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    Simpletons Amazed Pat Robertson Not A Young Earth Creationist
    By Hank Campbell | December 3rd 2012 05:29 PM | 52 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    About Hank

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    One of the silliest tropes in the hyped-up 'controversy' over evolution is that all religious people should be conflated with 'Young Earth Creationists'.  

    It's disrespectful and derisive, and that's all well and good because I love to be derisive and disrespectful to anyone who disputes my infallible wisdom. But it's inaccurate, which is unforgivable. If science media were even as politically neutral as, say, political journalism, being a trusted guide for the public on complex topics would be more important than sticking it to religion and Republicans - and as a result there would be no controversy, evolution education would not be a national issue at all. Instead we get the same old claims that one side is anti-science because only 41% of super-smart Democrats deny evolution but an alarming 49% of stupid Republicans do. 

    This whole business we witnessed recently of people in science media being shocked that a religious leader like Pat Robertson denies Young Earth Creationism only happens among simpletons who view people culturally different from themselves through a prism set firmly on 'stereotype' - on the right, it is people who think atheists are immoral or that gay people openly being jerks to the coach at their kids' soccer games will ruin America, and on the left it is people who think the 94% of the world that is religious or doesn't support 100% taxes is some sort of slack-jawed intellectually immature yokel. 

    Granted, anecdotes are not data but I have never actually met a Young Earth Creationist. I know they exist but I know lots of religious people inside and outside of science and I have just never come across one of the true crazies. However, living in California I have come across all kinds of anti-science atheists who are just as creepy and nuts as any religious zealot.  Because I am not a science blogger who wants to be a political one, I am not worried about evolution - Young Earth Creationists can't even convince other Christians they aren't batty so they are not convincing the country to make a federal standard for education and include religion in the science curriculum. If we just ignored them, they would be patronized and disregarded as harmless cranks, like they are in every civilized country where people have more interesting things to talk about. 

    We saw the problem with American science media a few weeks ago when Marco Rubio waffled on the age of the Earth, preferring to parse theology and science separately, though nonsensically.  He was, of course, heaped with scorn by the bloggers and writers who never actually read the responses of Democrats when it comes to science issues.  Yet in 2008, as Daniel Engber notes in Slate, Obama had the same goofy answer to the age of the Earth question, 
    What I've said to them is that I believe that God created the universe and that the six days in the Bible may not be six days as we understand it … it may not be 24-hour days, and that's what I believe. I know there's always a debate between those who read the Bible literally and those who don't, and I think it's a legitimate debate within the Christian community of which I'm a part. My belief is that the story that the Bible tells about God creating this magnificent Earth on which we live—that is essentially true, that is fundamentally true. Now, whether it happened exactly as we might understand it reading the text of the Bible: That, I don't presume to know.
    There is a reason that ScienceDebate 2008 did not include a question on evolution for the candidates and determined that the super-important fish hatcheries issue was more vital to the nation, despite the fact that evolution and global warming are supposedly the twin pillars of the anti-science right that make the left so distinct; an answer like he gave above would have made Sen. Obama look bad.  Who in America outside Science 2.0 noted Sen. Obama's anti-vaccine pandering? No one I found, no one wanted to look.  But when a Republican presidential candidate issued the same crackpot belief this past election, she was ridiculed.  Michele Bachmann has hopefully faded gracefully into political invisibility but the Obama administration has actual power, so during the 2009 Swine Flu pandemic, when they refused to accept the science consensus embraced by Canada and even Europe and allow adjuvants in vaccines to boost immune response, or allow multi-dose vials because they contain a preservative (that anti-vaccine people believe causes autism), they caused real harm.

    How many of the over 12,000 deaths and over 270,000 hospitalizations could have been prevented if anti-vaccine beliefs were not in the administration? 

    Well, none that can be proven, and that is the problem with claims about the right too; there should be a filter for skepticism and a standard for data and political agnosticism about the beliefs and crazy positions of  both parties - instead we get 'even Pat Robertson has to agree' type statements, which is a way of continuing to insult religious people while engaging in self-puffery.

    Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) went on a vaccine-autism rant against the CDC, which is far more dangerous than Marco Rubio hedging the age of the Earth, and then she goes on to use anecdotes as evidence just like Michele Bachmann.

