. That is, the denominator in the probability ratio is infinite: the number of things that might be designed. So the probability is zero.

  11. Hmmm. Either the WSJ now requires a subscription or else my browser is seriously foobarred.

  12. Ahhh, fine tuning — the argument that the water in a mud puddle and the edge of the puddle match each other so perfectly in every instance of mud puddles that the probability of it happening by chance is zero.

    All Hail the Intelligent Puddle Designer!

  13. The WSJ is owned by Rupert Murdoch, like the Fox cable network and a host of other extremely conservative media outlets. Ergo, creationism is as much at home at the WSJ as trickle down economics. Just like Fox “News” has adopted the “Fair and Balanced” motto, along with the “we report, you decide” line – and drills them into their viewers skulls until they are conditioned to believe them – so does the WSJ continue the pretense of objective journalism. It is no longer the organization it was before the Murdoch purchase.

    Today there are more than 200 known parameters necessary for a planet to support life — every single one of which must be perfectly met, or the whole thing falls apart.

    To make this argument work, besides overcoming the simple fact that there is no empirical evidence to support it, one would have to add further parameters such as, well, the existence of an entire freaking supernatural reality, inhabited by an all-powerful supernatural intelligence with a weird fixation on the sex lives of imperceptible creatures living on a dust mote in the vast expanse of the universe. What list of parameters are necessary for such an impossible being to exist? What fine tuning supports the parallel but separate supernatural universe? When you consider that impossible-to-define additional set of necessary parameters, surely “the whole thing falls apart.”

    The bottom line (as the WSJ might put it) is that we exist. Thus, whatever the imagined odds against us might be, they are not zero. In the cosmic lotto of possible universes, there is obviously at least one winning ticket.

  14. What if the universe weren’t “find tuned,” which is a question in itself.” What if there existed no such conditions on earth, assuming earth would be here? Then we, of course, would not exist. There would be no us to ask questions, to investigate, to make peace or war, to live and die, to make up idiotic stories about deities, the ‘afterlife’, etc., etc. What we are left with becomes, So what! So we are not here. Maybe other forms of life, maybe not. So what. Man is NOT the measure of all things and this is not an imaginary anthropic universe.

  15. WSJ is nothing like it used to be. Once a conservative news outlet intent on real journalism, it has become just another reality-denying noise-generating rag pandering to the stunted intellects like our new drive-by pal Len.

  16. @DavidK
    If the universe were the work of design without limits, then fine tuning would not be needed. One might make the argument, if there were not fine tuning, that it was the work of supernatural causes. Thus fine tuning is not the signature of creation.

  17. Agnostic Mike

    Silence is golden. Ignorance is bliss. Don’t try to generate meaningless conversation about an opinion article you don’t agree with. Your only creating more traffic to drive people towards their creationism logics. Grow up and stay silent. You sound like a little kid who doesn’t know how to share.

  18. mnbo:”But now and then some of them do try it – and invariably fail. One example of long ago is ‘the mousetrap is irreducibly complex’ – Behe in Darwin’s Black Box.”

    That doesn’t even come close to a scientific explanation, and Behe knew that before he typed the first word of the book ~20 years ago. He knew perfectly well that he was merely playing a word game. And in fact it worked even better than he planned. By that I mean that early critics could not agree on whether to respond with “it’s not IC” or “it is IC, but evolution makes IC systems.” Both have merit of course, but depend on different definitions of IC, both of which must be unequivocal, not vague and variable like Behe’s. Net result was that a casual read by a fence-sitter made the critics, not Behe, look clueless. Neither were, but Behe was much better with word games.

    Where Behe did hint at a possible alternate explanation, was the few sentences in the book where he felt obligated to speculate on what the designer might have done, where and how, to create that first “IC system.” For that he proposed a “designed cell” that lived ~4 billion years ago, ancestral to all subsequent life, with all the “IC systems” in placed needed to generate all life. That too worked better than he planned, because, even though it contradicted what his Biblical literalist fans wanted to hear, they simply tuned it out and concentrated on the 99+% of the book (if they read it in the first place) that told them what they wanted to hear. As for testing, and early critic gave him some perfect tests to run, such as to look for a human pseudogene for chlorophyll, which would support it. He knew better than to even try.

    After that 1996 close call, the DI has been even more vague on the testable “whats, whens, etc.,” insisting that such “pathetic details” are not ID’s task. But they can afford to have it both ways, because (1) their fans, both committed and fence-sitters, have been conditioned into believing that peddlers of alternative “science” do not need to validate their claims, and (2) their critics devote ~99.99% of their time and effort criticizing only half of ID’s faults.

  19. Charles Deetz ;)

    @Gnome To see the whole article, google for the title, WSJ lets google traffic in without a paywall.

    Scanned thru some of the comments, a general battleground of athiests versus christians, with very very little discourse about the substance of the article. Substance because I will say that the ‘zero’ statement is huge, if it had proof or support in fact. Makes this little playground of Curmie’s worthwhile, despite what the Agnostic Mike says.

  20. TomS: “Thus fine tuning is not the signature of creation.”

    I have not been able to find it, but there was an article from 10+ years ago that showed that “fine tuning” is actually, as you say, an argument against ID. When you think of it, it argues for the “regularity” that Dembski insists he ruled out (along with “chance”) with his filter.

    But this is another case where too many critics give these weasels a free pass. I can understand the temptation to shoot down any argument for design, but sometimes one needs to just step back, and point out the inconsistencies of those arguments, and the antics of their peddlers, particularly how they know to cover up how they “can’t both be right,” and to be deliberately vague on what the designer did, when and how. As you know, when I do refute these people I start with: “Assume for the sake of argument that some designer did do something, exactly what, when…” Never do I take the bait on the designer’s potential identity…unless maybe to get their opinion on Behe’s admission at Dover that the designer might no longer exist.

  21. Eric Metaxas has a BA in creative writing from Yale. He wrote for Veggie Tales and produced a lot of other fiction. His “serious” books are published by the religious printer Harper One.

    In terms of scientific credentials, Metaxas has none. In terms of theological credentials, Metaxas has none. Nor in science education or any education for that matter. He’s a fiction writer and, apparently, a liar for Jesus.

    Finally, his opinion piece was published in the religion section of the WSJ because ID as we all know is all about the base, er, science.

    Alas, for content, Metaxas didn’t provide any content to discuss, just opinionated creationist propaganda talking points.

  22. Frank J: you happily ignore

    So Behe’s example was debunked. I don’t care how the debate worked out in public opinion. That was mainly American anyway and the USA are a country I never visited. So when you write

    “Net result was that a casual read by a fence-sitter made the critics, not Behe, look clueless. ”

    I shrug, just like I did back then. It’s irrelevant for my point. Debunked is debunked. And getting debunked is only possible when the hypothesis is testable one way or another. Of course creacrappers weasle around it; but thats’ irrelevant too.
    There are some other examples; if I can refind them I’ll post them. But it might take a few days. For instance I’ll try to look up some old testable argument about design being perfect.

  23. Here’s a snippet from an interview with Metaxas in the HuffPo on his book about Miracles:

    Q: How do you define the term?
    A: For the complete answer to that one, you will have to read the book! But the short answer is that it’s when something outside the known universe of time and space enters the universe of time and space. I get into the science of it in the first few chapters.

    Q: Do miracles usually have a scientific or rational explanation?
    A: It depends what we mean by those terms. God is never irrational and nothing that’s real can be irrational. But when we use the term “scientific” it gets awkward, because science by definition can only comment on what’s inside the known universe of time and space and can’t know whether there is anything beyond it. In other words, rationality doesn’t have limits, but science does have limits.

    I take it all back. Metaxas is a simple religious huckster like all the rest of that con man ilk. Clearly, his BA from Yale was in BS. This stuff isn’t even up to the level of Chopra! Metaxas clearly needs to start using the word “quantum” if he wants to be taken seriously.

    For the rest of his fans, though, they’re being taken to the cleaners.

  24. @Charles Deetz 😉

    Thanks. Following your suggestion, I can get through with IE (which I didn’t try before) but I still can’t with FF. Never had any issues with the seldom-visited WSJ.

  25. If anyone thinks I exaggerated the relationship between the Discoveroids and the Wall Street Journal, Klinghoffer has a new post up at the Discoveroid blog: Universe, Planet, Proteins…It’s Fine-Tuning All the Way Down, in which he says:

    Don’t miss a nifty Wall Street Journal piece today, that’s important too, by our friend Eric Metaxas …

  26. “The seeds of intellectual doubt are sown in the soil of moral rebellion.”
    I find the comments Metaxes’ detractors full of anger, arrogance and clench fists to any sort of “moral” authority. When will they get honest?

  27. The article above rambles but really says absolutely nothing! There is no conclusion drawn whatsoever…no real cogent discussion…no factual rebuttal…certainly nothing written that is of the quality of Metaxes’ article. Not really sure why I am even responding to it!

  28. Michael Fugate

    Metaxas’ argument is rather like that one whether real or apocryphal claiming bumblebees can’t fly. Which of course they can and of course there is life on earth – the probability is one in both cases. These arguments have at their core a belief in magic – something other than physics is needed – sadly magic only works on stage.

  29. mnb0: “Frank J: you happily ignore [McDonald’s debunking]”

    I only “ignored” it because there were too many such debunkings to list individually. I read that and ~100 more in the 90s, and was impressed with that and nearly all others. And I agree that, together, they did more than enough to thoroughly convince a Conservative Christian Judge that ID was a scam.

