Is Our Children Flunking?

Note: filistro is currently on vacation. This article was written before she left, but in light of the discussion of cutting the education budget, it seems timely.

The long awaited OECD/PISA results are finally in, and they’re not stellar. At least, not for the United States. Paris-based OECD is an intergovernmental organization of industrialized countries for cooperation in research and policy development on social and economic issues. Their tests assess the skills of 265,000 students around the globe (all of them 15 years old) in various subject areas, as well as sampling some of their opinions and attitudes.

U.S. students finished 15th in reading, 19th in math and 14th in science—in a study that ranked only 31 nations. Canadian students ranked higher than the Americans, but only slightly. Top performing nations were Finland, Korea, and Japan. Ranking worst in all major areas: Brazil, Mexico and Luxembourg.


U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige had this to say about the report:

Unfortunately, we are average across the board compared to other industrialized nations. In the global economy, these countries are our competitors. Average is not good enough for American kids. We see on the reading assessment that we have more kids scoring at the highest level than many participating countries. But we also see that we have more kids at the lowest level than some of the countries.

Site Selection has an article on the subject as well:

Across-the-board quality characterized the study’s top-scoring nations. No. 1 performers Finland, Japan and Korea, for example, were also among the countries with the narrowest gap between the highest and lowest performers. Korea was the nation with the smallest variation, indicating that all its schools were doing well in educating their students.

The study, however, didn’t pretend to have easy answers to why some nations’ students performed better. “Successful performance is attributable to a constellation of factors,” OECD Deputy Director for Education Barry McGaw said at a press briefing.

One factor the study did find: Students tended to do worse in nations in which there was a high degree of segregation along socioeconomic lines. In the United States, the study found a bigger difference among students from different schools and socioeconomic groups than in most other countries. Yet those same differences didn’t affect some other nations’ performances. “In Finland everyone does well and social background has little impact,” said Andreas Schleicher, deputy head of the Statistics and Indicators Division of OECD’s Directorate for Education, Employment, Labor and Social Affairs.

The quality of schools and education levels is a difficult problem, and one that needs to be addressed if North America is to retain its status in the world. Students in the west are getting fatter, lazier and less skilled in math, science and reading, precisely at a time when physical stamina and technical skills are at a premium if we are not only to remain competitive, but hold onto and protect what we have. In an era when one of the major western political parties chooses to mock educational accomplishment while it glorifies ignorance and refuses to spend money on its nation’s schools, it is difficult to see how that is going to happen.


About filistro

Filistro is a Canadian writer and prairie dog who maintains burrows on both sides of the 49th parallel. Like all prairie dogs, she is keenly interested in politics and language. (Prairie dogs have been known to build organized towns the size of Maryland, and are the only furry mammal with a documented language.)
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166 Responses to Is Our Children Flunking?

  1. drfunguy says:

    I think that Bush II summed it up nicely.
    “Rarely is the question asked: Is our children learning?”
    “Will the highways of the internet become more few?”
    This is but one sign of a fading empire.
    Filitro nailed it in her last sentence, but it is really difficult to fathom what one can do to improve the situation. If kids aren’t interested in intellectual pursuits and their parents aren’t interested in instilling those values then we will continue to spiral downward. And we will deserve it. The mocking of educational accomplishment and glorification of ignorance are just symptoms of something deeper; maybe those cell phones _do_ fry our brains.

  2. shortchain says:

    The root cause is simple, and as easy to understand as the reason people get obese. There is no significant advantage to studying hard, learning difficult subjects, and becoming excellent in some field of science, literature, or mathematics. There is room at the top of our society and professions for only a few — and the elites have set up things so that they occupy all the positions that matter, and rake in the benefits of living in a wealthy society.

    Meanwhile, you don’t have to do much to get by, provided you have a strong stomach or a deficient sense of empathy. You can make a decent living in sales, marketing, the law, finance (in those cases, make it an indecent living), any number of professions where intellectual development is less important — and, in some, possibly a detriment.

    If there’s no significant advantage to staying slim and plenty of food, people (like all creatures) will get fat.

  3. Mule Rider says:

    “In an era when one of the major western political parties chooses to mock educational accomplishment while it glorifies ignorance and refuses to spend money on its nation’s schools….”

    I was with you until this sentence. A very unnecessary (and mostly untrue) partisan pot-shot.

    Nowhere will you find it as part of the Republican Party’s platform or mantra to “mock” educational accomplishments. Has there been a snide remark or two that you could stretch and say was mocking? Maybe. But it was probably by a very insecure and ignorant individual. And you hear that kind of stuff from both sides.

    I don’t think anyone on any side “glorifies ignorance.” I think some of what you think is that isn’t a glorification of ignorance but a stand in defense of aww-shucks, common sensism after getting brow-beaten repeatedly with condescension and elitism. I mean, you have a leading (economic) intellectual like Paul Krugman reminding us almost daily that at least half the country is “ignorant” (by his standards) simply for having a conservative-leaning worldview; never mind the grotesque and shameful ignorance of many people with a liberal-leaning worldview. Anyway, I don’t think people are so much glorifying and accepting that they and their kind really are ignorant; they’re just playing along with the labels being heaped upon them from liberal condescension.

    And your point about money spent on schools is misguided. I don’t think most conservatives mind spending money on schools so long as they feel it’s money well spent. However, some problems don’t get better just because more money is spent. There are studies that show clearly that $/student doesn’t always correlate well with achievement. In other words, in some areas we’re just wasting money and getting nothing in return and in others, we’re getting plenty of bang for our buck. Conservatives just want to see that money well spent; not just use poor performance as an excuse to heap more cash towards what might be a failing and lost cause in some cases.

  4. Brian says:

    One of the things that intrigues me the most about this is how comparable it is to physical fitness. America is quickly falling behind is both areas, yet both the best athletes and greatest minds are still largely coming from the US. We have more Nobel laureates than any other country and more gold medals (China might have beaten us last time, I forget), yet the children are floundering.

    The majority of the country is getting, pardon my bluntness, dumber and fatter. While the best are still remaining the best, or at least right up there.

  5. Mule Rider says:

    “The majority of the country is getting, pardon my bluntness, dumber and fatter. While the best are still remaining the best, or at least right up there.”

    Agreed. I think this is the point that keeps getting lost.

    People keep using these stats to make it seem like we’re all falling behind. I don’t think that’s true. There’s just a widening chasm between the best and the worst. As you said, the best here rival the best elsewhere, but we’ve got too many falling behind (getting fatter/dumber as you say).

    I don’t know of any easy answers to stop it from happening either.

  6. Justsayin' says:

    When you have poor children who feel that no matter what they do they will always be poor and education is not seen as a means to move up, and then you have wealthy children who know that no matter what they do they will still be wealthy, and education is just something to fill your day, you have a problem. Also national standards should be that for every school regardless of geography or income. Teaching history in Texas shouldn’t be any different then history in Vermont. When it is obvious that a first grader is not learning to read, it should be incumbent upon the school to intervene and not let that school year end with that child falling behind.

  7. NotImpressed says:

    Mule Rider: “There’s just a widening chasm between the best and the worst. ”

    I would put this a little different. There is a widening chasm between the very wealthy and everyone else. That’s certainly true economically. And in our society, economics almost completely (not quite, but almost) controls everything else.

  8. Bartbuster says:

    In a country where 1 of the 2 major political parties argues in favor of ignoring the science behind AGW, and where 30% of that party’s presidential primary contenders in 2007 denied evolution science, it’s amazing that our education numbers are as good as they are.

  9. Mr. Universe says:

    I was with you until this sentence. A very unnecessary (and mostly untrue) partisan pot-shot.

    Why Mule; your misguided defense of the Republican Regime is showing. Perhaps a Mule can’t change his spots after all.

  10. Mule Rider says:

    “Why Mule; your misguided defense of the Republican Regime is showing. Perhaps a Mule can’t change his spots after all.”

    No, I don’t think so. It’s one thing to say, “I don’t think Republicans have a very good plan to promote and advance educational standards in this country” in which you could make a fairly defensible case with well laid-out points.

    It’s quite another to insinuate that there is party-wide “intelligence mocking” and a “glorifying of ignorance.” I challenge anyone to lay out a cohesive argument in a write-up defending those statements and back it up with evidence/proof.

  11. GROG says:

    The main question I have is……….when will filistro be back from vacation for the love of Pete?

  12. NotImpressed says:

    Mule Rider “I challenge anyone to lay out a cohesive argument in a write-up defending those statements and back it up with evidence/proof.”

    Two words: “Sarah Palin.”

    That she is seriously considered by a large number of Republicans as an actual Presidential candidate says all that needs to be said.

    Well, plus the bit about how many Republicans doubt evolution and actually listen to the global climate change deniers.

  13. shortchain says:

    MR,

    Your challenge: “It’s quite another to insinuate that there is party-wide “intelligence mocking” and a “glorifying of ignorance.” I challenge anyone to lay out a cohesive argument in a write-up defending those statements and back it up with evidence/proof.”

    I give you the US Senate GOP caucus with additional evidence provided by the House GOP caucus. I give you the national GOP, 51 percent of which, according to recent polling, believe that Obama may not be a natural born citizen.

    If that isn’t “glorifying ignorance”, I don’t know what is.

  14. Mule Rider says:

    “If that isn’t “glorifying ignorance”, I don’t know what is.”

    There’s a difference between being wrong on something and “glorifying ignorance.”

    Let’s find an issue that broad swaths of the Democratic party are wrong about – and I’m sure you can find them – and would you be willing to say that they “glorify ignorance.”

    Maybe I argued that incorrectly from the get-go. Maybe instead of defending Republicans as not being anti-intellectuals or pro-ignorance, I should have just pointed out that it’s rampant across the political spectrum. Come to think of it, I think that’s a better and more accurate description of our society. We’re inundated with ignoramuses regardless of political affiliation or ideology.

  15. Mule Rider says:

    “Two words: “Sarah Palin.””

    I think you overstate her popularity, even with the Republican base. Her negatives seem to be increasing and that wouldn’t be happening unless fellow conservatives were being turned off by her schtick. While it wasn’t so hip to do this in the beginning, she’s getting more and more criticism/scrutiny from within the Republican ranks, and while she might still have some populist appeal among some of the common folks, she isn’t that popular overall. Her star is fading.

    “That she is seriously considered by a large number of Republicans as an actual Presidential candidate says all that needs to be said.”

