The theistic world view

There was apparently an October 2010 conference at Biola U., under the title “God & Evolution.”  Videos for some of the talks are now available, and I have listened to three of them.  The ones that I listened to were talks by Denyse O’Leary, John G. West and Jay W. Richards.

The talk by Denyse O’Leary was the first that I listened to, and it is startling.  The other two are mild by comparison.  Early in her talk, O’Leary says:

The problem with Darwinism is that it is a cultural mood.  It is not really a theory in science.  If you look at the actual science literature, what’s available to show Darwinism is negligible, piddling; the major claims are not met.

That’s a very mild part of what she says.  It is as if O’Leary and I live in two completely different worlds.

Please start by listening to the O’Leary talk.  Then I am interested in any comments people have.  I have tried to avoid labeling O’Leary, and I hope the comments will do likewise.  Let’s comment on the content, not the person.

The UD thread that mentions these, and other videos, is “Biola God and evolution conference now on YouTube

32 thoughts on “The theistic world view

  1. That is startling.

    I guess it explains why she writes what she writes.  But, oh boy.

  2. OK, first straw man:

    She seems to say that Darwinism says we were “selected for selfishness”, by which she seems to think that “compassion” is “really selfish”.  She’s confused the self (as in “self-ish”) of a person with the “self” of a population Dawkins’ phrase has a lot to answer for, but it’s still no excuse, because she then shows she doesn’t understand selection at all by saying “I was genetically selected for blue eyes”.  She sort of cracks a joke by saying “I know there are brown eyes but I can’t do it”, but even so, the fact that she thinks that is a joke means that she really doesn’t understand selection.

    I think her point is that eye colour is genetically determined, and behaviour isn’t.  OK, will listen some more later – thanks for posting!


  3. “The Darwinist denies that there is meaning”.

    This one doesn’t.  All I deny (as an atheist, not as a Darwinist) is that I was created to serve someone else’s purpose.  That doesn’t mean I don’t have one.  I act purposefully all the time.  Well, most of the time.

    The idea that if you don’t think you are the tool of a superpower you don’t have “meaning” seems bizarre to me.  The same people, I guess would reject the idea if you claimed that people who were not put to work by the state had no “purpose” or “meaning”.  So why regard us has having no “meaning” unless we have been put to work by a god?


  4. Denyse really doesn’t understand anything.

    As a long-time ‘watcher’ of Uncommon Descent it’s clear she has not even a basic grasp of the material she’s devoted to demonising.

    It was only a couple of years ago (if that) when she reminded her blog’s audience that after all this time no one had yet discovered the ‘selfish gene’.


  5. Now she’s saying that “Darwinists” (or that Chesterton says that “Darwinists…” I’m not sure) deduce that Stone Age Man was like primitive people today, but “old bones” don’t tell us anything, and anyway, Stone Age Man didn’t write things down, so we don’t know.

    She certainly has it in for anthropologists.

    And “evolutionary psychology”. 

  6. OK, I must tear myself away for a bit…

    But her fundamental error, it seems to me, is to confuse (as Kairosfocus might say) “is” with “ought”.  Or “what we think evolution does” with “what we think we should do”.

  7. It’s “verboten” to think that natural selection “has limits”  “because you once you do that there other factors, and no-one’s looking for other factors. 

    Because if you believed that you’d wouldn’t be able to think that compassion was selfishness.

    No it’s not “verboten”, it’s true. “Selection” is only half a sentence – there has to be novel variance or there can be no heritable differential reproductive success.  And there’s also drift.  None of this is “verboten”. 

    And none of it has anything to do with whether compassion is selfishness.  It isn’t. It’s the opposite.  That we evolved to have it doesn’t make it not what it is.  Nor has it, in fact, got anything to do with whether God exists.  That we evolved to have brains capable of perceiving the world, and asking questions about its origins doesn’t mean that our answers are wrong, whether those answers are evolution, or Big Bang, or God.  Just because evolution produced thinking beings doesn’t mean that beings can’t think, any more than just because evolution produced compassionate beings doesn’t mean that beings can’t be compassionate.

    And yet, for Denyse, “that’s the money shot”.  And she’s got the money shot wrong.