    But you’re missing my main points, which are: (1) To a casual reader (& I have encountered some) our side often sounds confused. Those of us who did invest the time realized that the confusion of “not IC vs IC but evolved,” were trivial and semantic, and did not detract one bit from the total smackdown, but we’re a minority. And (2) the conclusion that “Behe, Dembski, Meyer, Wells, etc. did not find design,” however valid, tells only half of the story. The rest is that even if they did find design, none of what they claimed offers gives Biblical literalists (the majority of committed evolution-deniers in he US) what they desperately want, which is independent origin of our “kind.” Taner Edis, in “Why Intelligent Design Fails” notes what I have been saying for long before I read that book, that even if the DI’s ID were vindicated, it would still be evolution as we know it. I would add, just not the “Darwinism” caricature that the DI knows is nonsense.

    A 3rd point that I often make is that the ID peddlers are fully aware that both Biblical creationism and their own ID scam, are all bogus. And apparently they were aware even before we heard of ID. Any assumption that they personally believe what they want their rubes to believe is as baseless as their claim to have detected design.

  30. the number of possible planets hit zero, and kept going. In other words, the odds turned against any planet in the universe supporting life, including this one. Probability said that even we shouldn’t be here. Today there are more than 200 known parameters necessary for a planet to support life — every single one of which must be perfectly met, or the whole thing falls apart.”

    “Hit zero and kept going”? Do the folks at the Journal not realize how ridiculous that is, or do they just not care?

    As for the odds against life-bearing worlds, somebody had better tell Scientific American, which has published articles about so-called “superhabitable” worlds actually better suited to life than Earth and has suggested, based on astronomical evidence, that they may be fairly common. And that magazine isn’t alone, either.

    The Wall Street Journal has always been a conservative periodical, but it’s a very bad sign when it starts pandering to far-right religious cranks.

  31. I’m listening to Fox News in the background. They just announced the next story, after the commercial, will be: “Is science making the case for God?”

  32. Lordy, lordy — Metaxas is being interviewed.

  33. Michael Fugate

    From Wikipedia:

    Metaxas is the recipient of two honorary doctorate degrees, one from Hillsdale College and the other from Liberty University.

    That’s some serious anti-intellectualism right there.

  34. docbill quotes Metaxas as saying in an interview in the Huffpo, “God is never irrational and nothing that’s real can be irrational.”

    Perhaps that explains why the bible gives the value of π = 3.

    Seriously though, from whence does Metaxas draw this conclusion about God? I’d tell you where, but this blog’s filters won’t allow it. There is no way to prove God’s existence. It must be taken as a matter of faith. To flatly state that God has some quality or another (i.e., rationality), one has to show that God exists in the first place. Since that cannot be done, we can’t say that God is never irrational.

    If it *is* valid for Metaxas to make such a claim, it is equally valid for me to claim that God is totally irrational. At any rate, the bible is silent on the issue, except for the value of π, where the bible is provably irrational.

    And as for Metaxas being interviewed on Fox — it’s just self-promotion, since Rupert Murdoch owns both the WSJ and Fox.

  35. A moron like Metaxas interviewed on Fox News as a serious scientific authority! Conservatism has lost its brain.

  36. Interesting prank in the Wikipedia article about Metaxas linked above. In the first paragraph, it has this (bold added):
    ” Metaxas is the founder and host of the NYC-based event series, “Socrates in the City: Conversations on the Unexamined Life” …

    further in the article, there’s this (again, bold added):
    “Metaxas is the founder and host of a New York City event series on topics related to culture and religion called “Socrates in the City: Conversations on the Examined Life,” where he interviews thinkers and writers.”

    (No, I didn’t do it. I wonder how long it goes before being corrected.)

  37. And just in case Metaxas hasn’t stirred up enough of a hullabaloo, we have The Stupidest Anti-Science [BS] of 2014, aptly subtitled “A catalogue of shame”.

  38. The “30,000 foot view”:

    As y’all know, whether irreducible or specified complexity, “gaps” in the fossil record, fine-tuning or other “improbability” arguments, ID arguemtns are all at best negative, designed only to promote more unreasonable incredulity in a public that is already unreasonably suspicious of science.

    I say at best because they are not even consistent with each other (e.g. how “fine-tuning” undermines Dembski’s filter by inadvertently making a case for “regularity”). But even overlooking that for the moment, they don’t even attempt to make a positive case, good or bad for anything that would please Biblical literalists. And that is not a defense of any of those strategies, but rather an accusation that peddlers of those strategies know that there is no evidence for “kinds,” global floods, etc. Otherwise they’d have no need for “god-of-the-gaps” negative arguments. They are even more astutely aware than we are that the great (voting) majority infers God anyway from whatever explanation (e.g. evolution) or non-explanation sounds convincing. If they had something positive – anything – all the “design” speak would be completely unnecessary.

    I often think: “Why did the former YEC peddlers abandon all the YE arguments before Edwards v Aguillard (1987), when they knew that those arguments would be perfectly legal to teach, while “creation” clearly violates the Establishment Clause?” “Why did they frantically change “creation” to “design” right after EvA when they knew that “design” language might be risky too?” The answer is so simple that nearly everyone overlooks it: They painfully knew that there was no credible evidence for YEC, or even for the day-age or gap OECs that preserve “kinds”, life originating independently on land – nothing that millions desperately want to hear. Furthermore, even a mere thumbnail sketch of potential alternate “what happened when” hypotheses risks that the smarter students would recognize their fatal flaws and contradictions. They knew the game was over.

    ID peddlers who don’t want to be called “creationists” made their case for design 20 years ago. Since then, all they have been doing is “creatively” repeating it. What they have not even started is what one would expect them to have been doing for 20 years if they truly believed their design arguments, which is to at least seek to determine what the designer(s) did, where, when and how. Think about this: Most of those they’re trying to fool really only care about our species. Yet after all thes years IDers have not yet bothered to test, let alone come up with a tentative conclusion, whether we share common ancestors with other species. Of course it’s because they all know that we do, and in fact the only clear position from any individual major IDer (Behe) acknowledges that. But more importantly, IDers know that it’s very politically incorrect to admit that, so their official position is “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

    Even if one grants the possibility that there’s a shred of honesty (in the Omphalos sense at least) in Biblical creationism, it ought to be completely obvious that ID, in all its incarnations, is a total scam.

  39. As I read through the comment section, I notice a common theme-fervor bordering on anger. Is this science or religion? In my humble opinion, (the vast majority of) the comments read like religion. I think most of the posters wouldn’t hesitate to persecute the “unbelievers”

  40. Yup. These are the humanist pharisees. They will stone you to death if you commit any kind of heresy. They hold the keys to the synagogue (the university), where we go to worship at the altar of modernism.

  41. @Nick Del Pizzo
    When I read through the professional literature on evolutionary biology, which far outweighs what is in this blog, I seldom notice what you deplore.
    However, when I read through all that has been written about ID etc., I consistently notice what Frank J describes. For example, your contribution here does not suggest an account for something about the variety of life which does not refer to evolution.
    Indeed, rather than arguing the issue, why bother to raise your opinion about what others wouldn’t hesitate to do?

  42. Michael Fugate

    Nick, is intelligent design science or religion? Can you define either?
    Jason, so any idea is just as good as any other? We should teach whatever we want in public schools? I love how conservative religious believers turn into wishy-washy post-modern relativists whenever science contradicts their Biblical literalism.

  43. Charles Deetz ;)

    @trolls The point is Metaxas makes a bold statement about zero probability of life without any proof or research. Meanwhile science has several theories they are working on about possibility of life on other planets that are on the order of 100 million planets in our galaxy alone. Zero or 100 million … shows Metaxas has a HUGE HUGE gap to fill, before he can even try to fill it with god-of-the-gaps. Yes we are a bit angry about it because legitimate news sources are taking him at his word, he doesn’t even have a ‘study’ to tout. And your useless trolling comments only seem to confirm you have nothing to add either.

  44. @Charles Deetz: Thank you, Charles! I was in the middle of thought of how best to respond to Nick & the Trolls while you were writing.

    You said it better than I ever could. The only thing I would add would be my anger at the attempts being made to corrupt the teaching of science in our schools with ideas unsupported by any evidence.

  45. @Frank J: Well-stated essay. I normally wouldn’t point out typos in others’ posts, but since your post is so good there is one minor typo that should be corrected. In the last line, you might ask SC to change “…ID, in all its incarnations, it a total scam” to “is a total scam.”

    [*Voice from above*] No need to bother SC. It’s been fixed.

  46. Michael Fugate

    Nick and Jason, who is actually restricting free thought – a school that makes everyone sign a statement of faith and then fires any faculty member who teaches anything contradictory or who changes his or her mind based on further study? Why bother going to a college or university if once you get there you aren’t allowed to change your mind? No one can do science in that environment and it is unlikely you can do history either.

  47. Hi Curmy,

    Belated Seasons Greetings,
    Were you aware that this post was reprinted word for word elsewhere?

    Just thought to bring it to your attention.


  48. Thanks, skmarshall. Well, they didn’t copy it all — only most of it, and they added no additional content (as I do with letters to the editor and such) so it’s rather sleazy. However, it doesn’t look like they’re claiming it to be their own, so I’ll let it go.

