Are Your Religious Liberties Being Violated?

Are Your Religious Liberties Being Violated? March 30, 2015

Religious Liberties Violated

This chart is based on an article in the Huffington Post by Rev. Emily Heath of the United Church of Christ.  That article deserves to be circulated again in response to the recent laws purporting to defend “religious liberty” but in fact in at least some instances defending the right of people to justify infringing on the liberties of others in the name of religion.

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  • John Bosquet-Morra

    The last one needs qualification. I accept evolution as a fact and I am a Christian, and a rather orthodox one at that. But to simply say, as it does in the lower right box, “public science classes are teaching children science,” is not really the issue in the culture wars. As I see it, the real issue is materialism/naturalism as a philosophical assumption, versus theism. Parents ought to explain to their kids that public school is not Sunday School, but it also seems only right for public schools to explain how scientific inquiry does not require atheism. Or are they already doing this? I haven’t been in a 9th grade biology classroom in awhile. Anyone?

    • I have not personally had any experience of science teachers in public schools claiming that the conclusions of science require atheism. It may happen, but I imagine that it is isolated, being illegal, and thus rather like the instances of individual teachers introducing young-earth creationism in their public school classes. But I too would be interested to hear from others about their own experiences in this area.

      • Andy

        A classmate of mine at a public university said her biology prof told their class that they were fools if they believe in God. Never heard if there were any ramifications of that or not. I suspect not, except possibly a department head asking him to tone it down or something.

        • I’ve heard of far more instances of religious proselytizing at public universities. (And heard it myself when I attended a public institution).

          • Andy

            I’ve heard of a few too, and both are wrong. I was just responding to what he said in the comment.

          • entonces_99

            From professors in the classroom?

          • Oh yes! Everything from invitations to Church, to disparagements of humanism, to bringing personal theology to bear on subject matter (in classes that were not religious).

        • Jules

          why would there be ramifications? being called a fool is not on the chart. Its an opinion and not implied to be part of the grade for that class. If you call people idiots, are you violating their liberties? no. You are simply having an opinion.

          • There are no laws against calling your students idiots or fools; just as there are no laws against your chair firing you for incompetent teaching practices, such as calling your students idiots and fools.

          • Andy

            It’s not persecution, and it’s not against the law, but it seems as inappropriate to me as a teacher telling his students they’re fools for not following his religion. I find it unprofessional. But that’s just my opinion.

      • In public elementary and secondary schools, the mention of belief systems in science classes would be horribly off topic. Discussing belief systems in social studies and humanities classes would be in the realm of their subjects. Discussing creationism or atheism in a science class would be silly because it does not pass the muster of the scientific process.

        Discussing belief systems in any course on the university level is a different beast as those attending university are expected to be adults. Adults in the course of study can arm themselves with all the information the world of higher education can provide them, so they can back up ideas and make up their own minds.

    • Anonymous

      There is no need to explain how scientific inquiry does not require atheism, any more than there is a need to explain how math does not require atheism, how English does not require atheism, how believing in leprechauns does not require atheism, or how playing soccer does not require atheism.
      You call materialism/naturalism a philosophical assumption, but I don’t really know a word for “proven to be true by every experiment or measurement ever devised each and every time anyone anywhere tried anything at all” which might make you any more happy.
      We don’t assume it to exclude god, but because it works. You need it to work. If it isn’t true, your computer won’t keep working for long enough to post internet comments, it’ll start shitting unicorns out through the screen to stab you in the face. There’s a reason you don’t expect that to happen. There’s a reason you expect your computer to work, instead. And that’s because there is no term in Ohm’s Law for whatever the fuck Thor, Zeus, or Jupiter wants. And it’s not an accident that there’s no such term.

      Being wrong on purpose about how reality works is not a culture.
      But it is religious.

      • donthinks

        It’s too bad you’re Anonymous because that was brilliant.

        • bkalafut

          How is a claim that materialism has been proven by experiment “brilliant”? Seems to me that it’s a naive philosophical mistake.

          • Guest

            Science isn’t a philosophy. It is the study of the natural world, and after extensive testing of all kinds, it works on the assumption that there is no supernatural world, because no evidence has yet been given that stands up to any scrutiny. Philosophy teaches us that how you FEEL about reality does not affect reality for anyone but you and those you share said feelings with. How reality IS for everyone, the cold hard facts, is what science teaches us.

          • bkalafut

            Science is not philosophy (what do you mean by “a philosophy”?), which is why science can’t answer questions such as whether materialism is true or false.

            Please explain for me the experiment I can do which will settle the question of materialism.

            And while you’re at it, please explain how science works on an assumption that there is no supernatural world. I have read hundreds if not thousands of scientific papers in my career and never seen one which requires that assumption.

            Philosophy doesn’t teach us definitively that how we feel about reality (why was your caps lock on? do you need someone to buy you a new keyboard?) does not affect reality for anyone but ourselves. It teaches us the nature of this question. It teaches us that’s an assumption we have to make, related to but not identical to the assumption that there are other minds besides ourselves.

            You make the claim that science teaches us what reality is and not only that but what reality is for all other minds. Ignoring for the sake of argument that science deals with a subset of reality (for example, science doesn’t tell us the answer to 2+2): that’s a pretty strong conclusion. I happen to agree, but to agree on that we have to make many assumptions, none of which are materialism and some of which have theistic implications.

          • donthinks

            Please explain what evidence you have that materialism is a “gross error”? And what “theistic implications” you need to assume to do basic math? Perhaps we should define what we each mean by materialism.

            It’s my understanding that science uses methodological materialism, meaning it doesn’t make any assumptions about the supernatural as the scientific method only deals with the natural world. And as Anonymous noted, this type of materialism works. It’s the type of materialism that enables us to function because it makes our reality reliable from one minute to the next. If one’s reality is not reliable, all evidence indicates there is something happening in the brain and it is not demon possession.

