advertisement

GUEST COMMENTARY: The true war on religion

Sunday, February 19, 2012 | 6:00 a.m. CST

The war on religion manifests itself in many forms. When pharmacists refuse to sell birth control, they are imposing their religious beliefs on others. When I walk into a store, I should be able to buy anything that the store sells. To illustrate, suppose I decide that I want to buy some beer in a grocery store. When I am checking out, the clerk refuses to sell me the beer because drinking alcohol is against his religion. Both should spark outrage at the seller.

And this shows the true war on religion in the United States — the attempt by some to impose their religious beliefs on everybody else.

MoreStory


Related Media

This issue often manifests itself in the politics of reproduction. Whenever someone tries to limit access to abortion or impose medically unnecessary rules to restrict abortion, they are attempting to impose their religious beliefs on others. When somebody tries to restrict access to birth control, they are also imposing their religious beliefs on others.

When there is a moral issue, who gets to decide? Some people and religions believe abortion is murder because life begins at conception. Other people and religions believe life begins at birth. Should one group have the right to impose their will on others by outlawing abortions? Or turn the question around: Should one group have the right to force women to have abortions in certain circumstances? In either case, if you allow one, then the other is possible with a change in policy. Abortion could be banned or forced, depending on the group in charge.

The individual's right to make the decision is asserted when the state is not allowed to prevent or force abortions.

Should there be restrictions on a person's ability to purchase or use contraception? The 99 percent of women who use birth control at some point in their lives might say no.

When the Republican presidential candidates are pontificating about the war on religion, they are right that there is a war. They are wrong about who is waging it. The candidates are actually waging the war because they are attempting to impose their religious beliefs on others. Preventing unplanned pregnancies is good public policy and will help reduce abortions. It is ironic that these same candidates who are against abortion are supporting a policy that will likely cause abortions to increase.

Preventing gay marriage is another example of some trying to impose their religious belief on others. Marriage by the state is a civil contract that provides for certain benefits and responsibilities between two people. If two men or two women want to enter this contract, they should have that right, just as they would for any other contract. At the same time, if any clergy do not want to perform gay marriages for religious reasons, that should be their right. Religious freedom is preserved, and none are forced to violate their beliefs.

If some are allowed to impose their views on others, where does it end? The choices must be left to the individual, not the state. Otherwise, we will have some imposing their religious beliefs on others. That war must be avoided.

Joseph Sparks is an MU master's degree candidate. His blog can be found at www.sparksremarks.com.


Like what you see here? Become a member.


Show Me the Errors (What's this?)

Report corrections or additions here. Leave comments below here.

You must be logged in to participate in the Show Me the Errors contest.


Comments

Mark Foecking February 19, 2012 | 6:54 a.m.

"Some people and religions believe abortion is murder because life begins at conception. Other people and religions believe life begins at birth."

That is really a very complicated question, and I would say it's neither. The unfertilized egg is technically alive (in that it has a metabolism and uses energy), but cannot become a human being unless it is fertilized.

I would say the fetus is not alive until the heart starts to beat, or even until it is developed anough to live outside the womb. A fertilized egg is only alive in the same way the unfertilized egg is, and still has to develop before I would call it a human being.

Actually, nature is the world's largest abortion clinic by far. Stillbirths and natural abortions are far more common than man-made ones.

DK

(Report Comment)
Deborah Reed February 19, 2012 | 7:53 a.m.

Mr. Sparks,

No one, regardless of profession, should be required to take part in activities that go against his/her religious beliefs. We do supposedly live in a society that guarantees that each is free to believe as he/she sees fit and to make choices accordingly. While some believe that birth control (which I assume you are speaking of the "morning after" pill) is a perfect way to avoid pregnancy, others see it as infanticide. Just because it is presently legal, doesn't make it moral or ethical and we are all free to follow our own moral beliefs. There are many pharmacies and pharmacists from which to choose and the complaintant is free to go elsewhere.

(Report Comment)
Gregg Bush February 19, 2012 | 9:22 a.m.

Remember the "just"
Punishment of Achan? And
His whole family?

Religious beliefs
Do not trump public health. Go
Find another job.

(Report Comment)
Tony Black February 19, 2012 | 10:35 a.m.

Well said, Joseph. For those who believe life begins at conception, should a pregnant woman be allowed a tax deduction for the child? Just askin' a question. I agree with Matt on this one. I am not a scientist or very religious, so I don't know when to believe life begins. However, I don't feel it's right to tell someone else what to do with their own bodies. And Deborah, there are many types of birth control. Not just the morning after pill. And laws aren't meant to enforce morality or religious beliefs. There are lots of things that are legal but morally wrong and vice versa.

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle February 19, 2012 | 11:43 a.m.

Life begins when the child is loved and wanted. DK is correct; by the numbers, about 4 million fertilized human eggs per year in the US never become live births, naturally. Biological reproduction is actually a very messy, imprecise process, with a very low natural yield rate.

It still sucks that humans are responsible for about 7-8% of conceptions that do not become live births. That's why I advocate for aggressive availability and use of contraceptives. I want to dramatically reduce human-induced abortions, and contraceptive use can achieve that goal.

Until the baby is viable outside the womb, no law or moral outrage can change the fact that the woman has total, complete control. Furthermore, it's almost impossible to force a positive outcome. If you restrict the woman's freedom during pregnancy, it will likely also have a negative impact on the developing child inside.

(Report Comment)
J Karl Miller February 19, 2012 | 2:08 p.m.

Mr Sparks, there are two issues here and it appears that you have either ignored them or, as a member of a generation who was never taught civics, do not understand them.

First, compelling a church or other religious organization to compromise its practiced doctrine violates the First Amendment of the Constitution.

Second and equally important, there is no restriction of access to birth control; accordingly, anyone can purchase and/or use conttraception. The real issue here where do the President or the Secretary H & HS find the authority to order that contraceptive devices be provided free of charge--that the insurance companies provide free birth control?

(Report Comment)
Tim Dance February 19, 2012 | 2:37 p.m.

"First, compelling a church or other religious organization to compromise its practiced doctrine violates the First Amendment of the Constitution."

Not according to Scalia: Employment Division vs. Smith

http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/hi...

In short, secular law trumps religious law. Either the church gets political, lose their tax exemption, and fight to change the law or follow the law. The compromise seems reasonable and they were doing this in 28 states anyway. The bishops are snatching defeat out of the jaws of victory. Anyway wasn't you shrill cons that were complaining about Sharia law (religious) trumping secular law. The hypocrisy of the right is sinful.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams February 19, 2012 | 2:41 p.m.

J Karl says, "...compelling a church or other religious organization to compromise its practiced doctrine violates the First Amendment of the Constitution."
______________

You must add a second sentence, to wit: If you disagree with this statement/constitutional right, then you have the ability to amend the Constitution and get your way...using the methods outlined in the Constitution.
___________________________________

Beliefs about abortion or selling beer or whatever are not necessarily religious in origin. I know non-religious people who are pro-life and abstain from alcohol simply because they believe both are a perversion of their own life. Where do these folks fall in the argument?
___________________________________

The clerk refusing to sell the beer should resign; he/she does not own the store and serves at the pleasure of the owner.

The store owner should not be forced to offer beer. The pharmacist owning the pharmacy should not be forced to offer ANYTHING contrary to their personal beliefs. Such as cigarettes.
____________________________________

Joseph is as confused on this issue as he is on 33-41% taxes.

Further, I'm guessing he supports abortion and the concept of double homicide when a pregnant woman and her child are killed by gunshot wound to the abdomen. That's called "moral confusion".

(Report Comment)
Gregg Bush February 19, 2012 | 3:07 p.m.

Cigarettes are not
Medication. You have what's
Called "fact confusion."

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt February 19, 2012 | 3:19 p.m.

The abortion debate has nothing to do with when life begins, at least not in the sense it's being discussed here. The issue is personhood.

And yes, the only "war on religion" taking place is the one waged by those who still believe that Bronze-Age mythology has anything relevant to say about the world today.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams February 19, 2012 | 3:43 p.m.

Gregg should be forced to become a physician.

(Report Comment)
Jimmy Bearfield February 19, 2012 | 4:24 p.m.

"those who still believe that Bronze-Age mythology has anything relevant to say about the world today"

And yet so much of what you consider irrelevant is codified as law, including thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not steal and thou shalt not commit adultery.

Making fun of Christianity is old hat. At the 2013 Grammy Awards, will Nicki Minaj show up with with Muhammad on her arm? Or do the cultural 1 percenters consider Islam too sacred to mock?

(Report Comment)
Tony Robertson February 19, 2012 | 5:11 p.m.

Whether Christophobic "progressive" or religious fundamentalist, it seems the most effective form of contraception for many people is their personality.

(Report Comment)
Gregg Bush February 19, 2012 | 5:13 p.m.

If your doctor is
Giving you a script for a
Carton of Newports,

Then your doctor is
Most definitely smarter
Than you think you are.

(Report Comment)
stan chaz February 19, 2012 | 5:15 p.m.