    Define “large number.” Yes, it’s a non-zero percentage, and when you deal with a party that claims several million members, even 1% of that total will give you a “large number.” She didn’t win the latest CPAC straw poll and usually ranks well below other possible presidential candidates from within the GOP. I think she usually tops out around 5%-10% of preferred candidates within the party. She’s increasingly viewed as not intelligent enough and lacking the competence to compete for the presidency.

    “Well, plus the bit about how many Republicans doubt evolution and actually listen to the global climate change deniers.”

    First of all, the numbers aren’t all that different for both of those topics when Democrats are polled. Second, I have some quibbles over people drawing any conclusions over ignorance over things like evolution and climate change. Not to get long and drawn out but questions about evolution tend to way over-simplify (and, thus, fail to capture) people’s very complex understanding of life on this planet, where it came from, and how it develops. Many people, myself included, believe the general theory of evolution – that most/all species change over time as a product of natural selection, mutation, etc. – but don’t believe we’re a cosmic accident (i.e. that there is a supernatural Creator). Some people’s feelings are degrees away from that position in each direction and then there are the extremes of “cosmic accident” and “6,000 yr old Earth.” But poll questions with only two or three possible answers trying to quantify whether or not people agree with evolution can’t capture those broader opinions. And, yes, saying that all life is part of a “cosmic accident” is an opinion, just like the person who says he can prove the existence of God (with science or otherwise) is also just pissing in the wind.

    Climate change is a little different. People are naturally skeptical. The science in this field is in its infancy, and we’re years away from seeing if there is any predictability based on current understanding. I will say that people who deny that the Earth has warmed (or even suggested it has cooled) in recent years are a bit ignorant. But I don’t think it’s an unreasonable position to be a little skeptical that what’s happened will lead to out-of-control weather events and we need to take drastic measures to stop them.

  16. shortchain says:

    MR,

    No, if you think there are issues on which “wide swathes” of Democrats are wrong on, you should name them. I don’t allow imaginary evidence, as you should well know by now. Also, you should point out where, as in the case of Obama’s citizenship, the people glorifying in their ignorance have been told repeatedly that they’re wrong — because that’s exactly what the GOP is doing.

    Same for science and the GOP in Congress. At least a large minority, if not a majority, of the GOP in Congress, from accounts, doesn’t think evolution is scientifically accurate, just to give one issue.

  17. Bartbuster says:

    First of all, the numbers aren’t all that different for both of those topics when Democrats are polled

    Actually, they are very different on evolution

    http://www.gallup.com/poll/108226/republicans-democrats-differ-creationism.aspx

    and climate change

    http://www.gallup.com/poll/107569/climatechange-views-republicandemocratic-gaps-expand.aspx

  18. NotImpressed says:

    Bartbuster, thank you for those polls. Rather proved the point.

  19. Mr. Universe says:

    @GROG

    We miss her, too.

    @everybody

    RE: Science and the Down homey candidate card.

    Republicans have made a game out of painting liberals as elitists and liberals have made a point of painting conservatives as boobs. I think it’s one of the reasons conservatives have become the anti-science people. Nobody likes being called a dummy. That and science generally tells them ways that they can no longer exploit the environment/middle class for profit. It’s almost chic to be the dumbass these days. Hey I’m just your average Joe, ya know?

    There are some surveys available that break down political affiliation and level of education. They tend to point in the direction you would expect.

  20. shortchain says:

    Mr U,

    It’s an odd thing, but when somebody points out to me that I’m ignorant about something, my reaction is to find out what I need to know about that topic. I frankly don’t understand the evolutionary advantage of reacting to being told that you are dumb by doubling down on your dumb.

  21. Mr. Universe says:

    @SC

    Neither do I. But I suppose if you’re a politician and trying to garner the intellectually incurious voters…As they say, when in Rome…

  22. Mule Rider says:

    “No, if you think there are issues on which “wide swathes” of Democrats are wrong on, you should name them.”

    I’ll see what else I can dig up but this’ll get you started.

    http://www.forbes.com/2010/02/12/obama-voters-democrats-republicans-opinions-contributors-ilya-somin.html

  23. Mule Rider says:

    Here’s more discussion about widespread political ignorance. Even a Nate mention…

    http://volokh.com/archives/archive_2008_12_14-2008_12_20.shtml#1229391457

  24. Mr. U,

    Funny how we find ourselves revisiting the same topics. The anti-science thing was part of my post on November 9. It still rings true. People want to believe that they’re able to understand the entire picture of every policy…but they really can’t. But if they’re told they can’t, they feel like they’re being called stupid, and that builds resentment…even though they really don’t have the time (or, in many cases, the inclination) to learn what’s necessary. So when someone comes along and says, in effect, “it’s not really that complicated; they just want you to think so, so that they can take advantage of you,” the message resonates. And it fosters resentment and distrust of subject-matter experts.

  25. Mule,

    Your Forbes link has several flaws. First, the poll was not one covering issues. It covered political data, of varying degrees of relevance to the campaign in progress at the time. I looked at the poll, and I’m not surprised at how many of those were answered incorrectly. Many were esoteric or largely irrelevant. As to the question of who controlled Congress at the time, it’s not at all unusual for people to conclude that the opposition controls Congress, when they don’t see much movement in enacted law in the direction of their party’s platform. You see the same thing from both sides all the time.

    But none of this has to do with how many of a given party’s members are wrong on fundamental facts undergirding political policy.

  26. NotImpressed says:

    “Who controls Congress” is a different question from “who as a majority in Congress.” There is no serious doubt that Republicans “controlled” Congress during all eight of the Bush years, even during the brief period at the end when the Democrats had a numerical majority. First, The Republicans wielded the filibuster like an enormous club. And second, anything Bush and the Republicans disapproved of would have been vetoed anyway. And third, the Blue Dogs voted with the Republicans as often as not.

    The question was bad, if the pollster wanted to know how many people were aware of which party had a numerical majority. If someone asked me in 2007 who “controlled” Congress, I’d have said, “The Republicans, because the Democrats have no balls.” That, after all, is the only actually accurate answer.

  27. GROG says:

    There are some surveys available that break down political affiliation and level of education. They tend to point in the direction you would expect.

    I would expect that Democrats tend to have more “formal” education while Repblicans tend to have more “real life” education.

    I suspect Repbublicans tend to finish high school or vocational school or even 2 or 4 years of college and then go to work. They learn trades, start producing things, get married and have children by 25. By the time their 30 they have calluses on their hands and have gained a wealth of knowledge about how the world works.

    Democrats on the other hand tend to go to undergrad school, go to grad school, and by the time their 30 are getting PhD’s. They’re in school being taught how the world works and how the working stiffs are destroying the planet. By that time they’ve never had a real job so they decide to stay at the university and become professors.

    Just generalizing, of course.

  28. GROG says:

    GROG said: their 30

    they’re 30…..damn my informal education!

  29. Mule Rider says:

    “But none of this has to do with how many of a given party’s members are wrong on fundamental facts undergirding political policy.”

    And public opinion on evolution does how?

  30. Mule Rider says:

    “Democrats on the other hand tend to go to undergrad school, go to grad school, and by the time their 30 are getting PhD’s”

    That or they don’t even make it through high school.

    I saw something a while back that showed political affiliation by educational attainment. Republicans seemed to make up a majority of the “middle ground” including high school graduates, the “some college” types, and a 4-year degree. Democrats had the lock-down on the polar opposites….the phD types and the h.s. dropouts.

  31. shortchain says:

    MR,

    Just a few little items from the Forbes piece by Somin:

    1. “2008 Zogby poll” — in other words, an on-line poll in which people self-select whether they are “liberal” or not — which is utter trash.
    2. “According to a 2009 survey,” — what survey? Who commissioned it? Where?

    His piece was not honest argument, not with “evidence” like that, — just a diatribe like you’d expect from hatchet-man Somin. But then, it was produced for Forbes, which exists to provide bias confirmation for wealthy conservatives.

  32. Mule Rider says:

    “1. “2008 Zogby poll” — in other words, an on-line poll in which people self-select whether they are “liberal” or not — which is utter trash.”

    Those are less reliable than a properly adminstered survey, I’ll admit, but that’s far from making it “utter trash.” I could see it being much more accurate on something like this than a generic online poll asking what candidate you will vote for in the next presidential election.

    Besides, you guys love to trot out the crap put out by Kos and other far lefties so don’t even talk to me about a Zogby online poll or bitch about Forbes’ bias.

    “2. “According to a 2009 survey,” — what survey? Who commissioned it? Where?”

    http://bostonreview.net/BR34.3/malhotra_margalit.php

    Evidently, Neil Malhotra and Yotam Margalit from Standford University. You want more details than that, read the link and do your own research.

    “His piece was not honest argument, not with “evidence” like that, — just a diatribe like you’d expect from hatchet-man Somin.”

    {translation}

    I don’t like what he has to say and feel his work has a conservative bias because of its association with Forbes, so I’ll offer my best ad hominem and then go straight into denial, finger-in-my-ears, yelling la la la, head in the sand mode.

    ” But then, it was produced for Forbes, which exists to provide bias confirmation for wealthy conservatives.”

    Got anything factual to back that up? C’mon, dude, if you even backed up your hot air with 1/10th the burden of proof you demand from me and other conservatives, you might have something.

    But as it is, you’re just blowing off steam about people you don’t like…..mostly with baseless assertions.

    Far too often your schtick is “I don’t like the results from that ________, so it must be biased or conservative-leaning.”

    Maybe you ought to consider the world isn’t colored in nearly the deep shade of blue tha tyou think it is.

  33. Brian says:

    And….we’re back to finger pointing. Seems like every thread comes down to this.

  34. Mule Rider says:

    Keep in mind that the whole basis for this attack against Republicans/conservatives as the Party of Booger-Eating Morons is that Sarah Palin apparently says/does stupid things and some (self-identified) Republicans still like/support her; oh, and also because not everyone thinks we (or all life) magically appeared in the universe or evolved from chimpanzees (links/explanations that have NEVER been explained by “evolution”) and that some people have doubts over the accuracy of yet proven climate models that are no more than a decade or two old.

  35. Bartbuster says:

    and also because not everyone thinks we (or all life) magically appeared in the universe or evolved from chimpanzees (links/explanations that have NEVER been explained by “evolution”)

    The problem isn’t that you don’t think we evolved from chimps, the problem is that you don’t understand the basic concepts of evolution (as demonstrated by this very post). And since evolution is a fundamental part of biological sciences, it means you are killing our science scores relative to other Western nations. Despite that we still did ok.