            Obviously, people can speculate about the supernatural and other realities (perhaps the reality you think the natural world is a “subset” of?), but unless you can come up with some repeatable, objective experiment that indicates such a reality exists and/or has some influence on the natural world, for all practical purposes it might as well not exist.

            (EDIT, I’m not sure now where I saw the “gross error” phrase. Please ignore that.)

          • bkalafut

            I think we have been writing past each other, as you say.

            Science, at least science as we know it (that is, science since the time of St. Albertus Magnus) uses methodological materialism, which excludes teleological or “supernatural” causes. This is not an assumption about the nature of things but rather a restriction of the scope things science properly studies and of the explanations we will try to use. (Thus allowing us to say that science tells us something about the laws of nature.)

            But it does not require the assumption of materialism (a distinct thing from methodological materialism), a kind of monism which holds that everything is matter or interactions of matter. This position inherits all of the problems of monism (it’s not clear that a monist can do set theory, let alone mathematics!) and comes with some of its own which may or may not be

            You say that methodological naturalism makes our reality reliable from one minute to the next. How can the method we use in science change the nature of reality. If we stop being methodological naturalists, does reality become unreliable?

            The assumptions we have to make to do science (non-exhaustive):
            (0) The universe exists.
            (1) The universe is intelligible.
            (2) The universe is reliable.
            (3) Although we have finite minds we can have knowledge of things.
            (4) “True and false” have meaning

            (5) The rules of logic are reliable
            (6) The rules of mathematics are reliable.
            (7) We can meaningfully speak of models being approximately correct or not approximately correct.

            If we are to communicate science, we have also:
            (8) There are other minds
            (9) True and false for me are true and false for these other minds
            (10) Mathematics is the same for these other minds
            (11) What is approximately correct for me is approximately correct for the other minds.
            (12) Deviation of models from measurement is the same for these other minds.

            None of these are material truths, so materialism doesn’t apply. And none of these can be discovered by the kinds of methods that are “methodological materialism”. So none of these can be discovered by some repeatable “objective” (whatever that means…) experiment. So you would have that for all practical purposes they do not exist. Yet they are necessary for your methodological naturalism.

          • donthinks

            Granted methodological naturalism doesn’t “make” our reality reliable. Poor choice of words on my part. But it has proven to be an excellent method of gaining knowledge about how our reality works and has demonstrated that our reality is reliable (and not subject to the whim of some supernatural entity).

            I understand the definition of “materialism” that you are using now. But it seems to me that you’re conflating that into concepts or ideas (the concept of true and false or the “rules of mathematics”). You seem to say that since concepts like that aren’t composed of matter (or “material truths”, whatever that means…) they don’t fit into your use of “materialism” so that negates materialism. I just don’t think anyone that subscribes to materialism as a monistic philosophy would agree with you.

            And I’m afraid I don’t see any assumptions that have “theistic implications.”

          • Nick G

            Actually, science does not depend on methodological materialsm, and has investigated supposed supernatural causes (prayer, precognition, contact with the dead). Materialism is a (tentative) conclusion, not a presupposition.

          • Ian

            > science doesn’t tell us the answer to 2+2

            Yes it does. This is a common naiveté about the nature of mathematics.

            Take two of something, take two more, and count how many you have. Do this as many times as you like, you’ll find experimentally that 2+2=4.

            Of course you can try to abstractify math, if you like “what does 2 really mean”, and in fact in the history of math, the abstractification of math is important for many results (some of which could not, in principle, be verified, and fewer of which [but still many] could not be falsified). But it is extraordinarily naive to therefore suppose that math is inherently abstract.

            2 is called a ‘natural’ number for a reason. Many arithmetic relations over the natural numbers can be trivially shown experimentally, and in fact these are among the first experiments we teach children in kindergarten. Even results in higher dimensional complex analysis can be easily experimentally verified.

            You’ve got the germ of an actual philosophical point, but you’ve either misunderstood or misread its nuances, and are overplaying the hand.

          • bkalafut

            “Take two of something, take two more, and count how many you have. Do this as many times as you like, you’ll find experimentally that 2+2=4.”

            No, I will find that two of X and two more of X make four of X.

            But let’s move away from this. Give me an experimental proof of Noether’s theorem.

          • Ian

            But let’s move away from this.

            Why? Because you’ve been caught making a silly argument based on misunderstanding a philosophical point you once read? No, I don’t think so.

            *Of course* you want to throw complexity at the problem to obscure your error. Seems the obvious obfuscatory tactic. But if you can’t even grasp the basics of the argument you’re making w.r.t. natural numbers, then there is very little point following you down a rabbit hole of misunderstanding into more complex math.

            And that you crown it all off asking of an ‘experimental proof’ just further underlines how badly you understand the topic.

          • bkalafut

            He who missed my point blusters “No U!”

            “Experimentally find” Noether’s theorem, please.

          • Ian

            [NB: major edits to remove crabbiness – sorry for the tone originally]

            It’s easy to say “you missed my point”, perhaps instead you could make it again, with more detail?

            Why do you think I either should or can give an experimental test of Noether’s theorem, or why do you think that to do so or fail to do so would either strengthen or challenge your claims?

            You made a claim that “science doesn’t tell you the answer to 2+2” (note, not a statement about Noether’s theorem), instead of wanting to “move away from this” wouldn’t it be better to just go back to your sources, find out what the original argument was, and figure out whether you need to modify your argument accordingly?

            Your overall point has merit, I think (I personally don’t find it convincing, but it is an established idea, at least) but I think you’re just overplaying your hand, and the grandstanding about Noether’s theorem contributes nothing.

            You tried a little foray into the philosophical problem of induction in your response. But that doesn’t make your point about *mathematics* specifically. You can certainly use that to argue against naturalistic knowledge more generally. But it doesn’t help you in the case of the natural numbers specifically. If you can’t see why that might be, it might be helpful to try to give an example of any knowledge that can be experimentally demonstrated.

