In a Newsweek opinion peice from September 27th, writer Lisa Miller, “argues against the atheists”. The column is called “Belief Watch”, and Miller’s apologetic scribblings do the vacuous nature of religious belief complete justice. She begins by arguing that atheists like Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens are unfamiliar with real believers.
First, if 90-odd percent of Americans say they believe in God, it’s unhelpful to dismiss them as silly. Second, when they check that “believe in God” box, a great many people are not talking about the God the atheists rail against—a supernatural being who intervenes in human affairs, who lays down inexplicable laws about sex and diet, punishes violators with the stinking fires of hell and raises the fleshly bodies of the dead.
When over fifty percent of Americans believe in a literal interpretation of Genesis, what are we atheists supposed to think? If we include all Christians worldwide, particularly the ones in poorer Catholic and Eastern Orthodox nations, the percentage is probably much higher. This doesn’t take into account the non-democratic Islamic nations, where Western ideas are spat upon, and where basic education is limited to males, and where people are threatened into believing in the all-powerful Allah. So, the actual number of believers in an angry, vengeful, and intervening god is probably much much higher than even Lisa Miller cares to imagine.
Apologetics is a form of faith; it’s faith in faith. Miller finishes her paper-thin argument by hauling in the invisible sacred cow.
Submitting faith to proof is absurd. Reason defines one kind of reality (what we know); faith defines another (what we don’t know). Reasonable believers can live with both at once.
Reasonable believers? Can reason and faith coexist? And how can faith define the unknown? Isn’t the unknown, by its very definition, indefinable? Here, Miller’s mental gymnastics are Olympic quality. And most believers would likely take great offense to her reducing their unshakable faith to an algebraic X. Personally, I prefer to think of all faith simply as a Y.
Is it me or does Sarah Palin sound here like she could be George Bush’s equally dumb sister? I don’t know how to interpret her answer to Katie Couric’s question. Does Palin not read newspapers or news magazines, or does she not remember any of the titles of her favorite periodicals? Either way, it doesn’t look good on camera. Her style is more appropriate for an unctuous saleswoman than a Washington politician. I can picture her now trying to sell me an insurance policy or a time-share in Miami Beach.
If I didn’t already know her belief in creationism, then I would have guessed. It follows that Curious George, the monkey, must be a Democrat, or at least a libertarian, because ultra-conservative, Christian Republicans don’t seem to give a rat’s ass about the wide world outside their bubbles of ignorance.
P.S. Check out how defensive McCain gets when Palin’s qualifications are questioned.
These guys either didn’t read the complete definition or they have a really crappy dictionary, or they’re just stupid. They are wearing clownish costumes on TV, after all. I just wish they had looked up the word “colloquialism”. If they had, they might have understood that some words, like “theory”, often have a common everyday definition as well as a scientific one. Even Scrabble players appreciate the fact that many scientific terms can’t be found in Webster’s or American Heritage.
The “evolution is only a theory” argument is sad, pathetic, and old. It’s what uneducated goofballs spout from their blowholes.
In addition to the common definitions, Merriman-Webster’s defines a theory as “a plausible or scientifically acceptable general principle or body of principles offered to explain phenomena” and “the analysis of a set of facts in their relation to one another”.
It’s strange how these three wise men missed that one.
Over at ScienceBlogs.com, PZ Myers, on his Pharyngula blog, issued a request for people to bust up a pathetic evolution poll (read the text of the story). His readers succeeded and the poll was dashed. The question asked in the poll was:
What do you think the appropriate lesson should be in public schools?
1. Evolution only
2. Evolution, pointing out weaknesses in theory
3. Evolution and creationism
4. Creationism only
What strikes me as disturbingly normal about this poll is that creationism is immunized against criticism. Evolutionary biology is a science and all scientific positions are open to falsification, if valid counter evidence is presented. But in the poll, creationism isn’t set up in the same manner as evolution is in choice #2. To be fair, shouldn’t there have been the following 5th choice?
5. Creationism, pointing out weaknesses in the theory
Denounce evolution all you want, but if creationism is to be allowed in the science classroom, it has to be able to withstand rigorous testing, picking and prodding. And that means looking at all its weaknesses. All of them. It’s kind of like asking a sleazy politician to open up his closet door. Skeletons aplenty.