I'VE HAD ENOUGH! In this Holy War on Religion, of Religion, and by Religion, I SURRENDER! I’m a lover, not a fighter.  Instead... I’m gonna start my OWN religion, and get in on the good stuff: tax exemptions, and lots of taxpayer money to do what I want, in the name of religious liberty. Most definitely! Hey NEWT -wanna join? We’re gonna have open marriages and multiple wives and all SORTS of neat stuff that you’re just gonna love! But don’t you worry your little head Newt : we’ll have no, I repeat, NO nasty stoning of adulterers. None of that stuff. I Promise! As for SANTORUM, he just LOVES to tell other people how to live. He’ll make us a REAL fine preacher-man. In fact, we’ll make him Saint Santorum. AND fix his Google search results! As for Mr. Obama,  obviously, we’ll need to (severely) demonize him, even further. And his dog Toto too. Last but not least: MITT and RON. Hmmm. Hey, just for you two guys: we’ll insist on NO TAXES AT ALL for church members…AND human sacrifice of illegal aliens. Out with their hearts! Televised! Live! Whoooppee! WHAT A COUNTRY!  :-)
By the way, please don’t mention the REASON that Mitt Romney’s dad was born in Mexico (i.e. The fact that Mitt’s Mormon grand-dad left the United States in the 1880’s. He went to Mexico BECAUSE laws against polygamy were passed in the U.S. ; Being a Mormon back then, Mitt’s grand-dad wanted to keep his multiple wives. Hey, who wouldn’t?) Bottom line: if we follow the “logic” of the people crying crocodile tears about a non-existent “war on religion”, then the U.S. should have allowed polygamy (and who knows what else) just because a particular religion claimed it as their cherished belief. GIVE ME A BREAK!
Absolutely NO ONE is coming into our Churches or places of worship and trying to tell parishioners what to believe.....or forcing them to use contraception. BUT If the Bishops (and other denominations) want to continue running businesses that employ millions of people of varying faiths -or no "faith" at all- THEN they must play by the same rules and rights that other workers have and enjoy...especially if their businesses use our tax dollars (and skip paying taxes) in the process. This is not a “war on religion”. It’s a war on women and men who simply want to plan their families and control their future. Now that’s REAL religious liberty!

(Report Comment)
frank christian February 19, 2012 | 5:28 p.m.

Jon H. - That post (above) is "friggin scary"!

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams February 19, 2012 | 5:43 p.m.

Gregg: You missed the point.

(Report Comment)
Tony Robertson February 19, 2012 | 6:22 p.m.

I've heard several voters, Dem and Repub, express reservations about Romney's religion. I, for one, cannot say that it's any worse than the present White House occupant's membership at Our Lady of Perpetual Vitriol, all those years.

(Report Comment)
Gregg Bush February 19, 2012 | 6:43 p.m.

My career coach once
Said, "Don't ever let someone
Tell you what to be.

Particularly
Someone who never met you.
They think your business

Is their business but
Their business is private. They
Don't know how to share.

They'll whisper their truth:
Justified apartheid. They
Want you back in line.

Compromise is their
Dirty word, their conscience in
Crisis. Be yourself."

(Report Comment)
Tim Dance February 19, 2012 | 6:44 p.m.

"I, for one, cannot say that it's any worse than the present White House occupant's membership at Our Lady of Perpetual Vitriol, all those years."

/yawn

More right-wing apple and orange comparisons. Comparing a controversial pastor with a secretive religion is not really that accurate. Now comparing a secretive institution like the Vatican, who has a mafia-type code of silence to Mormonism would be a little closer. Nice try though.

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle February 19, 2012 | 6:59 p.m.

I'm thinking about starting a legally recognized Hacky Sack Church.

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt February 19, 2012 | 7:15 p.m.

Jimmy Bearfield: "And yet so much of what you consider irrelevant is codified as law, including thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not steal and thou shalt not commit adultery."

And yet those concepts have been codified as law for a lot longer than the Bible's been around.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_anc...

Contrary to what everyone thinks, the Bible doesn't tell us what's good or bad, moral or immoral, etc. We decide those things for ourselves, and then merely agree or disagree with scripture depending on what it says. For as often as people parade the 10 Commandments around as the greatest source of moral wealth out there, they don't seem all too eager to jump in line with the rest of God's commands as spelled out in Exodus, Leviticus, Deuteronomy, etc. Otherwise, how many of your rebellious sons have you stoned to death? Did you make sure to call them profligates and drunkards beforehand too? (Deuteronomy 21:18-21)

"Making fun of Christianity is old hat. At the 2013 Grammy Awards, will Nicki Minaj show up with with Muhammad on her arm? Or do the cultural 1 percenters consider Islam too sacred to mock?"

Well, I make fun of both.

(Report Comment)
Tony Robertson February 19, 2012 | 8:19 p.m.

I see. Your candidate's religious background - "controversial pastor". My candidate's religious background - "secretive, mafia-type". Apples and oranges, indeed. They're both fruit, ya know.

Wasn't the 2004 Dem standard bearer a member of a "secretive, mafia-type" church of some sort? I mean the lead guy, not the slimy running mate.

Myself, I am not an adherent of Gordon Hinckley, Thomas Monson, or Joseph Ratzinger. But I'd hardly consider them any worse than "Reverend" Wright.

(Report Comment)
Jimmy Bearfield February 19, 2012 | 9:28 p.m.

"Well, I make fun of both."

Really? I don't remember you mocking Islam on here. If I'm wr

"For as often as people parade the 10 Commandments around as the greatest source of moral wealth out there, they don't seem all too eager to jump in line with the rest of God's commands as spelled out in Exodus, Leviticus, Deuteronomy, etc."

What's wrong with that? In religion as in law, people routinely pick and choose what to follow and what not to.

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt February 19, 2012 | 10:45 p.m.

The reason you haven't seen me mocking Islam is because I've yet to encounter articles or comments here that would prompt me to voice my opinion on the matter. But yeah, for as dangerous as I think Christianity is, I'll still take it over Islam.

"What's wrong with that? In religion as in law, people routinely pick and choose what to follow and what not to."

Nothing wrong with that from my point of view, except that it goes directly against what you said earlier. It is simply not true that our laws against murder and theft come from the Bible. We have such laws because it makes sense to have them.

Also, you're talking as if religion is just a hobby. According to the Bible, not doing as God tells you will send you to hell for eternity, and nowhere is it mentioned that it's OK to cherry-pick. So, either the Bible is the perfect word of the omnipotent, omniscient creator of the universe, or it isn't. If it's the former, you have no business being OK with only following parts of the Bible, and if it's the latter, you have no business being a Christian (assuming you are).

(Report Comment)
Tim Dance February 19, 2012 | 11:34 p.m.

@Tony

Congrats on beating up the straw man. We were discussing comparisons and you brought up Kerry....what? Please stay on topic.

(Report Comment)
Tony Robertson February 19, 2012 | 11:55 p.m.

@Tim: That figures. I would not want Kerry/Edwards mentioned, either, if I were a thoughtful progressive. I thought we were discussing the religious backgrounds of presidential candidates. Are those of D's off topic, for some reason? (I ask this as someone who is admittedly unenthusiastic about the crop of GOP candidates, but even less so about the Agent of Hope and Change the majority opted for last go-round.)

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith February 20, 2012 | 5:05 a.m.

Roar a roar for Nora,
Nora Alice in the night,
For she has seen aurora
borealis burning bright.
A furor for our Nora,
Applaud borealis seen.
Oh where, oh where all summer
Has our borealis been?

Now, isn't that better than those sterile haikus? And it rhymes! Plus it is almost certainly as germane to the subject at hand as the haikus are, although both it and the haikus lack the polish of Yeats.

[Years ago on a night flight from Churchill, Manitoba to Winnipeg in November we encountered a spectacular aurora display. The crew turned off the cabin lights and we appeared to be surrounded by fantastic lights. For the crew it was probably just a routine night.]

(Report Comment)
Tim Dance February 20, 2012 | 8:16 a.m.

No the discussion was leaning towards whether the Mormon religion made the electorate weary. Then you took the opportunity to get your Hannity/Rush talking point out on Rev. Wright, which was a pastor, not a religion. I called you on it, you brought up yet another strawman (Kerry) to beat on. I call you on that and then you say "I thought we were discussing the religious backgrounds of presidential candidates."

Not really, but if we were, Kerry and/or Edwards are not running for president anyway.

(Report Comment)
Tony Robertson February 20, 2012 | 9:20 a.m.

@Tim: Speaking of strawmen, you seem to think all conservatives are parrots of right-wing talk radio. I do not listen to Hannity or Rush, mainly because I consider myself smarter than both of them.

I never changed the subject. If Romney's Mormonism, or Santorum's Catholicism, are part of the subject, I fail to see how our current President's religious affiliation is somehow off-limits. Good try, though. Called me on it? Yeah, you called me on it, alright.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith February 20, 2012 | 9:51 a.m.

"... I fail to see how our current President's religious affiliation is somehow off-limits."

And just what IS that affiliation? Before the 2008 election he and his family were members of "The Church of Let's Kill Whitey."

(Report Comment)
Jimmy Bearfield February 20, 2012 | 11:49 a.m.

"We have such laws because it makes sense to have them."

Which is an example of how what you dismiss as a Bronze-Age mythology does have relevant things to say about the world today.

"According to the Bible, not doing as God tells you will send you to hell for eternity, and nowhere is it mentioned that it's OK to cherry-pick."

