Article on Newdow has he prepares to argue Pledge case.

There’s an interesting article titled They Pray for Judicial Restraint over at the LA Times website (Free registration required) that gives a little background on Michael Newdow, the atheist who is about to argue the Pledge case before the Supreme Court on Wednesday. The reporter talks a little about how Newdow recently practiced at Stanford University in front of a moot court while receiving some advice from various advisors trying to help him prepare. The article also talks a bit about Newdow’s quirks and eccentricities which could harm his chances of being successful and it does a good job of illustrating why Newdow wouldn’t be my first choice to argue a case this important.

That he is combative and unpredictable, with a tendency to vent obsessively about what he perceives as unjust, is another. That he could become a loose cannon in the staid, structured, always-restrained world of the high court causes particular worry.

Stanford law professor Pamela Karlan, who watched Newdow in moot court, said he argued as though he were addressing a jury. But the Supreme Court does not want to hear about personal feelings, she said.

“Oral argument is very low-key and nonrhetorical,” said Karlan, who co-teaches the Supreme Court clinic that held the moot court. “You are having a conversation with the justices in a cool, intellectual way.”

Some lawyers close to the case complain that Newdow is refusing to heed others’ advice. Newdow “marches to his own drummer, and he has a definite conception of what he wants to argue and how he wants to argue,” said a legal ally who declined to be identified.

But USC law professor Erwin Chemerinsky, who has been coaching Newdow, said the neophyte lawyer was willing to accept help.

After Chemerinsky sent Newdow an e-mail criticizing one of his briefs, Newdow made revisions and sent it back under the heading, “Thank you, sir. Hit me again.”

“What I have tried to do is encourage him to focus on the issues that are before the Supreme Court,” Chemerinsky said.

Most legal experts seem to think that the first challenge Newdow will be presented with is convincing the Supreme Court that he has any stake in the issue due to the ongoing drama with regards to his custody battles over his daughter. If he fails to answer the question of standing then the High Court won’t have to rule on the issue of the Pledge’s constitutionality at all. Something the Supreme Court probably wouldn’t be all that upset about given this is a hot topic in an election year.

If Newdow manages to pass that challenge and the court ends up evenly divided with a 4 to 4 vote, a possibility since Justice Antonin Scalia has recused himself, then the lower court ruling will stand and then you can bet your sweet bippy it’ll be a hot topic, if not the hot topic, during the election.

It’s a long shot, but this could be a very interesting election year.

45 thoughts on “Article on Newdow has he prepares to argue Pledge case.

  1. I saw Newdow do the “moot court” thing on CSpan.  It was interesting.  In the main, he did focus on legal issues.  It was his opponent, Vikram Amar, who kept bringing up how Newdow “felt” and saying things along the lines of how he, VA, knew plenty of atheists who didn’t feel that way (implying that Newdow is just a fanatic, or oversensitive, or something.)  VA also frequently commented upon how “all” rights spring from God.  Newdow would just shake his head, and respond by saying “do you realize how insane it sounds, to someone like me, to say that all of my rights come from something I don’t even believe in the existence of?”  VA would also hammer away at the “your daughter doesn’t mind saying the pledge, and her mother is an avowed Christian” etc, etc.

    I doubt that VA’s argument is the one that will actually be made when Newdow is before the Supreme Court, as the majority of VAs argument is predicated on the existence of God—ie: it’s OK for the govt to encourage religious belief -because- God really does exist.  And VA wasn’t just defending the pledge as basically inoffensive, he was actually arguing that the government should actively support Christian religious faith.  Again, I very much doubt that VA’s argument will be the one that Newdow faces in front of the Supreme Court.

    I’d expect the issue to boil down to Ceremonial Deism, as it has in the past.

    Newdow does have some nervous tics that could hurt him.  The audience wasn’t too bad, but his opponents’ supporters were vocal, and clapped when they thought that VA had made some sort of telling point.  You could see Newdow sort of physically “drawing in” on himself.  His shoulders would come up near his ears—he looked like he expected someone to throw something at him at any moment.  Those are also the moments when he tends to become somewhat defensive, and his tone of voice sounds less rational, and more argumentative.  Newdow really seems to feel persecuted, and it’s in those moments where it shows. 

    On the bright side, Newdow seems to know his shit about the cases that deal with Ceremonial Deism.  He’s got the names of justices, the dates, and their stated positions on the tip of his tongue, as well as having memorized select bits of the speeches that were given when the Congress passed the act to insert “under God” into the pledge. 

