Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Monday, April 28, 2008

Steven Pinker - A brief history of violence

Michael Fridman has written a wonderful article on the subject here

Thanks for the link Michael!

The Origins of Human Morality (Such As It Is)

From: Enlightenment 2.0

Someone recently asked about my view on the origin of human morality, so I am re-posting this old blog.

"In sixteenth-century Paris, a popular form of entertainment was cat-burning, in which a cat was hoisted in a sling on a stage and slowly lowered into a fire. According to historian Norman Davies, "[T]he spectators, including kings and queens, shrieked with laughter as the animals, howling with pain, were singed, roasted, and finally carbonized." [Steven Pinker – "The History of Violence"]

The Nobler Savage

Morality is not an exact science. The line between moral and immoral behavior is often hazy and curved, as illustrated by the utter lack of agreement among humans on many moral issues. Why are we unsure of whether abortion is acceptable? Why is embryonic stem cell research not a crystal clear issue? We have no consensus on homosexuality or pre-marital sex. Why are we not in universal agreement on all (some would ask ANY) moral questions?

The answer is simple: our sense of morality, like every other evolutionary trait, is a work in progress. And it always will be.

But the good news is: it's improving.

Steven Pinker, Johnstone Family Professor in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University and former professor in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT, summarizes his lecture entitled "The History of Violence" with evidence that the morality of our behavior is evolving for the better, and that we are probably living in the most peaceful moment of our species' time on earth:

Conventional history has long shown that, in many ways, we have been getting kinder and gentler. Cruelty as entertainment, human sacrifice to indulge superstition, slavery as a labor-saving device, conquest as the mission statement of government, genocide as a means of acquiring real estate, torture and mutilation as routine punishment, the death penalty for misdemeanors and differences of opinion, assassination as the mechanism of political succession, rape as the spoils of war, pogroms as outlets for frustration, homicide as the major form of conflict resolution—all were unexceptionable features of life for most of human history. But, today, they are rare to nonexistent in the West, far less common elsewhere than they used to be, concealed when they do occur, and widely condemned when they are brought to light.

The idea that we are indeed living in the most peaceful age of human history may be hard to swallow if you watch the news. But now that social scientists have started to count the bodies from different historical periods, they have discovered a somewhat unintuitive fact: we are becoming nobler. The proportion of prehistoric skeletons with ax marks and embedded arrowheads, and the proportion of men in a contemporary foraging tribe who die at the hands of other men, suggest that pre-state societies were far more violent than our own.

"According to anthropologists like Lawrence Keeley, Stephen LeBlanc, Phillip Walker, and Bruce Knauft, these factors combine to yield population-wide rates of death in tribal warfare that dwarf those of modern times. If the wars of the twentieth century had killed the same proportion of the population that die in the wars of a typical tribal society, there would have been two billion deaths, not 100 million." [Steven Pinker – "The History of Violence"]

Conventional history further demonstrates the fact that our sense of morality is not only increasing – it is widening beyond our species. Today in the largely secular West, we have far more humane societies and animal shelters than cat-burning arenas. (Geez – I hope we don't have ANY cat-burning arenas, but I don't want to assume.) And our growing number of vegans, vegetarians and animal rights organizations is heartening during a time that the religious right is telling us that modernity has somehow corrupted the noble savage.

Unfortunately, human history has been rife with one huge obstacle that has constantly riddled the otherwise straightish line of moral progress with zigzags and spikes of horrible atrocities. That obstacle, of course, is religion.

Bertrand Russell briefly explains "Why I am Not a Christian":

You find as you look around the world that every single bit of progress of humane feeling, every improvement in the criminal law, every step toward the diminution of war, every step toward better treatment of the colored races, or ever mitigation of slavery, every moral progress that there has been in the world, has been consistently opposed by the organized churches of the world. I say quite deliberately that the Christian religion, as organized in its churches, has been and still is the principal enemy of moral progress in the world.

Man has often invented gods who spoke for him, who confirmed all his opinions and prejudices. Before the dawn of the Age of Reason in the early 17th century, our theretofore improving evolutionary sense of morality in the West had been regularly circumvented by the belief that gods wanted us to kill each other, and that they appreciated human and animal sacrifices. Even today, we have gods who hate homosexuals and apostates. In the East, we still see crusades between warring sects.

But once again, empathy and reason seem to be prevailing, as god stories are facing extinction. And the few religions that remain in the western world have been forced by secular modernity to evolve to be more in line with human morality. The age-old axiom holds true: religion improves as people believe it less.

"The point is, ladies and gentleman, that [evolving morality] -- for lack of a better word -- is good. [Evolving morality] is right. [Evolving morality] works. [Evolving morality] clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit." {Michael Douglas – "Wall Street"}

Is it perfect? Heck no. What is? But it's the best we've got, and it's gotten us this far. Our evolutionary spirit is based on random mutations – how perfectly on-target should we expect our moral aim to be? If morals are based on evolution – both biological and cultural – our lack of timeless universal agreement on so many moral issues makes perfect sense, and our agreement increases over time.

God as the Source of Our Morality

But what would we expect if God gave us our sense of morality? Wouldn't we expect the answers to all moral questions to be timeless and innately clear to us? If God has specific rules of right and wrong for all our behaviors, and if our knowledge of those rules depends on an innate understanding implanted in us by God, and if our behavior is important enough to God that He may damn us for eternity for our actions, I think we should all expect a universal sense of right and wrong that could not be confused or improved. There should be no place for reason, philosophy or evolution. With free will, we would still have the ability to do the selfish/wrong thing, but we should never have any doubt of an action's inherent morality in any situation. Otherwise, how unfair to judge us by our actions, much less our thoughts!

The Bible as the Source of Our Morality

And what about The Bible? At best, The Bible is a perfect example of how our morals evolve. Christians, how often have you had to excuse the atrocities of the Old Testament with "Well, that was a different time" or "That was before Jesus."? There was clear evolution of morality between the writing and compiling of the Old Testament and of the New. Even at the time the Christian Bible was compiled, slavery and subjugation of women were still culturally common, and they are both sanctioned in The New Testament. But today, our two leading candidates for the next presidency of the most powerful nation on Earth are a woman and a black man! I'd call that moral progress. And I'd call it evolution.

At worst, The Bible's moral messages are extremely confusing. When we consider the simple and undeniable fact that The Bible has been used to sanction – AND TO CONDEMN – just about every questionable action since its compilation, it seems quite clear that it is not a reliable – or even a coherent – guide to moral behavior. Enough said.

Then what IS the source of our sense of morality? The following historical narrative is my simple model answer that question. (really boring)

The Origin of Morality in Social Species

Among Earth's earliest advanced life forms, we see the first signs of a genetic sense of empathy, as mothers with the genetic instinct to nurture their young were the only to survive and evolve. In these primitive species, this form of empathy was directed exclusively toward immediate offspring, and no empathy was expressed toward mates or toward any other individuals.

But as competition for territory and food grew, survival depended on banding together in small groups. Like today, the earliest primary tribal unit was likely the family of blood relatives, but blood relation was not imperative at that point. A sense of cooperation and justice became intrinsic to family life as members were forced to defend territory and to fight for food together. Thus, the genetic sense of empathy in individuals of successful families had to widen to cover each other. In families with individuals with less empathetic genes, the more selfish individuals dominated, the selfish genes spread, cooperation and trust evolved away, soon followed by the family itself. The vast majority of families fell into this category. Conversely, the few families with individuals with the most empathetic genes nurtured and protected each other and shared food, thus ensuring their territorial dominance and survival advantage.

With time and inbreeding, a strong genetic sense of empathy necessarily became a common – though not necessarily a dominant – trait. And within these genetically empathetic families, the first altruistic memes spread as family members passed cooperative habits of sharing and justice to each other and to their offspring. Certainly, there were selfish traits within the families, and those selfish traits surely expressed themselves in selfish behavior – probably much more often than in altruistic behavior – but the underlying greater and widened sense of empathy and cooperation than in the competition was necessarily the single most important deciding survival factor.

This trend continued as tribes grew and wrestled with their competing and conflicting genes and memes; the most altruistic tribes with the strongest and widest genetic sense of empathy and cultural sense of cooperation were always the ones to survive and evolve; the rest died out.

This simple scenario is not only a plausible description of the genetic and cultural rise of morality in our tribal ancestors – it was naturally inevitable, as it was surely required for survival and evolution. We see this cooperative tendency continue throughout all social species today, from ant to human. Occam would approve.

The Evolution of Human Morality

But if empathy has become a strong trait in humans over many millions of years of evolution, why do people do rotten things? When we ask that question, it shows that we really expect too much of evolution; evidence shows that we are improving, but perfection is impossible. Many maladaptive traits – dyslexia, high blood pressure, selfishness, etc. – survive evolution in packets. As long as strong advantageous genetic traits like empathy are enough to keep the tribe thriving, negative and neutral traits will be inevitable. Maladaptive traits tend to evolve away through time, but there are always new negative mutations to figuratively replace the old.

And it's often more complicated than even that. Moral issues are not always a simple matter of our selfish genes and memes battling with our empathetic genes and memes. When new moral questions – embryonic stem cell research, for example – arise, there's not always a simple right/wrong answer. This is where our philosophical sense of reason plays a part, and this is why morality is often such a struggle for us. We have to weigh all the potential advantages and all the potential suffering that could be caused by a specific action, for ourselves and for those for whom we feel empathy. (See early Greek philosophy for lessons on how to think, re-think and over-think the morality of our decisions and not come to any agreement.)

Our decisions become behaviors. As we grow, we judge our own actions and those of others by that same combination of empathy and reason, and patterns gradually emerge. The more clearly a specific behavior relates to our genetic sense of empathy, the more widely the rightness or wrongness of the behavior will spread memetically, and the more widely we will have agreement on its morality.

Our "moral imperatives" – specific actions that are almost universally considered to be absolutely good or absolutely bad in all situations – are the easiest for us to judge. Murder and theft are good examples of universally forbidden moral imperative memes that have likely been with us for millions of years. Rape and adultery, forbidden moral imperatives that have arisen with the evolution of cultural memes like romance and the committed relationship, are much newer memes. (In other species – and surely in our ancestors – romance and committed relationships are rare or non-existent, so rape and adultery are non-issues; in fact, they favor survivability and have for hundreds of millions of years!)

For every other issue, it's a slow process as we reason through our decisions and judge the results of our actions. Many philosophical issues – like intent versus result, for example – are not settled to our universal satisfaction even today, but like every other aspect of our morality, they are evolving toward universal agreement.

The Future of Human Morality

What's next in our moral evolution? I suspect that the way we treat many animals will change. In particular, I think that the way we raise chickens and veal calves will be among the first to evolve into something more humane as our sense of empathy widens to include animals that taste good to us but are not traditionally kept as pets. Eventually, I suspect that we may stop eating other animals altogether.

I think that we will continue to be more tolerant of different races, of different sexual orientations and of different beliefs. And I suspect that we will abandon divisive mythology. (Daniel Dennett proposed that within 25 years, the Vatican may be known as the European Museum of Roman Catholicism and Mecca could become Disney's Magical Kingdom of Allah!)


Our ever-improving but always imperfect sense of morality is exactly what we would expect if it is a natural, evolving genetic/memetic trait – a product of empathy and reason. But is far from what we would expect if planted in us by God. And finally, our current sense of morality has surpassed that demonstrated by The Bible, which perfectly exemplifies the less evolved sense of morality of its time and place.

Dan Barker vs Dinesh "Distort Da NEwza" D'Souza

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

Part 8

Part 9

Part 10

Part 11

Part 12

Part 13

Part 14

Part 15

Support The National Center for Science Education

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Saturday, April 26, 2008

More Proof That Evolution is Not a Theory

Taken From: Info Addict

I still can't believe there is any debate about the reality of evolution as a process in nature, but large groups of people continue to resist any form of scientific revelation. Part of the reason is no doubt related to religion, as for whatever reason, evolution and religion have been put in a cage with each other with orders to kill. Last time I checked, evolution made no claims as to how or why we got here, so there's no reason you can't have your religious beliefs at the same time you can admire a mysterious process that influences all life.