  8. Elizabeth: That is startling.

    I guess it explains why she writes what she writes.  But, oh boy.

    Yes, I found it startling.  And yes, it does explain why she writes as she does.  Perhaps other theists share some of those views, which would partly explain why WJM says much of what he says.

    What became clear to me, is that she does not understand the science at all.  And that’s a sad failing for somebody who considers herself a journalist and who reports on science.

  9. It is, and always has been, very difficult to receive the wisdom of Ms O’Leary without feeling an irrepressible urge vigorously to animadvert on her intellectual capability.

    In deference to Elizabeth’s request, I won’t.

    Not here. But I’m doing it in my head 

  10. “But one can never doubt her sincerity.”

    Yep. You can be Absolutely Certain or you can be probably correct, but you can NOT be both. You must choose one. 

  11. Starting at 23:25 she talks about why the Vatican or the pope doesn’t come out in favour of ID. Her inital answer is that the Vatican thinks ID is going to lose. But then, she adds this bit (24:00):

    The question Benedict is facing – when he said something fairly innocuous about Islam […] hundreds of Christians died in riots […].

    In the same way when he speaks about many issues – because people listen to him because what he says matters. […]So, they [popes] have to be cautious, they can’t make unnecessary martyrs.

    In WWII when the Catholic bishops decided to denounce the Nazis as in one sense morally, well, they should have – you know what the Nazis did? They rounded up all the Jews who had become Christians – whether actually or to protect themselves – and sent them to camps. That is what the Nazis really thought about the Catholic curch, which is the same thing as the new atheists really think about theistic evolutionists. When you force them, they’ll make clear what they really think.

    Really? The Real ReasonTM the Catholic church is not coming out in favour of ID is not the obvious one that she doesn’t want to be associated with a sinking ship but to protect Catholics from being killed in riots  put in death camps persecuted by the new atheists in retaliation? That is insane.

    Nice circumventing the fact that the pope never came out against the Nazis, and that the Catholic church in Germany for the most part supported them, btw. 



  12. I sampled some of the other talks by Richards, West, and Wells; and it is all the usual exegesis, etymology, hermeneutics, nit-picking, and generalized word-gaming one always hears from the Discovery Institute. The subtitle of the convention could just as well be “Why My Sectarian Christian Dogmas are Superior to Yours.”


    Their beef is with other Christians and with atheists.  There is never any consideration of how other people in other religions may view evolution; or even of the purely cultural and social reasons many people belong to a particular religion.  The entire program seems aimed a demonizing Christian “theistic evolutionists” and atheists.


    Thus, they will wrangle endlessly with people like Francis Collins over what the implications of recent, incompletely understood findings of science have for specific sectarian beliefs. That constitutes a huge muddling mess of baggage one has to carry along with any attempt to gain a clearer picture of what we learn from science and where we explore next.


    Research is complicated enough without having to juggle all this sectarian baggage on top of everything else.  Sectarian warfare has been going on for centuries; and it never resolves. Why drag these wars into the laboratory?  Sectarian warfare stifles insight and creativity in research.

  13. Here is a transcript – apologies for any typos.

    Denyse O’Leary said:

    Good morning!  As I mentioned earlier…I’m a journalist.  How I got involved with this, I wrote a Faith and Science column for an interdenominational Christian weekly in Canada, and I noticed a peculiar thing.  I off and on looked into the Intelligent Design controversy, didn’t think too much about it, most scientists I knew were theistic evolutionists. I discovered a peculiar thing, which a journalist might note more easily than a scientist: the news funnel was inverted.  That is, first I was hearing that Intelligent Design was dead, about every six months. That was in about 2001. By about 2003, it ws dead every three weeks. By the time my book came about in 2004 it was dead every week.  The cockroaches at the nearby apartment building should be so lucky. 

    Now, the odd thing was that very few journalists wanted to touch it. And the few that did were soon forced to flee. As the veteran of 20,000 atheists visiting my blog and many of them getting hold of my personal email box and emailing abuse, I understand.  But I’m a freelancer. If people don’t hire me, so what. These were people who were prominent, had good positions they didn’t want to risk, I understand that.