  36. Gator says:

    Demographics of ideological groups
    Further information: Demography of the United States

    Percent of all survey respondents, voters and college graduates by typological demographic. The socially progressive Liberals and staunchly conservative Enterprisers are tied as the two most affluent groups, while Liberals are the most educated. Liberals have a slightly higher percentage of college graduates than Enterprisers; 49% of versus 46% of Enterprisers. Bystanders, those who chose not to participate in the political process, have the least percentage of college graduates (11%) and are tied with Disadvantaged Democrats as the most financially distressed Generally, education and affluence increase the chances of an individual to be politically active. The professional class, which is relatively evenly divided among Democrats and Republicans, is among the most politically active, while those in the lower class – the working poor and underclass – commonly abstain from taking part in the political process.

    The working class has become less politically active, partially due to a decline in the prevalence of labor unions. As a result, the American electorate is considerably more affluent and educated than the general population. In the 2006 mid-term elections, for example, those with graduate degrees, who constitute 9% of the general population age 25 or older, comprised 16% of the electorate. All sizable socio-economic groups were relatively split between the two major parties in the 2000, 2004 and 2006 elections . Interestingly education, up to the undergraduate level, increased both a person’s chances of being liberal and of him or her voting Republican. The contradiction is explained through moderate voters who tend to become more conservative as they become more economically prosperous. At the post-graduate level, liberals outnumber conservatives and a majority commonly votes Democratic.

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

    **********************************************************************************

    During the United States presidential election, 2004, Sailer estimated that based on the intelligence tests from military records of candidates George W. Bush and John Kerry, Bush probably had a higher IQ by about 4 percentile points.[9][24] In a report on the findings for The New York Times, journalist John Tierney called Sailer “a veteran student of presidential IQ’s”, and cited the judgement of Professor Linda Gottfredson, an IQ expert at the University of Delaware, that Sailer’s study was a “creditable analysis”.[9]

    **********************************************************************************

    Looking at General Social Survey data, I am troubled about the number of dumb people who vote. In 2004, 27.3% of voters had IQs under 92: 27.4% of those who voted for Kerry, and 27.0% of those who voted for Bush.

    The votes of those people carried almost SIX times the weight of American voters with IQs over 125 who were only 4.9% of the total. (5.8% of Bush voters were 125+; 4.1% of Kerry’s).

    Steven Ernest Sailer is an American journalist and movie critic for The American Conservative, a VDARE.com columnist, and a former correspondent for UPI. He writes about race relations, gender issues, politics, immigration, IQ, genetics, movies, and sports.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steve_Sailer

  37. Gator says:

    sorry that should be…

    During the United States presidential election, 2004, Sailer estimated that based on the intelligence tests from military records of candidates George W. Bush and John Kerry, Bush probably had a higher IQ by about 4 percentile points.[9][24] In a report on the findings for The New York Times, journalist John Tierney called Sailer “a veteran student of presidential IQ’s”, and cited the judgement of Professor Linda Gottfredson, an IQ expert at the University of Delaware, that Sailer’s study was a “creditable analysis”.[9]

    Steven Ernest Sailer is an American journalist and movie critic for The American Conservative, a VDARE.com columnist, and a former correspondent for UPI. He writes about race relations, gender issues, politics, immigration, IQ, genetics, movies, and sports.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steve_Sailer

    **********************************************************************************

    Looking at General Social Survey data, I am troubled about the number of dumb people who vote. In 2004, 27.3% of voters had IQs under 92: 27.4% of those who voted for Kerry, and 27.0% of those who voted for Bush.

    The votes of those people carried almost SIX times the weight of American voters with IQs over 125 who were only 4.9% of the total. (5.8% of Bush voters were 125+; 4.1% of Kerry’s).

  38. Gator says:

    The troubling aspect, as far as I’m concerned, isn’t which party has the preponderance of brainiacs, it’s that BOTH parties are dominated by cousin f***ing, knuckle dragging, sitting on the front porch with a banjo, morons… and THAT is who decides our leadership.

  39. Gator,
    Given your past history of poking the hornets’ nest with a stick for kicks, I can’t tell whether you’re serious or not with the following comment:

    Looking at General Social Survey data, I am troubled about the number of dumb people who vote. In 2004, 27.3% of voters had IQs under 92…The votes of those people carried almost SIX times the weight of American voters with IQs over 125 who were only 4.9% of the total.

    Are you serious about being troubled by those numbers?

  40. Mr. Universe says:

    By that time they’ve never had a real job so they decide to stay at the university and become professors.

    Touché

    Of course we all know that being an elbow patch suede jacketed, bespectacled college prof isn’t a real job.

  41. Mule Rider says:

    “The problem isn’t that you don’t think we evolved from chimps, the problem is that you don’t understand the basic concepts of evolution (as demonstrated by this very post).”

    No, the problem is that “evolution” encapsulates a pretty braod scope in most people’s minds, and answering a poll question (that grossly over-simplifies the subject) with a simple “yes,” “no,” or “maybe” is hardly indicative of intelligence (or ignornace).

    I know what evolution is in the strictest sense and how it describes how species change and adapt over time through natural selection and mutations. I don’t need to revisit 4th grade science. However, I do know that it has been pulled out and used as an explanatory measure for how life came into being on this planet or how we came into being (as humans) from primates. And I know that evolution doesn’t do shit on either of those accounts. But perhaps you’d care to enlighten us all on the subject.

    “And since evolution is a fundamental part of biological sciences, it means you are killing our science scores relative to other Western nations. Despite that we still did ok.”

    What an idiotic statement. First of all, I’m not in school anymore, so I’m not “killing” anyone’s science scores. But when I was in school, I was one of the people keeping scores in the US so high. I always did exceptionally well in all academic areas, not just including science but especially science. I won the departmental honor for highest achievement in science when I was in high school.

    So don’t even act like I’m one of the ones hurting our standing in the world because of my understanding of science.

  42. Gator says:

    MW

    “Against stupidity the very gods themselves contend in vain.”
    Friedrich Schiller

    “Genius may have its limitations, but stupidity is not thus handicapped.”
    Elbert Hubbard

    Yes Michael, when I look around and see my anserine, dim-witted fellow travelers on spaceship Earth, it concerns me. And when I realize that I am governed by a simple majority vote from them, I shudder for the future.

    Or am I simply parroting the elitist left. Or perhaps parodying the uber-conservative take on the liberal intelligentsia. Or simply poking a stick in the hornets nest. Confounding conundrum, what? LOL!

  43. NotImpressed says:

    Mule Rider, do you or do you not accept the preponderance of evidence that points unavoidably toward evolution as the means by which humans came onto this planet? (By the way, we didn’t “evolve from” primates. We are primates.)

    I understand the notion that evolution was the tool which god (or The Gods, or some deity or sacred spaghetti monster) used to create the living creatures in the universe. That’s not a bad concept. But denying that evolution is the means by which we came about is simply to deny the evidence that exists.

    Of course, maybe some malicious and sadistic god planted that evidence on purpose, to tease and confuse us. But I tend to think that if some god is that powerful, we’d do well at least to learn about the clues that god (or goddess or vicious beastie) left for us to find.

  44. OK, Gator, I will respond under the assumption that you’re sincere in your concern.

    In 2004, 27.3% of voters had IQs under 92

    Given that 25% of the population, by definition, have an IQ of less than 90, the 27.3% number isn’t out of line.

    voters with IQs over 125 who were only 4.9% of the total

    Yet voters with IQs over 125 represent approximately 5% of the population. Again, this is pretty much to be expected.

    It’s as if you were upset to find that 40% of sick days happen on Monday or Friday.

    Now, would I prefer that high IQs be represented above the average, and low IQs below the average? Sure. Jefferson liked that idea, too. But such an approach comes with a ton of complicated baggage. The system we have allows all adult citizens (with the exception in some cases of those convicted of felonies) to vote. And that’s what we’re seeing.

  45. Mule,

    I do know that it [evolution via natural selection] has been pulled out and used as an explanatory measure for how life came into being on this planet or how we came into being (as humans) from primates. And I know that evolution doesn’t do shit on either of those accounts.

    I’d love to see where it’s been claimed that evolution via natural selection is used as an explanatory measure for how life came into being. I haven’t seen that one, but it’d be a pretty big stretch to go that far with it. It’s plausible (and supported by copious evidence) that humans evolved via natural selection from other forms of primates, though. But since you claim otherwise, do tell how evolution cannot plausibly be the means by which homo sapiens came to be.

  46. Mule Rider says:

    “But since you claim otherwise, do tell how evolution cannot plausibly be the means by which homo sapiens came to be.”

    @both MW and Notimpressed,

    I’m not going to get in a tit-for-tat, God vs. evolution pissing match. I’ll leave it thusly. Evolution doesn’t explain how life came to be on this planet. Science hasn’t come close to answering the question of how life came to be from non-living matter, but since there was a mention of how there was a preponderance of evidence pointing towards evolution to explain all the crazy changes in lifeforms the past few million years, I submit that there’s also a preponderance of evidence that there is a supernatural Creator (God, if you will) and realizing that He is the one behind all creation – and, thus, all life – I don’t get too hung up on the specifics of how we got from Adam to where we are today.

    Point and laugh all you want. Doubt, mock, ridicule, and all that too if you feel like.

    I don’t care.

  47. Mr. Universe says:

    “Against stupidity the very gods themselves contend in vain.”
    Friedrich Schiller

    “Genius may have its limitations, but stupidity is not thus handicapped.”
    Elbert Hubbard

    “You cain’t fix stupid” – Ron White

  48. Gator says:

    MW

    I’ve always found it odd that Jefferson was an intellectual elitist, while being so concerned about a Hamiltonian plutocracy. Great for the smart to lead, but God forbid the wealthy should.

    Unfortunately intellect does not insure a sound political mind, as can be evidenced here regularly… or as Irving Kristol tells of his friend novelist Saul Bellow:

    “Saul, then an undergraduate at the University of Chicago, was, like so many of us in the 1930s, powerfully attracted to the ideologies of socialism, Marxism, Leninism and Trotskyism, as well as to the idea of “the Revolution.” He and a group of highly intellectual and like-minded fellow students would meet frequently at his aunt’s apartment, which was located next to the university. The meetings lasted long into the night, as abstract points of Marxism and Leninism agitated and excited these young intellectuals. Saul’s aunt, meanwhile, would try to slow things down by stuffing their mouths with tea and cakes. After the meetings broke up in the early hours of the morning, Saul’s aunt would remark to him: ‘Your friends, they are so smart, so smart. But stupid!’
    Saul’s aunt may not have been a brilliant intellectual, but she had the wisdom and experience to see the fallacies of Marxism that her nephew and his friends could not.”

    excerpted from- http://www.american.com/archive/2009/october/are-liberals-smarter-than-conservatives

    ***********************************************************************************

    As for who and how we find brilliant leadership… King Gator has a lovely ring.

