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Christians should be eradicated?

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One should perhaps be posting other news on a Thursday, but Barry Arrington’s interesting item about the slight lessening of persecution of Christians in Canada here prompts me to say, many Christians worldwide have lived with irrational hatred of Christians for a long time.

Most Americans rarely notice what is happening in Canada (or any other country). So it might not hurt to suggest that American Christian readers will presently face what Canadian (serious) Christians and (observant) Jews have struggled with for some years. We fought the battle for you. Our compliments.

Now you must join: Here we learn that Christians are a waste of good air in the United States, apparently:

The sociologists, who define Christianophobia as “unreasonable hatred or fear of Christians,” argue that it’s worth exploring potential intense bias against Christians, as it helps readers understand the “social dynamics” that exist in the U.S., according to an official book description.

As far as how prevalent the problem truly is, Yancey told the Christian Post that it’s really a small group of people that hold strong hostility, though that group is comprised of elite individuals with more societal power than the average person.

Yancey said that he and his co-author were motivated to explore potential Christianophonia after they began collecting qualitative data from interviews with liberal activists and noticed a troubling trend among a certain subset of these respondents.

By the way, I don’t think people should be dealing with a Canadian bank that sponsors persecution of Christians.

The good news: The problem created in the world’s most beautiful country (where we welcome all who come in – actual – peace) by the joint attack of Islamists and new atheists forged meaningful links between modern Jews, Christians, and Muslims.

It finally became possible to talk beyond the secular burkha of political correctness.

Specific convictions divide us but, it turned out, what unites us is the promise of a new country, a way to walk away from an oppressive past. Maybe all this means nothing to you:

And maybe this means more:

But note to visiting Yanks: If you do NOT understand what we mean by “the True North strong and free,” please sober up and then take the next flight out.

We will help if we can. It has meant a lot to us, but of course we would never presume to detain you for just being too dumb to get what is at stake.

Hat tip: Stephanie West Allen at Brains on Purpose

 

72 Replies to “Christians should be eradicated?

  1. 1

    N-n-arnia and the N-north!

  2. 2
    bornagain77 says:

    Although, as I grew up in America, I knew of persecution of Christians in other parts of the world,,,

    Persecution of Christians
    Excerpt: In the 20th century, Christians have been persecuted by various groups, and by atheistic states such as the USSR and North Korea. During the Second World War members of many Christian churches were persecuted in Germany for resisting the Nazi ideology. Hitler expressed a desire to destroy the influence of Christian churches within the Third Reich, seeing it as absurdity and nonsense founded on Jewish lies. He planned to do this after the war, and not during it, believing “that suited his immediate political purposes”.
    In more recent times the Christian missionary organization Open Doors (UK) estimates 100 million Christians face persecution, particularly in Muslim-dominated countries such as Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.[2][3] According to the International Society for Human Rights, up to 80% of acts of persecution are directed at people of the Christian faith.[4]
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P.....Christians

    ,,, although, as with most Americans, I knew of that persecution in other nations, it has only been through my involvement with the ID vs. Evolution debate that I have learned of the systematic bias against Christians in America by the, so-called, progressive left. In fact, many college professors are openly hostile towards Christianity:

    Majority of American University Professors have Negative View of Evangelical Christians – 2007
    Excerpt: According to a two-year study released today by the Institute for Jewish & Community Research (IJCR), 53% of non-Evangelical university faculty say they hold cool or unfavorable views of Evangelical Christians – the only major religious denomination to be viewed negatively by a majority of faculty.
    Only 30% of faculty hold positive views of Evangelicals, 56% of faculty in social sciences and humanities departments hold unfavorable views. Results were based on a nationally representative online survey of 1,269 faculty members at over 700 four-year colleges and universities. Margin of error is +/- 3%. ,,,
    Only 20% of those faculty who say religion is very important to them and only 16% of Republicans have unfavorable views of Evangelicals; the percentages rise considerably for faculty who say religion is not important to them (75%) and among Democrats (65%).,,,
    “This survey shows a disturbing level of prejudice or intolerance among U.S. faculty towards tens of millions of Evangelical Christians,,,
    One-third of all faculty also hold unfavorable views of Mormons, and among social sciences and humanities faculty, the figure went up to 38%. Faculty views towards other religious groups are more positive: Only 3% of faculty hold cool/unfavorable feelings towards Jews and only 4% towards Buddhists. Only 13% hold cool/unfavorable views of Catholics and only 9% towards non-Evangelical Christians. Only 18% hold cool/unfavorable views towards atheists.
    A significant majority – 71% of all faculty – agreed with the statement: “This country would be better off if Christian fundamentalists kept their religious beliefs out of politics.” By comparison, only 38% of faculty disagreed that the country would be better off if Muslims became more politically organized.
    http://www.lifesitenews.com/ne.....y/07050808

    Why should Christianity be singled out by academics? What’s with the irrational hatred? Apparently tolerance in academia only means tolerating those who are no real threat to your preferred worldview of atheistic materialism. This severe prejudice against professing Christians simply should not be so. Indeed, colleges should be fighting over recruiting the brightest Christian high school students instead of despising them.
    Although SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) scores for public school students showed a steady decline, for seventeen years from the top spot or near the top spot in the world, after the removal of prayer from the public classroom by the Supreme Court, not by public decree, in 1963, as the last graph on the following sites show,,,

    AMERICA: To Pray Or Not To Pray – David Barton – graphs corrected for population growth
    http://www.whatyouknowmightnotbeso.com/graphs.html

    The effects of the removal of prayer from school were far more devastating than just a sharp drop in SAT scores

    What Happened When the Voluntary Prayer Was Removed From Schools In 1962? David Barton – starting at 5:37 minute mark of this video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=LiudwVNTUWA#t=338
    and continuing through the first few minutes of this video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6zo5L4f57H4

    What Happened When the Praying Stopped? April 6, 2008
    http://www.forerunner.com/fore.....opped.html

    ,,,,On the other hand, the SAT scores for private Christian schools have consistently remained at the top, or near the top, spot in the world. For one example, you can see the dramatic difference, of the SAT scores for private Christian schools compared to public schools, at this following site;

    Aliso Viejo Christian School – SAT 10 Comparison Report
    http://www.alisoviejochristian.....at_10.html

    Thus, since the brightest kids are coming from private Christian schools, then those kids certainly should not be facing an ideological battleground that is biased against them once they get to college!

    Verse and quotes:

    John 13:13
    “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am.”

    “I have a fundamental belief in the Bible as the Word of God, written by men who were inspired. I study the Bible daily.,,, All my discoveries have been made in answer to prayer.”
    – Sir Isaac Newton – Perloff, Tornado in a Junkyard – p241

    “When I was young, I said to God, ‘God, tell me the mystery of the universe.’ But God answered, ‘That knowledge is for me alone.’ So I said, ‘God, tell me the mystery of the peanut.’ Then God said, ‘Well George, that’s more nearly your size.’ And he told me.”
    George Washington Carver

  3. 3
    rvb8 says:

    I’m from New Zealand, but let me paint you a picture:
    Arriving in small town U.S, Canada, an atheist couple enroll their daughter in the local school. She refuses to participate in class prayer, the school recognises her right and every morning she waits in the corridor as the class finish their unconstitutional observance.

    Here is my question News, is the girl brave or cowardly for not recognising Christ?

    I have read enough about the treatment of minority atheists in the US particularly, to know perfectly well who the braver of these two groups is, you should too.

  4. 4
    Bob O'H says:

    It’s not surprising that there are bigots on the atheist side too, and (like all bigotry) I think it should be discouraged. But how important is it? From the interviews, it’s not clear the authors have any evidence (which is OK, if that’s not what they were looking for).

    And this is just bizarre, for all sorts of reasons:

    Yancey cited as evidence non-discrimination policies enacted in California Christian colleges that have forced some student groups out of official recognition if they refuse to allow atheists and other non-Christiand the opportunity to lead those groups — something that he said seems to show evidence of college administrators exhibiting “some degree of latent Christianophobia with a fiction of promoting equality.”

    Not allowing a non-Christian to lead a group is simply discrimination, so I can’t see how objecting to discrimination is ‘latent Christianophobia’, unless one wants to argue that Christians are, by their nature, discriminatory. So that argument’s insulting, at best. On the other hand, if this is specifically about Christian groups, why would an atheist want to lea one, and why would such a group want one as a leader? Why the fuss?

    So, why not just allow non-Christians the chance to lead such a group, and in one tries to do so, get out the popcorn?

  5. 5
    bornagain77 says:

    rvb8, if you are impressed with extraordinary bravery displayed by little girls in the face of adversity, then this following book is a must read by you. I was blown away by this little girl’s bravery, (the youngest girl in her family), in the face of intense opposition from her culture and even her own family (her devoutly Muslim family whom she eventually leads to Christ one by one). She would put most soldiers to shame!

    Face to Face with Jesus: A Former Muslim’s Extraordinary Journey to Heaven and Encounter with the God of Love
    http://www.amazon.com/Face-Jes.....038;sr=1-1

  6. 6
    KRock says:

    @rvb8

    I realize your story is fictitious in nature, but just so you know, school prayer in the Canadian public school board systems was abolished many years ago, by yours truly, “Mr. Tolerance!”

  7. 7
    KRock says:

    @BA77

    I’ll have to add that book to my amazon wish list. Thanks for the link.

  8. 8
    bornagain77 says:

    KRock, all the people (about 5) I have lent that book to have enjoyed her life story immensely. So it comes highly recommended.

  9. 9
    Timaeus says:

    rvb8:

    What is the point of your story? School prayers of the kind you describe have been illegal and unconstitutional in the USA since the early 1960s. If there are any public (as opposed to parochial) schools in the USA that hold such exercises, they are in violation of federal and usually also state constitutions. So all your little girl has to do is tell her parents about the situation, and they will have a lawyer on the school board faster than you can say the word “lawsuit.”

    So what is the point of your fictitious example?

    Are you trying to get us to weep for the plight of the American atheists, surrounded in a sea of Christians? You have to be joking! Atheists (or their kissing cousins, agnostic-de-facto-atheists) are the majority of faculty in all the Ivy League schools and most of the better private and state universities as well. They have de facto control over the Democratic Party and even have a wing within the Republican Party (the “business conservatives” who don’t go in with the religious right); they control the major newspapers and magazines and public-subsidized television (e.g., NOVA); they can ban historical statues from public spaces at will, they can force Christian children to be taught un-Christian models of sexual behavior in tax-paid public schools; they can force into the schools biological teachings about origins which say or imply that particular interpretations of Genesis are false (i.e., they can indirectly use the public schools to negate a religious belief, contrary to the Constitution). When a major East Coast intellectual magazine hosted a series of articles critical of Darwinian evolution — not even offering a religious alternative, just a scientific critique of Darwinian science — the atheists were able to get the editor responsible fired and block the author from publishing in that magazine ever again. When an leading astronomer at a state university, the discoverer of several extra-solar planets, and a good teacher with a citation record higher than that of anyone in his department, and 68 peer-reviewed article plus a major textbook to his credit, published a book (in his private capacity, and which was not mentioned in his classroom teaching or professional research) indicating that the position of the earth seemed to indicate an unusual degree of fine-tuning suggestive of intelligent design, he lost tenure — and it is an established fact that pre-agitation by the atheist community at the college was among the factors. (In the meantime, Carl Sagan, Stephen Jay Gould, etc. regularly published books with the opposite purport — there is no design or purpose to the universe — and were never punished for it with career termination.)

    And it’s not just the scientific and intellectual establishment. The atheists dominate Broadway and Hollywood and hence the cultural propaganda which most Americans absorb with the air they breathe. They exercise cultural, social, legal and institutional power far out of proportion to their percentage of the population. In this, atheists resemble the radical feminists, who exercise the same sort of power far out of proportion to the support for their views among the general population.

    It’s really hard for me to get worked up about your lonely atheist child, under these circumstances.

    rvb, as far as I can tell, you have no sense of proportion, no ability to take in and properly weight evidence regarding where real social power lies in a nation. Perhaps you need to leave New Zealand and take a trip to the USA and learn what it is like on the ground, instead of relying on rumors.

  10. 10
    Silver Asiatic says:

    That’s probably a good OP, Timaeus. Titled something like: The Plight of the American Atheist … or put in question form, “Should we weep for the plight of the American Atheist”?

  11. 11
    bornagain77 says:

    Timaeus at 9 ,, Well said!

  12. 12
    hrun0815 says:

    re #9:

    Oh my gosh, the poor oppressed majority of Christians in the US. The country where you can count atheist politicians on one hand. These atheists are so powerful in their oppression of the masses that these few guys are enough to turn the life of the down-to-earth, god-fearing American massed into pure misery.

    I heard that by now there might even be a handful of atheists in the military and police force so pretty soon all Christians will likely find themselves in a few reservations somewhere in the Midwest.

    And it’s all directed by the folks who hold the real power in the US college professors and gays.

  13. 13
    Timaeus says:

    hrun0815:

    You answered my detailed list of facts about current US reality with sarcasm. I gather that means you have no refutation for either the facts or the analysis. And rvb8 has chickened out as well, I see.

    In fact, of about 6 different people I’ve engaged with here over the past few weeks, none of them has responded to any of my rebuttals. In the old days, I would have met with vigorous and sometimes competent argument against my claims. Often I would be attacked by 5 or 6 people at once, and the debates would go on for weeks. Now the people I oppose fold up after the first blow.

    I must infer that the anti-ID folks posting here these days are of less intellectual substance than were Kantian Naturalist, Elizabeth Liddle, etc. We seem to be getting a lot of people here nowadays with a very superficial knowledge of the issues, who want to cruise through, deliver a cute one-liner on a subject, then duck out and join another discussion. We seem to be getting people with no intellectual stamina, no intellectual courage. If this is the opposition to ID these days, ID is in very good shape.

  14. 14
    hrun0815 says:

    Re #13:

    That’s what you call ‘facts and analysis’? If I were you I’d look at that when considering the state of ID.

  15. 15
    Timaeus says:

    Aurelio Smith:

    I never said or implied that KN was not respectful. But his respectfulness or lack thereof has nothing to do with my point. My point was about his intellectual competence to engage on the subject-matter. I don’t see that in current commenters here on UD. They appear to know nothing about what ID actually claims (i.e., they know about ID only from rumors and hearsay), they appear to know very little about natural science (i.e., they simply repeat the pop-science cliches of journalists like Mooney), and they appear to know nothing about religion (except that they hate it). And they don’t respond to rebuttals or questions of clarifications; when challenged, they just back out (e.g., polistra, rvb8, milling, etc.). ID will have no trouble at all in the world with opposition on this level.

    As for E Liddle, yes, she was banned, but the bans have been lifted and several formerly banned people are now posting here again, sometimes under altered screen names. So she can come back. But she hasn’t posted anything even on her *own* website for months now — no columns, no comments. It’s lack of interest on her part — or perhaps lack of time — that is keeping her away, not any ban. I don’t know whether she is weary of arguing about evolution and ID, or is busy giving cello concerts, or is doing her own scientific research, or something else, but she clearly no longer wants to spend the time she used to spend wrangling on web sites.

    You seem to have problems understanding my writing. I don’t know why; most people tell me it’s rather clear. But in response to my post you accuse me of talking about religious dogmas and you launch into a soapbox speech about religion having nothing to do with reality (tell that to Isaac Newton, Robert Boyle, Charles Townes, etc.). I didn’t make claims about such things. If I discussed religion above, it was in the context not of the truth or falsity of religion, but to rebut the claim that little atheist girls are weeping all over the USA because of the repressions of religion. In fact, religion has been on the defensive for quite some time, and only someone who doesn’t pay attention to the news and to legal and constitutional developments and to general cultural trends could think otherwise. The intelligentsia of the USA — which has control of the major media, much of the civil service machinery, and the university chairs — is largely atheist-leaning. Reality for a culture is shaped by those who control the means of communication. (Read 1984 if you don’t understand this.) Young lawyers in training, journalists in training, teachers in training, etc. are systematically indoctrinated in secular humanism at all the universities and colleges except those controlled by religious groups. If you don’t know this, you don’t understand the cultural reality of the USA. You must live in Bangladesh or someplace far from life on the ground.

    This has nothing to do with whether or not Christianity is true. The point is that, in the USA, while probably 40% of the population holds to a fairly narrow Protestant sort of religion, the intelligentsia is largely atheist/agnostic. I made this point, and the response I got was sarcasm. No data, just sarcasm.

    I await the statistics showing me how many Harvard biology professors and Stanford astrophysics professors are devout Presbyterians and Baptists. I await the statistics showing me how many PBS producers are devout Adventists or Baptists. I await the statistics showing me how many writers at the New York Times and The New Republic are devout Orthodox Jews or devout Roman Catholics. But I guess I’m a fool to expect little things like “facts” influence the ideology of the current crop of ID critics who post here.

    I note that you are the second person who has jumped in to defend the first person I replied to — who himself has cut and run, like all intellectual cowards, leaving others to defend what he himself wasn’t man enough to defend. But that’s smart-alecky internet secular humanism for you — all mouth, no spine. Must be a developmental deformity in the body plan.

  16. 16
    Timaeus says:

    hrun0815:

    True to form, you again reply with sarcasm — which cannot cover up the fact neither the new reply nor the old reply deals with any claim in my comments. Either admit that I stated the facts correctly, or refute my account with empirical data. But stop with the childish sarcasm.

  17. 17
    Bob O'H says:

    Bigotry is a strong word for dismissing religions as having reality only to the extent of being created by human imagination.

    That’s not what I was calling bigotry. It’s one thing to say that religions are wrong, quite another to have an “unreasonable hatred or fear of Christians”. Unfortunately some people do (just as some people have an unreasonable hatred or fear of atheists, Muslims, Hindus etc.).

  18. 18
    kairosfocus says:

    AS:

    I saw Timaeus commenting, who is always worth a read. In your exchange with him you tossed this atheistical talking point, which drips with contempt and inadvertent revelation:

    The simple fact is that religious dogmas are made up. They have no existence in reality beyond human imagination.

    On what grounds do you know that “religious dogmas” — loaded and neatly vague terms — are “made up”?

    With all due respect and on fair comment, you come across here as inappropriately contempt-filled, dismissive and ignorant, if you can pardon direct words that are as direct as your own.

    I will explain.

    First, we all have worldviews which at core have faith commitments that are unprovable. Otherwise the quest for certainty or “proof” leads to infinite stepwise regress and/or circularity. The issue is what faith-point we hold, why.

    Second, ethical theism is at first level philosophical, not a matter of a “dogma.”

    That is, it is a reasonable and defensible faith-point on comparative difficulties, to hold for first pre-theistic instance that the best explanation of a fine tuned cosmos and of life that from cells on up is chock-full of coded information, organised algorithm executing machines, and functionally specific complex organisation is design.

    Where too — in a world where there is no more reason to doubt the general testimony of conscience that we are under the government of ought than to doubt our ability to access mathematical realities and to perceive the external world — the only serious candidate for a foundational IS that grounds OUGHT is the inherently good Creator-God, a necessary and maximally great being. (Cf. here and here on what this is about.)

    Next, you need to face the dogmatic implications of the sort of a priori evolutionary materialist scientism that has been drummed into the zones of our civilisation that hold intellectual pretensions. For instance, here is Lewontin’s frank acknowledgement, which your cited remark quite directly echoes:

    . . . the problem is to get them [hoi polloi] to reject irrational and supernatural explanations of the world, the demons that exist only in their imaginations, and to accept a social and intellectual apparatus, Science, as the only begetter of truth [–> NB: this is a knowledge claim about knowledge and its possible sources, i.e. it is a claim in philosophy not science; it is thus self-refuting]. . . .

    It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes [–> another major begging of the question . . . ] to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute [–> i.e. here we see the fallacious, indoctrinated, ideological, closed mind . . . ], for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door . . . [From: “Billions and Billions of Demons,” NYRB, January 9, 1997. In case you imagine this is “quote-mined” I suggest you read the fuller annotated cite here.]

    This declares a cultural agenda and triumphalistic narrative, rooted in a priori — thus, dogmatic in the bad sense — imposition of evolutionary materialism, contempt to those who differ and adherence to the notion that “science” so defined is the fountainhead of truth and knowledge. Implicit, is the view that if one dares to differ (especially on theistic grounds) one can only be ignorant, stupid, insane or wicked. That theme starts in the title for Sagan’s The Demon-Haunted World . . . given the loaded nature of that term in our time. It continues through the dismissive notion that theism is delusional, and it culminates in a triumphalism that is at best ill advised and question-begging.

    Fail.