    OK. Now, let’s get on with the catholic church (I’m a catholic by the way, I used to be an Anglican but stuff happened, if you heard what John Shelby Spong had to say, you’ll understand what sort of stuff it was. Finally I said I want to go somewhere where people know what they believe from one decade to the next. I wasn’t disappointed in that.)

    Alright, now, what about the catholic church?  Now, in reality, and remember that we’re talking about an institution that’s 2000 years old, probably the oldest institution as such in history, the church has always rejected Darwinism’s principle doctrines, as ably set out by John, and Casey, and Jay, who spoke earlier, and for good reason.  If you really believe Darwinism you may as well pack it in as a Christian and it didn’t take me long to figure that out.

    The problem with Darwinism is that it is a cultural mood.  It’s not really a theory in science, if you look at the actual science literature, what’s available to show Darwinism is negligible, piddling, the major claims are not met. Increasingly the publicity for the science papers that drift through my mailbox are more and more nonsensical, ever more frantic efforts to explain how human compassion, for example, is really a selfish thing. No really!  Because evolution really always means Darwinism.  In American terms.  The writer of the paper, the article advertising the paper, need to explain it in Darwinian terms. As Giberson did, one of the theologians mentioned here. It’s really that you were selected for selfishness. Now then how on earth you ever knew about compassion, I don’t know. I was genetically selected for blue eyes. I know there are brown eyes because I’ve observed them, but I can’t do it. That’s real genetic selection. Not the nonsense that Giberson and the others were talking about. 

    The church has always rejected it, so I’m not going to spend a lot of time on catholic theology. Thomas Aquinas would have thrown a book at the thing, and I don’t mean in friendship.  Now, in truth, this is an old story, and one of the previous speakers cited gnosticism, and it was played out, one hundred years ago, when key catholic thinkers took on Darwinism. Now, the constellation was a little bit different in those days.

    Slide: Catholic Church and Darwinism

    Today the Catholic Church is widely portrayed in the mainstream media as a supporter of Darwinian evolution.

    Here’s how it was back then: that was the modern period. You’ve probably heard the term “post-modern” somewhere?  Everywhere? Anywhere until you’re sick of it?  OK, fine. There is really a difference. The modernists believed there was such a thing as truth and the truth was materialism. The post-modernist thinks there isn’t enough meaning in life for truth to be meaningful, but Darwinism does explain this because, as Steve Pinker, a strong Darwinist, puts it, he’s a psychologist at Harvard, he says: “your brain was shaped for fitness, not for truth”. 

    In other words, and I’ve heard this said, I can’t exactly give you the quote right now, but I could find it somewhere, in the appalling mess at home: you were programmed by Darwinism to find Darwinism difficult to believe. So, you see, there doesn’t need to be any meaning. It’s just how you believe that you…that explains, it’s Darwinism that explains why you object, how you believe is understood in those lines. 

    Now, I think the older catholic writers were not dealing with that. Because it was often urged as an objection.  But today it isn’t even a realistic objection, because it’s assuming precisely what the Darwinist denies, that there’s meaning.  You can’t have contradiction without meaning. So we need to get that clear. That we’re dealing in a different environment.  So I’m going to talk to you briefly about how the older catholic anti-Darwinists were different.  They were famous writers.  Try and picture if really important American writers, were writing against Darwinism.  J.K.Rowlings denouncing it in an interview. For example.  I mean, Chesterton was famous, Belloc was famous, Mivart was famous, but for reasons we’ll discuss.

    Anyway, so, that’s the difference, they were dealing in the modernist world, and they largely relied on rational argument to make nonsense of it all. And to the extent that it worked, it worked, but remember the whole culture was involved in a cultural shift, in which to the vast majority of the largely uneducated, and I don’t mean don’t have a degree, I mean quite the opposite.  OK?  If they went to a typical university, and swallowed a whole lot of what they would hear in the humanities, they were largely uneducated. The guy who operates the crane on top of the building near me might actually be more educated in certain ways. OK, so – only a hack with fairly little education would say this, but I’m going to say it anyhow. So…in that atmosphere, people will believe just about anything based in Darwinism, and as we know they do.  And increasingly, it’s become a power in the land, in government, in education, in everything that matters. OK, well, we have to live where we are. 

