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Ken Ham takes his dogma for a walk


Periodically, the intellectual conflict between science and religion comes to a head in the form of a debate and the results of such debates are often quite interesting and lead into areas of enlightenment that are surprising. Those who say scientists should not take part in such debates are fascists, morons and idiots.

I classify myself a lapsed-Catholic agnostic atheist (that is someone who fundamentally does not believe in god, but as a good scientist cannot prove or disprove his/her non-existence, it’s a very good form of rhetorical macramé), as such the debate between Bill Nye, the Science Guy and Ken Ham CEO of the Creation Museum piqued my interest.

At 2½ hours it is quite a long debate, but you need to go through it all to get a real flavour of the thing, the excerpts simply do not do it justice. As you would expect, neither side expected to win over their opponents, but this was a genuine debate for serious stakes, with the minds of children in classrooms at stake.


In summary, although I felt both sides put their positions correctly, I felt that Ken Ham’s position as a creationist was laughably absurd to the point of being delusional. However, in the course of his debate, he made the following points which I thought were valid:

  • The debate on creationism is be stifled by academic prejudice
  • Many creationist scientists are afraid to express their viewpoints for fear of ridicule by the academic establishment
  • The term “evolution” has been hijacked by atheists when Darwin’s interpretation of it would be far closer to Ken Ham’s
  • Darwin was wrong about the hierarchy of humans as different varieties, with Caucasians at the top, we are the same species
  • Ken Ham warned of the dangers of educational apartheid if creationist viewpoints were excluded from the mainstream
  • In reference to Bill Nye’s arguments against creationist vegetarianism before “the fall” correctly illustrated several species that had sharp teeth, but were vegetarian (panda, etc.)
  • Argued that we cannot know the sophistication of shipbuilding technology at the time of Noah as little evidence remains
  • Pointed out that despite Bill Nye’s assertions to the contrary, the scientific community was actually very reluctant to overturn previous academic truths when faced with uncomfortable facts

However, there were various points where Ken Ham’s position was either simply untenable, ignored overwhelming scientific research or simply used selective data:

  • Selective use of data in relation to the diversity of dogs which ignored evolution from other species in favour of “kind”
  • Arbitrary distinction between “historical” and “observational” science
  • Misrepresented (admittedly badly done science) regarding a single instance of radioactive dating in petrified trees at a magma intrusion and attempt to use this single example to undermine all such dating methods
  • Fundamentally disagrees that radioactive decay rates are the same today as they were in the past, but does not say why
  • Continuously refers to the authority of both the bible and his own creationist experts without providing any basis for why we should accept such authority. Bill Nye repeatedly raised this
  • By definition, creationist views of pre-fall paradise (no change, no death, no sin) appear to contradict the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics! A point which Bill Nye parodies
  • Dissembling at whether he believes the bible is a literal truth
  • Came up with the classic piece of self-referential idiocy “It’s not the survival of the fittest, it’s the survival of those who survive!” – All of my What?

Not to pour scorn on Bill Nye, although he covered the science well, he missed several points to score a critical hit on Ken Ham and some of his arguments were poorly focussed. His main points which I felt were valid were:

  • Non-existence of higher, more complex organisms in lower strata
  • Post-flood dispersal of marsupials, specifically Kangaroos had left no fossil record evidence outside of Australia
  • Arguments against the technical infeasibility of the Ark by Noah and family, given relatively recent history of shipbuilding
  • Sheer logistics of 8 humans feeding between 2,000 and 7,000 animals for an expended period of time without replenishment
  • Inability of creationist models to make predictions, versus the capability of evolutionary science’s ability to do so successfully
  • How can “Fish be Sinners”? :-)
  • There is no scientific evidence of the flood at all. None. Period
  • Numerous and varied scientific methods all point to the world being older than 6,000 year (expansion of the universe, radioactive decay, sedimentary deposition rates, sea-floor spreading, radioactive dating, etc.)

Bill Nye failed to make his position clear or was rambling on numerous points which could have won the debate:

  • Illustration of sedimentary intrusion model was weak and inconclusive and could have occurred through other means such as turbulence from the flood :-)
  • Misrepresented or misunderstood Ken Ham’s position on “two of a kind”
  • At various points he attacked religion generally, rather than creationism specifically
  • Misrepresented or misunderstood Fred Hoyle’s viewpoint on the “Big Bang”
  • Misrepresented in an idealistic way how scientists deal with uncomfortable facts which overturn prevailing scientific theory


I felt that Ken Ham fought a good debate, but his arguments were fatally weakened by his refusal to acknowledge any argument or scientific data which conflicted with his creationist dogma. He appeared a genuine and decent guy with good presentation skills, but one who is living in a carefully constructed fantasy world that, like a house of cards could collapse around him at any moment and it was only the sheer exercise of will that prevented this.

Meanwhile, Bill Nye was Bill Nye the Science Guy.