          • Nofun

            Start with: -20 = -20

            Which is the same as: 16-36 = 25-45

            Which can also be expressed as: (2+2) 2 (9 X (2+2) = 52) 9 X 5

            Add 81/4 to both sides: (2+2) 2 (9 X (2+2) + 81/4 = 52) 9 X 5 + 81/4

            Rearrange the terms: ({2+2}) 9/2) 2 = (5-9/2) 2

            Ergo: 2+2 – 9/2 = 5

            Hence: 2 + 2 = 5

          • Anonymous

            Uh, what about Einstein’s “spooky actions at a distance” as he called it?

      • Cecil Bagpuss

        You call materialism/naturalism a philosophical assumption, but I don’t really know a word for “proven to be true by every experiment or measurement ever devised each and every time anyone anywhere tried anything at all” which might make you any more happy.

        That isn’t quite right. You haven’t taken experimental error into account. There will always be experiments – such as the one apparently showing that neutrinos travel faster than light – that conflict with our assumptions about the regularity of nature. We can never hope to demonstrate the regularity of nature “each and every” time we try, although the more we refine our methods, the closer we may approach this ideal. On those occasions when we encounter anomalous results which are not themselves pointers to a previously unknown aspect of nature’s regularity, we attribute them to experimental error.

        This is a reasonable attitude to take, but it is more philosophical than scientific.

      • bkalafut

        Materialistic science doesn’t work, because truth and falsehood are not material states, because scientific laws (typically mathematical relations) are not material, and because the grounding assumption of science–intelligibility–is itself theistic.

        No scientist practicing his craft has ever been a consistent materialist. But being wrong on purpose about philosophy is still part of the culture of science.

        • Nofun

          Truth is a direction not a destination. All answers are fleeting and may only live on as a limited case. Just swap out the the creationist word “materialism” with the word “reality”.

          Maths deals with reality. Science can only deal with reality.

          • bkalafut

            If we swap the philosophers’ term “materialism” for “reality” none of these sentences make any sense.

          • Nofun

            Yes they do.

        • Nick G

          You’re just misrepresenting materialism (or more accurately, physicalism) as it is actually understood by its proponents. It is not the view that nothing has non-material states, but the view that all causal relations depend on causal relations between material states. To misrepresent an opposing view, and then accuse its proponents of inconsistency because they do not hold the view you falsely attribute to them, is intellectually dishonest.

          • Nofun

            And that is different how? There are real things and there are made up things. Science deals with former, religion deals with the latter.

            The clown above is claiming maths is supernatural or even worse theistic. Thoughts are real but you can have thoughts about things that are not real.That doesn’t make your thought any less real or the object of that thought any more real. Maths is an abstraction of reality it isn’t a supernatural belief.

          • Cecil Bagpuss

            Would you say that thoughts are physical things or that thoughts depend on physical things? It may be the case that a thought can only exist if there is some physical object like a brain to represent it but that the thought itself isn’t actually a physical object. The distinction between being a physical thing and depending on a physical thing may be justified by the following consideration:

            Suppose that we both have the same thought. Although the thought may be the same, the way in which your brain represents that thought will be different from the way in which my brain represents it. It would be strange to say that a thought is a physical object if the same thought can be two different physical objects.

          • Nofun

            Yes but we can only come to a consensus that we had the same thought. All thoughts originate in the brain. Thoughts are created in a framework of consciousness … which is itself just more thoughts … thoughts on thoughts in relation to other thoughts …meta-thoughts. But that doesn’t make any thought supernatural … it is still a bunch of physical neurons firing.

            I don’t know if you taste peanut butter the same way I taste peanut butter but that doesn’t make taste supernatural as we know what parts of the tongue are involved in taste and how they work.

            The Individual nature of some perceptions or experiences don’t render them supernatural.

          • Cecil Bagpuss

            A thought is a bunch of neurons firing.

            I have a bit of a problem with that. Let me try to explain why. Suppose you say that Hamlet’s soliloquy is a bunch of marks on paper. You could say that, but you could also say that Hamlet’s soliloquy is a pattern of magnetisation (if it is stored in a computer memory), or that it is pattern of vibrations in the air (if it is recited). All of these are ways of representing the soliloquy, but the fact that these ways are so different from each other suggests that the soliloquy is not just an arrangement of certain bits of physical material.

            Similarly, a thought may well require a physical substrate that can represent it, but that doesn’t mean that a thought is identical to some pattern of matter.

          • W Kumar

            True. That is the problem with reductionism. Where do you draw the line?

          • Nofun

            Hopefully on the side of reality.

          • Nofun

            Well all our thoughts are physically stored temporarily or longer and we know basically how in the brain. The fact the thought can be retrieved shows it can be stored physically.

          • Cecil Bagpuss

            Well, we have already established that there is at least a close link between thoughts and brains. Let me try another way of getting at the question. Think about what happens when you evaluate a logical argument. You consider the premises and you see that the conclusion follows from the premises. What is going on here? We know that one thing is going on: a bunch of neurons are firing. But is that all? Surely not.

            Is it not the case that a bunch of neurons are firing and a logical argument is being evaluated? It would be strange to say that the evaluation of an argument simply is a bunch of neurons firing. It seems that we have to make a distinction between the two, and we can make this distinction even if the evaluation of logical arguments only ever takes place when there are brains to do the evaluating.

          • Nofun

            “Surely not”
            The neurons are machinery of thought.
            Its like looking at a CPU and see the registers change values and then compare that to the program running.

          • Cecil Bagpuss

            You can certainly make a distinction between computer hardware and software, but I thought that was the kind of distinction you were trying to avoid. Perhaps you are saying that the distinction between brains and thoughts is no more mysterious than the distinction between hardware and software. This is a reasonable point but it slightly begs the question. I say that because the distinction between computer hardware and software is itself rather mysterious.

            From one point of view, when a computer executes a programme, what happens is purely physical. You can particularly appreciate that if you imagine that Babbage had been able to build his mechanical computer. All that you would see would be the turning of various cog-wheels. From another point of view, what happens is quite abstract. Data is being sifted, analysed, transmitted etc.

