[eDebate] ans Bryson

Michael Korcok mmk_savant
Thu Apr 10 18:03:00 CDT 2008


Bryson starts by calling my arguments a "demagoguery of ignorance."  Not promising.  Also not what demagoguery means.
 
**********
BRYSON:  
Korcok says: John states: "I believe in the God of the Old Testament and the New. They are one and the same." 
This is pretty ambiguous. There is a multitude of religious commitments which fit within this statement, ranging from Orthodox Catholicism to Evangelical Protestantism to Liberation Theology to a Generalized Christianity. Not all of these assemblages of beliefs commit to belief in nonexistent entities, at least not explicitly. Many do. I won't address your particular beliefs since I still don't know what they are
 
John was stating his beliefs, not making an argument.  In other words, he was clarifying his position for you?and then you go and insult him, just like you said you wouldn?t do.  Classy?
 
MY ANSWER:  Where in that do I insult Foy?  I don't call him names, I don't derogate him in any way, I don't even criticize him, much less insult him.  That you don't explain where you read an "insult" is not promising.
 
All I said was that I don't know what Foy believes.  Tell you what, Bryson.  You tell me:  Does Foy believe that Noah's flood occurred?  That Jesus was born of a virgin, was the Son of God, walked on water, and came back to life after being crucified?  Does Foy believe that the Bible is literally true?  Does Foy believe that Yahweh created the world in 6 days?
 
SYNOPSIS:  How did I insult Foy?  If Bryson thinks he knows what Foy believes, he should spell it out for us.
 
********** 
BRYSON:
Next Korcok says: I hope you reject any beliefs that contradict the facts as best we can discern them. One such example is the Age of the Earth. A literal interpretation of the Bible concludes that Creation and the Earth are about 6,000 years old. That is the result of adding up the ages of the lineage, plainly stated, of Jesus. The scientific evidence is that the Earth is about 4.54 billion years old and the universe is 13.73 billion years. I hope you side with science and not with the divine text? Heliocentrism, evolution, the Noachian Flood, the origins of life and of humans are other examples in this vein. 
 
Very many Americans side with literal interpretations of the Bible rather than with science. The National Academy of Sciences reported in 2006 that fully 1/4 of Americans believe that the Sun revolves around the Earth. You read that right. They believe in what their Holy text says, that the Earth is fixed and unmoving in the center of the all creation. Science thought it won this one 400 years ago in the time of Galileo, but religious institutions make religious beliefs stick no matter the facts. And it isn't just that Americans are scientifically illiterate by nature. A large part of that is because of religion
 
)  You?re an idiot.
 
MY ANSWER: Nice.  I have not insulted you in any manner.  This is not the respectful, honest discussion I was hoping to have with John Foy.
 
SYNOPSIS: ...
 
***
BRYSON:
)  No link: Okay ? of all Americans are stupid and don?t know that the Earth revolves around the Sun.  And?  You extrapolate out of thin air that the believe this due to religion. 
 
MY ANSWER: Those are the TWO pieces of evidence in my original post that YOU DO NOT INCLUDE.  Here they are again with the LINK highlighted.
 
The broad point has been made many times: one example of a recent study is by Morgan and Sternke presented at the American Sociological Association last year entitled "The Effects Of Religiosity On Attitudes Towards Science And Biomedical Research: A Structural Equation Model Analysis."  The authors conclude:"Findings indicate that Religiosity has a strong negative impact on attitudes about science in general. Both Religiosity and attitudes about science were found to have strong negative effects on attitudes about biomedical research."  Professor Jon Miller of Michigan State has done some of the most respected research in scientific literacy.  His 2004 surveys found out why the US scores lower than every other developed country except Turkey:"When the question about evolution was prefaced by ?according to the theory of evolution,? 74% answered true; only 42% answered true when it was not. Similarly, 62% agreed with the prefaced question about the big bang, but only 33% agreed when the prefatory phrase was omitted. These differences probably indicate that many Americans hold religious beliefs that cause them to be skeptical of established scientific ideas, even when they have some basic familiarity with those ideas."
Remember those, Bryson?  Furthermore, you seem to have forgotten that the Catholic Church fought heliocentrism by putting Galileo on trial about 400 years ago because he dared to claim that the Earth was NOT the Center of all Creation.
SYNOPSIS: 2 cards: 1 makes the general claim "religiosity has a strong negative impact on attitudes about science" and the other points out that "Americans hold religious beliefs that cause them to be skeptical of established scientific ideas, even when they have some basic familiarity with those ideas."  Both cards DISAPPEAR in Bryson's response.
 
