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Vexen Crabtree 2015


Vexen Crabtree's Live Journal

Sociology, Theology, Anti-Religion and Exploration: Forcing Humanity Forwards

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Vexen Crabtree 2015

Religion news

1. The famous paleontologist, Richard Leakey is the author of "Origins Reconsidered: In Search of What Makes Us Human", and was for years was director of Kenya's museums. He has been fighting a battle against creationists in Kenya, in particular Pentecostal evangelicals, who are determined to use "religious toleration" to force Kenya's museums to hide science in order to avoid challenging their faith.

The museum's collections include the most complete skeleton yet found of homo erectus, a 1.7 million year-old skeleton, and skeletons of the species that first evolved to walk upright, 4 million years ago. Bishop Adoyo, head of the six-million strong Pentecostal congregation "Christ is the Answer Ministries", seemingly without a sense of irony, says, "Leakey and his group want their theories presented as fact".

2. The creationist Kent Hovind, who pleaded guilty to (three times) constructing a building without permission (he wants to build another creationist humans-and-dinosaurs-existing-at-the-same-time themed park). He has now been "arrested and indicted in federal court on fifty-eight charges, including"... tax fraud, tax evasion, evading banking requirements and making threats against IRS investigators. "The grand-jury indictment alleges that Hovind and his wife, Jo, withdrew $430,500 from AmSouth bank between July 20, 2001, and August 9,2002. The withdrawals, most made only days apart, were consistently for amounts just below the $10,000 starting point for federally required cash-transaction reporting.".

He has been stripped of his passport and guns.

Both of these are reported in Skeptical Inquirer, volume 30, No. 6 (Nov/Dec 2006).

The Skeptical Inquirer is my new 'thing', it is an absolutely awesome resource for discussions on all things anti-science, and has connections to many atheist, humanist and pro-science groups, including Prof. Dawkins (Oxford Uni), Richard Wiseman (Herts Uni), Daniel Dennett, Robert Sheaffer, Elizabeth Loftus (famous psychologist), etc. Just reading it's "Fellows" list made me excited! :-)

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Why can Creationists &/or Intelligent Design (ID) advocates solve Sudoku Number Puzzles so quickly?


It’s just a matter of faith! It’s the same method creationists and now ID specialists resort to in trying to prove their unsustainable “intelligent design theory”. Creationists can just stop searching for reality by just assuming all gaps in current understanding and/or knowledge of evolution must be filled with a (G=god) solution. As Prof Richard Dawkins explains in chapter four of The GOD Delusion; “If an apparent gap is found, it is assumed that God, by default must fill it.” Saves them having to think and question I suppose.

Much like the progress one makes by eliminating the possible numbers in each square as a Sudoku puzzle is solved, “gaps shrink as science advances and God is threatened with eventually having nothing to do and nowhere to hide.” This of course “worries thoughtful theologians” however the greater worry for scientists (and the rest of us) is that groups through politics or fear will walk away from the “essential part of the scientific enterprise [that is] to admit ignorance.”

Nothing is more dangerous than a, ‘I have all the answers’ arrogant preacher followed by a bunch of non-thinking ‘god-botherers’ driven by blind faith who absolve themselves from their societal responsibilities with the comfort of unquestioning feeble-minds!

Although some see Dawkins as a bit of a raver and less scientific in his arguments than he could (should) be, if you read Pascal Boyer's writings (e.g. "Gods, Spirits and the Mental Instincts that Create Them"), Dawkins’ 'emotional' approach to battling the “ID” lobby is also needed. I read recently a quote (can’t remember who’s or where) that goes along the line of: ‘you cannot logic a man out of a point of view that logic didn’t get him to in the first place’. Faith is driven by fear, passion, hardwired avoidance mechanisms and emotion and that is exactly what realists need to stimulate to reverse the current worrying trend by the slick religious nutters to sell their unpalatable and dangerous certainties.

Its time to organise, its time to fight… I for one don’t want to leave this problem for the next generation to solve alone.

By the way a good introduction to Boyer (Henry Luce Professor of Individual and Collective Memory at Washington University in St. Louis), can be found here:
http://artsci.wustl.edu/%7Epboyer/LuceWebSite/LucePeople.html and there are a few notes, quotes and summaries on my own blog.


Its time to organise, its time to fight… I for one don’t want to leave this problem for the next generation to solve alone.

I agree fully, but my problem with Dawkins is that he spends 95% of his time (justifiably) attacking Christianity, but has almost nothing to say about Islam, which is, to be honest, a much, much greater threat to the secular world than Christianity.

