I have had a fun week over at Arthur Vandelay's (pseudonym a la Seinfeld) Five Public Opinions site. Arthur is a very bright guy and for the most part dealt fairly with my comments. I picked out a couple highlights.
AV: I haven't ruled out anything. This is generally the first assumption most theists make when they encounter an atheist, and it amounts to a basic misunderstanding.
I don't believe in a god because, there being no evidence for the existence of god/s, there is no reason to believe in their existence.
Malott: I'm also amazed at the zeal with which you all reject even the mention of "intelligent design" in the public school. You are every bit as unyielding as any fundamentalist I know.
AV: There is nothing fundamentalist about the demand that science be taught in science classrooms. Intelligent design/Creationism doesn't count: it inverts the scientific method (it presupposes certain conclusions about the universe and then seeks to make the facts fit the presuppositions), it isn't falsifiable (how do you falsify the conclusion that "God did it?"), it violates the very definition of science (science seeks natural explanations for natural phenomena; ID/C demands that we abandon this search without explaining why), it is based upon a series of logical fallacies (including the Argument from Ignorance: "There is a gap in our knowledge about x, therefore Goddidit"; or the Argument from Design: "It looks designed, therefore it is designed") and it lacks positive content, being based almost entirely upon attacking evolution and presenting itself--again without proper justification or evidence--as the default alternative explanation.
Malott: Look, you make a very interesting and sophisticated argument, but for evolution to work you need the first cell - and Jr High Biology and common sense should tell you the first cell didn't just compose itself. Chloroplasts, DNA, messenger RNA, RNA template, and other structures didn't just show up one day inside a semi-permeable membrane, spatially arranged in a matter that would allow it to maintain and reproduce itself.
This alone should squeeze at least a mention of intelligent design into the classroom.
AV: We don't know, Malott. But "we don't know" does not by default mean "Goddidit." It means that scientific knowledge is not such that the question is able to be answered yet. That doesn't mean that it can never, will never be answered.
...intelligent design at the end of the day is not an explanation. It's just another way of saying "we don't know." It's just another way of saying "We don't know; therefore, God." Argument from ignorance. God-in-the-gaps. These are logical fallacies, and you can't have science built upon logical fallacies.
Then there is this guy named Bruce that also comments on the site. He comes across as very arrogant - and either communicates poorly or tries to impress with obscure references and tortuous long-winded arguments. (Then again, maybe he is just much smarter than I am.)
Bruce annoyed me, and so I'll list only my responses to a couple subjects:
Surely you are a teacher. I recognize the "attitude."I'm sure you get away with being the pedantic bully in the classroom. You love to rough up the egos of children? Probably compensates for a myriad of personal insecurities.
I'm sure you're doing your best, but being flawed - as am I - you might study humility. It will help you accept your short-comings, like yourself, and be a better "encourager" of your wards.
You're well-schooled...But I believe that if there was evidence championing gay-longevity... You would have already produced it. The fact that the claim to the contrary has been made - and remains unanswered by a very Liberal world of Academia... suggests to me that Gays do not live as long as the rest of us...And I wonder why you don't want this taught in Public Schools... for the sake of the children?
AV,I do appreciate you for entertaining my questions, though "Bruce the Pompous" says you needn't.
A pompous person should not be so sensitive.
You're allowing your hurt feelings to cloud your judgement.
I wrote to AV above, "for evolution to work, you need the first cell."
If you weren't in such an emotional dither, you'd recognize that this suggests I know the difference between biopoietic theories and evolutionary theories.
Now buck-up young man and get a hold of yourself.
At this point Bruce appealed to his reputation at the site, suggesting that all involved knew he was rational and well-adjusted.
Methinks thou dost protest too much.
Denial will only postpone recovery.
"Now, Voyager, sail thou forth to seek and find."
Then AV chimed in concerning my Bruce abuse: ...rather than being reduced to sniping from the sidelines, you could address his points.
(Perhaps Arthur makes a good point.)
Anyway, it's been fun. It's a well written and interesting blog, and though I agree with none of it... It is interesting.