10 Comments

I am an atheist, but I think there is an important role for traditional religion in a modern mostly secular society. Religion is a way to put on the brakes when technological or cultural chenge becomes too fast or goes too far.

It is a way to consult the collective wisdom of our ancestors, to ask them what they would think about things. We do not have to listen to them, but it is good to have a way to ask the questions before rushing headlong into assisted fertilization, human-computer merging, genetic manipulation, geoengineering, and other developments that at least some religions oppose.

Religion also is a good thing in providing a counter to the modern all-powerful state. It is very important to have at least a few people who do not recognize the state as the ultimate authority. Who insist there is some higher authority to which they give their ultimate aligence. Without them it becomes the state that can demand total control.

We saw this during the recent covid panic, when governments ignored and abandoned rights that were established over centuries and not without much bloodshed, and in many case it was the religious people, and especially the most religious, those we tend to label as fanatics, who stood up to the imposition of a medical dictatorship and resisted the tyranical demands of those who give too much authority to both modern science and the state it exists to serve.

So while I do not believe in any religion, I am glad somebody does. If we need to fight for our liberties, they will be among our best allies.

As for the conflict between Darwinism and the Judeo-Christian story of creation, that is not so immportant as both sides think it is. They have more in common than either will admit. After all, they both agree that life began a long time ago and has continued ever since by the well-known process of reproduction. They only differ on the minor point of exactly how it began.

The real challenge to both Darwinism and the Genesis story, both of which have serious shortcomings, is the now-abandoned theory of spontaneous generation, the claim that life, as a perfectly natural phenomenon, will naturally occur wherever and when ever the conditions are right for it and that the conditions under which it can be found thriving today are the right cconditions for it to first occur.

This theory of natural self-organization of living forms coming into existence all around us all the time, and mutlually adapted to the conditions under which they form, including others forming at the same time and place, better explains the diversity of living forms and the mutual adaptation of multiple species in an ecosystem than any theory that requires all living things today to be descended from ancestors.

Natural self-organization of living organisms happens all around us all the time, but is almost never observed by scientists due to their heavy indoctrination against it, although many uneducated rural folk are well aware of such things and frequently observe it happening in the woods, fields, and ponds.

The Creationists and the Darwinists have both done an excellent job of discovering the flaws in each others theories, but neither makes a really good case. A third viewpoint is badly needed and a modernized form of spontaneous generation, not just of individual species, but of ecosystems, is the most viable contender.

Expand full comment

Quite agree with your comments on self-organization.

I'd read Behe's "Darwin's Black Box" and had been fascinated by his exposition of biological complexity and his brief discussion of that idea. Sadly he had subsequently snatched defeat from the jaws of victory -- more or less by asserting "therefore Jesus" -- but he had at least introduced me to Stuart Kauffman's arguments on self-organization.

Apropos of which, you might have some interest in a review of Kauffman's "The Origins of Order: Self-Organization and Selection in Evolution":

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/37811275_The_Origins_of_Order_Self-Organization_and_Selection_in_Evolution

From the abstract:

"Therefore, the spontaneous order in complex systems implies that selection may not be the sole source of order in organisms, and that we must invent a new theory of evolution which encompasses the marriage of selection and self-organization."

Part of my objection to Dawkins -- as Miller suggests:

Miller: "Each side was proceeding from a set of unprovable philosophical presuppositions about how the world came into being, but they were also equally certain that the other side’s philosophical presuppositions were wrong."

Hardly more than "articles of faith" on both sides. Rather typical of Dawkins too as his recent article on "sex assigned at birth" in the Boston Globe with Sokal illustrates. He really is rather clueless -- and pigheadedly so -- about what are the actual biological definitions for the sexes, ones that are published in reputable biological journals, encyclopedias, and dictionaries:

https://academic.oup.com/molehr/article/20/12/1161/1062990 (see the Glossary)

https://link.springer.com/referenceworkentry/10.1007/978-3-319-16999-6_3063-1

https://twitter.com/pwkilleen/status/1039879009407037441 (Oxford Dictionary of Biology)

And not in the blogs of various grifters, charlatans, and political opportunists:

https://whyevolutionistrue.com/2024/04/09/dawkins-and-sokal-on-the-dumb-ideological-ploy-that-human-sex-is-assigned-at-birth/#comment-2092183

Expand full comment

<sigh> Required reading for anyone remotely associated with this film, including those who have watched it, is Julian Jaynes "The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind." Not the whole book (very few can handle it), just the last chapter of book III, "The Auguries of Science." We are, as always, at the mercy of our collective cognitive imperative.

Expand full comment

Shermer asserts, "Expelled is pure propaganda that would make even Leni Riefenstahl blush."

That is a bit rich is it not?

Can we make Shermer blush?