    Fail, precisely because of ill-advised contempt for serious worldviews level reflection driven by naive and self-referentially incoherent scientism:

    scientism . . . 2. the belief that the assumptions and methods of the natural sciences are appropriate and essential to all other disciplines, including the humanities and the social sciences. [-Ologies & -Isms. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc.]

    You will also note that I have focussed on a worldview approach so far, as opposed to that broad-brush dismissive term, “religion.” That is to emphasise the first level of the issue.

    I am not letting slide that the above is primarily meant to attack the Judaeo-Christian worldview, and particularly the faith of Christians who have not compromised with the dominant atheism of the intelligentsia.

    I suggest on this, that you may find here on a useful first level, a summary of the historically anchored warrant for Christian faith and discipleship. (Including a useful introductory video.)

    While many Christians — as are most people in general — not particularly academically sophisticated or inclined, the Christian Faith is not merely a matter of imaginary notions imposed by priestcraft.

    For me, at first level, the mere fact that I am sitting here to type this is a reminder that apart from a miracle of guidance in answer to prayer I would have died of a chronic disease decades ago. Millions across the ages have a similar direct experience of encounter with the living God, which is not going to be surrendered in the face of mere skeptically dismissive notions, even those that are dressed up in the lab coat. A reality beats a rhetorical talking point every-time.

    And, the failure of the dismissive skeptics to seriously engage with the broad reality of experience of God in life for millions across time and across the globe (ironically, a failure to be adequately empirical), is a red flag sign to many of these same ordinary people. A sign that they are dealing with closed minded indoctrinated selective hyperskepticism backed up by glib talking points. And, too often by intimidation in institutions, as Timaeus has aptly summarised.

    I further put it to you, that there is indeed a fairly aggressive radically secularist agenda at work across our civilisation, one that has rewritten history to make “religion” out to be the enemy of “progress.” One that imagines that dressing up in a lab coat and taking science hostage to materialism is the vanguard of progress. One that fails to realise the fatal flaws in such materialism that have been on record since Plato’s warning in The Laws, Bk X, 2350 years ago — yes, the pagan philosophers took the measure and found materialism sadly wanting long ago, even before theism was a major force in our civilisation:

    Ath. . . .[The avant garde philosophers and poets, c. 360 BC] say that fire and water, and earth and air [i.e the classical “material” elements of the cosmos], all exist by nature and chance, and none of them by art . . . [such that] all that is in the heaven, as well as animals and all plants, and all the seasons come from these elements, not by the action of mind, as they say, or of any God, or from art, but as I was saying, by nature and chance only [ –> that is, evolutionary materialism is ancient and would trace all things to blind chance and mechanical necessity] . . . .

    [Thus, they hold] that the principles of justice have no existence at all in nature, but that mankind are always disputing about them and altering them; and that the alterations which are made by art and by law have no basis in nature, but are of authority for the moment and at the time at which they are made.- [ –> Relativism, too, is not new; complete with its radical amorality rooted in a worldview that has no foundational IS that can ground OUGHT.] These, my friends, are the sayings of wise men, poets and prose writers, which find a way into the minds of youth. They are told by them that the highest right is might [ –> Evolutionary materialism — having no IS that can properly ground OUGHT — leads to the promotion of amorality on which the only basis for “OUGHT” is seen to be might (and manipulation: might in “spin”)], and in this way the young fall into impieties, under the idea that the Gods are not such as the law bids them imagine; and hence arise factions [ –> Evolutionary materialism-motivated amorality “naturally” leads to continual contentions and power struggles influenced by that amorality], these philosophers inviting them to lead a true life according to nature, that is,to live in real dominion over others [ –> such amoral factions, if they gain power, “naturally” tend towards ruthless abuse], and not in legal subjection to them

    Domineering, dogmatic factionalism driven by ideologies that have in them no foundational IS capable of grounding OUGHT precisely describes what we face today, to the detriment of our civilisation.

    I close with a warning from one of the Hebrew prophets, Isaiah, a warning that looks likely to become the epitaph of our civilisation, on current trends:

    Isa 5:18 Woe to those who draw iniquity with cords of falsehood,
    who draw sin as with cart ropes,
    19 who say: “Let him be quick,
    let him speed his work
    that we may see it;
    let the counsel of the Holy One of Israel draw near,
    and let it come, that we may know it!”

    20 Woe to those who call evil good
    and good evil,
    who put darkness for light
    and light for darkness,
    who put bitter for sweet
    and sweet for bitter!

    21 Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes,
    and shrewd in their own sight! [ESV]

    KF

  19. 19
  20. 20
    kairosfocus says:

    AS,

    When your view reflects a broad-brush across the board dismissal, it needs to be replied to. I notice, onwards that you have diverted to talking about folklore. The pivotal worldview level case for ethical theism is a philosophical one, and the grounds for the Christian Faith cannot be properly, honestly, dismissed as “folklore” or anything in that line of themes.

    As for “myths,” here is the Apostle Peter, facing execution by Nero on false accusation of leading a cult that set fire to Rome, c 64 AD:

    2 Pet 1:16 For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty . . . 19 And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

    There is a substantial issue on the table [in fact there are several], such is not to be brushed aside with contempt-laced rhetorical talking points.

    KF

    PS, added: On there isn’t any evidence, I can start with the fact that I am here at all, as noted above. I already linked a discussion on evidence regarding the cluster of miracles at the foundation of the Christian Faith. What you really mean is something else, that you are unwilling to respond to evidence of miracles other than via selectively hyperskeptical dismissal, probably driven by the error that “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” That means in praxis that if something challenges my worldview, I am not going to allow any reasonable standard of adequate evidence to be used. That’s a question-begging double standard of warrant.

  21. 21
    Timaeus says:

    Aurelio Smith (21):

    Whether religious beliefs are true or false is entirely irrelevant to what we were debating here. What we were debating was the relative cultural power of atheism versus Christianity in the USA. My point was that though Christians are certainly more numerous than atheists, atheists have huge cultural, political and social power because they control most of the intellectual levers of the society. In an agrarian society, intellectual levers are much less important, but in a society based on modern methods of communication and information-sharing, intellectual levers are much more important. When 1% of the population goes on for education past high school, it probably does not matter that 85% of the university/college faculty are atheist-agnostic; when 40% of the population, including all of those destined to become schoolteachers, civil servants, journalists or professionals of any kind, and most of those destined to become corporate and union leaders, goes on for education past high school, an 85% dominance in the faculties of higher educational institutions gives the secular humanist religion (and that’s what it is) huge shaping power over the thought of the current and future society.

    It appears that you and a couple of others here do not have the sociological imagination needed to grasp this; well, as I said, if that is the level of intellectual ability of the anti-ID crowd around here, I don’t much fear their ability to impair the progress of ID. If you can’t follow what I just explained, it is unlikely you could follow, let alone refute, even a chapter of any book by Behe, Denton, or Dembski, where the material to be grasped is more difficult.

    I look forward to your refutation of my arguments in the earlier posts above — if you have one. But I no more expect you to be able to stay on topic than I would expect rvb, hrun, kohoutek, polistra, gmilling, Seversky or any of the others to have the spine — or the knowledge of science or theology — to defend their positions against my criticisms. The jackals always flee when the lion appears. And it doesn’t appear that there are any anti-ID lions around here any more, so I seem to have no serious rival.

    I guess the “lions” are all hiding out at Panda’s Thumb, licking their leonine wounds as they gaze at the climbing sales figures of Meyer’s latest book, and wondering why their usual “dirty tricks” campaign at Amazon and Borders etc. wasn’t enough to stop the tide.

  22. 22
    Barry Arrington says:

    AS @ 21:

    People love stories and are very good at making stories up.

    If your irony meter didn’t just redline you should have it checked out. Darwinists have long been masters of the “just so” story (does anyone remember the bear turning into a whale story from early editions of Origin). Amusing.

  23. 23
    kairosfocus says:

    AS & BA,

    Let me clip Simon Greenleaf on the subject of made up stories:

    Every event which actually transpires has its appropriate relation and place in the vast complication of circumstances, of which the affairs of men consist; it owes its origin to the events which have preceded it, it is intimately connected with all others which occur at the same time and place, and often with those of remote regions, and in its turn gives birth to numberless others which succeed. In all this almost inconceivable contexture, and seeming discord, there is perfect harmony; and while the fact, which really happened, tallies exactly with every other contemporaneous incident, related to it in the remotest degree, it is not possible for the wit of man to invent a story, which, if closely compared with the actual occurrences of the same time and place, may not be shown to be false. [Testimony of the Evangelists, Kregel Reprint 1995, p. 39.]

    We can make up stories yes, but not in the face of such a test. I again invite a look here on.

    And on the main point of this thread — note I have picked up the side-issue elsewhere — if one cannot see the significance of a small but influential faction seizing power to make the shadow shows in Plato’s Cave and to force many to be indoctrinated thereby in the name of education and science etc, then something is wrong.

    KF

    PS: Note, the comparison is to the ACTUAL reality, not the message that dominates an institution or community . . . as we see from Lewontin. As in, ex falso, quodlibet. Which is not just a principle of explosion on a contradiction in an argument, but a warning on how accepting falsehood for truth and refusal to be corrected or even questioned leads to loss of ability to recognise the real truth, and to loss of discernment leading to . . . the march of folly. The blind can lead the blind — straight into the ditch. (And all along the way to the edge, they will denigrate the credibility of sight.)

  24. 24
    kairosfocus says:

    AS, you do not have a right to insistently slap the unjustified dismissive label, “myth” across either the worldview of theism, or the narrower frame of the Christian faith. Neither of these is a myth, first in philosophical terms then in terms of core historical warrant and warrant from the world of direct life-transforming experience of millions — including the simple fact that I am alive to respond as the result of miraculous answer to prayer. (Kindly cf the onward links at 20 above.] And in fact you are resorting to a selectively hyperskeptical dismissal in order to justify supporting exactly the sort of irrational hostility to Christians the OP speaks of. T has already addressed the issue of institutional and cultural dominance and agenda, I add that the pretence of cornering the market on reality and intelligent views put up by evolutionary materialism leads to exactly what one would expect of a view that has in it no access to an IS capable of soundly grounding OUGHT: might and manipulation make ‘right’ and ‘truth/knowledge’ etc. In fact, evolutionary materialism is inherently self-refuting by undermining the credibility of responsible & rational warranting & knowing mind, responsible freedom and responsible conduct . . . if it were true such things could not exist. But such things do exist so it cannot be right, and it depends on such things when it tries to justify itself, falling into self-refutation. KF

    PS: Onlookers, as just one of the ways evolutionary materialism self refutes, here is J B S Haldane, noted evolutionary theorist:

    “It seems to me immensely unlikely that mind is a mere by-product of matter. For if my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true. They may be sound chemically, but that does not make them sound logically. And hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms. In order to escape from this necessity of sawing away the branch on which I am sitting, so to speak, I am compelled to believe that mind is not wholly conditioned by matter.” [“When I am dead,” in Possible Worlds: And Other Essays [1927], Chatto and Windus: London, 1932, reprint, p.209.]

    PPS: I jusy note on using the 20 min feature that claims about hippos and whales need to be addressed on showing empirical observation that supports the claim that a hippo ancestor or the like or Darwin’s bear or the cow as discussed some years ago, can be incrementally transformed in body plan in realistic pops with realistic generation spans to make a whale by chance variation and differential reproductive success, creating requisite functionally specific complex organisation and associated info. Berlinski’s count for a cow was 50,000 steps and counting. The contrast between swallowing a body plan origination mechanism that cannot pass the vera causa test and insisting on brushing off a serious worldview as a myth, as well as the history of the founding of the Christian faith, speaks volumes on the problem of selective hyperskepticism.

  25. 25
    Timaeus says:

    Aurelio Smith:

    You say discrimination is rife in the USA. Do you mean there are legal and constitutional barriers to atheists? If so, name them.

    Or do you mean that there are non-constitutional, non-legal, *social* barriers to an atheist President? Well, what if there are? Those things change over time. Years ago they said a Catholic could never be President of the USA, and then there was Kennedy. Then they said a black man could never be President, and then there was Obama. They said there was discrimination against women Presidents, but the Republicans have had two female Vice Presidential candidates — and those women could have become President had they won the election and the President died. They said the Supreme Court was closed to women, but then Ronald Reagan appointed a woman.

    If there is no legal or constitutional barrier to an office, then eventually anyone can hold that office — woman, homosexual, Hispanic, Jew, atheist. It’s only a matter of time. Of course it is likely that the first atheist Presidential candidate will euphemistically call himself “agnostic” to avoid jarring traditional sensitivities too much. But I expect to see some openly nonbelieving candidates, probably within the next 20 years. As the culture changes, what people vote for changes. (Up in Canada, their biggest province has an openly lesbian premier. It would have been unthinkable for her to have been elected even 30 years ago. Now there is no barrier.)

    It would also help increase the potential number of atheist candidates, women candidates, etc., if Americans had enough political imagination and daring to support more than two parties. So maybe the atheists should get busy starting up some new parties, or supporting some minor third parties already in existence but not doing so well. But again, there is no constitutional or legal barrier.

    No one can stop an atheist from getting nominated, putting up the necessary money, and running. And no one can stop you from voting for an atheist in the privacy of the voting booth. And if your candidate doesn’t win, that doesn’t prove that he lost because he was an atheist. Maybe he just wasn’t a very good candidate. Find a better one. Get a Rhodes Scholar with degrees from Oxford and Harvard, with years of successful business experience, a likable personality, a record of unscrupulous honesty, years of service in charitable organizations, happily married, etc. Such a person could win. An angry, belligerent literary atheist with the personality of dirty dishwater, like Chris Hitchens — not so much. A nut case like Peter Singer, not so much. A science nerd with a chip on his shoulder like Larry Krauss, not so much. No atheist has the right to be President just to prove that an an atheist can be elected. The candidate has to be worthy of the office. Find such a person. Put money behind him or her. Stop whining about discrimination, and act, the same way that the people behind Kennedy and Obama acted.

    Regarding the TSZ personnel, I have debated every major one of them here on this site, including Elizabeth, Alan Fox, KeithS, etc. And the debates were long and detailed. We did not of course reach agreement on most things, because the programmatic atheism and materialism of most of the TSZ gang precluded getting very far. But there was some productive give-and-take; Elizabeth was capable of granting points, and she made a point of reading ID literature at length before criticizing it, which I respected. Alan Fox was always polite and I respected that. Kantian Naturalist was great because of his philosophical training; he was no partisan yahoo for reductionist scientism. I have not signed up at TSZ because I see no fresh ideas there at all, and arguments would just be rehashes of arguments already held here, which anyone can look up. My basic position on most of the issues has not changed.

    Why do you need bulleted points? My original claims here were made in #9 above. I asked rvb, then hrun, then you, to refute those claims, or concede them. Just about every sentence in #9 is a proposition which is either true or false. Example:

    “School prayers of the kind you describe have been illegal and unconstitutional in the USA since the early 1960s. If there are any public (as opposed to parochial) schools in the USA that hold such exercises, they are in violation of federal and usually also state constitutions.”

    Are those claims true or false? If true, you should concede them. If false, show where the error is.

    Go through the rest of #9: lather, rinse, repeat. You shouldn’t need bullet points. The prose is clear, and so are the claims. Don’t just *say* that I’m wrong — *show* that I’m wrong. If you can. 🙂

  26. 26
    hrun0815 says:

    BTW, hrun and Seversky have recently mentioned elsewhere that they can no longer post comments here.

    Nope. I can still post. It’s just hard to find my computer what with all that snow!

  27. 27
    hrun0815 says:

    AS, you do not have a right to insistently slap the unjustified dismissive label, “myth” across either the worldview of theism, or the narrower frame of the Christian faith.

    Heh. I am pretty sure that this is a right AS quite certainly has.

  28. 28
    PaV says:

    Aurelio:

    When I was four or five, I was in the backyard having a great time on the swing. My greatest joy came when I could swing myself up high enough to look over the top crossbar. On a day when there were no clouds in the sky, a crystal-clear blue-sky day, I decided to lean all the way back when I got up onto the top. When I did that, I couldn’t see a thing: only a big, uniformly blue sky, filled with nothing. I did this over and over again because of the inward feeling it gave me. I felt like I was alone in the universe—though I didn’t know what that word meant. What I felt was my own personal existence—I existed even though nothing else did (a big, empty sky—a blue screen).

    Having come to the experience of my existence, I wondered where this reality came from. Where did my existence come from? That is, what ’caused’ my existence?

    I couldn’t really answer the question. So, when my Dad got home I asked him. I asked him: where did I come from? He was a little startled by my question, but then answered that I came from my mother and him. So I asked him where he came from. He said from his mom and dad. And where did they come from? So we quickly got to the ‘first’ man and the ‘first’ woman. And where did they come from? God created them? Who is God? He is the Creator Who made all things. Who made Him? No one made God. God always existed. Where does God live? Heaven. Where’s heaven? Up above the skies. How far up? Way, way up.

    I chewed on this for awhile, and it made sense to me in some way. Then, that evening, I asked my Mom about God. Does God exist? Yes. Where does He live? Heaven. Why can’t we see God? Because He is too great for us to see and not die (or something to this effect IIRC) How do we know God exists? We just know. God lets us know He exists.

    Then she taught me how to pray. Days later, when I found out the next door neighbor didn’t say the “Hail Mary,” I was confused. So my Mom told me that we were Catholics, and that others were Christians (Yes, we’re all Christians—but I was four or five; probably closer to four).

    Now, where is the mythology in all of this? My fundamental experience, outside of all religious discussions(I hadn’t had any yet), led me inexorably to God. I didn’t ‘learn’ about religion, and then believe in God; I believed in God, and then was given a religion. Which is to say that our reason is fully capable of leading us to God. Religion is consonant with reason. Yet, our free will is fully capable of rejecting God, and thus acting ‘unreasonably.’

    (Atheist scientists want to tell us that if you believe in God, then something is wrong with our reason. Yet, the problem is is that something is probably wrong with their ‘will,’ which, in fact, causes them to ‘reason’ faultily. The Left in America is, to a great degree atheist/agnostic. And if you bother to look up almost anything the Left hangs their hat on, you’ll find that when you trace it back, you come up with nothing but mythology. How ironic.)

  29. 29
    Piotr says:

    PaV,

    Now, where is the mythology in all of this?

    Since you ask, the “first” man and the “first” woman are purely mythical to begin with. Personifying the unknown as a deity would qualify too.

    After all, you didn’t find it all out on your own. People you loved and trusted told you so in good faith, so you accepted the explanation (the added bonus for the parents is that they can stop a child from asking questions endlessly). It was a perfectly natural process. Some people remain under the spell of such formative influence all their lives, others change their minds later on. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with their reason either way.

  30. 30
    bornagain77 says:

    as to:

    “the “first” man and the “first” woman are purely mythical to begin with.”

    Actually that claim is not true in the least. The belief that unguided processes produced man from some lower animal is what, upon rigid examination of the evidence, turns out to be pure mythology:

    In establishing this fact, first, the anatomy of chimps and humans is far more different than many people presuppose:

    The Red Ape – Cornelius Hunter – August 2009
    Excerpt: “There remains, however, a paradoxical problem lurking within the wealth of DNA data: our morphology and physiology have very little, if anything, uniquely in common with chimpanzees to corroborate a unique common ancestor. Most of the characters we do share with chimpanzees also occur in other primates, and in sexual biology and reproduction we could hardly be more different. It would be an understatement to think of this as an evolutionary puzzle.”
    http://darwins-god.blogspot.co.....d-ape.html

    In “Science,” 1975, M-C King and A.C. Wilson were the first to publish a paper estimating the degree of similarity between the human and the chimpanzee genome. This documented the degree of genetic similarity between the two! The study, using a limited data set, found that we were far more similar than was thought possible at the time. Hence, we must be one with apes mustn’t we? But…in the second section of their paper King and Wilson honestly describe the deficiencies of such reasoning:
    “The molecular similarity between chimpanzees and humans is extraordinary because they differ far more than sibling species in anatomy and way of life. Although humans and chimpanzees are rather similar in the structure of the thorax and arms, they differ substantially not only in brain size but also in the anatomy of the pelvis, foot, and jaws, as well as in relative lengths of limbs and digits (38).
    Humans and chimpanzees also differ significantly in many other anatomical respects, to the extent that nearly every bone in the body of a chimpanzee is readily distinguishable in shape or size from its human counterpart (38).
    Associated with these anatomical differences there are, of course, major differences in posture (see cover picture), mode of locomotion, methods of procuring food, and means of communication. Because of these major differences in anatomy and way of life, biologists place the two species not just in separate genera but in separate families (39). So it appears that molecular and organismal methods of evaluating the chimpanzee human difference yield quite different conclusions (40).”

