Thursday, December 25, 2008

Fuck You Dogmatic Atheists

You disgust me. I’m sorry I wasted my time reading your blog, but I’m never coming back again.

Although I truly can’t fathom how someone can go from being a skeptic to believing that a deity poofed things into existence, and a guy rose from the dead after three days, based on a single book of dubious origin, more power to you if it makes you happy.

Well – congratulations on burying your head in the sand. I wonder what horrific even in your life pushed you running screaming into the waiting arms of your invisible friend.

Your religion is about as believable as that picture of an Anglo-Jesus comforting a group of racially diverse children……as of course the Bible says he often did.

oh my goodness. i’m so sad to see this. farewell, you were once a force for good and reason on the internet. i’m sorry to see your mind stolen away.

What happened to you? You used to have a brain, or at least seemed like it. Since the de-enlightenment has apparently occurred, I will no longer frequent. Perhaps some time in the land of ignorance will turn you around.

I see you’ve started this thread with a picture of a paediphile priest and four of his victims. I hope you’ve given their names to the police.

It’s sad so see someone who’s too tired or scared to keep thinking. Have fun with your death cult.

Did death scare you that much?

Is it April 1st already?

Swapping cold reality for a comforting myth is something of a tragedy. Celebrating ignorance is not something I’m comfortable with. Nevertheless, you gotta do what you gotta go, so good luck!

You took the blue pill. Understandable, but sad.

Dear me, how pathetic. You used to think for yourself, and now you’ve let a bunch of Christians brainwash you. Hope it was worth it.

any reason you’ve put up a pic of such a historically silly european jesus? or is the idea of a non-white middle-easterner somehow scary?i guess you’ve already sacrificed rationality, a little side of racism should get things good and finished.

oh yes and merry christmas: the holiday where christians celebrate the impregnation of a 14 year old by a murderous diety…who then lets a king slaughter all the under-2-year-old males in town! yay!

If I ever get an abortion, I’ll dedicate it to you. Enjoy the vapid, glassy-eyed company, moron.

Without even meeting you I can tell that you have the personality construct of an addict which is evident in your see-sawing from one extreme to another. You were a crappy atheist to begin with. Enjoy your mindless devotion to Jebus and the Deathcult.

I hope you find you way back to logical thinking someday! Good luck though if it makes you happy.

Welcome to the make-believe world of jewish, dinosaur-riding zombies who, despite creating the universe, just cannot seem to handle money.

This is the most pathetically hilarious thing I’ve ever seen. Anyone claiming to be an Atheist who later recants was never an Atheist. Doubt and fear of damnation still lingered deep in your psyche. The mind control of religion is a deep scar that often never heals.

You stupid fuck. How can you do such a thing, worship a being that doesn’t exist and doesn’t give a fuck about any one of us. Dumb fuck.

You always were a bit unhinged.

That picture RT posted of the white Jesus surrounded by a racially diverse group of pawing children speaks volumes. Notice how adoringly they look up at him, and how lovingly he looks back. He appreciates that sort of wide-eyed and ignorant adoration. Little kids will believe practically anything. No wonder Jesus wants to surround himself with them.

What a tool you are….get a life. No, join the other losers of the God Cult and leave the URL to someone more deserving, tool.

I can understand vacilating between atheism and some form of deism, but straight to believing that God in a dead jewish carpenter is extreme. hope it works for you.

Congratulations on making your way into the intellectual pig sty I took so long to get out of.
As for your name, when you dropped the “a-”, you should have also dropped the “-aving”… and replaced it with “-etarded”.
Enjoy your new-found ignorance. It’s bliss.

You are scared of death, scared of other people’s death, and rather than confront this you have decided to run away. This is understandable, it is human. But your own cowardice does not give weight to Christiobollox any more than it would to Hinduism if you happen to have been brought in India.

Congratulations. You’ve abandoned reason for madness, clarity for obfuscation and freedom for bondage. You’ve bought into the greatest con of the ages, and willingly support all manner of inhuman and degrading tenets of that faith, all in the name of a celestial white male who’s giving you a carte blanche to rape, pillage and molest the planet.