  49. I saw that article and about all I can say is that it’s a classic example of someone confusing “a priori” and “a posteriori” probabilities.

  50. Michael, I know you are angry at us Christian fundamentalists, so I’ll try to make it easy for you. If you are going to have diversity of thought in a multicultural society, you are going to have people of faith. If you truly want to force everyone to think like you, go right ahead. It will not be the first time a zealot has tried to persuade the whole world they are right. Don’t believe me? Listen to a great commencement speech by Michael Bloomberg at Harvard in 2014. Hardly a Christian zealot. He is as frustrated as I am by the liberal orthodoxy (the ivy league faculty) that voted en masse w Barack Obama (I voted for Barack Obama) and has systematically rooted out any diversity of thought (read: philosophies that don’t agree with their own) from the university. You, my friend, are an evangelist. It’s too bad your doctrine will never be as sublime as the story of the God-man. I always wonder what would happen if your people succeeded. You would rob most of the world of their most precious possession (their faith) and replace it with a doctrine of despair and ultimate meaninglessness. And don’t try to tell me atheists have great morals too. I read Peter Singer and John Stuart Mills. I am fully capable of reading histories and ideas from people who think differently from me. Are you?

  51. @Frank J
    I believe that this is the essay that you were thinking of:
    The Anthropic Principle Does Not Support Supernaturalsm Michael Ikeda, Bill (William H.) Jeffereys

  52. Michael Fugate

    Jason, I said nothing against people of faith. Plenty of people of faith accept science and accept evolution. Do you? Do you want creationism taught in schools? Would you send your child to Hillsdale or Liberty where Metaxas received honorary doctorates? Faith is not the problem here – the problem is stupidity masquerading as science.

    I am fully capable of reading histories and ideas from people who think differently from me. Are you?

    But are you capable of changing your mind? Would new evidence or new ideas make a difference? The problem at the modern university is that it has declared religion to be an inborn trait like skin color of national origin or gender and no one can talk about it without taking offense. At the public university where I work Christian clubs abound – so do Muslim and Jewish and many minor religious clubs. It is one of the most diverse student bodies in the country. We all work together just fine – no one that I know of is making anyone think in only one way. Unlike religious groups, I have never handed out pamphlets or left literature in anyone’s mailbox or preached at the bell tower. You should probably stop reading nonsense by David Horowitz and the National Association of Scholars and see what is happening in the world.

  53. The only thing you’ve done here is complained about an article someone wrote. You have not debated. You have no supporting research or quotes. Just complained and talked about this article being creationist based. What’s your point exactly? You don’t like it? Should we care? You seem concerned about wall street journal. Maybe you should give them research discounting the article, then your complaint might have value. At this point your just whining.

  54. Translation: We can’t actually answer all these points so we’re going to dismiss Metaxas as a religious nut, whilst referring to a couple of earlier unconvincing responses on the matter, pretending the entire time that science completely vindicates our position.

    Faith takes on many forms, it seems, but none so magical as the faith that denies it is faith at all.

  55. Michael Fugate

    nick, did you notice there were links in the article? You can click on them and find out more – like this one: please scroll down to the part on Anthropic Principle.

  56. Michael, thanks for the thoughtful response. I agree that evangelism has often been carried out in a culturally self righteous attitude. It is one of the things I struggled with when I questioned my faith. It is a good thing that there are healthy and vibrant communities of faith that also have healthy attitudes towards evangelism. I also agree that the conservative right has had a knee jerk reaction to science much of the time. Those on the extreme don’t usually represent me or the community I belong to. I prefer instead to listen to people like John Houghton or Edward Brown. (even with Collins’ ambiguous stance towards macro evolution). I am married to an environmental scientist who keeps me honest, so I don’t have any problem with science. I Science is limited in what it can prove or disprove, and disproving God has always been kind of an absurd idea to me. I don’t read conservative publications usually, instead preferring to follow my own interests in life and art. Thanks for the dialogue and best wishes.

  57. and no, I do not accept that life is the result of random and disorganized chance encounters. Pretty absurd. I am not sure anyone can explain the mystery of life.

    Part of me is saddened by the insatiable desire to prove everything. As a mountaineer and adventurer, I relish the early days of exploration when there were still unknowns in the world. Now that we live in the days of Google Earth and every other blogger, the adventure has almost been removed from the endeavor. If you think you can prove the origins of life, go right ahead. I will try to sit still through your thesis. I find it tedious, inconclusive, and boring. I also think that your brand of science is elitist, since anyone who would claim to have a worldview or a belief system must then sit through hours of ramblings on genetic this or fossil record that. If a person needs an advanced degree to understand your philosophy, then it is unworkable in the real world. The majority of the people in the world do not have an advanced degree in science, and they have to base their lives on some higher purpose. Best, Jason

  58. If using science to *disprove* God is absurd, than you should think it equally absurd to use science to *prove* God. People of faith too often forget what it means to have faith.

    The “it bores me and I don’t understand it, thus evolution is false” is not a valid argument.

  59. Mark,
    I understand as much as most people. I am a careful reader. I am not going to pursue an advanced degree in science, and I don’t need to for life to have meaning.

    However, I think you miss the point. You and I are on equal footing. You can’t be sure of your hypothesis. Neither can I. I do not try to prove God exists. I am happy to show that no one is sure, and that Darwins theory is incomplete in light of modern genetics.

    As E.F. Schumacher wrote in his seminal work “Small is beautiful; economics as if people mattered”: Lord snow tells us that when educated people deplore the “illiteracy of scientists” he sometimes asks “how many of them could describe the second law of thermodynamics?” The response, he reports, is usually cold and negative. “Yet,” he says, “I was asking something which is about the scientific equivalent of: have you read a work of Shakespeare’s?” Such a statement challenges the entire basis of our civilization. What matters is the toolbox of ideas with which,by which, through which, we experience and interpret the world. The second law of thermodynamics is nothing more than a working hypothesis suitable for various types of scientific research. On the other hand it work by Shakespeare: teaming with the most vital ideas about the inner development of man,showing the whole grandeur and misery of human existence. How could these two things be equivalent? What do I miss, as a human being, if I have never heard of the second law of thermodynamics? The answer is: nothing. And what do I miss by not knowing Shakespeare? Unless I get my understanding from another source, I simply miss my life. Show we tell our children that one thing is as good as another, here a bit of knowledge of physics, and they’re a bit of knowledge of literature? If we do so, the sins of the fathers will be visited upon the children into the third and fourth generation, because that normallyis the time it takes from the birth of an idea to its full maturity when it fills the minds of a new generation and makes them think by it” (Schumacher was a Buddhist)

  60. Michael Fugate

    I am still not sure what you are upset about in regards to commentary here on Metaxas’ article. Metaxas is saying that science proves God which is nonsense – one science doesn’t proves anything and two God is not defined in any way that is amenable to scientific study.

    You are the second person in a number of days that has called science elitist – as if it were a bad thing. Should I complain because it is hard to write and publish a novel or to play professional sports or paint a portrait? You complained about academia, but your views are part of the problem; it is not either science or humanities – we need both. I know some scientists disparage the arts, but they are short-sighted. Science and the arts of course do different things – which is why science matters; it tries to figure out how the world works. It is the best means to do that. Why run down one to build up the other? I know that many people and you alluded to it too think that science implies randomness at the center of it all, but without patterns science couldn’t exist. It is the predictability of nature that make its study possible. Things like atoms and gravity and conservation of matter and natural selection show us the universe isn’t random.

    People like stories and scientists often aren’t the best story tellers, but you can’t decide on the truth of something based on the quality of the narrative.

  61. I think I’ll end this silly creationist trolling with my favorite Ashley Montagu quote regarding creationists and their logic:

    “Science has proof without any certainty. Creationists have certainty without any proof.”

  62. Jason, silly uneducated little boy. Clap for Tinkerbell, please.

  63. DocBill you are acting immaturely. This is a conversation for grownups. Michael, you are right. I don’t think using science to try and prove God or the reality of miracles is a good idea. I am also not a fan of Rupert Murdoch, although I am reading a fascinating account by Frank Rose of the rise of NewsCorp. In that case, I think I agree with the general response to this WSJ post. I will leave you all to your echo chamber, since it is clear you do not want to hear from anybody who does not share your views.

  64. Jason: Science is based on evidence that can be seen and understood by anyone willing to make the effort.

    Religion — any religion, is based on — what? Scripture written thousands of years ago? Verbal instruction handed down from generation to generation? Cultural orthodoxy?

    Have you ever stopped to ask yourself exactly why you have the particular religious faith and belief you have? If you profess to be a Christian, you most likely believe as you do because the Bible tells you so. And you know the Bible is true, because it says so. However, that is not evidence.

    Accepting science does not preclude having religious faith. However, those who insist that the King James version of the Bible is an inerrant translation of the ancient Hebrew and Greek manuscripts are setting up a direct conflict with observational evidence that cannot be dismissed.

    One more point — your comments seem to indicate that you believe Darwin’s Theory of Evolution speaks to the origin of life. It does not. Darwin merely pointed out that it was natural selection that accounted for new species branching off from existing species. He said nothing about the origin of life.
    The origin of life remains an unanswered question in science. But just because science doesn’t have an answer doesn’t mean that science is wrong. Sure — people want answers, and religion gives them an answer. Problem is, there is no supporting evidence for any answer.