    I thought the crowd was predisposed toward sympathy with VA, but of course I’m predisposed to sympathize with Newdow, so. . .  Anyway, I thought Newdow did fine, but I really don’t think that the moot court will have much bearing on what he will confront when arguing before the Supreme Court.  In fact, I spent most of the time watching these guys debate thinking, “these guys have law degrees?  I should’a gone to law school!” and “when is VA going to stop discussing philosophy and theology and start talking about the law?”

    So those are my first impressions of the moot court thing.  I’m sure Cspan will show it again at some point, probably late at night like the first time.

  2. Ooops.  I didn’t see the moot court deal.  There were no substitute justices, and the debaters were not standing behind podiums, addressing a mock bench.

    Apparently, what I saw was an informal debate, with a moderator.  I’m not sure exactly who Newdow was debating, but I think it might have been William Lane Craig.  Dude was wearing a bow-tie if that helps.

    Hope I get a chance to see the moot-court sparring though.  It’s interesting stuff.

  3. It really would be a shame if the Supreme Court of the United States ignored their actual job to judge the constitutionality of certain actions.  Regardless of the case he makes emotionally, Newdow is making a perfectly legitimate legal case against this clause in the pledge, as well as the LAW that concerns putting “God” on money (which is COMPLETELY unconstitutional, even when the first ammendment is read directly from its original text).

    What’s disgusting to me is that the people who are making the case to keep “under God” are the ones who are resorting to emotional arguements.  And unfortunately, most everybody seems to sympathize with that.  Newdow, however, reminds me a little bit of Howard Roark in The Fountainhead.  What he needs to do is forget about the emotional grounding of this case and think strictly about the legal groundings, and stick to his case without being affected by his opposition.

    But hell, if I were to go through all this, I wouldn’t have as much patience as HE does.

  4. The question is, of course, whether Madalyn Murray O’Hair would have done a better job …

  5. Bottom line is allowing “Under God” to remain in the pledge of Allegiance is clearly against the constitution & Separation of Church & State and never should have been allowed in the first place.

    Once again we are faced with one side having mountains of evidence to support their claim while the other has nothing but dogma, the 9th circuit court already ruled that “under god” IS UNconstitutional and should be removed.

    Some “facts” about the so called Pledge of Allegiance it was written in 1892 by a “Christian Socialist”

  6. Great point, nunyabiz.  What I find really scary about that article is the fact that the Legislature doesn’t or shouldn’t have any decision in what the Supreme Court decides.  I just hope that they don’t get swayed by such a disgusting display of idealistic, theocratic thought.

    And you’re right Les, there is a fine line between patience and obsinancy.  However, with a temper like mine, it’s harder to tell the difference between the two.  I had a debate in my Civics class today on the same subject (with a mediator and everything, due to the decision that’s happening today), and I couldn’t stop shaking from the idiotic arguements the opposite side kept making.  They repeated themselves, constantly, and only spoke of religion and “traditional history” when the arguement was about law.  If the Supreme Court decides against the abolition of this clause, I’m gonna lose all hope for this country.

  7. I feel sorry for all of you that are backing this Idiot.
    One of the things this country was founded on was the right to chose your religion, not.

    We wonder what is happening to the US of A. I have no doubt it is the fact that people are rejecting the idea that there is a God. Taking this away from children is going to be the end of us. I will admit that I’m Thankful I will be in Heaven (or elsewhere), before this happens. I feel scared for my grandkids though….

  8. Slate’s dispatches from the Supreme Court reveal a fascinating set of arguments today.  Sounds like Newdow did better than we’d hoped.  I particularly loved this bit:
    But [Newdow] adds that the idea that if adding in “under God” is not divisive, why did the country go “berserk” when the 9th Circuit opinion came down? Rehnquist asks what the vote was in 1954, when it was amended. Newdow says it was unanimous. Rehnquist queries how that reveals divisiveness.

    Newdow: “It doesn’t sound divisive? That’s only because no atheist can get elected to Congress.” Here is where people actually applaud like it’s a ball game. And here is where Rehnquist, who may be feeling the sting of Newdow’s comeback, threatens to clear the court.