    King and Wilson went on to suggest that the morphological and behavioral between humans and apes,, must be due to variations in their genomic regulatory systems.
    David Berlinski – The Devil’s Delusion – Page 162&163
    Evolution at Two Levels in Humans and Chimpanzees Mary-Claire King; A. C. Wilson – 1975

    Why Keith Blanchard really doesn’t understand evolution – August 9, 2014
    Excerpt: The anatomical differences between humans and chimpanzees, which are quite extensive, are conveniently summarized in a handout prepared by Anthropology Professor Claud A. Ramblett the University of Texas, entitled, Primate Anatomy. Anyone who thinks that a series of random stepwise mutations, culled by the non-random but unguided process of natural selection, can account for the anatomical differences between humans and chimpanzees, should read this article very carefully. What it reveals is that an entire ensuite of changes, relating to the skull, teeth, vertebrae, thorax, shoulder, arms, hands, pelvis, legs and feet, not to mention the rate of skeletal maturation and method of locomotion, would have been required, in order to transform the common ancestor of humans and chimps into creatures like ourselves. Given the sheer diversity of changes that would have been required, it is surely reasonable to ask whether an unguided process, such as Darwinian macroevolution, could have accomplished this feat over a period of a few million years.
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....evolution/

    In fact so great are the anatomical differences between humans and chimps that a Darwinist, since pigs turn out to be anatomically closer to humans than chimps are, actually hypothesized that a chimp and pig might have mated with each other and that is what ultimately gave rise to humans:

    Human hybrids: a closer look at the theory and evidence – July 25, 2013
    Excerpt: There was considerable fallout, both positive and negative, from our first story covering the radical pig-chimp hybrid theory put forth by Dr. Eugene McCarthy,,,By and large, those coming out against the theory had surprisingly little science to offer in their sometimes personal attacks against McCarthy.
    ,,,Under the alternative hypothesis (humans are not pig-chimp hybrids), the assumption is that humans and chimpanzees are equally distant from pigs. You would therefore expect chimp traits not seen in humans to be present in pigs at about the same rate as are human traits not found in chimps. However, when he searched the literature for traits that distinguish humans and chimps, and compiled a lengthy list of such traits, he found that it was always humans who were similar to pigs with respect to these traits. This finding is inconsistent with the possibility that humans are not pig-chimp hybrids, that is, it rejects that hypothesis.,,,
    http://phys.org/news/2013-07-h.....dence.html

    Second, despite the cartoon drawings depicting an ape gradually turning into a human i.e. ‘march to man’, there is actually a sharp discontinuity in the fossil record between man and ape fossils:

    “We have all seen the canonical parade of apes, each one becoming more human. We know that, as a depiction of evolution, this line-up is tosh (i.e. nonsense). Yet we cling to it. Ideas of what human evolution ought to have been like still colour our debates.”
    Henry Gee, editor of Nature (478, 6 October 2011, page 34, doi:10.1038/478034a),

    “A number of hominid crania are known from sites in eastern and southern Africa in the 400- to 200-thousand-year range, but none of them looks like a close antecedent of the anatomically distinctive Homo sapiens…Even allowing for the poor record we have of our close extinct kin, Homo sapiens appears as distinctive and unprecedented…there is certainly no evidence to support the notion that we gradually became who we inherently are over an extended period, in either the physical or the intellectual sense.”
    Dr. Ian Tattersall: – paleoanthropologist – emeritus curator of the American Museum of Natural History – (Masters of the Planet, 2012)

    Man is indeed as unique, as different from all other animals, as had been traditionally claimed by theologians and philosophers.
    Evolutionist Ernst Mayr (What Evolution Is. 2001)

    In the following podcasts, Casey Luskin, speaking at a recent Science and Human Origins conference, discusses why the fossil evidence doesn’t support the claim that humans evolved from ape-like precursors.
    2014 – podcast – Casey Luskin – On Human Origins: What the Fossils Tell Us, part 1
    http://www.discovery.org/multi.....s-tell-us/
    podcast – Casey Luskin – On Human Origins: What the Fossils Tell Us, part 2
    http://www.discovery.org/multi.....l-us-pt-2/
    podcast – Casey Luskin – On Human Origins: What the Fossils Tell Us, part 3
    http://www.discovery.org/multi.....l-us-pt-3/
    podcast – Casey Luskin – On Human Origins: What the Fossils Tell Us, part 4
    http://www.discovery.org/multi.....l-us-pt-4/

    Human/Ape Common Ancestry: Following the Evidence – Casey Luskin – June 2011
    Excerpt: So the researchers constructed an evolutionary tree based on 129 skull and tooth measurements for living hominoids, including gorillas, chimpanzees, orangutans and humans, and did the same with 62 measurements recorded on Old World monkeys, including baboons, mangabeys and macaques. They also drew upon published molecular phylogenies. At the outset, Wood and Collard assumed the molecular evidence was correct. “There were so many different lines of genetic evidence pointing in one direction,” Collard explains. But no matter how the computer analysis was run, the molecular and morphological trees could not be made to match15 (see figure, below). Collard says this casts grave doubt on the reliability of using morphological evidence to determine the fine details of evolutionary trees for higher primates. “It is saying it is positively misleading,” he says. The abstract of the pair’s paper stated provocatively that “existing phylogenetic hypotheses about human evolution are unlikely to be reliable”.[10]
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....nt-9266481

  31. 31
    bornagain77 says:

    Third, the best, most recent, and thus most trustworthy, fossil and genetic evidence that we do have indicates that humans are degenerating instead of evolving into something better as Darwinists imagine we are:

    If Modern Humans Are So Smart, Why Are Our Brains Shrinking? – January 20, 2011
    Excerpt: John Hawks is in the middle of explaining his research on human evolution when he drops a bombshell. Running down a list of changes that have occurred in our skeleton and skull since the Stone Age, the University of Wisconsin anthropologist nonchalantly adds, “And it’s also clear the brain has been shrinking.”
    “Shrinking?” I ask. “I thought it was getting larger.” The whole ascent-of-man thing.,,,
    He rattles off some dismaying numbers: Over the past 20,000 years, the average volume of the human male brain has decreased from 1,500 cubic centimeters to 1,350 cc, losing a chunk the size of a tennis ball. The female brain has shrunk by about the same proportion. “I’d call that major downsizing in an evolutionary eyeblink,” he says. “This happened in China, Europe, Africa—everywhere we look.”
    http://discovermagazine.com/20.....-shrinking

    Cro Magnon skull shows that our brains have shrunk – Mar 15, 2010 by Lisa Zyga
    Excerpt: Using new technology, researchers have produced a replica of the 28,000-year-old brain and found that it is about 15-20% larger than our brains.
    http://phys.org/news187877156.html

    Human face has shrunk over the past 10,000 years – November 2005
    Excerpt: Human faces are shrinking by 1%-2% every 1,000 years. What’s more, we are growing less teeth. Ten thousand years ago everyone grew wisdom teeth but now only half of us get them, and other teeth like the lateral incisors have become much smaller. This is evolution in action.”
    http://www.stonepages.com/news.....01604.html

    of related note:

    “Neanderthals are known for their large cranial capacity, which at 1600cc is larger on average than modern humans.”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neanderthal#Anatomy

    Human Genetic Variation Recent, Varies Among Populations – (Nov. 28, 2012)
    Excerpt: Nearly three-quarters of mutations in genes that code for proteins — the workhorses of the cell — occurred within the past 5,000 to 10,000 years,,,
    “One of the most interesting points is that Europeans have more new deleterious (potentially disease-causing) mutations than Africans,”,,,
    “Having so many of these new variants can be partially explained by the population explosion in the European population. However, variation that occur in genes that are involved in Mendelian traits and in those that affect genes essential to the proper functioning of the cell tend to be much older.” (A Mendelian trait is controlled by a single gene. Mutations in that gene can have devastating effects.) The amount variation or mutation identified in protein-coding genes (the exome) in this study is very different from what would have been seen 5,000 years ago,,,
    The report shows that “recent” events have a potent effect on the human genome. Eighty-six percent of the genetic variation or mutations that are expected to be harmful arose in European-Americans in the last five thousand years, said the researchers.
    The researchers used established bioinformatics techniques to calculate the age of more than a million changes in single base pairs (the A-T, C-G of the genetic code) that are part of the exome or protein-coding portion of the genomes (human genetic blueprint) of 6,515 people of both European-American and African-American decent.,,,
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....132259.htm

    Critic ignores reality of Genetic Entropy – Dr John Sanford – 7 March 2013
    Excerpt: Where are the beneficial mutations in man? It is very well documented that there are thousands of deleterious Mendelian mutations accumulating in the human gene pool, even though there is strong selection against such mutations. Yet such easily recognized deleterious mutations are just the tip of the iceberg. The vast majority of deleterious mutations will not display any clear phenotype at all. There is a very high rate of visible birth defects, all of which appear deleterious. Again, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Why are no beneficial birth anomalies being seen? This is not just a matter of identifying positive changes. If there are so many beneficial mutations happening in the human population, selection should very effectively amplify them. They should be popping up virtually everywhere. They should be much more common than genetic pathologies. Where are they? European adult lactose tolerance appears to be due to a broken lactase promoter [see Can’t drink milk? You’re ‘normal’! Ed.].
    African resistance to malaria is due to a broken hemoglobin protein [see Sickle-cell disease. Also, immunity of an estimated 20% of western Europeans to HIV infection is due to a broken chemokine receptor—see CCR5-delta32: a very beneficial mutation. Ed.] Beneficials happen, but generally they are loss-of-function mutations, and even then they are very rare!
    http://creation.com/genetic-entropy

    Fourth, the genetic differences between Chimps and Humans are far more different than people have been falsely led to believe

    Comprehensive Analysis of Chimpanzee and Human Chromosomes Reveals Average DNA Similarity of 70% – by Jeffrey P. Tomkins – February 20, 2013
    Excerpt: For the chimp autosomes, the amount of optimally aligned DNA sequence provided similarities between 66 and 76%, depending on the chromosome. In general, the smaller and more gene-dense the chromosomes, the higher the DNA similarity—although there were several notable exceptions defying this trend. Only 69% of the chimpanzee X chromosome was similar to human and only 43% of the Y chromosome. Genome-wide, only 70% of the chimpanzee DNA was similar to human under the most optimal sequence-slice conditions. While, chimpanzees and humans share many localized protein-coding regions of high similarity, the overall extreme discontinuity between the two genomes defies evolutionary timescales and dogmatic presuppositions about a common ancestor.
    http://www.answersingenesis.or.....chromosome

    The Myth of 98% Genetic Similarity (and Chromosome Fusion) between Humans and Chimps – Jeffrey Tomkins PhD. – video
    https://vimeo.com/95287522

  32. 32
    bornagain77 says:

    Fifth, even if genetic similarity had been almost identical between Chimps and Humans, neo-Darwinian processes are still grossly inadequate to account for those differences:

    Human Evolution: A Facebook Dialog – By Ann Gauger – Nov. 12, 2012
    Excerpt: PM:Is it also possible that the mechanism that you refer to in your video clip is not the only/main one at play?
    Biologic: The mechanism I refer to is based on the standard Darwinian model for evolution. Published population genetics estimates for how long it would take to make *and fix* a single base change to a DNA binding site in a 1 kb segment of DNA are prohibitively long—six million years. To get a second mutation in the same DNA binding site would take in excess of 200 million years.
    Now to go from hominid to human requires many changes, most of them to gene expression patterns. It is much easier to change the DNA binding site than to change the transcription factor’s specificity. And all these mutations must work together and be beneficial to the evolving organism. The window of time available according to the fossil record and phylogenetic estimates is too short for known mechanisms to be sufficient. So do I think there are are other things at play?
    Yes.
    http://www.biologicinstitute.o.....ialog?og=1

    Science & Human Origins: Interview With Dr. Douglas Axe (podcast on the strict limits found for changing proteins to other very similar proteins) – July 2012
    http://intelligentdesign.podom.....3_53-07_00

    Moreover, mutations to DNA do not even produce changes to body plans in the first place as is presupposed in Darwinism:

    Response to John Wise – October 2010
    Excerpt: A technique called “saturation mutagenesis”1,2 has been used to produce every possible developmental mutation in fruit flies (Drosophila melanogaster),3,4,5 roundworms (Caenorhabditis elegans),6,7 and zebrafish (Danio rerio),8,9,10 and the same technique is now being applied to mice (Mus musculus).11,12 None of the evidence from these and numerous other studies of developmental mutations supports the neo-Darwinian dogma that DNA mutations can lead to new organs or body plans–because none of the observed developmental mutations benefit the organism.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....38811.html

    Body Plans Are Not Mapped-Out by the DNA – Jonathan Wells – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=meR8Hk5q_EM

    Stephen Meyer – Functional Proteins and Information for Body Plans – video
    https://vimeo.com/91322260

    Dr. Stephen Meyer comments at the end of the preceding video,,,
    ‘Now one more problem as far as the generation of information. It turns out that you don’t only need information to build genes and proteins, it turns out to build Body-Plans you need higher levels of information; Higher order assembly instructions. DNA codes for the building of proteins, but proteins must be arranged into distinctive circuitry to form distinctive cell types. Cell types have to be arranged into tissues. Tissues have to be arranged into organs. Organs and tissues must be specifically arranged to generate whole new Body-Plans, distinctive arrangements of those body parts. We now know that DNA alone is not responsible for those higher orders of organization. DNA codes for proteins, but by itself it does not insure that proteins, cell types, tissues, organs, will all be arranged in the body. And what that means is that the Body-Plan morphogenesis, as it is called, depends upon information that is not encoded on DNA. Which means you can mutate DNA indefinitely. 80 million years, 100 million years, til the cows come home. It doesn’t matter, because in the best case you are just going to find a new protein some place out there in that vast combinatorial sequence space. You are not, by mutating DNA alone, going to generate higher order structures that are necessary to building a body plan. So what we can conclude from that is that the neo-Darwinian mechanism is grossly inadequate to explain the origin of information necessary to build new genes and proteins, and it is also grossly inadequate to explain the origination of novel biological form.’
    Stephen Meyer – (excerpt taken from Meyer/Sternberg vs. Shermer/Prothero debate – 2009)

    Sixth, the is also no evidence for the gradualism of Darwinism as to the sudden appearance of the ‘image of God’ that so markedly separates man from the other animals:

    Evolution of the Genus Homo – Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences – Ian Tattersall, Jeffery H. Schwartz, May 2009
    Excerpt: “Unusual though Homo sapiens may be morphologically, it is undoubtedly our remarkable cognitive qualities that most strikingly demarcate us from all other extant species. They are certainly what give us our strong subjective sense of being qualitatively different. And they are all ultimately traceable to our symbolic capacity. Human beings alone, it seems, mentally dissect the world into a multitude of discrete symbols, and combine and recombine those symbols in their minds to produce hypotheses of alternative possibilities. When exactly Homo sapiens acquired this unusual ability is the subject of debate.”
    http://www.annualreviews.org/d.....208.100202

    Leading Evolutionary Scientists Admit We Have No Evolutionary Explanation of Human Language – December 19, 2014
    Excerpt: Understanding the evolution of language requires evidence regarding origins and processes that led to change. In the last 40 years, there has been an explosion of research on this problem as well as a sense that considerable progress has been made. We argue instead that the richness of ideas is accompanied by a poverty of evidence, with essentially no explanation of how and why our linguistic computations and representations evolved.,,,
    (Marc Hauser, Charles Yang, Robert Berwick, Ian Tattersall, Michael J. Ryan, Jeffrey Watumull, Noam Chomsky and Richard C. Lewontin, “The mystery of language evolution,” Frontiers in Psychology, Vol 5:401 (May 7, 2014).)
    It’s difficult to imagine much stronger words from a more prestigious collection of experts.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....92141.html

    Thus, the Darwinian belief that humans gradually came to be from some chimp-like ancestor is found to be devoid of substantiating evidence!

  33. 33
    Piotr says:

    BA77,

    I appreciate the collage, but where’s the usual music?

  34. 34
    Timaeus says:

    Aurelio Smith:

    I won’t re-argue the Gonzalez case with you. On this site I have crushed in argument, to the tune of thousands of words, a more informed person than you who tried to defend Iowa State in the Gonzalez case. It was a travesty of justice, and the atheism/materialism of Gonzalez’s astrophysics colleagues, plus that of some other interfering parties from other departments, are established factors in the firing, whether you naively believe the Iowa State propaganda or not.

    I was guarded about the identity of the magazine in NY in order to avoid further hurting the author involved should anyone retaliate for my remarks; the fact that you don’t recognize the case tells me that you don’t follow these matters in great detail. I will drop the example, but the facts were as I stated.

    “Feminists” and “women” are not co-extensive terms; still less are “radical feminists” and “women.” Radical feminists are a minority even at the universities, but they exercise immense power there, and create a chilly atmosphere regarding freedom of speech and thought on a whole range of issues. They are known to be doctrinaire bullies on committees etc. If you were actually in a university setting, especially in the humanities or social sciences, or in a semi-biological science such as psychology, you would know this; I gather you are an outsider to such subjects, probably in some branch of the IT world.

    How you could take my remark on Sagan etc. as possibly a call for censorship is beyond me. It should be obvious that I was contrasting the freedom of atheists/materialists in cosmology and astrophysics to write popular books promoting their atheism/materialism, without any career punishment for doing so, with the non-freedom of Christians in those same fields to do the same thing. The double standard is obvious to anyone but an atheist or materialist — which I take you to be.

    I do not think Sagan etc. should be censored for their atheism, or suffer any job punishment for it. Gonzalez should not have been punished for his Christian views, either. The university should be indifferent to the religious views expressed in a professor’s popular book, and take no notice of them in tenure or hiring decisions. This principle of non-censorship and religious neutrality was not followed in the Gonzalez case. He was punished for his religious views because he did not yet have tenure. Had he never published that book he would have tenure at IS now, and would have the same impunity to publish it that Sagan, etc. had for their books.

    I grew up surrounded by theater people. I know something of the religiosity of the people who run the theater world. Their secularity is generally very well known. So is the secularity of most Hollywood directors and producers. Even in the Golden Age of Hollywood atheism was rife among directors and producers, but there were exceptions such as DeMille. Nowadays the dominance of unbelievers among the directors and producers is virtually complete, though as always individual actors may be believers. I don’t have statistics. I’ve heard these people interviewed on television, and I can also tell from the contents of the art they produce what they believe. Hollywood and Broadway are overwhelmingly dominated by atheists/secular humanists at the level of high command. If you don’t accept this, I don’t really care. (An example of a Hollywood product that falsifies historical reality for atheist ideological reasons is the movie *Inherit the Wind*, based on the play, which lies about the Scopes Monkey Trial in numerous places.)

    As for the general atheism/materialism of the academic world in the USA, you seem to partly grant that. You ask what effect it has. That is astounding. I can only infer that you have never thought about how “world view” affects things. The atheism/materialism of the sociologists, literary critics, religion scholars, historians, philosophers, etc. affects all their teaching and research, shapes everything they do, and shapes the students to the extent that biased or slanted presentation of material alters the perception of the material. And when graduates taught by these profs go out into the world as lawyers and high court judges, their views and rulings on abortion, same-sex marriage, etc. are shaped by the philosophies they learned as undergraduate students. Educational curricula, too, are shaped by the ideologies these grads picked up at Harvard and Cornell and Iowa State etc., because many of them go on to work as teachers, school superintendents, in state educational offices, etc. The Dover Trial judge was prepared for his stupid ruling on ID (his secondary broad ruling, I mean; his primary narrow ruling was a good one) by his naive conception of what natural science is, a modern mythological conception he learned from the intelligentsia as an undergrad, a conception which we now know, from the studies of Feyerabend, Kuhn, etc. to be based on wishful thinking. The expert witnesses for the plaintiffs fed him this triumphalist, Whig history of science, and he ate it up, because his education did not prepare him to be critical of that Whig history. He ended up mouthing the exact words of the Whig-conditioned expert witnesses (Padian, Pennock, Forrest — three of the most robotic advocates of naive history of science on the planet) for about 80% of his final judgment.

    You probably believe numerous false things about both Galileo and Darwin as historical figures, due to atheist/materialist/humanist slanting of the facts (and non-facts) concerning them. You probably are not aware that Newton and Boyle championed intelligent design (though without the capital letters). You probably also are not aware that the co-discoverer of natural selection, Alfred Russel Wallace, believed in intelligent design. (The intelligentsia never celebrates *that* on “Darwin Day” each year, does it? The “news blackout” on Wallace is not accidental. And did you ever ask why there isn’t an annual “Newton Day” celebrated with all the hoopla of “Darwin Day”? Richard Dawkins knows the answer to that question, but you apparently don’t.)