This reminds me of, “I have given up on reality and am now looking for a good fantasy.” Have a nice fantasy. Just remember, if you ever let yourself doubt again, that religious experience is generated in the brain by physical processes.

I can’t believe someone who hosted an atheist site has converted. The ignorance is stronger than I thought. I don’t blame you for personally converting. That’s your business. But I think the fact that you, of all people, converted is sad. WHY? How did this happen?

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas, Economy and Life

Hey Bill O'Reilley, if you want to battle the "war on Christmas" why not start with your own network? I was watching NFL on FOX earlier this week (Cardinals vs Patriots) and all I saw everywhere was "Happy Holidays" with barely a mention of "Merry Christmas". I thought it was too funny. Clearly someone didn't get the memo. A war on FOX I tell you!

Larry Kudlow, of CNBC fame, is a right wing loon. Despite Obama winning the election he wont stop pestering the viewers about how Obama should employ the same failed right wing economic policies which started this mess. He misses the bigger picture by saying "gas is so cheap" and "interest rates are so low". (He calls these things mustard seeds from the bible...) These are of course BAD SIGNS for the economy. No one cares about the price of gas when they don't have a job. For those who don't want to hear the usual rubbish from CNBC there are some gems out there in YouTube land, such as Don Harrold. (Don likes to get stuck into flip-flop economic "advisor" Jim Cramer)

Obama's presidency could either be bad news or good news for Republicans. On one hand if the economy does not recover in two years, in time for the mid-term elections, the Republicans should control the house, ready for an assault on the White House in 2012. If Obama really makes a mess of it, forget seeing a Democrat in the white house until 2020 at the earliest. On the other hand if messiah Obama pulls a miracle and saves the economy (forgetting that the economy usually goes in cycles) then the Republicans are in big trouble - barring a Clinton...

Every time I get the desire to contact my Catholic ex-girlfriend to mend the bridges, something happens which makes me facepalm and not want to deal with any of that. Last time was the Webster Cook crackergate affair, this time is the Pope's anti-homosexual spiel.

Early February I have beamtime at Sincrotrone Trieste in Italy to do some experiments on DEED (Delayed electron emission detector) as part of my PhD. This will be the third synchrotron visit for us with DEED. In terms of my PhD, the past two visits were unsucessful in that we did not see any "physics" but obtained useful instrumentation data. I'm running late to finish my PhD in three and a half years (I'm about two and three quarters years through), so I need to have a good run, or a good year in the lab here in Perth.

After the visit, I plan on staying in London for a week. I will also make a trip to Southend via Basildon (where my Dad came from). Damn its going to be cold!

Quote of the Day: Reason

Those who invalidate reason ought seriously to consider whether they argue against reason with or without reason; if with reason, then they establish the principles that they are laboring to dethrone: but if they argue without reason (which, in order to be consistent with themselves they must do), they are out of reach of rational conviction, nor do they deserve a rational argument. -- Ethan Allen

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Mere Assertions - Part One

When my ex-girlfriend gave me an extract of C.S. Lewis' notorious apologetic book "Mere Christianity", I wasn't impressed with his arguments based on what I knew. One year on, long since I have talked to my ex, and after a year of almost constant study, I've decided to read the entire book and investigate the claims made in detail.

Preface

Lewis sweeps under the carpet all the different denominations of Christianity as if this difference were not an issue. These differences are an issue with those who do not believe. The argument from incoherency is a problem for both exclusive (only our denomination is saved) and non-exclusive (all Christians are saved) branches of Christianity.
the questions which divide Christians from one another often involve points of high Theology or even of ecclesiastical history which ought never to be treated except by real experts.
Unfortunately this isn't good enough Mr Lewis. How then are we supposed to know which is the "true path" when even the "real experts" cannot tell us? If certain interpretations are to be believed, the incorrect Christian religion has ones soul at danger. This is merely embarrassing.

I will leave this issue alone for the moment, until it pops up later.