    And then Dahlia Lithwick ends with this very weird statement:
    The case is a mess because, whatever you may think about God or the pledge, if you really apply the case law and really think “God” means “God,” then Newdow is right. But Newdow can’t be right. Can he?
    Let’s see now.  If “God” doesn’t mean “God,” then what is He?  Chopped liver?

    People only think references to “God” aren’t religious if they themselves ARE religious. They’re confusing their belief with universal law, as usual. It’s just like people who think Christmas is a secular holiday.  That’s only the case if you’re a current or former Christian!  Try asking a Muslim, Jew, Hindu, Buddhist, or atheist if they think Christmas is THEIR holiday too.  Sheesh.  As Madge said, “You’re soaking in it.”

  9. If religious self-determination is a right, it follows that everybody has the right not to subscribe to any religious belief at all. Further, it follows the state cannot ram even an abstract notion of “a god” an atheists throat.

    In Germany, by the way, the Catholic states in the south (sound familiar?) rack up losses in the Surpreme Court for this very reason. They lost their cherished crucifixes in public classrooms that way.

    Well, taking god away from children (if such a thing is possible) would be the end of Christianity. The end of ‘us’? Nah.

  10. If a teacher wants to put a crucifix on their desk or something, that’s fine with me.  It’s a teacher - teachers are people, and they have every right to decide what they want to do with their respective classrooms.  So long as they don’t force religion in some habitual manner (like the Pledge), I don’t have a problem with it.

    If you take away the right for a teacher to do that, I think you’re going a bit too far.  What does a crucifix say?  Star of David?  It doesn’t really say anything, except “this is my religion, this is what I believe”.  Hell, children’s shows treat religions the same way during the holiday season.  Is it damaging to children?  I wouldn’t think so, unless their really looking for something to get pissed off about.  Is it coercive?  No!  I see crucifixes all the time.  They’re like cave paintings to me.  If we start to micromanage our schools like THAT, then we’re really screwing up the freedom of religion.

    The Pledge, however, is a federally recognized, habitually repeated oath that kids from KINDERGARTEN… that’s a different story.  Even the Ten Commandments - those could be interpreted as rules, and those are most CERTAINLY considered coercive (Hell, it’s the only reason they were even created in the first place).  Putting a cross up, without bragging about it, or forcing religion on the kids, is not a problem - THAT is freedom of speech.  Rights would not be equivalent otherwise.  That’s what I think, anyway.

  11. Joshman, I think you’re missing one important piece, and that is that teachers are authority figures.  They direct most of what goes on in the classroom, and by corollary, everything they say is supposed to be accepted and followed by the students.  So displaying an item of personal belief is a little more than just saying “this is my own, you do what you want.”  The teacher is in the position of speaking for the whole class; you can’t just turn that on and off at will.

    The teacher’s job is to teach the school-established curriculum (which in the case of a public school is set by the state).  Other material not directly prescribed by the state has no place being taught there.  This applies to expressions of religion, political preferences, personal sexual orientation, or preference for paper versus plastic grocery bags.  Teachers can practice free speech outside of the classroom, where what they say is clearly understood to be personal opinion, NOT state-mandated education.  They do not have the right to add to or subtract from the curriculum in their classroom to suit themselves.

    If a teacher wore a pentagram to class, you can bet there would be a LOT of objections to it even if s/he never drew attention to it.  A crucifix is not a cave painting.  People haven’t been killed over cave paintings.

  12. Joshman, thank you for exposing that particular blind spot.

    In at least some public, mandatory, and non-confessional Bavarian schools, the school administration and/or state mounted a crucifix on the wall. And remember, we are discussing this in the context of the German constitution. Article 4, Paragraph 1 states:

    Freedom of faith and of conscience, and freedom of creed religious or ideological, are inviolable.

    The German Surpreme Court ruled that the placement of a crucifix by the state in the classroom of a non-confessional school that is mandatory to attend infringed on the student’s right of religious self-determination.

    And no, a teacher over there does not have the right to display a crucifix on his desk. Same principle.

  13. Touche, Geekmom.  In all this debate on the separation clause, perhaps I was just taking a part as the devil’s advocate (har har) for a means of debate.  I actually share your opinion about teachers to an extent - I agree, the teacher is an authoritative position.  But first I want to get something straight.

    Elwedriddsche: I am completely against the GOVERNMENT funding of crucifixes for classrooms and such.  That’s definitely wrong.  But I wasn’t so sure if a teacher should or should not have the right to simply put one on his desk without being persecuted by the government.