  49. Gator says:

    I didn’t want to be drunk in PUBLIC… I wanted to be drunk in a bar. They threw me in public!

  50. Mr. Universe says:

    Science hasn’t come close to answering the question of how life came to be from non-living matter

    False

  51. Mule Rider says:

    “False”

    Dude, I’m going to go ahead and tell you that any that I will lose a great deal of respect for you if you try and even insinuate that science has come close to having an answer for how living matter emerged from non-living matter. And that goes for anyone else too.

    You can bleat and yell about how God-believers don’t have the science or anything else to prove God’s existence, but in this instance, you ain’t got nothin’ either. There’s only so much science has been able to ‘splain, and that simply ain’t one of them.

    Sorry. You lose. In an epic and humiliating fashion.

    You start claiming that science has come close to making the non-living matter-to-matter connection and I’m done with this blog. For good. You can say all you want to about anti-intellectualism from conservatives, but going that route would be a full embrace of ignorance….and arrogance….for thinking you might be creeping up on the answer with science about something you don’t know 0.000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000001% about.

    The story of Job comes to mind. God smacked him around a number of times over the same arrogance and haughtiness…..

    “Where were YOU when I created…….?”

    You don’t know shit. Not from Shinola or anything else. Just accept your ignorance and leave it at that.

  52. Bartbuster says:

    I submit that there’s also a preponderance of evidence that there is a supernatural Creator (God, if you will) and realizing that He is the one behind all creation – and, thus, all life

    OK, if there is a “preponderance” of evidence for “god”, what does “god” look like?

  53. Bartbuster says:

    Just accept your ignorance and leave it at that.

    And there we have it, the GOP’s motto.

  54. Mr. Universe says:

    @Mule

    Whoa, dude. I’m not attacking you. Just saying science has an idea about how life was formed. Check into it. It’s really interesting.

  55. Bartbuster says:

    Just accept your ignorance and leave it at that.

    Seriously, is there any better evidence than this comment that the GOP promotes ignorance?

  56. Monotreme says:

    I covered much of the evidence for anti-science bias in Republicans in this earlier blog post, from September.

    There is significant scientific evidence for the origins of life. Mr. U is right. It is pretty cool. I don’t have the time or space to cover it here, but it’s a large oeuvre and growing. Like all scientific evidence, it’s falsifiable, but that doesn’t make it weak.

  57. Gator says:

    Mule

    You’re arguing a point that is self-defeating, in that you are arguing that science is contradictory to a belief in the existence of God. You are somehow trying to argue that science contradicts God and therefore science MUST be wrong. Your whole premise is wrong. Science DOES NOT contradict the existence of God. Evolution DOES NOT contradict the existence of God. If you accept that religious writings, all religious writings, are the attempt by frail, mortal humans to understand the complexity and immensity of all that is and of the creator of all that is, then you must accept that there will be things that are defined or described or explained based on the writers’ miniscule understanding. And you must realize that understanding cannot possibly scratch the surface of knowing what the creator is. Evolution could very well be the tool of God, or an intrinsic part of the system design that the creator incorporated into the plan. So could the Big Bang. Did you know that if there were one gram more matter in existence in all the reaches of time/space that none of this would exist? That no stars or planets would exist. To finish my point to you, my friend, allow me to quote Einstein:

    “The most beautiful and most profound experience is the sensation of the mystical. It is the sower of all true science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead. To know that what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their primitive forms – this knowledge, this feeling is at the center of true religiousness.”
    ( Albert Einstein – The Merging of Spirit and Science)

    “I see a pattern, but my imagination cannot picture the maker of that pattern. I see a clock, but I cannot envision the clockmaker. The human mind is unable to conceive of the four dimensions, so how can it conceive of a God, before whom a thousand years and a thousand dimensions are as one?”
    (The Expanded Quotable Einstein, Princeton University Press, 2000 p. 208)

    “Then there are the fanatical atheists whose intolerance is the same as that of the religious fanatics, and it springs from the same source . . . They are creatures who can’t hear the music of the spheres.”
    (The Expanded Quotable Einstein, Princeton University Press, 2000 p. 214)

    “But science can only be created by those who are thoroughly imbued with the aspiration toward truth and understanding. This source of feeling, however, springs from the sphere of religion. To this there also belongs the faith in the possibility that the regulations valid for the world of existence are rational, that is, comprehensible to reason. I cannot conceive of a genuine scientist without that profound faith. The situation may be expressed by an image: science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.”
    (Albert Einstein, 1941)

    Hold on to your faith Muley. Just remember that neither you, nor anyone else on here knows the true face of God. To claim otherwise is to demonstrate hubris of monumental scope. We are not capable of understanding the creator. We can, however, marvel at his mysteries and gaze in awe on her beauty.

  58. Mule,

    I’m going to go ahead and tell you that any that I will lose a great deal of respect for you if you try and even insinuate that science has come close to having an answer for how living matter emerged from non-living matter.

    It all depends on one’s definition of “close,” I suppose. The word is qualitative, not quantitative, in absence of a quantitative system of measurement accompanying it. You provided no such system, and therefore the answer of how close we are is one of perspective.

    What I find startling is the degree to which you are verbally flying off the handle over this very question.

    Gator,
    Your last comment reminds me of Voltaire:

    If God created us in his own image, we have more than reciprocated.

  59. Mule Rider says:

    “OK, if there is a “preponderance” of evidence for “god”, what does “god” look like?”

    That’s not something you can put into human terms…..He’s spirit. If you’re going to ask questions like that, you’re going to have to be willing to consider the possibility that there are some things well beyond human comprehension. But I doubt you’re willing to do that so it’s a moot point to try and discuss it with you.

    “Whoa, dude. I’m not attacking you. Just saying science has an idea about how life was formed. Check into it. It’s really interesting.”

    The Urey-Miller experiments and subsequent similar ones have fallen woefully short. And all they’ve done is make a connection from non-living matter to organic compounds, the building blocks of life….still a long ways off from a living organism.

    “Seriously, is there any better evidence than this comment that the GOP promotes ignorance?”

    This is statement is as much of a false equivalence as anything I’ve ever seen. What logical connection do my feelings about creationism/evolution have to do with Republicans promoting ignorance?

    First off all, my beliefs on the former matter have little-to-nothing to do with my overall intelligence, which my personal resume in over 30 years of being alive suggests I’m in the top 2% or so of people when it comes to smarts. Second, there is no connection to me and the GOP. I’m not a member of the party, haven’t voted Republican in my entire life, nor do I support them in a number of other ways (time, money, etc.).

    “You’re arguing a point that is self-defeating, in that you are arguing that science is contradictory to a belief in the existence of God.”

    I was not arguing that point in a contradictory manner, just pointing out where science has fallen short. But thanks for looking out for me anyway. I need any/all help around here.

  60. Gator says:

    MW

    We anthropomorphise dogs and cats and everything else we hold in esteem. Anthropomorphising God was the logical conclusion. Kind of makes everything about us, huh? Mans’ incredible arrogance.

    If I were God (and who says I’m not, BTW), I believe I’d be a little pissed. Pretty cavalier on our part, wouldn’t you say.

  61. Gator,
    One would have to think that a God that is so superior to man wouldn’t take too kindly to being anthropomorphized. I certainly wouldn’t enjoy being wormorphized by a worm.

    But perhaps that’s just me. Well, no…it seems you share that view. So perhaps it’s just us. Cool club, eh?

  62. Mule Rider says:

    “What I find startling is the degree to which you are verbally flying off the handle over this very question.”

    I find it insulting that some people feel the need to mock and deride me when I point out that science doesn’t seem to have any answers for how/where life originated.

    And I’m further insulted over the disgusting condescension towards people of faith. It wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t rampant in nearly every other discussion at this blog, but it comes in spades on a subject like this one.

  63. Mr. Universe says:

    BTW GROG

    I became a teacher to get filthy rich. Mwahahaha

  64. Mr. Universe says:

    Well, the old Mule is back. Had to happen eventually.

  65. Monotreme says:

    Mule,

    We’re not talking Urey-Miller. We’re talking the “RNA World” hypothesis. Look it up.

  66. Gator says:

    MW

    To be honest, I don’t think God cares too much either way. Kind of petty to quibble over mankinds frailties. We are, after all, his creations.

    “To believe in God is impossible – to not believe in Him is absurd”
    Voltaire

    “My atheism, like that of Spinoza, is true piety towards the universe and denies only gods fashioned by men in their own image, to be servants of their human interests.”
    George Santayana

  67. Gator says:

    Treme and Mr U

    Please explain the questions regarding the functions below needed for an RNA pool with no protiens.

    *The nonenzymatic synthesis of nucleotides
    *The nonenzymatic polymerization of nucleotides to give random-sequence RNA
    *The nonenzymatic replication/copying of RNA
    *The emergence through natural selection of a set of functional RNA catalysts that together could sustain exponential growth in a prebiotic environment

    Just curious.

  68. Mr. Universe says:

    @Mule

    See also: Abiogenesis and the Iron/sulfur world theory

  69. Mr. Universe says:

    Please explain the questions regarding the functions below needed for an RNA pool with no protiens.

    Really?

    Look, I don’t get paid to be either a blogger or your research assistant. Do your own homework. And, just so we’re clear, you aren’t really asking because you want to know.

  70. Mule,

    I find it insulting that some people feel the need to mock and deride me when I point out that science doesn’t seem to have any answers for how/where life originated.

    I didn’t see mocking or derision, but I did see people pointing out that a claim that science doesn’t have any answers for how/where life originated is false. That’s not to say that science has all the answers; it doesn’t.

    And I’m further insulted over the disgusting condescension towards people of faith.

    I also don’t like condescension toward people of faith. But there’s a significant difference between faith itself and a willful ignorance of the world that can arise from people having so little faith in their faith (so to speak) that they are unwilling to explore how their faith relates to the world around them.

  71. Gator,
    Seriously, the answers to the real questions underlying the questions you posed aren’t that hard to find. It is, as Mr. U and Monotreme said, a fascinating read. And it beats the hell out of the previous lighning strike theory.

    Oh, and regarding this:

    To be honest, I don’t think God cares too much either way.

