Showing posts with label evolution. Show all posts
Showing posts with label evolution. Show all posts

The Just-So Stories of the Bible


In Dr. David Madison’s insightful article of July 5, 2024, There’s Too Much Evil and Cruelty in the Bible, he wrote:

Very early in my serious study of the Bible I learned about “etiological myths”, that is, stories imagined to explain why things are the way they are. This is the god’s curse on the woman, to explain why childbirth is painful: “I will make your pangs in childbirth exceedingly great; in pain you shall bring forth children, yet your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” (Genesis 3:16)

This particular etiological myth, or just-so story, with patriarchal sexism thrown in at no extra charge, warrants further comment. How do we know the bible is wrong here? Since not everyone might know the relevant details of human evolution, I’ll expand on that here.

Babies are cute, but their unusually big heads can be deadly to Mom
Babies are cute, but their unusually big heads can be deadly to Mom

Giving birth, for humans, is quite unlike giving birth for most if not all other animals that give birth to live young. Imagine, for example, that giving birth were as problematic and temporarily debilitating for a zebra mare as it often is for a human female. Further imagine that a zebra foal were born as helpless as a human child (that is, imagine that zebra younglings were altricial instead of precocial). In that case, the lions that relentlessly pursue zebras would enjoy easy meals,1 although only for a comparatively brief time of bounty until they quickly hunted zebras to extinction. Because of the way zebras live, by staying constantly one step ahead of lions, they have to be almost uninterruptedly mobile to avoid becoming lion lunch. Zebra mares have to bounce back quickly after giving birth, and zebra foals must be able to run within an hour of being born. Other animals, such as nesting birds, can keep their altricial (i.e., initially helpless) hatchlings somewhat out of reach of predators, relatively safe in their nests, while giving care to them. But the parent birds must remain very fit so they can continue to collect food for their voracious young. Difficult reproduction is not a luxury many other species can afford. Among other things, it’s a testimony to the social power of humans. Humans form complex and powerful communities able to safeguard vulnerable mothers and children from threats that would wipe out many other species. Zebras, in contrast, don’t cooperate with other zebras with the same scale and sophistication as humans. Other species can’t cooperate quite like humans because their brains aren’t big enough to handle the complex computations necessary to make it work. Humans can, so we do; and because we can and do, evolution in due course sees that we must.

Humans no longer knuckle-walk, at least outside of Trump rallies
Humans no longer knuckle-walk, at least outside of Trump rallies2

Given that birth or egg-laying are rarely life-threatening for other animals, why is giving birth such a problem for humans? The biblical just-so story reflects a profound ignorance of evolutionary theory and fact. (The scientific explanation wouldn’t happen for many centuries after the bible was written.) Everything about a species is a product of how it evolved and continues to evolve. The human line underwent at least two profound changes over the last 4 million to 7 million years since our last common ancestor with the chimpanzees: the switch from quadrupedalism (walking on all fours, knuckle-walking in the case of the other ground-dwelling great apes, although the exact history of that habit isn’t clear) to bipedalism (walking on our two hind feet, thus freeing our grasping hands to get us into more trouble); and the tripling of our encephalization quotient relative to our nearest cousins the chimpanzees. The great encephalization apparently occurred in response to selective pressures for greater intelligence that acted on the human line but did not act in the same way on the chimpanzee line. Exactly what that entailed is a matter of some debate, but to function as a human in any human society you have to be a lot smarter than a chimpanzee. And to get smarter you need a much larger cerebral cortex, which in turn makes you need a larger skull. Which is larger from the get-go, i.e. birth.

As the pre-human and then human neonate skull got larger, fitting it through the human female’s pelvic opening became more difficult. Accordingly the shape of the female pelvis had to adapt, by the brutal method available to evolution: killing off the females in every generation who lagged the trend by having insufficiently roomy hips. But this ran into another difficulty: our upright stance, which works better with narrow hips. You don’t see a lot of elite distance runners with extremely wide hips. And given that humans were generally nomadic until only about 10,000 years ago when some humans started adopting agriculture, anything that compromised mobility ran up against another kind of selection pressure. Thus the hominin genome and then the human genome had to do a juggling act between multiple conflicting needs for several million years - the need for ever-bigger brains, ever-wider hips for the females, and getting around efficiently on two feet. One genome also has to handle all the dimorphism - making sure the males get the traits they need while the females get the traits they need. But in reality, genetic diversity means humans exhibit distributions for many traits (and often the distributions are approximately normal). Therefore some women will be better suited than others to giving birth. This is exactly what you would not expect an omni-God3 to arrange, but which makes a lot more sense in light of mindless and indifferently cruel evolution. See my earlier post, For God So Loved the Whales for more examples of how unintelligently and uncompassionately we are designed. In that post I drew from Abby Hafer’s marvelous book The Not-So-Intelligent Designer: Why Evolution Explains the Human Body and Intelligent Design Does Not which among other godly goofs describes the horrors of pre-technological human childbearing in grisly detail.

