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Re: [atheists-55] More on Darwin as fairy-tale

From: Vinnie
Sent on: Friday, February 13, 2009 10:57 AM
So the only thing I still find compelling about Doug's original
argument is regarding a choice of semantics.  Why is it that the day
is referred to as "Darwin Day" instead of simply "Darwin's Birthday"?
In thinking about it further, I couldn't help but to find the irony
that the day is also referred to as "Lincoln's Birthday" and not
"Lincoln Day" - especially considering the messianic light that
Abraham Lincoln is held in American culture...

Cheers ;-)


On Fri, Feb 13, 2009 at 10:34 AM, Zachary Bos <[address removed]> wrote:
> Dear Doug:
> 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 standard one.
> <<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 knowledge>>
> 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 scientific theory.>>
> 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.>>
> That's precisely 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 moron.>>
> 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.>>
> I 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.>>
> Moving on,
> <<"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.>>
> You 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 anyway?>>
> 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 methods myself.
> <<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 you.>>
> 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: "nuh-uh."
> <<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 facts?
> <<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, couldn't resist.>>
> I wish I could enjoy such freedom from inhibition.
> Cheers,
> Zachary
> --
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> This message was sent by Zachary Bos ([address removed]) from The Baltimore
> Atheists Meetup Group.
> To learn more about Zachary Bos, visit his/her member profile
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