    Why aren't more people calling Democrats anti-science over this?

    Comments

    1.) Q. What does the Biblical creation account tells us?
    A. That all creatures were created:
    "according to their various kinds"
    See: Genesis 1 (NIV1984Bible)
    http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis%201&version=NIV1984

    2.) Q. What Does Cutting-Edge Science Teach about Origins?
    A. "The specific complexity of genetic information in the genome does not increase spontaneously. Therefore, there is no natural process whereby reptiles can turn into birds, land mammals into whales, or chimpanzees (or any other kind of creature) into human beings."
    See: http://www.kolbecenter.org/what-does-the-catholic-church-teach-about-ori...

    Conclusion:
    Creation...Yes.
    Evolution...No.

    Gerhard Adam
    You can't even get your criticism right.  Such simplistic reasoning does a disservice to both science and religion.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Here in TN, they have taken steps though new legislation to allow creationism back into the classroom. This law turns the clock back nearly 100 years here in the seemingly unprogressive South and is simply embarrassing. There is no argument against the Theory of Evolution other than that of religious doctrine. The Monkey Law only opens the door for fanatic Christianity to creep its way back into our classrooms. You can see my visual response as a Tennessean to this absurd law on my artist’s blog at http://dregstudiosart.blogspot.com/2012/04/pulpit-in-classroom-biblical-... with some evolutionary art and a little bit of simple logic.

    Hank
    You leave this same comment every time you visit.  Look, when we are talking about real threats to humanity and saving lives, the pro-science mentality about vaccines in TN outweighs the anti-religious mentality of California any day. I would much rather have harmless crackpots who believe the world is 6 days old than crackpots putting the lives of children at risk.
    If you have some evidence that these are disjoint sets, I missed it. Locally, those who insist that the best way to understand the way the world works is through the agency of bronze age myths do not keep their ignorance or activism compartmentalized by subject, princlple or day of the week. As an example, peruse and compare the platforms of the two major party's Texas platforms. We have also been trying very hard to read such socialists and communists as T. Jefferson, M.L. King, and B. Franklin out of our history books.

    Ignorance is a threat. Ignorance made into a virtue and raised to a calling is exponentially more so.

    Creationists are pretty deluded to begin with, so what does it matter if they think the earth is 6000 years old or not? They still believe in the nonsense of Adam and Eve and the talking snake. That's why they believe in a savior, because they believe the Garden of Eden story about the fall of man is true. So them thinking the world is hundreds, thousands, or billions of years old doesn't make much difference. Although the young earth creationists are much more hilarious, especially when they try to explain away the multitudes of evidence from geology, archaeology, and cosmology that the planet's really billions of years old.

    So let me get this right: you think that Christians only believe in Jesus who is a historically verifiable figure (documented by Roman and Jewish historians from that era), because of the overwhelming proof of the Garden of Eden? Wow, talk about lacking logic. You obviously know nothing about Christians, but couldn't you at least use a little imagination when trying to assume how they think?

    Gerhard Adam
    Actually you're missing the point.  Jesus is necessary in Christianity because of the Garden of Eden [original sin].  That's not anything to do with how Christian's think, it's part of the creed. 

    On another note, I would question your claim about Jesus having been historically verified, since most of the events described in Matthew never occurred [in any documented historical sense].
    Mundus vult decipi
    Gerhard, you claim that "most of the events described in Matthew never occurred in any documented historical sense."

    Could you explain how you arrived at that conclusion? Are you saying that there is no extra-biblical evidence of Jesus of Nazareth and any the events described in Matthew? As a historian and philosopher of science and religion, I beg to differ. There is an abundance of textual evidence from first and second century historians, many of whom hated Christianity. They document facts about the life, trial, and execution of Jesus, as well as the birth of the Church and the beliefs of the apostles. In short, historical corroboration abounds. Even non-Christian scholars recognize this. Furthermore, if you're going to rule out the biblical account as a historical document, you need to explain why it doesn't count.

    An excellent, popular-level book on this topic is The Historical Jesus by Dr. Gary Habermas. He was a guest lecturer in one of my graduate school courses. Brilliant guy with a great sense of humor. Earned his Ph.D. at Michigan State.

    Gerhard Adam
    Well, let's just begin simply.  I'm willing to look at any links or evidence, but I also have read several books on the topic and there doesn't seem to be much there.