            What I find significant is that the second point of view is only available to sentient beings like ourselves who are able to make this abstract interpretation. A computer is only executing a progamme from the perpective of those who can see that this is happening.

            So by appealing to the distinction between hardware and software, you are surreptitiously depending on the very thing – our sentience – that the analogy is supposed to shed light on.

          • Nofun

            Yes thinking in the abstract does separate us from most animals.

          • BreeZ44

            You have yet to prove that you, in fact, have any real thoughts of your own: you just parrot what your atheist masters say (in particular Richard Dawkins whose orders to mock religion with contempt you try so hard to follow to a t; you make your daddy proud [LOL]), except you completely destroy what little semblance of eloquence they incorporate into their empty, and vain, rhetoric; simply sputtering out degraded versions of their cunningly devised fables.

            Look what your blind atheism has done to you, it has left you angry and incapable of finding any pleasure in existing, and you, in turn, only live a miserable life in which you aim to take away the pleasure of everyone else: trying to reduce them into a miserable state of being exactly like your own, and those of your atheist kind!

          • Nofun

            Show me where anything I have said is from Richard Dawkins. The only one angry and having a tantrum is you.

          • bkalafut

            That’s funny. You say I’m intellectually dishonest, but philosophical proponents of physicalism/materialism write quite extensively and directly in favor of monism.

            Could it be that you and some of your friends don’t actually hold the monist views of materialist philosophers, but consider yourselves “materialist”?

    • Andy

      If they’re going to offer a take on it, even if it’s not an endorsement, I suspect it could be phrased a little better. My 9th grade biology teacher only very briefly even mentioned the idea, and I believe it was only that he said creationism wouldn’t be part of the curriculum either way. I have no idea what his personal stance was, but he never endorsed any theological belief — or lack thereof — as critical to, nor an outcome of, biology.

    • Jonathan Bernier

      I’m not sure why a public school science teacher needs to speak either way to the issue of atheism. After all, such a teacher teaches *science,* not theology.

    • svlemur

      I suspect Sunday School is where kids are told Science requires Atheism.
      I pulled my kids out when the Youth Pastor told them Science was a humanist program with the express intent of disproving the literal truth of the Bible..

      • bkalafut

        Maybe you should find a church that doesn’t do that. If it’s not too heavy-handed to do so, I recommend the one in which science was invented!

        • Babylonian astronomy?

          • bkalafut

            The methods and standards of evidence of the natural sciences as we know them were invented largely by religious brothers and clerics in the Catholic Church, building on the work of a Muslim thinker (from a school of Islamic thought which was later quite brutally suppressed) named Alhazen. Searching for “Albertus Magnus” is a good way to start.

          • Islam then! The religion of Ibn Al-Haytham!

          • Nick G

            I think ancient Greek polytheism has a prior claim: Archimedes and Eratosthenes were certainly doing recognisable science – but then, as you say, the Babylonians mught reasonably object, as they had at least got as far as systematic observation and record-keeping.

          • Very good! In all cases, the religion doesn’t seem to be the reason for the science. It is humanity’s pressing desire to empirically know more about the universe.

          • bkalafut

            You’d have to go with a form of Islam which is extinct.

          • Because medieval Christianity is still alive and well?

          • bkalafut

            Would you argue that modern Christians have thrown out Albert and Aquinas? The way Islam abandoned (and suppressed) Mutazililism?

          • No. Why would I? Would you argue that nothing in medieval Christianity has been abandoned by modern Christianity?

          • bkalafut

            No, I would not argue this. But it appeared you were drawing a parallel between the Islamic situation and the Christian one.

          • What Islamic situation?

      • Andy

        My Sunday School never taught me that. Yay Episcopalians.

    • Chris Tranovich

      you can’t say “I am a Christian” and “I accept (THE THEORY OF) evolution as fact” because they are mutually exclusive. Either we are beautifully and wonderfully created or some crazy fluke that just happened, making life cheap and meaningless. I hear evolutionists state all the time, “prove creationism”. Well, I hate to say it to them but since evolution is the new kid on the block the burden of proof is on them, because I see proof everywhere I look. I’m not gonna turn this into a debate over creation vs evolution, but if evolution is true then everything should still be evolving. The humble fruit fly turns over a new generation every 2 weeks. Since “The Theory of Evolution” was published, there have been over 4000 generations. There is no difference. If we humans, turn over a generation at the age of 15, 4000 generations would bring us back to the 60,000bc. Which, if my memory from school is right, that is when man was “the missing link”. If evolution is true explain the blow hole in whales and dolphins. They would drown or starve to death if they were not made that way. Explain the woodpeckers tongue. Where did that come from? I could go on and on, but to get back on subject, If I hang out in a garage, it doesn’t mean I’m a car. Think about it.

      • RandyJackson

        My god, can anyone really be that dumb? You have no clue what evolution is or how it works within nature. You act like you know what you’re talking about but you clearly don’t.

        • Chris Tranovich

          “If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed, which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.” -Darwin

          • donthinks

            You left out the very next sentence: “But I can find out no such case.”

          • W Kumar

            The problem is that many evangelicals are taught to look at these sentences and then take them out of context. That is why so many have trouble with evolution.

          • donthinks

            Agreed, but I think it’s more that they are taught to trust authority without question (the Bible and what other religious authority figures tell them). So it’s the leaders and others who profess to know (using sermons, books and websites) that spread these out-of-context quotes around. The average believer doesn’t bother going to the source (Darwin’s book in this case) because they don’t think the people telling them this would mislead them. But unfortunately, they’re being misled.

            That’s the beauty of the scientific method and peer review. If someone is trying to mislead others, they’re discovered. That doesn’t happen within religious circles.

          • W Kumar

            True. I was raised in an Evangelical church where we were taught to accept what our pastors were saying without a doubt. In the case of science, when it came to Darwin and evolution, we were always told to question and to find the contradictions that were supposed to exist.