    Science can propose possibilities of how life MAY have originated, but those hypotheticals have nothing to do with evolution, for which there is ample evidence. You may find it boring, or you may not understand the science behind it, but that doesn’t mean your religion-based answer is correct.

    Now, it’s late, I’m tired, so good night.

  65. Jason Arnold remonstrates—

    How could [fundamental laws of science and Shakespeare’s works] be equivalent? What do I miss, as a human being, if I have never heard of the second law of thermodynamics? The answer is: nothing. And what do I miss by not knowing Shakespeare? Unless I get my understanding from another source, I simply miss my life.

    This typifies the benighted disdain and resultant ingratitude of those who pride themselves on holding to a “higher standard of truth and meaning.” The manifold fruits, advantages and benefits of science are what has made it possible for First World individuals like Jason to be disdainful of science in the first place! Were it not for those fruits, human life would, as Thomas Hobbes wrote, be “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short” with little time or opportunity to be “spiritual” (whatever the heck that might actually mean).

    There are strong indications from the cognitive sciences that our propensity for numinous experiences is an artefact of how our brain function has evolved to deal with large multidimensional complex sensory input. We are prone to seeing patterns, purpose, meaning, agency and/or intent where such may not exist at all. The cognitive sciences are beginning to induce on demand ostensibly profound mystical episodes in individuals, and one day soon when this becomes common practice, it will be fascinating to see the various reactions to this development. It’s a sure bet that denial, i.e., “That’s not the Real Deal™!”, will feature heavily.

    My advice? If science isn’t your thing, STFU and stop disparaging it. It’s done more for general human physical wellbeing, including yours, than any other endeavour.

  66. It’s a far better argument than ” “Sir, {a+b^n}/{n}=x, hence God exists—reply!” But it’s crap, of course, because of the amazingly small sample size we have to work with.

  67. The Fine-Tuning Argument fails because it assumes upfront that the universe and life absolutely must have come into existence. Having assumed that, it then calculates the odds for those events to take place by random chance and concludes that they’re astronomically low.

    This is like saying that Paul had to win the lottery… after he actually won it. But the odds for Paul winning are impossibly low that it couldn’t have happened by chance!

    The Fine-Tuning argument falls apart if one doesn’t assume that the universe and life were absolutely necessary. The universe is merely a consequence of the way nature operates. Similarly, life is merely a consequence of the way the universe ended up being. There was no requirement that these things had to happen and so the astronomically low odds are meaningless and pointless.

  68. Erik John Bertel quotes Montagu: “Science has proof without any certainty. Creationists have certainty without any proof.”

    A cleverly constructed statement, but the word “proof” is wrong. Science has useful and credible explanations, but without absolute proof. Creationists have … .

  69. @TomS:

    Thanks for the link. I’m not positive that it’s the one I read, but I’ll check it out.

    On another note, has anyone determined if Jason agrees with Behe on the ~4 billion years of common descent?

  70. @Borny
    The Fine-Tuning Argument fails in one of these ways:
    1) The Prosecutor’s Fallacy
    2) The False Alternative
    3) The calculation is based on the consequences of varying several parameters one at a time, not considering the consequences of all at once.
    4) Supernatural agencies have no need for the fine-tuning of nature to accomplish their goals. Therefore their actions do not account for fine tuning.

  71. @Borny: Your explanation of the “Fine-Tuning Argument” is clear and concise — so much so that I’ll bet even Jason can understand it.
    Thank you!

  72. What’s going on there is that “creationism” and all other non-creationist theories of origin require us to have faith in something that can’t be proven. Evolutionists often believe we will one day know all or most of the answers to our questions through scientific exploration and investigation. Creationists typically believe that a “higher intelligence” has ALL the answers. Thus, it is ironic that the very thing often argued against by evolutionists (a higher intelligence), is what they believe we will become (potentially) over time. They acknowledge that possibility, but not the possibility of one already existing. For a scientific theory built very much off the assumption that the odds can be very tiny for life sustaining conditions to occur, and still eventually occur given enough time, it seems the real issue isn’t science, but assumption… faith.

  73. In my opinion it all comes down to the fact that no matter what evidence, thoughts, ideas, proposed regarding the existence of a higher intelligence, many of the Evolutionists have no interest in believing in a higher intelligence. They want to be that higher intelligence.

  74. @Ray: The real irony in the evolution-requires-as-much-faith-as-creation canard is that, besides being flatly wrong and invariably uttered only by creationists, it signals that creationists’ own faith is a bit more rickety than they would like you to believe.

  75. @Con-Tester:

    While “evolution requires as much (or more) faith…” is a canard, I was not impressed with RationalWiki’s answer. Then again, any answer provides an opportunity for anti-evolution activists to play more word games. When one says that evolution can be observed, they pull the micro/macro nonsense. When one shows examples of some “macro” (species change) being observed directly, they move the goal posts, eventually confusing evolution with abiogenesis (and facts vs theories of each), ultimate causes with proximate causes, etc.

    In fact the “evolution takes faith” nonsense is a “plan B” that admits that the “my alternative is strictly scientific” tactic had failed. Note: some deniers go straight to Plan B, but since others still try Plan A, that only means that they are implying that other deniers failed. Which is why some of the best replies are of the type: “Oh, so you disagree with [insert name of another evolution-denier].”

    Another clever form of denial – and yet another reason that I avoid the word creationist(s) – is the “pseudoskeptic” who claims to have “no dog in the fight,” them whines incessantly about the evolution (mainstream science) “dog,” while merely ignoring the YEC, OEC, ID, Flat-Earth, etc. “dogs.”

  76. @Frank J: I think the RationalWiki treatment of the claim is deliberately concise to avoid the dreaded eyes-rolling-backward syndrome. Its brevity adequately covers the major flaws in the claim, albeit without mentioning, as you do, the many other evasions and canards that typically emerge in order to sustain it.

    Still, I agree that it’s a “Plan B” tactic, which really was my point: If faith is as compelling as evolution-deniers normally insist in respect of their religious notions regarding origins, it’s intensely curious that they would then seek to pooh-pooh evolution by calling it a “faith”. Faith, regardless of its object (since faith is belief without evidence), is intrinsically either a virtue or a vice. You can’t have it both ways.

  77. Michael Fugate

    I remember a quote from somewhere, but have been unable to find the source: People who presume to know the truth, don’t look for it. This is likely a paraphrase on my part.

    Ray, one would need to be pretty cocksure to believe he or she will know everything – do you actually know individuals who believe this or are you exaggerating? How exactly could know everything that happened in the past?

  78. It looks like you gentlemen have it all figured out. Nicely done. Carry on.

  79. I think it’s cute, childlike in a way, how the fever-brained religious science deniers couch their every thought as holy pronouncements.

    Tinkerbell-believing Jason wrote:

    “…where we go to worship at the altar of modernism.”

    I suppose at Kroger’s the checkout line is like communion and the store manager is the high priest, customers are the flock. “The stock of my warehouse that is purchased by thee, preserve thy body and soul into everlasting life and a hot dinner.”

    Of course, the very primates who fling poo at science are doing so from their laptops through their home WiFi over the world wide web, built on the altar of modernism, I might add. They probably drive Prius’, watch TV, benefit from medicine, all built on the altar of modernism. Yes, and all the food they eat bears no resemblance to its ancient forebears having all been genetically modified through hybridization and direct genetic manipulation, all built on the altar of modernism.

    When Jason blabbers on about immaturity, he certainly knows what he’s talking about, based on the puerile drivel he’s drooled out here. The second law of thermodynamics is “nothing more” than an hypothesis suitable for various types of scientific research is quite possibly the most ignorant statement I’ve read this year, and I’ve waded through a swamp brimming with creationist bilge.

    It’s not surprising Metaxas has an audience so long as Jason and his fellow sheep bray at the altar of modernism.

  80. docbill1351 says: “It’s not surprising Metaxas has an audience so long as Jason and his fellow sheep bray at the altar of modernism.”

    Most of them were reasonably well-behaved, so I didn’t interfere with them. There were two or three totally crazy comments, including a three-page rant — which is bad behavior at any blog — but I dumped those.

  81. You know it would be really super if you could actually argue against the original article! Otherwise I fail to see the point of your response.

  82. OK I clicked on the anthropic principle link since this article is wholly bereft of any arguments.

    “the laws of nature and the fundamental physical constants seem remarkably suited to our own existence — is an interesting speculation; but as a scientific hypothesis pointing toward a Designer it’s a bit of a dead end because it’s utterly untestable”.

    If it’s not even in principle testable then it’s not a scientific hypothesis.

    “It shouldn’t surprise us that everything we discover about the universe is consistent with our existence — were it otherwise we wouldn’t exist. But it doesn’t follow that the universe exists for the purpose of our existence”.

    This “argument” is wrong-headed from start to finish. I have written on a similar theme regarding the probability of being born. Similar arguments as I express there also apply here:

    “Whenever the Anthropic Principle is mentioned, we find ourselves compelled to ask: What makes you think that without supernatural tinkering, the universe would have been different? How does one compute the odds against this specific universe? From where we sit, the odds favoring the universe seem to be 100%. Where is the evidence suggesting that this particular universe shouldn’t exist, or that its attributes should have been different from what they are?”