    Rvb’s portrait of the sad little atheist girl in the school corridor is a joke, given that thousands of little girls whose parents are Christian don’t have academic jobs or incomes because secular humanists have terminated their academic careers; I’m sure those little Christian girls would appreciate a new bicycle or set of clothes now and then, such as their atheist friends’ parents, who are, say, tenured profs of evolutionary biology and women’s studies, can well afford.

    I’m sure the atheist little girls are very happy in New Zealand; their daddies and mummies are probably all well-heeled university profs and civil servants. But Rvb doesn’t know the first thing about America. He should keep his New Zealand sneering against America where it belongs, in his protected, middle-class, white-collar, socialist island state. He’s lucky America existed in the 1940s, or he would now be under the flag of the Rising Sun, not that of New Zealand; but of course it’s so politically correct of nations whose feet America has pulled out of the fire to bash America. But America’s a good deal more important in the world than New Zealand is, so I assume it is the usual *ressentiment* of the small and non-influential that motivates rvb.

    You are wrong about Seversky. I wrote an extensive comment to him a while back, and he has posted several times on this site since then. He had plenty of chance to reply to me even if he was later banned again. I would guess he has no rebuttal to my charge of a double standard. But Seversky is a puzzle; he can be fair and reasonable, or he can be an ideological atheist thug, depending on what mood he is in on any given day. Possibly he never saw my post. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt on that single post. I won’t give the benefit of the doubt to any of the others I’ve mentioned. I think they were basically BS-ing, and when challenged, judged it more prudent to back out in silence than try to defend indefensible claims. But if I’m wrong, they can all still respond. Rvb, where are you? Hrun, where are you? Kohoutek, where are you? I’m here.

    Bye, AS.

  35. 35
    Bob O'H says:

    Aurelio Smith @ 32 –

    We must live in different worlds, Bob. Do you really encounter many people who “have an unreasonable hatred or fear of Christians” where you live? How does the phenomenon manifest itself?

    Certainly not many, but a few (obviously what one judges as “unreasonable” will vary). But online there are quite a few: see the comments section of Pharyngula (in the past at least, I don’t read PZed’s blog any more).

    Atheism, like most other causes/movements, will have a few members with extreme views. Just as in other causes, I think they will be rare, but unfortunately they do exist.

  36. 36
    Timaeus says:

    Aurelio Smith:

    Yes, you are wrong about Seversky. I have looked at the dates of his posts. *He was still posting on this site for several days after my last challenge to him.* That is fact. Whether he has been banned since *is entirely irrelevant to that fact*. The point is that before his latest ban he was capable of replying to me, and did not. My challenge to him thus stands unrefuted. Why can you not follow such elementary logic?

    Your remarks about the appeals process in the Gonzalez matter are absurd. Your logic seems to be: “Gonzalez’ appeal failed, so the original tenure verdict must have been just.” That hardly follows. Innocent men have been found guilty before, and their appeals have failed before.

    I cannot find my lengthy previous discussions of the Gonzalez case. I don’t have time to repeat all the arguments, which involves not only reciting many facts which you are leaving out (e.g., you apparently have no clue that Gonzalez’s *publication volume* and *citation rates* were higher during the relevant period than those of anyone in his department including the Chair — yet he was let go and they all kept their jobs), but also included an analysis of how universities work (which I know from the inside), and a detailed discussion of the background atheist agitation at ISU which successfully poisoned the waters for Gonzalez before his tenure hearing even began. (If you know anything about universities you would know that it is considered unethical for professors from an unrelated department to be trying to influence professional decisions in other departments by behind-the-scenes machinations or other pressures.)

    What personal experience do you have of serving on university committees? What personal experience do you have in publishing academic articles? What university degrees do you hold? What are your qualifications to comment intelligently on a tenure battle in an American university?

    You dare accuse me of “xenophobic” remarks about New Zealand, when anti-US “xenophobia” is the entire motivation of rvb’s childish scenario about poor lonely atheist little girls in a sea of narrow-minded fundamentalists who force their religion into the American schools?

    Of course, the very fact that you appeal to a term like “xenophobia” marks you out as someone of the younger generation; people of my generation never needed such emotional trigger-words to score debating points. We used reason and evidence to win our arguments, not labels such as “xenophobic” or “homophobic” or “fascist.”

    I wasn’t seeking your validation for my story about the journal. I know what happened because I know the participants personally. Your opinion is of no importance to me. And the fact that you didn’t immediately recognize the situation I was talking about tells me that you are a novice in these matters; *everyone* who knows a great deal about the history of the design/Darwin debates in the USA would have recognized the situation I was talking about; a hint in the right direction should have been enough. (For example, if I alluded obliquely to a certain emigre physicist associated with Princeton who used to be a patent clerk, would I have to spell out for you whom I was talking about? Not if you knew the slightest bit about 20th-century physics, I wouldn’t.) Anyhow, I don’t need that particular example of intellectual discrimination by atheists to make my case. Any competent observer of the USA knows that The New Republic and The New York Times and other major media in the Blue States are staffed and run largely by atheist/agnostic secular humanists and that the stories are strongly slanted to promote that sort of world view.

    If you knew anything about how university hiring works, you would know that faculty tend to hire people who reinforce their own prejudices. Very few faculty members say: “I think we should hire some people who believe the exact opposite of what I believe, in the interests of intellectual fair play and intellectual diversity.” The vast majority of faculty are looking for followers and allies when they vote on new hirings. Now 200 years ago, that would have meant that young atheist scholars would have been discriminated against; the then-Christian faculty would have wanted only Christian new faculty. Today the case is the opposite. Most faculty are atheist or agnostic, left-wing, and secular humanist, and they want to keep their numerical majority in their departments, and they use their votes at hiring time and tenure review time to maintain the status quo.

    It might be too much of me to expect you to ask simple questions such as, “Why, if the majority of the US population is Christian, are the majority of the philosophy professors atheists and agnostics? Don’t any Christians get philosophy Ph.D.s? Don’t any Christians apply for philosophy jobs? And if so, why are so few successful in getting those jobs?”

    Now, ask that same question for: religious studies professors, English literature professors, sociology professors, psychology professors, biology professors …

    Do you notice any pattern?

    Does the pattern you notice not strike you as statistically unexpected, if there is *no* willful manipulation in the hiring process to keep religious believers out and keep atheists in the majority position? Would you not expect that by sheer chance, the proportion of Christians in the departments would, over the long run, *roughly* correspond with the proportion of Christians in the population?

    I realize that you may not be used to thinking about such things, any more than a young, politically correct, left-wing New Zealand pup like rvb is used to learning about the USA before he makes ignorant comments about it. But maybe you could make more of an effort to think about what someone is saying before you object to it.

  37. 37
    velikovskys says:

    timaeus:

    You say discrimination is rife in the USA. Do you mean there are legal and constitutional barriers to atheists? If so, name them.

    Done, any statues which restrict Christians likewise?

    Arkansas
    Article 19, Section 1
    “No person who denies the being of a God shall hold any office in the civil departments of this State, nor be competent to testify as a witness in any Court.”[89]
    Maryland:
    Article 37
    “That no religious test ought ever to be required as a qualification for any office of profit or trust in this State, other than a declaration of belief in the existence of God; nor shall the Legislature prescribe any other oath of office than the oath prescribed by this Constitution.”[90]
    Mississippi:
    Article 14, Section 265
    “No person who denies the existence of a Supreme Being shall hold any office in this state.”[91]
    North Carolina:
    Article 6, Section 8
    “The following persons shall be disqualified for office: First, any person who shall deny the being of Almighty God.”[92]
    South Carolina:
    Article 17, Section 4
    “No person who denies the existence of a Supreme Being shall hold any office under this Constitution.”[93]
    Tennessee:
    Article 9, Section 2
    “No person who denies the being of God, or a future state of rewards and punishments, shall hold any office in the civil department of this state.”[94]
    Texas:
    Article 1, Section 4
    “No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office, or public trust, in this State; nor shall any one be excluded from holding office on account of his religious sentiments, provided he acknowledge the existence of a Supreme Being.”[95]

  38. 38
    Timaeus says:

    velikovskys:

    There is a difference between cutting and pasting legal texts off the internet, and having an understanding of law.

    The texts you have cut and pasted are almost certainly old statutes no longer in force; or, if they are still on the books in some states, *every single one of them* can be challenged by an appeal to the US constitution, and *not one of them will survive a constitutional challenge when it comes.*

    So, tell me, did you even bother to check if these statutes are still on the books when you cut and pasted them? And did you even bother to determine if anyone in recent years has actually invoked them to block any atheist from any right or privilege held by other Americans? That is, did you do some *research*, or did you just mechanically pull quotes off the net?

  39. 39
    Timaeus says:

    Aurelio Smith:

    To start off with, I demand that you retract *a lie*:

    “I see the fact that he raised very little money in sponsorship and neglected his day job to write a book as pretty good reasons not to award him tenure.”

    This is an outright lie, either one you originated, or one that you picked up uncritically from some other liar. (And if you don’t critically examine what is probably a lie, you are as morally guilty as if you lied yourself.)

    There is not a shred of evidence that G. neglected his day job to write his book. His publication rate, as I’ve already said, was already better than that that of most of his departmental colleagues during the relevant period. He published far *more* than the ISU standard for tenure (which was only 15 articles). And he also squeezed in writing a good undergrad astronomy textbook! So his popular book did not halt his productivity. Further, you have not even bothered to get dates for when he was writing and researching the book, versus his tenure probation period. How do you know the book wasn’t mostly written and researched before the probation period even started? Did you even bother to check?

    Finally, your double standard is the usual atheist double standard. When Carl Sagan was publishing Cosmos, constantly appearing on Johnny Carson, etc., and thus taking all kinds of time off his day job, do you think Cornell should have fired him? Or is it OK for atheists to take major time off teaching and research to promote their world view, but not Christians?

    Is it your view that university professors should have no leisure time at all, that every moment not spent sleeping and eating must be devoted to work — no movies, family time, etc.? Do you know any professor who takes no leisure time, no summer vacation, etc.? If P.Z. Myers spends his leisure time blogging or watching a movie, doesn’t Gonzalez have the right to spend his leisure time writing a popular book?

    Either prove that Gonzalez “neglected his day job” (a very serious charge) specifically to write the popular book — show what hours were stolen and that they weren’t legitimate leisure hours such as any professor would take — or retract your statement as a lie. Your accusation of a man you don’t even know is utterly dishonorable.

    You continue to be stupid about Seversky. I never denied that he was banned. I said that he had time to answer me before he was banned. Your brainless repetition of “he was banned, he was banned” shows that you cannot even comprehend a simple point that is being made to you. Did you even pass high school? I’m beginning to doubt it.

    You asked me my qualifications to judge the justice of a tenure process. I asked you first. Give me a full statement of your qualifications, and then you’ll have mine. Not until.

    Regarding religiously affiliated universities, it is totally legal, constitutional, moral, and right for them to require statements of faith of their professors — provided they receive no public subsidy. They are private organizations. No atheist has the “right” to teach in a privately owned, privately funded educational institution. There is no illegal discrimination involved in such cases. And there are plenty of secular universities in the USA — probably more per capita than in any nation in the world — where atheists can ply their atheist trades. You’ll have to drop that weak objection.

    You wrote:

    “Well, as I said, I see no reason for a teacher’s personal beliefs to intrude on the curriculum unless unless it be apologetics.”

    The fact that you could say this indicates that you are so utterly clued out about the nature of academic subjects — history, philosophy, sociology, anthropology, literary criticism, etc. — that you have no business talking about university education at all. You are a complete ignoramus regarding such subjects if you don’t understand that a teacher’s personal beliefs ramify outward and affect *everything* — from choice of subjects to be covered and omitted, through choice of certain biased textbooks, to the way dissident students are handled. Even the job advertisements for a new person, when a professor retires, often are loaded with personal ideological or religious bias. I’ve seen many academic job advertisements that are deliberately slanted so that only an ideological feminist could apply for the job — and that is in subject matters that have no intrinsic relation to women’s issues! In such cases, the radical feminists in the department have been able to assert control and get the job defined the way they want it. Personal beliefs — religious, ideological, philosophical, call them what you will — permeate modern university life, and the faculty is demonstrably biased to the left. If you don’t know this, you don’t know anything about the modern university, and shouldn’t be debating here or anywhere else on the subject.

    I never asked for positive discrimination for Christians. I asked you to explain the statistically wildly unlikely dominance of atheists and agnostics. You won’t even try — probably because you know there is a bias there, but it’s a bias you like, and therefore don’t want to speak against.

    The problem here is not the moderation. The problem here is that you are obviously intellectually unequipped to discuss the subjects you are arguing about. I would suggest that you get at least *one* university degree (your lack of coherent reasoning suggests you have none yet) in a subject related to ID, before you pursue any more arguments with the very well-prepared people on this site, many of whom hold Ph.D.s in related fields. I would also suggest that you refrain from telling lies about people like the one you told about Gonzalez.

  40. 40
    skram says:

    Timaeus:

    There is not a shred of evidence that G. neglected his day job to write his book. His publication rate, as I’ve already said, was already better than that that of most of his departmental colleagues during the relevant period. He published far *more* than the ISU standard for tenure (which was only 15 articles). And he also squeezed in writing a good undergrad astronomy textbook! So his popular book did not halt his productivity. Further, you have not even bothered to get dates for when he was writing and researching the book, versus his tenure probation period. How do you know the book wasn’t mostly written and researched before the probation period even started? Did you even bother to check?

    This question was not addressed to me, but I can answer it.

    I have looked up Gonzalez’s publications between 2001 and 2008 (while he was at ISU) on Web of Science. Excluding opinion pieces and sections of his textbook, we have the following distribution of papers by year:
    2001 0
    2002 2
    2003 7
    2004 0
    2005 5
    2006 4
    2007 2
    2008 1

    He just became an ISU faculty in 2001, so no ISU-affiliated publications in that year. He started at ISU in September of 2001, so a couple of 2002 papers submitted that fall had ISU affiliation. Those reflect his work conducted elsewhere (U Washington) as a postdoc.

    7 papers in 2003 are mostly old collaborations with people at U Wash. 3 of these are papers in conference proceedings, which typically are not given the same weight as standalone papers.

    No publications in 2004. This is, in fact, typical of new faculty. They have to start a new lab, build a group, and get things off the ground.

    5 publications in 2005 (2 of them in conference proceedings). That’s a start, albeit a slow one. This is the point where the publication rate of the young faculty member needs to take off.

    It doesn’t, tapering off instead: 4, 2, 1 in the subsequent years.

    The dynamics is no good. The best year (2003) was coasting on old stuff. Gonzalez never got his group off the ground. In fact, he hasn’t graduated a single student with a PhD at ISU. He had no group in effect. He had essentially no funding at ISU (aside from Discovery’s pocket change). This is not a good record.

  41. 41
    Timaeus says:

    skram:

    Good of you to spend 15 minutes on a quick lookup of a very partial set of relevant considerations, and pit that against hours and hours of study I did on every aspect of the case at the time it was happening.

    Your data is partly wrong. It was agreed by all that Gonzalez had published 64 or 68 peer-reviewed papers since graduating, and more than 15 of those papers during the tenure-review period. (15 was considered the minimum acceptable by ISU, and Gonzalez met it with some to spare.) So your search somehow missed something. Perhaps you don’t know how to use the article databases fully?

    No one at IS used, as an argument against Gonzalez, that he had not published enough peer-reviewed work; or if they did, that charge did not find its way into the President’s final public statement of the reasons for tenure denial.

    The President’s main excuses for the denial were that Gonzalez had not brought in enough research grants, and that he “had been denied” much telescope time. The second reason makes no sense at all; if he had been denied telescope time, that is not his fault, but the fault of the people who wouldn’t let him use the observatory. To deny a man tenure because he didn’t use the facilities in a room he was locked out of makes no sense at all. So basically, the only legitimate *formal* reason was that he didn’t bring in enough research bucks. But it doesn’t follow that this formal reason was the real reason; and in no university that is seriously committed to the life of the mind and of truth-seeking should “research bucks” be such an overwhelming criterion that it justifies setting all other considerations (academic competence, teaching ability, etc.) aside.

    There was no doubt about his talent, both as researcher and teacher. You seem to have forgotten that he was in on the discovery of several extrasolar planets. He already had more papers published in the 8 years since graduation than some of this older colleagues had in their entire lifetimes. His citation index was notably higher than almost everyone else in the department. (One outsider, no friend of ID, raised his eyebrows in surprise when hearing how good Gonzalez’s citation record was, and thought it very suspicious that G. should not get tenure with a record that good; in his own field of science such a citation record would make a man a shoo-in for tenure.)

    It was admitted even by his opponents that he was a good teacher. No one charged that he had neglected his undergraduate students or his departmental, administrative duties.

    One of the people voting on the tenure committee openly admitted, after the process was over, that Gonzalez’s personal views on ID were a factor in his voting against Gonzalez. They should not have been a factor at all, given that he never taught ID in the classroom and that none of his peer-reviewed publications championed or mentioned ID.

    You are pretending that his views on design had nothing to do with the decision. I contend that his views on design were a major factor in the decision, and that the alleged, public reasons cannot be trusted, given the *known* prejudice against his ID views — a prejudice generated on campus by the activities of professors from other departments, before his tenure review was completed. There was a definite attempt to influence the decision of the tenure review committee by atheists on campus — that is documented. This is of course a violation of professional university ethics.

    If a similar attempt were made to influence the jury in a criminal trial, the trial would have to be scrapped and restarted to ensure a fair outcome to the accused. But at ISU, the atheists got away with poisoning the waters, trying to make negative noise about Gonzalez to the general public, to put pressure on his department not to give him tenure (lest the public associate ISU with antiscientific creationism, etc.) This was a low, dirty trick, as Gonzalez had not taught ID or made an issue of it in his research. If the same dirty tricks campaign had been waged against Gonzalez, not on the grounds of his ID sympathies, but on the grounds that he was a Democrat, a Catholic, a Jew, a Muslim, a feminist, or a homosexual, civil rights people would have screamed discrimination and demanded a restart of the tenure hearing. But it’s apparently OK to be prejudiced against someone for sympathizing with ID, and to take that into account in deciding whether he should be allowed to keep his job, even where his ID sympathies never were a factor in the contents of his teaching or research.

    Anyone who denies that Gonzalez’ personal, after-hours, private support for ID was a factor in the decision is either uninformed, or deliberately dishonest.

    Finally, if Carl Sagan had been in a non-tenured situation, and had been denied tenure after a long campus outcry by Christian professors and students about his atheist popular books, then, even if the university denied that his private views and popular books had any bearing on the tenure denial, and gave some faked-up “objective” reasons for the denial, you can be sure that the various humanist and skeptic societies would be on the case, charging that Christian faculty both on and off the tenure review committee were discriminating against Sagan for disbelieving in design, and that was the real reason. But when the shoe is on the other foot, when a leading young astronomer in the extrasolar field writes a popular book that goes the other way from Sagan’s, he is punished for it. It is very, very clear who has power, and who doesn’t, in the Ivy League and state universities of the nation. And it is very clear what views are career killers that you must be silent about, at least until after you get tenure. This, in a nation which prides itself on freedom of speech and imagines that it encourages rather than discourages dissident and original thought. The people — and there were at least some — at ISU who did campaign against and vote against Gonzalez because he dared to accept ID should be ashamed of themselves for their tyrannical intellectual attitudes, which are alien to the spirit of the real university.

  42. 42
    Timaeus says:

    AS:

    By the way, the word is “rankle” not “wrankle.” And if you want to know what “rankles” me, aside from intellectual dishonesty, it’s bad spelling. Our schools are so rotten these days that one can have a Ph.D. in engineering or the like, yet never have learned how to spell. That’s what comes from putting liberals in charge of the school system.

