A special cosmic status for humans and evolution still can’t be married – even if you think atheism is totes cringe

It seemed like there was a brief window where it was okay to get into debates about religion, God, and gods. Those who didn’t care just didn’t care, and those who did care were likely participants in the debates. Maybe this is just a reflection of the fact that I was a frequent participant during this window – perhaps 2003 to 2014 – and so I lacked an outsider’s perspective. Whatever the case, the anti-atheist memes have established a firm foothold in society: Those who argue God doesn’t exist are intellectual circle-jerkers with fedoras, and they should just let the religious live in peace; whatever clashes religious belief has with society at-large should be resolved without attacking the religious beliefs themselves. I suspect it really is the nature of memes that have led to this general view, but I also wonder if part of the reason has to do with the logical extension of common atheist arguments from that window. Specifically, we used to see a push for young Earth creationism in schools and textbooks, often hidden behind the disingenuous argument for ‘intelligent design’. Plenty of people, atheists and theists alike, could get on board with attacking those pushes, and even if the atheistic arguments took swings at all forms of creationism, such arguments weren’t really the focus. It’s easy to support ‘Keep religion out of public schools’ regardless of one’s more cosmic beliefs, but when was the last time that was a pressing issue? Bills occasionally pop up, but they’re usually defeated quickly. There’s no point in allying any longer.

I don’t know. That’s probably a stretch. Maybe we can point to the deep rifts in those on the left. One faction wants to get Woke with everything while the other side has stayed focused on the philosophy. (Which, as we all know, makes that other side a bunch of Nazis.) Unfortunately for the Woke, it isn’t honest to be an anti-theist when it comes to Christianity but not Islam or other religions. On the plus side for this group, however, is their utter control over Big Tech. Attacks on Christianity as an institution appear to still be allowed, but the fedora memes folder pops open once the underlying issue of faith is mentioned. We must be careful not to ensnare any (locally) non-dominant group in our criticisms.

Or perhaps it comes down to the fact that people have lost interest in organized religion while organized religions have, non-coincidentally, lost influence, all while people still profess a belief in a higher power. An attack on young Earth creationism may still be seen in a positive light because, well, dinosaurs and humans didn’t exist side-by-side, but an attack on the very idea of an almighty creator isn’t going to fly amongst those who hold such a belief.

Whatever the case, one should not be fooled into thinking arguments against a higher power that cares for humanity have faltered. What was true 10 years ago is true today, even if someone tweets out a totes fire ‘m’lady atheist’ meme. Creationism – whether young or old, whether specific or (intentionally) vague – cannot be married to evolution without a bunch of hand-waving and shoulder-shrugging.

Fundamentally, evolution has no intention, no goals, no predetermined outcomes. It may have statistically likely, frequent, common, and not-so-unusual outcomes (such as the eye or the stability given by 4 legs), but any re-run of the tape of life will yield different results. We’ve seen this in specific experiments (see Richard Lenski), but it is also plainly obvious. The exact genetic makeup of an offspring could be changed for thousands of reasons in any hypothetical re-run. From environmental factors to a chance mutation to two sexually-viable individuals having sex earlier or later to spontaneous abortion, a re-run of evolution will always produce extremely different results over time. Just imagine the asteroid that led to the extinction of the dinosaurs missed Earth or burned up or perhaps fully hit water. If dinosaurs never die off, mammals likely never rise. And if they do, it happens in a wildly different world that will put different pressures on natural selection. In short, no species is inevitable. Any belief that says otherwise is in conflict with evolutionary theory.

Now examine any form of creationism. They *all* declare that humans have some special cosmic status; they *all* say there is a creator who has seen fit to bring humans into existence. Yet the random chance of mutations make that impossible. The stochastic nature of natural selection tells us it can’t be true. It simply isn’t possible to believe in an intention-based view like creationism while also accepting a scientific theory that specifically lacks intention.

But we needn’t stop there. Let’s ask the creationist *exactly* when it was that the special status of humans began. That is, who was the first individual to be born with a soul?

(Apologies for the divided paragraph, but this is a necessary caveat: Of course, my question isn’t meant to be literal. Moreover, the word ‘soul’ is meant to encompass however one wishes to define ‘special status’. I say both of these things because 1) I’m interested in the very *idea* of what gives a special status to someone but not their parents and 2) the second words like ‘soul’ get introduced, the believer in an intentional higher power will start to play semantics.)

If humans have some special status in the Universe while other living things don’t, then there must have been a point where a mother gave birth to one or more offspring that were special in the eyes of a creator. This is important because evolution is continuum. A mother of one species doesn’t give birth to offspring of another species. With the grace of hundreds of thousands of years, we can say ‘This fossil belongs to this species, but this one belongs to a different species’, but that isn’t how it works on a generational scale. So the creationist is forced to reckon with how it is that a mother failed to achieve special human status while her offspring was give such an honor. Moving the line back and saying that, perhaps, all Great Apes have this special status briefly answers the matter, but, ultimately, our evolutionary tree is going to meet up with a common ancestor with other species. And then others. And others. And, eventually, the creationist will have to say that all living things hold some special status with a creator – a status we conventionally refer to as ‘having a soul’. But why stop there. What of the first primordial replicators? Or is DNA the specific factor needed for cosmic importance?