Need proof? Look no further than the Italian wall lizard, which were introduced to an island off the coast of Croatia back in 1971. Scientists placed 5 adult pairs on the island and have recently returned to see what happened. There are now 5,000 lizards running around, all genetically related to the original 5 immigrants. What could possibly have happened in only 30 years?

From National Geographic:

Pod Mrcaru, for example, had an abundance of plants for the primarily insect-eating lizards to munch on. Physically, however, the lizards were not built to digest a vegetarian diet.

Researchers found that the lizards developed cecal valves—muscles between the large and small intestine—that slowed down food digestion in fermenting chambers, which allowed their bodies to process the vegetation's cellulose into volatile fatty acids.

"They evolved an expanded gut to allow them to process these leaves," Irschick said, adding it was something that had not been documented before. "This was a brand-new structure."

Along with the ability to digest plants came the ability to bite harder, powered by a head that had grown longer and wider.

Scientists are stunned at how rapid evolution took hold and created a physical transformation of the lizard. An amazing example of evolution at work.

The Book of Creation

Chapter 1

In the beginning God created Dates.
And the date was Monday, July 4, 4004 BC.
And God said, let there be light; and there was light. And when there was Light, God saw the Date, that it was Monday, and he got down to work; for verily, he had a Big Job to do.
And God made pottery shards and Silurian mollusks and pre-Cambrian limestone strata; and flints and Jurassic Mastodon tusks and Picanthopus erectus skulls and Cretaceous placentals made he; and those cave paintings at Lasceaux. And that was that, for the first Work Day.
And God saw that he had made many wondrous things, but that he had not wherein to put it all. And God said, Let the heavens be divided from the earth; and let us bury all of these Things which we have made in the earth; but not too deep.
And God buried all the Things which he had made, and that was that.
And the morning and the evening and the overtime were Tuesday.
And God said, Let there be water; and let the dry land appear; and that was that.
And God called the dry land Real Estate; and the water called he the Sea. And in the land and beneath it put he crude oil, grades one through six; and natural gas put he thereunder, and prehistoric carboniferous forests yielding anthracite and other ligneous matter; and all these called he Resources; and he made them Abundant.
And likewise all that was in the sea, even unto two hundred miles from the dry land, called he resources; all that was therein, like manganese nodules, for instance.
And the morning unto the evening had been a long day; which he called Wednesday.
And God said, Let the earth bring forth abundantly every moving creature I can think of, with or without backbones, with or without wings or feet, or fins or claws, vestigial limbs and all, right now; and let each one be of a separate species. For lo, I can make whatsoever I like, whensoever I like.
And the earth brought forth abundantly all creatures, great and small, with and without backbones, with and without wings and feet and fins and claws, vestigial limbs and all, from bugs to brontosauruses.
But God blessed them all, saying, Be fruitful and multiply and Evolve Not.
And God looked upon the species he hath made, and saw that the earth was exceedingly crowded, and he said unto them, Let each species compete for what it needed; for Healthy Competition is My Law. And the species competeth amongst themselves, the cattle and the creeping things; and some madeth it and some didn't; and the dogs ate the dinosaurs and God was pleased.
And God took the bones from the dinosaurs, and caused them to appear mighty old; and cast he them about the land and the sea. And he took every tiny creature that had not madeth it, and caused them to become fossils; and cast he them about likewise.
And just to put matters beyond the valley of the shadow of a doubt God created carbon dating. And this is the origin of species.
And in the Evening of the day which was Thursday, God saw that he had put in another good day's work.
And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness, which is tall and well-formed and pale of hue: and let us also make monkeys, which resembleth us not in any wise, but are short and ill-formed and hairy. And God added, Let man have dominion over the monkeys and the fowl of the air and every species, endangered or otherwise.
So God created Man in His own image; tall and well-formed and pale of hue created He him, and nothing at all like the monkeys.
And God said, Behold I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of the earth. But ye shalt not smoketh it, lest it giveth you ideas.
And to every beast of the earth and every fowl of the air I have given also every green herb, and to them it shall be for meat. But they shall be for you. And the Lord God your Host suggesteth that the flesh of cattle goeth well with that of the fin and the claw; thus shall Surf be wedded unto Turf.
And God saw everything he had made, and he saw that it was very good; and God said, It just goes to show Me what the private sector can accomplish. With a lot of fool regulations this could have taken billions of years.
And the evening of the fifth day, which had been the roughest day yet, God said, Thank me it's Friday. And God made the weekend.

Chapter 2

Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all in five days, and all less than six thousand years ago; and if thou believest it not, in a sling shalt thou find thy hindermost quarters.
Likewise God took the dust of the ground, and the slime of the Sea and the scum of the earth and formed Man therefrom; and breathed the breath of life right in his face. And he became Free to Choose.
And God made a Marketplace eastward of Eden, in which the man was free to play. And this was the Free Play of the Marketplace.
And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow four trees: the Tree of Life, and the Liberty Tree, and the Pursuit of Happiness Tree, and the Tree of the Knowledge of Sex.
And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, This is my Law, which is called the Law of Supply and Demand. Investeth thou in the trees of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, and thou shalt make for thyself a fortune. For what fruit thou eatest not, that thou mayest sell, and with the seeds thereof expand thy operations.
But the fruit of the tree of the Knowledge of Sex, thou mayest no eat; nor mayest thou invest therein, nor profit thereby nor expand its operations; for that is a mighty waste of seed.
And the man was exceeding glad. But he asked the LORD God: Who then shall labor in this Marketplace? For I am no management, being tall and well-formed and pale of hue?
And the LORD God said unto himself, Verily, this kid hath the potential which is Executive.
And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every fowl of the air, and brought them unto Adam to labor for him. And they labored for peanuts.
Then Adam was again exceeding glad. But he spake once more unto the LORD God, saying, Lo, I am free to play in the Marketplace of the LORD, and have cheap labor in plenty; but to whom shall I sell my surplus fruit and realize a fortune thereby?
And the LORD God said unto himself, Verily, this is an Live One.
And he caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam and he took from him one of his ribs, which was an spare rib.
And the spare rib which the LORD God had taken from the man, made he woman. And he brought her unto the man, saying:
This is Woman and she shall purchase your fruit; and ye shall realize a fortune thereby. For Man produceth and Woman consumeth, wherefore she shall be called the consumer.
And they were both decently clad, the Man and the Woman, from the neck even unto the ankles, so they were not ashamed.

Chapter 3

Now the snake in the grass was more permissive than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Why has thou accepted this lowly and submissive role? For art thou not human, even as the man is human?
And the woman said unto the snake in the grass, the LORD God hath ordained that I am placed under the man, and must do whatsoever he telleth me to do; for is he not the Man?
But the snake in the grass laughed an cunning laugh, and said unto the woman, Is it not right and just that thou shouldst fulfill thy potential? For art thou not comely in thy flesh, even as the man is comely in his flesh?
And the woman said, Nay, I know not, for hath not the LORD God clad us decently, from the neck even unto the ankles; and forbidden that we eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Sex?
But the snake in the grass said unto the woman, whispering even into her very ear, saying, Whatsoever feeleth good, do thou it; and believeth thou me, it feeleth good.
And when the woman saw the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Sex, that it was firm and plump and juicy, she plucked thereof, and sank her teeth therein, and gave also to her husband, and he likewise sank his teeth therein.
And the eyes of both of them were opened, and they saw that they were not naked.
And the woman lossened then Adam's uppermost garment, and he likewise loosened hers; and she loosened his nethermost garment, and the man then loosened her nethermost garment; until they were out of their garments both, and likewise of their minds.
And, lo!, they did dance upon the grass of the ground, and they did rock backward, and roll forward continually;
And as they did rock and roll, the serpent that was cunning did play upon a stringed instrument of music, and did smite his tail upon the ground in an hypnotic rhythm, and he did sing in a voice that was like unto four voices: She loveth you, yea, yea, yea.
And they did both twist and shout, and fall into a frenzy, both the man and the woman, and lay themselves upon the ground, and commit there abominations.
And when they were spent from their abominations, they did take the herb bearing seed, and did roll it and smoke it; and lo! it gaveth them ideas, even as the LORD God had said; and they were like to commit new abominations.
Now the LORD God was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, with his dog; and as Adam and his wife were beginning these new abominations, the LORD God did stub the toe of his foot upon their hindermost quarters.
And the LORD God waxed wroth, and said unto Adam, Wherefore art thou naked? And what is that thou smokest? And why art thou not at thy work? For have I not said that it is the man's part to produce, and the part of the woman to consume whatever he produceth?
And Adam and his wife did look upon one another, and did giggle.
Whereupon the LORD God waxed exceeding wroth, and he said, Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldst not eat?
And the man said, The woman whom you gavest to be with me made me do it.
And the LORD God said unto the woman, What is this that thou has done? And the woman said, The snake in the grass made me do it.
And the snake in the grass said, The devil made me do it.
And the LORD God said unto the snake in the grass, Thou art an permissive beast; wherefore art thou cursed to crawl upon they belly, and be made into belts and boots and handbags hereafter.
Unto the woman He said, Since thou has harkened unto the snake in the grass which is broad-of-mind and permissive; henceforth let it be thy lot to be confused and scattered in thy brains, and to be plagued by demons who shall tempt thee to become that which thou canst not be: such as an warrior, or an extinguisher of fires, or an operator of heavy machinery.
And since thou has put aside the decent clothing wherein I clad thee, here after no garment shall satisfy thee, and thou shalt be overcome by longings to change thy raiment every spring and fall.
And above all this, since thou hast desired to tast of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Sex, now let thy very body be a curse unto thee. From generation unto generation, men shalt whistle and hoot after thee as thou passest; yea, and women also.
And unto Adam he said, Woe unto thee who hast harkened not to the voice of the LORD thy God, but rather to her who is thy inferior; for thou wast free to choose. Now shalt thou be banished from the Marketplace and the Free Play thereof; neither shalt thou pluck the fruit from the Trees of Life and Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.
In the sweat of they face shalt thou earn thy bread, and bankruptcy shall be thy lot; and upon thy back, as a burden unto thee, thou shalt bear Big Government; for thou has sinned.
And the LORD God said unto the man, Behold, thy knowledge of sex shall be as a curse upon thee and they generations; and thy loins shall be a trial to thee.
For whensoever thou goest into a public place, then shall thy member rise up; when thou sitteth to eat and drink among they fellows, likewise shall it rise up; yea, even when thou standeth before the people to preach unto them in my name, shall it rise up, and be a scandal unto thee, and make an unseemly lump in thy garments; yet when thou goest into thy wife shall thy member wither, and rise up not.
And then the LORD God was silent, and waxed sad, and made as if to leave them there. But he turned and spoke softly unto Adam and his wife Eve, saying, Knowest thou something? Mine only hope is this: That someday, ye have children who do unto you the way ye have done unto Me.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Catholic Church - No child's behind left

This article appeared in the Observer on Sunday August 17 2003 . It was last updated at 01:27 on August 17 2003. The Vatican instructed Catholic bishops around the world to cover up cases of sexual abuse or risk being thrown out of the Church.

The Observer has obtained a 40-year-old confidential document from the secret Vatican archive which lawyers are calling a 'blueprint for deception and concealment'. One British lawyer acting for Church child abuse victims has described it as 'explosive'.

The 69-page Latin document bearing the seal of Pope John XXIII was sent to every bishop in the world. The instructions outline a policy of 'strictest' secrecy in dealing with allegations of sexual abuse and threatens those who speak out with excommunication.

They also call for the victim to take an oath of secrecy at the time of making a complaint to Church officials. It states that the instructions are to 'be diligently stored in the secret archives of the Curia [Vatican] as strictly confidential. Nor is it to be published nor added to with any commentaries.'

The document, which has been confirmed as genuine by the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, is called 'Crimine solicitationies', which translates as 'instruction on proceeding in cases of solicitation'.

It focuses on sexual abuse initiated as part of the confessional relationship between a priest and a member of his congregation. But the instructions also cover what it calls the 'worst crime', described as an obscene act perpetrated by a cleric with 'youths of either sex or with brute animals (bestiality)'.

Bishops are instructed to pursue these cases 'in the most secretive way... restrained by a perpetual silence... and everyone... is to observe the strictest secret which is commonly regarded as a secret of the Holy Office... under the penalty of excommunication'.

