When I saw your email last night, I failed to
realize my mistake -- I sent my Darwin Day invitation to the BALTIMORE mailing
list, when I meant to send it to the BOSTON list. I am a member of the Baltimore
group because I send a lot of time in Maryland. My apologies for the mix-up.
<<I do think that celebrating Darwin's
birthday is foolish and also could give the false impression to outsiders that
he is being deified in some way.>>
I suppose I am less concerned than
you are about the false conclusions other people, with an axe to grind, are
willing to draw. We attended a party in a pub -- advertised as such -- and
anyone who insists on interpreting the goings-on as a worship service are
welcome to their confusion.
<<Again I think it's a worse day than most
because it gives the appearance of deification. Especially since you entitle it
Darwin day and not scientific method day or something.>>
In this case,
"that's your opinion, man." Because you interpret the party in a religious way
does not mean you are right in doing so. Can you not draw a distinction between
"appreciative respect" and "reverent worship?"
<<This is an opinion. Do you have some kind
of study of survey to back this up? There were atheists, agnostics and
secularists before Darwin.>>
There certainly were freethinkers before
Darwin. I didn't claim otherwise. What I wrote is that his research helped make
the argument from design obsolete, i.e. less tenable. I don't need research for
this, because it isn't an empirical claim. If you think I am mistaken in
asserting that the publication of Origin took teeth out of the watchmaker
argument, I'd be interested in learning why.
<<This is obviously an attempt to insult me.
So... Fuck you.>>
It was actually an attempt to lighten the tone of
what might have unintentionally come across as an overtly hostile email. I
regret that you interpreted it as an attack.
<<You are familiar with the story right?
So... it was an effective and useful reference.>>
Well, here's we can
get contentiously exegetical. The golden calf story isn't meant to condemn idol
worship, it is meant to show Yahweh's jealousy. The Israelites weren't wrong
because they were worshipping -- they were worshipping the wrong idol! So if you
meant this to relate to Darwin Day, you must mean (by analogy) that we're
worshipping the wrong god. Well, which one would you have us worship? So you
see, "arguments by fable" aren't the way I prefer to make a point. Our
interpretations may differ, but I'm pretty confident that my reading is the
<<The whole idea of the gathering to
celebrate Darwins birthday implies worship. I'm obviously trying to drive the
point home here with mocking exaggerations.>>
The whole idea of
gathering for a party implies nothing more than a party. Why are you inferring
more, I can't say. That you choose to drive your point home with mockery,
however, suggests that whatever is motivating these inferences might be
emotional, rather than rational.
"<<There have been many scientists before and
since how have made as much or greater contributions to human
It was the particular contribution Darwin made to the
credibility of secularism that so many atheists are concerned with him. And the
particularly charismatic nature of his research topic that attracts so many
admirers, in general: compare "the grandeur and beauty of the diversity of life"
to "the mathematical description of the gravitational relationships among bodies
in motion," "the ineffably dualistic flavor of fundamental particles," or "the
benefit of heating milk before drinking," and you'll have answered your own
question about why the average scientifically literate citizen likes Darwin but
is typically indifferent toward Newton, Bohr, and Pasteur. To put it briefly,
people like animals."
<<Again, that's just like your opinion man.
Darwin or his theorys didn't cortibute at all to my personally adopting to an
atheistic worldview for instance.>>
I didn't say Darwin made atheism
possible; I wrote that he CONTRIBUTED to the CREDIBILITY of secularism. I don't
see how that statement is disputable. As for why there is a lot enthusiasm for
him, I am just speculating, but I think it is informed speculation, and I tried
to explain why.
<<I don't really find biology a more
compleling scientific feild that physics. You try to insert granduer and beauty
in front of the diversity of life in that sentence like it's part of the
It is actually part of the famous last paragraph
of Darwin's book on the origin of species, which I thought you would recognize,
presuming as I did that you'd taken the time to learn about the topic about
which you have been expressing such strong views. That paragraph is:
"There is grandeur in this view of life with its
several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one;
and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of
gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most
wonderful have been, and are being, evolved."