    1.  Where is the evidence that there was a Roman census that required Joseph and Mary to travel to Bethlehem?

    2.  Where is the evidence that the slaughter of innocents ever occurred?

    3.  Where is the evidence that Joseph took Jesus to Egypt?

    We won't argue about things like the virgin birth, etc. since that also seems to be something that is lacking in all but Matthew's gospel.
    Mundus vult decipi
    You could do this with any historical figure. If every source had the exact same information, then that would be suspicious. The fact that some sources contain information not found in other sources doesn't dispute the existence of the person.

    Gerhard Adam
    Sorry, but that's a stretch when we're only talking about one source.  Especially when something extraordinary is claimed, then it is suspicious when no one else mentions a particularly significant event.

    It would be like claiming that the Bubonic plague killed 25 million Europeans and yet finding such a claim in only one book, while no one else seems to mention it.  That's suspicious.

    This is even more troublesome when the sources within the same text [i.e. The Bible] don't tell the same tale.  This is quite suspicious when their objective was not to record history and yet they can't agree on the same events occurring?

    Even the story of the three wise men is fairly contrived, since I know of no biblical scholars that would suggest that any such visitors arrived on the night of Jesus' birth.  If I recall, this event is suggested has having occurred several months or years later [presuming it occurred at all].  Similarly, if I recall, this is precisely why Herod's "slaughter of innocents" sought out children up to the age of 2.  After all, it would have been ridiculous to slaughter all these children if they were only supposed to be newborns.
    Mundus vult decipi
    So if you doubt the existence of Jesus, then you must also doubt the existence of the apostles? And I assume you also doubt the existence of the disciples of the apostles/ 1st century Christians as well (Ignatius, Polycarp, Clement) and their disciples after that. There is actually quite a bit of corroboration. The Book of Matthew wasn't a widely published book in the 1st-2nd centuries, but it did exist for Christian teaching. Wouldn't people from that era say, "hey, none of this happened. This is just a book of fiction" if you were right? Yet, we saw Christianity explode during that time.

    Gerhard Adam
    The flaw with your line of reasoning is that it is equally applicable to every major religion in the world.  There were always those at the center, then disciples, and then converts.  Are we to simply assume that because people believe something that it must somehow be true?

    Even in other times, there were priests and followers of Odin and Thor.  How about Zeus?  Are we to assume that because they all had priests, and followers, that they are all based on truth because otherwise, people would simply say "hey, none of this happened. This is just a book of fiction."

    Yeah ... guess what.  Belief is not evidence.  Whether you believe it or not, doesn't particularly matter.  I don't have a problem if someone wishes to claim its accuracy as an article of faith for their religious beliefs.  However, when one wishes to elevate it to historical truth, then we need to have evidence/proof.  In addition, such corroboration cannot be from the same source making the claim so without independent verification, it's simply a self-contained story.
    Yet, we saw Christianity explode during that time.
    Trust me ... you don't want to go there.  Otherwise you'll have to explain the rise of Islam.
    Mundus vult decipi
    This isn't what we are debating (although comparing the evidence of Jesus to Odin or Thor is absurd). We are debating if Jesus existed. His contemporaries say he existed and events in early books which you claim to be false were never challenged by his contemporaries - only by you. 2000 years later, you say it never happened even though people 2000 years ago didn't make that claim... You seem to think your perspective is stronger for some reason. If Jesus didn't exist, people 20 years later would have screamed fraud. Way too many claims were made in the gospels about Jesus visiting major cities and drawing crowds of thousands of people, etc. If it didn't happen, it would have been challenged. Claims of deity were challenged by contemporaries, so if he didn't even exist, why wouldn't they challenge that as well? Or if early books made outrageous claims about things that didn't happen like the Roman government killing babies, why wouldn't they challenge that?

    Gerhard Adam
    Jesus' existence or someone fulfilling that role is irrelevant.  The claim in Christianity is that he was the son of God.  Beyond that, whether a particular individual existed or not isn't important.

    The rest is merely conjecture based on a single source that you claim is historically accurate and yet has little or no corroborating evidence.  I asked for historical evidence outside the source you claim.