    To consider caring at all is rather anthropomorphic, wouldn’t you say?

  72. Mule Rider says:

    RNA World? Iron/sulfur theory?

    I’d probably laugh if it wasn’t for the humiliatingly pathetic explanations you guys use to keep grasping at straws.

    Seriously, that’s about as useful as me saying, “Go read the book of Genesis for an explanation of how/where life began.”

    At least I realize the shortcomings between my beliefs and what can be proven/tested/understood. You guys don’t even have a clue how wide the chasm is.

    It takes far more faith to believe in a non-theistic and purely abiogenic creation…..the random emergence of life from non-living matter….than to believe there was an Intelligent Creator who designed the universe and all of its components, biological life included.

    I guess I should say kudos to you guys on that….it takes balls to believe something that’s impossible.

  73. Mule Rider says:

    @Michael,

    Based on the kinds of questions you ask and statements you make regarding God, which are very similar to those of Bartbuster, it’s pretty clear that you both do not have an open mind about the possibility of a supernatural Creator.

  74. Mule Rider says:

    I think I’m going to sign off for a while. Maybe for good. Regardless of whether or not I can be civil with you people, it’s obvious I don’t belong here.

  75. Mr. Universe says:

    See ya soon, Mule. We always do.

  76. Bartbuster says:

    That’s not something you can put into human terms…..He’s spirit.

    If you can’t put it into human terms, then the “evidence” must not be as overwhelming as you claimed. In fact, there appears to be no evidence of a “god”. God is something humans made up to explain things we don’t yet understand.

  77. Gator says:

    Mr U

    Just pulling your chain. Have a sense of humor about it. And you guys are a bit… harsh on people of faith here.

    “Then there are the fanatical atheists whose intolerance is the same as that of the religious fanatics, and it springs from the same source . . . They are creatures who can’t hear the music of the spheres.”
    (The Expanded Quotable Einstein, Princeton University Press, 2000 p. 214)

    I don’t need a research assistant. Can’t find anyone bright enough anyway.

  78. Gator says:

    MW

    There are also proponents of the meteor theory. That life or it’s building blocks arrived on a meteor. As of now these are all just theories. And any or all may be correct and any or all may be part of a system design. We don’t know. we simply theorize.

    As for the read. Did that some time ago. As I said, I was yanking chains a bit. And hoping to take some of the heat that Muley was getting. Insulting a persons faith, whether done intentionally or not, deserves an apology or at least a mea culpa. That is a really bad path (religious dsicusssion) for a comment board to go down.

    You asked me the other day what I was referring to when I said the irony was breathtaking. I was referring to the fact that you guys on here ripped BDP constantly and he took it with a high level of tolerance. And you all asked him why he bothered and why he was here. And then he left. And the threads went from 75-100-200 comments down too 3-13-25 kind of #s. Without Bart who will you all castigate? And now Muley may be going. And he has been remarkably pleasant and cogent. You are down to Grog and maybe me on a handful of issues.

    I’m not defending BDP… there really is no defending most of what Bart says. I am saying that you are all moving towards a liberal echo chamber. If what you want is a big liberal circle jerk, you are almost there.

  79. Bartbuster says:

    it takes balls to believe something that’s impossible

    The list of things that humans have done that were once thought “impossible” is probably quite long. Maybe some day we’ll even find evidence for “god”.

  80. mclever says:

    Wow…

    Um, OK, as a person of deep faith who also has a reasonable respect for the sciences, I’m a little flummoxed by the exchange with Mule. You’re all arguing past each other.

    Mule, no one here (yet) has said that faith is wrong or bad. If they did, I’d be all over their case like Perry Mason. What they’ve said is that disrespect for science and for what it does tell us about the world is a problem if we want to produce a scientifically literate populace. People like you who (should) know better and who argue against science are actually proving their point that rampant disrespect for science exists.

    As Gator tried to say, belief in deity-driven creation in no way contradicts what science presently tells us about the various mechanisms by which our world progressed from nothingness to its current state. If anything, a faithful person can see science as a fascinating glimpse at how their deity’s hand moved. For me, every time I learn something new from science, it only increases my awe.

    Furthermore, it seems to me that if you’ve been out of school for more than a year or two, then your knowledge of the current state of science is probably outdated. Even if you keep up with the latest journals, any researcher here will tell you it takes a few years to get the findings published. Arguments against science based on oversimplifications or outdated information do not impress the science-savvy.

    To the pro-science folks, the “problem” isn’t with those who are capable of holding both faith in God and science as valid explanations for the world. I know plenty of scientists (even an evolutionary biologist or two) who are devoutly faithful Christians. The issue is with those who utterly dismiss science’s validity. And, as shown by the polling results posted by Bartbuster up at February 17, 2011 at 16:06, the preponderance of those “creation only” folks are currently on the Republican side of the line, but the ignorance is not limited to one party.

    The problem also isn’t one of “smarts” per se. I know some very smart people—people with objectively high IQs—who are profoundly ignorant of the world, because they simply don’t want to know what they don’t know. George W. Bush was an example of this. I have no doubt that he was intellectually capable (IQ 125?), but he often bandied about his ignorance proudly. That sort of willful ignorance baffles, frustrates, and angers me. People capable of understanding who willfully chose not to. No matter how much evidence you give them, their minds are made up. And, because they’re so smart, they’re better able to come up with the logic loops that enable them to maintain their ignorance for longer. I don’t care what side of the political line you’re on, but if you’re intellectually capable, I expect you to use that brain, just a little!

    While much of the anti-science, anti-elitist rhetoric currently comes from the Right, there is also an anti-elitist bend from the Left, too. And, there are plenty of underlying cultural problems that affect both sides of the spectrum. The whole “math is hard” BS, for example. I know a few musicians who say things like, “I studied music because I couldn’t count past four.” It’s funny and cute, but it isn’t true. Plenty of educational studies have shown that people who take music lessons in elementary school do better in math in high school and beyond, because the mental pathways that are laid down by music help with higher-order mathematical understanding. If we want the next generation to do better in math, then we should make them all take piano lessons in first-thru-third grades. (I’m only sort of kidding on that.) And we should stop pretending that we don’t all use math all the time in our daily lives. Math isn’t hard, but arithmetic can be tedious at first. Saying it’s “hard” gives lazy people an excuse not to try.

    Somehow, we’ve got to find a way to shift our culture to having respect and admiration for intelligence and knowledge, rather than mocking, deriding, and belittling it. A kid will spend hours shooting hoops in his driveway in the hopes that he’ll get one of ~1000 NCAA basketball scholarships and after a year get one of ~60 draft spots into the NBA. The odds that he’ll succeed are astronomically small. There are actually much greater odds that if he’d spend as much time on his grades, that he could get an academic scholarship, after four years get accepted to a graduate program, and get to work on building new chemicals, engines, microchips, or whatever else interests him. But he won’t do that, because the dream of being the next Kobe is way cooler than being the next Einstein.

    So, how do we make nerds cool?

  81. mclever says:

    Getting back to the main thread of this article, the United States is slipping in its educational standing among other countries. A large part of this is because of the increasing gap between the socioeconomic elites and the dregs. In America, the wealth of your neighborhood is a greater predictor of the quality of your education than anything else. Other nations (Finland, China, Japan) have found ways to ensure that their poorest citizens receive commensurate education with their wealthiest. We need to look at what they do that works and figure out how to implement it here. Schools need to stop being political hot potatoes and both parties need to start taking the future of our country seriously.

    Perhaps the problem here is the tendency to only do what will have an immediate (read: within 2 years due to the election cycle) impact. No one seems to be thinking longer term. This is as much a failing of our current government as it is of the populace in general. To my thinking, it’s basically a feedback loop of an undereducated populace who’s willfully ignorant about anything beyond their nose therefore not demanding similar forward-thinking from their elected officials.

    So, how do we break that cycle? How do we get people in government to start thinking about the long-term future and educating the next generation to demand such forward thinking from their elected representatives?

  82. shortchain says:

    Gator,

    Nice example of the “appeal to authority” fallacy there. Einstein may have been a brilliant mind, but he cannot have unscrewed the inscrutable no matter how much he tried.

    Atheism is merely the insistence that, to posit a divinity, there must be actual evidence. And by evidence, I do not mean cherry-picked “studies” by people whose methodology is to start with their beliefs and work backward, discarding observations as necessary until they get some results that, to them, appear to confirm their beliefs.

  83. mclever says:

    shortchain,

    While I will not tell anyone what they should (or should not) believe, I always find it challenging when someone tries to fit either faith or science into the wrong mold.

    Faith isn’t about proof. Believing in a deity isn’t about finding an explanation of how and what with falsifiable evidence for each theory or postulate. Faith is about the entirely separate, unquantifiably abstract question of why. It’s about doubts and hope. Philosophy and theology aren’t falsifiable. God isn’t falsifiable. But, just because it isn’t science doesn’t make it invalid as a method of understanding the world.

    Science is about the how and what. Science is about evidence and falsifiability. Science is about the concrete, the tangible, the physical and provable. Science is more practical and has direct applications in the physically present world, but it can never answer the philosophical questions that faith addresses.

    Science studies the details of the tapestry, and faith questions the intent of the (hypothetical) weaver. Two different, yet potentially interrelated questions.

  84. dcpetterson says:

    It takes far more faith to believe in a non-theistic and purely abiogenic creation…..the random emergence of life from non-living matter….than to believe there was an Intelligent Creator who designed the universe and all of its components, biological life included.

    The problem with that argument is, it doesn’t explain anything. Attributing something to “God” is just admitting you don’t understand it, pasting a word on it (“God”) and than claiming it’s been explained.

    It begs the question of, “What mechanism did God use?” Saying “God did it” doesn’t tell us how God did it. (Nor, for that matter, which God did it.) So we really haven’t explained anything.

    Further: invoking “God” as a First Cause begs the additional question of where God came from. The whole premise for saying “God created the Universe” is because of the assumption that all events need a cause; therefore, the Universe needed something to cause it. But if all events need a cause, then so does God, and we’d have to postulate an uber-God to have created God. Then a super-uber-God to create uber-God. And so on, in an infinite series.

    Unless you are to postulate that God is an uncaused event, in which case, you’ve admitted there can be “uncaused events,” and then the need for a First Cause vanishes. If there can be “uncaused events,” it is more simple, by Occam’s Razor, to assume the Universe itself is uncaused, rather than hypothesizing the existence of yet another cause for which we have no other evidence.