<<You could throw that in anywhere let's say
it's "the grandeur and beauty of the gravitational relationships among bodies in
motion". Just pointing out the bias in your hypothetical. You are just stating
personal opinions as they were facts that you could use to back an agrument and
it's ridiculous really.>>
To be clear, I wasn't expressing my opinion
of Darwinian evolution; I was making an allusion to a widely known bits of
scientific writing. But I do agree: ridiculousness abounds.
<<I'll say it again ,the entire concept of
the day is what gives the appearance of idolatry.>>
the interpretation which I am asking explanation for.
<<If you don't think it's idolizing someone
to go out and have a celebration in there honor you are a fucking
I agree with you there... although I wouldn't have phrased it
so forcefully, for fear of seeming a rhetorically violent lout. Not that you do;
it would just be my fear.
<<I mean just do the thought experiment of
celebrating Hitler day for a second or something. Let's say hitler day just
consists of gathering together with others and playing monopoly. Seems a
perfectly neutral right? So then would you ever attend Hitler day? (note:I'M NOT
COMPARING DARWIN TO HITLER, he just somone whom most wouldn't want to be
associated with idolizing therefore making it easy to see that's what you are
doing in the thought experiment)>>
I'll just say that I find the
analogy unconvincing and move on.
<<You are making to contratdictory arguments.
In one paragraph you sing the priases of Darwin and why he is great and
important and derserves recognition and in the next you claim you aren't
worshiping him. Honestly, it's so transparent it's almost humourus.>>
didn't make such claims as you attribute to me, so, moving on.
<<Whatever, I hadn't really looked into. I
just don't think he's famous for being one anyway and was no outspoken champion
of the cause.>>
<<"1. Theism is not a fairy tale. Many
components of theistic doctrine are sophisticated, compound, and compelling" Yes
it is and no they arn't.>>
Yes, your opinions. I stated mine, and you
responded by saying "nuh-uh." I'm open to a more intelligent dialogue if you
are, but I won't reciprocate with a further "yuh-huh."
<<"2. To call theism "a fairy tale" is to
fail to realize the many good reasons many theists believe in gods. Of course,
none of them are quite good enough..." uhh... I disagree.>>
disagree that it is fallacious to call theism a fairy tale, or with my
observation that there are no good-enough reasons to believe in a god? Whichever
it is, again, I'm willing to exchange views on the topic, but I won't get into a
spitting match. If you can't be bothered to explain what you mean, I won't waste
your time by asking you to read my own explanation.
<<"3. It is useless and furthermore strictly
inaccurate to say that theists believe in fairy tales." : It's not inaccurate.
You haven't proven that point you have just said it over and over. Useless is
matter of opinion and who that received this letter was a theist
See above; moving on.
<<I will agree with you on this it's most
certainly a dismissive ad hominem attack.>>
I might have made the point
more clear, that I don't think ad hominem is very useful in conversation. See
above, where I admit I would fear seeming like a lout if I were to employ such
<<I don't find it very difficult to reconcile
though. My point was simply to blaspheme your little deity to get a rise out of
And, had you gotten a rise, what effect would this have to
corroborate your argument?
<<Which consdiering the 5 point list you came
up with here to respond to six words it obviously did. Maybe that should tell
you something, eh?>>
Perhaps it might, if it had. In response to your
insinuation that I was spun into a hissy fit by your blasphemy, I'll just write:
<<I wasn't literally suggesting digging up
his body and having intercourse with it. It's just a figure of speach
there buddy, calm down.>>
Such figures work against your credibility,
for those who care about civility and the assumption of good faith.
<<No source just pulling shit out of my ass
as I mentioned earlier. Again though, I think your defensiveness towards this
dead man is awfully telling.>>
What is telling about you fabricating
<<I don't plan to attend because I don't live
in Boston but in Baltimore and honestly I'm a bit confused as to why I recieved
this email in the first place.>>
Accident! Just like the emergence of
intelligent life out of primordial ooze -- it was unplanned.
<<Who says cheers? What do you have such a
hard on for Darwin that you are pretending to be British now? lol, sorry,
I wish I could enjoy such freedom from