May I suggest the reader, (Or Shermer himself) watch the YouTube "short" (I think that implies it is no longer than 1 minute) https://youtube.com/shorts/YEPix_n3aOY?si=VnvCosh2F1vyVW0q

In it Shermer analogizes that believers in God can't come up with one reason for belief in God.

Now if that is not Shermer willingly spewing propaganda, why in his response to Ayaan Hirsi Ali would he greatly retreat from that position?

Apparently his good friend was in essence calling him out on it and because of their friendship was obliged to be much more honest.

In the response to Ayaan, he rhetorically asks, "Are there good reasons to believe in God?" to which, in that very same paragraph he responds with, "I will simply note that both sides have strong arguments and that, ..."

Now, as we juxtapose "Is God an Invisible Dragon" with "I will simply note that both sides have strong arguments and that, ..." let's return to the top and consider afresh Shermer's, "pure propaganda" claim.

Expand full comment

Shermer says,

"Expelled is pure propaganda that would make even Leni Riefenstahl blush."

If only Shermer had the sensibility to blush.

He seems totally unable to engage in self-reflection.

On one hand he speaks piffle such as "God is like an invisible dragon" (no reason to expect that he is real) to standing before the brightest young people on the planet at, supposedly, one of the best universities and vomits forth vacuous, (not to mention question-begging) "You're all atheists for all those other gods, so I would just implore you to go one God further."

And yet, when confronted with the uncomfortable announcement from his friend, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, (someone who formerly was comfortable with atheism) he asks rhetorically "Are there good reasons to believe in God?" and answers his own question, "I will simply note that both sides have strong arguments ..."

Why such candor in the face of Ayaan's apparent call of BS on so much of your "propoganda?"

Expand full comment

Thank you for this post. I think it might help me work through some issues I’m having with my feelings toward those whom I view in much the same way I view the ID community – that being virus deniers. I recently wrote a piece in which I outline my understanding of colds and how they happen.

And I now realize it might be a way to bridge the divide between those like me who believe in science and those like virus deniers who generally do not. Because though I believe in what they call “germ theory,” I do not believe viruses play THE causative (or as lawyers would say “dispositive”) role in the creation of colds.

What I feel is that colds happen when we are in a hyper-exhausted, angry, aggravated and frustrated state of mind. A cold happens because of how that state of mind, and the type of breathing that results, irritates our nasal passages causing acute rawness there. The body then treats that rawness by creating a build-up of mucus to soothe that soreness, which rather quickly creates a condition we call the common cold.

I fully realize how ridiculous this hypothesis sounds to most people. But that understanding has kept me cold free for many years. And no one who has been fully exposed to my explanation has offered any evidence of its fallacy, quite the opposite. Meanwhile in all the years the scientific community has been studying colds, it has found no proof of the role of viruses, and no way of preventing colds, despite their omnipresence.

So I feel my article to be the perfect way to narrow the divides between our ways of thinking. I hope that virus deniers will embrace it, because of the proof it might offer that at least one supposedly contagious disease is not caused by viruses or any other pathogen. And it seems to me it could also be a way to have the scientific community show a little humility – which I see as being much needed, especially in light of their failures during the Covid crisis, and how much science skepticism that has created.

Science doesn’t know everything – yet. And until it does, it seems to me a little humility might be in order. In any case, for those who might be interested, here’s a link to How Did You Catch That Cold?

https://theprogressivecontrarian.substack.com/p/how-did-you-catch-that-cold

Expand full comment
founding

This was an excellent piece on the transition from one perspective to another. I applaud the great honesty in his description of what he did and how he views it now. I should be so honest!

Expand full comment

Save one, isms - communism, atheism, intelligent design, Darwinsim, Wahabi, Sunni, Islam, Hasidism, Catholicism, - do not conflict, but that one -ism conflicts with any and all others: Fundamentalism

Expand full comment

There are numerous published reports by real scientists testifying to the reality of natural self-organization of new living organisms directly from non-living materials. Regarding micro-organisms, The Beginnings Of Life, By Henri Carlton Bastian describes not only experiments showing that new life comes into being, but that the wave length of sunlight it is exposed to during the organizational process determines what species will form.

The late Dr. Bernard Grad, a biologist at McGill University in Montreal, told me he had once tried to make ameboas but got the recipie wrong and got alge by mistake. He went back over it and found what he did wrong. He said he could now get either ameboas or alge at will. The alge were identified by other biologists as being of known species, but he had thousands of feet of time lapse motion pictures showing them developing from non-living matterials.

He then showed me a stack of papers he had written that he said he had not published because he wanted to keep his job. That fear was not misplaced. And it explains why there are so few scientists who dare to buck the prevailing theories of our time. Science is just as dogmatic as any religion. The followers of modern science and the followers of religion deserve each other.

You might find this of interest:

https://alkimist.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Wilhelm-Reich-The-Bions.pdf

https://wilhelmreich.gr/en/orgonomy/orgonomy-and-biogenesis/bions/

Expand full comment

Yeah right!

Expand full comment