    And in fact, modern quantum physics deals with uncaused events all the time. That’s the nature of radioactivity, for instance. Nothing “causes” a particular unstable atom to decay at a particular moment. It just happens. Since there are “uncaused events,” we need not postulate a First Cause. We do, however, have to understand as much as we can about the Big Bang.

    Having said all that, I am not arguing against the existence of one or more gods, nor am I claiming that there can be no proof or evidence of one or more gods. (I’m actually a very devout man, and I have very strong religious beliefs.) I’m merely saying that the First Cause argument in specific doesn’t hold water; also that claiming you need a god to explain unexplained phenomena doesn’t actually prove or explain anything either.

  85. dcpetterson says:

    By the way, the interaction between science and religion is a favorite topic in my fiction. I am a fan of both. I agree with mclever — the mistake we tend to make is when we use either of these in an inappropriate context. It’s like trying to tell someone the sound of a Monet painting, or the taste of the Fifth of Beethovan.

  86. mclever says:

    dcpetterson,

    Have you been reading Thomas Acquinas again? 😉

  87. Gator says:

    SC

    Ooooh, a bit touchy when someone calls atheism into question. Argue with Einstein, not me. Logic and faith are different perspectives and to try to incorporate the framework of one to lend support or tear down the other is silly.

    And your use of inscrutable is telling. The existence of God is inscrutable. Therefore a belief in God MUST be an act of faith. We are not capable of seeing the face of God.

  88. mclever says:

    “The sound of Monet” — I like that. May I borrow that analogy?

    🙂

  89. Gator says:

    I drank a Fifth of Beethoven once. Couldn’t get a Handel on things afterward. Just wanted my sobriety Bach. I woke up in a Field next to Wagner.

  90. Gator says:

    mclever said: “So, how do we make nerds cool?”

    It’s funny. My kids are all ‘nerds’ and proud of it. In fact they revel in it. My theory of parenting has always been that children rebel against whatever belief system and school of behaviour their parents adhere to. In light of that early realization, when I had children I was determined to lead as profligate and wastefully extravagant a life of debauchery as was possible. In order that they rebel AGAINST that paradigm. I did it for them. That is what parenting is all about… self-sacrifice.

    And I’m happy to report a complete success in my endeavors. My theory was indeed correct!

  91. Mr. Universe says:

    @Gator

    who will you all castigate?

    Ah, and there is your second error: in that castigation is our intent. Nothing could be further from the truth. Perhaps your perception of our motives hints at your own?

  92. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    Gator, you should write a book. MANY parents could be helped by your selfless, dedicated work on the subject.

  93. shortchain says:

    Of what use is a faith which does not inform your actions? And if your faith informs your actions, such as in the case of the state legislator who believes (as I have heard quite a few fundamentalist Christians say) that “God won’t let fossil-fuels either run out or destroy the ecosystem”, why should it not be ridiculed?

    Oh, and Gator? Unless you are trying to imply that Einstein had a direct line to the deity, or was the deity, pretending that he could speak authoritatively about the truth or falsehood of that which cannot be known is still an example of fallacy.

    I’m touchy about all forms of willful irrationality.

  94. Mr. Universe says:

    Belief in God is not necessary to appreciate science. However, understanding science often promotes an appreciation of God.

  95. Gator says:

    Max

    Just doing my part to be a boon to humanity!

    Mr U

    Where, pray tell, have I castigated anyone? And it was rough on BDP in here regardless of how you feel about his opinions. Mule was quick to seperate himself from Bart as well. BDP had no friends and yet he continued to spar with all of you, usually taking a beating in the process. Now it would appear he is gone. As may be Muley. You all keep saying that you want conservatives to participate. OK, then maybe you could collectively take a step back. Is it really necessary for three people to point out the same issue with something Bart says? Or that anyone says? Must everyone jump on? I’m seriously asking. Because what I see is that you are losing, not gaining conservative voices. Were BDP and Mule the best representatives for the conservative cause? Probably not. But they were here and willing to engage.

    I’m just asking.

  96. dcpetterson says:

    “The sound of Monet” — I like that. May I borrow that analogy?

    Feel free 🙂

    Gator, your experimentation with classical liquor is all to the good.

  97. Mr. Universe says:

    I woke up in a Field next to Wagner.

    Did you have the Ride of your Valkyrie?

    As a hangover remedy, I suggest a little Toccata with your Fugue.

  98. Gator says:

    “As a hangover remedy, I suggest a little Toccata with your Fugue.”

    That’s going to help my headache? Really?

  99. Gator says:

    SC said: “Atheism is merely the insistence that, to posit a divinity, there must be actual evidence.”

    and… “Unless you are trying to imply that Einstein had a direct line to the deity, or was the deity, pretending that he could speak authoritatively about the truth or falsehood of that which cannot be known is still an example of fallacy.”

    And yet, ironically enough, you believe that you can. LMAO! Arrogant a wee bit, are we Little Links?

  100. shortchain says:

    Gator,

    Excuse me, but nowhere have I stated that I can speak authoritatively about the truth or falsehood of the existence of a deity. You can go back and check.

    There is no unequivocal evidence of the existence of a deity. Atheists are merely those who follow the lack of evidence to its logical conclusion.

  101. mclever says:

    @shortchain

    Don’t tarnish the many with the idiocy of the few. Arguing that all faith is bad because of the selective (and non-canonical) beliefs of a few is like arguing that all science is bad because some physicist in Chicago is a holocaust denier who also dismisses Evolution and AGW as unsound scientific theories.

    I don’t expect everyone to share my faith, but I do expect that we are respectful of each other’s differing beliefs, especially on matters that simply cannot be addressed by facts and evidence. Your choice to believe in nothing is no more supported by the evidence than Mule’s conviction that there is something worth believing. If faith were about evidence, then it wouldn’t be faith!

    Because I appreciate (and share) your criticisms of some of the sillier fundamentalist ideas, I’m really just asking that you bear in mind that not everyone of faith is a closed-minded fundamentalist. There are valid questions worth pursuing that can’t be answered by “logical” thinking, and those who wish to pursue those philosophical or theological topics shouldn’t be derided simply because they aren’t interesting to you.

    If you asked someone why you love, and they came back with a breakdown of the chemical and physiological reactions within the body and an fMRI of the brain, would that satisfy you? It might explain the mechanics of what happens in the body when someone finds love, but it doesn’t explain why we love.

  102. Mule,
    Assuming you’re still reading…

    Based on the kinds of questions you ask and statements you make regarding God, which are very similar to those of Bartbuster, it’s pretty clear that you both do not have an open mind about the possibility of a supernatural Creator.

    You clearly don’t have a clue about what I believe if this is how you see me. That my view of a deity differs from yours does not mean that I don’t have an open mind about the possibility of one’s existence. That my view differs from yours most certainly doesn’t make yours right and mine wrong. But one thing is absolutely certain to me: you don’t have even the first inkling of my religious beliefs.

  103. Gator,

    There are also proponents of the meteor theory.

    That theory merely kicks the can, shifting the question from how to where…followed by how.

    Insulting a persons faith, whether done intentionally or not, deserves an apology or at least a mea culpa.

    Did I insult his faith? If so, where and how? I can’t avoid doing something in the future if I didn’t know what it was in the past.

    I realize that Bart generated a large number of comments, but the signal to noise ratio was very low, and dropped over time. I believe that quality is better than quantity in the long run; I hope I’m right about that. I’d miss the “new” Mule if he leaves for good, though.

  104. shortchain says:

    mclever,

    Perhaps I should have said that “atheists are simply those who follow the available evidence to what seems to them as the logical conclusion.

    Because I certainly don’t want to suggest that there cannot be those who will see things that other cannot see. Or that there’s anything wrong with that.

    Let’s be clear, though. Faith is not contagious, or, if it is, it is only mildly so — and Gator’s faith in the infallibility of Einstein does not mean that atheists should be derided.

    There may or may not be a chemical basis for both for love and for faith. And it still wouldn’t prove a thing either way, because surely a deity devious enough to create both orchids and the orchid-loving wasp could certainly arrange the chemistry as well.

    Humans of all faiths and cultures share much in the way of patterned behavior and thought, and share much of the moral imperatives. We certainly all share the Golden Rule, which is sufficient for almost all interpersonal behavior and is independent of religion.

    So let your faith guide your personal steps with my blessings, in so far as I have blessings to bestow, and if they will be of benefit (but if not, then ignore this) and may you always have the joy of living according to your tenets.

  105. mclever,

    How do we get people in government to start thinking about the long-term future and educating the next generation to demand such forward thinking from their elected representatives?

    I don’t like sounding like a wet blanket, but I don’t believe that a long-term view is compatible with American culture.

  106. dcpetterson says:

    Mclever, your comment about love and its relationship to scientific knowledge — and the further implication of how that relates to religion — is spot on. To me, the most fundamental weakness of most religions is that they tend to take their symbols as prose rather than poetry, and hence, they concretize what should be aetherial.
    And one of the most fundamental weaknesses of our current understanding of science is that it does not deal well with the single most fundamental aspect of our existence — which is, that we experience.

    Rationalist, hard science tries to take human experience out of the equation entirely — reality, in this view, is what what is there when human experience is removed. Yet quantum physics (to vastly oversimplify) seems to imply that conscious observation actually creates physical qualities, and that nothing at all exists unless there is a conscious entity to perceive it. (Yes, I am oversimplifying, and therefore, unavoidably providing false impressions. Anyone who wants a more accurate understanding has to read and study A LOT. But quantum physics matters; without it, things like solid-state electronics or polarized sunglasses could not exist.)

    Anyway, my point is, there are limits to what out current understanding of science can provide. In my view, true religion deals with experiences, most specifically, experience of divinity. (Go read Mercea Eliade’s writings about shamanism for starters. And then everything you can find by Joseph Campbell.) But since our current science deal with things in the absence of experience, there should be no conflict, because science and religion are talking about two different fields of interest.

    Science talks about what is out there. Religion is about how it affects in here. There is a relationship between the two, because my decisions about in here affect the world around me (I can decide to throw a ball, or to blow up an airport). Conversely, the external world affects my experience (I see someone and fall in love — or take sacred herbs and have an ecstatic vision of gods or of saints).

    The mechanism by which our conscious spirit interacts with the physical world is poorly understood. Hence, the closest we can come is the sound of Monet. And therein rests Ultimate Truth, which no human philosophy, physical or spiritual, has yet fully comprehended.

  107. Gator,

    Must everyone jump on?

    That’s the primary reason I hold my tongue (fingers) more than I otherwise might in this forum.