Book I. Right and Wrong as a clue to the meaning of the universe.
1. The Law of Human Nature

The chapter heading reveals Lewis' bias. He doesn't pose it as a question but merely asserts it. He doesn't argue this chapter from the point of view of a sceptic, but from someone who is already familiar with Christianity and how Christianity answers these questions. This presumptuousness gets in the way of Lewis argument and turns it into preaching.
None of us are really keeping the Law of Nature.
This is the old tired Christian chestnut that we are all sinners and deep down we know it.

Lewis' moral argument is merely an argument from ignorance.
Think of a country where people were admired for running away in battle, or where a man felt proud of double-crossing all the people who had been kindest to him.
If Lewis knew about evolutionary theory he would know why these countries would be less successful than countries with the opposing characteristics. The urge is therefore nothing but characteristics honed through evolution. Countries of cowards would be overrun by those who are violent and double-crosses could not form a society where people work for the benefit of all. He is merely highlighting those innate characteristics that have been formed over millions of years of tough struggle - survival of the fittest.

It is no wonder that Christians like to ignore or deny evolution. It answers the moral question sufficiently. For those who believe evolution was guided by God, apart from being a concession to science, it also posits a cruel God whose method of honing a moral law is sufferring and survival of the fittest.

2. Some Objections

Lewis attempts to answer the skeptic who hasn't fallen for his mere assertion.
Now I do not deny that we may have a herd instinct: but that is not what I mean by the Moral Law.
This sounds promising. He accepts that many of our behaviours are instinctual but claims the Moral Law is not - he will of course have to prove that this isn't special pleading.
But feeling a desire to help is quite different from feeling that you ought to help whether you want to or not.
I see no difference between the two. A desire biases our decision making towards either "do something" or "do nothing". This desire produces the ought. If Lewis is arguing that somehow the physical feeling produces a metaphysical ought, he has a lot of work to do to show this is the case!

To use Lewis' argumentative style I am going to argue by analogy. A desire to eat is the same as the feeling that you ought to eat because the desire is (abstractly) sending the message "eat or die". A human who did not have this desire would mistakenly die! This is why evolution has honed the desire to produce the ought.
You probably want to be safe much more than you want to help the man who is drowning: but the Moral Law tells you to help him all the same.
Interestingly if you set up an experiment where two monkeys are in two cages adjacent to each other and the act of one monkey eating produces a shock in the other monkey - the first monkey will refuse to eat (to the point of almost dying) rather than let his fellow primate suffer. The monkey ought to eat, which would be in its best interest - but does not act on this compulsion. Clearly an example of selflessness. The Christian would need to conclude that God gave the monkey a moral law too!

If no set of moral ideas were truer or better than any other, there would be no sense in preferring civilised morality to savage morality,
This statement is rather infuriating. There are countless examples in the past where "civilised" people felt justified in killing "savages" and even taking their children from their parents for "their own good". Recently the Australian government apologised to the children of the "Stolen Generation" because the "civilised" Australians took children away from their "savage" parents. What were the Australian's apologising for? Lewis claims they were justified in doing what they did because they were morally superior! This is merely mite versus right dressed up as morality.

If your moral ideas can be truer, and those of the Nazis less true, there must be something-some Real Morality-for them to be true about.
I agree with Lewis here. Except we differ on what this "something" is. The Nazi's were missing information. The real tragedy of the holocaust was due to absolute morality and the inability to apply reason and inquiry.

If Hitler were a rational human, we could bring him to a table and show him the information that
a) The Jews are human
b) There is no such thing as an ideal race (its arguable whether races exist or not)
c) Homogeneous races (or sets of populations) are bad for genetic diversity

He would therefore agree with us and believe his plan was not the correct thing to do. This is applying scientific conclusions to show that we were right in our condemnation of Hitler and his actions.