    It is not absurd to compare Jesus to Odin or Thor because people believed just as readily in those deities, as well as the beliefs held by many other religions.  So, to claim that people would've claimed fraud is absurd on the face of it.  Religion is about faith [i.e. belief without evidence], so to claim legitimacy because "it must be true" because people believe it is simply a circular argument.

    BTW ... your claim about the Roman government killing babies is wrong.  It would have been Herod, who was king of Judea.  I also find it interesting that you envision some sort of literate society where people could write competing books about their views on what happened.  Again, this is simply circular reasoning.  Many, many things were written that never happened [i.e. consider the Iliad and the Odyssey].  They are called works of fiction, and it is quite obvious that people were not opposed to having a good story told to make a point.  It is only in modern times that we no longer accept them as stories, but insist on their factual origins.
    2000 years later, you say it never happened even though people 2000 years ago didn't make that claim.
    Let's also bear in mind that during the period in question there were literally dozens of individuals that claimed to be the Messiah, so it wasn't actually unusual that Jesus [if he existed] may have been viewed as simply another one.

    However, back to the point.  First, you don't know what people 2000 years ago claimed, and secondly, it doesn't matter what they claimed, only what you have evidence for.  Since you made the claim about historical accuracy, then it is incumbent on you to provide some modicum of evidence.  As I said, if you simply believe it as an article of faith, then that's fine, but that doesn't render it historically true nor accurate.
    Mundus vult decipi
    The reason it matter whether or not he existed is the fact that the post to which I was replying originally stated that Christians believe in Jesus because they irrationally believe in Adam and Eve. We have no evidence Adam and Eve existed and probably most Christians are at least uncertain that they literally existed, so why would that be the order of logic? It isn't. If anything, for Christians, Jesus CONFIRMS to them older teachings, not the other way around. As far as why Christians might not see Adam and Eve as literal is simple - as new beings to the universe with free will, it is only natural that humans will need to explore good and evil in order to understand the difference, ie, original sin is inherant with free will. Christ brings forgiveness.

    Gerhard Adam
    Well, we already know that Adam and Eve can't be taken literally and that the story is incomplete as told.

    Similarly, the concept of "free will" is also unique since that is equally an unsupported premise.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Do not let the Biblical verse " As in Adam, all die", go to your head, Gerhard :) Bearing the name of the father of all sinners is nothing to be proud about !

    Actually very few Xians are doctrinaire about sin's historical origin in the GoE. It is true that Jesus is the core of Xianity  - the first syllable is a bit of a give-away. However it makes little difference to the teachings about atonement whether we manage to create sin all by ourselves or inherit it from our remote ancestors.
    Gerhard Adam
    I don't have a problem with that, but I think that Christians need to stop arguing about how the Bible is to be taken literally in one instance and then when it's not convenient it's simply a metaphor.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Why? It's a heterogeneous collection of writings. It would be absurd to read it the same way throughout. In fact even asking what is the right way already assumes that there is a right way; for all we know some "inspired" passages may be interspersed with the author's personal comments. Like your blogs :) 
     



    Gerhard Adam
    Again ... not a problem, so why is it that some believers insist that they know absolutely that something is literal or not?
    Mundus vult decipi
    I'm afraid you'd have to ask them. I don't know anyone who is convinced of their personal infallibility. Maybe it's different in the Land of the Free :P


     
    How old is the earth? It depends on your frame of reference. The Bible says 1John1:5 "This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all." NIV. So if God is Light how much time has passed since the creation of the universe from His viewpoint? Is 6 days in the realm of possibilities? There are more unexplained and undiscovered elements of the universe than we can know. Can you tell me for certain that we have discovered 50% or xx% of what is? To be a Scientist and say: "I can't see it (God) so it (He) doesn't exist." is really the same argument some religious people use against evolution. Narrow mindedness is not a monopoly. I have not found anything in the Bible that contradicts science, but, I see scientists constantly trying to disprove the Bible. There are multiple frames of reference for the natural world. How can you describe the infinite of the Spiritual world?

    Gerhard Adam
    ...I see scientists constantly trying to disprove the Bible.
    Not so.  The problem occurs when religious people want to elevate the Bible as being a definitive work of history and science.  I know of no one that is interested in disproving someone's religious beliefs. 