            It was only when I became an adult that I realized that the creationism I was taught was wrong (though I am still a Christian).

          • Jennifer Lucia

            Wow you seriously took a quote and left out the last sentence, which COMPLETELY changes the entire meaning. I think you picked the wrong person to quote.

        • Chris Tranovich

          Webster – Evolution is change in heritable traits of biological populations over successive generations.
          Explain how a dolphin can develop a blow hole slowly over the course of many many generations. If a dolphin doesn’t have all the parts it has now, it would drown or starve because it can not open its mouth with the lungs “hooked up” or partially “hooked up” to the mouth.

          • donthinks

            In other words, “I don’t know how evolution works and I don’t want to educate myself, so God did it.” If you want to learn, here’s a website to start:

          • You might want to learn about dolphin anatomy, as well as other evidence concerning dolphin evolution. As long as you get the basic facts wrong, all sorts of things are likely to seem impossible to you.

      • You might want to inform yourself about evolution and the evidence for it. Perhaps you should try Francis Collins, a man who, if you were correct, would not exist.

        • Chris Tranovich

          how would he not exists? not following your point.

          • You said that one cannot be a Christian and accept the fact of evolution. And yet Francis Collins is a devout Evangelical Christian who headed up the human genome project and provided still more evidence in support of evolution.

      • Nofun

        “cheap and meaningless”

        Why do you need some grand purpose to respect life. Your grand purpose is to live your life … that’s it. You might also make things better for subsequent generations.

        The missing link is human chromosome 2. We have one less chromosomes than chimps and apes. Human chromosome 2is a fusion of 2 ape and chimp chromosomes. There is a visible join, vestigial telomeres and the base pairs are the same.

        Look up whale fossils. They are one line we have many fossils for. The transitions are right in front of your eyes.

        • Chris Tranovich

          micro not macro

          • J Carnes

            “Micro, not macro”…

            The only difference is time.

            That’s akin to saying: “I believe rain can form puddles, but not lakes.”

          • Nofun


          • Nofun

            No such things.

      • John Bosquet-Morra

        Chris, I am a Christian. Go have a look at Biologos, a website devoted to Theistic Evolution, which is neither materialism nor young-earth creationism, nor intelligent design. Please try to see that there are other ways to look at this besides “either-or.”

        • Chris Tranovich

          Read Michael Behe or Jobe Martin

          • What do you expect people to get from reading a scientist who has been unable to persuade other scientists that the evidence supports his views? You can find people with just about every sort of view. If you pick and choose in this way, you are merely doing what the Bible warns about: finding false teachers who will tickle your ears and say what you want to hear.

          • Jobe Martin is a dentist, not a scientist. What’s more his notions about biology completely (and I mean completely) conflict with Michael Behe’s. Which tells me that you have pulled these two names out of a standard apologist hat, and haven’t spent any meaningful time investigating what even your sources are saying. You should get your story straight.

      • Chris Tranovich

        What I am getting it is that evolution should be taught as it is called “The Theory of Evolution”. One of many theories, like creationism. I’m not saying they should bust out Genesis chapter 1 out in school, but they need to show all thoughts on the subject.

        • donthinks

          The word “theory” as it pertains to science does not mean what you think it means. Look it up.

        • Andrew Dowling

          No, evolution has peer reviewed, observable evidence supporting it. Creationism has no evidence supporting it.

          If you’re going to say “well it’s just one of several theories” then you have to give as much credence to the creation stories of the Lakota Indians and Australian Aborigines.

      • J Carnes

        (a) You’re invoking the “No True Scotsman” fallacy regarding being a Christian and accepting evolution. Since you’re into Webster’s, we’ll start there: “Christian: one who professes belief in the teachings of Jesus Christ” That’s it. That’s what a Christian is, BY DEFINITION. Evolution is inconsequential to believing in the teachings of Christ.

        (b) You are disingenuously misrepresenting the word “theory” in the scientific context. It’s not some ‘shoot from the hip’ postulation as you portray it. It’s interesting how we don’t hear people attempting to explain away atomic THEORY, or the THEORY of plate tectonics. What about the THEORY of gravity (now referred to as the theory of general relativity, but the premises remain the same)?

        (c) Christianity itself is the “new kid on the block” in terms of creation stories. There are dozens of religions with as many origins explanations which predate Christianity by centuries. Fortunately for us, until they provide anything of actual substance, science disregards them all equally.

        (d) There is no “missing link.” At least, there hasn’t been one for quite some time. But if you can find recent peer-reviewed evidence (or better yet, WRITE YOUR OWN!) to the contrary, I will gladly eat my words. I do know the evidence points to homo-sapiens having been around for at LEAST 150,000 years, so I don’t know where you’re pulling this “60,000 BC” figure from (though I’ve got a pretty solid guess). Any ancestral species would have to be substantially older.

        (e) Seriously, if you sincerely believe you have information that’s both eluded the biological sciences community for decades and is demonstrable; PLEASE write down your findings and submit them to peer review. You’ll be a household name overnight… Provided you’re actually on to something here.

        (f) Generally speaking, analogies should make sense… Saying “If I hang out in a garage, it doesn’t mean I’m a car.” makes none. No one has ever tried to “become a car” by simply “hanging out in a garage.” That, and a human being cannot realistically become an inanimate means of conveyance in the first place. Now, if you were to say “… become a mechanic,” that, I could at least see where you’re coming from.

        • Personally, I believe in intelligent weather, not this materialistic “meteorology” my kids are being exposed to in their “science” classes.

          Their textbooks make NO mention of “snow storehouse “ theory, the divine aiming of lightning bolts or lack of prayer as the leading cause of drought.

          Teach intelligent weather! Teach the controversy!

    • Nofun

      Another word for Materialism is reality or an absence of supernatural nonsense. No science has anything supernatural in it.

    • Andrew Dowling

      Science is apathetic regarding theistic claims . . .of course miracles/supernatural sources are not going to be brought up because miracles cannot be empirically tested or validated.