Texan lawyer Daniel Shea uncovered the document as part of his work for victims of abuse from Catholic priests in the US. He has handed it over to US authorities, urging them to launch a federal investigation into the clergy's alleged cover-up of sexual abuse.

He said: 'These instructions went out to every bishop around the globe and would certainly have applied in Britain. It proves there was an international conspiracy by the Church to hush up sexual abuse issues. It is a devious attempt to conceal criminal conduct and is a blueprint for deception and concealment.'

British lawyer Richard Scorer, who acts for children abused by Catholic priests in the UK, echoes this view and has described the document as 'explosive'.

He said: 'We always suspected that the Catholic Church systematically covered up abuse and tried to silence victims. This document appears to prove it. Threatening excommunication to anybody who speaks out shows the lengths the most senior figures in the Vatican were prepared to go to prevent the information getting out to the public domain.'

Scorer pointed out that as the documents dates back to 1962 it rides roughshod over the Catholic Church's claim that the issue of sexual abuse was a modern phenomenon.

He claims the discovery of the document will raise fresh questions about the actions of Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, the head of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales.

Murphy-O'Connor has been accused of covering up allegations of child abuse when he was Bishop of Arundel and Brighton. Instead of reporting to the police allegations of abuse against Michael Hill, a priest in his charge, he moved him to another position where he was later convicted for abusing nine children.

Although Murphy-O'Connor has apologised publicly for his mistake, Scorer claims the secret Vatican document raises the question about whether his failure to report Hill was due to him following this instruction from Rome.

Scorer, who acts for some of Hill's victims, said: 'I want to know whether Murphy-O'Connor knew of these Vatican instructions and, if so, did he apply it. If not, can he tell us why not?'

A spokesman for the Catholic Church denied that the secret Vatican orders were part of any organised cover-up and claims lawyers are taking the document 'out of context' and 'distorting it'.

He said: 'This document is about the Church's internal disciplinary procedures should a priest be accused of using confession to solicit sex. It does not forbid victims to report civil crimes. The confidentiality talked about is aimed to protect the accused as applies in court procedures today. It also takes into consideration the special nature of the secrecy involved in the act of confession.' He also said that in 1983 the Catholic Church in England and Wales introduced its own code dealing with sexual abuse, which would have superseded the 1962 instructions. Asked whether Murphy-O'Connor was aware of the Vatican edict, he replied: 'He's never mentioned it to me.'

Lawyers point to a letter the Vatican sent to bishops in May 2001 clearly stating the 1962 instruction was in force until then. The letter is signed by Cardinal Ratzinger, the most powerful man in Rome beside the Pope and who heads the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith - the office which ran the Inquisition in the Middle Ages.

Rev Thomas Doyle, a US Air Force chaplain in Germany and a specialist in Church law, has studied the document&183; He told The Observer: 'It is certainly an indication of the pathological obsession with secrecy in the Catholic Church, but in itself it is not a smoking gun.

'If, however, this document actually has been the foundation of a continuous policy to cover clergy crimes at all costs, then we have quite another issue. There are too many authenticated reports of victims having been seriously intimidated into silence by Church authorities to assert that such intimidation is the exception and not the norm.

'If this document has been used as a justification for this intimidation then we possibly have what some commentators have alleged, namely, a blueprint for a cover-up. This is obviously a big "if" which requires concrete proof.'

Additional research by Jason Rodrigues

...and a little something else

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Dawkins responds to Expelled

Open Letter to a victim of Ben Stein's lying propaganda

by Richard Dawkins

On 18th April, the day Ben Stein's infamous film was released, Michael Shermer received the following letter from a Jew (referencing a past article that Shermer had written debunking the Holocaust deniers) whose identity I shall conceal as "David J".

Now I truly understand who you atheists and darwinists really are! You people believe that it was okay for my great-grandparents to die in the Holocaust! How disgusting. Your past article about the Holocaust was just window dressing.

We Jews will fight to keep people like you out of the United States!

Shermer wrote to Mr J to ask if he had by any chance just seen Expelled, and he received this reply:

Yes I have. You know, I respect you as a human being and you have done great work exposing psychics and frauds, but this is a very touchy issue that affects me and family emotionally. Our family business was affected because of Auschwitz because now, our family has nothing. It is gone. Things began to make sense once I saw the movie and I am just appalled. I have learned a lot from Ben Stein, a Jewish brother, who has opened my eyes up a bit.

It seemed to me that Ben Stein and his lying crew were more to blame than Mr J himself for his revolting letter. I therefore decided to write him a personal letter and try to explain a few things to him. It then occurred to me (indeed, Michael Shermer suggested as much) that there are probably many others like him, whose minds have been twisted in this evil way by the man Stein, and that it would be a good idea to publish the letter. I decided to wait 24 hours to see if he would reply, although I didn't expect him to. I am now publishing my letter to him, exactly as I sent it to him except that I have removed his name.


Dear Mr J

Michael Shermer forwarded me a letter from you which suggests that you have unfortunately been taken in by Ben Stein's mendacious and/or ignorant suggestion that Darwin is somehow to blame for Hitler. I hope you will not mind if I write to you and try to undo this grievous error.

1. I deeply sympathize with you for the loss of your relatives in the Holocaust. Nevertheless, I don't think that could really be said to justify the tone of your letter to Michael Shermer, who is a kind and decent man, as even you seemed to concede in your second letter to him, and the very antithesis of a Nazi sympathizer.

Now I truly understand who you atheists and darwinists really are! You people believe that it was okay for my great-grandparents to die in the Holocaust! How disgusting. Your past article about the Holocaust was just window dressing.

We Jews will fight to keep people like you out of the United States!
Just look at those words of yours. Probably you regret them by now. I certainly hope so, but I'll continue to write my letter to you, on the assumption that you still feel at least a part of what you wrote.

2. Hitler's horrible opinions were not all that unusual for his time, not just in Germany but throughout Europe, including my own country of Britain, by the way. What singled Hitler out was the fact that he somehow managed to come to power in one of Europe's leading nations, which was also one of the world's most technologically advanced nations. Hitler had a lot of support in Germany. His horrible bidding was done by millions of ordinary German footsoldiers, and the great majority of them were Christians. Many were Lutheran, and many (like Hitler himself) were Roman Catholic. Very few were atheists, and whatever else Hitler was he most certainly was not an atheist. It is sometimes said that Hitler only pretended to be Catholic, in order to win the Church's support for his regime. In this he was very largely successful. So, whether or not Hitler was himself a true Catholic (as he often claimed) the Church bears a heavy responsibility for what happened. And Hitler himself used religion to justify his anti-Semitism. For example, here is a typical quotation, from the end of Chapter 2 of Mein Kampf.

Hence today I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord.

Hitler's obscene anti-Semitism was able to hold sway in Germany because there was a deeply embedded history of anti-Semitism in Germany, and indeed in Europe generally.

3. Going further back in history, where do we think the toxic anti-Semitism of Hitler, and of the many Germans whose support gave him power, came from? You can't seriously think it came from Darwin. Anti-Semitism has been rife in Europe for many many centuries, positively encouraged by most Christian churches, including especially the two that dominate Germany. The Roman Catholic Church has notoriously persecuted Jews as "Christ-killers". While, as for the Lutherans, Martin Luther himself wrote a book called On the Jews and their Lies from which Hitler quoted. And Luther publicly said that "All Jews should be driven from Germany." By the way, do you hear an echo of those words in your own letter to Michael Shermer, "We Jews will fight to keep people like you out of the United States.

" Don't you feel just a twinge of shame at those truly horrible words of yours? Don't you feel that, as a Jew, you should feel especially regretful that you used those words?

4. Now, to the matter of Darwin. The first thing to say is that natural selection is a scientific theory about the way evolution works in fact. It is either true or it is not, and whether or not we like it politically or morally is irrelevant. Scientific theories are not prescriptions for how we should behave. I have many times written (for example in the first chapter of A Devil's Chaplain) that I am a passionate Darwinian when it comes to the science of how life has actually evolved, but a passionate ANTI-Darwinian when it comes to the politics of how humans ought to behave. I have several times said that a society based on Darwinian principles would be a very unpleasant society in which to live. I have several times said, starting at the beginning of my very first book, The Selfish Gene, that we should learn to understand natural selection, so that we can oppose any tendency to apply it to human politics. Darwin himself said the same thing, in various different ways. So did his great friend and champion Thomas Henry Huxley.

5. Darwinism gives NO support to racism of any kind. Quite the contrary. It is emphatically NOT about natural selection between races. It is about natural selection between individuals. It is true that the subtitle of The Origin of Species is "Or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life" but Darwin was using the word "race" in a very different sense from ours. It is totaly clear, if you read past the title to the book itself, that a "favoured race" meant something like 'that set of individuals who possess a certain favoured genetic mutation" (although Darwin would not have used that language because he did not have our modern concept of a genetic mutation).

6. There is no mention of Darwin in Mein Kampf. Not one single, solitary mention, not one mention in any of the 27 chapters of this long and tedious book. Don't you think that, if Hitler was truly influenced by Darwin, he would have given him at least one teeny weeny mention in his book? Was he, perhaps, INDIRECTLY influenced by some of Darwin's ideas, without knowing it? Only if you completely misunderstand Darwin's ideas, as some have definitely done: the so-called Social Darwinists such as Herbert Spencer and John D Rockefeller. Hitler could fairly be described as a Social Darwinist, but all modern evolutionists, almost literally without exception, have been vocal in their condemnation of Social Darwinism. This of course includes Michael Shermer and me and PZ Myers and all the other evolutionary scientists whom Ben Stein and his team tricked into taking part in his film by lying to us about their true intentions.

7. Hitler did attempt eugenic breeding of humans, and this is sometimes misrepresented as an attempt to apply Darwinian principles to humans. But this interpretation gets it historically backwards, as PZ Myers has pointed out. Darwin's great achievement was to look at the familiar practice of domestic livestock breeding by artificial selection, and realise that the same principle might apply in NATURE, thereby explaining the evolution of the whole of life: "natural selection", the "survival of the fittest". Hitler didn't apply NATURAL selection to humans. He was probably even more ignorant of natural selection than Ben Stein evidiently is. Hitler tried to apply ARTIFICIAL selection to humans, and there is nothing specifically Darwinian about artificial selection. It has been familiar to farmers, gardeners, horse trainers, dog breeders, pigeon fanciers and many others for centuries, even millennia. Everybody knew about artificial selection, and Hitler was no exception. What was unique about Darwin was his idea of NATURAL selection; and Hitler's eugenic policies had nothing to do with natural selection.

8. Mr J, you have been cruelly duped by Ben Stein and his unscrupulous colleagues. It is a wicked, evil thing they have done to you, and potentially to many others. I do not know whether they knowingly and wantonly perpetrated the falsehood that fooled you. Perhaps they genuinely and sincerely believed it, although other actions by them, which you can read about all over the Internet, persuade me that they are fully capable of deliberate and calculated deception. You are perhaps not to be blamed for swallowing the film's falsehoods, because you probably assumed that nobody would have the gall to make a whole film like that without checking their facts first. Perhaps even you will need a little more convincing that they were wrong, in which case I urge you to read it up and study the matter in detail -- something that Ben Stein and his crew manifestly and lamentably failed to do.

With my good wishes, and sympathy for the losses your family suffered in the Holocaust.

Yours sincerely

Richard Dawkins

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Monday, April 21, 2008

Sunday, April 20, 2008

By Their Fruits You Shall Know Them-

NY Times Reviews Expelled:

Movie Review

Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed (2007)

Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed
Rocky Mountain Pictures

Ben Stein standing before a sculpture of Darwin in “Expelled.”

April 18, 2008

Resentment Over Darwin Evolves Into a Documentary

One of the sleaziest documentaries to arrive in a very long time, “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed” is a conspiracy-theory rant masquerading as investigative inquiry. Positing the theory of intelligent design as a valid scientific hypothesis, the film frames the refusal of “big science” to agree as nothing less than an assault on free speech. Interviewees, including the scientist Richard Sternberg, claim that questioning Darwinism led to their expulsion from the scientific fold (the film relies extensively on the post hoc, ergo propter hoc fallacy — after this, therefore because of this), while our genial audience surrogate, the actor and multihyphenate Ben Stein, nods sympathetically. (Mr. Stein is also a freelance columnist who writes Everybody’s Business for The New York Times.)