    Looking back at it, I can definitely see how I was wrong.  Hell, people in most workplaces are required to wear uniforms - ones that don’t offend the customer.  In theory, the children (or more importantly, the taxpayers) are the ones that count in this case.

    I suppose I was thinking like a highschooler - there are teachers in my school who also post political cartoons on the doors of their classrooms and wear their beliefs on their sleeves.  Do I, as a student, think that’s appropriate, and that they have the right to?  Absolutely.  Then again, I’m 17, not 10.  I have very personal friendships and discussions with some of my teachers.  If I were in elementary school, it’d be an entirely different story.  And to be more specific, political cartoons are more open to opinionated debate than religion, which normally hinges on the afterlife and eternal consequence.  But there’s another side to my wierd reasoning of the time.

    Simply putting a Cross or a Pentagram or a Star of David on your desk is not coercive like a group incantation, such as the Pledge.  I just thought that it’s less harmful, and is more personal to the teacher.

    So really what it comes down to is: what is the position of a teacher??  It seems to me today that education gets more and more generalized, and teaching gets more and more stagnant and depressing and standardized - I really hate going to school, mostly because of the restrictions they put on us and the teachers.  I, personally, wouldn’t be affected by a crucifix on the desk, but when it comes to younger kids… I’d have to agree with you.  Teachers ARE more authoritative earlier on in the educational system.

    And as far as later on, even - it ISN’T a teacher’s position to display that, or to communicate that.  They can hold their beliefs without symbols, and everybody should really be indifferent to religion in school - it’s not a subject that should be debated in an educational environment like a public school (especially in the lower grades).  You’re right Geekmom; and you, Elwedriddsche; and you, Eric, as well.  And I was wrong! WRONG WRONG WRONG!!!

    Political beliefs notwithstanding, teachers should not be publicly displaying stuff that they consider as “unquestionable”, like religion.  Something as discreet at jewelry is perfectly fine; a crucifix on the desk, or in the classroom, however, is simply inappropriate.  You guys were right, I was wrong.

    In conclusion, I think I just need more sleep…I think I’ll remedy that now…

  14. Joshman, we’ll have to revoke your Stupid Evil license now.  You can’t admit you’re wrong so openly and freely!  Get a grip, man!! 

    In high school and college, it’s true, a teacher (not to mention parent) has less authority in the eye of the student.  But the peer group has correspondingly more.  (Ever noticed that even when you’re being proud of rebelling against the “mainstream” cliques, you really need to have friends to rebel right along with you? )  This is where religion/politics/whatnot in the schools is still dangerous.  Students don’t feel free to rebel against their social peers unless they have a large enough group backing them up.  And anyone who’s grown up in the Bible Belt knows that there aren’t large roving packs of atheists ready to take on the faculty AND 90% of the fellow students.

    Of course, even if the parents are brave enough to try to step in and help buck the system, the teenagers aren’t about to thank them for it.  The whole thing’s a mess.

  15. I agree with some of the points JoshMan made originally, before he apoligized for his own opinion.  har har…

    I think that schools need to give the teachers the right to…oh…i dunno…TEACH?  Faith has its place, but not nessicarily in school.  In response to GeekMom’s comment: 
    The teacher

  16. OfW0lfandMan (by the way, I’m a 17 year old senior as well), I sympathize with your reasoning, but you, as well as I was before, are wrong.  And in addition, nowhere did I ever APOLOGIZE for my opinion - I just ADMITTED being wrong because they made a counterpoint that made sense.  There’s quite a difference between the two.

    I completely agree that teachers need the ability to express their opinions when they teach - but religion, in most cases, isn’t even considered a matter of opinion.  I tried to establish that in my own letter, saying that POLITICAL beliefs are one thing (which are openly based on opinion, and are open to other opinions) - but most religions have the “opinion” (more of a notion, really) that their “god” is infallible.  Without question, their religion is the answer.  Hell, that’s part of why I don’t believe in religion anyway, and it’s not a topic that could really be discussed, such as political or social knowledge.

    And when you get into the spectrum of elementary education, it isn’t even a question.  Kids are not there to learn opinions quite yet - that’s an issue that comes far later in life.  They are there to learn concrete information, with which they can apply to issues later on.