    Now, G.K. Chesterton. I don’t know how many of you have read his work but you would greatly enjoy it. He was a 400 lb Englishman, who made a living by writing, a devout catholic, after a brief foray into atheism that I suppose many many young people go through, here’s one of the points he made.  Just to give you a flavour, to encourage you to read some of his books, like Everlasting Man, and Orthodoxy.  They’re old, but they’ll sound that they were written yesterday. Promise.  He said: one thing Darwinists do is, they talk about old stone age man, as if we knew anything about him. We don’t. One thing he didn’t do is write things down. How do we know that Julius Caesar existed? Documents, monuments, stuff that survived. A few stones and bones?  That wouldn’t prove anything.  There could have been a big battle there, but who knew?

    Anyway: also they tend to go visit technologically less developed peoples in the world, study them, and then say: that’s what old stone age man was like, but excuse me, that’s like going to rural southern China and saying: there, that’s what Canadians are like.  Makes about as much sense. Or better yet, rural stone age china people 2000 years ago are what Canadians are like in 2010.  OK, but because it was Darwinism, people were beginning to accept and listen. And now they just swallow it wholesale.  To the point where there’s great huge frauds in the area of anthropology. Don’t have time to talk about that now, but flag me down later if you like.

    Modern groups may not, in fact, be, constantly technologically less developed. They may in fact be the survivors of a technologically developed society that collapsed.  During certain periods of history, technological development doesn’t pay. If bandits and pirates are going to be constantly attacking you, better to be poor and have nothing. And then they don’t bother you. Much.  Not as much, anyway, as if they thought you were a richer culture and they could take it.

    OK.  He also made a lot of fun of what we now call evolutionary psychology. It’s easy to make fun of. What’s not so easy to deal with is the huge numbers of your neighbours who actually believe it. The British paper, the Guardian, a very famous paper now has an evolutionary agony aunt.  That’s Brit for Sob Sister. And when people write to her about their angst, like their girlfriend’s running around with every cat in town, she writes back to explain, “well gorillas do it”.  Oh, great, that’s all the guy needs, right? No, I am not making this up. I’ll give you the website address.

    OK, now, the point is the person is giving the impression he’s learned something and he’s learned nothing. Who cares whether gorillas do it or not? He wants to know: what should I do now?

    Alright, now.  Hilaire Belloc, an English writer, born in France, hence his name, a friend of Chesterton, he likewise tried to stem the tide of popular Darwin nonsense, which, at its worst, became embedded in Fascisms of various kinds, left and right, in the Western world.  At its best, it was mostly nonsense. But, significant nonsense that changes people’s moral perceptions.

    Belloc’s writing is also very interesting. It’s tragic really, reading him, because he got so much right, but he got key things wrong. He thought he would see a revival of the catholic church, and other churches in his lifetime. It didn’t happen.  Darwinism was one of the reasons it didn’t happen, because people began to develop an alternative philosophy of life, asking different questions, getting different answers.  Instead of “why doesn’t God want me to divorce my aging wife for my luscious secretary” was: “well if gorillas do it…”.  You see?  That was the different philosophy of life. And Darwinism didn’t die, as Belloc thought it would, because it couldn’t.  It couldn’t, because Darwinism does not actually require evidence any more than astrology does. The Guardian has an agony aunt, they probably also have an astrology column.

    The Toronto Star, one of the biggest papers in Canada, the biggest in Canada, one of the biggest ones in North America, actually, just because of, various factors, constant attacker of ID, actually has an astrology column, and was proud to announce they now had a new one, when the old one retired, I’d have thought that retirement enough, myself, but in any event, consider this: In New York, mayor Michael Bloomberg recently lauded the Ida fossil.  Remember the famed missing link, Ida? Only months before it was retracted by science journals. Now, the question that had me scratching my head is: why does Mr Bloomberg, whose chain of office suggests radically different responsibilities, why did he think he should be addressing the Ida fossil at all? Because Darwinism is the bedrock of the popular culture. That’s why.  That’s why he was addressing it, otherwise he would simply have said: isn’t that something for scientists to fight over.