But the Bible does make it clear that if you stray -- including cherry-picking -- you still can avoid hell by repenting. Maybe that's in the back of some folks' minds.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams February 20, 2012 | 12:12 p.m.

We have such laws because it makes sense to have them.
_____________________

Why does it make sense? Defend that statement.

Further, who's "sense" do we believe? Yours? Mine? Don's? J. Karl's? Ellis'?

If I believe it makes sense to circumcise a woman so she will not feel sexual pleasure, and you say it makes sense to NOT do such a thing, who's right? Which of us gets our way? If I believe it makes sense to cut off your hand for stealing, who are you to say I'm wrong? May I force my wife, or may she choose herself, to abort a female child because a male child is my/her preference? Can a society force such a practice?

Who makes the "sense" rules in an a-religious society?

Society? If so, then personal liberties are eaten away by society and its laws, since society and it's laws determines what makes sense, not the individual and not a god.

(Report Comment)
Tim Dance February 20, 2012 | 1:54 p.m.

"And just what IS that affiliation? Before the 2008 election he and his family were members of "The Church of Let's Kill Whitey."

Church of let's kill whitey? Not exactly blowing the dog whistle anymore, are we?

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt February 20, 2012 | 2:03 p.m.

Jimmy: "Which is an example of how what you dismiss as a Bronze-Age mythology does have relevant things to say about the world today."

Like I said before, such laws have been around for a lot longer than the Bible, aka the Bible didn't reveal to us any information we didn't already know, aka the reason there are laws against murder and theft in the Bible is because we had already determined it's a good idea to have them.

"But the Bible does make it clear that if you stray -- including cherry-picking -- you still can avoid hell by repenting. Maybe that's in the back of some folks' minds."

The Bible also makes it clear that you should make an effort not to stray. The whole idea is to live your life as God wants you to, not to do whatever you want and repent at the last minute.

(Report Comment)
frank christian February 20, 2012 | 2:44 p.m.

"Like I said before, such laws have been around for a lot longer than the Bible".

How many Romans were prosecuted for throwing Christians to the lions?

(Report Comment)
Jimmy Bearfield February 20, 2012 | 3:04 p.m.

"such laws have been around for a lot longer than the Bible, aka the Bible didn't reveal to us any information we didn't already know"

So the people who wrote U.S. and Missouri law over the past 150-plus years got that "information" from cuneiform law and the Code of Hammurabi rather than the Bible?

"The Bible also makes it clear that you should make an effort not to stray."

So does the law, with earthly penalties, and everyone strays anyway.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams February 20, 2012 | 3:42 p.m.

Jimmy B: So the people who wrote U.S. and Missouri law over the past 150-plus years got that "information" from cuneiform law and the Code of Hammurabi rather than the Bible?
____________________

Absolutely. That's why our laws are incomprehensible to us minions.....lawyers write in cuneiform and sing M. C. Hammur-abi songs in secret courtrooms during full moon.

Don't u no nuttin'?
_____________________

PS: I think most Christian theologians would agree that, except as reference/explained by Christ, the Old Testament was superceded by the new covenant, the Old Testament mainly remaining as simple Jewish history of their peoples and relation with God. Rules set down for early Jewish folks once had a reason within their society, and still do for current followers, but for Christians those rules are mainly archaic. References to archaic rules for argument purposes are generally of little weight.

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt February 20, 2012 | 3:43 p.m.

Michael: "Why does it make sense? Defend that statement."

Because we're intelligent social animals. Less intelligent social animals have also figured out that working as a group and not killing each other is a good thing.

"Further, who's "sense" do we believe? Yours? Mine? Don's? J. Karl's? Ellis'?"

We go by whatever facts and evidence are available to us. Now that we've establised conclusively that epilepsy is not caused by bad juju or the evil eye, anyone who continues to believe this today is more than likely crazy (or a complete idiot). If you saw someone today spewing this nonsense, you would immediately sense that something's wrong with that person's head, despite the fact that this was the prevailing view on epilepsy back in the time of Jesus (and for centuries after, in fact).

There's a correlation between our knowledge of the universe and our understanding of morality. Just as it makes no sense to talk about Christian physics and Muslim algebra, I can guarantee you we'll get to a point where it will make no sense to talk about Christian vs. Muslim morality.

"If I believe it makes sense to circumcise a woman so she will not feel sexual pleasure, and you say it makes sense to NOT do such a thing, who's right? Which of us gets our way? If I believe it makes sense to cut off your hand for stealing, who are you to say I'm wrong?"

Science can prove you wrong. Morality has everything to do with well-being, and well-being has everything to do with brain health. Neuroscience is still in diapers, but at some point I don't doubt we'll be able to hook people up to an fMRI and tell them with confidence that they're wrong about what they think is best for them.

"Who makes the "sense" rules in an a-religious society?"

Ask any of the largely irreligious countries, such as Norway, Finland, Sweden, etc., how they go about it, considering all of them enjoy a better quality of life than we do. Religion didn't give us morality; we built these religions around what we understood to be moral and immoral at the time.

"Society? If so, then personal liberties are eaten away by society and its laws, since society and it's laws determines what makes sense, not the individual and not a god."

If your concern is personal liberties, you're more than welcome to go live in a cabin somewhere in Alaska. If you want to live in a society, there will invariably be times when society's needs trump yours.

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt February 20, 2012 | 3:54 p.m.

"So the people who wrote U.S. and Missouri law over the past 150-plus years got that "information" from cuneiform law and the Code of Hammurabi rather than the Bible?"

They got it from the fact that it's a good idea to prevent murder and theft, because that's where the Bible got it from too. Someone who has never read or even heard of the Bible will also think it's a good idea not to kill others, because evolution has driven it into our heads that we're better off sticking together.

"So does the law, with earthly penalties, and everyone strays anyway"

Are you a Christian or not? I'm curious, because it sounds like you think that Christianity is pointless.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams February 20, 2012 | 3:55 p.m.

JonH: "...but at some point I don't doubt we'll be able to hook people up to an fMRI and tell them with confidence that they're wrong about what they think is best for them."
_________________

"Best" as determined by.....you? Me? Ellis? Don?
My daughter with the PhD in neuroanatomy disagrees with you, mainly with the "who knows best" part.
____________________________

".....there will invariably be times when society's needs trump yours."

Precisely what we argue about.
And still no referee.

Except you.

You argue in a circle as if every brain, perfect and identical, would come up with identical answers....as if there was no chaos or statistical error (E) in the world.

That's why we have standard deviations instead of complete precision about an accuracy.

Sorry, dude...that's absurd.

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt February 20, 2012 | 3:57 p.m.

Michael:

“17 Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19 Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven." -- Matthew 5:17-20

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt February 20, 2012 | 4:08 p.m.

""Best" as determined by.....you? Me? Ellis? Don?
My daughter with the PhD in neuroanatomy disagrees with you, mainly with the "who knows best" part."

Best as determined by how your thoughts and actions affect your brain. Just as you would be wrong to state that the best way to remain physically healthy is a diet of cocaine, Everclear, and Wendy's Baconators, you can be wrong about what's best for your mental health.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams February 20, 2012 | 4:16 p.m.

Also re: "I don't doubt we'll be able to hook people up to an fMRI and tell them with confidence that they're wrong about what they think is best for them."
__________________

So you're a determinist, confident that the position and velocity of a particle can be determined with absolute accuracy, hence its future can be determined with absolute accuracy.

So was Einstein; he never was able to get through the hard brick wall of quantum mechanics or Heisenberg's principle. This reluctance was one of his greatest blunders (His initial notion that a cosmological constant was a blunder is still in doubt).

'Cause these are the scales yer talkin' about "knowin'", dude.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams February 20, 2012 | 4:22 p.m.

"Best as determined by how your thoughts and actions affect your brain."
______________________

A non-answer.

Because you yourself said "...we'll be able...[to[ tell them with confidence that they're wrong..."

You said "We".....not "your"....as in "me".

Circle.

And still no referee.

Won't be a secular referee we can all agree upon, either....not with that dang Heisenberg Principle hanging over our collective heads. Even your brain will be wrong at times.

That's gotta hurt.

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt February 20, 2012 | 6:07 p.m.

Michael (didn't notice this earlier for some reason):

"You argue in a circle as if every brain, perfect and identical, would come up with identical answers....as if there was no chaos or statistical error (E) in the world.

That's why we have standard deviations instead of complete precision about an accuracy.

Sorry, dude...that's absurd."

I never claimed that there's one perfect solution for everyone. After all, we already have enough information about physical health to have a pretty good idea if a person is living a healthy or unhealthy lifestyle, but this doesn't mean there's only one way to be healthy or unhealthy, nor are we forcing people to change how they live. There are many ways to succeed and fail, and simply knowing how to avoid failure is a huge benefit. We may not know what's the best way to raise intelligent, capable, well-adjusted children, but knowing that child abuse won't get you there is a great start.

"So you're a determinist, confident that the position and velocity of a particle can be determined with absolute accuracy, hence its future can be determined with absolute accuracy.

So was Einstein; he never was able to get through the hard brick wall of quantum mechanics or Heisenberg's principle. This reluctance was one of his greatest blunders (His initial notion that a cosmological constant was a blunder is still in doubt).

