Philosophy with Attitude

In another article The Rink writes:

Someone else wrote:

Read Darwin, Gould, Hawkings and Sagan. Shoulda paid attention in Biology class. This is high school stuff. I don't need to give you a book report. Adam and Eve are a myth and that is a fact. If you believe otherwise, that's your call, but you are wrong.

*shrug* Read Morris or Ruckman or a couple others I could think of if had the time. They effectively disprove evolution on so many different count it almost makes the theory's proponents laughable. And didn't Darwin himsel eventually concede that his whole theory was garbage before he died? (I coul be wrong about that.)

You are wrong about that. Darwin always felt really guilty about what he knew the premise of evolution (eg that things HAVE changed over time, and PLEASE don't try to deny that organisms have changed...) would do to the religion of his time. He remained "faithful" to the concept, though he did clarify a few points before his death.

As for Morris and his kind... I think "effectively" is definitely the wrong word for what they did. Effective if you have almost no understanding of biology, sure. Effective if your scientific background is that of the average American. But I guarantee you, I could go through any one of those myth-informing texts and argue 99% of the counts you claim are so effective, and I'm just an undergraduate in Biology. Try reading a little about genetics, taxonomy, biological processes, and the like before you conclude that those authors are correct and that proponents of evolution are "laughable".

Always questioning,


n a previous article Edlinger writes:

Funny thing about trying to disprove evolution, every argument agains it points toward a static universe. With evidence of the Earth being some 40 million years old (I think, can't quite remember), and mankind

Actually, the earth looks to be about 4.5 BILLION years old (based on rates of sedimentation, metamorphic processes, radiometric dating, and dozens of other methods).

being around about 4.5 million years (of that I'm sure, according to recent data), then the Earth would still be in the same environmenta state it was 5 million years ago. Data from experiments show that 5 million years ago the Earth was quite different. That's also about th time the Great Rift formed in eastern Africa (modern Ethiopia to abou Mozambique). Genetic evidence supports our similarity to apes (includin chimps). While no one can surely say one thing or another, more evidenc is in favour of evolution than any other theory.

This, incidentally, is what makes evolution a THEORY and not a mere HYPOTHESIS. A lot of people have a misconception about the meaning of a theory: it is NOT (as most non-scientists believe) a simple, unsupported statement. That is a hypothesis, which scientists use as a basis for gathering data for support. A theory is a scientific statement which is based on many experiments and observation (and yes, there have been experiments done with evolution, concerning the mechanism).

Einstein's Theory of Relativity, Kepler's theories of planetary motion, the various quantum theories about the nature of matter... these are not simple "Well, this MAY be the case but no one knows for sure" kind of statements. These are statements that have been consistently backed up by observation and analysis, and so we accept them as being true.

Of course, there are no real LAWS in science, because that implies that the statement in question is ALWAYS true. We cannot ever know for certain that planetary motion ALWAYS follows the same laws, but we do assume it because there is no proof to the contrary. Once that is found, however, science changes its theories to fit the new data. That is one of science's real advantages over dogma. Even though the data do not fit the Genesis hypothesis, dogmatic Christians do not change their views in accordance with the new data.

Now, the Theory of Evolution is called a theory because it has been supported by thousands of examples. It has undergone a lot of change in the past 100+ years, since it was introduced; we now know a lot more about how it proceeds, although there is still a great deal of debate about the actual mechanism that drives it. While it is true that scientists cannot say precisely how life began, that does not imply that a god must exist, merely that we don't know the cause yet. Having a god who serves only to fill in the gaps in our knowledge... well, it doesn't seem very spiritual to me.

As far as the gaps in the fossil record are concerned, they are not there because there were no intermediate forms. THe process of fossilization is EXTREMELY chancy -- it is a rare organism that dies in the right place at the right time to be fossilized. There are also millions of cubic miles of sediments that we HAVEN'T explored yet, and in those millions of cubic miles there are probably quite a few "missing links". Again, why have a god that exists between the gaps in our knowledge?

People used to think that the gods' anger caused lightning and thunder. Now we know that it is an electrical discharge between clouds and the earth. We still don't know exactly what causes it... but I doubt that there is anyone out there who seriously believes that it is a god. The same can be said for the seasons (Demeter's capture and release by Hades), the motion of the planets (celestial spheres), and numerous other examples. Now that we know more about these phenomena, we no longer need to postulate a god to set them into motion. I hope that someday reason will prevail, and we will no longer need to postulate a god for the existence of life, either.