    So, Belloc grossly overestimated the power of publicly funded beliefs, hatched by tenured professors at universities, fronted in Sunday papers, features and documentaries, and litigated by pressure groups. None of the older catholic authors understood how important that would become in the lives of a vast mass of people, some of whom are Christians attempting to make an accommodation with it. I mean, what is theistic evolution after all? A way of baptizing a fundamentally unchristian belief – I don’t know how a Jew might express it, except like offering at a bar mitzvah or a bat mitzvah? I mean, I don’t know, but I’m just saying, that’s what it is, and you can’t do it. Really.  But you can pretend to do it, and that’s often enough. 

    Alright, now let’s say a word about Mivart, St George Jackson Mivart.  He was a zoologist who at one time was one of the elite who were in Darwin’s circle but got kicked out because he was too much of a catholic.  OK, there was stuff he just couldn’t swallow. He placed limits on natural selection, which was absolutely verboten. You do not place limits on natural selection because once you do that, of course there are other factors, and as we all know, no-one’s looking for any other factors. He believed that at a certain point, the door usually just closes on radically further variations in various life forms – that’s actually what we observe – but it’s verboten to think so, because then you can’t think that compassion is really based on selfishness. That belief in God is based on a glitch in the genes or the brains or transmitters or something. And if you can’t believe that – that’s the money shot.  That’s the money shot for Darwinism. If I didn’t learn anything else in the ten years I’ve been covering this controversy, I sure learned that. Once you’ve got that, you can do anything with a society. Because all bedrock traditional beliefs that a theistic society would have, or in eastern society based on the idea of a cosmic mind, they don’t matter because Darwinism can explain how people came to have those irrational beliefs. 

    Now.  How did Mivart manage to get into trouble with the church as well as Darwin, Lord knows it wasn’t easy. By the way, Darwin was very worried about Mivart, and is said to have kept a close eye on what he was doing. Not surprisingly, because Mivart was essentially selling what was not Darwinism, but was good science. Well, Mivart dabbled in theology. I don’t think a scientist should dabble in theology if he isn’t willing to study it in some depth, but that’s…anyway.  He got in trouble because he had trouble with the doctrine of hell. Now, I would have said: stay well clear of it. But the upshot is, he ended up getting excommunicated. For claiming there could be happiness in hell. Again, I don’t know what was in his mind, but here’s the interesting part: he died shortly afterwards.  I don’t think because of that, he had diabetes at a time when there were no really good treatments for diabetes, in fact it’s believed that … Bryan died of diabetes shortly after the trial.  Just a trivial tidbit. Anyway, Mivart was rehabilitated by the catholic church shortly after his death, because friends represented to authorities there that he probably wasn’t entirely in his right mind when he wrote those things, because diabetes can certainly have an effect on one’s mental state, if it’s essentially untreated, or treated the wrong way.

    But it’s best, I think, given who Mivart was, to see him as an early theistic evolutionist, who rejected the over-reach of Darwinian explanation. He wanted the church to accept a Darwinism of the body but not of the soul.  He probably never considered, as Casey Luskin has ably pointed out, that the battle could not possibly stop there, because it’s the soul they want. It’s only the soul that’s of any value to them. I mean, does anyone really care whether gorillas do it or not? I mean, when you think about it, if you were attemting to advise a president of the United States, would you advise him he ought to take this policy because troops of gorillas have done it? And may of them have survived to gibber and yammer, I’m not going to say tell about it, because that’s what they can’t do, but they survived.  OK, fine, however much he says he supports evolution, he’s not going to have much time for you. That’s not what it is.  But you start telling people in power that you can discount the opinion of the masses because Darwinism can explain why they have those unrealistic opinions that don’t account with Darwinian science, you’re going to get a hearing.  In fact people are getting a hearing, they are getting lots of hearings.

    Now, the catholic intellectuals, to summarise, were all backing a cultural tidal wave that for over a century has successfully reimagined the human being as just another animal. They’ve been very successful with this, you see this everywhere popping up in popular literature, I’m a journalist, not a scientist, not an academic, I read the popular literature for a very good reason, that’s the language I can talk to people in. The Darwinist message as we have seen was too welcome to require evidence, and contrary evidence to Darwinism is a form of blasphemy. When Ayala said that, as was noted earlier, he meant what he said.  He wasn’t just saying something for exaggerated effect. He means that.  It’s blasphemy to oppose Darwinism.  That’s why so many people’s careers have been wrecked on it, why so many journalists fled the scene. That’s the real religion of popular culture. Its creation story. You might as well go to Saudi Arabia and blaspheme Allah, the effect that you’re going to get, although you might only lose your head metaphorically here.