    The reason religion is not allowed in state affairs, or the schools, is because we don’t want the government to take an authoritative position and add something infallible like religious theory.  It’s more explainalbe through an analogy:

    Say a girl, such as Newdow’s, goes to class to be greeted in a classroom with a teacher (cross on desk) and a bunch of students who share the same religious beliefs as the teacher.  Now, it’s one thing for the students to have that kind of influence; but the teacher has absolutely no right to impose that kind of an opinion on a girl.  THAT will hinder (not inhinder, which is not even a word) the free thought of the students.  As I said before, religion really isn’t a thing to be talking about in school until one comes to the rationale that autoritative figures can be flat-out wrong about things - that’s part of maturity; not something you’re naturally born with.

    So my question to you (before you criticized my “apology”, har har) is this: do you think “under God” is acceptable too?  Or do you think that authority has no influence on children?

  17. By the way, Geekmom:

    I really can’t say that any of my opinions are meant in rebellion against any “mainstream” group.  My opinions are my opinions because I’ve rationalized my values individually.  I’m not an atheist because I don’t like Christians - I don’t believe in God because I think it’s a rediculous and impossible notion by all measures of common sense.  They reflect my reasoning, not a group mentality (though some people do share them).

    I’ve argued with rooms full of people.  I’ll also admit that I probably wouldn’t hold my opinions on religion were my own mother not agnostic (but that’s really more of parental influence).  I suppose it could be easier to agree with a group of people - that’s natural.  But I’d never be proud of it.

    Heh heh, And don’t interpret this as a measure of rebellion against someone who’s older and has more life experience than myself.  I just wanted to clarify.

  18. Oh, and OfW0lfandMan:  I agree that a teacher needs to be able to spice up the material, make it interesting, and so on.  But the teacher needs to avoid injecting opinion in proportion to the difficulty students would have in refuting that opinion.  The teacher is not there to teach opinion as fact (which is too often how religion is framed), and there is a slew of other issues which parents don’t want “taught as fact” that conflict with their own takes on it (see for example sex education, gay rights, evolution, etc.).  You may feel that by high school you’re old enough to think for yourself, and you are, but the lowdown is that parents often object strongly to having their kids “steered the wrong way” (in their eyes) before they’re ready to let them go entirely (as in off to college). 

    Joshman, rebel or don’t, as you wish.  Make up your mind about what you think.  One man’s conformity is always another’s nonconformity, and vice versa; it all depends on the surroundings.  But let me just ask you one question, just to tease you a little:  what are you wearing right now? 
    Everybody in this room is wearing a uniform, and don’t kid yourselves. - F. Zappa

  19. Funny you should ask, Geekmom!

    I’m wearing a black sweatshirt, black jeans, black socks and black shoes.  They’re all plain, ordinary, and black - no chains or extra buttons or all that bullshit.  Oh, and my boxers vary in color, if you really wanted to know.

    Frank Zappa is absolutely right - I just use mine so that I can be ready for school five minutes after I wake up.  At least I don’t have to worry about not matching!

  20. Ooooh, the aggressively plain all-black look.  Very chic.  Says, “I’m a DEEP-THINKING NONCONFORMIST!”    I knew guys who dressed like that so that they could get dressed in the morning without having to turn on a light.

    My undies vary in color too, depending on how successful I am at separating the brights from the whites at laundry time.

  21. Thing is, “Evolution” is FACT, can be taught as fact because ALL of the Sciences agree & corroborate each other.
    Evolution is falsifiable and yet in 150 years has withstood every single test thrown at it, each test done by 1000s of different scientist have ALL failed in their efforts to prove Evolution wrong, therefore each of these 1000s upon 1000s of scientist have succeeded in actually proving Evolution beyond any reasonable doubt to be FACT.

    Religion on the other hand is NOT falsifiable therefore can never be either proven nor disproved entirely, BUT so many so called “Truths” or “Absolutes” in the Bible have been proven by empirical evidence to be FALSE that just what part of this so called “Word of God” do you or can you believe? How can you “teach” something as fact, when its scientifically known to be false?

    Now as a teacher in a “Public” school you have no right at all to talk, display, teach, discuss ANY of your religious propaganda with students, period.

    Displaying a cross is nothing but a subversive “this is the ignorance I believe” icon acting as an insurgent against government/state authority & law.
    Be the same as slapping a Jewish Menorah on your desk or what about a Voodoo Chicken Foot Fetish hanging around your teachers neck, yeah right guarantee the good ol Christian parents would have him/her fired or crucified immediately.