      Once you cross that road, the parting of the Red Sea is as valid an assumption as the existence of mermaids.

    • Brad Lane

      Why would public schools need to specifically say that “scientific inquiry does not require atheism?”

      Teaching science isn’t teaching atheism. Teaching atheism would be to explicitly say that there is no god or to point out that there is no reliable evidence for the existence of a god.

      Will we also require them to point out that creation doesn’t require supernatural forces, that morality doesn’t require religion, and that in all of the previously unexplained phenomena, questions, and misunderstandings we’ve had about our universe throughout history, never once has the answer proven to be “God did it,” that there has always been a perfectly natural process at work?

      How about we just teach science, period… lay the facts on the table, and quit trying to come up with caveats and disclaimers to try to rig the game in one way or another.

      • John Bosquet-Morra

        Brad, my hunch is that evolutionary psychology, and purely naturalist explanations of morality or aesthetics, are very interesting, but as of now are in their infancy as disciplines, and do not have the status of biological evolution. It is one thing to say that morality or altruism is a survival mechanism; it is quite another to say that certain behaviors are the ones we “ought” to do. Thomas Nagel has some interesting ideas on this in his last book, and I agree with Alvin Plantinga’s criticism of materialist explanations of morality. Have you looked at their ideas? As for a categorical imperative, I am no longer content to abide by a kind of secular “golden rule” a la Kant — for the same reasons — why should I? Who says we oughta? Why behave if I can get away with the other thing?
        But I may be wrong, and the human propensity towards morality may be an illusion, and may be there only so we can keep going. I am not convinced yet, but am open to persuasion.

    • Otterwolf

      The problem, is that evolution is required knowledge for a lot of things to make sense. A possible example, a devout creationist believing doctor. Sure, the doctor is allowed to believe in creationism, but that doctor, when doing his job, and do it well, has to use the concepts he or she learned about evolution to deal with concepts such as the development of drug resistance, epidemiology, genetics, etc.

    • Ashley

      They don’t even touch on the matter of atheism and science or otherwise. They don’t say “if you believe this, you’re not a christian”…because honestly that has nothing to do with science and it’s not their job. The sad fact of the matter is this: The PARENTS of these children are teaching their children that science and religion cannot co-exist. Science teachers aren’t teaching them otherwise, because it’s not their PLACE (not to mention, it’s illegal). Church and state are meant to be separate. As in “never the two shall meet”. If parents want their children to learn the creation story as fact, then they need to send their kids to a Private Christian School. Otherwise, science teachers are going to teach science, not theology.

    • Alex Kemmler

      “the real issue is materialism/naturalism as a philosophical assumption, versus theism.” You know, I thought western society put that to rest when it concerns the natural sciences… I dunno… 200 years ago.

    • Jurriaan

      I disagree. Science does not require atheism nor does it require theism – your metaphysical belief system is simply irrelevant to natural science, and therefore it should be not play a role in science class at all quite contrary to what is happening in some US schools. Children have the right to receive science education that is not biased by metaphysical believe systems.

    • Barry_D

      “…but it also seems only right for public schools to explain how scientific inquiry does not require atheism.”

      No, unless they were advocating atheism beforehand. I think that you don’t really grasp the table above.

    • Scotty Gunn

      So, despite being Christian, you believe we descended from monkeys?

      • More likely, because he is a Christian, he believes that we and monkeys are descended from a common ancestor, since as a Christian he is unlikely to believe that the evidence for this, within our own genome and that of other primates, was placed there by God to deceive us.

      • John Bosquet-Morra

        Scotty, not monkeys. If you are curious about the theory of evolution, go to a good book on the subject. There it will explain how it works, and you will see why scientists think it is the best explanation of how life evolved here on earth.

  • DonaldByronJohnson

    None of these are in dispute as far as I know. One that is in dispute is whether one is compelled by the government to say something or not say something because they run a business. Some acts are considered speech, even if no words are said.

    • KDL

      Every one of these is regularly in dispute.
      #1…See the War on Christmas, ongoing complaints about Sharia Law
      #2…This is exactly how the gay marriage “debate” goes.
      #3…When ACA/Obamacare was being discussed this was an issue. Also see the recent Hobby Lobby SC case
      #4…I envy you, that you’ve never experienced a “school prayer” hubbub.
      #5…I can’t think of an example off the top of my head. (So you’re 1 for 6.)
      #6…”Teach the controversy” isn’t a phrase without this being an ongoing thing.

      Finally, you miss what this current issue is about. I’ll give you a hint: google “Greensboro Woolworth’s lunch”.

    • Agreed 100%. James is posting a non-sequitur. He is unable to understand that creating a state religion and forcing bakers to bake cakes for gay couples if they want to continue to bake at all are pretty much the same thing (BTW, I’m a pretty strong atheist, but also one with rightist leanings).

      • RandyJackson

        So you believe that people should be kicked out of businesses because the owner doesn’t like something arbitrary? Should I still be able to kick out a red haired ginger because I think they have no soul?

        Oh, I had to add, the state becomes a religion when it enforces this?….no

        • 1. Yes, obviously.
          2. Four periods and a “no” is not an argument, Randy. And I never said “the state becomes a religion when it enforces this”, so you are simply shooting a strawman.

          • Nick G

            Evidently you’d be just fine with businesses refusing to serve black people. Oh, you might say you disapprove, but such talk is cheap: in practice, you side with the bigot.

          • Depends on the context.

          • I’m fascinated… in what context do you think a business refusing to serve black people as a group is not racist?

  • bkalafut

    Nothing on this chart about being forced under penalty of forfeiture of one’s business (and possibly also home and life savings) to participate in a sacrilege.

    Shame on this chart’s author for simply writing out of the picture the violation of religious liberty that is at the very heart of today’s controversy. And so much for ecumenicism–if the UCC opposes the free exercise of non-UCC forms of Christianity rapprochement and reconciliation are impossible.