We can’t really blame the bible authors for making uninformed guesses about why humans are the way they are. These writers were ancient men who didn’t understand reality very well. They didn’t even know where the Sun goes at night.4 But no modern human has a strong excuse5 for continuing to be fooled by ancient misconceptions, etiological myths, and just-so-stories. In sharp contrast to the simpler (and typically shorter) lives of the ancients, modern humans mostly lead lives that would be impossible without modern science. To pick just one example, about half of the protein in human bodies today came from the Haber-Bosch process of artificial nitrogen fixation. (Without the resulting artificial fertilizers, perhaps half of the existing human population would have to gradually die, unless humans were to get a whole lot better at recycling the fixed nitrogen present in our own bodily wastes. However, even understanding how to do that safely still requires science that ancient humans did not have, such as the germ theory of disease.) No modern human should reject modern science in favor of biblical just-so stories, but many do, thanks to various psychological and cultural causes.

The universe as revealed by God to ancient Hebrews
The universe as revealed by God to ancient Hebrews

  1. As anatomically modern humans spread out of Africa beginning perhaps 70,000 years ago, they took with them newly-developed and novel hunting techniques, the likes of which the megafauna (large animals) outside of Africa had never before seen. Unlike the animals of Africa, which evolved alongside humans and had time to adapt, the largest land species in the rest of the world were practically defenseless. And so paleontologists have mapped a wave of megafaunal extinctions on all the other land masses that humans reached which are suspiciously timed shortly after the first anatomically modern humans arrived in each place - Europe, Asia, Australia, the Americas, New Zealand, Madagascar, etc.↩︎

  2. For any fans of the felon who may take offense, note carefully that I wrote “at least”. Which means I literally made no claim about what happens inside of Trump rallies. For that I defer to Jordan Klepper who has recorded several videos showcasing the towering intellects who flock to such events.↩︎

  3. See the John W. Loftus anthology God and Horrendous Suffering, and his eponymous blog post, for more about the problems of trying to square a common Christian understanding of a caring God with the considerably grimmer reality we experience.↩︎

  4. For the details of ancient Hebrew cosmology, which lives on in today’s Hebrew Bible (the Old Testament to Christians), see Chapter 4: “Christianity and Cosmology”, by Victor J. Stenger, in the John W. Loftus anthology, Christianity in the Light of Science: Critically Examining the World’s Largest Religion. Also see the Wikipedia articles Ancient near eastern cosmology, Firmament, Biblical cosmology, and Jewish cosmology. The history of what self-proclaimed men of God once thought about God’s alleged creation is rather awkward today. This should not instill confidence in the accuracy of divine revelation as a way of knowing.↩︎