Bill Nye on Creationism


  1. NickM says:

    Er,,, Well, the didtinction between historical and non-historical science is very real. I have seen Ham before on TV and he’s mental mind. The YECs tend to be. Having said all of that the evolutionary brigade seem very smug about their “synthesis”. They certainly squished Lynn Margulis in much the same way physics laughed at “many Worlds” QMech.

  2. John Galt says:

    Yes, but the point that Ken Ham was making was that if you couldn’t observe it now in the present or talk to someone who had observed it in the past, then you couldn’t prove when something happened.

    The artifice was purely a mechanism used to evade the issue of physical evidence which scientifically proves that the earth is more than 6,000 years old.

    Utterly delusional I tell you.

  3. RAB says:

    Two and a half hours??? Oh God!

  4. John Galt says:

    One of the advantages of not having a TV to numb my brain (that’s what beer is for) is that I can occasionally feast on a 2-1/2 hour internet debate as my time isn’t taken up with mindless MSM bullshit.

    Actually it’s quite interesting and funny in parts. At one point I thought Bill Nye’s head was going to explode, Ken Ham was just coming out with the most mind blowing “WUT!”.

    I Love Carrots

  5. NickM says:

    Why do ya think the Sid Meier Civ games start at 4000BC? Because that is when writing started. That is base-point. You think the date of the Biblical flood and the emergence of writing (now known as Twitter) are co-incidental? Nah! So it isn’t just physical evidence but historic stuff. Gilgamesh and Troy and Marduk such come from (roughly) the same kidney and it is all down to the step change in humanity that was writing. 105 keys, the truth and ADSL and all that.

    What is truly fascinating to me is that writing (and reading) didn’t just influence the writers or readers but also the illiterate. It changed human consciousness for those that couldn’t too. People started to believe in self in a way they hadn’t because knowledge was now a cummulative warehouse and not the random actions of “Swift-footed Achilleos’s” spleen. It is arguable that before writing we really were animals. Then a non-physiological change made for – well everything! Oh and it did! It so did! Imagine not being able to read? Or write? Now imagine nobody being able to? Indeed the entire concept being the undiscovered country (for the brain – MS Windows XP SP2 for the brain – where do you think I get the term “undiscovered country” from? Why do I know that? Because it was written down. Without writing and printing we’d have no Shakespeare. We might have folk memories (a might, BTW) of a bloke from Stratford* ) who told amusing tales but the that is not the same. He changed the language (you and I shall use a Shakespearianism today) and the language is the mechanism for thought (well so is maths – and in my “moments” it just comes to me but then has to be rewritten as maths or English – but it does just come and that is beautiful).

    And this is beauty most profound. This is Beethoven’s 7th. This is Vermeer. This is like those marks in the clay meant to last forever. This is the Classical theory of light and electromagnetism. And Maxwell said…

    ∇.D= ρ



    ∇xH= ∂D/∂t+j

    … And we understood light. Well, actually technically Maxwell didn’t put it in those terms but Oliver Heaviside and Josiah Willard Gibbs did. The point is it was written. JWG also had a Grand Canonical Ensemble. Surely a wondrous thing in any Victorian drawing room. This was the era of the great bearded physicists. And apart from Maxwell and Gibbs they were all mad as a box of frogs. Hamilton was a supreme drinker, Heaviside was utterly bonkers (penchant for granite furniture and pink nail varnish) and the least said about Nikola Tesla soonest mended. Amongst other things he had an appalling fear of ladies with pearl ear-rings.

    It was written. And the word was God. Now we call it one and zero. Th “It from the bit”. John Archibald Wheeler was very smart. Truth is reality is information.

    Apparently, according to this morning’s BBC News, 1/6 of the adult pop of the UK can’t read or write. What the fuck they do in schools for 11+ years of compulsory neducation is beyond me.

    *Forgot! When I did my MSc (Astrofizz) at QMC, London a load of the furriners thought to go to Stratford to see where the Bard hailed from. Quite a few got the wrong one. I mean Stratford East London is really not the same gaff. But they went nonetheless.

  6. John Galt says:

    I think that deserves a post in it’s own right rather than just a comment, it’s a bit like some of the ideas developed by Hofstadter in Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid. Now that was a mind-blowing book.

  7. Julie near Chicago says:

    This is the same “Bill Nye the Science Guy” whose religion is Gorebal Worming and who got creamed by Richard Lindzen some of years ago, debating the Revealed Truth that the waters are going to rise up and drown everybody including people in the Steppes of Central Asia? (Snark & hyperbole intended.)

    Please note: I’m not poking fun at any of my three Fellow Felines above, but only at Mr. Nye, who, whatever he is, isn’t much of a Science Guy that I can see. (I don’t have to defend Mr. Ham either, because I don’t believe “Young Earth” OR what commonly seems to be understood by “Creationism.” Nor do I think either of them has much to do with the Bible.)