    • donthinks

      “Sacrilege”, really? Who should determine what should be universally sacred… you? Based on what?… stories from 2000 years ago?… a feeling you get when you go to church? What on earth does what you consider sacrilege have to do with anyone else? Honestly, religious liberty doesn’t mean you get to mistreat other people or ignore discrimination laws just because of what you happen to consider sacred.

      • bkalafut

        Here in the United States–and I have no idea where you are–we have a tradition of freedom of conscience which is subjective. We don’t have the law determine what is correct and incorrect religious belief but rather we consider how we treat people with different religious beliefs. What matters is not what is “universally sacred” but rather what is sacred to “Joe over there.”

        For many there is strong connection between religious belief and reason, having a lot to do with everyone else so your little rant about “stories..a feeling” is misplaced and manifests a gross ignorance of the faithful religious neighbors and colleagues you probably have. Why should somebody so ignorant have any say over religious liberty? (Do you see the connection between what I just said and what you said?)

        On a trivial level we let Jews wear their hats in court even though there were rules against hats in court, because the Jews in question believe they must do that and we do not say “well then we exclude Jews from civil life and don’t let them sue people who harm them”, etc. Getting more serious we even let Quakers and Hutterites out of military service when there is a draft because they believe that given the choice between serving in a military or dying they must die.

        So out of recognition that none of us has monopoly on truth and government cannot determine religion true or false we give people a pretty wide berth. But here you want to get to mistreat Christians who believe a homosexual “marriage” ceremony to be a sacrilege. Steal from them either their dignity (your conscience counts, theirs doesn’t, they must operate according to yours) or their businesses and life savings. All in the interest of saving a gay man the cost of going up the street to buy flowers from the competition. The gay man is everything, the Christian is nothing. How cruel you are, like those in WWI (before our pre-Smith 1st Amendment law, which the RFRAs restore, was established) who starved and froze Hutterites to death because they would not put on military uniforms.

        If you oppose RFRA you oppose giving the Christian (or the Hutterite…) even a day in court for his rights to be weighed against other claims, to determine whether the mistreatment you (and Mr. McGrath) would direct at them is justified. That’s what RFRA does. From “there’s an antidiscrimination statue and someone says you discriminated therefore you lose your business and life savings” but “let’s weigh the rights here, is there a compelling interest at work against you, if so, is this the least restrictive means to advance that…?”

        Honestly, religious liberty means precisely what you have it not mean: that individual conscience is paramount and can only be run over by law if there is a compelling interest and if it is the least restrictive means to advance that interest. See, for example, Sherbert v Verner. That’s the way we do things in this country, and that’s the only way we can do things which can give “religious liberty” any meaning. (If “religious liberty” is “except when it violates statute” then it is no liberty at all.)

        • donthinks

          Where to begin? I debated not replying at all because I don’t appreciate being called ignorant and cruel, but what the heck.

          I don’t think it’s ignorant to not subscribe to what religious people deem as “sacrilege” just because they’ve chosen to interpret their dogma that way. I don’t think it’s “cruel” or “mistreatment” to insist that Christians who operate a business abide by the same anti-discrimination laws as everyone else. I have the opinion that all customers (yes, even the gay ones) deserve to be treated with respect instead of being told to take their business elsewhere because their kind isn’t welcome there. (Does a gay person’s dignity not matter to you?)

          This “sacrilege” argument could be equally used to deny baking cakes for interracial couples and having whites-only water fountains, (and I believe it was) so excuse me if I don’t think your religious persecution complex is warranted.

          Yes, I live in the United States. I oppose the RFRA. I support the values of the Enlightenment that include reason as being far superior for running a society than religious edicts — values that contributed to our country’s founding. So I expect our government to not play favorites and accommodate every religious whim when it comes to operating a business in the public sphere. I think your concept of “religious liberty” that would give people the right within a business transaction to discriminate in whatever fashion they wish is severely flawed.

        • Nick G

          Exactly the same bigoted rubbish was trotted out when the question concerned inter-racial marriage.

          • bkalafut

            If you cannot distinguish between “religious belief” as a ploy and sincere religious belief with clear tradition and much philosophical “heavy lifting” behind it–or between the Jim Crow situation (violent cartel with support of government) and ordinary discrimination–the problem is with you.

            “Bigoted rubbish” appears to be something you are filling in a hole in your own knowledge with–that must be what’s there!–rather than figuring out what is motivating others.

            But even if it were bigoted rubbish the question is: is there space for this in society or must people who believe it be stripped of their livelihoods. (Why not just kill them?)

  • DeShaunSanders

    Excellent chart. I would like to see another issue covered in some instances. For example, Your religious liberties ARE being violated if you are forced to use birth control even though it is against your religion, as the chart clearly states. But your liberties are also being violated if you are forced to pay for others to use birth control that is against your religion.
    Too many of the circumstances being paired off are black and white choices, and there are many shades of gray that are not being covered.

    • Andrew Dowling

      ACA doesn’t force employers to “pay” for birth control . . .

      • DeShaunSanders

        No it doesn’t, thanks to the Hobby Lobby decision…which I think was a terrible decision by SCOTUS. But the ACA does force everyone who buys insurance through an ACA exchange to carry birth control coverage, even if you’re way past child-bearing age.

        • cecilia

          birth control is GOOD for society – even if I personally don’t need it any more

        • Andrew Dowling

          “But the ACA does force everyone who buys insurance through an ACA exchange to carry birth control coverage”

          So what? There are also requirements to provide for free breast cancer screenings for women. Having everyone put some in the pot is how medical actions not needed by everyone become affordable.

  • Todd Williams

    You are forced, through your tax dollars, to provide abortions services that violate your religion.

    You are forced, under penalty of law, to provide service to an event that under your religion is a holy sacrament between a man and a woman.

    You are shouted down in the public square by bigots who claim tolerance but only for themselves and their beliefs. Not Yours.