    Religion in ANY FORM has no business whatsoever in a public school system, its nothing but divisive & serves no purpose but to point out whom is most ignorant & gullible amongst faculty/student population.
    Isn’t school hard enough for the fat kid, the quite kid, the ethnic kid, the smart kid, the dumb kid, etc. without introducing into social dynamics of a school of diverse students THE MOST DIVISIVE behavior in all of human history, *Religion*?

    If allowed at all it ALWAYS ends up in a my god is the one and only true god war between various religious factions while the Atheist just sit back in utter disbelief of the sheer lunacy of it all.

  22. Nitpick:  the theory of evolution is a THEORY, not a fact.  It is a theory that happens to fit the FACTS (that is, measurable observations) extremely well, and it can be used reliably to predict future observations, and it has withstood deliberate, careful examination, which is why we still use it.

    However, bear in mind that if we come across a better theory tomorrow, that does all of this BETTER than the theory of evolution, we’re duty-bound to replace it.

    Oh, and religion isn’t any more divisive than other forms of tribalism.  Ask the Tutsis and the Hutus, or the Hema and the Lendu people who are currently killing, cooking and eating each other (if eyewitness reports are to be believed).

    Further proof is the observable fact that some atheists just can’t resist indulging their own brand of tribalism, accusing dissidents of being insane.

  23. Nunyabiz, I think what GeekMom was trying to get at was the fact that since evolution has not quite been fully proven (but has a lot of evidence supporting it), it is considered, scientifically AND literally, a theory.  Creation
    “theory”, however named, is not a theory, though, because it has no scientific basis and cannot be scientifically disproven.  It is a completely out of touch “hypothesis” and therefore should NOT be taught in schools as fact.

    As far as your opinion on religous people goes - I share it, but not to that level of severity.  Sure, I think religious people are under a delusion, but that’s more of a form of mass theistic hysteria.  They’ve been taught that life from birth, and when you get right down to it, the religion itself forbids one to question it.  So I don’t think less of these people, as one might interpret your… uh… interpretation, but rather I think of them as less fortunate.

    Nobody is born independent; in fact, all of us are born quite the opposite.  We grow up in tune to what we are exposed to, to the people we know and by the values we are instilled with from a young age.  Not everyone’s values are based on the same principles, and to assume everybody who believes in the Bible is insane is to say that they are.

  24. It occurs to me that whether or not Christians that believe the Bible to be “literally true” are clinically insane or not is a question that can be settled once and for all.

    Conduct treatment as suggested in a double-blind study.

    And we may not even have to do that. Is there any statistical evidence that persons treated for psychosis are losing religion, so to speak?

  25. Nunyabiz, I think what GeekMom was trying to get at was the fact that since evolution has not quite been fully proven (but has a lot of evidence supporting it), it is considered, scientifically AND literally, a theory. Creation

  26. Nunyabiz,

    I find your persistent labelling of fundamental Christians as mentally ill as offensive as the sanctimonious Bible-thumping of the other party.

    We can agree that fundamental Christians are in denial about certain scientific facts and theories that threaten core tenets of their faith and their religious authority, but you still have to make a clinical case for your diagnosis. You are qualified to make that diagnosis, aren’t you? It would improve your case if you could publish or point out a study that confirms that patients treated for psychosis incidentally tend to lose religious faith. Or perhaps you can convince David to go on meds?

    Apropos fact and theory - if you willfully equate fact and theory, you’re crossing over into the fundamentalist camp.

    We also agree that fundamentalists of any ilk dictating national and foreign policy is a bad thing. No need to preach to the deconverted.

  27. Believe as you wish Elwed, as will I.

    To me I think they are Mentally ill since I have no other explanation that fits the facts better and so far neither do you.

    I see no alternative answer when in this day & age an adult that *is not* mentally ill, delusional, would ever for a second believe the Earth to be approx. 6000 years old, to believe 100% in the Genesis Flood, to believe 100% that humans “pre-flood” lived to be over 900 years old and so on the absurdities are many.

    There are some things Elwed that just flat out don’t require a professional diagnosis.

    Such as you get shot in the leg you don’t have to ask the doctor what’s wrong with you.

    Such as to believe as a Christian Fundamentalist believes I don’t particularly need a Psychiatrist to tell me they are suffering from some mental illness, its as obvious as being shot in the leg.
    There isn’t any other logical explanation.