But surely the reason we do not execute witches is that we do not believe there are such things.
Another infuriating message from someone who believes in a bible which says that a man should not suffer a witch to live. (Exodus 22:18)

if we really thought that there were people going about who had sold themselves to the devil and received supernatural powers from him in return and were using these powers to kill their neighbours or drive them mad or bring bad weather, surely we would all agree that if anyone deserved the death penalty, then these filthy quislings did.
Lewis is saying that if we believe witches exist then it is correct to kill them. Lewis has hit the nail on the head as to why absolute morals lead to witch burning and Nazism - but he uses this as an argument FOR absolute morals! Incredible.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Books, Books, Books!

It takes me about ninety minutes to get to university in the morning and sometimes two hours to get back if I end up staying late in the lab. I now use this time to read, rather than the previous tactics of zoning out, sleeping or checking out females. As much as I enjoy immersing myself in books of fiction, I currently have had a hankering for books which make me think.

The first four books I got from Amazon.com were

V.S. Ramachandran : Phantom's In the Brain
Daniel C. Dennett: Consciousness Explained
Stephen Hawking: A Brief History of Time
Daniel C. Dennett: Breaking the Spell - Religion as a natural phenomenon


Phantom's In the Brain
I couldn't put this book down. Each page was a fascinating journey into the mind and how, when things go wrong, we can work out, almost as if by reverse-engineering, how the brain works. Ramachandran is a fantastic public speaker who has captured my imagination numerous times and presents his work in such a way that even non-experts in the field can understand what is going on. (Some of his works can be found on YouTube and Google Video's)

This was the first time I actually got to demonstrate to myself where my blind spot was and the associated phenomeon behind how we fill it in so we don't notice it.

The best story in the book for me was asking people who have large blind spots if they could still "see" despite no conscious recalling of events. It turns out they have a better than chance of "guessing" whether stimulus occured. This implies that although our consciousness may not see something - unconscious processes in the brain can still "see".

Consciousness Explained
False advertising! Having just read Phantom's In The Brain - my mind was geared into thinking about the mind and consciousness which is why I picked up this book. It was a tough read, on one hand the wording seemed geared to those who already had an inkling into this subject area yet I believe it was aimed at the lay person. I started to get into the book about 1/3 of the way in - and there on in, I was entralled. Sometimes I had to put the book down and spend the last part of the bus or train journey thinking about what was just written.

The most poignant memory I took from this book was the question on when consciousness occurs in a causal chain of events.

Let's say there is a woman who walks by who does not have glasses on.

You report after seeing her that she did have glasses on. (You only saw her fairly quickly and you remember seeing someone like her at a party who was wearing glasses)

The question is - did you "see" her wear glasses and recall this event (a so-called Stalinesque show trial) or did you "see" no glasses but recalled her with glasses (so-called Orwellian because the of the rewriting of history)

The answer to this sets the stage for Dennetts Theory and explanation of consciousness, which attempts to finally dethrone the circular notion of the Cartestian Theater.

A Breif History of Time
I cannot really comment on this book as I already knew everything that was in it! I actually thought there would be something more - but I suppose this book really is aimed at the average Joe. Still - there were some pretty pictures and if I could explain things in the way Hawkings does, then I will be very pleased.

One critisism is the loose use of the word "God". The last sentence says it all really
"If we find the answer to that, it would be the ultimate triumph of human reason - for them we would know the mind of God." If you want to know what the question was - get the book!

Breaking The Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon
Daniel returns with the question "Should we break the spell of religion?" Most atheists would spontaneously react with an emphatic YES to this question but Daniel want's to investigate this scientifically lest we regret it!
The answer is obviously yes, otherwise this book would not exist. (An anthropic principle of sorts...)

Again Dennett has a habit of being tediously boring to start with (to be fair, its tedious because it's thorough) before delving into the interesting and thought provoking questions. The most interesting chapter for me was on "Belief in Belief" where Dennett makes the bold claims that many religious people only belief because thats what they are instructed to do and it makes it hard for researchers to find out what they really believe because this differes from what they are told they need to believe.

---

The following arrived in the last two days:

Economics
Freakonomics: Economics of the unusual

Animals and People
Alex & I : A story of a bond between a talking parrot and a scientist
Next of Kin: Conversations with a chimpanzee
The Selfish Gene: Richard Dawkins' Classic

Politics
Noam Chomsky on Anarchism

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Creationism Discussion (cont.)