***
BRYSON:
)  As a religious scholar, or dear Michael, please show me where in the Bible it says anything about the Earth revolving around the Sun?  It?s true that this was once a part of Catholic dogma, but it wasn?t based on Scripture?it was extrapolation, out of thin air almost.
 
MY ANSWER:  It doesn't say ANYWHERE in the Bible that the Earth revolves around the Sun.  Don't you think that Yahweh the all-knowing might have mentioned that fact to any one of his holy henchmen at some point?  But the Bible DOES say, at times rather DIRECTLY that the Earth is fixed and unmoving at the Center of Creation.  Here are a few examples:
 
Psalms 93:1 "Yea, the world is established, it shall never be moved."  
1 Samuel 2:8 "For the pillars of the earth are the Lord?s, and on them he has set the world."
Joshua 10:12-14 ?Then spoke Joshua to the Lord in the day when the Lord gave the Amorites over to the men of Israel; and he said in the sight of Israel, ?Sun, stand thou still at Gibeon, and thou Moon in the valley of Aijalon.?  And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the nation took vengeance on their enemies.  Is this not written in the Book of Jashar?  The sun stayed in the midst of heaven, and did not hasten to go down for about a whole day.  There has been no day like it before or since, when the Lord hearkened to the voice of a man; for the Lord fought for Israel.?
 
Now, before you begin arguing how that plain text doesn't really mean what it says, pause and understand how those words were interpreted by EVERYONE before Copernicus and Galileo proved them false.  Doctor of the Church Robert Cardinal Bellarmine wrote on April 12, 1615 that:
 
?To affirm that the sun really is fixed in the center of the heavens...and the earth... revolves with great speed around the sun, is a very dangerous thing? by injuring our holy faith and rendering the Holy Scriptures false... And if Your Reverence would read not only the Fathers but also the commentaries of modern writers on Genesis, Psalms, Ecclesiastes, and Josue, you would find that all agree in explaining (ad litteram) that the sun is in the heavens and moves swiftly around the earth, and that the earth is far from the heavens and stands immobile in the center of the universe.  Now consider whether the Church could encourage giving to Scripture a sense contrary to the holy Fathers and all the Latin and Greek commentators... I add the words ?the sun also riseth and the sun goeth down, and hasteneth to the place where he ariseth, etc.? were those of Solomon, who not only spoke by divine inspiration but was a man wise above all others and most learned in human sciences and in the knowledge of all created things, and his wisdom was from God.  Thus it is not too likely that he would affirm something which was contrary to a truth either already demonstrated, or likely to be demonstrated.?
 
And it wasn't just the Cardinal that convinced the Church to imprison Galileo for claiming that the Earth revolved around the Sun.   The Holy Father himself, Pope Urban VIII, decreed in condemnation of Galileo Galilei on June 22, 1633 that:
 
?We say, pronounce, sentence and declare that you, the said Galileo...have rendered yourself in the judgment of this Holy office vehemently suspected of heresy, namely, of having believed and held the doctrine which is false and contrary to the Sacred and Divine Scriptures, that the sun is the center of the world and does not move from east to west and that the earth moves and is not the center of the world...after it has been declared and defined as contrary to Holy Scripture...From which we are content that you be absolved, provided that...you abjure, curse, and detest before us the aforesaid errors and heresies and every other error and heresy contrary to the Catholic and Apostolic Roman Church.?
 
The idea that the Earth moved was so obviously contrary to the text of the Bible that the Church BANNED any mention of the idea.  Pope Alexander VII in his 1665 revisions to his Bull, the Speculatores Dominus Israel, banned  
 
"all books and any booklets, periodicals, compositions, consultations, letters, glosses, opuscula, speeches, replies, treatises, whether printed or in manuscript, containing and treating the following subjects or about the following subjects?the mobility of the earth and the immobility of the sun."
 