  5. OK, as we learned from Robert Sapolsky’s book Determined: A Science of Life Without Free Will, nothing is quite really anyone’s fault. Everything that happens, including everything we do, is fully determined by what happened before. And most of what happened to us before was not under our control. However, contemporary humans living lives of comparative privilege in the developed nations have easy access to the hard-won facts of science, which makes excusing instances of modern willful ignorance (or motivated reasoning) seem harder than excusing the unavoidable ignorance of the ancients. Modern ignorance is also far easier to correct, since we have modern science making its case every day by showering us with technological goodies such as smartphones and vaccines. For some reason smartphones have gotten a better reception - there are some anti-vaxxers, but no similarly organized movement against smartphones. However, not even anti-vaxxers volunteer to have themselves deliberately infected by a resurrected strain of smallpox, a deadly scourge eradicated by the very vaccination technology they disparage. Given that smallpox used to kill a large fraction of humanity, there are probably some anti-vaxxers who are only alive today because of vaccine technology, which saved either them or their ancestors. Unfortunately, science hasn’t yet found a way to impart scientific knowledge to everyone. Humans still have to learn science. Modern humans still learn in much the same way as paleolithic humans once learned - by relying almost entirely on our evolved brains to slowly and painstakingly collect and assimilate new information. We can haul our brains across oceans in fossil-fueled airplanes at nearly the speed of sound (to the detriment of Earth’s habitable climate), but our brains themselves are not materially much better than the brains of cave men, although some modern brains contain some better ideas now. Learning science continues to require years of hard mental work, and humans are differently able or inclined to do the work. It’s similar to learning to play the guitar, for which some people are clearly more talented than others, and which not everyone is equally inclined to pursue. Therefore, while many people consume the material benefits of science, fewer people adopt the scientific habits of mind which yielded the material benefits, such as evidentialism and critical thinking. At the barest minimum, a competent modern human should have some grasp on a philosophy of expertise, understanding that everyone must defer to experts on a vast array of things we don’t all have time or ability to fully master. That doesn’t mean that every expert is always correct, just that experts are more likely to be correct within the scope of their expertise than a non-expert would be on the same subjects. If you subscribe to a belief that requires virtually all the relevant experts to be wrong, such as young Earth creationism, or its political repackaging as intelligent design creationism, you’re way out on a flimsy cognitive limb.↩︎

The Evolution of God from Yahweh in a Box to the Super Mega Deity of the Universe


The God of modern Christian theology is a philosophically supercharged God far removed from the physically limited and dimwitted Yahweh whose identity has as much in common as a horse and buggy does with a Lamborghini Aventador LP 700-4.   Ironically, Christian apologists such has WL Craig totally ignore this primitive and limited tribal God in favor of the easy to defend modern concept of a nameless figure that has evolved from the New Testament whose image is rooted in the pagan Classical Tradition. (1)

 When a person “becomes a Christian”, it’s not the ancient Near Eastern tribal Yahweh they are presented with, but a slick modern super deity with few links to the Old Testament . . . known simply as God with a capital “G” who is really an anthology of Classical pagan attributes taken on after having absorbed the myths of other ancient Near Eastern Semitic gods.  This apologetically hopped up deity which grew out of the ideals of Neo-Platonism is constantly gathering apologetic power be they from the Summa Theological concepts of Thomas Aquinas to Karl Rahner’s Systematic Catholic Theology to Barth’s Protestant Church Dogmatics and on to Alfred North Whitehead’s Processed Reality.  The evolution of God is now considerably much like the woman Lucy in the current hit movie of the same title or a God who continues to acquire any philosophical protection the best apologists can mentally bestow upon him.

Christian McDumb Defends Creationism


Christian McDumb, attorney at law, may seem like just another dime-a-dozen litigation lawyer from the South, but he’s much, much more! Author of “One billion and one reasons why Archaeopteryx is just a bird and Lucy is just an ape,” “The Face of Jesus on Mars,” and “The Verdict Is In: T-rex was on the ark,” McDumb holds a “BS” degree in precisely that. He is making waves in the world today. As a proud defender of the Intelligent Design Movement (a.k.a. creationism), he donates his time and abilities to skillfully bootlegging his Lord Jesus Christ into the classrooms of America through the court systems of our land.

McDumb’s greatest joys are when states like Kansas (which happens to be his favorite state) accept creationism, and when science textbooks have disclaimers put in them that deride evolution and science. McDumb boldly writes “scientific” pamphlets that use big, scientific-sounding words, like “probability,” “hypothesis,” “postulate,” and “irreducible complexity,” and he is always careful to leave the word “God” out of these pamphlets so that they have a better chance of being seen as scientific by an infidel judge.

McDumb was crushed, devastated in fact, when the ID movement suffered a great setback in Dover, Pennsylvania in 2005. He and his best friend Pat Robertson didn’t know what to do with themselves when that dark, dark day came over our nation. Handkerchiefs in hand, they stood united and strong, pronouncing God’s judgment on the wicked city of Dover. And McDumb keeps on fighting the good fight. He is stubborn and has a gift from God for not knowing when to quit.

He is a smooth operator. He says things like, “Teach your children they come from monkeys and they will act like monkeys.” He makes arguments against evolution, like, “If evolution is true, why are monkeys still around today?” He understands perfectly well that evolution must be fought, for if not combated, it will lead to homosexuality, the most heinous and blasphemous sin in the eyes of all his friends—churchgoing Republicans over the age of 45.