  108. shortchain,

    Atheists are merely those who follow the lack of evidence to its logical conclusion.

    If this is true, then they are seriously misguided. Abscence of evidence is in no way equivalent to evidence of absence.

  109. mclever says:

    Bringing this back around to education, I will say that my faith does “inform my thinking” about science in schools.

    Render unto Caesar (Matthew 22)… There is a time (and place) for everything (Ecclesiastes 3)… I stand in awe of your deeds, O LORD. Make them known (Habakkuk 3)… Separation of Church and State (OK, that one’s not scriptural)…

    My point is that, from my faith-based perspective, religion doesn’t belong in science class. Render unto science that which belongs to science. There is a time to teach science and a time to teach faith. As I study science, I increase my awe at the wonder of the world and how it is intricately and fascinatingly made. And I don’t want my science teacher telling me about God any more than I want a history teacher telling me about calculus. Public schools shouldn’t be in the religion business. They’ve got enough to do in teaching kids the information they need to be competitive in the global job market.

    Religion and science need to declare a truce. (Even the Pope agrees with Evolution, and as far as I know it hasn’t cost him his faith.) There needs to be a truce, because the longer we keep fighting this battle amongst ourselves, the farther behind our students will get in comparison to everyone else in the world. We want to think that we’re the greatest, but we’re rapidly losing that mantle to poverty and ignorance—problems that we as a civilized society should be able to address in this day and age.

  110. DC,

    Hence, the closest we can come is the sound of Monet.

    And yet, the love of Monet is the root of all evil.

  111. dcpetterson says:

    Even so, Michael, the route of all evil is paved with good extensions. Or something.

  112. mclever says:

    @shortchain

    So let your faith guide your personal steps with my blessings, in so far as I have blessings to bestow, and if they will be of benefit (but if not, then ignore this) and may you always have the joy of living according to your tenets.

    Thank you, and I welcome your blessings. 🙂

    I echo your sentiments and likewise wish you continued joy as well.

  113. Bartbuster says:

    If this is true, then they are seriously misguided. Abscence of evidence is in no way equivalent to evidence of absence.

    Actually, yes it is. Absence of evidence for something that you are actively looking for is a pretty good indication that it doesn’t exist. For instance, if 10,000 years ago someone claimed that a magic rock told him all the secrets of the universe, if no one could produce any evidence of that rock by now we could safely assume that it doesn’t exist. Calling something “god” instead of “magic rock” doesn’t lower the burden of proof for the person who claims that it exists.

  114. mclever says:

    @Michael Weiss

    That’s the primary reason I hold my tongue (fingers) more than I otherwise might in this forum.

    Me too… I see no reason to pile on when there are at least three people already saying much the same as I’d say. That’s part of why I hope Mule does come back (with his kinder, gentler attitude intact), because we need alternative voices for a more balanced conversation.

  115. shortchain says:

    Michael,

    I’ve already amended that statement, but — to paraphrase another great mind — sometimes, a prolonged and pervasive absence of evidence can only be interpreted as evidence of absence.

  116. mclever says:

    Michael,

    A long-term view may not be compatible with American culture, so I guess what I’m asking is how do we generate that shift in our culture?

    I think education plays a key role in this. (As long as that education isn’t undermined and derided…) Part of what gets taught in schools should be life skills, socialization, and basic economics. Part of life-skills is the ability to plan for the future and to weigh long-term considerations. If students are actually actively taught to consider things farther into the future, and to expect that our leaders should be smarter and even more forward-looking, then it is reasonable to expect that they’d start demanding that of their politicians.

    In the past, when politicians could make the “small pain now for big gain later” argument, it has worked. Presidents have successfully called for American sacrifice, and we’re usually willing to give it if we understand what the payout is. But when politicians are dishonest brokers, promising lower taxes AND higher benefits, for example, it undermines people’s ability to make informed trade-offs.

  117. BB,

    Absence of evidence for something that you are actively looking for is a pretty good indication that it doesn’t exist.

    First of all, that’s not an equivalence. Second, if you don’t know how to measure what you’re looking for, then it doesn’t much matter how long you take to do it. At least with Higgs bosons, we have a means of measuring their presence or absence. How exactly would you design an experiment to prove the existence of a deity?

  118. mclever says:

    @dcpetterson

    I can’t find anything to disagree with in your post… 🙂

    The mechanism by which our conscious spirit interacts with the physical world is poorly understood.

    Indeed. An therein lie some of the most interesting discussion possibilities, because there isn’t a quantifiably “right” answer…

  119. GROG says:

    Aside from Science, hasn’t everyone at some point gazed up at the stars and wondered why we’re here? Why are the stars and planets here? Where did it all originate and why? Where does outer space begin and end? Was there a beginning of time? What was here before the beginning of time?

    Perhaps science can explain how life originated, but can it explain how the “world” originated. I know, there’s the big bang theory, but what about before the big bang theory? What was here then and how did that originate and why?

    It’s the “why’s” not the “how’s” that lead to relgion.

  120. Bartbuster says:

    How exactly would you design an experiment to prove the existence of a deity?

    A giant face in the sky saying “Hi! I’m God!” would be a good start.

  121. Bartbuster says:

    It’s the “why’s” not the “how’s” that lead to relgion.

    Actually, we invented gods to explain the hows.

  122. Gator says:

    MW said: “Did I insult his faith? If so, where and how?”

    Yes, as apparently he insulted yours. I’m sure that you meant no offense, nor did I see anything you said as being beyond the pale. And I’m sure that Mule thought he would not be insulting your faith because he believed that you had none. Therein lies the problem. Faith is an intensely personal thing. Talking about it is a dangerous path to tread. And when one inadvertently offends, one should treat it as if you had stepped on a strangers toes… you certainly didn’t intend to trod on their feet, but an apology is nonetheless in order.

  123. GROG,

    It’s the “why’s” not the “how’s” that lead to relgion.

    Exactly. And as long as religion stays out of the questions of “how,” and science stays out of the questions of “why,” the two can peacefully coexist.

  124. BB,

    A giant face in the sky saying “Hi! I’m God!” would be a good start.

    I see…so the absence of a face in the sky is your evidence of absence?

  125. mclever says:

    re: Proof of God’s existence…

    It seems that if we want to prove the existence of a deity, then we need to first establish what deity is. My fancy-schmancy Bible says, “God is love.” (I John 4) That’s a straightforward equivalency. God is love. So, if I prove that Love exists, would that prove that God exists?

    From a scientific perspective, probably not.

    But for some of faith, the evidence of love is evidence of god/deity/something more than what hard science can give us. And that is precisely the problem. How can science prove something if the question is inherently unfalsifiable?

  126. Bartbuster says:

    I see…so the absence of a face in the sky is your evidence of absence?

    No, my evidence of absence is the complete absence of any evidence. In a universe with dark matter and dark energy, neither of which we understand at all, it’s going to take something pretty significant to be considered as evidence of “god”. If a smiling face is too blatant for you, how about a giant winking eye?

  127. dcpetterson says:

    Actually, GROG, there are scientific theories about before the Big Bang, and there are ways to test some of them. Modern cosmology is advancing rather quickly.

    But to your other comment, that religion is about the why and science is more the how, you are spot on. I’m content to leave the two separated in that way. I would add only that your understanding of the why could differ markedly from mine, because that’s the nature of religion — whereas, the nature of science implies that we are, if we both follow the scientific method, very likely to agree on the how.

    So scientific questions (such as whether evolution is the how of the origin of species) are answerable in a way that can be agreed upon by impartial observers. Religious questions (such as why humans came to be — if there even is a why) can well be answered differently by every individual observer.

    In the current state of both of these fields (science and religion), it would be a mistake for religion to venture into the how or science into the why. Therefore, Genesis and Creationism should stay out of science classes — and physics should stay out of church.

  128. dcpetterson says:

    @mclever
    It seems that if we want to prove the existence of a deity, then we need to first establish what deity is.

    An astute observation. In fact, this is a serious problem. Most people in the West who seek to argue or to prove the existence of “God” are looking for a particular god — the tribal deity of the peoples described in the collection of ancient books we call The Bible. More specifically, they attempt to prove the existence of this god as they understand him, for there are thousands of mutually-exclusive descriptions of this particular god.

    Personally, I suspect that if the existence of deity were ever proven, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that deity would bear little resemblance to the guy in The Bible. So I suspect one of the reasons no god has been “found” to the satisfaction of rationalists is that most people are looking in the wrong places, and seeking the wrong thing. But that’s just my opinion, and I fully acknowledge I could be wrong.

  129. Gator,

    MW said: “Did I insult his faith? If so, where and how?”
    Yes, as apparently he insulted yours.

    He didn’t insult my faith. His insult was assuming that he knew something about me, drawing conclusions based upon that assumption, and then it seems that he used those conclusions as the motivation for his own feelings of insult. Thusly, I was accused of something for which I am innocent. That is what insulted me.

  130. Bartbuster says:

    No matter how you define “God”, a giant face in the sky saying “Hi! I’m God!” would be tough to explain away as anything but God.

  131. mclever says:

    @dcpetterson

    I would add only that your understanding of the why could differ markedly from mine, because that’s the nature of religion — whereas, the nature of science implies that we are, if we both follow the scientific method, very likely to agree on the how.

    Absolutely! Spot on! 🙂

  132. mclever says:

    @dcpetterson

    I suspect one of the reasons no god has been “found” to the satisfaction of rationalists is that most people are looking in the wrong places, and seeking the wrong thing.

    You might be wrong, but I doubt it. 🙂

  133. dcpetterson says:

    True enough, Bartbuster. But if there is a god who could do that, could not that god also make his face visible only to those who already believed in him? And why should such a god care about trying to convince anybody who doesn’t already believe in him? I’d think any real god would be above the feeling of having to prove anything, and would be more likely to talk with those who are already open to having the conversation. I mean, if you’re happy with the beliefs you already have, why should god want to disrupt them? What kind of god is really that petty, as to care about changing your mind?

  134. mclever says:

    @Bartbuster

    No matter how you define “God”, a giant face in the sky saying “Hi! I’m God!” would be tough to explain away as anything but God.

    Seriously?

    I’m sure I could come up with a dozen explanations… such as someone playing with new holographic projection equipment or some sort of mutually shared hallucination or faked imagery or … Come on, you’ve seen “Ghost Hunters”, right?

    Aw, forget it.

    If you don’t believe, then nothing will convince you. There is no such thing as conclusive proof. And that’s why it’s called FAITH.

  135. mclever says:

    Yeah, and what dcpetterson said, too.