    The Intelligent Design community and its sympathisers are today’s legitimate heirs of the older catholic authors, who, remember, were popular authors in their day. And, on a final note, why doesn’t the Vatican just come out swinging? Given that Benedict XVI is obviously not a Darwinist, and is never going to become one. Why do they pussy foot around?  The Vatican must be cautious, extending much support in the current environment to ID people. That’s partly because they expect you to lose, the way the older catholic authors lost. One hundred years from now, they think, catholic Darwinists will still have tenure. ID-friendly profs will still be persecuted unless they keep their views to themselves,  there will still be no evidence for massive changes in life-forms based on Darwinism, but Darwinism will still be accepted by the community that needs it, for the reason that it is the bedrock of popular belief, its creation story.  Darwinism will continue to underpin the fabric of post-modern life, and evolution will determine whether you cheat on your spouse or you don’t, why someone doubts a highly politicised political nostrum like second-hand smoke, under Darwinism’s rule, doubt will always be explained in terms of a brain function or glitch, or genes. 

    Now, the question Benedict XIV is facing…when he said something fairly innocuous, as far as I could see, about Islam, hundreds of Christians died in riots, in Africa. A nun, who’d spent all her life working in a Muslim country was shot dead. Someone with actual skills, in a developing country, was shot dead. In the same way, when he speaks, about many issues, because people listen to him.  Because what he says matters. I mean the self-ordained Billy-Joe, ranting on a soapbox, in the public park, no-one’s listening to him, it doesn’t matter what he says. But…so…they have to be cautious, they can’t make unnecessary martyrs.

    In world war II, when the catholic bishops decided to denounce the Nazis as in one sense morally, well, they should have – you know what the Nazis did? They rounded up all the Jews who had become Christians – whether actually or to protect themselves – and sent them to camps. That is what the Nazis really thought about the Catholic church, which is the same thing as the new atheists really think about theistic evolutionists. When you force them, they’ll make clear what they really think.

    Blessed Edith Stein, a catholic held in great repute, was one of the executed at that time. The convent had hidden her in the Netherlands, it didn’t work. It didn’t work because the bishops talked.  I’m not saying they shouldn’t have – after prayer and fasting, they made a decision – but, the pope faces this every time he speaks about anything that’s controversial.  So you have to understand that part of the lay of the land.  I’m not trying to make this easy, it’s not easy, it costs me everything, in terms of my career, many many relationships, but…you’re a hack.  I’m a hack. You either go after the story or you don’t.  If I did, I take what comes, if I don’t, it’s someone else’s story.  OK? It’s that simple. Also, keep this in mind: today, any mediocrity can be a Darwinist.  In fact, any yayhoo(?) can be a Darwinist.  You should see some of the abuse I get. If it weren’t a Darwinist saying it to someone who doubts Darwinism, the guy would be raked over the coals for obscene anti-woman hatred.  But no, when he’s a Darwinist, he’s protected.  He can even be a yayhoo. 

    One can believe and propagate anything at all as far as I can see as long as a Darwinian explanation can somehow be constructed.  An atheist neuroscientist tested this once. By coming up with a completely stupid Darwinian explanation for why gentlemen prefer blondes. And it was published in a journal.  Because no-one could have told the difference between nonsense and Darwinism. I’m telling you, I can’t!  And I’m becoming pretty good, right now, at spotting scams, and spoofs – you have to be if you’re on the internet! 

    OK, in conclusion, I think your main risk is being overwhelmed, and drowned out, and tired out, rather than confuted.  Darwinism is now a sea of nonsense and contradiction, and fighting the sea is not a day’s work.  For the ID community, as for the Dutch, in world war II, it was a long-term strategy, successes, failures, you keep going, you might win, you don’t..*shrug*.  Anyway, thank you for listening, and I hope this has been a help.