When McDumb gets wound up, it’s hard to slow him down. He’s a sharp cookie, making powerful arguments in debate. Atheists run from him like Mercedes-driving sophomores from Virginia Tech. He tells them: “You haven’t found the missing link yet!” Then he asks tough questions like, “What good is half an eye?” McDumb knows his stuff, especially about halves and monkey-men. “Show me an ape/man, Mr. Evolutionist! You can’t, can you?” He knows that if evolution were true, there would be half-ape/half-men everywhere…and also half-mosquitoes/half-elephants, half-crocodiles/half-zebras, and half-gnats/half-brontosauruses. This subject is deep for McDumb and it took him the better part of a year to struggle through the issue of why there isn’t a half-broccoli/half-pregnant woman, but I suppose that’s another matter. So the next time you DON’T see a half-mollusk/half-eagle, you’ll know why! It’s because God created everything in wholes. If the cosmos had evolved, there’d be halves of every combination of things in the universe!

McDumb is open-minded too, just as he is intellectually keen; he goes before a judge and argues passionately that ID is not about God or religion in any way, and then he stresses that the designer of the universe could have been anything…but not an alien race or any non-eternal entity because that only begs the question of who created them, so he’s right back to assigning God as the creator! So McDumb is trying to get God into the classrooms, even though he says he’s not but is only trying to teach an alternative scientific theory!

Now McDumb says he’s open-minded, but he can’t be too open-minded; he tells the judges and the large audiences he addresses that he just wants all sides of the debate to be heard, that he wants more information put out there so that everyone can make an informed decision about their origins, but when asked if he’d like Astrology to be taught in schools alongside Astronomy, he declined because that doesn’t agree with his beliefs.

Well, OK, so maybe McDumb isn’t always fair or consistent, but God loves the McDumbs of this world—the McDummies, as they are called. McDummies are not ashamed to defend The Nazarene through devious means. They are good soldiers for Jesus. They’ll tread right into the heart of enemy territory to bring victory for the Lord, so they really don’t care if anyone likes them or not, especially non-churchgoing scientists in white coats with real degrees.

As for McDumb, he will persevere. The spirit of Michael Behe carries him on. He sleeps with a copy of Darwin’s Black Box under his pillow at night. McDumb’s other heroes, Sean Hannity and Michael Medved, pave the way for him. What would Jesus do without the McDummies of this world?


You Don't Need Faith to Believe The Principle of Evolution


Rev. 1. Added link to Evolution 101 podcast.
This is a recent comment in one of the previous articles. It is a frequently offered claim that I want to take a moment to address as an article instead of a comment.
"....when one considers the amount of atheist faith required to believe the scientific theories regarding evolution in light of the absence of any eyewitness, the sort of Christian faith regarding inspired writings shouldn't be all that bizarre....."

People don't need faith to believe the principle of evolution. Scientists are doing experiments using it in labs and observing it in real time in nature. Heres a link to to explore it a little further. Our friend Benny highly recommends this site.

When you have a principle about how something works, you don't need faith, just logic and reasoning to make the inference that allows you to make reliable predictions about the outcome.

For example, I am sure you don't need faith to know that if you leave the bag in your cereal box open the cereal will get stale do you? No, because you know, in principle, that leaving the bag open will facilitate its going stale. In the case where you have a friend make a bowl of cereal for you and you find that it is stale, you can reasonably presume, based on principle, that the bag was left open. Furthermore, you don't need to believe god made them go stale because you know there is a natural mechanism that causes it. And you don't need to be able to describe in detail how the mechanism works to understand it, you just need to know the principle. In this way you can happily go about knowing this principle and using it to make decisions about other things like applying it to your triscuits or a birthday cake. It also helps you to understand with little extra information why you may find a little package of dessicant in something that is vulnerable to damage from moisture and you may even go so far as to properly infer that it is vulnerable to damage from moisture without anyone telling you. In this way you acquire knowledge and build on it to make decisions and acquire more knowledge. As you make inferences you need to watch to see if your inferences are correct, if they are then you can repeat the process of using them to make decisions and acquire more knowledge.

In my view this is just common sense, and basically, the scientific method is just common sense formalized.

If you use common sense on the Bible and try to make predictions or gain knowledge using the principles about God in the bible, or about the state of the world back in the day, there is a lot of room for doubt. If you don't believe it, just ask any theologian.

Recommended Resources
* Evolution 101 podcast, or you can find it in iTunes.