'Cause these are the scales yer talkin' about "knowin'", dude."

I'm aware that the movement of matter at the quantum scale is ultimately random (and therefore unpredictable), but this doesn't change the fact that we can make useful approximations at larger scales. Newtonian physics are still useful today even though it's obvious their scope is very limited.

Similarly, humans are made of stuff, and that stuff is uniform across the board. I don't need to know the quantum behavior of every subatomic particle and anti-particle in the human body to know whether or not you're going to feel pain if I throw acid on your face.

Also, given your evidently low opinion of determinism, I'm wondering what's your take on the subject.

"A non-answer.

Because you yourself said "...we'll be able...[to[ tell them with confidence that they're wrong..."

You said "We".....not "your"....as in "me"."

Uh, what? I'm not sure you know what circular logic is.

"Won't be a secular referee we can all agree upon, either....not with that dang Heisenberg Principle hanging over our collective heads. Even your brain will be wrong at times."

The secular referee is knowledge. Again, we don't need to waste any time entertaining idiotic claims of epilepsy being caused by demons and curses. Someone who states such a thing is more than welcome not to believe the evidence, but it doesn't change the fact that the evidence is there and that his beliefs are demonstrably wrong.

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle February 20, 2012 | 7:27 p.m.

Human morality goes even farther back than cuneform. See Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=le-74R9C6...

Freaking animals.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams February 20, 2012 | 7:45 p.m.

Jon: "I never claimed that there's one perfect solution for everyone."
____________________

Sure you did. You wrote, ""I don't doubt we'll be able to hook people up to an fMRI and tell them with confidence that they're wrong about what they think is best for them."

INO, you said "I don't doubt".
You said "with confidence"
You said, "that they're wrong:, and
You said, "what they think is best for them."

That about covers it.
____________________

Perhaps you'd like knowledge as the secular referee, but you won't get what you like. You crave uniformity of knowledge and fixed behavioral rules based upon that knowledge, yet acknowledge that everyone has different experiences leading to differing brain knowledge. That's circular. In at least one society, "knowledge" is that a male child is better for the family than a female child. Hence, amniocentesis is performed and any girl child is aborted. In some societies, "knowledge" is that trees and mosquitoes have moral equivalency to human life; in others, trees are for harvesting and mosquitoes harbor dengue fever. You may disagree with these "knowledges" based upon your own understanding of "knowledge", but who made your knowledge better than the other? To say that your knowledge is better is to make you the judge.

But, what if I say you're wrong.

Now what?

Knowledge is what knowledge does. For behavior, it's in the eye of the beholder. This is not 2+2=4 stuff or PDC catalyzes the reaction of oxaloacetate with acetyl-CoA I'm talking about....I'm talking about the product of many chaotic biochemical and electrochemical reactions subject to, at their most base levels, uncertainty and lack of precision and accuracy. Everything has a standard deviation; the only question is how large/small. Behavior and certain types of "knowledge" have the larger ones, and it is not something you or I can control.

You seek what is, to you, logical and rational actions based upon knowledge.

The problem is, your knowledge isn't always my knowledge.

And that makes you no better a referee than me.

Stalemate.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams February 20, 2012 | 8:10 p.m.

As for my take on "determinism", I'm fine with it when launching satellites and sticking my finger into a hot socket.

I'm not so fine with it when trying to corral a foul gaseous odour into the corner of a room by waving my arms, making equal-sized cookies, teaching my dog to do tricks, finding a graviton, or trying to convince another human being possessive of his/her own unique arrangement of electrons, protons, and neutrons...each with its own wave and particle characteristics all working in opposition to me.

Assuming I can find them.

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle February 20, 2012 | 8:23 p.m.

There's more than one truth, more than one lie, more than one problem, and more than one solution.

Yes, I'm a moral relativist. Sorry if that bothers anyone. Actually, no, I'm not sorry. Deal with it.

True black and white absolutes are incredibly rare. Most of life is a sea of grey. That's why I tend to abhor any kind of absolute dogma, political or religious. It's ironic that the religious, who tend to see the world as being one absolute truth and one absolute answer, can't wrap their head around the rare true absolute that the woman has complete and utter control of a developing fetus insider her body, and nothing can change that (yet; medical technology has been steadily improving viability).

To try and change that requires external force of some kind, and that almost always (not absolutely this time) leads to harm, even harm to the very entity people are trying to protect.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams February 20, 2012 | 9:18 p.m.

Derrick:

And yet you refuse to weigh in on the "double homicide" question. I'm also confident that you, as a moral relativist, would be more than willing to pass adverse judgment on various societal practices observed throughout this cruel world.

I could be wrong, tho....perhaps female circumcision and favoring male fetuses over female are A-OK.

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle February 20, 2012 | 9:59 p.m.

Michael: I think female circumcision is horrible. I also think male circumcision is horrible. Yes, I do pass judgement on social practices. No, I don't have a pat answer to the double homicide quandary, although I most certainly have discussed that issue with you before: http://www.columbiamissourian.com/storie...

Does that clear things up?

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle February 20, 2012 | 10:03 p.m.

Sorry, missed one: No, I don't believe favoring male fetuses is OK.

Anymore questions?

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt February 20, 2012 | 10:10 p.m.

Michael: "Sure you did. You wrote, ""I don't doubt we'll be able to hook people up to an fMRI and tell them with confidence that they're wrong about what they think is best for them."

INO, you said "I don't doubt".
You said "with confidence"
You said, "that they're wrong:, and
You said, "what they think is best for them."

That about covers it."

Again, if someone tells you that a diet of cocaine, Everclear, and Wendy's Baconators is good for you, can you tell him he's wrong? Yes. Does this mean you think there's one single perfect diet out there? No. Same thing here.

"The problem is, your knowledge isn't always my knowledge.

And that makes you no better a referee than me.

Stalemate."

Knowledge does not depend on the observer. There are subjective facts about ourselves, sure, but they aren't immune to study. Physical health is also a subjective fact about ourselves, and yet this hasn't stopped medical research, now has it?

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams February 20, 2012 | 10:40 p.m.

Knowledge does not depend on the observer.
________________

Sure it does. I gave you two exceptions where knowledge does indeed depend upon the observer. The problem is that you think everything can be reduced to 2+2=4, or that folks can be "trained" (that means re-educated) to the right kind of knowledge beliefs. Your kind.

I maintain your beliefs about such exceptions have no more validity than mine. I stand by my statement: "And that makes you no better a referee than me. Stalemate."

All you've done in your last paragraph is shift the argument away from my statement into a statement about a learning immunity. I've discussed no such thing. I won't shift with you.

To the contrary, I'm still trying to wade through A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking and The Elegant Universe by Brian Greene. I'm about halfway through both, but keep getting stuck and have to start over. I'm reminded of the physicist (I don't know who, and I'm too lazy to look it up) who was told only 3 people understood quantum mechanics. After a pause, he replied, "I'm trying to think of the third."

PS: As you well know, in the world of special relativity, exact knowledge ALWAYS depends upon the observer when there is relative motion.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams February 20, 2012 | 10:46 p.m.

Derrick: Then you are not a pure moral relativist.

You're just like me. You think some things are good, and some things should be fought against.

We only differ on the position of the line.

No, no more questions, but given your stance on abortion, if you'll admit (as a jurist) there can be no such double homicide since the fetus is never a person with rights, it would improve the consistency of your position.

Which was always my only point all along.

Don't worry about it....I have the same difficulty with pregnancy resulting from rape and incest. I admit it, tho.

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt February 20, 2012 | 11:54 p.m.

Facts are facts, and once again, facts do not depend on the observer. The Uncertainty Principle is a fact, regardless of who is doing the observing, same with relativity. It doesn't matter if you're the twin brother on the space ship traveling at 0.8c or the twin brother who stayed behind on earth; the system as a whole behaves in a way that does not depend on either brother's point of view.

The exceptions you noted were not examples of knowledge either, but rather examples of opinion born of incomplete knowledge. It doesn't matter how strongly you may believe that it's better to have a son than a daughter, because someone needs to have daughters for the argument to matter at all. Kinda tough to continue the debate if we become extinct thanks to there being no women around.

As for the trees and mosquitoes, our sense of morality is colored by our perception of others' ability to suffer, which is why we don't really mind pruning the trees in our backyard yet recoil at the thought of amputating puppies. It's possible that trees to indeed suffer immensely and just can't vocalize their pain, but if this true and we discover it, this information will become part of our discourse and our attitude toward vegetation will adjust accordingly. If we prove that trees can't suffer, however, then these people's concerns about vegetation are simply ignorant romanticism.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith February 21, 2012 | 7:09 a.m.

"I often wish ... that I could rid the world of the tyranny of facts. What are facts but compromises? A fact merely marks the point at which we've agreed to let investigation cease." - Author unknown

"Sit down before fact as a little child, be prepared to give up every preconceived notion, follow humbly to whatever abysses nature leads, or you shall learn nothing." - Thomas Huxley

"It is often difficult to separate fact from fiction." - old, and often used, saying

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith February 21, 2012 | 7:43 a.m.

"Because we're intelligent, social animals."