Yours in Science,

Jan the Unbeliever

Hello, me again -- not really topical this time, but I'd like to remark that I'm REALLY pleased with the discussion this has generated! It's so nice to see that some of the postings have gotten people thinking about and evaluating their views... I just wish there were a more appropriate local newsgroup for it (unh.flame doesn't seem to cover science...).

At any rate, thanks to all those who have been contributing to the thread, especially to Mark and Keith and "Egon". I've enjoyed reading your replies immensely... and it's nice to know there are others out there on the "scientific side" of the argument. Maybe we should start a club like Xian Impact or the BSU -- I miss being able to socialize with like thinkers, and living off campus, I really don't see much of people anymore. Any takers? We could call it Science Impact or the Reasonable Student Union or even revive our high-school days and just be a Science Club. Or, for the stronger atheists out there, maybe a student chapter of American Atheists or the Humanist Assoc? We could even be recognized and hold noisy meetings in the new MUB, sing atheist songs and have testimonies from atheist converts... (Any of you ever been to a Xian club meeting? Sit in on one sometime... it's ... interesting...)

But anyway, I digress, and I must go catch my bus. Non-believers and Scientists UNITE!

Kind of silly-ly,

"The Janbeing"

(Thanks, Werner -- I like the sound of that!)


In a past article Jack writes:

In another article Janbeing writes:

But anyway, I digress, and I must go catch my bus. Non-believers and Scientists UNITE!

"The Janbeing"

Jan, the more I know about science, the stronger my belief in god. Finding out how everything works, and knowing that there are some things that we just can't seem to explain makes me believe that this can't be a big mistake. You can count me out of your little geek/atheist play group.


Oh, that makes me sad!! I mean, I know I'm a geek, but not ALL atheists are geeks... I think. Yes, there are certainly things we can't explain, but that doesn't mean we necessarily need to postulate a God- of-the-Gaps to take care of them. If you prefer to hold those beliefs, that's your business, and I will certainly count you out of my "little geek/atheist play group," and I do know how you feel about the science -- God thing.

I spent a year as an active Fundamentalist (I'm sure there are some people from the former Campus Crusade for Christ out there who remember me...) and during that time, my thoughts on the matter were "Gee, the universe is so big and things have worked out so well for us, there MUST be a god." This, of course, is a version of the Anthropic Principle, which, in it's most common form, states that because we are here, the universe must have been designed for us. Of course, if the universe WASN'T the way it is, we wouldn't be here to postulate, so it's kind of a null argument. But I know how your thinking is working here.

As for my "little geek/atheist play group"... well, isn't it time we freethinkers had our own opportunities for fellowship? I used to be in the AA (before they dissolved the smaller chapters) and then in the AHA (AMerican Humanist Assoc.) before I came to UNH, and it was really nice to be able to have discussions, lectures, and yes, play, with people who hold the same belief system. Just because we don't believe that gods exist doesn't mean we don't have human needs for companionship.

I've already gotten a message from Egon on this, who has suggested that until the MUB opens, we could meet in a pub (fine for those of us who are 21+, but what about younger freethinkers?); anyone else interested? I mean, we don't have to be exclusively atheist; agnostics and humanists would likely be welcome. "Join the little geek/atheist play group! Have fun with godless friends and hell-bound sinners!" Sounds like good copy to me...

In life,



In a past article Werner writes:

In different article Janbeing writes:

[CLIP] I've already gotten a message from Egon on this, who has suggested that until the MUB opens, we could meet in a pub (fine for those of us who are 21+, but what about younger freethinkers?); anyone else interested? I mean, we don't have to be exclusively atheist; agnostics and humanists would likely be welcome. "Join the little geek/atheist play group! Have fun with godless friends and hell-bound sinners!" Sounds like good copy to me...

Does free thinkers= atheist, agnotics, humanists? If so you had better be prepared to duck. *quack*

Atheists, agnostics, and then-humanists used to call themselves freethinkers (starting in the last century, I think) because that name attracts less negative commentary than does, say, atheism. That's just the way it is, historically.

About your story... I know who you're talking about, and no, she is not technically a freethinker, though she may call herself one. (I am, you see, familiar with her religious beliefs.) What she is doing is using a socially accepted term to temper any arguments people may have with her, before they even start. While this is dishonest, she has the right to do so, as long as she is willing to accept the consequences (which, granted, she is not, at least from the conversations I've had with her). So anyway, she's not really a freethinker in the historical sense; she is a radical feminist, a label that she is evidently not willing to accept.