    As I said, the issue is when people think that making religious pronouncements is the same thing as providing actual evidence.  The Bible is NOT evidence, except to those that already believe it.  That's faith, not science.
    I can't see it (God) so it (He) doesn't exist.
    Again ... not relevant.  I also can't see elves or fairies.  So what.  If you make a claim that God exists, then you must provide the proof or evidence that is subject to scientific verification.  Now, if you simply accept it as an article of faith, then there's no problem, but if you claim that it is scientific, then you need evidence and something that is testable.
    I have not found anything in the Bible that contradicts science.
    You're kidding?  Six days of creation?  Virgin birth?  Creating man from dirt?  Woman from a rib?  A worldwide flood with two of each animal in an Ark?  Raising the dead?  These are scientific to you?
    Mundus vult decipi
    There IS an anti religious bias in the scientific world today.
    There are also studies that purport the ability to believe is missing in some people.
    I explained 6 days of creation as relative. There are well documented instances of self fertilization of eggs in certain species ( I think it was a Kimono Dragon, not human, but still not outside the scientific possibility). If you distill a man down what do you have left, dirt. Cloning. Why do so many different civilizations have a story of great flood? How many animals can you fit into 75ft x500ft and where does the diversity come from after mass extinctions? Doctors bring back people from the dead every day now, and a few still wake up in the morgue.

    A couple of stories that illustrate what i mean about the bible not contradicting science are the crossing of the Jordan river and the battle of Jericho. The easy explanation of the river drying up in the spring was the mud slide by the village of Adam that caused a dam to form. And the marching around the city of Jericho that caused harmonics in the wall to catastrophic failure, (Tacoma narrows bridge) except for a portion of the wall that had a scarlet chord hanging out the window. enough to dampen the vibrations enough to keep it from failing.
    I look more to the possibilities of science and what may be discovered in the future to harmonize the truths in the Bible.
    One theory I have about God is taken a little from string theory. God said "Let there be light". His voice vibrated through the nothingness and light appeared. I'm sorry I'm not a physicist, but Isn't that kinda how things got started?
    So there you go, is everything evidence enough for the existence of God? Probably not for you, but it is compelling enough for me not to dismiss it.

    Gerhard Adam
    I explained 6 days of creation as relative. There are well documented instances of self fertilization of eggs in certain species ( I think it was a Kimono Dragon, not human, but still not outside the scientific possibility). If you distill a man down what do you have left, dirt. Cloning. Why do so many different civilizations have a story of great flood? How many animals can you fit into 75ft x500ft and where does the diversity come from after mass extinctions? Doctors bring back people from the dead every day now, and a few still wake up in the morgue.
    Here's the problem.
    (1) Your explanation of 6 days of creation is YOUR explanation.  It is not stated in the bible, so you're effectively saying that it can't be taken literally.  Individual interpretations are not evidence.
    (2) There is no evidence of human self-fertilization.  Again, are we to assume that the bible simply misunderstood the event that you're suggesting?  If so, then the bible lacks credibility.
    (3) Distill a human down as much as you like and you won't end up with dirt.
    (4) Civilization's stories are not evidence.  It should be intuitively obvious that you cannot have a world-wide flood since there's no place for the water to go.
    (5) You cannot include enough animals [and food] in such a space.  Moreover, if there were only a single breeding pair, then they would all be extinct.  THAT is what science says.
    (6) Doctors do NOT bring back dead people.  Again, in the bible, it is quite clear that these aren't people that are dead for minutes, but rather days.  So, unless you're suggesting that they weren't really dead, then you're simply denying that the raising of the dead is actually a miracle.

    In short, there's no argument you can advance that doesn't undercut the claim of the bible.  Your explanations simply mean that the bible is an unreliable reference as written.
    So there you go, is everything evidence enough for the existence of God? Probably not for you, but it is compelling enough for me not to dismiss it.
    Here's the problem I have with that comment.  Religion is based on faith.  By looking for proof, you're denying the entire basis for your religion.  That's what I don't understand, is the insistence of supposedly religious people to deny their own faith by claiming that it has a scientific basis. 

    Why can't religious people have their faith and not attempt to impose it on the scientific community?  Stories can have value and impart important lessons without being true.  Is it really so important that the bible portray modern physics accurately?  Is that the message of Jesus and God?  Perhaps you're missing something if that's what you're looking for, instead of examining the ethical, moral, and philosophical basis for religion.

