Live-blogging Reasonfest: Mark Blumberg

For those of you who couldn’t make the jaunt to Lawrence, KS for Reasonfest this weekend, I’ll be live-blogging as I’m able.  I’ll also be tweeting the event on the #Reasonfest hashtag.

First up is Mark Blumberg: Freaks of Nature & Intelligent Design.

He immediately goes after a time magazine article on the existence of a god gene.  This is promising.

Says that creationism is a style of thinking that has an impact beyond the evolution debate that impedes our ability to think properly.  I like this guy.

Now walking us through Paley and the Watchmaker argument.  People still use this argument with atheists.  Like walking into a lion cage wearing a suit made of steak.  Now he’s into using the eye as an example of where creationism ID fails.

Good quote:

“For all we know our world was only the first rude essay of some infant deity who afterwards abandoned it, ashamed of his lame performance.” ~ David Hume

Notes the blind spot and says that god is to engineering what Michael Brown is to hurricanes.  Nice.


Now talking about how there are no genes for obesity, gayness, intelligence, because genes are expressed differently in different environments.  For instance, many plants heights will vary greatly (both taller and shorter) at different altitudes.

“I’m going to be critical of Richard Dawkins.  I hope that’s ok because he’s not a god either.”  Man, liking this guy more and more.  Really impressed.


Making the argument that what we perceive as freaks (Faith the two-legged dog, Johnny Eck, etc.) are not freaks because that type of thinking causes us to think the randomness of the universe has a design in mind.  Species adapt to their environments which causes the expression of different behaviors.

He uses this to argue against genes dominating what people or animals become.  Anomalies, we’re told, help us appreciate this.

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About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.