    You’re asking the wrong question. Without an external agent (which of course need not entail what we understand as “God”), what compels the physical constants to assume the value they do so that life in the Universe is possible? Unless you can specify why each of these values are any more likely then any other value, then the only possibilities are a creator(s) or a multiverse.

    “In the absence of the Designer himself, the only verifiable alternative to accident would be a demonstration that the fundamental constants exist as they are because of physical necessity”.

    But physical laws don’t determine the value of constants. Physical laws are descriptions of reality. They might be reducible to a theory of everything, but such a TOE wouldn’t explain the values of these fundamental constants.

    “However, we’re never upset by someone’s choosing to believe in something for which there is no evidence”.

    No matter what characteristics the Universe might have assumed atheists would proclaim there is no evidence for a creator. Their claim here of being no evidence is utterly vacuous.

  83. Ian the Waffler waffled:

    Unless you can specify why each of these values are any more likely then any other value, then the only possibilities are a creator(s) or a multiverse.

    Really? How about my Aunt Sally as a possibility?

    Creationism 101

    1. The “Show Me” argument.
    2. Tasks of Hercules.
    3. Ta-da Goddidit.

    Bravo, Ian. (golf clap)

  84. This is precisely why I can’t be bothered. Nobody ever bothers to actually argue for their position but content themselves with either hostile, contemptuous, or snide remarks. Have people no interest in convincing me?

    The world/Universe is extraordinarily weird. I’ve concluded a creator of some description is highly likely. This creator or creators might not be what we think of as god; our Universe could be a simulation by aliens existing “outside” our physical reality for example. But the evidence very very strongly suggests it has been created. Let’s get real here.

  85. Michael Fugate

    Ian, great job of not arguing for a position, but just asserting one. Bravo!

  86. The argument is there in the Wall Street Journal. I’m here to read the arguments against it.

  87. Waffle Boy wants to “get real.”

    I suggest Waffle Boy takes a real good look at his hand. Ever really, really look at your hand, man?

    Answer 1: No, nobody gives a rat’s in trying to convince an intellectually lazy creationist. But as a stocking stuffer you are providing some quick amusement.

    Answer 2: The universe is “weird” according to whom? I do find it weird that a grown man believes in Tinkerbell, whether that’s you or Metaxas.

    Answer 3: You’ve concluded a creator of some description is highly likely. Bravo, Waffle Boy, that’s about the most wafflest non-clusion I’ve ever read. Careful, sonny, or the Disco Tute will recruit you! “Of some description,” oh, that’s rich! A real gem! That’s perhaps definitely maybe sort of, if you squint.

    Answer 4: Creator or creators, gods or not, maybe aliens, and for extra credit you tossed in the kitchen sink – outside physical reality! Comedy gold, I tell you. But, wait, there’s more! Is it “outside” or is it outside? Come now, don’t be coy! And what about my poor old Aunt Sally? Will she get tea?

  88. What’s wrong with you, docbill1351? Don’t you get it? The universe exists. It is precisely what it is. That’s amazing! And we’re here too! That’s even more amazing. Therefore … Oogity Boogity! I await your refutation.

  89. Michael Fugate

    Ian, did you click any of the links or actually read the comments here? There were several about the probability arguments which is really all there is. The new creationists love probabilities (not clear if they understand them) and love to assert that the probabilities are so very low or in Metaxas’ case to claim they are negative? This is it – if the probability is low enough (no need to be exact), then intelligence (i.e. GOD) did it. Not much of an argument. Improbable is not impossible.

  90. @Ian: I call BS on the Hoyle quote starting with, “a common-sense interpretation of the facts”. I’ve searched high and low for the source of that quote. Something tells me Hoyle never uttered it. You know where I find examples of that quote? Creationist websites. Isn’t that conveeeeeeeenient?
    So I’ll respond with one from Hoyle’s book “Our Place in the Cosmos”:

    The creationist is a sham religious person who, curiously, has no true sense of religion. In the language of religion, it is the facts we observe in the world around us that must be seen to constitute the words of God. Documents, whether the Bible, Qur’an or those writings that held such force for Velikovsky, are only the words of men. To prefer the words of men to those of God is what one can mean by blasphemy.

  91. The Perfect Quote, Gary!

  92. SC: “Therefore … Oogity Boogity! I await your refutation.”

    As you know, we can’t because OB is unfalsifiable. But now that you’re on board with OB the game is truly over. Now we can finally move past square one and start discussing what the OBer did, where when and how. I know your position on those “details”, but anxiously awaiting those of Ian, Ray and Jason. They have nothing to lose now…unless they’re Poes.

  93. @Gary:

    I second retiredsciguy’s comment.

    I knew that Hoyle was not a typical anti-evolution activist, but that quote is one of the most dramatic examples of how the latter will stop at nothing to pretend that people support them. Another is that DI bibliography of ~2002. When NSCE contacted the scientists that the DI claimed supported their pseudoscience, every one who replied (most of whom NCS contacted) said in no uncertain terms that they did not agree with the DI, and most were very annoyed at how they were misrepresented.

  94. I just checked out one of Metaxas’ books on Amazon, “Everything You Always Wanted to Know About God, But Were Afraid to Ask.” Yes, the title is plagiarized and the large chunks of the book that Look Inside lets you read are no better.

    Right there on Page 7 is Paley’s watch argument, complete with a watch and not one sentence later comes Mt. Rushmore. Of course, like the title, Metaxas does not attribute the sources.

    It’s a very disjointed, hot creationist mess marketed as an “inspirational” book for the weak-minded. The perfect gift because you’re sure not going to bother reading it, but better than sending rat poison to your mother-in-law like you did last year.

    My initial analysis was correct. This guy is just another run-of-the-mill Christian huckster scraping a living on the church circuit. He’s such a lightweight I bet he’s forced to wear lead shoes.

  95. @Ian: Continuing to read through Metaxas drivel article, I need to digress for a moment. The quote from Hoyle that Metaxas uses, and for which I can find no source nor any other use of that quote except for creationist websites, is somewhat similar to this:

    Once we see, however, that the probability of life originating at random is so utterly miniscule as to make it absurd, it becomes sensible to think that the favorable properties of physics on which life depends are in every respect deliberate … . It is therefore almost inevitable that our own measure of intelligence must reflect … higher intelligences … even to the limit of God … such a theory is so obvious that one wonders why it is not widely accepted as being self-evident. The reasons are psychological rather than scientific.

    That bit of quote-mining comes from “Evolution in Space” by both Hoyle and N. Chandra Wickramasinghe. Yet, here’s another little tidbit from N. Chandra Wickramasinghe:

    All of us, believers in SETI, take these three caviats for granted. But of course, as expected, there are people who still would assert with absolute confidence that we are alone. Either that habitable planets are extemely rare, or that the emergence of intelligence is a unique event in the Universe, necessarily confined to the Earth.

    Hmmmm. Isn’t that interesting? The very same person who probably uttered the quote that has been bastardized for creationist purposes is also the same person who says that SETI (a) is not a waste of time and (b) takes the time to explain why anyone who would say that other life is improbable and that other habitable planets are probably abundant?
    And with that, I bid Metaxas and his terrible quote-mining adieu!

  96. Poor Wickramasinghe, started off crackers then went Loony Tunes. He was misquoted, all right What he originally said was this:

    “All of us, believers in SETI, take these three caviars for granted: Beluga, Sterlet and Ossetra.”

    As for Metaxas, I think we can conclude that he is not a serious writer, he’s never claimed to be more than a fiction and comedy writer, and based on what I read on Amazon he appears to just snatch things off the Internet and throw it in a book. Seriously, Paley’s watch argument?

    One thing is indisputable, though, he’s definitely Disco Tute material!

  97. docbill is frothing at the mouth. Please go take a walk or something.

    @retiredscienceguy: I have questioned my faith, and whether it is rational or not. Maybe you think it is an unquestioned dogma. I still don’t get why you can admire and respect science and still believe in a transcendent God. I have a high respect for the hard work and diligence that our science community displays. I am aware of many talented scientists who also profess a faith in God, John Houghton being one of my favorites. I am not sure why my faith makes me a “poo-flinger” or “tinkerbell believer” or something. The name calling seems juvenile.

    One argument goes: well if you had been born in Madagascar, you would not be a white protestant male. So we all inherit our beliefs from our culture or the influences early on in our life. So be it. Does that mean that your evolutionary dogma is also a cultural construct, handed down to you by your angry college professors or your parents? If my beliefs are a cultural construct, then so are yours.

    “Science is based on evidence that can be seen and understood by anyone willing to make the effort.”

    This is a great definition of science. If you can observe it and replicate it, then it is a proof. Why would I be against that? Houghton, whom I have mentioned here, has shown that CO2 is affecting the atmosphere. Great science. I am not aware of anyone who has shown how a genetically complex organism (such as each one of yourselves) has ever “evolved” from a simple protein or single celled organism. Nor am I aware of how some species supposedly made the leap into an entirely different species. These are the main proposals of Darwin and his followers. This is not fringe. It is at the heart of the debate. All who accept this theory are relying on a very simple kind of faith to maintain their position.

    It is not possible to observe these phenomenon. There are like a handful of supposed fossil links in between these species, when you would need millions or billions of every conceivable type and from every degree of morphology. Why is that so difficult to accept? Maybe Doc can make you a time machine to go back and take a look.