  14. Sounds like she’s not opposing a scientific theory, because scientific theories can’t be reasonably recreated in religious terms. Sadly, religious terms are the only way she can see the world, and so any scientific theory MUST be cast that way, even if the process leaves nothing sensible (and it doesn’t).

    But, with Mike, I notice that the  world’s other major religions are equally foreign and equally hopeless to fit into her mental model. She ignores them because she doesn’t feel threatened by them, but if she WERE threatened, she’d do the same with Buddhism she does with evolution – distort it into False Creationism, and attack it for being false! 

  15. Am I reading her wrong (it’s hard to tell with the way she rambles), but the above statement seems to imply that it was OK to send “real” Jews to the camps, just not the ones who converted to Catholicism.

  16. Here’s another slice of O’Leary wisdom….

    “Of course you can’t be a Darwinist and a Christian, because Darwinism is about survival of the fittest and Christianity is not.”

    You can’t converse with someone like that. Denyse claims to have been covering the ID ‘controversy’ for over a decade and despite that she unfailingly and prodigiously spews forth such garbage. 

  17. Instead of “why doesn’t God want me to divorce my aging wife for my luscious secretary” was: “well if gorillas do it…”.  You see?

    Just pathetic really.

  18. Jerry Coyne:

    Denyse O’Leary.  Words fail me about this talk, though if you’ve read her you’ll see that she’s exactly what you’d expect: a rambling, incoherent Catholic who is a straight-out creationist. Watch for amusement only, since there’s little substance here.  Note that at 9:15 she says that we know nothing about “stone age man” because all that remains are “a few stones and bones.” She then quotes Chesterton, Hilaire Belloc, and others to show the fallacies of Darwinism. Curiously, though, she acts beleaguered, as if American and Canadian culture were pervaded with strict evolutionary views (as she claims,  “Darwinism is the bedrock of popular culture”), Well, maybe more so in Canada than the U.S., but it’s well known that in the U.S., at least, overt naturalistic evolutionism is accepted by only a minority.

    If you manage to make it through the whole talk, you get a Merit Badge for Intestinal Fortitude. With enemies like her, who needs friends?”

  19. The Catholic Church has sponsored an Academy Of Sciences in one form or another for more than a century. So when they celebrated the 150th anniversary of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species with a conference on evolution, they deliberately chose to exclude some individuals like:

    Jesuit Father Marc Leclerc, a philosophy professor at the Gregorian, told Catholic News Service Sept. 16 2008 that organizers “wanted to create a conference that was strictly scientific” and that discussed rational philosophy and theology along with the latest scientific discoveries. He said arguments “that cannot be critically defined as being science, or philosophy or theology did not seem feasible to include in a dialogue at this level and, therefore, for this reason we did not think to invite” supporters of creationism and intelligent design.

    …and others like:

    Cardinal William Levada, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, said there was a ‘wide spectrum of room’ for belief in both the scientific basis for evolution and faith in God the creator. While the Vatican did not exclude any area of science, it did reject as ‘absurd’ the claim of biologist and author Richard Dawkins and others that evolution proves there is no God.

    …and this is a (partial) summarization of the Academy’s view:

    Statement By The Pontifical Academy Of Sciences On Current Scientific Knowledge On Cosmic Evolution And Biological Evolution (2008)

    We can now understand biological evolution at the molecular level. Hypotheses that had been presented earlier have been validated with novel research strategies. Genetic variation, the driving force of biological evolution, is shown to involve a number of different molecular mechanisms. Genetics as well as computational comparison of DNA sequences allow us to explore these mechanisms, which can be classified into three natural strategies (local DNA sequence changes, intragenomic rearrangement of DNA segments, and acquisition of foreign DNA segments) of different evolutionary qualities. Interestingly, both specific products of so-called evolution genes and a number of non-genetic elements contribute to overall spontaneous mutagenesis, and very low rates of mutagenesis underlie the genetic stability of living organisms.