    That's what's so goofy about the young earth creationists.  The bible doesn't provide a blueprint for how God created the world or animals, and yet they want to impose restrictions on God because of their own interpretations of Genesis.  To a religious individual, does it really matter if God created animals in a poof of magic, or by setting in motion an evolutionary trajectory?  Aren't both explanations a possible means of explaining an act of creation?

    So, you see, it isn't that religion is being challenged.  Instead we find that religion is attempting to argue that accepting science is atheistic and that unless the biblical accounts are held to be true, or squared with the individual's interpretation of science, then the science must be wrong.  What I do find disturbing is that you seem to fail in understanding that if your explanation is true, then all other religious beliefs must, by definition, be false.  This is where the real danger in such rationalization occurs.

    Also, before you argue that you never said that, consider which side you will take if you run into a conflict between the bible and science that isn't so readily rationalized.   Which would be wrong in your mind?

    I don't mean to sound unnecessarily harsh, but your explanations of the bible are simply rationalizations and excuses for why the bible wasn't more precise.  In short, such explanations would cause a scientific theory to be discarded.  Why should I grant more credence to religion?
    Mundus vult decipi
    Yes, I am rationalizing the Bible. Why would I want my beliefs to be Irrational? I also believe the Bible is Truth, which is not to say, Fact, there is a difference. I also know that science does not have all the answers. There are cultural benefits of religion to create and establish ethical, moral, and philosophical values to promote the survival of the human race. There are also some negative consequences of religion when beliefs are not shared (I say this with multiple meanings). I share my beliefs because i am compelled to do so. If I am wrong, I am no worse off in the end. If I am right ...

    Gerhard Adam
    Yes, I am rationalizing the Bible. Why would I want my beliefs to be Irrational?
    Because that's the nature of beliefs.  It they were rational, then they'd be facts.  We all believe things that aren't rational, that's what makes them comforting, but they don't have to be religious.

    It seems like you're using the concept of irrational as some sort of "bad word", instead of embracing the fact that, of course it's irrational.  What's rational about liking a particular song?  or food? or art? or appreciating nature? 

    It's only important within the context of science, everything else is hype.
    Mundus vult decipi
    So science is the only rational study? Just to be cute, have some pi. Its everywhere and no one has an explanation why. I do think there is a reason for everything even though I don't know what it is(is this irrational?). I believe science is trying to answer the questions of the universe. I also believe that religion does the same thing but coming from a different perspective. I do not find them mutually exclusive. Science owes its beginnings to religion. The quest to understand the unknown. Science has changed its axioms to exclude some as irrelevant, which may be so, in the case that the method still works, but it may also be reducing the discoverable possibilities.

    Gerhard Adam
    No one suggested that science and religion are mutually exclusive, but that doesn't make them synonymous nor even compatible.

    They are find as long as one maintains a distinct separation in what is meant and what is being examined.

    That "different perspective" is precisely the point.  It's like analyzing a work of art based on its aesthetic beauty or on its technical prowess.  They are not mutually exclusive, but they aren't important except in the particular domain in which they are examined.

    BTW, I'm not a fan of the term "rational" because it is too ambiguous.  Even if general usage it is often conflated to mean "logical", instead of merely "thought with reason".  Therefore strictly speaking religion is NOT irrational if one has reasoned their way into their belief.  However, it is irrational to adjust facts simply to make them appear logical, instead of merely accepting them as stories, metaphors, etc.
    Mundus vult decipi
    That is why i call the Bible "Truth" and not necessarily fact. However, I use my understanding of science to judge the plausibility of the stories and let faith fill in the parts that science can't. Has the butterfly effect been proven? Can there be an answer to everything?

    Gerhard Adam
    Has the butterfly effect been proven? Can there be an answer to everything?
    It depends on the context.  Yes, there can be an answer to anything that falls within the purview of science.  If it can't be answered, then it isn't a legitimate scientific question.  Despite some claims, science has never been about anything except a very specific, narrow focus.

    There may well be some areas that are considered plausible because they fit well with other evidence, but that doesn't make them conclusive [see the current story regarding the T-rex's short arms].
    Mundus vult decipi
    Gerhard Adam
    There are also studies that purport the ability to believe is missing in some people.
    I'd like to see one, because that is silly on the face of it.  No human can operate without a belief system, so what you actually mean is the ability to sustain a religious belief.  However, your statement suggests that there's something fundamental about holding religious beliefs as if they are part of our genetic make-up which has mutated in some people.