Now pause. Reflect on how *utterly ridiculous* those mental gymnastics are. Any effort to marry creationism and evolution requires such an exertion, yet we have a perfectly valid path which avoids all of that: Don’t be a creationist. Simply accept evolution for what it is. Accept that humans were never destined to exist. Accept that it isn’t possible to say, ‘Humanity began with this birth’. Accept that the idea of human importance – something which is fundamental to any form of creationism – cannot be married to evolutionary theory.

Mele Kalikimaka

I didn’t do my regular Christmas post last year because I forgot to do it the year before, but I still like last year’s Hawaii theme, hence the title. That said, here’s an updated version of my usual Christmas picture. I’m not sure who the photographer is.

Thought of the day

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Wuhan virus and one last ‘A-Unicornist’ note

As the Wuhan virus spreads, there are a handful of legitimate sources to which people should turn for information. The most notable among all of these is the CDC. Information that comes from there will be heavily vetted and as updated as possible. It also won’t come with the litany of biases that most other sources have. For example, I am referring to this as the “Wuhan virus” because I believe China holds a tremendous amount of blame for this outbreak and I want to do everything I can to ensure that this virus is closely connected to the communist regime. My motivations are simple: Communism is an evil and it should be exposed as such and we should trust numbers coming from China as much as we should have trusted the USSR in the days following the Chernobyl meltdown that nearly ended the world as we know it. In other words, I’m not a legitimate source of information for this virus. The best I can do is reflect what governments and scientists around the free world are saying: stay away from people, wash your hands, and don’t hoard. Beyond that, it would be irresponsible of me to act as a source of information, even if I do having training in biology and experience in commercial labs. Which brings me to ‘The A-Unicornist‘, the focus of my last couple of posts. This is from his personal Facebook page:

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This virus is far more serious than the flu, and anyone who was even vaguely paying attention knew this even back in January. Mortality rates don’t care about sheer numbers from previous years; to downplay this fact is the height of irresponsibility and a person who does such a thing implicitly highlights why those who have only ever achieved high school graduation, much less any actual training in any science, should never be a source of information for anything of this nature.

Quick correction

In my recent post about a Bernie Bro, I said that The A-Unicornist was, indeed, a Bernie Bro. He’s fundamentally toxic, holier-than-thou, and generally unwilling to engage when he isn’t being praised. That’s a Bernie Bro. (Which makes sense since that’s also who Bernie Sanders is as a person.) I also made sure to mention his hot takes about exercise because they are full-on bro takes. Not in the sense of the Bernie Bro, but in the sense of the quintessential hipster bro. This is different from the Jersey Shore bro who only talks about curls; curls are too mainstream for the hipster bro.

Well, our stereotypical bro has denied being a Bernie Bro at all. Even though he endlessly defends Bernie. Plus he has this haircut:
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If you have that haircut, you’re either marching with Tiki torches and yelling about Jews or you’re a disaffected white bro who isn’t quite comfortable with antisemitism part.

Also, he said this:

But i knew you’d go whining like a little tool on your blog…

Now go blog about how butthurt you are, I’m sure it’ll be a page turner! 😆

This was right after he made a blog post on his Facebook blog about me. Me, a person he knows purely via blogging because he used to be a frequent blogger on his blog where he blogged just four months ago. Also, what is it about meltdowns and emojis? Is there a law about combining the two or is this just a cultural norm that has passed me by?

The A-Unicornist, Bernie Bro extraordinaire

As FTSOS readers from many-a-year-ago know, The A-Unicornist (Mike Doolittle) was a once-active atheist blogger. He mostly sticks to politics on his Facebook page now. Unfortunately, his politics are largely contained to Huffington Post-style platitudes and, more recently, Bernie Bro ideology. I’ve spent some time calling him out on some of his worst talking points. Here’s the most recent:

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He added this to his post:

Don’t forget about Bill Gates’ $500 million electric super yacht.

I believe history will look upon Bill Gates as one of the world’s greatest philanthropists. I always find myself disappointed when he says he isn’t interested in running for President, but then I quickly realize the reason is that he has accomplished far more with his charitable efforts than he ever could as the leader of the United States. As such, I commented in defense of Gates. Doolittle claimed I missed the point of the post. Namely, he contended that he was making the point that Gates’ and Bezos’ massive wealth can be taxed without hurting them in any meaningful way. Of course, this missed the point of my comment, which was that criticism of the wealthy is not an argument for why they should be taxed. No one really cares if a billionaire does billionaire things. The issue at hand is whether or not it’s good for society and the economy to raise or lower taxes. “It won’t hurt them to pay more” doesn’t address that.

This quickly devolved into quite a bit of name calling by Doolittle. He was upset over two specific things I said. First, when I asked him to expand upon exactly what he meant when he said I missed the point, I followed up with a quip about how he was likely to duck out, though. And that’s true. He doesn’t usually write more than a couple of comments unless someone is largely agreeing with him and/or he’s getting ‘likes’. Second, when he said his point was that wealthy people can afford higher taxes, I said that that is a non-argument and I emphasized a particular sentence by saying “I know that sentence lost you, so let me be clear”. I then repeated the specific point I was making.