I hope this anamoly can't be explained by cowardice.

Actually, my problem with Dawkins is that he spends 95% of his time attacking.

It may be justified, but all it will do is preach to the converted; believers will simply switch off when faced with an affront to what is, to them, their entire life. This does little to actually change the way believers deal with science, and is in fact likely to have an negative effect in the long term.

Believers are like heavily fortified castles. A siege attack from outside may work from time to time, but it's much more effective to introduce an idea that is acceptable inside, and let that idea germinate within the walls and create change that way.

What a good similé!

It is only sometimes that he attacks (and I know exactly what you mean - sometimes his diatribes are embarrasingly un-elegant); he has spent a great amount of time on positive scientific research, and his books such as Unweaving the Rainbow are excellent portrayals of the beauty of science.

But I think you're right about hardcore believers; however in The God Delusion, Dawkins says he knows it too, and that he merely hopes that by presenting the facts and figures (as he does) and explaining as best he can, he may help some people overcome religiosity. I think he largely helps others (such as me) help others.

Dawkins explains in The God Delusion that this is because most of the lunatic-fringe in the USA who are anti-religion creationists are Christian, and therefore he spends very little time being pestered by Muslims, and reacts equally little to them.

However, he explains carefully that (in that book, at least) he argues against religion in general, and God in principal, and that these arguments apply to Christians and Muslims.

I am in the same boat - my cultural history has endowed me with plenty of public references to Christianity, making them familiar enemies to me, but very few Muslim ones aside from political and violence issues.

He is far from a coward - he is a hot debater with anyone who cares to take him on - but, others such as Jihad Watch are much more capable at debating on Muslim issues. So he debates the principles - reflected in the institution of Christianity in the West - and hopes that others will translate these issues into Muslim-specific terms.

Ibn Warraq, for an example, is very Dawkins-friendly and Muslim-literate.

Cheers for pointing out that journal, I feel a subscription coming on.

Also, my favourite net resource for the ID/Darwin 'wars' is http://www.pandasthumb.org/

Some of my faves on this topic are http://www.talkorigins.org and of couse the new Richard Dawkins Foundation (http://richarddawkins.net/ ). TalkOrigins is the best technical resource on evolutionary biology that I've found on the internet. The Internet Infidels library also contains some equally excellent and technical material on wider religious issues, more philosophical and sometimes more accessible.

At this point can I boast that I have an article on TalkOrigins.org? *grins*

I wrote their Supernovae, Supernova Remnants and Young Earth Creationism FAQ.

Mind you, its badly in need of updating. Four years is a long time in Astrophyiscs.

That's about the frequency that big-crunch theories became in, or out, of fashion, isn't it?

Well done, by the way. I've boasted to my wife already (on the phone at work) that I know someone who has an article up there. Fortunately, she is innocent of religion, and merely asked, "That's nice dear. Talk-what-dot-org?"

She's great :-)

Pretty much.

The first indications that the expansion of the Universe was speeding *up* came in the late nineties, and that Einstein's "greatest mistake", as he called it, the cosmological constant,/i> wasn't actually a mistake.

Since then, the runaway expansion of the Universe been confirmed, and the latest revolution in Astrophysics has been the first direct proof of the existance of Dark Matter.

www.vexen.co.uk/religion/lnx.html links to the Internet Infidels library, and has other 'highly recommended' links on it.

Pandas Thumb looks fun, I wish every Uni had such public and prominent scientific discussion boards! Do any Uni staff post there, or is it mostly students?

I believe it's part of a 'virtual' university, most of the contributors are either PhD students or well-versed Post Docs / lecturers at real institutes. Usually a decent amount of active commentary, plus they do tend to refer back and forth to the other notable sites with good editorials.

I'm going to have to start reading CSICOP regularly. I see religion as a corrosive influence on the advancement of knowledge.

There is an excellent article in the NY Times about religion vs. science. You should read it before it goes away.

It is truly horrifying to me to see people deliberately embracing ignorance and hatred in the name of faith. One of the scientists quoted in the NYT article puts things this way:

“Science is a philosophy of discovery; intelligent design is a philosophy of ignorance.”

Truer words have not been spoken.

Skeptical Inquirer is good; and reading it has allowed me to see inside a network of pro-science magazines. They are centered around the scientific Center for Inquiry lobby.

(Deleted comment)
It's been in my "things to buy.txt" for years, so maybe I was just biding my time!

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