    Natural selection results from the way by which living organisms deal with encountered living conditions to which both the physicochemical environment and the presence of other organisms in a given ecosystem contribute. Most of the prevalent substrates for natural selection are phenotypes resulting from the presence and activities of expressed gene products. However, particularly for eukaryotic organisms, genome organisation and the compacting of chromosomes into chromatin can also contribute to the outcome of natural selection. The presence of evolution genes determining the evolutionary fitness of living organisms is selected at the population level by second-order selection. Positive selective pressure is also exerted by longterm symbiotic associations between different kinds of microorganisms – for example between humans and several kinds of microorganisms. Organelles, such as mitochondria and chloroplasts, testify to the evolutionary importance of symbiotic cohabitation…

    On several occasions the role of chance was addressed by the Plenum, in relation to both cosmic and biological evolution. According to present scientific knowledge, chance is required in natural reality in order for it to be prepared for rapid adaptation to newly developing situations. In biological evolution, partial randomness in the generation of genetic variants may render populations of organisms more adaptable to changing living conditions…

    The plenary session confirmed the Pontifical Academy of Sciences in its awareness of a remarkable strengthening in recent years of our scientific knowledge about cosmic and biological evolution. One could see in these evolutionary processes a confirmation of the theological concept of creatio continua (creatio and conservatio) which states that creation is a permanent process of participation of being by the Being by essence, who deserves our respect and our praise. Evolution and creation fill us with wonder and awe and remind us of the Biblical benediction: ‘And God saw every thing that He had made, and, behold, it was very good’ (Gen 1:31).

    …and this is a current list of academicians – a decidedly different caliber of talent than offered by the Discovery Institute.

  20. Denyse O’leary nails it with common sense.
    there is piddling little evidence in literature etc backing up the great claims of evolution.
    Its just not there.
    In fact its mostly lines of reasoning and the use of other subjects unrelated to biology that is what is preached to persuade about evolution etc.

    Creationism in fact has a hard time getting its teeth into the error of evolutionary evidence(biological) because so little is presented.
    Piddling is the right word.
    Why is this not the right word? 

  21. Byers sheds more light on the theistic world view than everyone else here put together- unless we wish to count Denyse as “here”.

    And what’s clear from these paragons of theism is that the theistic way to truth is to SAY something is true. No knowledge necessary, nothing but sincere belief.

    And once again, I’m reminded of Molly Ivins’ Military Denier, who could look you straight in the eye, deny that you’re there, and sincerely believe it. It’s a special talent not given to many.   

  22. Creationism in fact has a hard time getting its teeth into the error of evolutionary evidence(biological) because so little is presented.

    Creationist have a hard time getting their teeth into the “errors” of evolutionary evidence because so little of it is actually understood by them.

  23. Flint,

    Please do not assume that Byers (or Denyse) is representative of most theists.

  24. I think that the wording about excluding stuff “that cannot be critically defined as being science” was meant to justify excluding the ID people.  They were sending a clear message that the new pope was not going to be backing the Discovery Institute.

    That was a great relief, after Cardinal Schönbrunn repeated DI arguments in a public statement.

    It is much less surprising that the Vatican publicly disagreed with Richard Dawkins.

  25. Robert Byers may be unique among creationists on the internet, since he understands even less about evolution than either JoeG or Denyse O’Leary.

    “Piddling” would be hyperbole if used to describe his nderstanding of the subject.

    He is on record as asserting that an animal can become its marsupial “equivalent” within a single generation.

    From time to time, he also expresses a pretty unpleasant set of racist and misogynistic attitudes

    Best ignored. As he usually is 

  26. I don’t think they are typical by any means. But I think they boil down a certain aspect of the theistic worldview to its essence. Now, most theists I’ve known are entirely rational in almost every respect, and their religion-compartment is fairly small. But inside that compartment, they resemble Denyse and Byers quite closely. They actually BELIEVE in invisible magical sky-daddies.

  27. Yes, I also found it startling. Thanks for posting the link, Neil. I have met both John G. West and Jay W. Richards in person; decent fellows, thoughtful. This was my first experience of ‘meeting’ Denyse O’Leary. Ouch!

    “there’s great huge frauds in the area of anthropology,” says Denyse. But surely the area of journalism is much safer?

    Thanks for transcript, Elizabeth. Couldn’t finish watching the video, actually!

    Title of this thread ‘THE’ marks singular, but there are in fact plural Theistic Worldviews, e.g. the Abrahamic faiths.

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