    . . .

    And what’s Warble Gloaming got to do with the present issue? Well, nothing, directly. Even a gullible undereducated nitwit in one area of the job he’s taken on (“infotaining” the public about various scientific facts alleged or reasonably well-verified) can in principle be correct and sensible in another. But Nye doesn’t strike me as the Great Brain of the Ages. And JG has a stronger stomach than I do for listening to his two guys’ twaddle, although I agree with him and admire him for putting up with it, and thank him for posting his summary — work well done. Indeed one can learn a lot that way — just not about science, but rather about rhetoric, styles of argumentation, and whether Mr. X is too in love with his dogma to take a serious look at the other guy’s premises and logic. (Of course, anyone who disagrees with you can throw that charge at you, and usually with some validity, humans being as we are. Let me not get sidetracked.)

    Dr. Lindzen and Mr. Nye, Heidi Cullen, Ph.D. in something other than atmospheric physics, and some guy whose name I didn’t catch chew this over on Larry King about seven years ago. Time flies!

  8. Julie near Chicago says:

    I classify myself a lapsed-Catholic agnostic atheist (that is someone who fundamentally does not believe in god, but as a good scientist cannot prove or disprove his/her non-existence….

    Can I sit on your side of the aisle, JG? That’s as good a description of my own state as I’ve heard, save only that there’s none of this Popish nonsense for me to overcome. (Though my Dad did revert to Catholicism, the religion of his youth, after Mother died. Me, I was brought up Congregationalist. Other than that, not so much as a “good scientist” but rather, I hope, as a halfway-decent mathematical-logician. :) )

  9. Julie near Chicago says:

    And as always, of course, just where one places oneself in the G-d issue depends on one’s definition of the Entity. One cannot, for example, accept a barberous [sic] God who shaves all those who don’t shave themselves.

  10. John Galt says:

    Julie, there are so many that have been indoctrinated by the Warble Gloaming nonsense that I don’t tend to make hard and fast personal distinctions about it. However, if it comes to a choice between having Bill Nye set the science textbooks and Ken Ham doing it I’ll take the Global Warming propagandist over the creationist as the lesser of two evils (or two weevils as the case might be).

    As for sitting on my side of the church, sure you can, because there’s plenty of space as it’s the size of the universe…

    Just remember that you’re standing on a planet that’s evolving
    And revolving at nine hundred miles an hour
    That’s orbiting at nineteen miles a second, so it’s reckoned
    A sun that is the source of all our power

    The sun and you and me and all the stars that we can see
    Are moving at a million miles a day
    In an outer spiral arm, at forty thousand miles an hour
    Of the galaxy we call the ‘milky way’

    Our galaxy itself contains a hundred billion stars
    It’s a hundred thousand light years side to side
    It bulges in the middle, sixteen thousand light years thick
    But out by us, it’s just three thousand light years wide

    We’re thirty thousand light years from galactic central point
    We go ’round every two hundred million years
    And our galaxy is only one of millions of billions
    In this amazing and expanding universe

    The universe itself keeps on expanding and expanding
    In all of the directions it can whizz
    As fast as it can go, the speed of light, you know
    Twelve million miles a minute and that’s the fastest speed there is

    So remember, when you’re feeling very small and insecure
    How amazingly unlikely is your birth
    And pray that there’s intelligent life somewhere up in space
    ‘Cause there’s bugger all down here on Earth


  11. NickM says:

    “As fast as it can go, the speed of light, you know
    Twelve million miles a minute and that’s the fastest speed there is.”

    You do know what an Alcubierre Drive is? Now if I had some “exotic matter” (nobody knows what that is). Well it would beat the hell out of the 1L Vauxhall Corsa. But then would a skateboard.

  12. Julie near Chicago says:

    Sigh… “…who shaves all those and only those who don’t shave themselves.”

  13. NickM says:

    “Everybody loves Baby. Baby loves nobody but me.”

    Who is baby?

  14. Julie near Chicago says:

    Well, JG, I will go kicking and screaming to the headmaster’s office if either one of them writes the textbook!

    And for good measure, I will make my point by force the Headmaster to eat nothing but Twinkies until he sees the light.

    Because, you know, in all seriousness (at least till/if I hear the debate) you have it right: They’re both weevils, and one is as bad as the next if one has any interest in trying to teach the kiddies to discern scientific “right” (validity, likelihood loosely speaking) from “wrong.” Trying to teach them to think rationally. Teaching them techniques of mental protection against scientific (and with luck, some other kinds of) myths. To do otherwise is to attempt to subvert minds, which is to render the subject mind less capable of dealing with or living well within the strictures of Reality.

    Whence the poem?
    . . .

    Nick, I thought Exotic Matter is what a good pole dancer is hiding behind her pole….? [Also what Miss S. Rand (as opposed to Miss A. Rand) was lugging around behind all those fans.]