    DocBill: the thermodynamics quote comes from E.F. Schumacher, not myself, although I would gladly take the credit if I could. I’ll bet you are terrible dinner company.

  98. You’re asking the wrong question. Without an external agent (which of course need not entail what we understand as “God”), what compels the physical constants to assume the value they do so that life in the Universe is possible? Unless you can specify why each of these values are any more likely then any other value, then the only possibilities are a creator(s) or a multiverse. Unless you can specify why each of these values are any more likely then any other value, then the only possibilities are a creator(s) or a multiverse.

    Actually the theory of natural selection has been applied by Lee Smolin, an American theoretical physicist, to explaining the evolution of the cosmos. This is from Wikipedia: “Smolin’s hypothesis of cosmological natural selection, also called the fecund universes theory, suggests that a process analogous to biological natural selection applies at the grandest of scales. Smolin published the idea in 1992 and summarized it in a book aimed at a lay audience called The Life of the Cosmos.”

    Interestingly, one part of the theory implies that a universe hospitable to carbon formation also lend itself to black hole formation which in turn allows the parent universe to spawn off like new universes. Yeah, survival of the fittest at a cosmological scale! This is, of course, all fun speculation until we detect gravitational waves of a nearby universe but as you can see there is little need for science to resort to an external agent that you call “god” to address the creation of the universe and certainly no need for a so-called personal god. The Buddhists call a personal god an attachment, and despite the protests of the creationists, is totally unnecessary for living a moral life. Or to quote Radiohead, “Just because you feel it, doesn’t mean it’s there.”

  99. That you believe in a creator does not mean you must fall for the creation science scam. Millions and millions of Christians don’t limit themselves that way. Ken Miller’s “Finding Darwin’s God” will show you 1) why creationism and ID fail miserably and 2) the evidence that supports evolution. And to top it off, you can still believe in a creator.

  100. Michael Fugate

    I am curious why it is any more probable that a god always existed than matter or energy always existed. I know that some have tried to shape god to increase its probably, but why would intelligence be simple? If our intelligence is at all analogous, then it isn’t simple.

  101. @Jason: You want to play science? Fine. How did we get here? What is our beginning? When did it happen?
    P.S. Doc Bill is a HOOT at dinner!

  102. Jason: I said before that “Science is based on evidence that can be seen and understood by anyone willing to make the effort.” However, judging form your comments concerning evolution — “I am not aware of anyone who has shown how a genetically complex organism (such as each one of yourselves) has ever “evolved” from a simple protein or single celled organism. Nor am I aware of how some species supposedly made the leap into an entirely different species. These are the main proposals of Darwin and his followers.” — it is apparent that you have not made that effort.

    Until you learn more about the subject — from valid sources, not Jack Chick tracts (“angry college professors”? C’mon — that comment is a dead giveaway) — it would be best for your online image if you kept your comments to subjects you better understand.

    You said, ” I still don’t get why you can admire and respect science and still believe in a transcendent God.” Did you mean to say “can’t admire and respect science”? Or do you think I somehow implied that I believe in a transcendent God? I never made such a statement.

    You stated that you are bored by science. Too bad. If you believe that God created the entire universe, you should appreciate science as the means to understand God’s work.

    ‘Bye, Jason.

  103. Retired Science Guy, I am not bored by science. I enjoy wind turbines, modern medicine, and the recent study of plastics in the ocean. I am bored by people in these chat forums who think they understand how life originated and how species diverged. They don’t. Thankful that someone here had the honesty to say that origins of life are an unknown, even for the mighty minds of science. Beyond that, the theory of evolution itself has giant gaping holes in it. This would be a perfect opportunity for you to educate me. Point me to a source that shows how the species diverged. Give me a fossil record, with documentation. Show me how the genetic mutations happened in a beneficial way. If you can show me some of these sources, I will read the book or the publication or whatever it is.

    And yes, I meant to say “I don’t see why you can’t have a healthy respect for science and still believe in a transcendent God”. I have a healthy respect for science and I believe in a transcendent God. So do many leading scientists.

    My sources include a close friend of mine who has his doctorate in biology, and my personal favorite, Berlinski. If you really want to argue with someone, argue with Berlinksi, since I consider him as much of an authority as anyone.

    @gary the burden of proof is not on me. I have said all along that I do not know how the species diverged. I also had the audacity to say no one else does either. If you think you do, I can’t wait to read your publications, since you are obviously at the cutting edge of biochemical research. Or you are an egotistical know it all.

  104. Jason: “Beyond that, the theory of evolution itself has giant gaping holes in it. This would be a perfect opportunity for you to educate me. Point me to a source that shows how the species diverged. Give me a fossil record, with documentation. Show me how the genetic mutations happened in a beneficial way. If you can show me some of these sources, I will read the book or the publication or whatever it is.”

    What “gaping holes” in the theory of evolution? You sound like a parrot who’s been listening to the Discoveroids. So, if you don’t like the theory of evolution, what’s your explanation for the diversity of life? Goddidit?

    As for the perfect opportunity to educate you, pony up four years’ tuition, enroll in the state university of your choice, and major in biology, geology, or paleontology. I don’t have the time to deal with closed-minded individuals who would rather argue than learn. The truth in science is based on evidence, not debate. Arguing with you is pointless. You have decided that your chosen scripture has all the answers, and no amount of evidence will convince you otherwise. I will repeat Con-Tester’s advice: “If science isn’t your thing, STFU and stop disparaging it.” You really don’t know what you’re talking about, despite the fact that “a close friend of yours has a doctorate in biology.” If he/she does not accept the concept of evolution, he/she is in a minority of <1% of biology doctorates.

    Oh, by the way — Gary, Doc Bill and I are all Purdue alumni, so yes, we DO know it all.

    ‘Bye, Jason. I’m done.

  105. @Jason: Clearly you seek to be spoon-fed. That’s not likely to happen here. Wikipedia, accredited academic institutions and Google Scholar are your friends. Make some minimal and sincere effort to find out what the actual orthodox scientific consensus is concerning your main bugbears, i.e., “the theory of evolution itself has giant gaping holes in it” and “how the species diverged”.

    You may well be surprised to learn that overwhelmingly, the main principles and major mechanisms of evolution are hardly in question. You may be equally surprised to learn that that’s not a conspiracy: one certain path to fame and glory in science is to present a convincing case showing an accepted proposition to be wrong. Scientific debates (by scientists!) about evolution are instead centred on resolving the finer details.

    In contrast, dissent is usually prompted by conceit and invariably consists solely of pointing to alleged weaknesses, rather than presenting a well-supported testable alternative, an approach that is entirely unscientific. Scientific theories are either supplanted by better ones, or subsumed by more general ones. They aren’t abandoned simply because people don’t like what they are saying and contrive feeble subterfuges against them.

    So when you begin showing some genuine interest through a decent understanding of what evolution actually says (notwithstanding the fatuous twaddle proudly on display at many creationist sites), only then will any fruitful debate be possible.

    Oh, and to obviate any initial misunderstandings, a “scientific theory” is considerably more than a hunch or guess that is believed purely on grounds of wide acceptance. Perhaps your no doubt imminent web-browsing marathon should cover this aspect by way of introduction first. As an interlude, you can also check out how widely evolution, as the explanation for the diversity of life on Earth, is accepted by religious authorities.

  106. Michael Fugate

    Why on earth would anyone with a lick of sense say we don’t understand how speciation occurs or how beneficial mutations arise? I don’t get it. I honestly don’t. Can we document every change in every organism that ever lived, no, but why is that necessary? Can we show the continuity of genetic material across species, genera, families, orders, etc., yes. Ever look at the fossil record of cetaceans? Take a look at an early whale skull and compare it to a modern one and tell me that something intelligent was involved. Here’s another easy one for you, look up lactose tolerance and the multiple times it has evolved in herding societies – hey its beneficial if you have access to cows – not so much if you don’t. It is easy to see, but you need to open your eyes.

  107. Here are just a few of the varied places on the web which should give a starting understanding about evolutionary biology: National Center for Science Education The Clergy Letter Project

    If you are a conservative Christian you might be interested in one of these books:
    Karl Giberson
    Saving Darwin: How to be a Christian and believe in evolution
    New York: HarperOne, 2008

    Darrell R Falk
    Coming to Peace with Science: Bridging the world between faith and biology
    Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 2004

    Davis A Young & Ralph Stearly
    The Bible, Rocks and Time: Geological evidence for the age of the Earth
    Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 2008

  108. Tom S seems to be the only adult here. Thanks for your huffing and puffing contester and retired science guy. Hope you enjoy your friday nights curled up with Paul Erlich and the other apostles.

  109. “But this is in the Wall Street Journal — a publication we have always respected.”


    Seriously, what is there to respect about The Wall Street Journal? They’ve been pushing creationism, global warming denial, various forms of bigotry, and the rest of the far right playbook for as long as I can remember. Heck, even their positions on ECONOMICS are complete nonsense more often than not.

    They’re the FOX News of the US print media. Indeed, I can’t think of a single issue that FOX and WSJ don’t take the same position on.

  110. A few points for Little Jason who seems to have a real chip on his narrow-minded shoulders about education. Whazza matter, Jase, your baking soda volcano didn’t work?

    Point number 1: Typical arrogant creationist fool. Dime a dozen.