    Sorry, but I need a bit more science before I accept that one.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Gerhard Adam
    Sorry, but your link is irrelevant since belief systems are not specific to religions only.
    Mundus vult decipi
    " How can you describe the infinite of the Spiritual world?"

    The Spiritual world, as infinite as our imaginations.

    Simpleton = Hank Campbell

    Looks like the latest crop of anti-vaccine simpletons are conservative Republicans:

    http://genome.fieldofscience.com/2012/12/congress-holds-anti-vaccine-hea...

    Hank
    Sure, but that is nothing new.  What is odd is that most of science media seems to be switching to another station when anti-science Democrats are spouting the nonsense and only now notice once it is something with an R after their name - and that is what this article is about.  It is either hypocrisy or blatant manipulation of science issues to lobby for a cultural worldview - either way, it is destructive to the public's trust of science.
    The thing that bothers me most about the religion science debate is that it's purposefully framed to maintain the animosity between both positions allowing publishing of news pieces on both sides bashing the other and further intensifying the divide. It's a self sustaining system and a problem that will intensify over the coming years.

    Framing the debate in this way forces choices between the two sides. It becomes a false dichotomy of either you believe in god or you believe what science says. The problem with this dichotomy is that the left (even ignoring their own anti-science) fails to realize that science has become part of policy and that misuse of science in policy will only make this worse. They're outraged at young earth creationists yet are not bothered when catastrophic warmists overstate their case and mislead the public. The only way evolution (or well the forms they concern themselves with) makes its way into public policy is the teaching of evolution and intelligent design in schools while vaccinations, global warming, genetically modified foods, nuclear energy, renewable energy, fossil fuel development and more all constitute major players in policy decisions. Misinformation about anything in these sectors threatens to undermine public trust of science but the left is mainly concerned with the ID/Evolution debate.

    If you've never met a young earth creationist:
    1. Try getting out more.
    2. Try reading the comments to your own column.

    The both sides do it argument is no better now when you tried it on your mom as a kid. Real scientists don't tolerate antivaccination idiots any more than they do creationists but antivaxxers aren't usually trying to change what is taught in schools. Also, why should I think any better of an old earth creationist like Robertson over young earth types? Different wrong is still wrong.

    And you claim this is a science column?

    Hank

    Why would you say something stupid and then finish with an inane question, ironically trying to claim you are smarter than other people?  

    If 2 groups do something and only one side is ever criticized, why would it be childish to point out that hypocrisy? The anti-vaccine mentality is more of a problem than a few crackpots trying to teach religion in science classes and those red states have far higher vaccines rates than the supposedly super-smart, pro-science blue ones. Anti-vax people successfully do what religious people cannot - put children at risk.
    You begged your own question "do antivax types get a free pass?" -

    Have you ever read the comments on antivax blogs?
    examples
    www.salon.com/2011/01/06/jenny_mccarthy_autism_debate/
    http://www.salon.com/2009/02/19/autism_and_vaccines/

    and if you want real fireworks, try the comments following the credulous articles the Huffington post has churned out from time to time.

    You've written an entire column based on the lie that scientists and the left don't call out the antivaccination types; a lie you could have tested by doing some web research.
    So it is valid to ask why you claim to be writing a science column?

    And also, you still need to get out more, if only around the web.

    Granted, anecdotes are not data but I have never actually met a Young Earth Creationist. I know they exist but I know lots of religious people inside and outside of science and I have just never come across one of the true crazies.
    I'm afraid the man is right, Hank. You should get out more :)  

    The fact is, if you mingle with evangelical Xians at all - and there are plenty around - you will soon run into YECcers. YEC itself is bonkers but the people themselves are not crazies.  Most people are not scientific-minded and just soak up whatever they hear from their peers.
     
    Now you've come to the attention of
    http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2012/12/05/ignorance-isnt-my-ally...

    Questions raises for you in the comment:s:
    1.
    iknklast
    5 December 2012 at 1:21 pm

    I’d like to invite him to my classroom. Roughly 40% of my class is YEC; 40% is OEC. Only about 15% of the students in this school accept the scientific evidence behind evolution (or global warming, for that matter). In the faculty, that number goes up to around 30-40%. This is a college.