    If rvb were half as worried about the *curriculum* of the American schools these days — the fact that most American kids graduate from high school without learning the rules of English grammar and spelling and are utterly helpless to calculate simple products such as 3 x 17 or 4 X 13 without electronic aids — as he is about alleged religious activities in the American schools, his criticism of American education might be of some use. What is harming American kids is not school prayers (assuming that they happen, a claim for which rvb has not provided a shred of evidence), nor any criticism of Darwinism in the schools (we should be so lucky as to have high school students literate enough to read and criticize literature as advanced as the writings of Darwin, as opposed to teen “social consciousness” novels written in a dumbed-down Basic English of 1500 words); what is harming American kids is the educational philosophy put in place in the 1960s by liberals. The liberals hated the formal teaching of spelling and grammar and arithmetic and demanded their abolition or reduction. They also promoted a wide-open options system in the high schools so that students could avoid all the hard subjects and choose all the easy ones. So you get high school students who should be forced to learn French and Latin and Chemistry and European History and English Composition taking “sociology” and “the modern family” and “driver’s ed” instead. The idea that allowing high school students to read the biochemical arguments of Michael Behe would throw American graduates behind those of other nations is too stupid for words, and only someone with an IQ lower than that of a fish could believe that. Any high school student bright enough to follow Behe’s discussion of the various types of proteins and how they are manufactured would be any American science teacher’s dream, and students keen to read such books should be encouraged, not discouraged, by teachers. What is throwing American graduates behind the world is not that this or that is taught or not taught in biology class; what is holding American graduates back is that the educational standards are low across the board, not just in science but in every subject, in every high school in the country, except the ones in rich suburbs populated mainly by left-wing Democrats, who make sure that their kids get the best resources, so they can go on to Harvard and Cornell, while the inner-city and Southern kids get the leftovers — and are then mocked for being backwards and religious by the aforementioned Blue State suburban left-wingers.

    But rvb isn’t actually interested in offering constructive criticism of American education. He’s only interested in reflexive America-bashing. That’s what passes for educated conversation among the New Zealanders and Europeans of his generation — bashing everything American.

  43. 43
    Timaeus says:

    Aurelio Smith:

    Did you follow the case at all? Did you read the final statement of the President of ISU justifying the firing of Gonzalez? (And yes, “firing” is the practical reality of tenure denial, so that that is the right word.)

    The publishing record of Gonzalez was not cited as the major reason for his tenure denial. It was cited only as one of other factors, the most important of which were not getting enough telescope time and not bringing in enough grant money. (In fact, it was openly admitted that the minimum standard of publications — at least 15 during the measurement period — had been met by Gonzalez.)

    As for skram’s reasonings about which of Gonzalez’s publications “count” and which don’t, they are *skram*’s reasoning, years after the fact. skram has not provided *one ounce* of evidence that anyone on the actual tenure committee came to the same conclusions about the same articles. He wasn’t there; he is speculating.

    But of course the elephant in the room, which all of you are ignoring (as all atheists in the debate do), is that we *know* that there was a prior prejudice against Gonzalez because of his ID book, and we *know* of at least one person on the actual committee that admitted that Gonzalez’s conclusions in that book were a factor in his decision to vote against Gonzalez. And we also know, based on the way university administrations work (indeed, the way *all* organizations work when their self-interest is perceived by them to be at stake), that *if* there was improper discrimination against Gonzalez, the administration certainly would not have indicated that in its justification of the process. Can you imagine the President saying, “Frankly, most of us here as ISU think that ID is lousy science and creationism in a cheap tuxedo, and we don’t want anyone who supports it teaching at this school, no matter how good a teacher he is and no matter how brilliant an astrophysicist he is, not even if he promises never to teach it in class or mention it in his peer-reviewed publications, so we sacked this turkey so we could hire a good atheist astronomer who, even if he was no better in teaching or research, would at least not embarrass ISU by his presence on the faculty.” There isn’t a university President in the United States of America who would ever make such an admission, even if all of it were true.

    I’m weary of arguing with hard-nosed atheists about this. The fact is: (1) Not *one* atheist who has defended the Gonzalez decision on internet sites was in the relevant department at ISU at the time: (2) Not *one* atheist who has defended the Gonzalez decision on internet sites was at ISU in *any* capacity at the time; (3) Not *one* atheist in these internet debates actually holds a Ph.D. in Gonzalez’s field and therefore has sufficient insider knowledge of the normal standards; (4) Not *one* atheist in these internet debates has had the intellectual honesty to admit that there was clearly a prior prejudice against Gonzalez *above and beyond anything to do with objective performance measurements*, and that the prior prejudice was directly due to the fact that he had endorsed ID, and that at least in principle that could have been a major factor in the minds of most or all of the people voting on the tenure decision. So basically, these internet debates are waste of time: a bunch of atheist drugstore cowboys with no firsthand knowledge of Gonzalez’s specific field, who have not read Gonzalez’s technical work, have condemned him as part of atheist tribalism.

    If just *one* atheist would give a *nuanced* account of the Gonzalez case, granting that there were some grounds for suspicion regarding the objectivity of the process and participants, I might be willing to discuss this further. But all the atheist internet commentators are 100% partisan, and willing to make up their minds on rumor, hearsay, and quick lookups and superficial analysis of a very limited set of data relevant to the decision, so none of them are worth arguing with. Both academic and personal honesty are deeply lacking in every atheist commenter I have debated with.

    Notice that this has nothing to do with whether or not ID is true. The point is that even for someone who thinks ID is complete crap, his endorsement of ID should have counted for *zero* in the tenure decision — and there are very strong reasons for believing that it counted for considerably more than zero.

    My own morality in this issue is clear. If exactly the same situation had prevailed in reverse, with Carl Sagan getting the boot rather than Gonzalez, I would go to bat for Sagan, and would be extremely skeptical of the statements of Christian administrators, even though I myself am Christian. If I found out they fired Sagan *because of his atheist views* — or even that his atheist views were a significant factor in his firing — I would denounce the Christians involved as hypocrites, unworthy of the name Christian, and as dishonest academics who were letting their personal religious views influence what should have been a purely professional decision. And I would urge all Christian parents never to send their children to such a university again, in hopes that the drop in tuition money would bankrupt the place and all the dishonest Christian faculty would lose their jobs. That’s how strongly I feel about neutrality in these matters.

    A true scholar or scientist will support the hiring and tenure of someone whose conclusions he *hates* with every fiber of his being, provided that person meets the standards of academic and teaching excellence. I despise Christians who would manipulate the academic system for Christian ends, just as much as I despise atheists who would manipulate it for their ends.

    The fact is that many of the best scholars and scientists in the world today are unemployed because of the personal ideological prejudices of the faculty responsible for their hiring and tenure. And many lesser scholars and scientists have jobs for life, because they are on the right side of the current consensus, whether that consensus be religious, cultural, methodological, pedagogical, or something else. This is wrong. It’s the moral responsibility of those doing the hiring to consider *only academic merit* — not particular academic or scientific opinions — in deciding who should have a career and who shouldn’t.

  44. 44
    franklin says:

    Timaeus

    But of course the elephant in the room, which all of you are ignoring (as all atheists in the debate do), is that we *know* that there was a prior prejudice against Gonzalez because of his ID book, and we *know* of at least one person on the actual committee that admitted that Gonzalez’s conclusions in that book were a factor in his decision to vote against Gonzalez.

    Gonzalez chose to include his book as part of his merit review against the advice of his committee. So, of course, it would come under scrutiny. No one to blame but Gonzalez himself.

    Timaeus

    It was cited only as one of other factors, the most important of which were not getting enough telescope time and not bringing in enough grant money.

    It is quite a fatal blow to anyone who is/was/should have been working to establish original research in astronomy in their new lab when they are unable to successfully solicit funding which is needed for telescope time….which is needed to conduct original research. Gonzalez failed in this regard. He was unable to successfully start the lab he was required to develop as pat of his tenure probationary period and as a result of his failure he was unable to conduct any original research while at ISU (a fact admitted by his previous mentor) as well as not graduating any masters or doctoral students. This is not something that any tenure committee is going to look favorably upon. Again, no one to blame but Gonzalez himself.

    Timaeus

    A true scholar or scientist will support the hiring and tenure of someone whose conclusions he *hates* with every fiber of his being, provided that person meets the standards of academic and teaching excellence. I despise Christians who would manipulate the academic system for Christian ends, just as much as I despise atheists who would manipulate it for their ends.

    While Gonzalez was under the care of mentors he was successful and it was this success that prompted ISU to give him a shot at tenure at their facility..However there are well established milestones that must be met before tenure is granted. Gonzalez was warned by his committee that he was not making the grade and needed to up his game…he did not rise to the occasion.

    No tenure committee is going to overlook the lack of establishment of a lab that is capable and in the process of conducting original research. No tenure committee is going to overlook the failure to solicit funding for telescope time and funding of graduate students. It is a major requirement at a facility tasked with training and educating new scientists……it is why they exist.

    Gonzalez’s past performance got him the chance to demonstrate what he was/is capable of doing when given his own lab (no doubt with seed money from ISU) and a shot at being the ‘boss’ of his own lab he failed miserably…. on all measures while he was at ISU. How you, Timaeus, conveniently overlook these errors, any of which would be the death knell for any tenure candidate, is beyond reason.

  45. 45
    Timaeus says:

    Franklin:

    You are wrong about many of the facts. You should research before you speak. Or if you know all the facts, you are suppressing many that do not support your interpretation.

    You are also completely morally wrong to to say that Gonzalez’ popular book, written in his own spare time, should have had any influence on the decision. It should have had no influence one way or the other — unless you would say that if Carl Sagan wrote an atheistical book that it would be equally right for Christian professors to let the atheism of the book influence their tenure decision. And you know little about academic jobs, obviously, or you would know that “citizenship” is one thing that people document on their records, and popular books count as part of general university or community citizenship. There is nothing wrong with indicating such a thing. And even if he had never put it on his c.v., *everyone* at ISU knew about the book anyway — the agitation of atheist Hector Avalos — professionally improper — saw to that. So the fact that G. wrote the book would have been held against him, whether he mentioned it on his c.v. or not. And of course as I have repeatedly said — to which you turn a deaf ear — one voting member on the committee admitted that the views G. advocated in the book were a factor in his thinking, so I’m not merely speculating. But you conveniently overlook these facts.

    I’ve never said that it was a 100% sure thing that Gonzalez would have got tenure, were it not for the prejudice. I admit that the public reasons *might* be legitimate, that possibly he would have fallen short even by fair and objective judgment. But what you and your atheist thug friends keep trying to deny is that there *was* a prejudice — that there were people at ISU who personally did not like ID or G.’s endorsement of it, and that this gave them strong motivation to interpret his application in a negative way. It’s because you can’t grant *anything* to the very reasonable suspicion of prejudice that you yourself are unreasonable and partisan. Like most internet atheists.

  46. 46
    franklin says:

    Timeaus<blockquote.You are also completely morally wrong to to say that Gonzalez’ popular book, written in his own spare time, should have had any influence on the decision.

    He (gonzalez) insisted that the book be included in his merit review. Of course it is open to scrutiny and entered into the decision…by Gonzalez;s choice!

    timeaus

    So the fact that G. wrote the book would have been held against him, whether he mentioned it on his c.v. or not.

    This is, of course, complete speculation on your part and ignores the fact that if included on his c.v. it, and its contents, are open for consideration.

    timaeus

    one voting member on the committee admitted that the views G. advocated in the book were a factor in his thinking, so I’m not merely speculating.

    Why should it be a surprise that a committee member considered the contents of Gonzalez’s c.v. and found it lacking on substance given that lack of peer review for a vanity publication? gonzalez opened the door when he included it on his c.v…..no one to blame but himself.

    timaeus<blockquote.I’ve never said that it was a 100% sure thing that Gonzalez would have got tenure, were it not for the prejudice. I admit that the public reasons *might* be legitimate, that possibly he would have fallen short even by fair and objective judgment.<.

    there was no reason to expect Gonzalez to obtain tenure at ISU given his dismal academic performance when he was cut loose from his mentors and set out on his own to establish his own lab.

    I know of no individual who would be given tenure given
    Gonzalez's performance at ISU. You are not going to succeed in academia (t the tenure level) if you have demonstrated that you cannot obtain funding, cannot fund graduate students, successfully mentor zero graduate students, initiate no original lines of research, ect., ect.

    Ho wmany more reasons does a tenure committee need for rejection? Any single item is pause for consideration by any institute.

    timeausIt’s because you can’t grant *anything* to the very reasonable suspicion of prejudice that you yourself are unreasonable and partisan. Like most internet atheists.

    I am only looking at his performance record while he was on probation at ISU. It is you who are ignoring the basic merit performance milestones that Gonzalez failed to obtain while trying to create a religious martyr out of out right failure on Gonzalez’s part to demonstrate he would be a competent and productive researcher at ISU.

    but let’s give you the benifit of the doubt on the facts and give you the opportunity to correct all us ‘internet atheists’:

    How many graduate students and post docs did gonzalez have working in his lab?

    How many graduate students were successfully mentored to matriculation while under Gonzalez’s mentorship?

    How many grants were funded to Gonzalez to fund graduate student (and his own) research?

    How many tenure candidates do you know of you inluded a vanity press publication on their c.v. for merit review? do you think this was a wise move on his part?

    What original lines of research was Gonzalez, and his MS, Ph.d and postdocs pursing (should be ample evidence from conference proceedings, poster, oral presentations)?

    As someone who knows this case and all its nuances these questions and your answers should set all us ‘internet atheists” straight!

    And FYI..there is no ‘might’ have fallen short in meeting tenure requirements he absolutely failed on almost every front and there is no one to blame except himself.

  47. 47
    Timaeus says:

    franklin:

    My remarks about his book being held against him were not speculation, but documented fact. But in your atheist world, facts don’t matter; the only thing that matters is that anyone who supports ID should be stopped, by hook or by crook, from ever being admitted to a doctoral program, or, if that cannot be prevented, from ever graduating, or, if that cannot be prevented, from ever getting a tenure-track job, or, if that cannot be prevented, from ever getting tenure.

    By the way, your remark “you are not going to succeed in academia if …” is full of chutzpah (since you yourself appear to have had no success in any branch of academia and therefore appear unable to speak from real-life experience), and, as a generalization, wrong. At most it is true of certain natural and engineering sciences which are corruptly tied in with the military-industrial-government research complex. It certainly is not true of the “Arts” subjects. You can do all kinds of productive research in the Arts subjects without having to secure outside grants. All you need is a good library and a good brain.

    As for all your yapping about supervising graduate students, I could (but won’t) name a person with a Ph.D. in my own department who was given tenure after the normal 5-year period, who had not during that period supervised a single graduate student, and, after obtaining tenure, taught for decades while supervising only 1 Ph.D. student during the entire time. The most powerful faction in the department wanted him in there, even though he was academically useless to the department, because he was an ally of their vision and guaranteed them enough votes to run the department the way they wanted to. The idea that hiring and tenure decisions are made purely with a view to merit, that there is no politics in them, is incredibly naive, in any walk of life, and in the university world most of all. You shouldn’t make grand generalizations about academia when you don’t have sufficient experience of the many different parts of the academic world.

    But of course that’s another fault of popular atheist writers — the grand generalization. E.g., ID is always “creationism” even though Behe and many other IDers are not creationists; no ID person has ever published a peer-reviewed work even though they have published scores of them; “the courts” have ruled that ID is religion and unconstitutional even though only *one* court has ruled on ID and that ruling has authority only in one local district; “the Republicans” — the entire Party of course — are making a “war on science” — when in fact it is only certain Republicans who are critical of only certain particular scientific theories, and in fact often not of any scientific theory but only of certain applications of science in fields such as medicine where there are grave ethical issues at stake; etc. The atheists have learned the techniques of dictators well — make grand sweeping pronouncements, without any proper qualifications. Qualifications blunt the rhetorical force of one’s claims, and slow down the progress of achieving one’s agenda, which is the destruction of one’s political or social enemies.

    Interestingly, Gonzalez eventually got another science teaching job, at a university which had every opportunity to review his history at ISU and reject him as unsuitable if it thought he lacked merit. And sure enough, anti-ID forces started protesting the decision regarding the *new* job as well. The idea that there is no antecedent prejudice in the academic world against ID proponents is too ignorant to be seriously entertained.

    Whether the documented prejudice against Gonzalez was the decisive factor at ISU, no one will ever know, because most of the conversations that determined his fate were *in camera*, and were and always will be off the record. However, this much can be said: we know there was virulent antecedent prejudice on the campus, and we know that academics are the best people in the world at not leaving paper trails to unjust and partisan actions. (Richard Nixon was a clumsy incompetent, compared to academics who want to make sure that certain friends get research grants or jobs, and that certain enemies don’t. If Nixon had had advice from university Presidents and department heads, instead of from political aides and lawyers, he might well have weathered the Watergate scandal.) So if G.’s ID views were a factor in the decision — as we know they were — it would be very hard to prove exactly *how big* a factor, given the well-honed techniques of secrecy and manipulation practiced daily in the universities of America. And certainly almost no university President in the country — even if he had full knowledge of a clearly prejudicial decision — would have blown the whistle on his scientific colleagues if he thought that overruling them in a tenure decision involving an ID supporter would alienate future potential research grant sources for his science departments. Most university Presidents would, without an instant’s hesitation, sacrifice an individual on the altar of institutional expediency. That’s the kind of animal university Presidents are.

  48. 48
    skram says:

    Apparently my comments are held in a moderation queue. Never mind, I’ll post this one again.

  49. 49
    skram says:

    Timaeus:

    Good of you to spend 15 minutes on a quick lookup of a very partial set of relevant considerations, and pit that against hours and hours of study I did on every aspect of the case at the time it was happening.

    Your data is partly wrong. It was agreed by all that Gonzalez had published 64 or 68 peer-reviewed papers since graduating, and more than 15 of those papers during the tenure-review period. (15 was considered the minimum acceptable by ISU, and Gonzalez met it with some to spare.) So your search somehow missed something. Perhaps you don’t know how to use the article databases fully?

    I stand by my search results. In fact, I can prove them to be right on target.

    The number of 68 publications can be traced to Discovery Institute’s profile of Gonzalez dated May 2007. I ran two searches that corroborate this number as well as my earlier numbers. The results of the searches are summarized in two screenshots here: http://imgur.com/a/ArB7H

    The first search was for all papers published by G. Gonzalez with affiliation names including Iowa, Washington, or Bangalore, and published in 1987-2007. I excluded works coauthored by LIGO collaboration that includes Gabriela Gonzalez (NOT Abbott) and chapters of the astronomy textbook (NOT Oesper). This search turned up 69 publications in agreement with the Discovery Institute count. The peak publication years were 1998 (13) and 1999 (10), and 2000 (7), Gonzalez’s postdoctoral years at U Washington.

    The second search was the same, except the affiliation name was limited to Iowa. The result was 18 publications with the numbers consistent with my previous comment. The numbers were revised downward: 1 fewer publication in 2003 and 2005. (I probably did not fully exclude some LIGO papers in my previous search.)

    Again, the results of the searches, including the search strings, can be seen in the screenshots linked above. The full paper counts (69) is consistent with the DIscovery Institute count. 18 of them were published under Iowa State affiliation. The first 8 of these were the last results of postdoctoral work, so Gonzalez’s publishing output as a faculty was 10 papers.

    Timaeus, if you wish to dispute these numbers, be my guest and show the results of your own search. Bragging about hours spent on the internet won’t win you many points in my book.

  50. 50
    skram says:

    Timaeus:

    No one at IS used, as an argument against Gonzalez, that he had not published enough peer-reviewed work; or if they did, that charge did not find its way into the President’s final public statement of the reasons for tenure denial.

    The President’s main excuses for the denial were that Gonzalez had not brought in enough research grants, and that he “had been denied” much telescope time. The second reason makes no sense at all; if he had been denied telescope time, that is not his fault, but the fault of the people who wouldn’t let him use the observatory. To deny a man tenure because he didn’t use the facilities in a room he was locked out of makes no sense at all. So basically, the only legitimate *formal* reason was that he didn’t bring in enough research bucks. But it doesn’t follow that this formal reason was the real reason; and in no university that is seriously committed to the life of the mind and of truth-seeking should “research bucks” be such an overwhelming criterion that it justifies setting all other considerations (academic competence, teaching ability, etc.) aside.,

    This is factually wrong. Here is the statement from Iowa State University President Gregory Geoffroy. It mentions the criteria used in tenure decisions and publication record is explicitly among them.

    As part of this decision process, I appointed a member of my staff to conduct a careful and exhaustive review of the appeal request and the full tenure dossier, and that analysis was presented to me. In addition, I conducted my own examination of Dr. Gonzalez’s appeal with respect to the evidence of research and scholarship. I independently concluded that he simply did not show the trajectory of excellence that we expect in a candidate seeking tenure in physics and astronomy — one of our strongest academic programs.

    Because the issue of tenure is a personnel matter, I am not able to share the detailed rationale for the decision, although that has been provided to Dr. Gonzalez. But I can outline the areas of focus of my review where I gave special attention to his overall record of scientific accomplishment while an assistant professor at Iowa State, since that gives the best indication of future achievement. I specifically considered refereed publications, his level of success in attracting research funding and grants, the amount of telescope observing time he had been granted, the number of graduate students he had supervised, and most importantly, the overall evidence of future career promise in the field of astronomy.

