philosoraptor42: (Default)
Okay, just thought I'd quickly check whether any of my posts come up when you google "Conor Cunningham". It looks like it's the second page before any of my stuff turns up (but heck, I haven't written much. I've written more on John Milbank and it takes three pages for me to turn up there).

Anyway, I clicked one of the links where they were asking for reviewers for the book. (Not because I want to review it for them, but because it surprised me to see people begging for book reviewers on a blog. Is that normally how this works?) Anyway, the comments were all hilarious....

jridenour said...
Whenever Christians argue that orthodoxy is a third way between fundamentalism and atheism, chances are the argument is b.s.
Saturday, February 19, 2011 4:13:00 AM

Nathaniel Drake Carlson said...
1500 words seems awfully short to do proper justice to this one.
Saturday, February 19, 2011 7:21:00 PM

APS said...
So when is ABC Ethics & Religion just going to change its name to The Daily Red Tory?
Sunday, February 20, 2011 12:53:00 AM
John Milbank expressed support for a movement called "Red Toryism" which basically means "I'm right-wing but I want to be considered left-wing anyway". He then started writing articles for ABC where they're now requesting reviews for Conor Cunningham's book.

A.J. Smith said...
And did they really have to use the same cover as Behe's egregiously bad "Darwin's Black Box" for this?
Sunday, February 20, 2011 2:58:00 AM

Considering that Cunningham is opposed to ID-theory, that's a remarkable oversight on the part of the marketing team.
philosoraptor42: (Default)
A Templeton Foundation fellow and journalist in the Guardian has discovered Conor Cunningham's book. I've written about Conor Cunningham a couple of times already. Anyway, he's decided that Cunningham's book shows that there are serious problems with "Ultra-Darwinism" and would like to explain them to you....

Ultra-Darwinists and the pious gene

Richard Dawkins won't like it, but he and creationists are singing from similar hymn sheets, according to a new book

Here are three questions of the kind evolutionary theorists love. First, why do most mammals walk on four legs? Second, how come some single-celled protists have genomes much larger than humans? Third, why have camera eyes evolved independently in vertebrates and octopuses? 
They're important questions as they challenge certain versions of Darwinism that are dominant today in popular discourse.

My comments on this, under this first cut... )Rest of Vernon's article under the cut... )

Also one more thing. I'm not aware of Nietzsche ever using the phrase "true lies". A google search comes up with either this article or references to the James Cameron movie. *shrugs*

cross-posted to [ profile] atheism 
philosoraptor42: (Default)
Maybe Kirk Cameron can explain these bird deaths!

This week saw two massive bird die offs, first 5,000 in Arkansas, then 500 in Louisiana.  Scientists don’t have an explanation yet, and that’s rough on CNN, because 24 hours of news programming is a lot to fill with, “Damn, homes. That’s messed up.”  What to do?  I know!  We’ll call Fireproof star Kirk Cameron!  He’s bound to have some crazy sh*t to say!  At least, that seemed to be the idea behind having Cameron on Anderson Cooper (either that or they both go to the same bath house). Only when Anderson asked him whether the bird deaths were a sign of the apocalypse, Cameron flipped the script, and actually sounded pretty sane.

Kirk Cameron is not your monkey, Anderson Cooper, he doesn’t even believe in evolution.
[are the birds the end times, Kirk Cameron?]

“Well, I first think that they ought to call a veterinarian, not me. You know, I’m not the religious conspiracy theorist go-to guy particularly. But I think it’s really kind of silly to try to equate birds falling out of the sky with some kind of an end-times theory.”

“That has more to do with pagan mythology [and not the apocalypse] — the directions the birds flew told some of the followers of those legends that the gods were either pleased or displeased with them. I think people just have a fascination with the religiously mysterious.”
[via Moviefone]
“Look, Anderson, if you’re looking for someone to spout off some crackpot religious theory, you’ve got the wrong guy.  I don’t go in for a lot of that hocus pocus.  I’m just a hard-working fella who puts his pants on one leg at a time and believes the grooves on a banana are a code from God that disproves evolution, you know? I leave these conspiracy theories to somebody else.”
(Taken straight from the immature and sporadically hilarious movie news website "Filmdrunk")

x-posted to atheism
philosoraptor42: (Default)
Update: Okay, there's a reason why this guy is able to put his arguments so simply and clearly while also being horrendously stupid at the same time. It turns out it's a parody. The guy never actually says so himself, but this video pretty much clinches it. Poe's Law strikes again!

A video from this guy was posted on atheism and one thing that was quite impressive was how simply they put their quite ludicrous arguments. Anyway, I checked out a few other videos in their account and this one was by far the funniest.