Prominent evolutionary biologists, like the author and Oxford professor Richard Dawkins — accurately identified on screen as an “atheist” — are provided solely to construct, in cleverly edited slices, an inevitable connection between Darwinism and godlessness. Blithely ignoring the vital distinction between social and scientific Darwinism, the film links evolution theory to fascism (as well as abortion, euthanasia and eugenics), shamelessly invoking the Holocaust with black-and-white film of Nazi gas chambers and mass graves.

Every few minutes familiar — and ideologically unrelated — images interrupt the talking heads: a fist-shaking Nikita S. Khrushchev; Charlton Heston being subdued by a water hose in “Planet of the Apes.” This is not argument, it’s circus, a distraction from the film’s contempt for precision and intellectual rigor. This goes further than a willful misunderstanding of the scientific method. The film suggests, for example, that Dr. Sternberg lost his job at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History because of intellectual discrimination but neglects to inform us that he was actually not an employee but rather an unpaid research associate who had completed his three-year term.

Mixing physical apples and metaphysical oranges at every turn “Expelled” is an unprincipled propaganda piece that insults believers and nonbelievers alike. In its fudging, eliding and refusal to define terms, the movie proves that the only expulsion here is of reason itself.

“Expelled” is rated PG (Parental guidance suggested). It has smoking guns and drunken logic.


No Intelligence Allowed

Opens on Friday nationwide.

Directed by Nathan Frankowski; written by Kevin Miller and Ben Stein; narrated by Mr. Stein; director of photography, Mr. Frankowski; edited by Simon Tondeur; music by Andy Hunter and Robbie Bronnimann; produced by Logan Craft, Walt Ruloff and John Sullivan; released by Premise Media. Running time: 1 hour 30 minutes.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Sexpelled: No Intercourse Allowed

"Expelled" Thieves Caught AGAIN

Yoko Ono, Filmmakers Caught in 'Expelled' Flap
By Ethan Smith

Having ruffled feathers in the scientific community, the filmmakers behind a documentary questioning evolution theory have now incurred the wrath of one of the most powerful figures in the popular music business, Yoko Ono, and have generated a blogosphere mini-drama in the process.

The flap concerns the film's use of the song "Imagine," by the late John Lennon. Bloggers had accused Ms. Ono, Mr. Lennon's wife, of selling out by licensing the song to the filmmakers. In fact, her lawyers say, she never granted permission for its use.

Six Things in Expelled That Ben Stein Doesn't Want You to Know...

Scientific American
By John Rennie and Steve Mirsky

In the film Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, narrator Ben Stein poses as a "rebel" willing to stand up to the scientific establishment in defense of freedom and honest, open discussion of controversial ideas like intelligent design (ID). But Expelled has some problems of its own with honest, open presentations of the facts about evolution, ID—and with its own agenda. Here are a few examples—add your own with a comment, and we may add it to another draft of this story. For our complete coverage, see "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed—Scientific American's Take.

1) Expelled quotes Charles Darwin selectively to connect his ideas to eugenics and the Holocaust.

When the film is building its case that Darwin and the theory of evolution bear some responsibility for the Holocaust, Ben Stein's narration quotes from Darwin's The Descent of Man thusly:

With savages, the weak in body or mind are soon eliminated. We civilized men, on the other hand, do our utmost to check the process of elimination. We build asylums for the imbecile, the maimed and the sick. Thus the weak members of civilized societies propagate their kind. No one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this must be highly injurious to the race of man. Hardly anyone is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed.

This is how the original passage in The Descent of Man reads (unquoted sections emphasized in italics):

With savages, the weak in body or mind are soon eliminated; and those that survive commonly exhibit a vigorous state of health. We civilized men, on the other hand, do our utmost to check the process of elimination. We build asylums for the imbecile, the maimed and the sick; we institute poor-laws; and our medical men exert their utmost skill to save the life of every one to the last moment. There is reason to believe that vaccination has preserved thousands, who from a weak constitution would formerly have succumbed to small-pox. Thus the weak members of civilized societies propagate their kind. No one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this must be highly injurious to the race of man. It is surprising how soon a want of care, or care wrongly directed, leads to the degeneration of a domestic race; but excepting in the case of man himself, hardly anyone is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed.

The producers of the film did not mention the very next sentences in the book (emphasis added in italics):

The aid which we feel impelled to give to the helpless is mainly an incidental result of the instinct of sympathy, which was originally acquired as part of the social instincts, but subsequently rendered, in the manner previously indicated, more tender and more widely diffused. Nor could we check our sympathy, even at the urging of hard reason, without deterioration in the noblest part of our nature. The surgeon may harden himself whilst performing an operation, for he knows that he is acting for the good of his patient; but if we were intentionally to neglect the weak and helpless, it could only be for a contingent benefit, with an overwhelming present evil.

Darwin explicitly rejected the idea of eliminating the "weak" as dehumanizing and evil. Those words falsify Expelled's argument. The filmmakers had to be aware of the full Darwin passage, but they chose to quote only the sections that suited their purposes.

2) Ben Stein's speech to a crowded auditorium in the film was a setup.

"Viewers of Expelled might think that Ben Stein has been giving speeches on college campuses and at other public venues in support of ID and against "big science." But if he has, the producers did not include one. The speech shown at the beginning and end was staged solely for the sake of the movie. Michael Shermer learned as much by speaking to officials at Pepperdine University, where those scenes were filmed. Only a few of the audience members were students; most were extras brought in by the producers. Judge the ovation Ben Stein receives accordingly.

3) Scientists in the film thought they were being interviewed for a different movie.

As Richard Dawkins, PZ Myers, Eugenie Scott, Michael Shermer and other proponents of evolution appearing in Expelled have publicly remarked, the producers first arranged to interview them for a film that was to be called Crossroads, which was allegedly a documentary on "the intersection of science and religion." They were subsequently surprised to learn that they were appearing in Expelled, which "exposes the widespread persecution of scientists and educators who are pursuing legitimate, opposing scientific views to the reigning orthodoxy," to quote from the film's press kit.

When exactly did Crossroads become Expelled? The producers have said that the shift in the film's title and message occurred after the interviews with the scientists, as the accumulating evidence gradually persuaded them that ID believers were oppressed.

Yet as blogger Wesley Elsberry discovered when he searched domain registrations, the producers registered the URL "expelledthemovie. com" on March 1, 2007—more than a month (and in some cases, several months) before the scientists were interviewed.

The producers never registered the URL "crossroadsthemovie. com". Those facts raise doubt that Crossroads was still the working title for the movie when the scientists were interviewed.

4) The ID-sympathetic researcher whom the film paints as having lost his job at the Smithsonian Institution was never an employee there.

One section of Expelled relates the case of Richard Sternberg, who was a researcher at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History and editor of the journal Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington. According to the film, after Sternberg approved the publication of a pro-ID paper by Stephen C. Meyer of the Discovery Institute, he lost his editorship, was demoted at the Smithsonian, was moved to a more remote office, and suffered other professional setbacks. The film mentions a 2006 House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform report prepared for Rep. Mark Souder (R–Ind.), "Intolerance and the Politicization of Science at the Smithsonian," that denounced Sternberg's mistreatment.

This selective retelling of the Sternberg affair omits details that are awkward for the movie's case, however. Sternberg was never an employee of the Smithsonian: his term as a research associate always had a limited duration, and when it ended he was offered a new position as a research collaborator. As editor, Sternberg's decision to "peer-review" and approve Meyer's paper by himself was highly questionable on several grounds, which was why the scientific society that published the journal later repudiated it. Sternberg had always been planning to step down as the journal's editor—the issue in which he published the paper was already scheduled to be his last.

The report prepared by Rep. Souder, who had previously expressed pro-ID views, was never officially accepted into the Congressional Record. Notwithstanding the report's conclusions, its appendix contains copies of e-mails and other documents in which Sternberg's superiors and others specifically argued against penalizing him for his ID views. (More detailed descriptions of the Sternberg case can be found on Ed Brayton's blog Dispatches from the Culture Wars and on Wikipedia.


5) Science does not reject religious or "design-based" explanations because of dogmatic atheism.

Expelled frequently repeats that design-based explanations (not to mention religious ones) are "forbidden" by "big science." It never explains why, however. Evolution and the rest of "big science" are just described as having an atheistic preference.

Actually, science avoids design explanations for natural phenomena out of logical necessity. The scientific method involves rigorously observing and experimenting on the material world. It accepts as evidence only what can be measured or otherwise empirically validated (a requirement called methodological naturalism). That requirement prevents scientific theories from becoming untestable and overcomplicated.

By those standards, design-based explanations rapidly lose their rigor without independent scientific proof that validates and defines the nature of the designer. Without it, design-based explanations rapidly become unhelpful and tautological: "This looks like it was designed, so there must be a designer; we know there is a designer because this looks designed.


A major scientific problem with proposed ID explanations for life is that their proponents cannot suggest any good way to disprove them. ID "theories" are so vague that even if specific explanations are disproved, believers can simply search for new signs of design. Consequently, investigators do not generally consider ID to be a productive or useful approach to science.

6) Many evolutionary biologists are religious and many religious people accept evolution.

Expelled includes many clips of scientists such as Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, William Provine and PZ Myers who are also well known as atheists. They talk about how their knowledge of science confirms their convictions and how in some cases science led them to atheism. And indeed, surveys do indicate that atheism is more common among scientists than in the general population.

Nevertheless, the film is wrong to imply that understanding of evolution inevitably or necessarily leads to a rejection of religious belief. Francisco Ayala of the University of California, Irvine, a leading neuroscientist who used to be a Dominican priest, continues to be a devout Catholic, as does the evolutionary biologist Ken Miller of Brown University. Thousands of other biologists across the U.S. who all know evolution to be true are also still religious. Moreover, billions of other people around the world simultaneously accept evolution and keep faith with their religion. The late Pope John Paul II said that evolution was compatible with Roman Catholicism as an explanation for mankind's physical origins.

During Scientific American's post-screening conversation with Expelled associate producer Mark Mathis, we asked him why Ken Miller was not included in the film. Mathis explained that his presence would have "confused" viewers. But the reality is that showing Miller would have invalidated the film's major premise that evolutionary biologists all reject God.

Inside and outside the scientific community, people will no doubt continue to debate rationalism and religion and disagree about who has the better part of that argument. Evidence from evolution will probably remain at most a small part of that conflict, however.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Expelled Producer Pwned by Scientic American - Listen to the audio!!

A Conversation with Expelled's Associate Producer Mark Mathis

Roundtable Discussion with Scientific American and Mark Mathis

TEXT SIZE: Decrease font Enlarge font

By Steve Mirsky

Editor's note: This story is part of a series "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed--Scientific American's Take."

On March 28, 2008, some of the editors of Scientific American watched a screening of Expelled at our offices and had a discussion with the associate producer* of the film, Mark Mathis. This is the entire recording of the discussion, uncut. The first voice you hear is John Rennie, the editor in chief of Scientific American.

*Note: Mark Mathis was originally identified as the associate editor of Expelled.

Other voices you will hear are
- Steve Mirsky
- Phil Yam, News Editor for Scientific American Magazine, at 39 minutes, 46 seconds (5:17 of Part 2)
- Dan Schlenoff, Copy Editor, at 40:53 (6:24 of Part 2)
- Aaron Fagan, Copy Editor, at 67:46 (33:17 of Part 2)

Part 1:

Download part 1

Part 2:

Download part 2

A couple of notes:
At 63:11, (28:43 of Part 2) Rennie is reacting to Mathis, who turned to the rest of the editors and silently mimicked Rennie as he spoke.

One point requires response here. Mathis charged that some 92 percent of the judge’s decision in the Dover intelligent design trial was copied directly from papers filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). We said we would follow up and find out the truth. We did. In fact, Mathis was wrong in three ways. One, even the Discovery Institute’s own charge is that the judge copied 90.9 percent of ACLU material for one specific section in the judge’s decision. Second, a correct statistical workup finds that the number is as low as 35 percent, depending on whether you include material filed that is not included in the decision and the length of word strings. But the most important point is one that I guessed at in the conversation. We spoke to actual legal experts who told us that when the sides in a trial file their facts, it is with the hope that they make the case strongly enough for the judge to incorporate their texts into the finding of fact section of the decision. Therefore the charges that Mathis makes against Judge Jones are both incorrect in detail and spurious in spirit. For more information, you can go to footnote 88 in the Wikipedia entry on the Discovery Institute. There’s more info on the permissibility of using filed facts in a decision at The Panda’s Thumb Web site, It’s an entry called "Weekend at Behe’s" dated December 12, 2006.