I don't know if this helps much, but I can try.


The Janbeing


In an extremely offensive past article Jack writes:

Right-o Werner. In my opinion, what Jan is terming as "free thinkers" I prefer to refer to them as "non-thinkers". I consider myself a free thinker, in that I reach my conclusions on the supreme being by my own means, and that no priest, minister, rabbi, evangelist, witness, sig file, or book, etc. tells me, or even enables me to think about god.

I am, as you may have guessed, EXTREMELY offended by this posting. I will not take this offense to heart, because I realize that this is unh.FLAME, but I must respond to the tone that this posting takes.

Do you honestly think that I haven't thought about the possible consequences and reasoned through all the arguements for each side of this question? Can you seriously believe that, even having read through my previous postings? I am not -- repeat, NOT -- the sort of atheist whose lack of beliefs comes from a lack of thinking, though those types do exist. We call them "weak atheists" for that reason.

Strong atheists, of which I am one, think long and hard about all our beliefs and the lack thereof. I have read the bible -- six or seven different versions -- probably more thoroughly than your average Christian. I have attended the church services, bible studies, and various religious events of several different brands of Christianity, as well as being familiar with the major Jewish and even Islamic beliefs. I actually spent a year in the mindset of a Fundamentalist -- I truly believed in the saving powers etc etc of Jesus; I prayed for my family and friends; I felt guilt for things I had no reason to feel guilty for when I was an atheist (for example, my bisexuality).

However, reading the bible (indeed, studying it as I did) made me think even harder about the beliefs I was then holding. I looked at this god that was supposed to be omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent, and saw the contradictions in the bible that he had supposedly written. I thought about all the sincere and good people that I knew, whom this "omnibenevolent" god would torture in hell for all eternity, because the "evidence" they were offered was not convincing enough. If god were truly omni^3, he would have no qualms about offering a miracle every hour, if that is what it would take to save the soul of every human being on earth. That's no violation of free will, but it would certainly be more effective than a 2000 year old book whose authors contradict each other more often than the members of Congress.

Anyway, I had thought my way into Christianity, and then I thought my way out of it. I still think about it a lot, and I have heard a lot of arguments going both ways. I am the very antithesis of a non-thinker, Jack, and I hope that this post helps you to accept that fact.




In yet another article Jack writes:

I was refering to atheists. And that's sort of what the word means anyway.


Actually, Jack, atheist really means "without religion" -- the "a" is Greek for "without" or "not" and "theism" is, of course, the belief in god, gods, or religion.

To say that it "sort of" means "without thought" is misleading, and an attack on semantics. Unless, of course, you'd like to write your own dictionary and see that it gets accepted in all English-speaking nations.

Hoping you can accept that we think,



In another article "WERNER" writes:

In a previous article Janbeing wrote:


more effective than a 2000 year old book whose authors contradict each other more often than the members of Congress.

I resent the conection of the bible to the former, infamous bastion of democratic ignorance and political correctness. If I cannot think of a biggert waste of time then the democratic party and the platforms they support Gays in the military, abortion, high taxes, welfare for everyone who gets laid without a condom, and irresponsibility. HOW DARE you compare that cesspit that the Republicans are trying to clean up to one of the greatest works man has ever been inspired to put out.

Er, have you READ your bible lately, Werner? You'll find a lot worse than those examples you cite between its pages. There's father-daughter incest (which, incidentally, goes unpunished, unlike many biblical happenings), mass murder, along with rape and pillaging, numerous other scandalous happenings. And not just in the Old Testament, mind you, but also in the new: Jesus himself gets pissed off at a tree for not bearing fruit (even though it was the wrong season), so he destroys it with a flick of the wrist. Very humane of him. But wait, there's more...

The bible stands as more then just a book. To many of us it stands as a way of life.

Like the examples above? I guess all those Catholic priests were right all along...

When you consider how the bible instructs us to live our life then you should be thankful. The bible asks us to love each other, even those people who deny Him.

Really? And the Bible is the only source of wisdom that does this? My personal code of morality tells me to treat my fellow creatures with love and respect, but not so that I'll go to heaven: I try to be good to people because as independent moral entities, they deserve it as much as I do. The Golden Rule was NOT coined by Jesus, nor were many of the virtues to which most Christians think they have sole claim.