    And you had to drag Maxwell into it, with the result that I had to go brush up a little on my vector-field theory. Hang it, man, don’t you know we got yet ANOTHER 5″ of Gorbal Worming day before yesterday? (I’m tempted to make the usual joke, like “Get Al to come deal with that–or maybe Dr. Pachauri–but I can’t, as it’s just as much based on misapprehension as Gorble Worming theory. :( )

  15. John Galt says:

    Sorry to bang on about this, but it’s important, so I will.

    Bill Nye is little more than a caricature of a scientist a bit like Dr. Emmett Brown from Back to the Future, but as a television presenter with a BSc in Mechanical Engineering from Cornell, he has a quirky and much admired gift for presenting science to children in interesting ways and that counts for a lot, even if I don’t agree with the entirety of his views.

    I am absolutely certain that if we’d put any number of Nobel Laureates up there with Ken Ham they would have wiped the floor with him, but it would have been completely pointless, because nobody would have cared enough to watch.

    The very fact that it was “Bill Nye, the Science Guy” meant that people who wouldn’t have watched otherwise did. Including myself. The net result of which the papers, blogs and TV news have all had pictures and articles about how Bill Nye held Ken Ham up to ridicule.

    Because of this debate, school boards around the US will have more ammunition to keep religion out of their classrooms for at least another decade.

    That is the real win and in fact it is the only win that matters.

  16. Julie near Chicago says:

    WELL, what is this, a test? Good grief!

    All right, I’ll play your silly game. Everybody loves (My, in the original) Baby, so therefore in particular My Baby loves my Baby. But My Baby don’ love nobody but me. So My Baby IS Me.

    Beyond the strict bounds of the conundrum:

    This is a paradox if “Baby” means a regular biological human baby; but in the vernacular, as in the song, it’s not actually a paradox because “my Baby” is just what I call the person I love and doesn’t necessarily refer to a person in his or her capacity as a biological human offspring but rather just as a person for whom I feel affection (usually). And feeling affection solely for oneself, while unusual, is not paradoxical.

    I hope you’re happy. Now I have to go deal with the foul dishes, which for my sins I may as well listen to part of JG’s Offering of the Day. :>(

  17. John Galt says:

    “You do know what an Alcubierre Drive is? Now if I had some “exotic matter” (nobody knows what that is). Well it would beat the hell out of the 1L Vauxhall Corsa. But then would a skateboard.”

    …and you know what Nick? If we had some ham we could have ham & eggs. If we had some eggs.

    Although I accept that physics such as Alcubierre’s are a useful way of testing and expanding our understanding of the universe, to a certain extent it is a bit frustrating. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad we’ve got past the “No FTL drives ever!” point, but it’s a bit like showing concept cars at motor shows, they look beautiful, but the only thing you know for sure is that the bloody thing will never get built.

    To my mind, the space age hasn’t even got going yet and the $50 billion dollar tin-can laughingly described as the International Space Station is too late, too small and fundamentally too crappy to be of any use to anyone.

    No – This is a space station (click for image)

    What really WOULD give us a great leap forward and would be worth a $1 Trillion US would be a space elevator and by Hashem we’re getting close.

    The Space Elevator Blog (for all your spacial elevatorial needs) :-)

  18. “…..I classify myself a lapsed-Catholic agnostic atheist (that is someone who fundamentally does not believe in god, but as a good scientist cannot prove or disprove his/her non-existence, it’s a very good form of rhetorical macramé)……”

    Funny that you capitalise the “c” in catholic but not the “g” in god? So you ‘care’ about this shite, at least to a certain extent. Yes?

    Theists believe in this shite. And they care about it.
    Atheists don’t believe in this shite. And they care about it.
    Agnostics aren’t sure about this shite. And they care about it.

    I don’t fit in any of those categories
    I just don’t care if there is or isn’t a divinty.

  19. NickM says:

    Yes Julie. “Baby is me”. A bit easy of me.

    JG, obviously the weird solutions to the EFEs are useful for that. But there is another interesting point here. What if it is real but not? OK, the Goedel solutions permit time travel so they shouldn’t be allowed because they cause all sorts of paradoxes but what if nobody ever does it? Then it doesn’t matter. The possible, in a sense, only matters if it is actualised.

    Whilst I like space els I think we should have funded Skylon.

  20. John Galt says:

    The “poem” as you call it, are the lyrics to a song in Monty Pythons: The Meaning of Life.

    @Cuddling Aquarians:
    Clearly I’m just prejudiced, but then I’m not a grammar Nazi, or indeed any kind. I have started using the Jewish term “Hashem” in reference to that which I don’t believe exists, but can’t prove. It’s a little more respectful and elegant, I like that, but then again I am a fag, so what do you expect.

    Maybe if you’re going to “not care” you could take the passive / nonchalant path to “not caring” rather than the screaming violence against the world sort of “not caring”.