Framing Science and Atheism for the Public

A bit of a bomb has gone off in the blogosphere. I refrained from posting earlier on the precursor -- the "framing" debate sparked by a Science article and discussed at length here -- but I think there are sufficient disparate issues at play here to tie together into one coherent argument. My argument is simple: people are talking past each other because of a lack of focus. Now, the same issue hit the WaPo, and the blogosphere is buzzin' again.

The larger issue is fundamentalist religion, plain and simple. In Chris Mooney's own words,
In the Post, we focus on one of the most obvious examples of badly framing the defense of evolution--tying it to criticism of religion. Richard Dawkins is the most prominent example in this regard, and we single him out accordingly. I want to emphasize that I grew up on Dawkins' books; they really helped me figure out who I am. But nevertheless, over the past several years I've grown increasingly convinced that his is emphatically not the way to make many Americans (people very different from me) more accepting of science.
It isn't only defenders of science who feel the way Mooney and Nisbet do -- humanists and freethinkers have recently decried "angry atheists who hold down our movement".
While some progressive Christians maintain that Christ was divine, they nevertheless manage to agree with us on principles of human rights, reason and science. If we refuse to build alliances with people who do not agree with us on every single issue, we will never be strong enough to stand up to the Religious Right.
The media, by its nature, interviews figures whose views are diametrically opposed. News has morphed into entertainment, and the masses cry for gladiators of words and ideas to step into the ring and let mental blood. Sophisticated viewpoints don't conform to soundbytes. Therefore, why waste a perfectly good 30-second interview on an atheist who refuses to call names and instead wants to discuss transcendental arguments for a god's existence?

When Elaine Pagels was interviewed by Salon, we see this common theme resurface:
What do you make of the recent claim by the atheist Richard Dawkins that the existence of God is itself a scientific question? If you accept the idea that God intervenes in the physical world, don't there have to be physical mechanisms for that to happen? Therefore, doesn't this become a question for science?

Well, Dawkins loves to play village atheist. He's such a rationalist that the God that he's debunking is not one that most of the people I study would recognize. I mean, is there some great big person up there who made the universe out of dirt? Probably not.

Are you saying that part of the problem here is the notion of a personal God? Has that become an old-fashioned view of religion?

I'm not so sure of that. I think the sense of actual contact with God is one that many people have experienced. But I guess it's a question of what kind of God one has in mind.

So when you think about the God that you believe in, how would you describe that God?

Well, I've learned from the texts I work on that there really aren't words to describe God. You spoke earlier about a transcendent reality. I think it's certainly true that these are not just fictions that we arbitrarily invent.

Certainly many people talk about God as an ineffable presence. But if you try to explain what transcendence is, can you put that into words and explain what it means?

People have put it into words, but the words are usually metaphors or poems or hymns. Even the word "God" is a metaphor, or "the son of God," or "Father." They're all simply images for some other order of reality.
I own two of Pagels' books. I respect her scholarship greatly, but she seems to have missed a very large point: Dawkins (and Harris) are aiming for exactly the sort of god that is most dangerous to believe in, and the one that the overwhelming majority of anti-scientific anti-gay bigots cling to. Dawkins doesn't put the intelligentsia in his sights because they are not the ones whose stance against science has led to the current stem cell veto, and the battles over teaching sound biology. These Christian academics instead resort to, *gasp*, reasonable and long discourses.

She mentioned Dawkins as "village atheist," and this same term was reserved for him by Novak in his recent "Lonely Atheists of the Global Village." Novak is no dummy, and I commented a month ago that I was looking forward to reading this. In fact, I enjoyed reading this article, and then a couple more, especially his response to Heather McDonald's article in TAS in November. The exchange was typical of the sort of dialectic that doesn't make newspaper headlines and can't seem to find its way into a split-screen on FauxNews. It was complex and engaging to someone who honestly wants to learn.

Some Christians have already commented on Novak's new article, but without in-depth analysis. I agree with both he and Pagels on some of their criticisms regarding the shallow treatments given god(s) by Dawkins and Harris, as I've said previously, but Novak, especially, seems to dismiss Dennett very lightly, which I find telling. Those who try to lump Dennett in with Dawkins and Harris are those who haven't read the books. His critiques are philosophical and scientific in nature, not polemical, and not directed at any one particular religion.