Kel (of Kelosophy fame) was nice enough to respond to my critique of his critique of creationism.

Nothing like a good heated debate but I'm sure we agree more than disagree. I believe our differences lie in tactics.

As a "wannabe contrarian" I want to try to look at it from a different point of view, i.e. the creationists point of view. There are some fantastic articles on the facts of evolution. From talk.origins to YouTube videos (cdk007, Thunderf00t, DonExodus2, etc) and blogs (such as Kelosophy, Pharyngula).

I percieve these as being effective on one front (getting the facts of evolution out there into the infosphere - spreading memes) yet ineffective at tackling the root cause of creationism and this is what I am calling our "Fallacy Against Creationism" - the fallacies lies not in the logic (which is sound), but in the methodology - which may be flawed.

Good Mockery

One way mockery has been used for good effect is on Scientology. By exposing their bizarre claims to the masses we effectively "immunise" the population to this meme. Unfortunately this ridicule wouldn't work on someone who is already trapped in this delusion as Kel notes
As far as ridicule goes, it may simply put those being ridiculed further into their shells and feed their persecution complex.
I suspect that because we got in early with Scientology, it should not gain traction as anything other than a fringe cult. *fingers crossed*

Locational Context


In Australia we are lucky that we can laugh and mock those who believe in creationism (even Christians get in on the act). For some communities in the USA, this is not possible. Apart from the possibility of getting lynched, you will never win over these people with ridicule. I wouldn't even risk mocking people at Graceland because there might be a sizable proportion who believe Elvis still lives - but perhaps that makes me a coward.

Kel writes,
Hypothetically, think of a scenario involving a discussion on the holocaust. On one side, there is a world war 2 historian with decades of research into the field. On the other, there is a holocaust denier who has never even picked up a history book. Now the debate starts and the historian lays out all the evidence for the holocaust, dispels the myths that are around, and generally gives a convincing historical analysis of what happened. Now the denier stands up and says "If the holocaust happened, why don't we see the ghosts of dead Jews haunting children of Nazis?"

This sounds absolutely absurd and the holocaust denier would be laughed out of the debate hall.
Although I agree with Kel, imagine if this debate hall was in Iran? Suddenly, the holocuast denier isn't laughed out of the debate hall and the crowd agrees with the off-beat question. It's vitally important that the debater make inroads to those in the crowd lest the holocuast denial meme spread.

Professional Creationists

When it comes to professional creationsists such as Kirk Cameron, they know they are onto a good thing with the crocoduck! Not because it is a correct representation of evolutionary theory (whether they understand this or not isn't the point) but because it strikes a chord with folk-biology (how lay people view evolution) and gets a chuckle from those whose jaws are not agape. As a marketing ploy - it's really quite impressive!

Kel is correct in his approach to these people,
Pointing out the ridiculous nature of creationism with the evidence that's available makes for a far more convincing case.
However there is also a chance that using science to prove science may be like using the bible to prove the bible in the minds of those who are unable to appreciate the difference and who distrust science.

Conservapedia

I hate to use this as an authoritative source for the mentality of conservatives who believe in creationism but they make a number of parroted claims which reveal how they view the debate.
Creation scientists tend to win the Creation-Evolution debates and many have been held since the 1970's particularly in the United States. Robert Sloan, Director of Paleontology at the University of Minnesota, reluctantly admitted to a Wall Street Journal reporter that the "creationists tend to win" the public debates which focused on the creation vs. evolution controversy.

...

In an article entitled Are Kansas Evolutionists Afraid of a Fair Debate? the Discovery Institute states the following:

Defenders of Darwin's theory of evolution typically proclaim that evidence for their theory is simply overwhelming. If they really believe that, you would think they would jump at a chance to publicly explain some of that overwhelming evidence to the public. Apparently not.