    (Emphasis mine.)

  51. 51
    Timaeus says:

    skram:

    Thank you for the clarification regarding numbers of papers published. This tells me that I remembered the count correctly, but provides more accurate information regarding the distribution of the papers over time.

    I grant you the statement from Geoffroy. That was more or less what I remembered from my earlier study of the case. I don’t put the same emphasis on the refereed publications part that you do — Geoffroy does not say what it is about the refereed publications that concerned him. For example, he does not comment that the number was not enough, or that the quality was not good enough. All he says is that he considered them as a factor. So *your* earlier specific judgments about the contents and quality of those papers have not been confirmed as *Geoffroy’s* specific judgments; nor have you shown that *your* specific judgments were in the minds of those on the actual tenure committee. How do you know that any of these individuals were thinking about the contents and quality of those papers what you think — unless you yourself with in the room with them, speaking with them about the refereed papers? And do you have any statements from anyone involved that the 8 papers which you have excluded from your 18-count were regarded *by them* as not to be counted as evidence of research promise? Or are you simply indicating that *you* would not have counted them as such, had you been on the committee, since they were finished rather than begun at ISU?

    Second, I object to one of the principles employed by Geoffroy (and by you) — the principle that only the publications produced at Iowa State would give indication of future scholarly promise. Why would *all* of the candidate’s publications not give indication of future scholarly promise? If he was brilliant before he came to IS, is it reasonable to think that he suddenly became less brilliant upon arrival at Iowa State? If he could produce great stuff before, is there any reason to doubt that he could produce it again? It’s not as if he was a doddering old septuagenarian, absent-mindedly coasting to retirement; he was still young and sharp.

    Third, it is ridiculous to penalize a brilliant researcher when his number of publications drops upon taking up a teaching position. A post-doc has time to do *nothing but* research; it is to be expected, then, that during one’s post-doc years one will produce much research; once one gets a faculty position, one’s time is divided between research and teaching and administrative duties, and the latter two can easily take up half of one’s working time or more (except for summertime). It is therefore to be *expected* that research output would drop during the years the G. was a faculty member; and he *still* produced a good number of articles during that time, *plus*, I am told, an undergraduate astronomy textbook which is regarded as rather good. A good astronomy textbook is of service to the astronomy education community in general, it is not fooling around wasting time to produce one.

    It should be remembered, too, that faculty members, once tenured, get sabbaticals off from teaching for research. Gonzalez, without tenure, had not yet had his first sabbatical. How can you say that he would not have produced 5 or 6 peer-reviewed articles in the year of his first sabbatical? His past history indicated that, when freed up from teaching and administrative concerns, he was capable of that kind of output. Why would one doubt that he could do so again?

    But as I’ve already conceded to franklin, it *may be* that Gonzalez would have fallen short of tenure even had there been no personal prejudice against his ID views. The point is that there *was* personal prejudice against him at ISU for those views, and that such prejudice probably did affect the deliberations of the tenure committee — as one member has confessed at least in his own case. This does not prove that the tenure denial was a miscarriage of justice. I never insisted that it was, but only pointed out that the tenure denial took place in a poisonous atmosphere which leaves room for doubt about the motives of all the participants.

    Greater, perhaps, than any injustice by Iowa State is the injustice of you and franklin, who don’t even want to acknowledge the existence of a prejudice against Gonzalez, and are unwilling to concede that it could have influenced judgments. I haven’t asked you concede that the prejudice was decisive, but only to acknowledge that it was clearly present. Since you won’t acknowledge this, you are being intellectually unbalanced in your assessment of the case.

    You are both writing with extreme naivete about both human nature and professors in particular, as if on tenure reviews all the people involved are completely fair robots, simply toting up numbers according to formulae, and awarding tenure or denying it in accord with strictly objective rules, without any personal judgment involved. I know for a fact that university professors are not like this, that they can be extremely biased and that they very often let personal judgments influence their decisions in such matters. It is your pretense that no personal judgments had any influence at all that aggravates me; it tells me either that you don’t know the score regarding these institutions, or that you do know the score, but aren’t willing to ‘fess up about it. In the latter case, you are being intellectually dishonest not to concede the point I’m making.

    See my summary statement to franklin above. I’m done talking to both of you about this. Since you are not willing to budge from your very narrow, bean-counting perspective, which I consider sociologically and politically naive, and since you have no interest in discussing the full, broad, human and institutional context of this decision and others like it (which have affected the lives and careers of ID supporters, and other academic dissidents, in many more cases than this), there is nothing more that we can usefully converse about.

  52. 52
    skram says:

    Timaeus:

    You are both writing with extreme naivete about both human nature and professors in particular, as if on tenure reviews all the people involved are completely fair robots, simply toting up numbers according to formulae, and awarding tenure or denying it in accord with strictly objective rules, without any personal judgment involved. I know for a fact that university professors are not like this, that they can be extremely biased and that they very often let personal judgments influence their decisions in such matters.

    You crack me up with your grand pronouncements about life in academia for us peasants. Just to let you know: I am a physicist with a permanent position at a major research university. I am well aware of the nature of tenure proceedings in the field of astronomy. I also know people in the physics and astronomy department of Iowa State and I had discussions with them about the case.

    What are your credentials, again?

    Much of what you say about the matter is laughable, including the reference to 15 publications that supposedly guarantee tenure at ISU. There is no such thing at any science department of a major research university (which ISU certainly is). You can publish 15 papers at a random paper mill in one year, but that won’t impress anyone. So forget this silliness and never repeat it again.

    Geoffroy does not say what it is about the refereed publications that concerned him. For example, he does not comment that the number was not enough, or that the quality was not good enough. All he says is that he considered them as a factor. So *your* earlier specific judgments about the contents and quality of those papers have not been confirmed as *Geoffroy’s* specific judgments; nor have you shown that *your* specific judgments were in the minds of those on the actual tenure committee. How do you know that any of these individuals were thinking about the contents and quality of those papers what you think — unless you yourself with in the room with them, speaking with them about the refereed papers?

    There is no formula for the number of publications. A candidate for tenure is evaluated not just on publications, not just on grants, and not just on the number of students, but as ISU president wrote, “most importantly, [on] the overall evidence of future career promise in the field of astronomy.” All these specific factors are used merely as means to gauge the potential of the person as a leader in his or her field. Not mentioned in the president’s statement, but hugely important, are outside letters of evaluation solicited by the department, and later by the university, from recognized people in the scientific field.

    Looking at Gonzalez’s overall record, I can see that he excelled in none of the criteria mentioned. I have already covered his publication record: almost half of the papers were remnants from the pre-ISU times, some of the new papers were conference proceedings. One can look at the impact of these papers as well, and it has not been significant, as measured by the number of citations in the literature. No external funding, no evidence of students graduating or even under supervision.

    The guy was a spectacular postdoc, and that’s why he got a tenure-track position at a major research university. But you can’t coast on your postdoc results forever. He needed to prove that he could strike it on his own and to lead his own group—postdocs and students. He failed to do that.

  53. 53
    franklin says:

    Timaeus, I have to agree with skram that your twisting on the issues and grand pronouncements are pretty amusing.

    Timaeus

    My remarks about his book being held against him were not speculation, but documented fact. But in your atheist world, facts don’t matter; the only thing that matters is that anyone who supports ID should be stopped, by hook or by crook, from ever being admitted to a doctoral program, or, if that cannot be prevented, from ever graduating, or, if that cannot be prevented, from ever getting a tenure-track job, or, if that cannot be prevented, from ever getting tenure.

    That is quite a bit of whine there, Timaeus. However, the facts are that Gonzalez insisted that his book be included as part of his merit review and as such he opened the door to any and all scrutiny that followed. One of the questions posed to you (that you simply ignored) was ‘do you think that was a wise decision on his part?’

    Timaeus

    By the way, your remark “you are not going to succeed in academia if …” is full of chutzpah (since you yourself appear to have had no success in any branch of academia and therefore appear unable to speak from real-life experience), and, as a generalization, wrong.

    This ^ is so sad on so many fronts, Timaeus.

    For example how would you know if I have or have not succeeded in academia (or any other endeavor for that matter) given that you know absolutely nothing about me or my life? Simply empty rhetoric on your part since you appear incapable of responding to the questions posed to you about Gonzalez’s time at ISU….even after your appeal to authority that you have spent hours and hours researching this issue.

    Timaeus

    At most it is true of certain natural and engineering sciences which are corruptly tied in with the military-industrial-government research complex. It certainly is not true of the “Arts” subjects. You can do all kinds of productive research in the Arts subjects without having to secure outside grants. All you need is a good library and a good brain.

    Huh? How is this related to Gonzalez’s failure to generate any significant funding to run his lab and conduct original research? Telescope time cost money and without funding you don’t get to play with the tools of the trade, i.e., telescopes.

    Timaeus

    The idea that hiring and tenure decisions are made purely with a view to merit, that there is no politics in them, is incredibly naive, in any walk of life, and in the university world most of all.

    In the Gonzalez decision there is no need to invoke politics since his sum of his merit review was so substandard. No need to look beyond his failure to deliver the goods while he was at ISU.

    Timaeus

    the principle that only the publications produced at Iowa State would give indication of future scholarly promise. Why would *all* of the candidate’s publications not give indication of future scholarly promise?

    The tenure track position, typically, represents the first time the candidate is placed in charge of establishing a new lab and a line of original research. His past is what got him (and any tenure candidate) a shot at demonstrating what he is capable of accomplishing on his own. He failed.

    Timaeus

    If he could produce great stuff before, is there any reason to doubt that he could produce it again? It’s not as if he was a doddering old septuagenarian, absent-mindedly coasting to retirement; he was still young and sharp.

    seven years of little to no productivity in original research and establishment of his own lab replete with grad students and postdocs is a pretty good indicator that he was not up to the task and thus not deserving of tenure. One of his published papers is, as I recall, a review article more suited to the ‘doddering old septuagenarian’ than someone who is supposed to be demonstrating his ability to establish a line of original research.

    Timaeus

    It is therefore to be *expected* that research output would drop during the years the G. was a faculty member; and he *still* produced a good number of articles during that time, *plus*, I am told, an undergraduate astronomy textbook which is regarded as rather good.

    I don’t know of any institute that would consider a drop to zero as being acceptable level. The articles produced were principally from pre-ISU research and with authorship with other peoples grad students rather than his own.

    Timaeus

    Gonzalez, without tenure, had not yet had his first sabbatical. How can you say that he would not have produced 5 or 6 peer-reviewed articles in the year of his first sabbatical?

    What would he be writing up? He did not conduct any original research while at ISU so what would/could there be to write up?

    Timaeus

    Greater, perhaps, than any injustice by Iowa State is the injustice of you and franklin, who don’t even want to acknowledge the existence of a prejudice against Gonzalez, and are unwilling to concede that it could have influenced judgments.

    there was no injustice from ISU in regards to Gonzalez. He failed at getting tenure by his own hand and not doing pretty much everything expected of a tenure candidate. His inclusion of his book in his merit review opened his views on ID up for scrutiny so you should stop your whining about that issue it makes you look foolish.

  54. 54
    Timaeus says:

    skram:

    I did not say there was a mechanical rule of 15 publications. The number 15 I pulled up, back when I was researching the case, from ISU statements about the case. One of the documents discussing the Gonzalez case — I can’t remember which — said that, as a rough and ready figure, 15 (or maybe it was 16) publications during the probationary was the minimum that ISU (at least in astronomy) would count as adequate. Having conveyed that figure — not as a rigid rule, but as “more like what ye might call a guideline” (as a certain ghostly pirate put it), the document did *not* then go on to say “and Gonzalez failed to meet that guideline” — which it could easily have done if the issue was that Gonzalez did not have enough publications. The feeling I was left with was that the raw number of Gonzalez’s publications was not the major objection to his tenure bid, that things related to grantmanship were much more important.

    You asked for my background. Like you, I hold a Ph.D. I have not served specifically on a tenure committee, but I have served on search and hiring committees and am quite familiar with the intra-departmental politics surrounding hiring, tenure and promotions in modern universities.

    It is good to know that you have some background in university life, and are not just mouthing off, like so many internet atheists who reflexively decided to defend ISU without any university experience themselves, mainly because they hate ID and reflexively attack anyone associated with ID (as they reflexively negatively review ID books on Amazon, in quite a number of cases without having read them and sometimes proudly admitting they haven’t read them). I thank you for your clarifying information.

    You say you had discussions with some of the people at ISU about the case. Interesting. Were your discussions limited to the purely technical matters, e.g., whether the criteria were being correctly applied, or did they touch on other matters, e.g, on what your friends though about ID and what they thought about Gonzalez for endorsing ID? And did your informants discuss the virulent anti-Gonzalez activity of atheist religious studies professor (you heard that right, atheist religious studies professor) Hector Avalos and the active informal lobby on campus to have Gonzalez sacked? If I knew professors on the inside at ISU, those are things I would have asked them about, as much as the merely formal requirements and procedures. But you seem curiously uninterested in the subjective and human aspects of the case.

    Of course, the Gonzalez case is only the tip of the iceberg, and I don’t really need it to justify my more general position. I personally know scores of ID folks who have been actively discriminated against, and often their careers are destroyed, immorally and treacherously but perfectly legally because there is no paper trail, long before even the first tenure-track job is obtained. I know of a case where a first-class microbiologist, trained at very big schools and with research publications, has been blocked from ever getting a teaching job in the life sciences anywhere in the USA, via the informal “grapevine” — simply for being *accused* — the accusations were never substantiated — of teaching “creationism” in a biology class. (Actually it was not creationism, nor even ID, but merely some very limited criticism, based on peer-reviewed secular scientific literature right in the professor’s field, of aspects of neo-Darwinian theory.)

    If you don’t have tenure, you can be done in long before you will have the legal opportunities afforded to Gonzalez by the formalities of tenure review. All it takes is for the rumor mill to accuse you of ID sympathies, and your career is finished. Your applications for post-doctoral funding and tenure-track jobs will be turned down, with all appropriate sweetness (“We are sorry; we are sure you an excellent scientist and teacher, but there were so *many* superb candidates this year …”), and you will never be able to prove that an unsolicited long-distance phone call from an enemy at your school to someone at the school you are applying to was what did you in. And that’s if there is only *suspicion* of your ID sympathies. If you have actively supported ID by writing an article or book or editorial with your real name signed to it, you can kiss your scientific career goodbye, no matter how well you perform by objective standards. But there is no corresponding fear for people on the atheist side. There is no danger at all that any untenured physicist, biologist, etc. who openly expressed views such as those of Larry Krauss or Stephen Hawking or Jerry Coyne, would ever lose a job or a career for expressing those views. The playing field is grossly uneven, and every honest person knows it.

    So even if there was no injustice in the Gonzalez case, there is clearly a determination, a will to keep ID-sympathetic people out of the universities by any means, even when their teaching and research records would be adequate to warrant permanent employment. The atheists and materialists don’t want to share their labs and departments with ID-sympathizers, and they will take whatever actions necessary to keep ID folks out. And there is usually enough wiggle-room in job descriptions, tenure reviews, etc., for people to exercise personal judgment where their prejudices can creep in.

    I have seen atheists and secular humanists act to keep politically, religiously, or culturally conservative philosophers and scholars — whose publications and teaching experience equal or exceed those of the actually successful candidates — out of jobs in various university Arts departments. I do not merely suspect that it happens, I know that it happens, and happens often. I have no reason to believe that atheists and materialists in biology or physics departments are any more intrinsically virtuous or a-political than those in Arts departments.

    So even if I give you Gonzalez, I don’t believe for a moment that there is no active prejudice in science faculties against ID people and I am certain that there have been cases of career termination for the sin of endorsing ID (and I’m speaking of ID, not creationism). This is why most ID people, including myself (though my career vulnerabilities are in areas other than biology or astronomy), have to use pseudonyms on the internet and keep their ID sympathies private in real life, until such time as they get tenure. They are forced to be dishonest and guarded in a way that a young Jerry Coyne or Richard Dawkins or Larry Krauss or P.Z. Myers does not have to be, to make sure that their private philosophical/religious conclusions regarding the implications of science do not destroy their hopes of whatever careers they seek. This is a morally and professionally wrong situation, that young scholars and scientists should have to self-censor in this way, and I will continue to speak up against it, shaming militant atheist Ph.D.s in the natural sciences, wherever I find them, for letting their personal philosophical/religious prejudices improperly influence their professional conduct.

  55. 55
    Timaeus says:

    franklin:

    You wrote:

    “What would he be writing up? He did not conduct any original research while at ISU so what would/could there be to write up?”

    This is incredibly fatuous. If he had *a whole year* of sabbatical, what would stop him from doing the research and writing it up all in the same year?

    I knew all kinds of nuclear physicists. They were constantly using the accelerator for their particle research. In many cases they could do all the *physical* experimentation necessary to determine a particular nucleonic structure in a few weeks, or even a few days; then they could go off and do the math and the write-up. They might easily investigate the inner structure of several different nuclides, and publish an article on each, within the space of a one-year sabbatical. It is because you make statements like this that I infer you don’t actually know very much about scientific research.

    I see that you still lack the courage to directly answer my question: do you or do you not acknowledge that there were people at ISU who would have preferred not to have Gonzalez as a colleague because they were repelled by his endorsement of ID? And do you or do you not acknowledge that someone who felt that way might be inclined to interpret Gonzalez’ application in the least charitable way? I am *not* asking you — I have made that clear — to agree that Gonzalez was the victim of injustice or to say that the tenure verdict was not fair; I am asking you only whether or not some of his judges started out with a prejudice against him, based on his views. The fact that you keep dodging this question renders your motivation in this discussion highly suspect. You give all the impression of someone who wants to sweep the facts about established motivations under the carpet.

    In this, you are less fair than some of your atheist colleagues. I remember reading one assessment of the case, in which an anti-ID person concluded as follows: the Discovery Institute interpretation of the case was far too one-sided, but there *was* evidence of some discrimination at ISU against Gonzalez for his ID views (though probably that discrimination was not the decisive factor in the tenure denial). This is the sort of nuanced view one rarely hears from atheists. I have not heard such a nuanced view from you, or skram, or Aurelio. All I hear from you is that it was a completely open and shut case, Gonzalez was nowhere close to the standard, and there is nothing to debate or discuss. But not even all of your atheist brethren would say that, let alone organizations like the ASA (many of whose members and executive oppose ID) which were concerned enough about the case to write to ISU about it. I therefore continue to accuse you guys of partisanship. I’ve not said that your conclusion is wrong, but you’ve not convinced me that you have any balanced perception of the situation, as you focus entirely on narrow bean-counting questions and pretend the culture war did not exist on the ISU campus at the time and that professors did not have leanings toward one side or the other in the culture war.

    Haven’t we beaten this to death now? You three aren’t going to budge an inch, aren’t going to discuss the issue of prior prejudice at all; and it’s that issue that I have been trying to discuss. So if you don’t want to have that conversation, stop replying to me and let this go.

  56. 56
    franklin says:

    Timaeus

    This is incredibly fatuous. If he had *a whole year* of sabbatical, what would stop him from doing the research and writing it up all in the same year?

    What funding source was he going to use to conduct this research while on sabbatical? He was unable to solicit any funding for telescope time ( a quite necessary requirement for someone in his position) so what makes you think this would change?

    Timaeus

    I knew all kinds of nuclear physicists. They were constantly using the accelerator for their particle research. In many cases they could do all the *physical* experimentation necessary to determine a particular nucleonic structure in a few weeks, or even a few days; then they could go off and do the math and the write-up. They might easily investigate the inner structure of several different nuclides, and publish an article on each, within the space of a one-year sabbatical. It is because you make statements like this that I infer you don’t actually know very much about scientific research.

    Too bad Gonzalez didn’t try the same approach (experiments and data collection) while he was on his probationary period at ISU.

    timaeus

    I see that you still lack the courage to directly answer my question: do you or do you not acknowledge that there were people at ISU who would have preferred not to have Gonzalez as a colleague because they were repelled by his endorsement of ID?

    This coming from someone who dodged all of my questions posed to use is nothing but laughable. I have no doubt there were may have been people who did not like Gonzalez for his ID views or any other personality conflict he had with others. having rejected his committees suggestion that Gonzalez bot include his book in his merit review I can easily imagine that members might see this as a bit of hubris on his part and view it negatively.