    It relieves stress and statistically you’ll live longer, although that’s not necessarily a good thing…

  21. RAB says:

    Always look on the bright side of life, I say. No Idle conjecture on the nature of God or the Universe… I’m too busy living. ;-)

    Following from the above, I call myself an Atheist. Well it saves time. I am never going to mount a scientific thesis proving that God and Heaven doesn’t exist; it’s a waste of time. If I’m wrong I will be well chuffed (and duly apologetic to the big fella) even the seventh ring of Hell is existence and consciousness, rather than nothingness isn’t it?

    But I think i’m right. This life is it, it is not a rehearsal. Grab it with both hands and give generously of yourself at the same time. That way your life can become sweet not sour.

    My humble reasoning as to why there is no God (quite apart from him moving in mysterious ways, turning up as burning bushes etc, rather than dropping in for a civilised chat and a nice dram of single Malt now and again) is that all the Holy books describe Mankind as the Crown of Creation. We are made in the very image of our creator, and as such have Lordship over all other life forms. Well if that is so, God is a piss poor designer!

    He has made other creatures with the ability to see 360 degrees, to have in-built sonar, to detect infra-red spectrums, to swim and to fly. Surely if we we created in his image all these innate advantages would have been built into us, but we have had to invent tools to do these things for us haven’t we?

    Instead our stereoscopic vision has a blind spot, our hearing deteriorates with age, our teeth fall out, and we get bad backs because we are not naturally adapted to standing on two feet… Yet we are the image of the Godhead, the infallible creator of the incredible wonder and splendour that is the Universe? The geezer must have cataracts too.

  22. Julie near Chicago says:

    That’s fine, JG, and a very good point indeed — as long it also serves to keep out the Religion and its Sects of Leftism, Progressivism, c(C)ommunism, and totalitarianism (“soft”/”lite” or “hard,” if you think the distinction has much meaning). Except that all these are best nurtured in the ground ploughed and fertilized by Authoritarianism, which is where Nye and most climate-alarmists take root and become intellectual kudzu.

    Actually, I don’t think Judaism and Christianity have done so badly by their followers as have any of the Religions of Authoritarianism (in the bad sense, by the way — some experts really ARE, and the best of them accept the reality of their own fallibility). And where they have produced less than stellar results, Authoritarianism is one of the failings of Man that has made it possible.

    Of course, I’m as adamantly against “government schooling” as I am against the very existence of Authoritarianism-taught-as-science, or “regular” (Jewish or Christian religion) being taught as necessarily factual history throughout, which is all that gives it any color of “hard” science.

    And like so much that government shouldn’t be doing, if you take the G out of the education equation, this problem disappears into the hands of those whose kids are being taught, as mediated, of course, by their neighbours’ peer pressure.

  23. John Galt says:

    “Whilst I like space els I think we should have funded Skylon.”

    You know the UK governments funding the successor? To the tune of £60 million pounds out of a total budget of £250 million.

    Skylon: Alan Bond’s mission to replace space rockets with spaceplanes

    I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

  24. RAB says:

    We overlapped there John… Didn’t see yours till I’d posted mine.

  25. Julie near Chicago says:

    Sigh…oh. I guess I can’t join you after all, JG. See, the fundamental belief is a logical POSTULATE: There exists a G-d with the most salient, but non-paradoxical, characteristics of the G-d of the Jews, the Christians, the Muslims (but only sometimes) and maybe other ones, more exotic to YrsTrly.

    Only in the case of religion, the irreligious have repeated that word “faith” in a niffy, nose-in-the-air tone to the point that it’s major pejorative in the lexicon of philosophical putdowns.

    But EVERY, bar none, world-view is built on postulates, unprovable statements (“propositions”) that the given individual finds himself forced to accept if the world is to make sense TO HIM. (Now note, these postulates can change over time. We are not locked forever into our foundational postulate or “faith.”) And because his reasons look just as good to him as the religious person’s reasons for his postulates look to HIM, they are properly recognized as being equally a matter of “faith.”

    Also the fact of the matter is that a lot of people really believe that they have had direct physical contact with the entity they believe in as “G-d.” What WOULD be irrational of them is to believe there is no God because I think they’re wrong. (If I’m a really honest and honourable irreligionist, I do my darndest to explain to them IN THEIR OWN TERMS where I believe they’ve misinterpreted their experience, whatever it is or was.)

    I can’t insist that somebody whose experience or belief differs from mine to junk his beliefs in favor of mine just because I think I’ve got the better argument. That would be the worst of logical sins: The argument from “because I say so.”

    Especially if, as I think may be the case, one can construct a logically and even emotionally satisfactory God — and therefore IN PRINCIPLE never be able to prove nor disprove that God’s existence. However, this gets into some very tricky waters. And I still haven’t finished with the dishes.