Sunday, April 13, 2008


"Lighthouses are more helpful than churches."

[Benjamin Franklin]

"When a religion is good, I conceive it will support itself; and when it does not support itself, and God does not care to support it, so that its professors are obliged to call for the help of the civil power, 'tis a sign, I apprehend, of its being a bad one."

[Ben Franklin, _Poor Richard's Almanac_, 1754 (Works, Volume XIII)]

"My parents had early given me religious impressions, and brought me through my childhood piously in the dissenting [puritan] way. But I was scarce fifteen, when, after doubting by turns of several points, as I found them disputed in the different books I read, I began to doubt of Revelation itself. Some books against Deism fell into my hands; they were said to be the substance of sermons preached at Boyle's lectures. [Robert Boyle (1627-1691) was a British physicist who endowed the Boyle Lectures for defense of Christianity.] It happened that they wrought an effect on me quite contrary to what was intended by them; for the arguments of the deists, which were quoted to be refuted, appeared to me much stronger than the refutations; in short, I soon became a thorough deist"

[Benjamin Franklin, "Autobiography,"p.66 as published in *The American
Tradition in Literature,* seventh edition (short), McGraw-Hill,p.180]

"I have found Christian dogma unintelligible. Early in life I absented myself from Christian assemblies."

[Benjamin Franklin, in _Toward The Mystery_]

"I cannot conceive otherwise than that He, the Infinite Father, expects or requires no worship or praise from us, but that He is even infinitely above it."

[Benjamin Franklin from "Articles of Belief and Acts of Religion", Nov. 20, 1728]

"Belief in a cruel God makes a cruel man."

[Thomas Paine]

"Of all the tyrannies that affect mankind, tyranny in religion is the worst."

[Thomas Paine]

"As to the book called the bible, it is blasphemy to call it the Word of God. It is a book of lies and contradictions and a history of bad times and bad men."

[Thomas Paine, writing to Andrew Dean August 15, 1806]

"...Thomas did not believe the resurrection [John 20:25], and, as they say, would not believe without having ocular and manual demonstration himself. So neither will I, and the reason is equally as good for me, and for every other person, as for Thomas."

[Thomas Paine, Age Of Reason, pg. 54]

"The study of theology, as it stands in the Christian churches, is the study of nothing; it is founded on nothing; it rests on no principles; it proceeds by no authority; it has no data; it can demonstrate nothing; and it admits of no conclusion."

[Thomas Paine]

"The continually progressive change to which the meaning of words is subject, the want of a universal language which renders translation necessary, the errors to which translations are again subject, the mistakes of copyists and printers, together with the possibility of willful alteration, are of themselves evidences that the human language, whether in speech or in print, cannot be the vehicle of the Word of God. The Word of God exists in something else."

[Thomas Paine, Age of Reason]

"The adulterous connection between church and state."

[Thomas Paine, _The Age of Reason_]

"Whenever we read the obscene stories, the voluptuous debaucheries, the cruel and tortuous executions, the unrelenting vindictiveness with which more than half the Bible is filled, it would be more consistant that we call it the word of a demon than the word of God. It is a history of wickedness that has served to corrupt and brutalize mankind; and, for my part, I sincerely detest it, as I detest everything that is cruel."

[Thomas Paine, _The Age of Reason_]

"That God cannot lie, is no advantage to your argument, because it is no proof that priests can not, or that the Bible does not."

[The Life and Works of Thomas Paine, Vol. 9 p. 134]

"The NT, compared with the Old, is like a farce of one act..."

[_The Age of Reason_, Thomas Paine, p. 153]

"There are matters in the Bible, said to be done by the express commandment of God, that are shocking to humanity and to every idea we have of moral justice....".

[Thomas Paine]

"..but the Bible is such a book of lies and contradictions there is no knowing which part to believe or whether any..."

[_The Age of Reason_, Thomas Paine, p. 104]

"As to the book called the Bible, it is blasphemy to call it the Word of God. It is a book of lies and contradictions, and a history of bad times and bad men. There are but a few good characters in the whole book."

[Thomas Paine, Letter to William Duane, April 23, 1806]

"I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish Church, by the Roman Church, by the Greek Church, by the Turkish Church, by the Protestant Church, nor by any Church that I know of. My own mind is my own Church."

[Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason]

"The story of Jesus Christ appearing after he was dead is the story of an apparition, such as timid imaginations can always create in vision, and credulity believe. Stories of this kind had been told of the assassination of Julius Caesar..."

[Thomas Paine]

"What is it the Bible teaches us? - raping, cruelty, and murder. What is it the New Testament teaches us? - to believe that the Almighty committed debauchery with a woman engaged to be married, and the belief of this debauchery is called faith."

[Thomas Paine]

"There is nothing which can better deserve our patronage than the promotion of science and literature. Knowledge is in every country the surest basis of public happiness."

[George Washington, address to Congress, 8 January, 1790]

"In those parts of the world where learning and science have prevailed, miracles have ceased; but in those parts of it as are barbarous and ignorant, miracles are still in vogue."

[Ethan Allen, Reason the Only Oracle of Man, pamphlet, 1784]

"While we are under the tyranny of Priests [...] it will ever be their interest, to invalidate the law of nature and reason, in order to establish systems incompatible therewith."

[Ethan Allen, _Reason_the_Only_Oracle_of_Man_]

"The Bible is not my Book and Christianity is not my religion. I could never give assent to the long complicated statements of Christian dogma."

[Abraham Lincoln]

"I am for liberty of conscience in its noblest, broadest, and highest sense. But I cannot give liberty of conscience to the pope and his followers, the papists, so long as they tell me, through all their councils, theologians, and canon laws that their conscience orders them to burn my wife, strangle my children, and cut my throat when they find their opportunity."

[Abraham Lincoln]

"My earlier views at the unsoundness of the Christian scheme of salvation and the human origin of the scriptures, have become clearer and stronger with advancing years and I see no reason for thinking I shall ever change them."

[Abraham Lincoln, letter to Judge J.S. Wakefield, after the death of Willie Lincoln]

"It will not do to investigate the subject of religion too closely, as it is apt to lead to infidelity."

[Abraham Lincoln, from "What Great Men Think Of Religion" by Ira Cardiff]

"I am approached with the most opposite opinions and advice, and by religious men who are certain they represent the Divine will. ... I hope it will not be irreverent in me to say, that if it be probable that God would reveal his will to others, on a point so connected with my duty, it might be supposed he would reveal it directly to me."

[Abraham Lincoln. Chapter 14 of Part 5 of *Six Historic Americans* by John Ramsburg]

"I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute- where no Catholic prelate would tell the president (should he be Catholic) how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishoners for whom to vote--where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference--and where no man is denied public office merely because his religion differs from the president who might appoint him or the people who might elect him."

[President John F. Kennedy]

"I would suggest the taxation of all property equally whether church or corporation."

[Ulysses S. Grant (1822-1885)]

"If not an absolute atheist, he had no belief in a future existence. All his ideas of obligation or retribution were bounded by the present life."

[President John Quincy Adams on Thomas Jefferson, 1831]

"The Christian God is a being of terrific character -- cruel, vindictive, capricious, and unjust."

[Thomas Jefferson, _Jefferson Bible_]

"If the obstacles of bigotry and priestcraft can be surmounted, we may hope that common sense will suffice to do everything else."

[Thomas Jefferson]

"I do not find in orthodox Christianity one redeeming feature."

[Thomas Jefferson]

"He is less remote from the truth who believes nothing, than he who believes what is wrong."

[Thomas Jefferson]

"The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg."

[Thomas Jefferson]

"If we could believe that [Jesus]...countenanced the follies, falsehoods and charlatanisms which his biographers father on him, ...the conclusion would be irresistible...that he was an imposter."

[Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) 3rd president of the U.S.]

"I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should 'make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,' thus building a wall of separation between church and State."

[Thomas Jefferson, letter to Danbury Baptist Association]

"All persons shall have full and free liberty of religious opinion; nor shall any be compelled to frequent or maintain any religious institution."

[Thomas Jefferson, 1776]

"I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just."

[Thomas Jefferson]

"...difference of opinion is advantageous in religion. The several sects perform the office of a common censor over each other. Is uniformity attainable? Millions of innocent men, women and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, imprisoned; yet we have not advanced an inch towards uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one half the world fools, and the other half hypocrites. To support roguery and error all over the earth."

[Thomas Jefferson, "Notes on the State of Virginia [1781-1785]"]

"Christianity is the most perverted system that ever shone on man."

[Thomas Jefferson, in _Toward the Mystery_]

"It is between fifty and sixty years since I read the Apocalypse, and I then considered it merely the ravings of a maniac."

[Thomas Jefferson, _Jefferson Bible_]

"[no citizen] shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever...[to] compell a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of [religious] opinions which he disbelieves is sinful and tyrannical."

[Thomas Jefferson, Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom]

"..our civil rights have no dependance on our religious opinions, any more than our opinions in physics or geometry"

[Thomas Jefferson]

"A lively and lasting sense of filial duty is more effectually impressed on the mind of a son or daughter by reading King Lear, than by all the dry volumes of ethics, and divinity, that ever were written."

[Thomas Jefferson, letter to Robert Skipwith, August 3, 1771]

"There is not a truth existing which I fear... or would wish unknown to the whole world."

[Thomas Jefferson]

"We discover [in the gospels] a groundwork of vulgar ignorance, of things impossible, of superstition, fanaticism and fabrication."

[Thomas Jefferson, _Jefferson Bible_]

"The Christian god can be easily pictured as virtually the same as the many ancient gods of past civilizations. The Christian god is a three headed monster; cruel, vengeful and capricious. If one wishes to know more of this raging, three headed beast-like god, one only needs to look at the caliber of the people who say they serve him. They are always of two classes: fools and hypocrites."

[Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to his nephew, Peter Carr]

"...merely the ravings of a maniac, no more worthy, nor capable of explanation than the incoherences of our own nightly dreams."

[Thomas Jefferson, on the Revelations in the Bible, from Thomas Jefferson: A Reference Biography, New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1986.]

"Christianity neither is, nor ever was a part of the common law."

[Thomas Jefferson, February 10, 1814]

Shake off all the fears of servile prejudices, under which weak minds are servilely crouched. Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call on her tribunal for every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear."

[Thomas Jefferson, letter to Peter Carr, Aug. 10, 1787]

"The Christian priesthood, finding the doctrines of Christ levelled to every understanding and too plain to need explanation, saw, in the mysticisms of Plato, materials with which they might build up an artificial system which might, from its indistinctness, admit everlasting controversy, give employment for their order, and introduce it to profit, power and pre-eminence. The doctirnes which flowed from the lips of Jesus himself are within the comprehension of a child; but thousands of volumes have not yet explained the Platonisms engrafted on them: and for this obvious reason that nonsense can never be explained."

[Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to John Adams]

"The Christian priesthood, finding the doctrines of Christ leveled to every understanding, and too plain to need explanation, saw in the mysticisms of Plato materials with which they might build up an artificial system, which might, from its indistinctness, admit everlasting controversy, give employment for their order and introduce it to profit, power and pre-eminence"

[Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Adams, July 5, 1814]

"I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do because I notice it always coincides with their own desires."

[Susan B. Anthony]

"I was born a heretic. I always distrust people who know so much about what God wants them to do to their fellows."

[Susan B. Anthony]

"To no form of religion is woman indebted for one impulse of freedom..."

[Susan B. Anthony]

"The whole tone of Church teaching in regard to women is, to the last degree, contemptuous and degrading."

[Elizabeth Cady Stanton]

"The memory of my own suffering has prevented me from ever shadowing one young soul with the superstitions of the Christian religion."

[Elizabeth Cady Stanton, "Eight Years and More"]

"The religious superstitions of women perpetuate their bondage more than all other adverse influences."