    Timaeus

    t is because you make statements like this that I infer you don’t actually know very much about scientific research.

    you should really try to refrain from characterizing my life experience when you know nothing about me. It does make me chuckel when you make yourself out the fool with your ‘speculatioons’ Like you, and skram, I also hold Ph.D. and have spent years working in academia and still conducting research after all these years….imagine that Timaeus is wrong once again.

    timaeus

    .I am asking you only whether or not some of his judges started out with a prejudice against him, based on his views. The fact that you keep dodging this question renders your motivation in this discussion highly suspect. You give all the impression of someone who wants to sweep the facts about established motivations under the carpet.

    I have no idea if any of his judges (I suppose you mean committee members) were predisposed to be against him but given the admonishments and constructive criticisms they appear to have provided to guide him through the tenure process successfully and him ignoring them I can’t imagine that would have made any allies.

    For someone who claims to have spent countless hours researching this issue and your blatant failure to answer the questions posed to you on this issue makes me think you are someone who wants to sweep the evidence of his accomplishments (while he was at ISU) under the carpet. What did you say that was before? Oh, that would be intellectual dishonesty on your part.

    Timaeus

    Haven’t we beaten this to death now? You three aren’t going to budge an inch, aren’t going to discuss the issue of prior prejudice at all; and it’s that issue that I have been trying to discuss. So if you don’t want to have that conversation, stop replying to me and let this go.

    are you now going to ‘budge’ and acknowledge his failure on many fronts required to meet tenure requirements at ISU? Or is this just a case of your prior prejudice that doesn’t permit you to broach these issues we have been speaking about?

  57. 57
    kairosfocus says:

    Folks, FTR, just remember in evaluating all of this, that you are here dealing with an exo-planets pioneer with obvious high career potential as a researcher AND teacher (note the textbook published while at ISU), with dozens of papers to back it up. And, someone who brings ethnic diversity to the table, as a Cuban. A very reasonable concern, under the circumstances of a climate of hostility and linked agitation, is that the subtext was that his potential was viewed as a threat rather than an asset; so, powerful resources were called on to construct him in the worst possible light and damage his career and undermine the credibility of his work and views. In that light the attitude evident above and elsewhere does very little to alleviate such concerns, but instead just the opposite. KF

  58. 58
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: Today’s evolutionary materialists and fellow travellers are often quick to dismiss or angrily pounce on concerns about inherent amorality, but the above points T has put on the table about the climate in institutions dominated by that sort of atheism bring to mind the force of Plato’s warning in The Laws, Bk X. So, FTR also, let me again put the matter on the table:

    Ath. . . .[The avant garde philosophers and poets, c. 360 BC] say that fire and water, and earth and air [i.e the classical “material” elements of the cosmos], all exist by nature and chance, and none of them by art . . . [such that] all that is in the heaven, as well as animals and all plants, and all the seasons come from these elements, not by the action of mind, as they say, or of any God, or from art, but as I was saying, by nature and chance only [ –> that is, evolutionary materialism is ancient and would trace all things to blind chance and mechanical necessity] . . . .

    [Thus, they hold] that the principles of justice have no existence at all in nature, but that mankind are always disputing about them and altering them; and that the alterations which are made by art and by law have no basis in nature, but are of authority for the moment and at the time at which they are made.- [ –> Relativism, too, is not new; complete with its radical amorality rooted in a worldview that has no foundational IS that can ground OUGHT.] These, my friends, are the sayings of wise men, poets and prose writers, which find a way into the minds of youth. They are told by them that the highest right is might [ –> Evolutionary materialism — having no IS that can properly ground OUGHT — leads to the promotion of amorality on which the only basis for “OUGHT” is seen to be might (and manipulation: might in “spin”)], and in this way the young fall into impieties, under the idea that the Gods are not such as the law bids them imagine; and hence arise factions [ –> Evolutionary materialism-motivated amorality “naturally” leads to continual contentions and power struggles influenced by that amorality], these philosophers inviting them to lead a true life according to nature, that is, to live in real dominion over others [ –> such amoral factions, if they gain power, “naturally” tend towards ruthless abuse], and not in legal subjection to them.

  59. 59
    franklin says:

    kf

    is that the subtext was that his potential was viewed as a threat rather than an asset; so, powerful resources were called on to construct him in the worst possible light and damage his career and undermine the credibility of his work and views.

    Gonzalez was the one who brought into question his ability to be his own boss, his ability to develop and run his own lab, his ability to mentor students, his ability to secure funding for his students and what should have been (after a seven year trial period) a fruitful line of original research.

    You need to come to grips with the simple fact that while Gonzalez was under the mentorship of his graduate student mentor and his postdoc mentors he performed admirab;y but when set out on his own he could not handle the situation as a successful tenure candidate would.

    Not everyone has the aptitude to be in a position to run a lab and manage the personnel and resources required to run a successful lab. Hopefully, he will have learned that lesson and improve his performance and his new place of employment.

  60. 60
    Timaeus says:

    I’m going to raise one more point that has not yet been covered. It is a point to which I have never been given a clear and direct answer, and which no doubt confuses the general public when they read about the Gonzalez case.

    The public reads that Gonzalez “had not been granted” enough telescope time, and that this was held against him by the tenure review committee and by the President. Now, from a simple grammatical point of view, “not having been granted” something is not something one could ever be fairly penalized for, because the passive construction implies that *someone else* had the keys to something, and *withheld* the means of access to the other party. So the blame must logically go to the person doing the withholding, not the person from whom the thing was withheld. The basic rules of grammar, plus basic semantics, yield this conclusion.

    So either the complaint about telescope time is completely unfounded, i.e., Gonzalez was faulted for the actions of some ornery gatekeeper (maybe one who didn’t like him for his ID views), or something is being left out of the explanation.

    I am going to be intellectually generous here, and supply what the pro-ISU side, in its incompetence in using the English language, has failed to supply; I do this out of a sense of fair play, in order to make sense of its position even though it is poorly expressed. I am going to make a guess how a literate, competent user of English might have written up the complaint against Gonzalez re telescope time.

    I think the meaning is probably:

    “Gonzalez did not do much research [scientists: notice the proper active voice of the verb “do”] using the telescope, as he should have, and it is for this reason that we are punishing him; but actually it is more complicated than that, because it is not as if he didn’t want, or didn’t try, to walk into the room where the telescope was, and use it; rather, in order to use the telescope, a scientist is expected first to stop being a scientist for a while, and become a pitch-man and fundraiser, and beg with hat in hand for money to offset the cost of using the telescope; and only after he has succeeded as a science huckster will the authorities guarding the facilities allow him actual access to the telescope, so he can perform the function which he was hired and paid a professor’s salary to perform.”

    Now, I may have mischaracterized the situation, but if so, it’s the fault of the anti-Gonzalez forces, because they haven’t explained how “getting telescope time” works, and have left me and everyone else guessing exactly how Gonzalez was at fault. They have written in a sort of in-house shorthand that only specialist astronomy researchers will understand. So I invite them to correct my above effort, if it’s wrong, and explain, in better words, in plain English that an intelligent citizen can grasp, exactly how Gonzalez was supposed to acquire “telescope time” and exactly what he failed to do in order to acquire it, and exactly why he was blameworthy for not doing so.

    Some observations:

    I assume that ISU would not be offering a graduate program in physics/astronomy unless it owned physical facilities for research in that field. I therefore infer that ISU owned one or more telescopes capable of gathering data relevant to extrasolar planets and such things. I also infer that ISU would not have hired Gonzalez unless it wanted him to be sitting in front of its telescopes, taking measurements of this and that. I would therefore make the logical inference that when ISU budgeted for Gonzalez’s position before he was hired, it did a rough calculation of how much telescope time it had available for the total of its professors, and knew roughly how much telescope time each of its professors would need, and determined that there would be enough time for Gonzalez to have his share in the use of the facilities. So to me it is puzzling that, having been hired to use the telescopes, Gonzalez would then have to make a special appeal to actually get to use them, as if the Administration was doing him a big favor by granting him access. That would be like a hospital hiring a surgeon, and then acting as if it was doing the surgeon a big favor by granting him access to the operating room to save the dying emergency patient, or like a fire department hiring a fireman, but requiring the fireman to go around the community asking citizens for contributions to the fire engine before he was allowed to ride in it to put out any fires.

    It’s not the job of surgeons or firemen to raise the money needed for the equipment they use in their jobs. Fundraising is the job of the institution that hires them. ISU should never have hired an astronomer in the first place unless with that hiring came a promise of some minimum amount of no-hassle access time to the telescope, any more than a university should hire a particle physicist specifically to smash atoms, without a promise to that physicist that he will have at least a guaranteed minimum of hours annually of access to the atom-smasher.

    So from the average citizen’s point of view, all this business about not being granted access to the telescope makes no sense at all. Why is it such a bloody difficult thing to get access to the institution’s telescope when the institution hired you and paid you a fat salary precisely to use that telescope?

    Was ISU telescope-poor? Did it have only one telescope that was overbooked? If so, how did it expect Gonzalez to function? Or was he supposed to *compete* for limited telescope time, against *other* ISU astronomers? In that case, if there was only a finite total amount of telescope time, and more desire for the telescope than could be handled, then ISU would be running a zero-sum game, in which *some* of its astronomers would by mathematical necessity would be out of luck. So *some* astronomer (if not Gonzalez then another) would be blamed by the administration for “not being granted enough telescope time.” But what a stupid administration that would be, that sets up its astronomy department so that some professor has to be blamed for not using the telescope enough! Why not simply make sure it has *exactly enough telescopes for all the faculty that it hires*, so they don’t have to compete with each other for the resources? That would be the common-sense way of proceeding, in *any* organization, private or public. Are the Ph.D.s in the natural sciences who run ISU’s research programs unable to handle this simple administrative reasoning? (If so, it wouldn’t be the first time that science Ph.D.s showed lack of basic human intelligence outside of their narrow specialized scientific fields.)

    Perhaps our vaunted science experts here can explain this incoherent situation to the lay public, in non-jargon terms.

    I don’t intend to argue further about Gonzalez here; I’m merely trying to understand further one aspect of the case. All I want is a straight answer about the administrative procedures I’ve asked about. And I would ask that no one answer me who does not have first-hand knowledge of telescope time in university research settings, unless that person has directly spoken with people in the field and asked about this particular point. I don’t want more internet armchair speculation about how things probably worked at ISU. I want facts.

    If I get a satisfactory reply, I will say no more. If I get the usual obfuscation and excuse-making, I might speak one more time.

  61. 61
  62. 62
    skram says:

    Timaeus:

    I figured out that my home IP address is blocked by UD editors. I might use my university VPN to circumvent that as I am doing now.

    Some academic freedom here!

  63. 63
    Timaeus says:

    skram:

    Sorry to hear about your administrative troubles. I am not involved in anything related to the running of the site, i.e., I know nothing about connection problems or the moderation of particular individuals.

    I have not yet consulted the particular web site you mentioned, but I found about 10 other sites specifically dedicated to the issues around telescope time (not in relation to the Gonzalez case, but about telescope time as a problem for researchers generally). What a political and administrative nightmare! It seems as if too many astronomers are chasing after far too few telescopes, and the very crude way the astrophysics/astronomy community has developed to deal with this is to set them all at each other’s throats, competing for scarce resources in the manner described by Thomas Malthus. So they all have to write up pleas for telescope time, which are then reviewed by supposedly independent evaluators — i.e., some other individual or committee is supposed to tell the scientific community whether or not your research proposal is important enough that you deserve time at the telescope. If the reviewers you happen to get, by luck of the draw, like your project, you will get the time; if they don’t, you won’t. And there is plenty of room for subjectivity in determining what is or is not a worthy project. As one astronomer/physicist put it one site (a site that had nothing to do with the Gonzalez case or ID, by the way), it is sometimes the harsh fact of research life that a young scientist can be “royally screwed” by the prejudice or personal malice of others, and have his career unjustly stopped, in a system that works this way.

    Of course these problems are not unique to telescope-related science; they are part of much of modern grant-based science generally. There are other areas of theoretical physics where almost all grant money in the USA is assigned based on the decisions of a single office or organization; if that office or organization takes a dislike to the kind of projects you propose, your research career is finished. That’s a bad situation; you want a situation where funding sources are controlled by many different groups, so that no one philosophy or ideology or bias can control an entire academic field.

    This is the problem with “big science” — it’s too tied in to money. That’s not what university life should be about. A system needs to be devised where (a) all *bright* people can get a Ph.D. and get access to all needed research tools, without clawing the way to the top over the dead bodies of their research brethren, and (b) all not-so-bright people don’t even get Ph.D.s in the first place. There is no point in a society graduating 1,000 brain surgeons a year if there are only operating theaters enough for 500, and there is no point in graduating 1,000 telescope-needing researchers a year if there are only telescopes enough for 500. The system is stupid.

    This sort of thing doesn’t happen in most Arts subjects because in most Arts subjects all you need for your research is the library, plus interlibrary loans. A professor of history isn’t fired for “failing to be granted enough library time.” He might be fired for never *using* the library — and hence never publishing enough articles based on his reading in the library — but he would never be fired because some gatekeeper wouldn’t let him in the library long enough to do his work. The Arts system is therefore more rational than the cutthroat, dog-eat-dog, Malthusian science system. (Of course, there are exceptions: fields like sociology and education theory have billions in research money tossed at them by governments, so similar deformities of true academic life can happen even in the Arts. But your average professor of Roman poetry or of medieval military history or of Enlightenment philosophy isn’t the beneficiary of these gravy trains.)

    What scientists should be working toward is a research environment that is not a zero-sum game, where every talented person has use of the facilities for the asking, so that he doesn’t have to waste his intellect learning the arts of grantsmanship, when he should be expending his brain cells upon the subject-matter of his research field.

    One practical solution might be regulations that prevent universities from offering Ph.D. or research programs in astronomy/astrophysics unless they own and control their own telescope facilities and can prove to a government agency that their facilities are adequate to give all their faculty members sufficient observation time. It would be better to spend money on more telescopes than on the salaries of hundreds of professors across the nation, running around writing up research grant proposals, and evaluating the grant proposals of others. If the taxpayer is going to be millions of dollars poorer, it should be for the sake of more telescopes, not more applications, reports, committee meetings, etc. which don’t add an iota to human knowledge, but merely determine who gets to use the existing telescopes. Committees, reports, evaluations, and the creation of a pecking order for research money add nothing to real social wealth.

  64. 64
    skram says:

    Timaeus,

    Like it or not, doing cutting-edge astronomical science involves observations at state-of-the-art facilities. If you look at Gonzalez’s earlier papers, written while he was a highly successful postdoc at U Wash, you will see that.

    Here is an excerpt from one of his most cited papers “Parent Stars of Extrasolar Planets VI: Abundance Analyses of 20 New Systems.” A preprint is available here: arXiv:astro-ph/0010197.

    High-resolution, high S/N ratio spectra of 14 stars were obtained with the 2dcoude echelle spectrograph at the McDonald observatory 2.7 m telescope using the same setup as described in Paper V.

    The McDonald observatory is financed by the State of Texas and is run by U Texas, Austin. Needless to say, outside observers have to apply for observation time.

    And it simply wouldn’t make sense for every university in the US to build and maintain the same type of telescope: that would be a colossal waste of resources. So we have to share them.

    There are fields of science where experimentalists can build and maintain their own experimental setups. Others have to conduct their experiments at specialized centers such as national labs. For example, Oak Ridge National Lab has a state-of-the-art Spallation Neutron Source, where physicists scatter neutrons off new materials to characterize their structural and magnetic properties. No university can maintain this kind of facility: it’s too expensive and specialized. If you have two or three people in the physics department doing neutron scattering, you can’t invest a billion bucks into a lab like that.

    And how should facilities decide which experiments are worth running? They have panels of outside experts who read the submitted proposals and rank them. Do you have a better idea? Let’s hear it.

  65. 65
    Timaeus says:

    skram:

    I don’t say that *every university* should have a state-of-the-art observatory; but it seems to me that every university *that offers doctoral training in astronomy* should have its own telescope facilities that are good enough *for the kind of research that it offers training in*. If there also have to be ultra-specialized observatories elsewhere, which an astronomer from ISU *occasionally* needs to use, then fine; but *most* of Iowa State’s astronomical observation should be able to be done in facilities owned by Iowa State. Otherwise, Iowa State has no business running a Ph.D. program to teach research astronomers. What is the point of training in Iowa 30 young astronomers in the use of distant facilities in Texas that only 12 of them will ever be allowed to use?

    Similarly, if there are only five particle accelerators in all of the United States, there should not be 100 graduate programs in nuclear physics that require the regular use of particle accelerators by the graduate students and researchers, because the grad students and researchers will not be able to get enough access time to the accelerators to learn their science or earn their tenure. And if, e.g., there are only 10 hospital/research labs in the United States that have the facilities for practicing pediatric neurosurgery, there should not be 75 Ph.D. programs in pediatric neurosurgery across the land, where the hopeful surgeons sit twiddling their thumbs, or practicing on plastic dummies of children, because there is no place for them to learn how to operate.

    But what I really want to focus on is the *moral* problem. You ask some bright young high school kid to devote his life to science; he wins a scholarship, does well in undergrad, does well in grad school, wins a post-doc, then gets a tenure-track job in a program in which he is very well-trained. He therefore expects that he will spend his life in the field in which he has undergone long and expensive training. But then you tell him: “Guess what, you don’t actually have a guaranteed job despite your training. You see, in order to keep your job, you have to do X hours of research using facility Y, but there are 100 people who want to use facility Y and only room for 40 of them, so 60 of them are not going to be able to do the research that will enable them to keep their jobs. So though *all* of you will actually be technically qualified to use the facilities, and *all* of you capable of doing good research with the facilities, if only you could get access to them, some of you will be out of luck, and who is out of luck will be based on the partly subjective judgment of committees concerning your research proposals. So you may, after years of training, find yourself unemployed, not because you don’t know enough to do your job, but because you can’t find a seat in one of the scarce chairs when the music stops.”

    Now, in *any* other position in society, do we do that to trained people? Are policemen hired, and then, after 5 years, told they are going to be let go because they aren’t good enough marksmen, though the reason they aren’t good enough marksmen is that they were denied access to the police shooting range to practice their marksmanship? Are lawyers hired, who do quite good work in a general law firm, but then, after 5 years, told that they are going to be let go because they don’t know enough to defend death penalty cases — when in fact they were denied access to the library which contains the literature needed to study and master death penalty cases, because there weren’t enough chairs in the library?

    No, we don’t do that in *any* walk of life — spend public money training a person to the level needed to do the job, and then hire the person, and then later tell the person he isn’t producing enough — because we won’t give him the resources to produce.

    So why should types such as “astronomy professor” and “physics professor” be the only members of society who get the shaft, neither for lack of ability nor lack of initiative, but due to lack of public resources? It isn’t fair. When you ask someone to give up the best years of his life — from about 18 to about 30 — to train in a highly specialized area, and he does so, and becomes very well trained, you have asked that person to sacrifice years of income he could have earned in another field, or years of time he could have devoted to training in another field, and therefore you have given that person an implicit promise that he will be able to work in that field. Then you go back on the promise, and the guy is 30, and has no marketable skill because he is hyper-specialized. What is he supposed to do then — give up science and go to some community college and take a course on real estate to make a living? Why was he lied to about the number of positions available? Why wasn’t he told that no matter how hard he worked and no matter how smart he was, his career survival depended in large measure on the fickle tastes of a committee of science mandarins, i.e., on a crap shoot?

    There is more that you aren’t thinking about. Some people can be very good undergraduate and even graduate teachers without being the biggest research star of their university. Some people can also be very good mathematical scientists without being good observational scientists. E.g., Einstein never had any “telescope time” but he contributed a great deal to the understanding of what the astronomers discovered with their telescopes. Why can there not be a place for those good teachers, and those good theoretical physicist/astronomers who interpret results, even if they themselves aren’t making the observations? For example, why couldn’t Gonzalez have been given a permanent position on faculty, but given different duties from the professors who were getting all the telescope time? Much of astrophysics is done on the blackboard or the computer, and teaching a class of 100 undergrads, and diligently marking all their papers and helping them in one’s office, doesn’t require telescope time. Given that there simply is not enough telescope time in all of the USA for all the astronomers who are supposed to be accumulating it, and given that the shortfall is not merely 5% (which might be OK — that would get rid of only the poor scientists) but more like 100%, then it makes sense to rearrange the teaching and research assignments within astronomy departments so that it is no longer an expectation that *everyone* will have telescope time at major research facilities. And it makes sense to change the requirements for tenure to facilitate that kind of rearrangement.

    By all reports, Gonzalez was a good undergrad teacher. Maybe he could have been “demoted” from the position of big-time lead researcher, and assigned by the Chair to spend 2/3 of his time teaching, and 1/3 of his time either using the more limited observational facilities of ISU or doing theoretical work to back up the observations of his colleagues. He would then still have been useful around the place, and would still have had a job.