The "social" part fits most of the time, but the "intelligent" part appears frequently to be hit and miss. A more accurate way to phrase it might be that intelligence is definitely there, but only shows itself intermittently. (I do not exclude myself from that observation.)

On a different - but possibly related - tack, it seems that many on the political Left believe in and indeed champion Darwinism, but for all species EXCEPT humans (and human activities). If that's true, why is there an exception?

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams February 21, 2012 | 10:38 a.m.

Jon says again, "Facts are facts, and once again, facts do not depend on the observer."
__________________

I take it, then, you believe that if our knowledge was complete, you and I will *always* agree if two events happen at the same time and place.

(Report Comment)
Jimmy Bearfield February 21, 2012 | 11:37 a.m.

"Are you a Christian or not?"

I am. So is Obama, who quotes the Bible when criticizing America for not doing enough for "the least of these," but then consistently fails to tithe anywhere near the 10% that many Christians believe is the right amount to donate to charities.

"because that's where the Bible got it from too."

How do you know that?

"Someone who has never read or even heard of the Bible will also think it's a good idea not to kill others, because evolution has driven it into our heads that we're better off sticking together."

And yet so many people murder and steal every day.

(Report Comment)
mike mentor February 21, 2012 | 11:59 a.m.

The Alabama Supreme Court just threw out a lower court's ruling on a wrongful death suit. The case was filed by a woman that was suing her doctors for the wrongful death of her 3 month old fetus/baby. The lower court gave a summary judgement in favor of the defense because the 3 month old was not a "viable" person yet. The Supreme Court Justice wrote, "The Supreme Court "erroneously" concluded in Roe that the unborn have no rights as "persons," but since 1973, mounds of cases have been decided in tort and criminal law in favor of babies with prenatal injuries "regardless whether the injury occurred either before or after the point of viability."

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams February 21, 2012 | 12:18 p.m.

MikeM: "The Supreme Court "erroneously" concluded in Roe that the unborn have no rights as "persons," but since 1973, mounds of cases have been decided in tort and criminal law in favor of babies with prenatal injuries "regardless whether the injury occurred either before or after the point of viability."
________________________

Yeah, it's a real problem, ain't it?
Like a double homicide charge for the killer of a pregnant woman should be a real problem for a logical pro-choice jurist. If one domino falls, the whole thing falls.

Which is what this is all about. Any mental prostitution is ok if only pro-choice can be preserved. Means-end thingie. The very same people who will convict a person for murdering an unborn fetus in a negligent/deliberate act ("After all, it's a person with rights") will merrily write checks to PP ("Well, in this case, the fetus is not a person.").

Absurd.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro February 21, 2012 | 1:10 p.m.

Easy access to abortion provides the state with the means to limit the reproduction of poor people.
Until they start encouraging male births for the military, governmental encouraged abortions will be the progressive way.
Feminists and the "women's reproductive rights" groups are facilitating this behavior/lifestyle.
Abortion makes for great "planned" parenthood.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams February 21, 2012 | 2:07 p.m.

Ray: The book Freakonomics says Roe v. Wade has sure saved us a buncha crime trouble.

Probably right, too.

Really rotten way to combat crime, tho.

It's probably racist in that context/motive. So, pro-choice folks don't view it that way. It's far more PC to say "it's the woman's body and she's in charge".

You get the same outcome; it's face-saving, viewed as kind and considerate, AND reduces crime.

Well thought-out.

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt February 21, 2012 | 4:19 p.m.

Ellis: "On a different - but possibly related - tack, it seems that many on the political Left believe in and indeed champion Darwinism, but for all species EXCEPT humans (and human activities). If that's true, why is there an exception?"

The exception is there because ~75% of the population is Christian, and a politician will only publicly admit that humans and other apes share a common ancestor if he wants to commit career suicide. Facts do not care about party association, however, and you'll find both liberals and conservatives who care about the facts and will tell you that evolutionary theory is legit, since we know more about evolution than gravity, as a matter of fact.

Michael: "I take it, then, you believe that if our knowledge was complete, you and I will *always* agree if two events happen at the same time and place."

You're splitting hairs. Our reaction to said event might be different because we are different people and we are looking at it from different locations, but the event itself is the same regardless of frame of reference. An apple falling off a tree is an apple falling off a tree, even if you don't know that's what happened (say, if you're an organism that only exists in the XY plane and all you see is a weird shape materialize on the floor seemingly out of nowhere).

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt February 21, 2012 | 4:54 p.m.

Jimmy: "I am. So is Obama, who quotes the Bible when criticizing America for not doing enough for "the least of these," but then consistently fails to tithe anywhere near the 10% that many Christians believe is the right amount to donate to charities."

My guess is Obama isn't as religious as you think, aka he's only catering to the masses like politicians always do, since Americans want their politicians to be people of faith and all that.

"How do you know that?"

Because, once again, laws against murder and theft have existed for centuries/millenia before the Bible was ever written, aka we had already figured out by then that murder and theft are counterproductive to society.

"And yet so many people murder and steal every day."

That's not because they didn't read the Bible.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams February 21, 2012 | 6:44 p.m.

jon says, "You're splitting hairs."
________________

No, I'm not. You said facts never depend upon the observer. You have great faith in knowledge's ability to provide pure facts that, if the knowledge is complete, all can and will believe in.

Hence, I simply wish to know, given our knowledge is complete, if you and I will always agree two events happen at the same time and place. Would we always agree on that fact. The answer has nothing to do with you and I being different people; after all, our knowledge is complete, so our brains are equivalent.

You ducked the question the first time.

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt February 21, 2012 | 9:22 p.m.

I never said that complete knowledge means all will believe it. I already said that someone is more than welcome to continue thinking that epilepsy is caused by demons despite the fact that we know he's wrong. People today still believe similar nonsense, in fact, as evidenced by all the children in parts of Africa being tortured and killed over bogus accusations of witchcraft.

The pseudo-debate between creationism and evolution is also an example of people not acknowledging the facts. There is no debate and there is no question that we are the product of evolution, and yet millions of people around the world still believe that man was created from dirt and woman was created from man's rib.

Maybe you can rephrase/clarify your question? I'm not sure where you're trying to get with "you and I will always agree two events happen at the same time and place." It doesn't matter if we possess the same knowledge, our brains are not necessarily equivalent. If I'm a schizophrenic, chances are you and I will witness the same event and see completely different things (in my case, I'll see/hear a bunch of stuff that actually isn't there).

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams February 21, 2012 | 9:36 p.m.

Jon: You said knowledge does not depend upon the observer.

Hence, if it does not hinge upon the observer, then knowledge must...just...*be*.

So, the question remains: If you and I are two observers, and you say two events happen simultaneously, will I always agree if I'm observing the events, too?

Third time's the charm....

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt February 21, 2012 | 9:40 p.m.

Michael: "Which is what this is all about. Any mental prostitution is ok if only pro-choice can be preserved. Means-end thingie. The very same people who will convict a person for murdering an unborn fetus in a negligent/deliberate act ("After all, it's a person with rights") will merrily write checks to PP ("Well, in this case, the fetus is not a person.")."

Uh, it all depends on what the mother wants. No one half-intelligent denies that a fetus is a human being, and if someone kills a woman's fetus out of negligence or malice, that person should be prosecuted. The reason why has nothing whatsoever to do with the personhood argument: The woman wanted to have a baby, and someone else took that from her. There is no contradiction or "mental prostitution" involved.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams February 21, 2012 | 9:43 p.m.

Jon, so a woman standing at the door of an abortion clinic, about to have an abortion, is shot and killed along with her fetus.

Double or single homicide?

(Report Comment)
Jimmy Bearfield February 21, 2012 | 9:55 p.m.

"Because, once again, laws against murder and theft have existed for centuries/millenia before the Bible was ever written, aka we had already figured out by then that murder and theft are counterproductive to society."

Again, when it comes to direct influences on the people who wrote Missouri and federal law -- especially during the first few decades -- the Bible probably played a greater role than cuneiform law or the Code of Hammurabi. Why? Because they were exposed to the former more regularly than the latter two -- if they knew anything about the latter two at all.

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt February 21, 2012 | 10:08 p.m.

"So, the question remains: If you and I are two observers, and you say two events happen simultaneously, will I always agree if I'm observing the events, too?"

Our interpretation of events has nothing to do with the knowledge we possess. Like I said before, an organism that exists only in a two-dimensional world will not see an apple falling off a tree even if that's exactly what happened. All he will see is some shape materializing in his plane of existence. That organism could know just as much about everything as I do (three-dimensional space for him would simply be like any additonal dimensions posited by string theorists, for example), but he wouldn't be able to determine what just happened as quickly as I could, simply because I have the advantage of living in three-dimensional space.

"If we both have complete knowledge, then both of us will know whether or not two events can happen simultaneously"

Depends. For starters, if we do have complete knowledge, then we will both know whether it's even possible for two events to happen simultaneously (and in the same place). But, like I said earlier, this observation does not depend on how much we know, but rather on where we are with respect to the events.

If I'm driving a car, I probably don't know that I'm about to get t-boned at the next intersection by some careless driver who decided to run the red light. Someone standing on a balcony at the intersection, however, can probably tell this is about to happen, aka from his frame of reference he can essentially see the future.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams February 21, 2012 | 10:16 p.m.