[Elizabeth Cady Stanton]

"All through the centuries scholars and scientists have been imprisoned, tortured and burned alive for some discovery which seemed to conflict with a petty text of Scripture. Surely the immutable laws of the universe can teach more impressive and exalted lessons than the holy books of all the religions on earth."

[Elizabeth Cady Stanton, The Woman's Bible
Part 2. (From Great Infidels pg. 143.)]

"The Bible and the Church have been the greatest stumbling blocks in the way of women's emancipation."

[Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815-1902), U.S. campaigner for
women's rights. Free Thought Magazine (Sept. 1896)]

"The divorce between church and state ought to be absolute. It ought to be absolute. It ought to be so absolute that no church property anywhere, in any state, or in any nation, should be exempt from taxation, for if you exempt the church property of any church organization, to that extent you impose tax upon the whole community."

[US Pres. James A. Garfield, address to Congress]

"It is error alone that needs the support of government. Truth can stand by itself."

[Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Virginia, 1782]

[laws establishing freedom of religion]..."were meant to include within them the Muslim, the Hindoo [sic], and the infidel of any sort."

[Thomas Jefferson in a letter to his nephew, Dethloff, Henry C., ed. Thomas Jefferson and American Democracy. Lexington, MA: D.C. Heath and Co. 1971]

"Our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions more than our opinions in physics or geometry; that therefore the proscribing any citizen as unworthy the public confidence by laying upon him an incapacity of being called to offices of trust and emolument, unless he profess or renounce this or that religious opinion, is depriving him injuriously of those privileges and advantages to which in common with his fellow citizens he has a natural right; that it tends also to corrupt the principles of that very religion it is meant to encourage, by bribing, with a monopoly of worldly honors and emoluments, those who will externally profess and conform to it; that though indeed these are criminal who do not withstand such temptation, yet neither are those innocent who lay the bait in their way; that to suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his powers into the field of opinion and to restrain the profession or propagation of principles, on supposition of their ill tendency, is a dangerous fallacy, which at once destroys all religious liberty, because he being of course judge of that tendency, will make his opinions the rule of judgment, and approve or condemn the sentiments of others only as they shall square with or differ from his own; that it is time enough for the rightful purposes of civil government for its officers to interfere when principles break out into overt acts against peace and good order; and finally, that truth is great and will prevail if left to herself, that she is the proper and sufficient antagonist to error, and has nothing to fear from the conflict, unless by human interposition disarmed of her natural weapons, free argument and debate, errors ceasing to be dangerous when it is permitted freely to contradict them."

[Jefferson and Madison, from the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom]

"History I believe furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government. This marks the lowest grade of ignorance, of which their political as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purpose."

[Thomas Jefferson, to Baron von Humboldt, 1813]

"To penetrate and dissipate these clouds of darkness, the general mind must be strengthened by education."

[Thomas Jefferson]

"The care of every man's soul belongs to himself. But what if he neglect the care of it? Well what if he neglect the care of his health or his estate, which would more nearly relate to the state. Will the magistrate make a law that he not be poor or sick? Laws provide against injury from others; but not from ourselves. God himself will not save men against their wills.
But a short time elapsed after the death of the great reformer of the Jewish religion, before his principles were departed from by those who professed to be his special servants, and perverted into an engine for enslaving mankind, and aggrandizing their oppressors in Church and State."

[Thomas Jefferson, to S. Kercheval, 1810]

"...If we did a good act merely from the love of God and a belief that is pleasing to him, whence arises the morality of the Atheist? It is idle to say, as some do, that no such thing exists. We have the same evidence of the fact as of most of those we act on, to wit: their own affirmations, and their reasonings in support of them. I have observed, indeed, generally that while in Protestant countries the defections from the Platonic Christianity of the priests is to Deism, in Catholic countries they are to Atheism. Diderot, D'Alembert, D'Holbach, Condorcet are known to have been among the most virtuous of men. Their virtue, then, must have had some other foundation than love of God."

[Thomas Jefferson, letter to Thomas Law, June 13, 1814]

"They [preachers] dread the advance of science as witches do the approach of daylight and scowl on the fatal harbinger announcing the subversions of the duperies on which they live."

[Thomas Jefferson]

"I have recently been examining all the known superstitions of the world, and do not find in our particular superstition (Christianity) one redeeming feature. They are all alike founded on fables and mythology."

[Thomas Jefferson, letter to Dr. Woods]

"Creeds have been the bane of the Christian church
... made of Christendom a slaughter-house."

[Thomas Jefferson, to Benjamin Waterhouse, Jun. 26, 1822]

"The Athanasian paradox that one is three and three but one, is so incomprehensible to the human mind, that no candid man can say he has any idea of it, and how can he believe what presents no idea? He who thinks he does, only deceives himself He proves, also, that man, once surrendering his reason, has no remaining guard against absurdities the most monstrous, and like a ship without a rudder, is the sport of every wind. With such persons, gullibility, which they call faith, takes the helm of reason, and the mind becomes a wreck."

[Thomas Jefferson, letter to James Smith]

"Spiritual leadership should remain spiritual leadership and the temporal power should not become too important in any church."

[Eleanor Roosevelt]

"[In regard to the Trinity]; "Tom, had you and I been 40 days with Moses, and beheld the great God, and even if God himself had tried to tell us that three was one . . . and one equals three, you and I would never have believed it. We would never fall victims to such lies."

[John Adams, letter to Thomas Jefferson]

"The divinity of Jesus is made a convenient cover for absurdity. Nowhere in the Gospels do we find a precept for Creeds, Confessions, Oaths, Doctrines, and whole carloads of other foolish trumpery that we find in Christianity."

[John Adams]

"The question before the human race is, whether the God of nature shall govern the world by his own laws, or whether priests and kings shall rule it by fictitious miracles?"

[John Adams]

"Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprize, every expanded prospect."

[James Madison, in a letter to William Bradford, April 1,1774,
as quoted by Edwin S. Gaustad, Faith of Our Fathers: Religion
and the New Nation, San Francisco:Harper & Row, 1987, p. 37]

"The purpose of separation of church and state is to keep forever from these shores the ceaseless strife that has soaked the soil of Europe in blood for centuries."

[James Madison, 1803]

"Experience witnesseth that ecclesiastical establishments, instead of maintaining the purity and efficacy of religion, have had a contrary operation. During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What has been its fruits? More or less, in all places, pride and indolence in the clergy; ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, superstition, bigotry and persecution."

[James Madison, "A Memorial and Remonstrance", addressed to the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Virginia, 1785]

"[I]t may not be easy, in every possible case, to trace the line of separation between the rights of religion and the Civil authority with such distinctness as to avoid collisions and doubts on unessential points. The tendency to unsurpastion on one side or the other, or to a corrupting coalition or alliance between them, will be best guarded agst. by an entire abstinence of the Gov't from interfence in any way whatsoever, beyond the necessity of preserving public order, and protecting each sect agst. trespasses on its legal rights by others."

[James Madison, in a letter to Rev Jasper Adams spring 1832, from "James Madison on Religious Liberty", edited by Robert S. Alley, ISBN 0-8975-298-X. pp. 237-238]

"Its first and most immediate purpose rested on the belief that a union of government and religion tends to destroy government and degrade religion."

[Justice Black, on the Establishment Clause of the 1st Amendment]

"No tax in any amount, large or small, can be levied to support any religious activities or institutions, whatever they may be called, or whatever form they may adopt to teach or practice religion."

[Hugo L. Black, U.S. Supreme Court Justice, majority opinion
in Everson v. Board of Education, 330 U.S. 1 (1947)]

"No person can be punished for entertaining or professing religious beliefs or disbeliefs, for church attendance or nonattendance."

[U.S. Supreme Court justice Hugo Black, Majority opinion
Everson v. Board of Education 330 U.S. 1 (1947)]

"Neither the fact that the prayer is denominationally neutral nor the fact that its observance on the part of the students is voluntary can serve to free it from the limitations of the Establishment Clause."

[U.S. Supreme Court, Engle v. Vitale (1962)]

"The world presents enough problems if you believe it to be a world of law and order; do not add to them by believing it to be a world of miracles."

[U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis]

"Neither a state nor the Federal Government can, openly or secretly, participate in the affairs of any religious organizations or groups and vice versa. In the words of Jefferson, the clause against establishment of religion by law was intended to erect 'a wall of separation between church and state.'"

[Hugo L. Black, U.S. Supreme Court Justice, majority opinion in Everson v. Board of Education, 330 U.S. 1 (1947)]

"The First Amendment has erected a wall between church and state. That wall must be kept high and impregnable. We could not approve the slightest breach."

[Hugo L. Black, U.S. Supreme Court Justice, majority opinion in Everson v. Board of Education, 330 U.S. 1 (1947),last words]


"I do not believe that any type of religion should ever be introduced into the public schools of the United States."

[Thomas Edison]

"My mind is incapable of conceiving such a thing as a soul. I may be in error, and man may have a soul; but I simply do not believe it."

[Thomas Edison, "Do We Live Again?"]

"I have never seen the slightest scientific proof of the religious theories of heaven and hell, of future life for individuals, or of a personal God."

[Thomas Alva Edison, "Columbian Magazine"]

"All Bibles are man-made."

[Thomas Edison]

"So far as religion of the day is concerned, it is a damned fake... Religion is all bunk."

[Thomas Edison]

"To those seaching for truth - not the truth of dogma and darkness but the truth brought by reason, search, examination, and inquiry, discipline is required. For faith, as well intentioned as it may be, must be built on facts, not fiction - faith in fiction is a damnable false hope."

[Thomas Edison]


"One of the proofs of the immortality of the soul is that myriads have believed it - they also believed the world was flat."

[Mark Twain]

"The Bible is "a mass of fables and traditions, mere mythology."

[Mark Twain, "Mark Twain and the Bible"]

"It ain't the parts of the Bible that I can't understand that bother me, it is the parts that I do understand."

[Mark Twain]

"There is nothing in either savage or civilised history that is more utterly complete, more remorselessly sweeping than the Father of Mercy's campaign among the Midianites. The official report deals only in masses, all the virgins, all the men, all the babies. all 'creatures that breathe,' all houses. all cities. It gives you just one vast picture far as the eye can reach, of charred ruins and storm-swept desolation... Would you expect this same conscienceless God, this moral bankrupt, to become a teacher of morals, of gentleness, of meekness, of righteousness, of purity?"

[Mark Twain, "Letters from the Earth"]

"The Bible has noble poetry in it... and some good morals and a wealth of obscenity, and upwards of a thousand lies."

[Mark Twain]

"In religion and politics, people's beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second-hand, and without examination."

[Mark Twain]

"Our Bible reveals to us the character of our god with minute and remorseless exactness... It is perhaps the most damnatory biography that exists in print anywhere. It makes Nero an angel of light and leading by contrast"

[Mark Twain, _Reflections on Religion_, 1906]

"If there is a God, he is a malign thug."

[Mark Twain]

"When the human race has once acquired a supersitition nothing short of death is ever likely to remove it."

[Autobiography of Mark Twain]

"It is by the fortune of God that, in this country, we have three benefits: freedom of speech, freedom of thought, and the wisdom never to use either."

[Mark Twain]

"Strange...a God who could make good children as easily as bad, yet preferred to make bad ones; who made them prize their bitter life, yet stingily cut it short; mouths Golden Rules and forgiveness multiplied seventy times seven and invented Hell; who mouths morals to other people and has none himself; who frowns upon crimes yet commits them all; who created man without invitation, then tries to shuffle the responsibility for man's acts upon man, instead of honorably placing it where it belongs, upon himself; and finally with altogether divine obtuseness, invites this poor, abused slave to worship him!"

[Mark Twain]

"A man is accepted into a church for what he
believes and he is turned out for what he knows."

[Mark Twain]

"(The Bible) is full of interest. It has noble poetry in it; and some clever fables; and some blood-drenched history; and some good morals; and a wealth of obscenity; and upwards of a thousand lies. This Bible is built mainly out of fragments of older Bibles that had their day and crumbled to ruin. So it noticeably lacks in originality, necessarily. Its three or four most imposing and impressive events all happened in earlier Bibles; there are only two new things in it: hell, for one, and that singular heaven I have told you about."