  26. John Galt says:


    I acknowledge that all of those listed are enemies of freedom and therefore my enemies, that they are supported, fed and financed by the state that would enslave me, but I am only one man and must choose each battle with care, but it is their very strength and desire for power and control that will destroy them in the end.

    Whenever I feel oppressed by the sheer number of my enemies, I try and remember two things:

    ‘Even if you are a minority of one, the truth is the truth.’

    - Mohandas K. Gandhi

    ‘El-ahrairah, your people cannot rule the world, for I will not have it so. All the world will be your enemy, Prince With A Thousand Enemies, and whenever they catch you, they will kill you. But first, they must catch you, digger, listener, runner, prince with the swift warning. Be cunning and full of tricks and your people shall never be destroyed.’

    - “The Story of the Blessing of El-ahrairah” from Watership Down By Richard Adams

  27. Julie near Chicago says:

    Nick, WTF! You imply that the fact that I can figure out your Baby proves that it’s “too easy”? Would that be because I’m a girl, or because even worse, I’m ME?!

    …and the horse you rode in on. And you know what you can do when you get there!

    [Ed. -- Mostly, well maybe 98%, teasing. *g*]

  28. Julie near Chicago says:

    JG, I certainly don’t disagree with any of your last. Or earlier either, come to that. It’s just that in the end and in our time, the Leftists and Authoritarians (which includes plenty of folks who think they’re religious — but not all of them, and that’s part of my problem) seem to me by far the worse danger and therefore the first ones to defeat. Maybe next century it will be different, though I doubt it. Anyway, I don’t really want religious viewpoints in the textbooks to be taught AS history, or AS science; But I would not at all mind some study of them as human artifacts, that is, as things humans have believed, and some of the hypotheses about why they’ve believed them, and what the results have been. (This last would necessarily be highly speculative, of course. Philosophy 2A: Defining beliefs of world’s religions. Phil. 2B: History of religions as cause and effect in human doings since Time Began. It’s a 2nd-grade class, you see. In 1st Grade we cover the important areas of philosophy generally, and a few of the less nutty important philosophers. Such as Aristotle and Aquinas. I’ll be happy to include Miss R., just because of her effective consciousness-raising in our sadly intellectually lapsed public’s “mind.”)

    Anyway, among the first bunch I’d like to see them all buried 20K leagues under the Mindanao Trench sometime sooner than 2000 years hence. Tomorrow would be nice. I have a blood test at 8 a.m. *sob*, but I’ll be free after that. Shall we call it a date? ;)

  29. Julie near Chicago says:

    One other thing, JG. I’ll thank you not to look on the Bright Side. It interferes with my Clinical Depression.

    ;>) :>))!!

  30. Mike Marsh says:

    “Bill Nye failed to make his position clear or was rambling on numerous points”… I was going to point out that if you’ve heard him on Global warming/cooling/climate change – why are you surprised?
    But Julie did it for me and much more eloquently.

  31. John Galt says:

    Sorry Mike, I live in Penang, Malaysia and don’t have a TV (just a 42 inch LCD monitor that looks like a TV :-) ) so all that I know of Bill Nye is from the internet.

    Julie’s from Chicago, which is in one of the America’s I think :-) so she is a bit more switched on and nuanced in her views on Bill Nye – she doesn’t like him and she’s pretty clear about why. Fair enough I think.

    From my perspective, reality won against the nutters and the nutters demonstrated themselves to be nutters. So I count that as a win for “Team Science” regardless of the players or the play.

  32. “……….Clearly I’m just prejudiced, but then I’m not a grammar Nazi, or indeed any kind. I have started using the Jewish term “Hashem” in reference to that which I don’t believe exists, but can’t prove. It’s a little more respectful and elegant, I like that, but then again I am a fag, so what do you expect……..”

    I was not engaging in pedantry. I was merely revealing that your use of a capital C in the word catholic implied a level of respect for the religion – often exhibited by even the most adamant lapsed catholics – betraying their so-called lapsed status. This of course conflicts with your non-use of the capital G for god – implying disrespect. My comment had nowt to do with grammar and syntax, it was a perceived, on my part, revelation of your psychological world-view. Please to notice I do not use capitals for either of those two words – I imply, and from which you must infer, total disrespect.

    “……..Maybe if you’re going to “not care” you could take the passive / nonchalant path to “not caring” rather than the screaming violence against the world sort of “not caring”…….”

    Now who’s being the Grammar nazi now?(please to notice my use and non-use of capitals there) I do not abide your bourgeois Internet pixellation conventions of the use of all capitals to denote shouting. My profanity is meant to be humourously hyperbolic I was attempting to display ironically ironic irony, sarcastically sarcastic sarcasm, et cetera. You are more than clever enough to have perceived that. Why are you patronising me? Do you think me to be cognitively impaired? Or at least more so than, say, ummmm… know, you? So you’re a <i.fag. What of it? In my culture that is not a meaningfully distinguishing characteristic. I assume it is decidedly so in yours, yes? Bummer.