Given the recent debacle and dishonest tactics a "Christian" radio station took when dealing with PZ Myers, they got their wish now that he does not want to debate with them. Making them act as if he has no argument. Devious, isn't it!

What is Mockable


Mockery can quickly be turned around to the absurdity of the claims of evolution whether we hold that position or not. An entire intellectual discourse can be muted with a "but it's only a theory". How can we compete with that?

How many times have we heard zingers which require a complicated explanation to explain why they are in error, from "goo to you" or "monkey's uncle" or "you believe an explosion caused this" or "It's just a theory" (this is a favourite of my Dad's - he mentions it every time the topic comes up)?

For those who followed the presidential race, there was a fundamental difference in approach to discourse: feelings vs facts, zingers vs intelligent discussion, Republican vs Democrat.

Worse still I feel theistic evolutionists can be found theologically wanting and have yet to hear a good explanation as to why a conservative should believe in theistic evolution. In a game of knock-out this puts the atheist on the other side of the debate.

It all boils down to this
provided we can maintain society
RAmen.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Fallacies against Creationists

I enjoy reading Kelosophy, but I believe he, and many others miss the bigger picture when it comes to Creationists and why they are wrong. Creationism is a symptom of an underlying disease and to cure the disease, you need to get to the root of the problem. By pointing and laughing at the Creationists (because, lets face it, based on what we know - its an untenable position) we are actually playing into their persecution desires and thus further entrenching their beliefs.

Let me explain.

Of Premises and People

Creationism is based on a number of flawed premises.

The first premise is that God exists and He is/was Jesus. (Sometimes taken in faith, sometimes taken pseudo-rationally)
The second is that the Bible is the word of God and is without error.

Based on the second premise, if science concludes differently than (a certain reading of) the Bible, then clearly the conclusions of science are flawed.

This is a logical (but not rational) conclusion based on the flawed premises!

One of the things that stuck in my head when learning formal mathematical logic at the start of my university degree is the statement that goes something like this
a false premise can prove anything
This can be seen in the truth table for the implication operator.

So what does this mean?

Well to put simply, IF God exists and IF Jesus is God and IF the Bible is the inerrant word of God, then when science concludes that we share a common ancestor with all animals, science MUST be wrong. This fits well with those who proudly display their "The Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it." bumper stickers.

Science Works, Bitches!

Science has convincingly chipped away many false beliefs which can be found in the Bible including a flat earth and an earth-centric universe. These conclusions are fairly uncontroversial only because the Bible can be read in such a way where these beliefs can be conveniently swept under the carpet (i.e. interpreted in another way).

Side note: I refer to these things as null arguments. They neither prove nor disprove the Bible. Arguments can be made on both sides ending in d├ętente.

This of course does not extend to all Judeo-Christian-Islamic beliefs. There are some Islamic "scholars" who will try to convince us that the Earth is indeed flat. (YouTube...) But I need not go into it here.

Evolution on the other hand is not an immediately realisable phenomenon. When Ian Plimer disgracefully requested a creationist touch live wires in a debate (can be found on YouTube) to show he believes the theory of electricity, the creationist reasonably rebuked this by pointing out how evolution is not repeatable in the same sense that electricity is. Although evolution is not repeatable in the classical sense, it still conforms to the scientific method and thus is science.

1. Form a hypothesis
2. Gather evidence
3. Analyse evidence/ revise hypothesis, etc

Evolution has a harder time with point 2. You can rarely do an experiment to gather the evidence and sometimes have to rely on digging, luck and pouring over previously discovered fossils to perform 3.

Science is a religion too!

I chuckle when people say that science is a religion. Mainly because they say it as if it being a religion is a bad thing.

Lay people do have a point that a majority of science needs to be taken (at least initially) on faith. I have a difficult time explaining to my parents what I do in the lab (how do I even know I am really dealing with electrons?) and even I as a scientist in training admit that there are areas of Physics which I am woefully equipped at evaluating (string theory, etc).

Any person of reasonable intelligence should be able to follow at least a rudimentary amount of science. If a person wishes to pursue how scientists arrived at their conclusions or wish to learn more about a particular subject, it is open to all and requires no statements of faith or presupposition about what the results need to show.