As worthy a scholar as you no doubt are, you ain't Cardinal Bellarmine, Pope Urban VIII, or Pope Alexander VII as a scriptural authority.
 
So this argument is clear.  In this day and age, 24% of Americans believe that the Sun revolves around the Earth and not vice versa.  The only plausible explanation for that is what the Bible clearly tells them.  It does no good for you, 400 years AFTER the evidence was conclusive, to claim that it was a merely a misinterpretation of the Bible.  The Church knew just how damaging it was that the facts plainly contradicted the Bible.
 
SYNOPSIS:  yes, the Bible does claim the Earth is at the center, fixed and unmoving.  There was a near-universal consensus of that before science proved it to be false.  Now, it is all posing and pretending that the Bible didn't really say it.
 
***
BRYSON:
) Yes, the literal interpretation of the age of the Earth dating from Adam and Eve being thrown out of the Garden of Eden to present day is about 6,000 years.  Here?s your problem: Adam and Eve lived on Earth before they were thrown out of Eden (read your Bible young Mike).  How long were they in Eden before being cast out?  That?s right?you spoke before you thought.  I?m sure Dr. Warner will forgive you.
 
MY ANSWER:  Yeesh.  This is terrible apologetics.  
 
You clean dropped the Worldwide Flood 4,500 years ago that wiped out everything not on Noah's Ark.  Just ignoring that one, are we Bryson?  The trouble with ignoring it is that, according to a 2004 ABC NEWS/Primetime poll, 60% of US residents believe the story of Noah's Ark is literally true.  Despite the overwhelming scientific evidence that no such worldwide Deluge ever occurred.
 
But there is great evidence your answer is a just-so story.  No one believed that until science showed that the original "creation-week, short time in Eden, then the boot" was clearly silly.  Once science proved otherwise, the scramble for ad hoc just-so stories was on.  There is a TON of evidence of Homo sapiens sapiens habitation of Earth before 10,000 years ago.  In fact, there are numerous excavations of European villages from both before and after the Last Glacial Maximum which lasted from 20,000 to 10,000 years ago.  The Ethiopian Afar triangle region has numerous excavations indicating a sequence of primate and human habitations that stretches back almost 6 million years.  Recently, fossils from a new subspecies, now considered our immediate Homo ancestral species, Homo sapiens idaltu were discovered in the Ethiopian Afar triangle.
 
To answer your question directly, I am guessing you think Adam and Eve hung out in Eden for 200,000 years, which is what DNA analysis indicates as the age of Homo sapiens sapiens?  Or were Adam and Eve a Homo sapiens idaltu couple which might push their stay in Eden back to 400,000 or so years?  Or were they one of the earliest Homo species, beginning their occupancy about 2.5 million years?  
 
Isn't it shocking to you that the Bible, the Divine word of the all-knowing God has not a single mention of DNA, chromosomes, or even cells?  Not a peep about Homo erectus or Homo antecessor?  What, did Yahweh just not want to tell any of his seers, prophets, and holymen any understanding they couldn't get for themselves given their technological abilities?  You do understand the obvious explanation is God didn't tell anyone about DNA because God does not exist?
 
SYNOPSIS: Bryson ignores that the Bible spells out in detail a worldwide Deluge which covered the entire planet above the highest mountaintop, wiping out every terrestrial species not on Noah's Ark about 4,500 years ago.  Then he posits an ad-hoc just-so story to try to explain an obvious falsehood in the Bible.  But the Bible's failure to include any mention of basic facts (discovered by science) reveals it as the product of men whose knowledge was limited to the times in which they lived rather than the product of an omniscient being speaking to them.
 
*****
BRYSON:
Then Korcok says:
The portions of science in friction with specific religious commitments are also undermined by religious belief. The National Science Foundation has known for years that Americans score miserably in tests about knowledge of evolution and universal origins. They point out in their Science and Engineering Indicators 2008 that: "In international comparisons, U.S. scores on two science knowledge questions are significantly lower than those in almost all other countries where the questions have been asked. Americans were less likely to answer true to the following scientific knowledge questions: "human beings, as we know them today, developed from earlier species of animals" and "the universe began with a huge explosion."
 
Korcock, please read your own evidence.  This ?card? doesn?t even have the word ?religion? in it.  In fact, neither does the source that follows this one that you use.  C?mon!
 