The bible makes no distinction between our treatment of believers and non-believers. We are ALL His children and should love each other.

That's not what the Old Testament says at all -- God himself killed millions of people because they didn't believe in him. Read it for yourself. And even Jesus, and especially Paul, warn unbelievers that they are doomed to hell -- hardly a loving act -- if they do not consent to follow this god.

The bible incourages people to be true to themselves and to God. That is more then your precious atheism encourages. All your self-destructive atheism encourages is strife, and problems.

Actually, my NOT self-destructive atheism encourages nothing. There is no fundemental atheist creed, no Book of Atheism that we all follow; all that atheists have in common is the lack of a belief in god/gods. That's it. And atheism is the opposite of self-destructive: most of us don't believe there is an afterlife, either, so we must be doubly careful of life, our own and those around us. Suicide is not an option for us, because there IS NO loving god waiting on the other side for us, no Heaven or Hell, just nothing. Non-being. Self-destruction is anathema to an atheist, because this life is all we've got.

I respect your views, Janbeing you know this is true, but the majority of atheists enjoy shouting their views from the top of every rooftop. Somethings don't need to be shouted, just whispered. In closing, until these backward, rationalizing atheist groups produce something positive I will continue to maintain that the bible is THE TRUTH.

Do you usually equate backwards and rationalizing? Please substantiate your claims. And what kind of "positive" do you want? The American Humanist Association has produced a very life-affirming, caring, loving document called the Humanist Manifesto -- it calls for the end of wars, violence, and other truly self-destructive behaviours, and encourages people to love one another as humans and living beings. It supports democratic ideals, along with charitable causes; calls for the end of totalitarian regimes and other forms of government where fear is the ruling party. It asks for the basic human rights and freedoms.

Is this not a positive document, just because it doesn't mention the word or concept of god? And if you answer yes to this question, I would ask you to rethink what you really mean when you say that something is good. It is more than just possible to be good without god; if one is truly thoughtful, it is imperative.

In life,



In another article Jack writes:

In a previous article Janbeing writes:

Thought I'd share this with the rest of you folks, just so you can see exactly what you're dealing with... and Werner, who you're siding with:

This was a letter correspondence on private email. But Jan here needs strength in numbers, so she's "exposed" me to all of you here on .FLAME. So, do your duty flamers!

Like I said.


Oh yeah, I thought I'd save the tattle tale some time and tell you myself that I wrote her and called her a [bad names removed], in the middle of explaining this no-holds-barred newsgroup. Nya nya! -Jac

And now, the rest of the story:

I apologise for this being on unh.flame. I didn't put it here, nor do I like having it here -- I'd much rather post these things to a more appropriate newsgroup, but I don't know how to create one.

What I had intended to do was to post his original responce to a letter (very cordial, I might add) that I wrote to him. I pulled the wrong file out of PINE, however, and then posted the wrong one because I was in a hurry -- almost missed my bus. For this I must also apologise.

But the reply I got from him, from which he posts above, was an exercise in profanity, rudeness, and utter lack of decency. His excuse? Exchanges that happen on networks are "virtual" (eg not real) and as such, normal rules of etiquitte do not apply. It is, he claims, perfectly acceptable to be as obnoxious as you like, since none of it is real.

This makes me wonder: how many people would agree with this statement? Now granted, it is indeed much easier to be obnoxious to people on the net because we are deprived of their immediate reactions -- if they cry, laugh, seethe, or hate your guts, we never know it. But does this excuse such behaviour? Should insults and slurs fired over wires be considered okay because they're "virtual"?

A more personal note for Jack -- I thought that when I replied to you via Pine, I was also replying to you on this newsgroup -- that's what the ^R keystroke is supposed to do. WHen I found this was not the case, I decided to post the letter as sent. It was a rash decision and one that I regret, so if you get this far, I ask you to accept my apologies... even though I know you're just going to call me something new and more disgusting. (I would love to use this to point out that you don't need to be religious to be a good person, morally, but I can hope that you're an isolated case on the religious side...)

And, much as I am loathe to do, I must quote Werner, quoting a bad film:

"Can't we all just get along?"




[Incidentally, we have learned to get along, and while the arguments continue on unh.flame (a local group), they are much more civil now. We have, however, been covering the same topics for months and months now...

On to the next discussion

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