    Point number 2: Jason the following applies to you –

    Creationism 101

    1. The “Show Me” argument.
    2. Tasks of Hercules.
    3. Ta-da Goddidit.

    Point number 3: Turns out I do have a time machine. It’s called the genome. It contains the history of all life. You’re still talking about fossils! How sad to be so out of date!

    Point number 4: I’m terribly sorry if you’re just plain stupid. Not much anybody can do about one’s raw material. Condolences. However, if you’re simply willfully ignorant then there is a cure. Run for the cure, Jason.

    First, shut up with the “Show Me” argument. It’s insincere, pathetic and we’ve heard it from creationists for decades.

    Two, clean out your own stables, Hercules. Strive for a real education rather than building crafts in vacation Bible school. Face it, Jason, you’re just plain lazy.

    Finally, Berlinski? You’re kidding, right? Well, Jason, I guess if you think science is fact-free armchair philosophical musings, then Berlinski’s your guy! That’s your problem, Jason, your hero is the insipid Berlinski and creationist crackpots when you should be reading Coyne, Orr and Wilson.

  111. @Jason: You miss a crucial point. I won’t point you to any sources because experience has taught me that doing so always leads to accusations of cherry picking and bias. Far better that you should winnow them out for yourself, assuming you’ve a sincere interest. As for huffing and puffing, though the choice is of course wholly your own, I think a rather less puerile reaction than instant kneejerk dismissal would be earnestly to weigh up the same few key points that have been brought to your attention independently by several evidently knowledgeable individuals.

  112. Doc bill,
    No I don’t have a chip in my shoulder. No I am not anti science. No I am not lazy. I just happen to be more interested in economic development and entrepreneurship. I studied GIS at northern Arizona university, and I was involved in habitat conservation while i served in the peace corps. Your attempts to minimize my position through insults and macho posturing are clumsy and predictable.

    The problem? I am a pretty normal, non hostile guy who has thought about the issue and drawn my own conclusions. I have read some of the sources that TomS has mentioned. I don’t think the evidence is bulletproof. And there are respected members of the scientific community (who understand the genome just fine) who don’t think the evidence is there either. I don’t need to get an advanced degree to know that you are bloviating, DocBill.

  113. And then we arrive at the heart of the problem. Is science a practical tool for understanding the physical world? Or is it a philosophy for guiding our moral and intellectual development? Most normal people will not be up to your (obviously superior) intellectual prowess. They have to structure their lives with some higher meaning and purpose. And they have to listen to blowhards like yourself who think the meaning of life is mindless competition and domination.

  114. if you want to wave the white flag, I am ready. In the meantime, educate yourself on the brilliant work that scientists are doing around the world from a faith based perspective

  115. If science is a guiding principal for our moral and intellectual development, then yes, every human being should understand the narrative of how they arrived on the scene, through random genetic mutation or something. It should be required reading at every school. We should carefully demonstrate our shared genetic heritage (you are a mutant! civil rights for X-men!) as members of humanity. But science does not know how humans became sentient ( and yes I was aware of this argument before a recent Discovery Institute article).

    There are so many questions that need to be asked and answered before science has a coherent narrative of humanity. I suppose if you are a dedicated scientist then you have a lifetime of work cut out for you. But there is no narrative. That’s why we have the Bible. And no I do not take Genesis literally. It has been a story that we tell our kids of thousands of years. We find meaning, context, and purpose for life. I am just as happy if you take the writings of the Buddha, or John Lennon as your source. Doesn’t matter to me. The point is that science cannot provide this. If we have to wait for scientists to figure it out, we will be waiting a very long time. Is this the “God of the Gaps?” Sure. People need meaning, and science is meaningless.

  116. Well played, fellow Lumberjack. Now I have to be nice to you.

    OK, niceness is over. Back to the playground.

  117. Michael Fugate

    Jason, when you claim TomS is the only adult here, I guess that means you aren’t either. Please read over your comments and note all the immaturity and try to do better in the future.

    We are talking about what IS – not what OUGHT to be. You are confusing the two. How life on earth arose and diversified in no way determines morality. Let’s face it some people need an authority to be moral – they like living under dictators who will keep them safe, but restrict their freedom. Others are perfectly capable of policing themselves and can live with the uncertainty freedom brings. Religions love sheep and hate goats – look it up.

    Evolution happened whether you want it to be true or not. Evolution is not competition – if you actually did your homework, you would know that competition, predation, and cooperation can all be involved. Some of the most intimate relationships are cooperative. But even so, we shouldn’t look to nature to try to justify what is the right thing to do. For any moral issue you can find examples on all sides in nature. Marlene Zuk has written some enlightening books about this subject.

  118. Jason Arnold preaches—

    People need meaning, and science is meaningless.

    Dude, your ill-informed presumption is astounding. You may deem objective and impartial investigation into the detailed workings of nature “meaningless” but much of the rest of the world does not. Many scientists pursue their interests purely out of curiosity, the thrill of the chase, as it were. Many others do so in laudable pursuit of improving the human condition, be it via new findings or educating others. In either case, hardly meaningless. Moreover, much of the world positively clamours for new or improved technology (a direct product of science), again either for the simple thrill of it, or for its utilitarian value in alleviating misery. Again, hardly meaningless.

    It’s your prerogative to dismiss it all as meaningless, but consistency would then demand that you eschew its outputs and the conveniences it affords, most especially when promoting your ideas about its insignificance.

  119. @Jason says: “if you want to wave the white flag, I am ready.”
    Never happen. I, and I feel all the regulars here, will never, ever concede anything to you or anyone like you. You talk about how you reach your own “conclusions”, which are anything but. You won’t accept what science says only about this one aspect (evolution), yet when asked what or how or when, all you say is, “I don’t know.” That’s not a conclusion. That’s waffling.
    I don’t have a degree in biochem or biology, but I accept the work of those that do. You, on the other hand, just want to say “No, no, no, no, no.” And, again, just about this one thing. You don’t seem to be saying, “You know, that electromagnetic theory is a bunch of hoke’em.” Or “Gravity? What a bunch of malarkey.”
    Doc Bill said it best,

    Nay, against this most uncivil hoard we must use uncivil means and that means, yes, tools of the Spanish Inquisition because nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition. We must use mockery, gales of laughter, pointing, sarcasm, derision and the occasional fart in their direction. In dealing with creationists I always ask myself, “What Would Gervais Do?” Usually gets me on the right path.

    RSG? Doc Bill? First rounds on me, I’m done with this one.

  120. Whenever y’all get tired of Jason, just let me know.

  121. @SC: I’m not just tired. I’m bored with him.

  122. Meh, I reckon all that needed to be said’s been said (yet again). For all the good it’s done, it may as well still be 25 December…

  123. Michael Fugate

    Jason thinks that we should lie about evolution so “normal” people don’t lose hope; as if he knows they can’t handle the truth. Why all the angst over something for which you have no control? Why waste this life hoping for another one that is without any certainty? It is like the old joke – “when God was handing out brains, you were in the other line complaining about your looks.” If you don’t like evolution – fine – but please don’t make stuff up just so you can feel better. If you want to lie to yourself go right ahead, but don’t be so presumptuous to believe everyone needs to be lied to.

  124. I think what we are failing to recognize is what happens to Jason and his ilk if they have to concede on their faith-based reasoning. Remove the creator from evolution and you end up staring into the abyss as you begin wondering as to why we actually exist in the first place. Belief in a personal god, the ultimate alpha-male, absolves creationists of that responsibility. The fact it’s a lie doesn’t matter to them, to them it’s a sweet lie with all sorts of empty promises.

    Consequently, it’s fruitless to argue with them, the cost of capitulation is just too high for them..It’s just a shame that we force this nonsense upon unsuspecting children before they have an opportunity to think for themselves.

  125. @TomS — You said, Thus fine tuning is not the signature of creation.” Is one to infer from this that you are saying that fine tuning is the signature of randomness? Please, show me one proven example of fine tuning that has resulted from randomness? I am an engineer and my experience is that fine tuning is difficult to grasp even with forethought.

  126. @John Thierfelder: You miss TomS‘s argument completely. His point is that if we’re the product of an intelligent designer, then that would be something without limits. If so, why would we need fine tuning to begin with? If they have no limits, so they could have set up the universe to not require fine tuning.
    Now, please, before you answer, think. Don’t give us engineers a bad name, mmm-kay?

  127. This video explains my views perfectly.

  128. Curmudgeon, It is clear that this is not a place for dialogue. I will not be coming back. These members do not want to engage in thoughtful discussion with someone of a different viewpoint. And they are just misinformed. I have been writing publicly about sustainability issues and appropriate technology (, and I talk regularly with leading climate researchers here in my hometown of Laramie, Wyoming ( no they are not Christian fundamentalists and yes they probably share most or all of your viewpoints). We still get along just fine. Most of the problems in this world are not scientific, they are political (climate change anyone?), Science plays a role in identifying and observing natural phenomenon. What we do with the data is up for discussion. For the record, I am not anti science. This group just loves roll out blanket stereotypes across a huge cross section of humanity. Good for them. If they are not interested in maintaining an open mind (or an open dialogue), I consider it their loss. I was perfectly willing to have a conversation (with my fellow lumberjack DocBill). Kind of strange to me, that such an enlightened bunch would rather fling poo, than deal with the issues. I had hoped for better.