[Mark Twain, "Letters from the Earth"]

"Of the delights of this world, man cares most for sexual intercourse, yet he has left it out of his heaven"

[Mark Twain]

"You have noticed that the human being is a curiosity. In times past he has had (and worn out and flung away) hundreds and hundreds of religions; today he has hundreds and hundreds of religions, and launches not fewer than three new ones every year. I could enlarge on that number and still be within the facts."

[Mark Twain, "Letters From the Earth"]

"During many ages there were witches. The Bible said so. The Bible commanded that they should not be allowed to live. Therefore the Church, after doing its duty in but a lazy and indolent way for 800 years, gathered up its halters, thumbscrews, and firebrands, and set about its holy work in earnest. She worked hard at it night and day during nine centuries and imprisoned, tortured, hanged, and burned whole hordes and armies of witches, and washed the Christian world clean with their foul blood. Then it was discovered that there was no such thing as witches, and never had been. One does not know whether to laugh or to cry."

[Mark Twain, "Europe and Elsewhere"]

"I bring you this stately matron named Christendom, returning bedraggled, besmirched, and dishonored from pirate raids in Kiao-Chow, Manchuria, South Africa, and the Phillipines, with her soul full of meanness, her pocket full of boodle, and her mouth full of pious hypocrisies. Give her soap and a towel, but hide the looking-glass."

[Mark Twain, Speech to the Red Cross, New York, Dec. 31, 1899]

"Let me make the superstitions of a nation and I care not who makes its laws or its songs either."

[Mark Twain]

"it is believed by everyone that when he was in heaven he was stern, hard, resentful, jealous and cruel, but that when he came down to earth, he became the opposite... sweet, gentle merciful, forgiving. He was a thousand billion times crueler than ever he was in the Old Testament... Meek and gentle? By and by we will examine that popular sarcasm by the light of the hell which he invented."

[Mark Twain, on Jesus Christ, in "Letters from the Earth"]

"What a man misses mostly in heaven is company."

[Mark Twain]

"Go to Heaven for the climate, Hell for the company."

[Mark Twain]

"...Man is a marvelous curiosity. When he is at his very very best he is a sort of low grade nickel-plated angel; at his worst he is unspeakable, unimaginable; and first and last and all the time he is a sarcasm. Yet he blandly and in all sincerity calls himself the 'noblest work of God.'"

[Mark Twain, "Letters From the Earth"]


"I cannot conceive of a personal God who would directly influence the actions of individuals, or would directly sit in judgment on creatures of his own creation. I cannot do this in spite of the fact that mechanistic causality has, to a certain extent, been placed in doubt by modern science. [He was speaking of Quantum Mechanics and the breaking down of determinism.] My religiosity consists in a humble admiratation of the infinitely superior spirit that reveals itself in the little that we, with our weak and transitory understanding, can comprehend of reality. Morality is of the highest importance -- but for us, not for God."

[Albert Einstein, from "Albert Einstein: The Human Side", edited
by Helen Dukas and Banesh Hoffman, Princeton University Press]

"If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed."

[Albert Einstein]

"I cannot conceive of a God who rewards and punishes his creatures, or has a will of the kind that we experience in ourselves. Neither can I nor would I want to conceive of an individual that survives his physical death; let feeble souls, from fear or absurd egoism, cherish such thoughts. I am satisfied with the mystery of the eternity of life and with the awareness and a glimpse of the marvelous structure of the existing world, together with the devoted striving to comprehend a portion, be it ever so tiny, of the Reason that manifests itself in nature."

[Albert Einstein,_The World as I See It_]

"The idea of a personal God is an anthropological concept which I am unable to take seriously."

[Albert Einstein, letter to Hoffman and Dukas, 1946]

"The foundation of morality should not be made dependent on myth nor tied to any authority lest doubt about the myth or about the legitimacy of the authority imperil the foundation of sound judgment and action."

[Albert Einstein]

"I do not believe in immortality of the individual, and I consider ethics to be an exclusively human concern with no superhuman authority behind it."

["Albert Einstein: The Human Side", edited by Helen Dukas and Banesh
Hoffman, and published by Princeton University Press.]

"I have repeatedly said that in my opinion the idea of a personal God is a childlike one, but I do not share the crusading spirit of the professional atheist whose fervor is mostly due to a painful act of liberation from the fetters of religious indoctrination received in youth. I prefer an attitude of humility corresponding to the weakness of our intellectual understanding of nature and of our own being."

[Albert Einstein]

"A man's ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties and needs; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death."

[Albert Einstein, "Religion and Science", New York Times Magazine, 9 November 1930]

"What I see in Nature is a magnificent structure that we can comprehend only very imperfectly, and that must fill a thinking person with a feeling of "humility." This is a genuinely religious feeling that has nothing to do with mysticism"

[Albert Einstein]

"I cannot imagine a God who rewards and punishes the objects of his creation, whose purposes are modeled after our own -- a God, in short, who is but a reflection of human frailty. Neither can I believe that the individual survives the death of his body, although feeble souls harbor such thoughts through fear or ridiculous egotisms."

[Albert Einstein, obituary in New York Times, 19 April 1955]

"Although I cannot believe that the individual survives the death of his body, feeble souls harbor such thought through fear or ridiculous egotism."

[Albert Einstein]

"It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it."

[Albert Einstein, 1954, from "Albert Einstein: The Human Side", edited by Helen Dukas and Banesh Hoffman, Princeton University Press]

"The mystical trend of our time, which shows itself particularly in the rampant growth of the so-called Theosophy and Spiritualism, is for me no more than a symptom of weakness and confusion. Since our inner experiences consist of reproductions, and combinations of sensory impressions, the concept of a soul without a body seem to me to be empty and devoid of meaning."

[Albert Einstein]


"I worry that, especially as the Millennium edges nearer, pseudoscience and superstition will seem year by year more tempting, the siren song of unreason more sonorous and attractive. Where have we heard it before? Whenever our ethnic or national prejudices are aroused, in times of scarcity, during challenges to national self-esteem or nerve, when we agonize about our diminished cosmic place and purpose, or when fanaticism is bubbling up around us-then, habits of thought familiar from ages past reach for the controls.
"The candle flame gutters. Its little pool of light trembles. Darkness gathers. The demons begin to stir."
[Carl Sagan, "The Demon-Haunted World: Science As a Candle in the Dark"]

"Life is but a momentary glimpse of the wonder of this astonishing universe, and it is sad to see so many dreaming it away on spiritual fantasy."

[Carl Sagan]

"(When asked merely if they accept evolution, 45 percent of Americans say yes. The figure is 70 percent in China.) When the movie "Jurassic Park" was shown in Israel, it was condemned by some Orthodox rabbis because it accepted evolution and because it taught that dinosaurs lived a hundred million years ago--when, as is plainly stated at every Rosh Hashonhan and every Jewish wedding ceremony, the Universe is less than 6,000 years old."

[Carl Sagan, _The Demon-Haunted World:
Science as a Candle in the Dark_, p. 325]

"In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion."

[Carl Sagan, 1987 CSICOP keynote address]

"One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we've been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We're no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. it is simply too painful to acknowledge -- even to ourselves -- that we've been so credulous. (So the old bamboozles tend to persist as the new bamboozles rise.)"

[Carl Sagan, "The Fine Art of Baloney Detection,"]

"At the extremes it is difficult to distinguish pseudoscience from rigid, doctrinaire religion."

[Carl Sagan, "The Demon-Haunted World: Science As a Candle in the Dark"]

"If you want to save your child from polio, you can pray or you can inoculate....Try science."

[Carl Sagan, quoted in "2000 Years of Disbelief, Famous People with the Courage to Doubt", by James A. Haught, Prometheus Books, 1996]

"The idea that God is an oversized white male with a flowing beard who sits in the sky and tallies the fall of every sparrow is ludicrous. But if by "God" one means the set of physical laws that govern the universe, then clearly there is such a God. This God is emotionally unsatisfying... it does not make much sense to pray to the law of gravity."

[Carl Sagan]

"Is it fair to be suspicious of an entire profession because of a few bad apples? There are at least two important differences, it seems to me. First, no one doubts that science actually works, whatever mistaken and fraudulent claim may from time to time be offered. But whether there are *any* miraculous cures from faith-healing, beyond the body's own ability to cure itself, is very much at issue. Secondly, the expose' of fraud and error in science is made almost exclusively by science. But the exposure of fraud and error in faith-healing is almost never done by other faith-healers."

[Carl Sagan, "The Demon-Haunted World: Science As a Candle in the Dark"]

"Many statements about God are confidently made by theologians on grounds that today at least sound specious. Thomas Aquinas claimed to prove that God cannot make another God, or commit suicide, or make a man without a soul, or even make a triangle whose interior angles do not equal 180 degrees. But Bolyai and Lobachevsky were able to accomplish this last feat (on a curved surface) in the nineteenth century, and they were not even approximately gods."

[Carl Sagan, _Broca's Brain_]

"Think of how many religions attempt to validate themselves with prophecy. Think of how many people rely on these prophecies, however vague, however unfulfilled, to support or prop up their beliefs. Yet has there ever been a religion with the prophetic accuracy and reliability of science?"

[Carl Sagan, "The Demon-Haunted World: Science As a Candle in the Dark"]

"I would love to believe that when I die I will live again, that some thinking, feeling, remembering part of me will continue. But as much as I want to believe that, and despite the ancient and worldwide cultural traditions that assert an afterlife, I know of nothing to suggest that it is more than wishful thinking."

[Carl Sagan]

"Skeptical scrutiny is the means, in both science and religion, by which deep thoughts can be winnowed from deep nonsense."

[Carl Sagan]

"You can't convince a believer of anything; for their belief is not based on evidence, it's based on a deep seated need to believe."

[Carl Sagan]

"If we long to believe that the stars rise and set for us, that we are the reason there is a Universe, does science do us a disservice in deflating our conceits?....For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring."

[Carl Sagan, "The Demon-Haunted World: Science As a Candle in the Dark"]

"Finding the occasional straw of truth awash in a great ocean of confusion and bamboozle requires intelligence, vigilance, dedication and courage. But if we don't practice these tough habits of thought, we cannot hope to solve the truly serious problems that face us -- and we risk becoming a nation of suckers, up for grabs by the next charlatan who comes along."

[Carl Sagan, "The Fine Art of Baloney Detection,"]

"I maintain there is much more wonder in science than in pseudoscience. And in addition, to whatever measure this term has any meaning, science has the additional virtue, and it is not an inconsiderable one, of being true."

[Carl Sagan, The Burden Of Skepticism]

"You see, the religious people -- most of them -- really think this planet is an experiment. That's what their beliefs come down to. Some god or other is always fixing and poking, messing around with tradesmen's wives, giving tablets on mountains, commanding you to mutilate your children, telling people what words they can say and what words they can't say, making people feel guilty about enjoying themselves, and like that. Why can't the gods let well enough alone? All this intervention speaks of incompetence. If God didn't want Lot's wife to look back, why didn't he make her obedient, so she'd do what her husband told her? Or if he hadn't made Lot such a shithead, maybe she would have listened to him more. If God is omnipotent and omniscient, why didn't he start the universe out in the first place so it would come out the way he wants? Why's he constantly repairing and complaining? No, there's one thing the Bible makes clear: The biblical God is a sloppy manufacturer. He's not good at design, he's not good at execution. He'd be out of business if there was any competition."

[Carl Sagan, character Sol Hadden in _Contact_, 1985]

"There was no deathbed conversion," Druyan says. "No appeals to God, no hope for an afterlife, no pretending that he and I, who had been inseparably for twenty years, were not saying goodbye forever."
"Didn't he want to believe?" she was asked.
"Carl never wanted to believe," she replies fiercely. "He wanted to KNOW."

[Ann Druyan, Carl Sagan's wife, from Newsweek magazine]


"What I have done is to show that it is possible for the way the universe began to be determined by the laws of science. In that case, it would not be necessary to appeal to God to decide how the universe began. This doesn't prove that there is no God, only that God is not necessary."

[Stephen W. Hawking, Der Spiegel, 1989]


"It's been suggested that if the supernaturalists really had the powers they claim, they'd win the lottery every week. I prefer to point out that they could also win a Nobel Prize for discovering fundamental physical forces hitherto unknown to science. Either way, why are they wasting their talents doing party turns on television?"