    “……..It relieves stress and statistically you’ll live longer, although that’s not necessarily a good thing………”

    Funny guy! I mean that. That was funny to me. I’ve no ego on-line. Try it! It’s fucking great!

  33. Flaxen Saxon says:

    I watched the debate in its entirety over a couple of beers with my son. Ken Ham is a certified nutter and his views would be laughable if not for the fact that a lot of reasonably intelligent folk give credence to his blatant nonsense. Creationism has no place on the biology curriculum. Placing the word science after the word creationism doesn’t make it science. At best it could be considered a hypothesis. The reason it hasn’t progressed into scientific thought is because it does not stand up to empirical testing. Theology remains theology. Scientists have been reluctant to engage the likes of Ken Ham thinking that creationism is not worthy of serious debate. However, they are coming to realise that these religious nuts can have a serious impact on the development and education of society. Of course the arguments put forward by Ham and his ilk are ludicrous and easily refuted, but it is a job that needs to be done. Professional scientists need to rail against this pseudo-scientific bollocks and aggressively engage creationists at every opportunity.
    Mr Galt: Atheists don’t have to refute the existence of deities. The onus of proof lies strictly with the believer. I don’t believe in fairies, or any supernatural ‘being’ for that matter. Of course you can’t disprove anything just assert with a vanishingly small probability.

  34. Julie near Chicago says:

    Dear Wodin,

    (You notice how I capitalize “Wodin,” even though I distinctly reject any believe in the past or present existence of such a godly entity.)

    There are a whole lot of very good reasons why JG might hold Catholicism in sufficient respect to capitalize it properly–historical reasons which libertarians, even atheistic ones, ought to respect themselves, if they actually believe the tenets of libertarianism, such as they are.

    It is also a convention of the English language to do so. Oddly enough, we capitalize “Poictesme” and “Liliput” and even Oz (the fictional one), whereas all of these are KNOWN not to exist. We talk about Wiccan, and Islam, and Druidism. I can’t say personally that I have much respect for Islam, at least not in its present incarnation, and Wiccan is off my radar altogether.

    There is also the fact that JG, with his Catholic background, and even I with my Protestant but still Christian upbringing, might find it comfortable to allow Christianity and most of its sects the acknowledgement of whatever positive influence it, or they, have had on us.

    JG, of course, can defend himself quite handily, but he shouldn’t have to on such a silly and illogical point, and frankly I’m in a bad mood anyway. Your misfortunre.
    . . .
    Similarly, I use lexicographical symbolism “G-d” because I also happen to hold the Jewish religion in considerable respect and would like to show that respect to whatever Jewish audience we may have.

    Now go away. I’m trying to work on taxes here. *snarl*

  35. NickM says:

    Ah, taxes Julie. They are a bloody hilarity and no mistake! If we can bring stuff back to grounding. I would like an IBM/Lenovo keyboard for my desktop. One with a trackpoint and if poss wireless.

  36. I was being facetious. Do I really need to warn you folks when sarcasm is coming? I would hope not. I was referencing the use of mis-capitalisation as a rhetorical device to imbue further meaning to a normal word.

    And yes, Mr. Galt does hold catholicism in respect, that was my point. And to not capitalise the g in god, assuming it is not a typographical error, also speaks volumes.

    And why did you delete my funny comment on your “Kitten Signs Into Obamacare” post? It was en pointe to the extreme – the cat was on my keyboard “……yyyyyyyyyyy….” and she composed most of it. Was it because I derogated Ann Coulter when I finally regained control of the keyboard?

  37. Julie near Chicago says:

    Thank you, Nick. You sootheth (my that looks strange) my sore heart muchly. *Sniffle*, I’m so behind the times that to tell the truth, I don’t know what a trackpoint is. Trackpad, yes. I prefer a mouse, or meese. But trackpoint?

    May all your earthly longings be fulfilled, and that right quickly. :>))

  38. John Galt says:

    I wouldn’t say I hold the Catholic church in respect so much, after all the Vatican has been the dictionary definition of organised religion over the past 2,000 years and a lot of what it has done is pretty repugnant.

    My respect rather comes from the fact that around 800 million people or so find comfort in their lives from following the Catholic religion. I don’t, never did and although baptised as one at the insistence of my grandmother (I could hardly object as a babe-in-arms) I have never been confirmed or received holy communion, so barely register on the Catholic-o-metre at all.

    I don’t find it in anyway a conflict or hypocritical to have pretty much zero faith, yet still respect others for their personal beliefs. The same applies to most religions, including Islam, for which my objections have been noted on this blog time and again.

    If you want to criticise my position then fine, you are free to do so, but I don’t see myself changing any time soon.

  39. NickM says:

    This is the Kyrie from Palestrina’s Missa Papae Marcelli. And Carl Srgan said, “Bach would be boasting”. So God knows what this would be.