Jon: OK. For the third time, you refuse to answer.

The answer is no.

Your statement, that knowledge does not depend upon the observer, is quite wrong.

I'll leave it up to you and google to figure out why. You're good at looking up stuff.

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt February 21, 2012 | 10:19 p.m.

"Jon, so a woman standing at the door of an abortion clinic, about to have an abortion, is shot and killed along with her fetus.

Double or single homicide?"

Single.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams February 21, 2012 | 10:23 p.m.

Jon,

Very good. You get an A for consistency.

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt February 21, 2012 | 10:24 p.m.

"The answer is no.

Your statement, that knowledge does not depend upon the observer, is quite wrong."

No, it isn't, although in retrospect the word "knowledge" was a poor choice on my part. What I meant to say is that facts do not depend on the observer, since "knowledge" is a broad enough term so as to encompass subjective experience.

If we replace "knowledge" with "facts," would you still ask the same question? I just want to make sure this wasn't all just a misunderstanding.

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt February 21, 2012 | 10:26 p.m.

"Jon,

Very good. You get an A for consistency."

Assuming that wasn't just sarcasm, yeah, I'm big on consistency. <_<

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt February 21, 2012 | 10:31 p.m.

Jimmy: "Again, when it comes to direct influences on the people who wrote Missouri and federal law -- especially during the first few decades -- the Bible probably played a greater role than cuneiform law or the Code of Hammurabi. Why? Because they were exposed to the former more regularly than the latter two -- if they knew anything about the latter two at all."

My math professors played a greater role in my understanding of calculus than either Newton or Leibniz, but this doesn't mean my professors invented it.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams February 21, 2012 | 10:46 p.m.

Jon: No, you're still wrong. Facts quite often depend on the observer.

There are situations where we will both measure the same thing and get identical results.

Yet, you will say my fact is wrong, and I will say your fact is wrong.

But, each of our conclusions is exactly right, and our accusations of shoddy measurement from the other will also be exactly right. Neither of us have a valid claim that the other is wrong. We're both right.

If you are interested, though, you still have to find out the *why* for yourself.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams February 21, 2012 | 10:52 p.m.

And, no....it wasn't sarcasm. We may still disagree, but I'm mainly concerned with the logic and consistency of the argument. I'm human, and I struggle with this each and every day in my own thoughts and opinions.

But, at least I struggle. Many just go teats up.

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt February 21, 2012 | 11:12 p.m.

Michael: "There are situations where we will both measure the same thing and get identical results.

Yet, you will say my fact is wrong, and I will say your fact is wrong."

Unless you're referring to something particularly esoteric, this still doesn't have much to do with facts so much as opinions/our interpretation of the facts. Looking at it with the naked eye, a ball bearing is a perfectly smooth surface, but if you show a microscope closeup, obviously it consists of very rugged terrain. Both of these are facts and both of these descriptions of the surface are correct according to the magnification level you're using.

Same with the global warming debate, for example. A global warming alarmist will show you the infamous hockey-stick graph (aka a close-up of the last 100 years or so zoomed in to make the changes in temperature/atmospheric CO2 look enormous), whereas a global warming denier will present graphs showing the entire earth's entire temperature/CO2 records zoomed out enough to suggest that the latest changes are just negligible blips on the radar.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams February 21, 2012 | 11:25 p.m.

Jon, no use continuing...time for sleep anyway. I suggest A Brief History of Time by Steven Hawking or The Elegant Universe by Brian Greene.

You will find there are things that will be unknowable in spite of your best efforts. Determinism is dead. Even your Wiki definition of a second in another thread is not my fact in certain situations where I'm watching you do the measuring. And, we'll both be right.

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt February 21, 2012 | 11:37 p.m.

I actually have A Brief History of Time, but I got about halfway through it and got distracted with something else. Got it for Christmas a couple of years ago, in the form of a double book (it and The Universe in a Nutshell all in one). Gotta read it again, though, and make sure I get to the ending this time around, lol.

Yes, I'm aware that the universe is a lot stranger than most of us would like to admit. <_<

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith February 22, 2012 | 6:02 a.m.

The concept of survival of the fittest (Darwinism) more closely resembles Capitalism than Socialism. In fact it is the opposite of Socialism. Surprising more people haven't noticed that. The observation can be made with absolutely NO reference to Christianity or any other religion.

Under a governmental system that truly resembles Adam Smith Capitalism there would be no government bailouts of distressed businesses or financial institutions. They would be left to fail. For example, today if someone wanted to buy a domestically produced automobile he or she might well have to purchase a Ford product (not GM or Chrysler).

But what about domestic jobs, etc.? Darwinism is inherently cruel, because Nature is inherently cruel.

But maybe that's not a fact. :) See my post above at 7:09 am on @-21-12. I do wish these posts were numbered, for easy reference.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams February 22, 2012 | 8:09 a.m.

Jon: Yes, both books I mentioned are tough reads, making us think in ways to which we are not accustomed. About halfway is my limit for both books, so far, but I'm still butting my head on the next page. How can we be moving through time at the speed of light if we are spacially at rest, and what does "at rest" really mean? You mean I have to deal with space-time rather than space? Why does my clock on the airplane run slower than yours on the ground; if GPS did not adjust for this, we'd routinely be off target by a couple of miles! The "sum of all paths" approach explaining the single electron/double slit experiment still gives me headaches, and I remain flabbergasted that you will record the time of a different fact (a fact in itself) at the top of a tower than I will on the ground. If you are a muon moving relative to me, you will insist your half-life is one value while I'll insist it is another. Neither of us has a valid claim to being right. And positions/momentums of all particles are impossible to discern, making past/present/future predictions impossible except "on average".

I'm glad I live in the middle of the extremely large and extremely small so that I can remain blissfully Neutonian, yet I'm aware that because I am composed of quite small, unpredictable particles following that damned Heisenberg, parts of me will remain forever unknowable and forever unpredictable. Some of my facts will be my facts, and yours...yours.

(Report Comment)
Tom Dresner February 22, 2012 | 10:44 a.m.

Jon said, "The pseudo-debate between creationism and evolution is also an example of people not acknowledging the facts. There is no debate and there is no question that we are the product of evolution, and yet millions of people around the world still believe that man was created from dirt and woman was created from man's rib."

Can I jump in here and engage you on this a bit? Would you consider yourself relatively informed about the nuts and bolts of evolution?

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams February 22, 2012 | 11:05 a.m.

aww, heck....I wish I could stay around for this. I'm an ardent evolutionist AND a Christian.

No problems with such a posture whatsoever. I could be the middle man cause I think you just threw down the gauntlet between polar ends.

Start another thread somewhere for the frenzy to follow. This one's already in the blue, and that's a pain in the neck.

(Report Comment)
mike mentor February 22, 2012 | 11:48 a.m.

I am not Blue! How can this be? You say it is blue and I clearly see this page as white... just kidding...

Your lucky my dad isn't on here. He is a tough read. Get him started on physics and he will leave you all blue...

If we are traveling through time at light speed are those nutrinos that may be going faster than light going back to the future?

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt February 22, 2012 | 1:05 p.m.

Michael: Obviously none of this can be verified via experiment at the moment, but I think it's Hawking himself who is now proposing that the universe can effectively create itself, at least based on the math.

Also, I don't know if they've actually observed this yet or merely constructed a model, but I remember reading an article explaining that "nothing" doesn't really exist, and what we perceive to be empty space/a vacuum is actually an active ocean of matter and anti-matter appearing and disappearing seemingly out of nowhere (probably lending credence to the existence of higher dimensions).

Cool stuff indeed.

Tom: "Can I jump in here and engage you on this a bit? Would you consider yourself relatively informed about the nuts and bolts of evolution?"

I consider myself familiar enough with the overall process, but I'd be hesitant to call myself educated on the subject--I don't do this ever, in fact, as there is always room to learn new things and possibly revise my thinking. So, by all means fire away and I'll see if I can keep up. Like Michael said earlier, I like to look up stuff, so the discussion will invariably involve me scouring the interwebs for supporting/contrary evidence either way.

But yeah, not sure where we could have this discussion, since I've managed to blue-screen a few people already.
(I'll be getting a new computer one of these days anyway, maybe I can hook one of you guys up with my current one once I'm done transfering files and cleaning everything up, heh)

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro February 22, 2012 | 2:46 p.m.

From the article above:
("When somebody tries to restrict access to birth control, they are also imposing their religious beliefs on others.")
Not necessarily. They just might not want to encourage, facilitate or participate in the activity, for personal, financial or idealogical reasons, just as the person(s) seeking an abortion or other form of birth control has their own personal reason(s).
I also believe that just as a college education is a "God" given right, so too is birth control.
You have the "God" given right of choosing to abstain from both.

(Report Comment)
Tom Dresner February 22, 2012 | 3:28 p.m.

Cool. First, by way of getting some things out of the way, I am a Christian, I believe in God and I believe that He created everything. My faith admonishes me to test it, not just accept it, and that doubt is absolutely ok. With the amount of supernatural contained within the Bible, if we are to be constrained by the scientifically observable, we might want to stop before we start. We might not be able to have a good exchange and it might not not be worth our time. And yes, I'd be up for going somewhere else, since this string is already enormous.