[Richard Dawkins, The Richard Dimbleby Lecture: Science, Delusion and the Appetite for Wonder]

"Certainly I see the scientific view of the world as incompatible with religion, but that is not what is interesting about it. It is also incompatible with magic, but that also is not worth stressing. What is interesting about the scientific world view is that it is true, inspiring, remarkable and that it unites a whole lot of phenomena under a single heading."

[Richard Dawkins]

"It is often said, mainly by the "no-contests", that although there is no positive evidence for the existence of God, nor is there evidence against his existence. So it is best to keep an open mind and be agnostic. At first sight that seems an unassailable position, at least in the weak sense of Pascal's wager. But on second thoughts it seems a cop-out, because the same could be said of Father Christmas and tooth fairies. There may be fairies at the bottom of the garden. There is no evidence for it, but you can't *prove* that there aren't any, so shouldn't we be agnostic with respect to fairies?"

[Richard Dawkins]

"In childhood our credulity serves us well. It helps us to pack, with extraordinary rapidity, our skulls full of the wisdom of our parents and our ancestors. But if we don't grow out of it in the fullness of time, our ... nature makes us a sitting target for astrologers, mediums, gurus, evangelists, and quacks. We need to replace the automatic credulity of childhood with the constructive skepticism of adult science."

[Richard Dawkins]

"They express a preference for 'natural' methods of population limitation, and a natural method is exactly what they are going to get. It is called starvation."

[Richard Dawkins, "The Selfish Gene"]

"Science offers us an explanation of how complexity (the difficult) arose out of simplicity (the easy). The hypothesis of God offers no worthwhile explanation for anything, for it simply postulates what we are trying to explain. It postulates the difficult to explain, and leaves it at that. We cannot prove that there is no God, but we can safely conclude the He is very, very improbable indeed."

[Richard Dawkins, from the _New Humanist_, the Journal
of the Rationalist Press Association, Vol 107 No 2]

"The trouble is that God in this sophisticated, physicist's sense bears no resemblance to the God of the Bible or any other religion. If a physicist says God is another name for Planck's constant, or God is a superstring, we should take it as a picturesque metaphorical way of saying that the nature of superstrings or the value of Planck's constant is a profound mystery. It has obviously not the smallest connection with a being capable of forgiving sins, a being who might listen to prayers, who cares about whether or not the Sabbath begins at 5pm or 6pm, whether you wear a veil or have a bit of arm showing; and no connection whatever with a being capable of imposing a death penalty on His son to expiate the sins of the world before and after he was born. "

[Richard Dawkins]

"If you have a faith, it is statistically overwhelmingly likely that it is the same faith as your parents and grandparents had. No doubt soaring cathedrals, stirring music, moving stories and parables, help a bit. But by far the most important variable determining your religion is the accident of birth. The convictions that you so passionately believe would have been a completely different, and largely contradictory, set of convictions, if only you had happened to be born in a different place. Epidemiology, not evidence."

[Richard Dawkins]

"Blind faith can justify anything. In a man believes in a different god, or even if he uses a different ritual for worshipping the same god, blind faith can decree that he should die - on the cross, at the stake, skewered on a Crusader's sword, shot in a Beirut street, or blown up in a bar in Belfast. Memes for blind faith have their own ruthless ways of propagating themselves. This is true of patriotic and political as well as religious blind faith."

[Richard Dawkins, "The Selfish Gene"]

"Faith is the great cop-out, the great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate evidence. Faith is belief in spite of, even perhaps because of, the lack of evidence."

[Richard Dawkins]

"I suspect that today if you asked people to justify their belief in God, the dominant reason would be scientific. Most people, I believe, think that you need a God to explain the existence of the world, and especially the existence of life. They are wrong, but our education system is such that many people don't know it. "

[Richard Dawkins]

"The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind pitiless indifference."

[Richard Dawkins, "River Out of Eden"]

"On the contrary, if the universe were just electrons and selfish genes, meaningless tragedies like the crashing of this bus [full of children from a Roman Catholic school and for no apparent reason but with wholesale loss of life] are exactly what we should expect, along with equally meaningless _good_ [italics in original] fortune. Such a universe would be neither evil nor good in intention. It would manifest no intentions of any kind. In a universe of blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won't find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, and no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference."

[Richard Dawkins, _River Out of Eden: A Darwinian View of
Life_, 1995, BasicBooks, New York; ISBN 0-465-01606-5]

"I suspect the reason is that most people [...] have a residue of feeling that Darwinian evolution isn't quite big enough to explain everything about life. All I can say as a biologist is that the feeling disappears progressively the more you read about and study what is known about life and evolution. I want to add one thing more. The more you understand the significance of evolution, the more you are pushed away from the agnostic position and towards atheism. Complex, statistically improbable things are by their nature more difficult to explain than simple, statistically probable things."

[Richard Dawkins, from the _New Humanist_, the Journal
of the Rationalist Press Association, Vol 107 No 2]

"The theory of evolution by cumulative natural selection is the only theory we know of that is in principle capable of explaining the existence of organized complexity."

[Richard Dawkins, _The Blind Watchmaker_ (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1987), p. 317]

"And it's not just faith itself: it's the idea that faith is a virtue and the less evidence there is, the more virtuous it is. You can actually quote, well, Tertullian for example: "It is certain because it is impossible." Sir Thomas Brown, actually seeking for more difficult things to believe, because things for which there is mere evidence are just too easy, and it's no test of his faith. In order to have a test of your faith, you must be asked to believe really daft things like the transubstantiation, you know, the blood of Christ turning into wine, and stuff... That is so manifestly absurd that you've got to be a really great believer, in the class of the Electric Monk, in order to believe it..... You're actually showing off your believing credentials by the ability to believe something like that... If it were an easy thing to believe, substantiated by facts, then it wouldn't be any great achievement."

[Richard Dawkins, interview with Douglas Adams]


"Religion is comparable to a childhood neurosis."

[Sigmund Freud, "Future of an Illusion"]

"In the long run, nothing can withstand reason and experience, and the contradiction religion offers to both is palpable."

[Sigmund Freud, Austrian physician and
pioneer psychoanalyst (1856-1939)]

"While the different religions wrangle with one another as to which of them is in possesion of the truth, In our view the truth of religion may be altogether disregarded...if one attempts to assign religion it's place in mans evolution, it seems not so much to be a lasting acquisition, as a parallel to the neurosis which the civilized individual must pass through on his way from childhood to maturity."

[Sigmund Freud, "Moses and Monotheism"]

"No, our science is no illusion. But an illusion it would be to suppose that what science cannot give us we can get elsewhere."

[Sigmund Freud, "The Future of an Illusion"]

"A great deal is already gained with the first step: the humanization of nature. Impersonal forces and destinies cannot be approached... if everywhere in nature there are Beings around us of a kind that we know in our own society.... we can apply the same methods against these violent supermen outside that we employ in our own society; we can try to adjure them, to appease them, to bribe them, and, by so influencing them, we may rob them of a part of their power

[Sigmund Freud, "The Future of an Illusion"]

"When a man has once brought himself to accept uncritically all the absurdities that religious doctrines put before him and even to overlook the contradictions between them, we need not be greatly suprised at the weakness of his intellect"

[Sigmund Freud: The Future of an Illusion]

"Neither in my private life nor in my writings, have I ever made a secret of being an out-and-out unbeliever."

[Sigmund Freud, letter to Charles Singer]

"Demons do not exist any more than gods do, being only the products of the psychic activity of man."

[Sigmund Freud, New York Times Magazine, 6 May 1956]

"The more the fruits of knowledge become accessible to men, the more widespread is the decline of religious belief."

[Sigmund Freud]


"Today, the theory of evolution is an accepted fact for everyone but a fundamentalist minority, whose objections are based not on reasoning but on doctrinaire adherence to religious principles."

[James Watson, winner of the Nobel prize for his co-discovery of the structure of DNA]

"Like my parents, I have never been a regular church member or churchgoer. It doesn't seem plausible to me that there is the kind of God who watches over human affairs, listens to prayers, and tries to guide people to follow His precepts -- there is just too much misery and cruelty for that."

[Benjamin Spock]

"As long as men are free to ask what they must, free to say what they think, free to think what they will, freedom can never be lost, and science can never regress."

[J. Robert Oppenheimer, Life, 10 October 1949]

"There must be no barriers to freedom of inquiry. There is no place for dogma in science. The scientist is free, and must be free to ask any question, to doubt any assertion, to seek for any evidence, to correct any errors."

[J. Robert Oppenheimer, Life, 10 October 1949]

"On the ordinary view of each species having been independently created, we gain no scientific explanation..."

[Charles Darwin]

"Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge: it is those who know little, and not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science."

[Charles Darwin, Introduction to "The Descent of Man, 1871]

"I can hardly see how anyone ought to wish Christianity to be true; for if so the plain language of the text seems to show that the men who do not believe, and this would include my Father, Brother and almost all my best friends, will be everlastingly punished. And this is a damnable doctrine."

[Charles Darwin]

"For myself, I do not believe in any revelation. As for a future life, every man must judge for himself between conflicting vague probabilities."

[Charles Darwin]

"They know that it is human nature to take up causes whereby a man may oppress his neighbor, no matter how unjustly. ... Hence they have had no trouble in finding men who would preach the damnability and heresy of the new doctrine from the very pulpit..."

[Galileo Galilei, 1615]

"I do not feel obliged to believe that same God who endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect had intended for us to forgo their use."


"It is surely harmful to souls to make it a heresy to believe what is proved."

[Galileo Galilei, "The Authority of Scripture in Philosophical Controversies"]

"To command the professors of astronomy to confute their own observations is to enjoin an impossibility, for it is to command them not to see what they do see, and not to understand what they do understand, and to find what they do not discover."

[Galileo Galilei, "The Authority of scripture in Philosophical Controversies"]

"It vexes me when they would constrain science by the authority of the Scriptures, and yet do not consider themselves bound to answer reason and experiment."

[Galileo Galilei, "The Authority of Scripture in Philosophical Controversies"]

"The church says the earth is flat, but I know that it is round, for I have seen the shadow on the moon, and I have more faith in a shadow than in the church."

[Ferdinand Magellan]

"It is our responsibility as scientists, knowing the great progress which comes from a satisfactory philosophy of ignorance, the great progress which is the fruit of freedom of thought, to proclaim the value of this freedom; to teach how doubt is not to be feared but welcomed and discussed; and to demand this freedom as our duty to all coming generations."

[Richard Feynman, "What Do You Care What Other People Think?"]

"The argument that the literal story of Genesis can qualify as science collapses on three major grounds: the creationists' need to invoke miracles in order to compress the events of the earth's history into the biblical span of a few thousand years; their unwillingness to abandon claims clearly disproved, including the assertion that all fossils are products of Noah's flood; and their reliance upon distortion, misquote, half-quote, and citation out of context to characterize the ideas of their opponents."

[Stephen Jay Gould, "The Verdict on Creationism",
The Skeptical Inquirer, Winter 87/88, pg. 186]

"In science, "fact" can only mean "confirmed to such a degree that it would be perverse to withhold provisional assent." I suppose that apples might start to rise tomorrow, but the possibility does not merit equal time in physics classrooms."

[Stephen J. Gould]

"The most important scientific revolutions all include, as their only common feature, the dethronement of human arrogance from one pedestal after another of previous convictions about our centrality in the cosmos."

[Stephen Jay Gould, "Dinosaur in a Haystack"]

"Creation science" has not entered the curriculum for a reason so simple and so basic that we often forget to mention it: because it is false, and because good teachers understand exactly why it is false. What could be more destructive of that most fragile yet most precious commodity in our entire intellectual heritage -- good teaching -- than a bill forcing honorable teachers to sully their sacred trust by granting equal treatment to a doctrine not only known to be false, but calculated to undermine any general understanding of science as an enterprise?"

[Stephen Jay Gould, "The Skeptical Inquirer"]

"Our creationist detractors charge that evolution is an unproved and unprovable charade-- a secular religion masquerading as science. They claim, above all, that evolution generates no predictions, never exposes itself to test, and therefore stands as dogma rather than disprovable science. This claim is nonsense. We make and test risky predictions all the time; our success is not dogma, but a highly probable indication of evolution's basic truth."

[Stephen Jay Gould, "Dinosaur in a Haystack"]