MY ANSWER:  Just amazing.  Hey, Bryson, the card you SKIPPED, pretending it wasn't there, the card JUST BEFORE the one you tweaked said:
 
The broad point has been made many times: one example of a recent study is by Morgan and Sternke presented at the American Sociological Association last year entitled "The Effects Of Religiosity On Attitudes Towards Science And Biomedical Research: A Structural Equation Model Analysis."  The authors conclude:
"Findings indicate that Religiosity has a strong negative impact on attitudes about science in general. Both Religiosity and attitudes about science were found to have strong negative effects on attitudes about biomedical research." 
 
The card AFTER this one, which you ALSO SKIPPED, also tried to MAKE DISAPPEAR said:
 
Professor Jon Miller of Michigan State has done some of the most respected research in scientific literacy.  His 2004 surveys found out why the US scores lower than every other developed country except Turkey:
"When the question about evolution was prefaced by ?according to the theory of evolution,? 74% answered true; only 42% answered true when it was not. Similarly, 62% agreed with the prefaced question about the big bang, but only 33% agreed when the prefatory phrase was omitted. These differences probably indicate that many Americans hold religious beliefs that cause them to be skeptical of established scientific ideas, even when they have some basic familiarity with those ideas."
 
And just in case this is a cognitive issue with these 2 particular pieces of evidence, here are the results of a survey by Dr. Miller published in the August 11, 2006 issue of Science:
 
"Only adults in Turkey, a predominantly Muslim nation, were less likely to accept the concept of evolution than American adults.

The data for the 32 European countries were collected by the European Commission using primarily personal interviews. The Japan data were collected in 2001 by personal interview. The U.S. data were collected by Miller using Knowledge Networks, an online national sample of households selected on a probability basis. All of the interview and online data in the 34 countries were weighted to reflect actual population distributions and are comparable across countries.

There were several reasons for these inflated U.S. numbers. Miller said the most significant factor was the influence of fundamentalist religions.

?The total effect of fundamentalist religious beliefs on attitude toward evolution was nearly twice as much in the United States,? he said, ?which indicates that individuals who hold a strong belief in a personal God ? and who pray frequently ? were significantly less likely to view evolution as probably or definitely true than adults with less conservative religious views.?
 
SYNOPSIS:  Bryson wants to know where the LINK is, but the TWO pieces of evidence that he tries to DISAPPEAR state that LINK plainly.  It isn't that he doesn't think the link is good enough, its that he just WISHES IT OUT OF EXISTENCE.
 
***
BRYSON:
He goes on to say:
The oppressive part is more about institutions than it is about individuals. The less important part, for me, is that religious belief gets translated into oppressive social policies. 
The Bible, in both the Old and the New Testament, for example, calls homosexuality a sin punishable by death. Very many people read that and translate it into social policy which makes millions miserable.
 
1)      Non-unique: So did fascism, which also rejected religion in its logical conclusion.
2)      The Chinese (Communists) don?t look too favorably on it either.
3)      People kill and are violent and oppressive because of ideals just as much as they are for religion.  You?re not making fair arguments Korcok and you have bad evidence.  Try again.
 
MY ANSWER:
 
No, fascism did NOT reject religion and Bryson offers no evidence that it did.  In any case, fascism is detestable but man...  what kind of DEFENSE of the Bible is "fascism is just as bad."
 
The Chinese Communists have a long and monstrous history, having murdered many millions of their own citizens.  I am an atheist who despises Communism because it allows horrors through a collectivist ideology that are produced by religious belief in non-Communist societies.  
 
Yes, misguided ideals, prejudices, and hatreds can and do exist quite apart from religious belief.  We can rationally argue about and critically examine our actions and policies in an attempt to control domination and oppression.  But the HOLY BOOK, the WORD OF GOD tells you, as it does in Leviticus 20:13:
 
"If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads." 
 
There is no arguing with the WORD OF GOD telling you, straight out, KILL THE HOMOSEXUAL.
 
Finally, this argument is just bad.  I am NOT claiming that without religion there would be no horror.  My argument was that "religious belief gets translated into oppressive social policies."  I want to add to that claim with:  and religious belief removes its dominations and oppressions from reasoned deliberation into the realm of DIVINE TRUTH, making them especially resistant to progress.
 