Also to clarify, as much as my own head accepts, I am honestly seeking truth, as much as that's allowable by the middle aged mind in a world that is consumed with the, er, consumption of information on a dizzying scale. I believe these questions rightly take lifetimes to explore, and to try to dismiss one side or the other in a few blog posts does everyone a disservice. From all the intellectual weight above, I suspect that no one changed any minds, and most of the effort was spent in attempting just that, rather than having been as open to the other's perspectives as one might hope.

Nevertheless, we might get bored and we all have other things to do.

That said, evolution as I am narrowing here, is the Darwinian mechanism described first in The Origin of Species in 1859, now being used as the bible of sorts to explain the origin of everything scientifically. Natural selection as the explanation for it all, going all the way back to the beginning and the proverbial (forgive me)primordial soup.

I believe that science adequately explains microevolution, or successive changes within species, but not what takes place on a molecular level, and way way back. The notion that nothing created everything, to use a Christian catchphrase.

I just observe the world, and my frame of reference tells me things that I hold true, and reject things I don't. My frame of reference tells me that living things appear as if they're designed. That the complex has a design, that a book has an author.

Strict naturalists tell me I am wrong, when it comes to making that conclusion with regard to complex life on Earth.

I'll close this one here in the forlorn hope of brevity as we go. :)

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams February 22, 2012 | 4:34 p.m.

Jon: Yes, current theory has empty space as not empty at all, but at the tiniest of levels is a frenzy of activity which may even involve other dimensions....just as you described. The existence of these levels is theoretical at this point and, until we can generate energy levels about a million-million times what we can do right now, we probably won't be able to discern them. There are some models, however, which project that we can see some predictable occurrences (I don't remember what) using current technology.

I really get hung up when I get to strings, and even more hung up when Greene starts talking about string tensions that exceed a magnitude that astounds me. And braines? Forget it....I'm lost in the wilderness.

My current efforts concern trying to understand Planck lengths, below which might be imaginary....which, if memory serves, would eliminate the theory discussed in my first paragraph above.

Hell, I never understood Maxwell's field equations, so I have no ability whatsoever of understanding Einstein's gravity/field tensors.

Someone mentioned above the recent data showing neutrinos traveling faster than light. This data, to be sure, put the physics world topsy-turvy. I should point out, tho, that science is self-corrective or self-substantiating, and we now have at least theoretical evidence that the originating muon (??) did not have sufficient energy to impart to a neutrino for faster-than-light speed. The search for data continues; the theory that nothing can travel faster than light (and E=mc^2) will either be supported or the theory must be modified/rejected. We wait with bated breath.

Well, some of us do.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams February 22, 2012 | 4:42 p.m.

On evolution: First, you have to agree on the age of the universe, and then you have to agree on the age of the earth.

Without that agreement, there is no need to debate. It's a non-starter for everyone.

It's the first step.

I recommend we hold off on this discussion...I'm going to. We're already in the "blue", it's a pain in the ass, and soon we'll reach some really obnoxious color like....puce.

(Report Comment)
mike mentor February 22, 2012 | 4:57 p.m.

BREaKING NeWS:

The Neutrino's were not going faster than light. A bad connection in a fiber optic cable from the timer caused the anomaly.

Kind of ironic...

I had read some articles that said the initial findings had been confirmed. oops...

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith February 22, 2012 | 5:59 p.m.

Michael Williams:

A value frequently used for the age of the Sun is about 5 billion years. The Sun is believed to have completed approximately half its life (excluding time eventually spent as a dwarf after expending its fuel).

A value given for the age of Earth is about four billion years, much of that time having occurred before evolution of life.

Question: What do astrophysicists and geologists have in common with the United States Congress?

Answer: They all deal in quantities of billions, and errors of several million or even a billion are considered entirely acceptable.

In about 4-5 billion more years the Sun, in its death throes, will expand and turn the inner planets to cinders, but I wouldn't lose sleep over that.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams February 22, 2012 | 6:13 p.m.

Ellis: You don't have to convince me.

But, before any discussion of evolution can proceed, the age of the universe/earth have to be agreed upon.

Basically, this means agreeing upon one of the following: "really old" or "6000 years old".

Without that agreement, the dispute is a non-starter. Personally, I won't engage without that agreement. BTW, I won't agree to 6000.

(Report Comment)
Tom Dresner February 22, 2012 | 7:20 p.m.

Michael, me be old Earth creationist. No worries. So where do we go to play?

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams February 22, 2012 | 8:25 p.m.

Tom: Until we get a thread (a Missourian story), discussing this topic will be difficult, and I won't do it in blue. We'll prolly have to sit on it a while.

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle February 22, 2012 | 8:56 p.m.

Mike, I see the issue as a red herring. A murder was committed. Turns out it was a pregnant woman that was murdered.

Are you seriously going to get caught up in an accounting debate over whether it should be charged as one murder or two? Is there any proof that the additional charge would make any difference, after the case has made it's way through the courts, in the end? Another 10 or 20 years? A difference in whether or not that person is ever going to get out in a condition to commit another murder? If so, show me. You're good at red herrings, I'll give you that. But that's all this question is.

I've stated, over and over again, that I don't like abortion. I understand what's going on there. Most women that have abortions do, too. The still can, do, and will make that decision, regardless of any laws or external control-freak outrage. All the evidence I see is that it can't actually be stopped, and I don't have any real control over the situation without adding more harm to the situation. I do not want make a bad situation worse.

Abortions could be dramatically reduced with a real society-wide commitment to availability and use of birth control. I have absolutely no moral qualms about two consenting adults having sex, strictly for pleasure, whatever. Getting hung up on that is just plain box-of-rocks stupid. Let's get contraception out there, get everyone educated, and really, truly reduce abortion.

Unless that's not really what you want. ???

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams February 22, 2012 | 9:25 p.m.

Derrick: I have no ulterior motives.

You said, "Are you seriously going to get caught up in an accounting debate over whether it should be charged as one murder or two?"

I don't have to get seriously caught up in it. The judicial system gets caught up in it sufficient for me, you, and everyone else.

The judicial system is caught in a quandary. Only a human being can be murdered, not cows or dogs or deer or trees. A human being has "rights" according to our law, including the right to not be murdered. Yet, concerning abortion, the fetus is not considered a human being with rights.

It's inconsistent. And Jon is the only pro-choice member of this forum community with the cajones to be consistent.

And "consistency" is my ONLY point in all this.

I hate this blue. I don't want to post in blue anymore.

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt February 23, 2012 | 12:04 a.m.

Oh man, I really want to get going on the evolution discussion, but yeah, I'm not known for being concise and I don't wanna ruin your all's computers even more, heh.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith February 23, 2012 | 4:21 a.m.

Michael:

If you are a geologist or (in my case) have made a good living in part through the science of geology there's no way you can agree with the world having been created in seven 24-hour days.

Further, assuming an earth that's roughly 4 billion years old, the largest part of that time there could not have been life, plant or animal, due to the hot and unstable* condition of the planet and lack of a proper atmosphere.

In his book "Earth, The Sapphire Planet**," Url Lanham covers the situation in a non-technical, easy-to-read manner. The final step in the sequence of gaining stability was having sufficient oxygen in the atmosphere.

So, are we going to revisit the Scopes Trial? Who will play the part of William Jennings Bryan and who the part of Clarence Darrow? I can hardly wait. (Actually, I can easily wait forever.)

*- While we have earthquakes and volcanic eruptions today, our present situation is relatively stable.

**- Dover Publications, for the whopping sum of $6.95 (plus handling and shipping). A great read, and slides easily into your carry on luggage. Try not to spill any cocktails on the pages.

(Report Comment)
Tom Dresner February 23, 2012 | 8:02 a.m.

Ellis, sounds like the matter is already settled for you. Then hopefully you won't mind if I take it up with others.

I am hoping for open minds. Including my own. Especially my own.

I will by necessity use terms like irreducible complexity and intelligent design. They're not code for me. And I can only speak for myself. ID is jumped on immediately as being a way for creationists to back door these theories into the schools. I am hoping to set that aside. I am fascinated by the theories themselves. They unfortunately tend not to get a proper consideration due to immediate dismissal for predetermined prejudices that are hard as concrete from our adult not-so-open-anymore minds. And that applies equally to both sides, admitted.

Let's try one, shall we?

Just a simple statement that seems true to me: "Natural selection requires complexity it cannot construct. It can't begin to operate until reproductive capability arises and reproduction occurs."

Now as we know, reproduction is no small feat. We all started out as a single information rich cell with all that formative goo front loaded with a staggering number of construction blueprints--and emerged nine months later as someone's bundle of joy.

But it starts with "Step 1: Divide and stick together." And on from there.

It's my honest question, how did that get there? How did undirected random processes do that?

My cynicism tells me that at least some of who may respond will come at me with talking snakes and literal 24 hour creation days. I hope not.

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking February 23, 2012 | 8:31 a.m.

Tom Dresner wrote:

"Now as we know, reproduction is no small feat."

Well, because that's not how it likely started out. Bacteria reproduce by fission, and while that is is also a complex process, it is simpler than mammalian reproduction.