    The one group I pretty much never meet is ID. I have come to realize that ID is a game they play for the media, and it doesn’t filter down into the pews of the church very often. The few people I meet who support ID are those who are liberal Christians, claim to accept evolution, but state that the ID people “have a point, and we should listen to them.”

    My dad is an old-earth creationist; my brother is a young-earth creationist. I decided, as a result of confusion as a youth, to look for myself, and I turned into a fire-breathing, baby-eating atheist early in life.

    2.
    Dalillama, Schmott Guy
    5 December 2012 at 1:37 pm

    Why aren’t more people calling the Dems anti science over the antivax thing? Maybe because the entire Democratic Caucus hasn’t devoted all of their time to ranting about the evils of vaccines and how we need to outlaw them post haste, which they would have to do to reach the level of anti-science jackassery that the Republicans embody.

    3. and before you reject the above a question:
    holytape
    5 December 2012 at 1:25 pm

    The guy is comparing apples and oranges. Yes there are anti-science Democrats in congress. But can any one name a pro-science republican? The anti-vax democrats are troubling, but the democrats have yet to make their anti-science a party of their party platform and party identity, like the republicans do with global warming, evolution and basically any other reality based decision.

    You have two choices, you can respond to the argument or you can just continue to call me an idiot and avoid the issues.

    Hank
    I hope I come to the attention of a lot of people.  We have a million readers a month. I had already linked to the article and I can understand the points Prof. Myers is making, he doesn't read Science 2.0 and is in the cultural bashing business so he can be forgiven for reading one blog post and making a snap judgment about me.  

    But I had also already said the comments do just what I am concerned about - they introduce anecdotes as evidence, deny there is a problem on more than one side and act like militants on a bender. 53 of 55 members of Congress who lobbied the federal government for warning labels on GMOs are Democrats, for example, but one of those comments says the Democratic caucus is not anti-science yet implies Republicans are. Based on what?  God is in the Democratic platform too and I have read the Republican platform and 'global warming does not exist' isn't in theirs any more than 'vaccines are evil' is in yours.
    So you really think possibly-excess food labeling is a bigger sin than energy, health and education policies based on religious magical thinking? Can you name any Republican who you consider supportive of science?

    While GM Foods are not going to poison anyone there is evidence that they are not necessarily a good approach to agriculture. There is already evidence of increased Roundup tolerance in weed plants. Genetically identical crops made by any method increase the likelihood of cavendish banana disease collapse scenarios.

    You don't seem to actually have any science training other than as a manager. Are you really able to evaluate the subjects such as global warming that you write screeds about?

    Hank
    The fact that you trivialize the anti-biology movement about food and medicine as simple 'possibly excess food labeling' shows you know nothing about those issues.  Because you don't want to.  I get that demonizing religion and Republicans is where you want to take everything, and that's cool,  but stop pretending it is somehow rational or reality-based.

    Does PZ ever reply to you?  I feel my IQ drop a little every time you comment, so I am betting he doesn't.
    MikeCrow
    As opposed to your magical thinking?
    Never is a long time.
    Just a brief comment:

    For the historicity of Jesus, I suggest Bart D. Ehrman, 'Did Jesus Exist?: The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth' (HarperOne, 2012). This basically sums up the consensus view among historians and New Testament scholars that Jesus of Nazareth was a historical figure.

    It should be pointed out that Ehrman is agnostic and has written several books on early Christianity, Christian scriptures (including the Gnostic texts), biblical alterations, etc.

    But as others have noted, the Jesus of history is not necessarily the Jesus of faith (i.e. the Savior, Jewish Messiah, and Son of God). Nonetheless, "Jesus didn't exist" is a largely rejected fringe theory.

    Gerhard Adam
    ..."Jesus didn't exist" is a largely rejected fringe theory.
    I'm not sure what that means, after just stating that the Jesus of history is not necessarily the Jesus of Faith.  What else would be the point?

    It's like claiming that Isaac Newton never existed and that the laws of motions, gravity, etc. were formulated by someone else.  Then historians might say that there was a historical Isaac Newton, but he was a baker.  So what?  How does that change anything?
    Mundus vult decipi