He had a meltdown.

Doolittle threw a number of “Cro-magnon” references my way. He also began reflecting my language because, evidently, I hit a nerve. Specifically, I wondered why someone who is able to get into the nuances of philosophy has such trouble letting go of his ideology when it comes to politics. Suddenly, I was the one trapped in my ideology. This gets at my ice-cream-on-the-playground-analogy (which I was sure to point out). He also brought up some random criticism I made of Bernie Sanders from months and months ago. I’m not sure why he bothered with that since it wasn’t relevant, but I’m happy to repeat it here for the sake of spreading it around: Sanders visited and praised the Sandinistas in Nicaragua. He attended anti-American rallies where people chanted for the death of Americans. He wasn’t merely anti-Contra; he was actively promoting the oppressive Sandinistas because they were socialists.

This was apparently the last straw for the Bro. I found myself blocked from his page and my recent comments had disappeared. He then made this post:

It’s really rare that I drop the banhammer on a longtime follower, but I’m also way past the point where I feel obligated to provide a platform for someone who is committed to being condescending, antagonistic, dishonest, and uncharitable.

So, ya know, if you start with a clearly bad-faith comment and follow it with a second comment that’s basically just an insult before I’ve even had a chance to reply, it’s a safe bet you’re not actually interested in a dialogue. Usually my only regret is not banning such individuals sooner.

Fortunately, the overwhelming majority of my followers – even those who disagree with me on occasion – are not just intelligent but patient and charitable as well.

Note, this is yet another reflection of previous language I have used with him. Specifically, I called him out on his bad faith approach to pro-life arguments. (He argues from a position of pro-choice assumption, drawing conclusions about the motives of pro-lifers based on his conclusions.) Moreover, this is an instance of gas lighting. As I mentioned above, he threw around a fit of insults himself. I honestly think he was upset that none of them landed; I specifically called them out as being thrown around randomly rather than with any specificity (as I did when I knew a particular sentence would be lost on him). Also, he called me an “obnoxious twat” in a private message. He isn’t the saint he wants you to think he is.

I will cop to the condescension. The common Bernie Bro lives in a bubble where they believe they are a liberal who is putting forth strong arguments, but the reality is, the Bro is expressing leftist positions without knowing that’s what they even are.

I reject the labels of dishonesty and a lack of being charitable. Specifically, I was recently charitable with Bernie Sanders’ meltdown over telling Elizabeth Warren that a woman couldn’t win in 2020. His statement was descriptive, not normative. That is, he was making an assessment of the political landscape rather than saying anything about the qualifications of women. At worst, it was an inaccurate hot take. This point was received and returned with abuse by Doolittle that is common to the Bro.

For someone without a college education and with limited formal knowledge of fitness, Doolittle has done well enough for himself. His politics are bubble hot takes and his fitness advice revolves around this-is-bad-because-it’s-popular takes, but he has managed to carve a path for himself nonetheless. He has even managed to adequately engage in philosophical arguments without any formal education. What’s unfortunate, however, is his inability to engage in a discourse that reflects more than his own point of view.

Mele Kalikimaka

Well, I didn’t do my annual Christmas post last year, so I guess I can move on to a new picture. Here’s a tree from Kona, Hawaii.

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Maeghan Maloney facing disciplinary hearing

From the Kennebec Journal:

The district attorney of Kennebec and Somerset counties is facing a disciplinary hearing later this month because of an allegation that she improperly discussed a case with a judge.

Maeghan Maloney is due to answer misconduct charges stemming from a conversation she had with a Superior Court justice that led to the overturning of a Sidney man’s conviction on numerous child sexual assault charges and the granting of a new trial of him. She is scheduled to go before the grievance commission of the Maine Board of Overseers of the Bar on May 20 for a hearing that could result in disciplinary action.

This is the same woman who is married to pretend-doctor Christopher Maloney. The two of them attempted to sue me for engaging in protected speech, and in the process, Maeghan Maloney threatened me with criminal statutes. I didn’t realize it at the time, but that is actually a wild breach of basic ethics in any civil proceeding. It doesn’t surprise me to hear she hasn’t changed her ways whatsoever.

Update: She was admonished for her misconduct.

Thought of the day

Always fight speech you don’t like with more speech. Don’t abuse the legal system to get your way.

Congrats to Jon Gale

I don’t remember the last time I was registered as a Democrat, but it hasn’t been for many years. And I still don’t consider myself one, even if many of my political positions line up with the party. However, I recently learned that an attorney who helped out Black Lives Matter in Portland, Maine with some pro Bono work was running for Cumberland County DA. He also had a good amount of experience as a defense attorney – something I think is important. So I registered as a Democrat yesterday just so I could vote for him. And also so I could vote against at least one odious candidate who I know for a fact has perjured herself in front of Maine courts while also intentionally violating Sixth Amendment rights/hiding malfeasance from the press and public. Thankfully, it looks like Gale has taken the race with a 3 point margin of victory.