    • Seventh Day adventists are forced through their tax dollars, to support all sorts of federal medical support that violates their religion.

      Pacifist quakers are forced through an enormous chunk of their tax dollars, to support a military that violates their religion.

      Anyone can claim that just about any form of federal spending “violates” their religion.

    • cecilia

      only a HUMAN BEING can practice a religion.

      A for profit open to the public business can not be “religious”.

      Discrimination is just bad for business.

      Businesses all over are joining to say the will NOT discriminate:

    • Andrew Dowling

      People don’t believe in funding wars overseas either due to religious convictions, but conservatives don’t seem to give a crap about them . . .

  • Max Cady

    The Constitution promises “Freedom of Religion,” not freedom from religion. I can never understand why people don’t get this???

    • donthinks

      Because you’re wrong. “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” The first clause says government can’t make me practice religion. The second says government can’t prohibit me from exercising my religion. It’s what constitutes “exercise” that the current debate is about.

      • Justtyn Hutcheson

        More to the point, the debate is ultimately how far personal freedoms extend to legal entities.

        Businesses are organizations run by people, but are not people themselves as defined by the Constitution. Rather, they are legal entities created and governed purely by laws. Initially the trade-off for creating a business is that the owner(s) must forfeit their individual rights as a person in matters of business and comply with all federal, state and local regulations, but in return the individual is granted personal indemnity from actions taken against the organization as a whole.

        The question at hand is whether that trade-off can legally exist within the framework of the Constitution, and/or whether only certain rights must be forfeited rather than all of them. I suspect this debate will continue to run through the list of personal freedoms until the “personhood” of a business is firmly established by either federal law or by a build-up of judicial precedence sufficient enough to constitute a reasonable definition thereof.

        Note, I understand that the Supreme Court ostensibly answered this debate with the Citizens United and Hobby Lobby decisions, but in both cases the majority comments note that the scope of those decisions is extremely narrow and not to be applied as precedent for later judgement for cases which are not arguably identical in nature and application, i.e. campaign finance contributions and exemption from federal provisions of a closely held corporation. As such, they may be seen as beginning to define the question of personhood, but do not themselves explicitly or implicitly define it.

        • donthinks

          I agree that the debate includes extending rights to legal entities — I thought of that after I made the comment. It’s my hope that at some point Americans will actively resist the direction the Supreme Court is headed, perhaps getting an amendment passed that limits personhood to people and declares that money is not speech. I don’t know if we can make that happen, though.

        • donthinks

          I agree that the debate extends to the rights of legal entities — I thought of that after I commented. It’s my hope that at some point the majority of Americans will rally against where the Supreme Court is headed, perhaps demanding an Amendment that states personhood applies only to people and money is not speech. I’m not sure when or even if that will happen, though.

    • cecilia

      wrong-o, buck-o.

      if YOU wish to practice Christianity then you WANT to be FREE FROM other religions.

      What would happen if a Muslim insisted that YOU had to pray 5 times a day because he said so? Or that you HAD to wear what he insisted?

      You would have a fit.

      If he tried to pass laws that were based entirely on HIS religion you would have an aneurysm. It would be against the First Amendment.

      And – pay attention, now – YOU trying to use YOUR flippin’ religion to write laws is just as AGAINST the First Amendment. And those laws infringe on MY civil rights.

      the Universe does not revolve around YOU, buddly

    • Andrew Dowling

      LOL sorry we settled this whole “we shouldn’t be a theocracy” debate quite a long time ago . .

  • jszczepaniak

    You have every right to live your faith in public. So… wrong. And no one has a right to buy something from you specifically when you don’t want to sell to them. That’s not a thing. Sorry.

  • Marilena Fenn

    The Jehovah’s Witnesses are one of the biggest violators of religious freedoms. They use emotional blackmail to keep their members inline. How do they do this? They tell you that if you take a blood transfusion, that God will cut you off, you will lose everlasting life, you will be cut off from the organization, and that God will annihilate you forever. You are not allowed to associate with anyone outside the organization because, “bad associations spoil useful habits”, you are not allowed to celebrate birthdays, halloween, Christmas. (pagan and evil if you do, you are cast out, and cut off) you are not allowed as a witness, to speak out against the organization, you are not allowed to publish anything negative about them, or you will be branded an “apostate”, and apostates are annihilated by God, and will never have everlasting life. You are not allowed to have any religious statues in your home, any religious paraphenalia other than Watchtower publications. You are supposed to go door to door to spread “the truth”, if you do not, you are classified as a spiritually lazy person. You basically as a witness, have no religious freedoms whatsoever unless dictated to you by the Watchtower Organization (I call them the Falsetower) Witnesses are heavily indoctrinated. You only associate with fellow witnesses, you go to their conventions, you are not allowed to do anything that goes in direct violation of the governing body of Jehovah’s Witnesses. You’re not allowed to salute the flag, or go into military service. You’re also not allowed to vote. I found the road to freedom back in 97 when I left the organization. Its a road I am glad I found.

  • Dr. Woolf

    You are forced to participate in and celebrate a religious ceremony against your will or be faced with fines, imprisonment, loss of livelihood, and death threats.

    • No one is forced to go into a business that requires them to participate in a religious ceremony. And no one is forced to set up a business as a secular one if they do so. If one sets up a non-sectarian business and then tries to refuse service on sectarian grounds, presumably you can see the problem?

      Death threats are abhorrent, and presumably you agree, and thus can understand why people need to be protected from discrimination and attacks by those who hate them simply because they disagree with them?

  • Patrick

    It seems the point is that people need to appreciate the difference between religious persecution and the lack of a state-level validation of one’s own religious position. For some Christians in America (of which I am one), there is a temptation to conflate the two (which I do not). But that danger may be latent in the religion itself inasmuch as it began as a persecuted minority/remnant theology drawing on apocalyptic imagery. When such a theology becomes a worldwide force with great power, it must be handled with extreme caution and care so as not to become a persecuting majority theology justified with the same apocalyptic imagery.