  129. @John Thierfelder See above:

    longshadow | 26-December-2014 at 10:22 am |

    Ahhh, fine tuning — the argument that the water in a mud puddle and the edge of the puddle match each other so perfectly in every instance of mud puddles that the probability of it happening by chance is zero.

    All Hail the Intelligent Puddle Designer!

    When you assume “fine tuning”, you automatically demand a “fine tuner” to perform the act, a “Puddle Designer” who carefully places each molecule of water in a depression such that the collection of molecules acquires the precise shape of the depression without any empty spaces or gaps.

    Puddles do not require either “fine tuning” or a “fine tuner”, but their formation is far from random. Laws of chemistry, physics and other sciences (laws or properties such as gravity, surface tension, van der Waals forces) determine the shape of the water in the puddle.

    The constants we observe in this universe are like the shape of water in a puddle; in a different universe the constants might be different or the same, but their values would be determined by that particular universe and not because they were tweaked or “finely tuned” by a “fine tuner”.

  130. Ah, the creationist flounce. Seen it before. It should be Number 4 of Creationism 101.

    [edited out] you Jason, you buckle-hatted Calvinist and Scrooge your Christmas to boot.

    Speaking of which, my freethinker wife of 36 years and I had a grand Christmas. We exchanged gifts, the kids flew into town and I cooked my first beef Wellington followed the next day by a full Christmas turkey dinner. I was one busy freethinker! We sang carols and played Scrabble and had a jolly old time.

    I can only imagine that Jason went out in search of witches to burn. What an idiot.

    As for Jason’s comment that “science is meaningless” I take great exception to that. I have observed the rings of Saturn and the moons of Jupiter through my 10-inch Celestron, and observed the tiny paramecia through my binocular microscope. I watched with giddy anticipation and not a few tears both Spirit and Opportunity land on Mars, and later Curiosity whose “seven minutes of terror” I had memorized. Just this year I watched live Rosetta land a probe on a comet.

    I quote from Blade Runner, the android Roy expresses his love for life,

    I have… seen things you people wouldn’t believe… Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched c-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those… moments… will be lost in time, like [small cough] tears… in… rain. Time… to die…

    I have experienced a wonderful life through science, one that enabled me to retire early, pay off my house and put my kids through college. A life full of wonder that I am “star stuff” composed of atoms generated in stars long gone.

    I am one with the Universe and have a far, far better appreciation of life, my life and the life of my family than a staid, stalled, stagnant, grim, disgusting and cruel disgrace to the human species as Jason.

    Sad to be you, Jason.

  131. gnome de net says: “The constants we observe in this universe are like the shape of water in a puddle; in a different universe the constants might be different or the same …”

    I don’t see any indication of fine tuning. What’s “fine tuned” about the ratio of the mass of an electron and a proton, for example? They make atoms? That’s great, but what about neutrinos? They don’t do anything! People have studied these constants and have tried to see some mathematical relationship, and there isn’t any. They just are what they are. It all seems rather arbitrary.

    They’re only “fine tuned” if one assumes they were intentionally set to the values they have so that we could exist. But that’s backwards! I’m delighted to be here, but most things that exist aren’t necessarily that wonderful — what’s so great about the asteroids? Nothing, really, but they’re what results from the constants that exist.

  132. Michael Fugate

    The only poo-flinging was on your end Jason. We were flinging evidence based on scientific investigation which is why evolution is accepted as the best explanation for the diversity of life on earth. You just don’t want evolution to be true because it means you might need to find your own meaning in life. Everyone’s got to grow up sometime.

  133. I said “Bye, Jason” when it became apparent that he was more interested in arguing than learning, so I’m not at all saddened to read his comment that he won’t be back. Michael Fugate’s right — Jason was quite the poo-flinger.

    Jason has the wrong idea about this blog when he says “These members do not want to engage in thoughtful discussion with someone of a different viewpoint.”

    Science is not about “viewpoint”. This is not a blog about philosophy; it’s about science. Science is the means we use to determine the nature of reality. There is but ONE reality; therefore, there is only ONE “viewpoint” in science — the correct one. So, if Jason has a different “viewpoint” concerning something as widely recognized in science as being an accurate description of reality as evolution, then his “viewpoint” is incorrect — unless, of course, it’s backed by incontrovertible evidence. Didn’t see any evidence of that in what he wrote, other than that he has a “close friend who has a doctorate in biology.”

    Just for the record, I wonder where Jason gets the idea that science fails because it “can’t provide any meaning to life”. Huh? Who says life has to have meaning? Life is. Enjoy it. Help others enjoy it, too. Isn’t that meaning enough?

  134. @Pope RSG:

    I said “Bye, Jason” when it became apparent that he was more interested in arguing than learning,

    Except he wasn’t arguing, he was merely contradicting.
    Us: “Do you accept evolution?”
    Jason: “No.”
    Us: “Do you have any better ideas?”
    Jason: “No.”
    Us: “Do you have any evidence that contradicts evolution?”
    Jason: “No, I just don’t like your evidence.”
    Cardinal TA and I could do an entire riff on Monty Python’s “Argument Clinic” on this one.

  135. How is one to conduct a discussion with a nihilist? The kind of nihilist who sets up standards for how the world ought to be, how we ought to have proof for knowledge – and when reality doesn’t measure up to those standards, who complains about reality. Rather than reexamines those standards.

    The creationist-nihilist who doesn’t like the obvious physical relationship between humans, chimps, other apes, other mammals, … and when confronted with the overwhelming evidence, would rather reject vast realms of knowledge. Who

  136. @TomS: It’s consistently been my experience that whenever cretinists bleat about “engag[ing] in thoughtful discussion with someone of a different viewpoint,” what they’re really after is not dispassionate analysis but affirmation for their beliefs (preferably with some stunned exclamations of awe thrown in). I guess the last thing they really want is a rational, evidence-based exchange of ideas because their whole epistemological approach is topsy-turvy, as in “Hmm, how can I panel-beat this discordant fact so that it looks like it supports my all-important conclusion?” (see also our Curmudgeon’s “Creationist Scientific Method”).

    Theirs seems to be a very peculiar conception of “thoughtful discussion”.

  137. @TomS

    Stop gloating that you’re an “adult” and I’m not. 😉

    Anyway, I see you recommended some authors who might enlighten Jason. I would also add Kenneth Miller and John Haught. Note, he mentioned “John Houghton.” I first wondered if he meant Haught, but I did find a reference to a John Houghton who fits his description. I was amused at his mention of Collins (assuming he means Francis) being “ambiguous” towards “macro evolution.” As you know, Collins not only completely accepts “macro evolution,” (as science defines it) he criticizes anti-evolution activists who misrepresent it. And of course all 3 understand what Pope John Paul II meant by “convergence, neither sought nor fabricated.”

    Actually I only revisited this old thread because I heard Metaxas on Medved’s radio show yesterday. I heard just enough to “feel his pain,” and not just in the Clintonian sense, at all the “Godlessness” out there. Fortunately there are people like I mentioned above who find God in the big picture, not some hapless, possibly deceased (per Behe’s Dover testimony) designer in the “gaps.” For what it’s worth, Metaxas did clearly state that the universe is 13.8 billion years old. Medved, like most DI Fellows, also has long admitted that he has no issue with the chronology of universe, earth and life. If I were to guess, both would admit common descent (agreeing with Behe) if not the “macro evolution” caricature.

  138. retiredciguy: “Science is not about ‘viewpoint’.”

    Sure, but unfortunately only a tiny minority truly understands and appreciates that. Pope John Paul II certainly did. He may have personally wished that the evidence favored an origins account like the “6 day, ~6000-year-ago creation” interpretation of Genesis. But he saw enough of the convergence of evidence, and discussed enough to know that it was not the result of “seeking and fabricating.” More importantly, he was secure enough in his faith – and that of the “masses” – in the “ultimate cause” that old earth, common descent and evolution did not threaten him in the least. Many atheists and agnostics, also with strict moral codes, came to the same exact conclusion, despite radical differences in viewpoints regarding ultimate causes.

    Put that way, there is no reason to even mention “ultimate causes” when discussing scientific topics like evolution, abiogenesis, Big Bang, etc. At best it’s a waste of time, and at worst it reinforces common misconceptions about science and ultimate causes.

  139. Cardinal Gary, speaking of [Troll?] Jason:
    “Except he wasn’t arguing, he was merely contradicting.”

    Yep. He seemed to be just trying to get our collective goat.

  140. Cardinal TA and I could do an entire riff on Monty Python’s “Argument Clinic” on this one.

    No you couldn’t.

  141. @Doc Bill: (slow, loud clap!)

  142. Gotta love a post with Monty Python quotes!

  143. “Gotta love a post with Monty Python quotes!”

    Right — I wasn’t expecting that!

  144. Nobody expects … oh, bugger!

  145. @Jason:

    Point me to a source that shows how the species diverged. Give me a fossil record, with documentation.

    Here are two basic sources:

    “Speciation” by Coyne and Orr

    “Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why it Matters” by Donald Prothero

  146. Give me a fossil record
    I’m taking this as an occasion to point out that evolution is not only something that happened in the distant past, and that fossils are not the only information that we have about evolution.
    Of course, fossils tell us some things that we’d never imagine, and help to determine some parameters.
    Even the Young Earth Creationists have given up on speciation, that’s one of the arguments that they council against making. They prefer talk about “baramins” (vague enough not to be falsified).