  136. DC,

    So I suspect one of the reasons no god has been “found” to the satisfaction of rationalists is that most people are looking in the wrong places, and seeking the wrong thing.

    A much better way of saying what I was trying to say to BB.

  137. Bartbuster says:

    What kind of god is really that petty, as to care about changing your mind?

    The god in the Bible appears to be that petty.

    In any case, I’m just providing examples of evidence for a god. Given the different versions of “god” that everyone seems to have, and the non-god related (as far as we know) things that we still can’t explain, it would have to be something pretty dramatic.

  138. mclever says:

    dcpetterson, we’ve been agreeing too much today. I’m counting on you to come up with something controversial, so that I can disagree with you spectacularly on it, OK?

  139. Gator says:

    Michael

    Back to my point that religion is a dangerous topic… you were both insulted, SC seems to have found that you can’t make assumptions regarding who is a person of faith (notice you didn’t argue with MW and mclever, did you Stubby Shackles).

    Because it is so deeply personal, there is no way to avoid insult. Not when neither side can even understand why the other is offended.

  140. Bartbuster says:

    I’m sure I could come up with a dozen explanations… such as someone playing with new holographic projection equipment or some sort of mutually shared hallucination or faked imagery or … Come on, you’ve seen “Ghost Hunters”, right?

    Those things could probably be eliminated pretty quickly. But God would probably have to hang around for a while to help eliminate all the man-made explanations.

  141. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    How about not “just” God, but “which” God?

    Judeo-Christian?, Great Spirit?, Zoroastrian?, Mumbo-Jumbo of the animists?, Zeus?, Baal?

    All have had a turn at bat, some more so than others, some considered defunct now, though no proof exists of their passing, just lost their popular following. Most all contradictory one to the other. (How you gonna feel, come Judgement Day, if you’re standing in front of ole Mumbo-Jumbo? You gone have some ‘splaining to do!)

  142. mclever says:

    Bartbuster,

    Sorry, you think God should appear as a face in the sky, because that’s what you expect? Since when must a deity conform to your (disbelieving) expectations? (Rhetorical question)

    DC said it best. Perhaps you’re not finding God anywhere, because you’re looking for the wrong things in the wrong places.

  143. Bartbuster says:

    Sorry, you think God should appear as a face in the sky, because that’s what you expect?

    I don’t expect anything. I’m just providing ideas for evidence. Big smiling face. Earth being moved to different part of the universe. That sort of stuff. I’m just saying that it would have to be pretty dramatic.

  144. Gator says:

    Max

    Well Judeo-Christian, Great Spirit, Zoroastrian (Mazda), all believe in a supreme God. Even Ba-al as Hadad is the embodiment of the supreme God. Only Zeus shares the heavens (or Olympus) with others. So actually there is a remarkable consistency in the world religions. Is that because God is consistent or because man needs to define deities this way?

    can’t help ya’ with mumbo jumbo

  145. Bartbuster says:

    Well Judeo-Christian, Great Spirit, Zoroastrian (Mazda), all believe in a supreme God. Even Ba-al as Hadad is the embodiment of the supreme God. Only Zeus shares the heavens (or Olympus) with others. So actually there is a remarkable consistency in the world religions. Is that because God is consistent or because man needs to define deities this way?

    Ancient religions often involve multiple “gods”. As man evolved, so did his “gods”.

  146. shortchain says:

    Gator,

    You said:

    SC seems to have found that you can’t make assumptions regarding who is a person of faith (notice you didn’t argue with MW and mclever, did you Stubby Shackles).

    You haven’t been paying attention, then, have you? Scroll up and look for the “absence of evidence” discussion above. Don’t go too far, or you’re going to run into one of Michael’s evil puns.

    But frankly I have no real problems with what either mclever or MW, or, for that matter, what DC says, because they’re not trying to denigrate people by use of a fallacious argument.

    Like them, I’m a very devout practitioner myself, in my own, very personal and idiosyncratic, way.

  147. dcpetterson says:

    Actually, Gator, the monotheist religions you mentioned are all derived from the same basic stock (except “Great Spirit” – I’m not sure what you mean by that). Outside of the Zoroastrian-Judeo-Christian-Islamic series, all the members of which are historically related, nearly everyone else in the world is polytheist. In truth, and through most of history, the concept of “deity” has, in fact, been remarkably consistent — and has been very different from the biblical image.

  148. Gator says:

    SC

    You feel I am trying to denigrate you? Really? You have no concept of denigration. I have been gentle and attempted to be humorous. All I was doing was yet again poking fun at your pompous attitude.

    You exchanged a couple of very brief comments with MW and Mc way upthread. You just want to argue with me because I had the temerity to point out the large stick in your butt! Embarassment is a valid reason to debate. No need to be ashamed. And I’m happy to poke holes in your silliness if no one else wants to step up. See SC you can’t beat me. I don’t take this (posting pseudo-intellectual blather on a blog comment section) or myself nearly as seriously as you obviously do. So you can’t offend me. I’m just as pseudo-intellectually silly as the best of you. The difference is I know it. You seem not to.

  149. Mr. Universe says:

    @BartBuster

    Hi! I’m God.

    Happy now?

  150. Bartbuster says:

    Hi! I’m God.

    Happy now?

    sky > blog

  151. Bartbuster says:

    Seriously, who wouldn’t be impressed by a big god-face in the sky?

  152. dcpetterson says:

    @Mr. U

    Thou Art God.

  153. drfunguy says:

    God groks

  154. drfunguy says:

    or in the modern vernacular, god rocks…

  155. mclever says:

    On the topic of education in America and the growing gaps between the top performers and the bottom, I stumbled across this recently published article. It’s worth a read for those interested in actually trying to find solutions:

    Discovering and Developing Diverse STEM Talent: Enabling Academically
    Talented Urban Youth to Flourish

    Abstract:

    “The Growing Excellence Gap in K-12 Education, Plucker, Burroughs, and Song (2010) provided compelling evidence that “the presence of an excellence gap is demonstrated on both national and state assessments of student performance,” with “economically disadvantaged, English Language Learners, and historically underprivileged minorities representing a smaller proportion of students scoring at the highest levels of achievement” (p. 28). Three “case stories” of students from IMSA illuminate some of the (a) challenges and opportunities inherent in igniting STEM talent in urban youth and ensuring their success; (b) principles for designing and creating learning experiences and environments that ignite and nurture the development of “creative, ethical scientific minds” (IMSA, 2009); and (c) institutional lessons that have become clear to us after more than two decades of developing diverse STEM talent.”

  156. mclever says:

    Monotreme,

    Templeton Sr. sounds like someone with whom I would have enjoyed having a philosophical conversation. While I share the concerns of some that “science” and “faith” aren’t compatible disciplines, I also appreciate that someone can be interested both and in the intersection between them. I love that he wasn’t afraid to question things, including things that would normally be about faith.

    For example, his interest in understanding forgiveness. It’s not a “hard science,” but more sociological in nature. If we understood how to foster forgiveness, then a lot of violent conflict could be averted. In that aspect, the study has value if not as a purely scientific endeavor. I suppose the intersection of science and “spirituality” is similar to my question about love. Science can answer part of the question–the biology and chemistry within the body, but there’s some additional aspect to love that science can’t capture on its own.

    I’m also especially appreciative of his non-dogmatic approach to faith. To me, true faith comes from questioning, from doubting, from exploring what one thinks and why. Faith can’t just be regurgitation of dogmatic rules. (Remember how Jesus rebuked the Pharisees…) A truly faithful person embraces doubts in order to grow, because faith that’s stagnant is dead.

  157. mclever says:

    From the article I posted:

    “It is simply a myth that academically talented children will thrive on their own. This is especially true of those who live and learn in underresourced urban environments, and our nation will pay a price for our inattention. Discovering and developing diverse STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math] talent requires commitments manifested in state and national policies focused on addressing the unique needs of academically talented urban youth. It also requires the authentic challenge and support of an intellectually
    engaging and dynamic learning community that through word and
    deed encourages them to dream and enables them to flourish.”

    The article advocates fostering curiosity and inquiry through creative problem finding and solving rather than teaching regurgitation of facts. Deep conceptual understanding and integrative ways of knowing enable learning to become self-perpetuating rather than stagnant. Exploration and discovery approaches make the learning more personal and engaging for students.

    But another important aspect that’s missing in many disadvantaged schools is one of collaboration and trust. Parents don’t trust the schools, teachers don’t trust the community, students don’t trust the teachers, and no one respects the potential of these disadvantaged students. Students are systematically discouraged by low expectations and lack of community support. To succeed, most students need to believe that they have potential, and that should be fostered by a network of parents and teachers who reinforce the value of exploratory learning and that no one’s path is predetermined by their circumstances.

  158. shortchain says:

    mclever,

    Thanks for that link. I’ve saved the pdf and I’ll be reading it carefully over the next few days.

    A friend of mine is a tutor in something that I think is associated with a STEM trial.

  159. mclever says:

    You’re welcome, shortchain.

    IMSA has a lot of good information about improving science and math education, and they’ve got a little over 20 years of empirical evidence of putting their ideas into practice. They have a lot of tools available for teachers through their outreach programs.

    One of the better things that Republican Governor “Big Jim” Thompson accomplished in Illinois was the establishment of consistent funding for IMSA [Illinois Math and Science Academy].

  160. mclever says:

    The following is an example of exactly what shouldn’t be in a science class:

    The ignorance and incurious attitudes that this teacher actually fosters are astounding. And I’m not even going to touch how horrified I am by the last student’s comment…and that the teacher lets it stand unchallenged.

  161. Monotreme says:

    That’s because the teacher doesn’t know science.

  162. Mr. Universe says:

    @Mac and Mono

    Yeah, I recognize the dialect. Now you know how hard it was for me to evolve from the south.

  163. Bartbuster says:

    That video is all the evidence you need to understand why our science scores suck.

  164. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    Shame on you Mr U.

    That is as prejudiced and stereotypical a statement as I have ever heard from you! I don’t believe that very many fine Southern intellectuals, exempting those more attuned to social attitudes, would agree. For one, I submit that Dr. G W Carver is an excellent example.

    As well as, for that matter, Chief Medical Officer Dr. “Bones” McCoy!

    I personally, have used MY accent as an advantage, particularly when confronted with an opponent who held that the Southern accent was indicative of ignorance. One is most likely to be more easily defeated when one underestimates an opponent. (Didn’t hurt whilst attempting the seduction of one of them thar purty Portland wimmen onest, either!)

    Shame.

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