    You find my labeling Fundamentalist is offensive, that’s your opinion.
    I find Fundamentalist offensive, that’s my opinion.

    you just need to live with it, as i accept your opinion.

    Obviously you don’t comprehend what I’m talking about at all as far as Fact Vs Theory and apparently there isn’t much need to define it further. Maybe try rereading it is all I can suggest because you certainly don’t get it.

    Which is fine since I’m in very good company in thinking Evolution to be fact & that Theories are structures of ideas that explain and interpret facts. Facts do not go away when scientists debate rival theories to explain them.
    Hmmm Elwed, or Stephen J Gould, Richard Dawkins, Douglas Adams, Dan Barker, Robert Igersoll, and many many more, yeah I’ll stick to thinking Evolution is fact till someone shows ANY evidence to the contrary, so far 1000s upon 1000s have failed to do so in 150 years so I’m thinking I’m kinda safe in my “Evolutionary Fundamentalist” viewpoint. LOL

  28. Nunya, you are not a mental health professional, yet I’m supposed to take your word for a sweeping clinical diagnosis. I’m afraid hand waving as an argument doesn’t suffice. In fact, it’s on a par with the arguments in favor of the Genesis.

    One thing that you neglect to mention is that persons suffering from psychosis are barely socially functional - across the board and not limited to one particular glitch. I trust the ramifications don’t escape you.

    I know exactly what the scientific method is all about and am well aware of the distinction between fact and theory. However, I cannot in good conscience assume the same about you. If you had said that there are neither known nor conceivable facts that contradict the current theory of evolution, I would agree. To state a belief that a theory (no matter how well-founded) is fact means that at best you take liberties with scientific language.

    You seem to take the stance that the lack of complete buy-in to your point of view implies total opposition. That sounds familiar, too.

  29. I realize English is not your first language so try reading what I say very slowly maybe you might understand it.

    If you had said that there are neither known nor conceivable facts that contradict the current theory of evolution, I would agree

    And iv been saying ALL ALONG.

    Evolutionists make no claim for perpetual truth, though creationists often do (and then attack us falsely for a style of argument that they themselves favor). In science

  30. I realize English is not your first language so try reading what I say very slowly maybe you might understand it.

    Not to be smug about it, but I have reason to believe that my command of the English language is at least as good as yours.

    So Evolution is about 99.999% scientific fact.

    I’m sorry, but it is not. It is and remains a theory that is currently uncontested in the scientific community. If you insist on calling it a fact you first have to prove Heisenberg wrong.

    Since you seem confused by my stance, I’m unwaveringly convinced that the theory of evolution is right and that creationism is wrong. What I object to is your sloppy and counter-productive turn of phrase. By calling the theory of evolution a fact, you give religious believers an opening to chose with fact to accept and which to discard.

    Apparently I must assume from your responses that you think the Christian Fundamentalist that believe in the Bible as 100% absolute truth word for word must in your estimation have a legitimate, founded, provable, viewpoint that is based on logical reasoning of known facts.

    You assume wrongly, for I have neither said nor insinuated such a thing. Literal belief in the Bible in general and the Genesis in particular is an entirely irrational belief that I don’t share. However, your claim that Christian fundamentalists are mentally ill (in the clinical sense) is so far supported by nothing but a few ill-fitting definitions and the line “It’s so obvious that I don’t have to explain any further.” That is the classic hand waving argument. Remember, your claims are yours to prove.

    Since you evade an answer, let me repeat: If what you claim is true, then you should be able to find statistical evidence that persons treated for psychosis will abandon long-held religious beliefs.

  31. That “sloppy and counter productive turn of phrase” as you call it is straight from Stephen J Gould quoted verbatim.
    You don’t like it complain to him.

    He is only one of the most respected scientist in the field of Biology & professor of Biology at Harvard.

    Your just going around in circles like a dog after his tail, you make no sense at all, you show no evidence whatsoever to back up anything you say, your just rambling and nit-picking to an extreme over semantics.
    I see no reason to continue a one sided discussion with a dog chasing his tail its pointless.


  32. I’ve been tempted to speak up once or twice in this exchange, but Elwedriddsche is doing such a good job of covering the same points I would have raised that I haven’t bothered to chime in.