    This is Catholic. This is it…

    It is wonderful…

    But then so is “Florence + the Machine”. I have CDs of both. THAT is what our culture is about.

    PS. The best recordings of violin concertos are by the (South) Korean Kyung Wha Chung (who did vastly more for the happiness of me than anything done by the mental bastards North of the DMZ).

    Though I have shot down a lot of their MiGs. A finely handled F-86 Sabre is a joy.


    And that is that.

  40. NickM says:

    And this is it (sorry)…

    I hope this works or Youtube or this site (or both) are knackered.

  41. NickM says:

    What the pig-cunt licking fucking whelk instein is wrong? This is a bellendius maximus of a cuntle-bugle terriblious. Something has gone severely Pete Tong and it ain’t me. Some form of devilish twattery can only be to blame.

  42. Julie near Chicago says:

    Aquarians, I deleted your comment with all the y’s because it looked to me just like the spam posts we had shortly before we were attacked. Apparently I made the wrong judgment call there, and I apologize.

    I’m afraid I didn’t get any particular ring of (humorous, hopefully) sarcasm from the posting about capitalizing the “C” in “Catholicism”…and I still don’t.

    To both you and JG: To respect “X”ism, for whatever “X” may stand, is at least as much a matter of respecting the good (including comfort) that “X” may have done for people as they go about living their lives — as it is about “respecting” some formal doctrine or its teachers, guardians, officers, etc.: the people who, basically, are supposed to be its administrators, promulgators, exegetes. It is in exactly that sense that it seems to me, JG, that you do have a certain respect for Catholicism.

    It is very human to have love and respect for one’s parents, even though one has moved away from them, set up one’s own home, and no longer shares one or more of their important beliefs, one or more important aspects of their worldview. And it is a great good, as long as the parents do not use their beliefs or worldviews as weapons to attack others unjustly; a great good, and a great comfort.

  43. Philip Scott Thomas says:

    Cuddling Aquarian’s criticism of JG’s use of a capital “C” is utterly specious.

    Standard English-language usage is, as Julie correctly hints at above, that “Catholic” and ‘catholic” mean two quite different things. “Catholic”, with an upper-case “C”, is used to refer to the Church of Rome, while “catholic”, with a lower-case “c”, means “wide-ranging”, “all-encompassing”, and so on.

    Hence the original wording of the Nicene Creed (adopted in 325 AD at the First Council of Nicaea), which refers to “the catholic and apostolic church”. In ordinary usage, this means the Christian church founded by the apostles of Jesus and which is now found everywhere.

    So Cuddling Aquarian’s extended argument, apart from being annoying, is also the product of his own imagination, while JG’s comment is no more than standard English usage.

  44. Philip Scott Thomas says:

    re: Palestrina’s Missa Papae Marcelli (AKA Pope Marcellus’s Mass), which Nick referred to.

    There is a very old story about this mass, one which I was taught at university by the mighty Doc Foelber, but which is now regarded as apocryphal, a legend that began in the late 16th century.

    The Tridentine Council (AKA The Council of Trent) was convened by the Church of Rome. The Church of Rome at this point had, not to put too fine a point on it, lost influence in all of northern Europe. Protestants tend to regard the various European Reformations as a power struggle. But from Rome’s point of view, these were souls who were lost to the true faith because of a heresy.*

    Anyway, in 1545, after Luther was safely dead, Paul III convened the first council at Trento. One of the topics under discussion was the shape and form of the Mass.

    A little music history is necessary here. With the gradual growth of the Gregorian chant came the “melismata”, i.e, a single syllable of the Latin mass extended over many bars/measures of music, rendering the meaning of the Mass’s text all but intelligible.

    Luther was highly focussed on the meaning of the Mass. That’s why he translated them into German and himself wrote tunes for the words. John Calvin took a different approach. He mandated the complete abolition of all church music apart from that which was Biblically sanctioned, i.e., the singing of the psalms.

    The Council of Trent, according to the traditional history, took all this into consideration and was on the verge of banning all liturgical music from the Mass.

    Now, bear in mind that this council lasted nearly thirty years. So whilst it was convened by Paul III it was continued by Pope Marcellus II, who was Pope for all of three weeks in 1555.

    The traditional story is that Palestrina demonstrated how a Mass could be in the service of God while sill making the text intelligible to the masses and thus saved liturgical music in the Catholic church.

    * There are no histories of the English Reformation that I’ve found that are written by Protestants and which take seriously the Roman Catholic spirituality of the Renaissance.

  45. Philip Scott Thomas says:


    “…rendering the meaning of the Mass’s text all but intelligible” should read “…rendering the meaning of the Mass’s text all but unintelligible“.

  46. Julie near Chicago says:

    Boy — he looks oddly familiar. Hm. ??????

    I sure am glad I’d put my coffee down….


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