SYNOPSIS: The Bible tells us to kill homosexuals.  That is a major source of hatred against non-heterosexual persons.  Without religion we would still have to reason together to avoid the worst, but at least it wouldn't be GOD'S WORD.
 
***
BRYSON:
For one last try, Korcok says:
 
More importantly, from my perspective, is that religious belief makes you complicit in foundational oppressions and dominations. Whether in patriarchal family structures or in community relationships where leaders are the anointed of the God or in global religious institutions of massive wealth and privilege aggrandized by exploiting the poor.
 
1)      Non-unique: matriarchal family structures come out of religious beliefs too.
2)      Nazi Blood Rite: leaders were anointed with the blood of people killed in the Beer Hall Putzch.  This wasn?t religious, this was a belief system?.a political belief system.  Where is religion in that?
3)      Mother Theresa: Aren?t there plenty of religious people in the world who help people in need?  How are you helping the poor Mike?  Join the Peace Corps.
 
MY ANSWER:  Again, this is a terrible argument.  I did NOT claim that without religion, domination and oppression would disappear.  We would still have much work ahead of us to challenge and accept and undo domination and oppression.  My claim was a different one: religious belief participates in foundational oppression.  
 
As far as patriarchy and sexism are concerned, the Bible is MAN-LAW through and through.  God is Father not mother, King not queen, Lord not lady.  Ephesians 5:22-26 is just crystal, Mr. Bryson:
 
"?You wives will submit to your husbands as you do to the Lord. For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of his body, the church; He gave His life to be her Savior. As the church submits to Christ, so you wives must submit to your husbands in everything. And you husbands must love your wives with the same love Christ showed the church. He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by baptism and God's word?
 
We can rationally argue, you and I, whether it makes any sense to have a nuclear family, and if so, how to divide responsibilities and powers.  Well, until the WORD OF GOD tells us what's what.  Then, well...  
 
As far as power within communities is concerned, the Holy Man, Witchdoctor, Priest, Imam, and Rector all claim DIVINE authority over various parts of community life.  Whether that is a claim to special enlightenment or to divine guidance or to a direct line to God, this is a foundational domination and oppression.  One person is selected to be more than others by GOD.  Kings, Pharaohs, Emperors, Ayatollahs and Popes have all exerted their authorities over others because of religious belief.
 
True, Stalin, Mao, and Hitler didn't need religious belief to aggrandize insane control over individuals.  I am not claiming that absent religion, domination disappears.  My argument is that the discussion and deliberation about proper governance among persons could proceed without the DECREE OF HEAVEN.
 
My final example was the absurd amounts of wealth that religious institutions have leeched from their poor victims.  Mother Theresa doesn't begin to give back to the poor what the Church has taken from them.  Funny that you mention Mother Theresa, however.  She did her good works despite having lost her faith.  The book Mother Theresa: Come Be My Light by the Mother Theresa Center published her letters, despite her specific request that they be burned.  Your example, Mr. Bryson explains that she did her good works despite her unbelief:
 
?Lord, my God, who am I that You should forsake me? The child of your love---and now become as the most hated one?You have thrown away as unwanted?unloved?So many unanswered questions live within me afraid to uncover them?because of the blasphemy?If there be a God?please forgive me?I am told that God loves me, and yet the reality of darkness & coldness & emptiness is so great that nothing touches my soul.?
 
Your example of 1 person doesn't begin to answer the argument that religious institutions thrive by extorting money from their adherent/victims under threat of eternal damnation, many of whom are desperately poor to begin with.  They have amassed massive wealth doing that to people.
 
SYNOPSIS: Religion is not the ONLY reason for the existence of domination and oppression.  In its absence there would still be plenty of reasoning for us to do in the construction of a better world.   But when GOD tells you that women are to submit, that the Pope is God's representative on Earth, and that the Gates of Heaven have a steep toll, that is FOUNDATIONAL domination and oppression.
 
I want to close by offering an olive branch to Donald Bryson.  I have not called you any names or otherwise insulted you, I have tried to be respectful of you, and I have conducted myself honestly and reasonably.  I ask the same of you.
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