    However, I would like to point out, in regards to whether Evolution is a fact or a theory, the following bit of input on the matter from the Talk.Origins Archive FAQ:

    When non-biologists talk about biological evolution they often confuse two different aspects of the definition. On the one hand there is the question of whether or not modern organisms have evolved from older ancestral organisms or whether modern species are continuing to change over time. On the other hand there are questions about the mechanism of the observed changes… how did evolution occur? Biologists consider the existence of biological evolution to be a fact. It can be demonstrated today and the historical evidence for its occurrence in the past is overwhelming. However, biologists readily admit that they are less certain of the exact mechanism of evolution; there are several theories of the mechanism of evolution.

    There are readers of these newsgroups who reject evolution for religious reasons. In general these readers oppose both the fact of evolution and theories of mechanisms, although some anti-evolutionists have come to realize that there is a difference between the two concepts. That is why we see some leading anti-evolutionists admitting to the fact of “microevolution”—they know that evolution can be demonstrated. These readers will not be convinced of the “facthood” of (macro)evolution by any logical argument and it is a waste of time to make the attempt. The best that we can hope for is that they understand the argument that they oppose. Even this simple hope is rarely fulfilled.

    There are some readers who are not anti-evolutionist but still claim that evolution is “only” a theory which can’t be proven. This group needs to distinguish between the fact that evolution occurs and the theory of the mechanism of evolution.

    We also need to distinguish between facts that are easy to demonstrate and those that are more circumstantial. Examples of evolution that are readily apparent include the fact that modern populations are evolving and the fact that two closely related species share a common ancestor. The evidence that Homo sapiens and chimpanzees share a recent common ancestor falls into this category. There is so much evidence in support of this aspect of primate evolution that it qualifies as a fact by any common definition of the word “fact.”

    In other cases the available evidence is less strong. For example, the relationships of some of the major phyla are still being worked out. Also, the statement that all organisms have descended from a single common ancestor is strongly supported by the available evidence, and there is no opposing evidence. However, it is not yet appropriate to call this a “fact” since there are reasonable alternatives.

    Finally, there is an epistemological argument against evolution as fact. Some readers of these newsgroups point out that nothing in science can ever be “proven” and this includes evolution. According to this argument, the probability that evolution is the correct explanation of life as we know it may approach 99.9999…9% but it will never be 100%. Thus evolution cannot be a fact. This kind of argument might be appropriate in a philosophy class (it is essentially correct) but it won’t do in the real world. A “fact,” as Stephen J. Gould pointed out (see above), means something that is so highly probable that it would be silly not to accept it. This point has also been made by others who contest the nit-picking epistemologists.

    In essence, both Nunya and Elwedriddsche are technically correct depending on which aspect of Evolution you’re talking about.

  33. The confusion with Gould is that he (along with others) uses the word “evolution” both to describe the observable effects AND the current theory that explains them.  While I don’t argue with either one, I do object to them being used interchangeably—and, I might add, by an atheist troll who is only interested in using them as an all-purpose bludgeon for his rabid, irrational views.

    (Yes, that’s you, Nunya.  Gould himself is a lot more rational about it than you are.  Embarrass yourself if you must, but leave him out of it.)

    You have no proof for your stupid claim of clinical mental illness, because YOU clearly don’t understand anything about it.  A real mental illness isn’t compartmentalized to one set of beliefs; it affects the person’s whole life and dealings with himself and others, to the point where they CANNOT function in society.  Most religious people are perfectly rational and functional in most, if not all, other areas of their lives.  They CHOOSE to believe; they can choose to stop at any time.  Let’s take Les.  He was a believer, he read the Bible several times, figured out it didn’t make sense, and modified his worldview accordingly.  Did he recover from clinical psychosis all by his lonesome?  My, my.  Imagine if that worked for everybody … we could hand out annotated bibles instead of thorazine.

    You’re just a second-rate basher who obviously isn’t comfortable having a semantic discussion, which is why you’re turning tail and running (oops, I mean /ignoring).  Buh-bye.

  34. Cant say as iv seen so many have absolutely no idea what a “mental illness” is or can be.
    Though mostly what iv been saying has mainly been categorized as a “Mental Disorder” which can be anything from Cognitive Dissonance, Delusions, even Addiction, such as “Religious Addiction”

    because YOU clearly don

  35. usual response, useless drivel
    Let me try your method since it is the preferred one here.

    While I don

  36. hi nunyabiz
    oops I missed that opportunity to nit pick.

    “The Fact that this keyboard WILL hit the ground shows the fact of Gravity, the theory is just the various mechanism

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