Bacteria also have the ability to exchange genetic information by what's known as conjugation, which can be thought of as a primitive form of sex.

THe question is really, how did the very basics start? How did we get "DNA makes RNA makes protein"? Because once you have that, it just takes time and selective pressure to change that around to make almost any organism you can think of.

I don't have a good answer to that. Every biopolymer (like DNA, RNA, or protein), is the product of some previous enzymatic action (although some simple polymerization is absolutely possible and in fact likely). One going theory is that RNA was the original genetic template, and that certain sequences of RNA could also act as enzymes and catalyze their own replication, as well as make simple proteins. But this is all just theory at this point (and probably at any point in the future).

It's also quite possible that any intelligent designer is not the Christian God, and it's also possible that the designer died or lost interest in our world at some point in the past. It's possible the primordial seeds of life came from somewhere outside the earth.

That's why I don't really worry about it very much. It's nothing I can know for certain, and since I know for certain the earth is here and is filled with life, that's enough for me. That life requires a lot more current attention than worrying about how it got here.

DK

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith February 24, 2012 | 7:59 a.m.

@ Tom Dresner & Mark Foecking:

I agree with Mark's comments. If - by whatever means one chooses - life is created it can only be sustained if the correct geological and atmospheric conditions exist. For the greater part of the last 4 billion years those conditions DIDN'T exist, and there is plenty of geologic evidence (including paleontology) to suggest that has been the case.

As for Creationism, Darwinism, or whatever, argue away. My only comment on Darwinism - made previously - is that I find it hilarious that there are those who espouse Darwinism who also espouse Socialism. The premise of Darwinism (survival of the fittest) is the antithesis of Socialism. If Darwinism were a political philosophy it would probably be pure Adam Smith Capitalism (that is, unrestrained Capitalism). :)

I will now exit stage right (for the time being).

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt February 24, 2012 | 2:13 p.m.

DISCLAIMER #1: Huge posts incoming. Sorry for any computer crashes. DISCLAIMER #2: Any instance of "you" below is a general "you," not anyone in particular.

1. Just as you wouldn’t ask a chemist to prove the Big Bang, it makes no sense to ask an evolutionary biologist to explain the origin of life. Evolution is the process by which life changes/adapts in response to environmental pressures, genetic mutations, etc. That's what evolutionary theory explains, not how (or if) non-life became life.

(But, here’s a cool video on creating proto-cells in a lab anyway:
http://www.ted.com/talks/martin_hanczyc_...)

2. The only difference between micro- and macro-evolution is time frame, aka macroevolution is simply microevolution over a longer stretch of time. People talk as if there’s a fundamental difference between the two, but that’s not true:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macroevolut... ion#Misuse

If this fundamental difference existed, it would be in the form of some “species gene,” or a mechanism via which a genome somehow knows what species it is and can thus prevent/fix species-changing mutations. Hard to make the case for either when scientists are still trying to establish what a species actually is:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Species_pro...

(Even the definition of “life” isn’t as clear-cut as most would imagine, given the insane variety of extremophiles out there.)

3. Yes, the universe is incredibly complex, and while it’s tempting to use this as evidence for design, the overall level of workmanship is pretty sub-par for an omnipotent, omniscient, perfect designer who loves us unconditionally. Examples of bad/questionable design:

a. Contrary to what people often claim, nothing about the universe suggests that it’s fine-tuned for life, much less human life. For starters, 99.9999999% of the universe will immediately kill virtually anything we've come to know as “life” (you can tack on as many 9’s as you want and the statement remains). Heck, even Earth itself is pretty deadly to humans—subtract 75% of surface area that's covered in water, plus the air space we can only occupy temporarily (with the aid of technology), plus most mountainous terrain, rainforests, deserts, polar/tundra regions, etc., and there’s not a whole lot of square footage in which we can safely pretend this planet was created just for us. The planet is a lot better at killing us than keeping us alive.

b. Why do the trachea and esophagus share piping? In the US alone, at least one kid chokes to death every five weeks. With slightly better design—aka two completely separate tubes for breathing and eating—we wouldn’t find ourselves in the odd (and unfortunately necessary) position of demanding that hot dogs be re-engineered to be choke-proof.

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt February 24, 2012 | 2:14 p.m.

c. A panda’s diet is 99% bamboo, and it eats ~20-30lbs of the stuff a day to meet its nutritional needs, even though pandas are carnivores by “design” and their digestive systems are optimized for meat consumption. So yeah, while we should make an effort not to destroy their habitat (or any other animals’), pandas wouldn't be the huge sob story they currently are if they lived on a varied, non-location-specific diet.

4. Irreducible complexity has already been shot down as a counter-argument to evolutionary theory:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irreducible...

IIRC, none of Behe’s arguments panned out (including the mouse trap). Experiments proved that the systems were reducible after all, and that the individual components still served a purpose even after being separated from the rest.

5. As for evidence of common ancestry:

a. Human chromosome 2:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chromosome_...)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chimpanzee_...

Rundown: Humans have 23 chromosome pairs, all other great apes have 24. Scientists suspected this was the result of two chromosomes fusing end to end, a hypothesis easy enough to test given the fairly uniform structure of chromosomes. Sure enough, human chromosome 2 looks exactly like what you would expect two fused chromosomes to look like: 2 centromeres instead of 1, vestigial telomere DNA in the middle of the chromosome, gene sequences nearly identical to those found in separate chimpanzee chromosomes, etc.

b. Endogenous retroviruses:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Endogenous_...

Rundown: Endogenous retroviruses are useful as a DNA fossil record of sorts, since ERVs target cells whose DNA passes to offspring, aka if you get the virus, your kids will get an identical copy of it, as will your grandkids, etc. Most of these viruses have already died off/mutated themselves useless, but their DNA is still there and it's pretty easy to spot.

Well, “regular” human and ape DNA is already very similar, but it turns out that we even have the same virus DNA sequences as other apes, in the same locations too. The human genome consists of ~3 billion base pairs, aka the chances of a single ERV striking the exact same spot in two genetically unrelated animal species is ridiculously low. Now imagine the odds of more than a dozen retroviruses pulling off a similar feat across multiple unrelated animal species (see the youtube video below). If common ancestry is a myth/lie, however, that's pretty much the only way to explain why humans, chimps, gorillas, orangutangs, gibbons, monkeys, etc. all were hit by the same viruses in the same DNA regions.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TUxLR9hdo...
http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/comdesc/...
http://www.evolutionarymodel.com/ervs.ht...

(Report Comment)
mike mentor February 24, 2012 | 9:18 p.m.

Jon Says,
A panda’s diet is 99% bamboo, and it eats ~20-30lbs of the stuff a day to meet its nutritional needs, even though pandas are carnivores by “design” and their digestive systems are optimized for meat consumption. So yeah, while we should make an effort not to destroy their habitat (or any other animals’), pandas wouldn't be the huge sob story they currently are if they lived on a varied, non-location-specific diet.

OR
maybe the grizzlies eventually stopped sharing half their catch with the pandas but the pandas were so conditioned to sittin around waiting for their food that they didn't know what to do. They just sat around waiting and eventually got hungry enough to lean over and eat some leaves nearby. Over time they became weaker and thus fell (falling) victim to evolution ;-)

(Report Comment)
frank christian February 24, 2012 | 9:43 p.m.

Or, no one would have ever heard of a panda bear if some American capitalist had not noted that pandas might make a better doll than a "teddy", and risked money to find out.

The Chinese, probably would have eaten them all long before Jon, the bear, or I were ever thought of.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith February 25, 2012 | 3:17 a.m.

A panda came into a posh New York restaurant, ordered a meal, then shot his waiter in the leg and bolted out the restaurant door.

In reporting this odd incident a New York newspaper did so under the heading "EATS SHOOTS AND LEAVES."

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt February 25, 2012 | 10:30 p.m.

mike: You mentioned somewhere else that you're not that big on religion (or so I think :P), but yeah, my point with that was that evolution can indeed explain why a carnivore would live off bamboo for millions of years, whereas ID can't.

Ellis: lol

And just in general, I'm kinda hoping Mark F. checks in again, as I'm curious to see if I got any of the arguments on genetics wrong. I just learned today thanks to another article that Mark has published research on genetics, and I wouldn't mind getting schooled by a pro if I made a mistake somewhere.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith February 26, 2012 | 6:35 a.m.

When last seen, the panda was on top of the Empire State Building, swatting at airplanes.

Mark Foecking is an interesting and knowledgeable person. I had the pleasure of meeting him at one of the impromptu luncheons some of us have. Whether I agree with his posts or not, I enjoy reading them.

(Report Comment)

Leave a comment

Speak up and join the conversation! Make sure to follow the guidelines outlined below and register with our site. You must be logged in to comment. (Our full comment policy is here.)

  • Don't use obscene, profane or vulgar language.
  • Don't use language that makes personal attacks on fellow commenters or discriminates based on race, religion, gender or ethnicity.
  • Use your real first and last name when registering on the website. It will be published with every comment. (Read why we ask for that here.)
  • Don’t solicit or promote businesses.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through. If you see something objectionable, please click the "Report comment" link.

You must be logged in to comment.

Forget your password?

Don't have an account? Register here.

advertisements