So here are the differences which make Science and Religion part ways.

Even if Quantum Mechanics is unfathomable to the lay person the results of it are not. We are all familiar with the results of Quantum Mechanics when we use computers and most modern technology. When a bunch of complicated mathematics can reproduce experimental values which are as accurate as measuring the distance between LA and New York to the width of a hair, you know you are onto something good! The proof of the pudding is in the eating. Given 2,000 years of religious thought - what has come of it? Do we even have a consistent message?

Faith or belief in science is irrelevant. Your TV will switch on whether you believe doped Silicon can become a conductor of "holes" or not (and if it doesn't, it means the TV is broken, not that you need to have more faith!). Faith and believe in religion on the other hand is (generally) a requirement for salvation or even to make prayer work.

Science at best can offer a more comfortable and perhaps longer life, but religion offers eternal life.

What is the lay person to do?

Professional Creationists

The job of professional creationists is to give the impression to the lay person that science agrees (or at least is starting to agree) with the Bible. Some even go as far as to claim that there is a conspiracy of "Big Science" to silence "the truth". In a previous blog entry I highlighted how there is a real creationist agenda to infiltrate science and change culture and that they have miserably failed.

Professional creationists truly believe in those false premises I outlined at the start and this clouds their ability to be objective. The lay person then has some "positions of authority" to appeal to and the waters get muddied.

Their PR campaign is working too. When I talk to Roman Catholics who do not believe in evolution, I smack my hand against my head. When a marginally and average religious person says science is starting to show creationism as true I start to lose hope. When the moderate religious do not speak out - or even bother investigating the claims, who can you turn to for a rational response? When the moderates are woefully out theologized...well you get the picture.

Education

I must admit that when I first started studying Kitzmiller vs Dover I was stunned by the evidence there was for evolution. Stunned, not because there was substantial evidence, but because I didn't know of it!

How come I had never heard that our 2nd Chromosome is the result of a fusion of two ape chromosomes?
How come I have never heard of the hundreds of ERV's in our DNA?

I had always knows of the striking amount of DNA we hold in common with our nearest common ancestor (chimpanzee) and I knew of the various fossils that had been found (of course I didn't know there were thousands of times more than I thought existed). I had always found those to be relatively convincing, but I did not know of the recent advances which make evolution not merely convincing but damn near irrefutable.

Failure of education plays into the hands of those who benefit the most from misinformation. If the local nerd doesn't even know of it - how is the lay person supposed to even have an inkling. This in a country which has an education system free from the influence of the religious?

Full Circle

The lay person:
The lay person is the victim of a PR campaign by the professional creationists who have convinced them that the Bible is true (scientifically, etc) and therefore God exists. These are the reasonable people who are open minded but misinformed. It's not their fault they don't care about the intricacies, sometimes there's just too much to work out, and its hard to know who to trust.

The lay "Jesus freak":
Even though they are not an expert they will point to the professional creationists as proof of their position. No amount of evidence will ever convince them of evolution because they base their lives around the flawed premises. These people are not stupid but are the victims when the atheist talks about "dem dum creationists". We all know who these people are - they are the ones we are likely to encounter as apologists.

These people are stuck in an epistemological black hole and require deprogramming before they can join the rational majority. (Which includes the misinformed lay person)

The professional creationist:
They dedicate their lives to spreading rubbish and are bankrolled by rich stupid Christians. If God rewarded those who seek the truth, these people would be headed to hell.

I do not classify Behe as a professional creationist. He is merely a Christian who thought he found a way of proving, using science, that Intelligent Design was involved in the evolution process. If he dogmatically sticks to the bacterial flagellum as being Irreducibly Complex despite being proved wrong - then he can be lumped with the other professional creationists.

I do not have anything against those who believe that science will one day justify their beliefs, or even those who actually do the research to try to prove their beliefs correct - I do have a problem with those who believe that science already justifies their belief in creationism. Nothing could be further from the truth.