There is a tension between the god of the philosophers and the god of the layman, and I think it has always been there. When I say that I'm an atheist, for example, I don't mean towards an abstract concept of "the grounding of existence" or "the nexus of causality" or "the first cause". While the "tri-omni" god is beyond my capacity to believe or findreasonable, these rather abstruse theological ideas I constantly engage my faculties in contemplation of -- I am a freethinker, after all. While I'm an atheist towards Yahweh, and Zeus, and Thor...etc., and while I think there are adequate responses to many philosophical arguments for theism, I find some of them lacking, especially with respect to cosmology and those along moral lines (not that I find the religious alternatives on the latter subject any more coherent). There are a lot of atheists who completely disregard philosophical arguments for a god's existence, and think that the Todd Friels of the world represent the best of intellectual Christianity. That's unfortunate.

I agree completely with PZ and Larry Moran that atheists and scientists must continue to criticize superstition and fantastical thinking in order to preserve scientific knowledge in our culture. If we muzzled our "angry" and "militant" voices, then the angry, militant fundamentalist Christians and Jews and Muslims would gladly step into the void. They would love nothing more. And I agree with them that appeasement has not worked. These people believe any ground-giving to science is "compromise," punishable by brimstone. But the question I want to ask is whether we should consider religious liberals and moderates our friends, and refrain from insulting them, as PZ thoughtlessly does to Ken Miller in that latest response.

The sorts of people that we need Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris for are the Falwells of our culture: the unthinking lynch-mobs whose readiness to rapture lauds them (they're showing 'great faith!') in ignoring the perils facing our grandchildren. The sorts of people who use deceit and fraud and millions of dollars to erode our civil liberties into their vision of theocracy and oppose sound science education because their small brains can't encompass the theologians' alternatives, or Gould's NOMA.

I also agree with Elaine Pagels and Michael Novak -- we cannot paint religion with such a broad brush as to attack all forms of religiosity and call names and hold to the old, insulting phraseologies ("reality-based community" and "I live by reason" are tacit insults). We must remind ourselves that there are voices of reason in the religious community, no matter how silly we feel some of their views are. And the Pagels of the world are those we atheists and we scientists need to sit down and have more discussion with. If that happened, there would be a great deal more respect on each side of the fence.

While Pagels (and intellectuals like her) are focused on getting the fundies to grow their brains a little to encompass the more sophisticated aspects of theology, and PZ et al on getting the fundies to stop their anti-scientific crusades, perhaps they could realize that 'the enemy of my enemy is my friend'. Perhaps more honest discussion between the "evangelical", "uppity", "angry" and "militant" atheists and liberal/moderate Christians would yield a rich reward in finding the assistance we can afford each other in reaching mutual goals.

I want to "frame" science and atheism together, because that's my perspective. But I want to hear every possible (logical) framing as well -- I also want to hear and have heard Elaine Pagels' view of evolution from a theologian's perspective. Am I saying I want her teaching biology courses? Of course not. I want her views heard in the same media mine are, and PZ's, and Dawkins --in the 'sphere, or the MSM. The creationist hordes need to have their stupid false dichotomy (my version of Christianity or atheism) irreparably damaged by the critical words of god-believing theologians. The demagogues like Falwell and Pat "Midas Touch" Robertson hold sway over the sheep precisely because of the false picture they present --that their own views of God are the only/most valid. When more Christians see that the huge majority of scholarly Christians are moderate or liberal in their theological views, and especially towards Genesis (sometimes they find this out with much chagrin), perhaps more credence will be given to evolutionary biology, and this would be a win for "both sides". Or perhaps no change will be affected.

Let's face it: we're both minorities and we're both intellectually-centered. Our common enemy is the anti-intellectual, theocratically-wet-dreaming, rampantly superstitious Christian/Muslim/Jewish right that work tirelessly to render America into Jesus' Iran -- replete with a new "creation-based science" and the conversion of our secular institutions into "godly" ones. They're a huge voter bloc, well-organized and well-funded.

We need all the friends we can make in our "coalition of the unwilling" -- those quite unwilling to participate in theocracy or pseudoscience at our species' own peril.

Did Darwin Lead to Hitler?

Ed Brayton at Dispatches from the Cultural Wars recently wrote about the supposed connection between Darwin and Hitler. He concluded: The bottom line, and I do not think I'm being too strident in using this language, is that this simplistic "Darwin led to Hitler" thesis is laughably ridiculous. It simply cannot be taken seriously by anyone with even a minimal amount of historical knowledge and the ability to reason. See here.