    Basically the system is set up so that many *have* to fail — and not just the poor or lazy scientists, but even many of the *good* ones. And that’s a stupid system. In a good system, it should be at least theoretically possible that 100% of the faculty earns tenure. But with the ratio of telescopes to Ph.D.s being so low, it is quite possible that only 50% or less of the faculty (nationwide, whatever might be the case at individual schools) can meet the mark. The system is obviously poorly planned.

    If you want my “better idea,” well, let’s take subjects like Women’s Studies, Puerto Rican Studies, Afro-American Studies, Gay Studies, Animal Rights Studies, etc. These subjects are not true academic subjects but are the product of activism by special interest groups, and they waste millions of taxpayers’ dollars every year. I would cut off all funding for these programs and fire all their professors, and take the money saved and use it to buy several universities such as Iowa State their own observatories as good as the one in Texas. Then there would have been enough telescope time at ISU for Gonzalez to discover more extrasolar planets right at home, without having to apply for telescope time at a facility in another State. 🙂

  66. 66
    kairosfocus says:

    T, there is a reason why astronomy is one science where amateurs still can make significant albeit niche contributions. Telescope time, as in roll your own. But GG was in the area of searching for tiny wobbles that indicate exo-planets (of which he was a pioneer). That’s going to require serious mirror size. And BTW, that issue of access also makes me wonder. KF

  67. 67
    skram says:

    Timaeus:

    I don’t say that *every university* should have a state-of-the-art observatory; but it seems to me that every university *that offers doctoral training in astronomy* should have its own telescope facilities that are good enough *for the kind of research that it offers training in*.

    Pretty much every major research university offers doctoral training in astronomy, Timaeus. The requirement that Iowa State must have the same type of facilities as U Texas is simply unrealistic: the State of Iowa (population 3 million) simply doesn’t have the kind of money the State of Texas (population 27 million) has.

    Or take private universities like Columbia. It’s located in Manhattan, where observing with a telescope is impossible. Should Columbia build its own telescope facility somewhere in Arizona? That isn’t happening any time soon. Nonetheless, Columbia has an excellent doctoral program in astronomy, and its faculty are able to secure observation time at telescopes elsewhere in the world.

    But what I really want to focus on is the *moral* problem. You ask some bright young high school kid to devote his life to science; he wins a scholarship, does well in undergrad, does well in grad school, wins a post-doc, then gets a tenure-track job in a program in which he is very well-trained. He therefore expects that he will spend his life in the field in which he has undergone long and expensive training. But then you tell him: “Guess what, you don’t actually have a guaranteed job despite your training.

    A doctoral program in astronomy gives no promise that every person who comes through it will receive a tenured position at a major research university. If you see one on some departmental website or in a brochure, let me know. In fact, if we were trying to give that kind of guarantee, there would be one, maybe two, graduate student per professor’s entire life. On average. With a typical tenure-track position lasting for about 30 years, a professor would have a grad student during 6 to 12 of those years.

    Why is this not happening? Because people who get trained in physical sciences can be employed not just in academia but well beyond it as well. Looking at my PhD classmates, I see only a few people employed as faculty at major research universities. Some are staff at national research labs. Others teach at liberal arts colleges. Yet others work in industrial research and development. Some crunch data in finance. The unemployment rate for people with a PhD in physical sciences is pretty low.

    So why should types such as “astronomy professor” and “physics professor” be the only members of society who get the shaft, neither for lack of ability nor lack of initiative, but due to lack of public resources? It isn’t fair. When you ask someone to give up the best years of his life — from about 18 to about 30 — to train in a highly specialized area, and he does so, and becomes very well trained, you have asked that person to sacrifice years of income he could have earned in another field, or years of time he could have devoted to training in another field, and therefore you have given that person an implicit promise that he will be able to work in that field. Then you go back on the promise, and the guy is 30, and has no marketable skill because he is hyper-specialized. What is he supposed to do then — give up science and go to some community college and take a course on real estate to make a living?

    Speaking of Gonzalez, did he end up in real estate? No, he became a faculty at Grover City College, which is by all accounts an upstanding institution of higher education. (I bet you wouldn’t mind teaching there.) It does not have a doctoral program, to be sure, but again, no doctoral program in physics and astronomy promises that to its applicants.

    By all reports, Gonzalez was a good undergrad teacher. Maybe he could have been “demoted” from the position of big-time lead researcher, and assigned by the Chair to spend 2/3 of his time teaching, and 1/3 of his time either using the more limited observational facilities of ISU or doing theoretical work to back up the observations of his colleagues. He would then still have been useful around the place, and would still have had a job.

    Major research universities have very few teaching faculty positions, perhaps one person out of twenty or so. We can split points about whether this is good or bad, but at the moment these opportunities are few and far between. At any rate, Gonzalez is gainfully employed in academia. He was, let me remind you, given a job at Grover City, arguably the best liberal arts institution with a conservative bend. From there he moved to Ball State, a place where he has a chance to get tenure (GCC, ironically, doesn’t offer tenure).

    If you want my “better idea,” well, let’s take subjects like Women’s Studies, Puerto Rican Studies, Afro-American Studies, Gay Studies, Animal Rights Studies, etc. These subjects are not true academic subjects but are the product of activism by special interest groups, and they waste millions of taxpayers’ dollars every year. I would cut off all funding for these programs and fire all their professors, and take the money saved and use it to buy several universities such as Iowa State their own observatories as good as the one in Texas. Then there would have been enough telescope time at ISU for Gonzalez to discover more extrasolar planets right at home, without having to apply for telescope time at a facility in another State.

    Sounds like a plan. See if you can push it through in, say, Louisiana, where Bobby Jindal seems sympathetic to these ideas.

    Before you run off to the governor with this plan, make a back-of-the-envelope calculation of savings achieved by hacking off said programs and compare the number to the cost of building a decent telescope facility.

  68. 68
    Zachriel says:

    skram: make a back-of-the-envelope calculation of savings …

    Dean: “Why do I always have to give you physicists so much money for laboratories and expensive equipment and stuff? Why couldn’t you be more like the mathematics department – all they need are pencils, paper, and waste-paper baskets. Or even better, like the philosophy department. All they need are pencils and paper.”

    The Kepler observatory launched to discover exoplanets cost ‘only’ $600 million.

  69. 69
    Timaeus says:

    skram:

    Thanks for your reply, which contains further useful information and reasonable argument (within the unreasonable framework that you are describing).

    It is hard for me to answer further without detailed knowledge of astronomical equipment; I don’t know what sorts of machinery are needed for what sorts of research. What I *do* know is that not *all* scientific research in a field *always* requires the most expensive and rare equipment in the world. For example, for some biological research, biologists may have to travel to some university that has an extremely powerful and expensive electron microscope; but for other biological research, the magnifying power of microscopes that are well within any university’s budget may be adequate. It would be unwise, therefore, for a university that cannot afford the deluxe, one-of-a-kind electron microscope to start up a graduate and research program in biology which *requires that all of its researchers have constant access to this expensive piece of equipment*. It should start a graduate program which can function quite well with microscopes of lower (but still great) power. If that means, for example, (and I’m just making this up, not pretending the science is accurate) that it cannot offer a Ph.D. in virology, but can offer one in bacteriology (presuming for the sake of argument that bacteria are bigger and thus visible to less expensive microscopes), well then, so be it: let *another* institution offer the research/grad program in virology; and let the criteria for tenure in the lower-budget school be success in research on bacteria, not on viruses. Don’t fire the prof who has not produced enough research on viruses because he doesn’t have a microscope good enough to see them, blaming him for not being granted enough “microscope time.” Measure him for tenure as a bacteriologist, not a virologist.

    It seems to me that there must be many areas of astronomy where a university has very good equipment, adequate for purposes X and Y, but not for purpose Z. Fine, then let that university offer Ph.D. programs in areas X and Y, and let the university with the gold-star facilities run the graduate programs in area Z. Division of labor — a very rational principle regarding social resources. Common sense, no?

    Regarding Columbia and the smog in New York, one solution would be for Columbia not to offer graduate programs in observational astronomy at all, but to restrict itself to theoretical work in astrophysics, based on what the observational astronomers elsewhere discover. (Remember my earlier example of Einstein.) There would still be research profs in astrophysics at Columbia, but they would be calculating the mass of quasars etc., not observing slight changes of light in a telescope that might indicate a planet passing in front of its sun. Leave such observational research to the profs in states with clearer skies. Again, a common-sense division of labor.

    I think our deeper disagreement is over the term “research university.” My conception of university science departments is shaped by universities I know well, and in those universities the situation you describe — where a department has hardly any teaching going on — does not obtain. I am used to universities in which there is major, world-class research going on, BUT it is expected that EVERY professor (except those on special research leaves which have to be applied for and granted) does his or her share of both graduate and undergraduate teaching, plus departmental duties and university and community service. You seem to be describing a university in which very little undergraduate teaching is done, and what is done, is done by only a small handful of teachers, the drudges, with the rest (the self-appointed elite) spending all their time on research. And this is where our philosophical disagreement lies. It lies in our different conception of “university.”

    I think a university should NOT be an exclusively or even overwhelmingly research institution. I think that research must go on in the university, but a PURE RESEARCH institution is not a university. If a scientist wants to do PURE RESEARCH, and no teaching, he should not be at a UNIVERSITY. He should be in the research division of a private corporation, or of the US Army, or at the Rand Corporation (if it still exists), or in some other special research institute (Wistar, NIH, etc.), or at NASA, etc. The university proper is a community of scholars, and inherent in its function is a close relationship of teaching and research, whereby teaching is as important as research.

    The university prof — ALL university profs — should be teacher-researchers and should love both sides of their work, the teaching and the research. Special leaves for research for a year or two can be granted, but the NORMAL life of a tenured faculty member at ANY university should be as teacher-scholar or teacher-scientist.

    It seems to me all along I have been envisioning ISU as a place like the teaching-research universities I know, and perhaps I have been laboring under a misconception. If so, if the astronomy department at ISU is essentially a research institution where teaching is a very incidental and unimportant part of things, and where most researchers don’t teach, then perhaps indeed a good teacher like Gonzalez would be better off somewhere else, teaching science in a liberal arts college or the like. But then I would add that the liberal arts college is the REAL university, and the research-focused institution is an impostor masquerading as a real university. Perhaps ISU should change its name to ISRI (Iowa State Research Institute) to avoid false advertising about what it is and does. I could live with it if Gonzalez was fired from an institution that is not actually a university, but something else. I just want the man to have a university position somewhere; he has more than earned it!

    As for actual costs, let’s see. What is the typical cost of running just *one* Women’s Studies department of 20 profs? The average salary will be something like $70,000 a year (midway between starting and final salaries), so the one department is costing 1.4 million a year in professor salaries alone, not counting secretarial help, paper, photocopiers, etc. Over ten years, that is 14 million. Say there are 100 such programs in the USA. That makes 1.4 billion. So that is two Kepler observatories right there, that could be erected after only 10 years of savings. And there are actually many more Women’s Studies professors than that. Then, if you factor in all the other special interest programs and departments across the nation, you will save at least as much again as you saved on Women’s Studies. Think of all the great scientific equipment we could buy to make more space for researchers! Plus, we would have the side-benefit of clearing the university campus of its intellectual parasites, who are there not to contribute to human knowledge but to change the world in a left-liberal-radical feminist direction. Students would then no longer be able to major in politically correct baloney, but would have to study serious subjects such as history, philosophy, literature, chemistry, math, etc. It would be a win-win for everyone.

    🙂

  70. 70
    skram says:

    Timaeus,

    Like rvb8, I owe you some answers.

    First, you ask why don’t universities limit their faculty to those topics which can be investigated with equipment available at the university.

    It would be unwise, therefore, for a university that cannot afford the deluxe, one-of-a-kind electron microscope to start up a graduate and research program in biology which *requires that all of its researchers have constant access to this expensive piece of equipment*. It should start a graduate program which can function quite well with microscopes of lower (but still great) power.

    The simple answer here is that the university administration doesn’t decide what kind of research is done by its faculty. A new faculty member receives an empty lab space with power outlets, running water, and some startup money from the university. He or she then purchases whatever equipment is necessary to carry out his or her research, raising additional money from federal and private sources in the process. This is how it has been since the end of the nineteenth century, when first research universities appeared in the US. Federal support has not always been available, but professors have always been their own bosses.

    Some equipment, as I said, is too expensive to be built by individual faculty and even by a university. The time scales can also be fairly long. The Large Hadron Collider took 10 years to build. So agencies or governments pool resources and create a facility to be used by many.

    Regarding Columbia and the smog in New York, one solution would be for Columbia not to offer graduate programs in observational astronomy at all, but to restrict itself to theoretical work in astrophysics, based on what the observational astronomers elsewhere discover.

    I don’t see the point of this limitation. Why can’t a professor travel to a telescope? Travel costs are fairly minimal in comparison to the cost of building and maintaining a high-end telescope. Furthermore, if only professors at the University of Arizona had access to its telescopes, there wouldn’t be enough people to fill available time slots. It would be an inefficient use of the great resource.

    I think our deeper disagreement is over the term “research university.” My conception of university science departments is shaped by universities I know well, and in those universities the situation you describe — where a department has hardly any teaching going on — does not obtain.

    You’re reading into my words more than there is to them. I don’t think I have ever said that there is hardly any teaching at a research university. Every faculty member, with a rare exception (e.g., if you are a sole Nobel laureate in your department), teaches regular lecture courses. The teaching load is lower than it is at liberal arts colleges, but teaching students is a primary responsibility.

    I think a university should NOT be an exclusively or even overwhelmingly research institution. I think that research must go on in the university, but a PURE RESEARCH institution is not a university. If a scientist wants to do PURE RESEARCH, and no teaching, he should not be at a UNIVERSITY.

    As I said, a research university is not a research-only university. Look at Princeton, Harvard, or MIT. Pretty much every faculty member teaches courses.

    The university prof — ALL university profs — should be teacher-researchers and should love both sides of their work, the teaching and the research. Special leaves for research for a year or two can be granted, but the NORMAL life of a tenured faculty member at ANY university should be as teacher-scholar or teacher-scientist.

    That’s exactly how it is.

    I would add that the liberal arts college is the REAL university, and the research-focused institution is an impostor masquerading as a real university.

    I don’t know where you got this misconception, Timaeus. I thought you were a faculty member someplace. Perhaps I am wrong about that. You seem utterly unfamiliar with the system of higher education in the US.

  71. 71
    Joe says:

    People who talk about Gonzalez need to realize that he, not any other astronomer, has given us the exact parameters to look for in order to find other intelligent living organisms. His research shames Drake’s and yet no one talks about him as they do Drake.

  72. 72
    Timaeus says:

    skram:

    Obviously, I misunderstood certain phrases in your comments on research universities. I am glad to hear that the situation for teaching is not as bad as what I inferred from your remarks.

    Anyhow, I hope I made clear that I don’t really care where Gonzalez ended up teaching; my point was that a man with that level of training and accomplishment has *earned* a permanent academic job *somewhere* — even if not at ISU.

    Regarding telescopes etc. I don’t know what to say. I never suggested that the only telescope in all of the USA should be in Arizona. In fact, there are many excellent telescope facilities across the USA, both optical and radio telescopes. Nor did I say that no one from one university should ever use the more specialized facilities of another university or observatory where appropriate. Of course that should sometimes happen.

    What I said was that an astronomy/astrophysics department whose research is *heavily observational* — as opposed to theoretical — in its focus ought to have its own observational facilities, to make sure that all the faculty that it hires (at great expense) can do the work they were hired to do. The facilities need not be in downtown New York, of course. There are country spots in New York State where a Columbia astronomer could go to a Columbia-owned facility. Or maybe Columbia and Cornell and Yale and Rutgers and Harvard could all share the cost of one New England observatory, and set things up so that there is adequate observation time for *all* of the faculty at *all* the participating universities, so that the astronomers aren’t cutting each others’ throats in a Darwinian struggle for telescope time.

    And I still don’t understand why *all* astronomical research has to have the most expensive telescope in the world. There are all kinds of things one can observe about the light of stars, etc. in telescopes that are less than the very best in the world. It is not as if every astronomer in the world has to travel to Texas to use the facility referenced above. There are good telescopes, both optical and radio, at Mt. Palomar, Mt. Wilson, and many other places.

    There are also satellites and interplanetary vehicles taking pictures of the heavens all the time, pictures which reveal much more than any earthbound telescope can, and sending those pictures back to earth, creating interpretive work for thousands of astronomers and astrophysicists. If you are analyzing the pictures from the latest probe that landed on a comet, you don’t need a telescope. You can’t see the comet close up on the telescope, anyway; you need the lander’s pictures for that.

    I already granted you the point about large facilities like the Hadron collider. But many universities have smaller, less powerful particle accelerators, which are perfectly adequate *for the research that their users are trying to do*. I knew many physicists, both post-docs and grad students, who used the particle accelerator on campus frequently. They never talked about any difficulty of access to the facilities. They all seemed to have plenty of time to collect their data. I never heard of even one case where someone said: “Poor old Joe! He came here to do a Ph.D. in particle physics, but he couldn’t finish his degree because he wasn’t granted enough accelerator time!” Nor did I hear of any case where anything like that happened to a post-doc or faculty member. Obviously, they made sure, when they invited grad students, post-docs, and faculty members to come and do nuclear physics there, that there was enough access time available for all. It can be done, with competent management.

    But science administration is not a subject of burning importance for me. My main point was that there *is* a prejudice — documented — against scientists — tenured or untenured — who have indicated any support at all for ID. And there are at least some people out there who are sabotaging the careers of young scientists who have endorsed ID. Even if that isn’t what happened in the case of Gonzalez — which remains open to doubt — it certainly happens in the life sciences.

    I correspond frequently with scores of Ph.D.s in the life science fields, and I know this is happening. Maybe most of your friends in astronomy and physics are morally and professionally pure and would never dream of destroying the career of an otherwise very good physicist or astronomer merely because he accepts cosmic fine-tuning; but I can tell you that there are biologists and biochemists who would “do in” — and have “done in” people in those fields sympathetic to ID. Some of these cases are documented in books and articles; others are known to those behind the scenes, and can’t be talked about as freely because in some cases there is still some faint hope for the ID person of getting a job if he/she maintains silence from now on.

    The point is that such self-censorship is not and cannot be healthy for natural science. A scientist should be able to state in public if he/she thinks the biological data warrants an inference of design, without fear of losing a scientific career, provided that the scientist in question has a track record of producing peer-reviewed research that would in other circumstances win tenure and research funding. If the biologists and biochemists who control hiring and tenure in America’s life science world aren’t intellectually big enough to accept as a colleague a professor who disagrees with them over design, they aren’t true scientists, researchers, or thinkers, but merely reductionist, materialist ideologues using the label of “science” to promote their ideology. A true scholar, a true scientist, fears no idea, censors no idea, punishes no one for holding an idea.

    Challenging the idea (whether it’s ID or anything else) is fine, but punishing the person who holds it merely because one does not like the idea (because one is committed personally to atheism, materialism, and reductionism, and if there is design in the universe all those positions are threatened) is a dishonorable and unprofessional thing for any scientist to do.

    Far better than the militant and aggressive attitude of our modern atheists to design are the attitudes we see in past scientists. Carl Sagan was willing to give even someone as flaky as Velikovsky a hearing; Fred Hoyle, an agnostic or atheist, said that it sure looked as if a superintelligence had monkeyed with nature. But the new breed of popular scientist/commenter on science is a belligerent breed: Krauss, Hawking, Stenger, Dawkins, Coyne, Myers, etc. These men are not true intellectuals or thinkers, because they are not truly open; their minds are made up. They are filled with anger against religion or anything they take to be possibly supportive of religion, and they are very political rather than scholarly in the way they express opposition to their own interpretations of nature. They see themselves as crusading knights against anti-science, but the virtue of a crusading knight — zeal — has no place in theoretical disciplines.

    The true thinker will maintain an open mind on whether or not there is design in the universe or in biological systems, and will put at risk his own atheism and materialism, just as he asks religious people to put at risk their own religion. I don’t see that kind of pure scholarly/scientific/philosophical objectivity in 99% of the internet debates on these subjects, or in 95% of the popular books and pronouncements published or issued by scientists on these subjects. I see a personal hatred of the possibility that there might be design in nature, and a determination to smash that conclusion before it is allowed to gain any strength through open discussion in a fear-free university environment.

    And now I’m done with this thread — unless rvb8 or the others who ducked out decide to return and account for their positions.

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