So yeah, I've got no big outrage here. I'm not worried about creationists undermining education. (Well, not on the basis of this guy anyway.) This is just pure comedy (from someone who, bizarrely, thinks they are making a serious point):

By the way, if you are going to watch the video you are probably best off not reading this stuff first. It's sounds much more idiotic when he says it.

"Animals can't decide that. They can't just say 'let's just do this, let's have longer necks.' And even if they could, they wouldn't come up with it - because they're stupid."

"God didn't want [giraffes] to have wings because if everyone's flying around with wings it's chaos. And everyone would have survived the flood, with Noah y'know?"

"We don't give everyone wings. I'm not crazy, c'mon!"

[On the big bang:] "As far as I'm concerned explosions usually destroy things. If I take a house and put explosives in it and blow it up, there's not going to be a better house. There's going to be broken house, which is a worse house. A worse house."

"See? .... So that's evolution put to rest. That's it. Thank you."

philosoraptor42: (Default)

Last time I wrote about this, Conor Cunningham was just releasing his documentary "Did Darwin Kill God?" I responded to Conor Cunningham's interviews on the subject, having not yet got around to watching the documentary itself. I have since seen the documentary and can say pretty confidently that the book is, in all likelihood, a load of pointless waffle.

Last time I checked out Conor Cunningham's arguments he was claiming that eugenics is the social consequence of Darwinism (because clearly the whole principle of killing off the weaker members of society would never have been considered prior to Darwin's theory of evolution).

The main reasons I didn't comment on the tv documentary were firstly because it was so awful that I didn't think it was worth critiqueing and secondly because comments I found on various blogs were much more apt than I felt I could be. In the end, what would have been the point in adding another commentary about an old documentary that no one was likely to take an interest? However, now that this documentary has won an award and a new book is coming out, I feel it is necessary to express precisely why I think Cunningham's argument is load of old tripe.

Genesis and Early Christianity

Read more... )

Ussher and the KJV

Read more... )

Fossils In The Nineteenth Century

Read more... )

Darwin's Atheism

Read more... )

The Scopes Trial

Read more... )

Modern Creationism

Read more... )


Read more... )

I don't really think there's much point in reading Cunningham's book, but I've got a horrible feeling I'm going to be hearing a lot about it in the future. *groan*

Quick irrelevant side-note:

In my research for this I was interested discover the following note from Mrs. Darwin (annotating Charles Darwin's autobiography):
Nothing can be said too severe upon the doctrine of everlasting punishment for disbelief—but very few now wd. call that 'Christianity,' (tho' the words are there.)

~If there is a problem with the information I've found in wikipedia links please correct me (and them too preferably).~
philosoraptor42: (Default)

Click on the image for the awesome, yet tragic, story of life as a male angler fish...

(Via Blag Hag)

Meanwhile Sinfest has some rather less empowering humour related to female human beings.

philosoraptor42: (Default)
Recent article in the Guardian from a guy called Alastair Noble:
As a former science teacher and schools inspector, I am disturbed that proposals for science education are based on near-complete ignorance of intelligent design.
This is in response to the rather awesome news that primary schools are going to be teaching evolution (along with the similarly awesome news that the BHA piped in their approval - YAY!).

I did a bit of research on Dr. Alastair Noble and thought I was going to conclude by saying "why did the Guardian even publish this guy?" Unfortunately, it looks like he's geniunely a scientist, genuinely used to teach science and genuinely used to inspect schools. The more I looked into it the worse it got.

First of all, on the religious nutcase side of things:
- Alastair Noble put his name to a rather daft letter to the Telegraph claiming that evolution doesn't explain the origins of life and that intelligent design does.
- He's a signatory on the Discovery Institute's "Scientific Dissent From Darwinism". (While there can't be more than 850 names on that list, a website has been set up to find scientists supporting evolution who have the name "Steve". It currently has over 1100 names.)
- He's written an apologetics book called "Is It True: The Case For Christianity" and in the book description it mentions that he belongs to the "Billy Graham Evangelistic Association".
- He also gives a 5-star review for Stephen Meyer's book "DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design".

However, on the positions of authority side of things:
- He has a PhD in Chemistry and is currently a research chemist.
- He works as an education consultant (for a Christian charity called CARE).
- He is a former secondary school chemistry teacher.
- He is a former school inspector.
- He has worked on educational programmes within the BBC, the CBI and the NHS.
- He is Field Officer of The Headteachers’ Association of Scotland.

In the end it looks like he has enough qualifications to entitle him to an article in The Guardian. Still, it isn't half depressing.
philosoraptor42: (Default)
The alternative to Darwinism is, strangely, difficult for some to accept: that we have a Creator who still sustains and directs his world and universe. He is not like the vengeful or apathetic gods of some religions, but the loving, gracious, concerned God who has revealed himself to the whole world in the world's best-selling book, the Bible. In the words of C. S. Lewis "Is He safe? Oh no. But He is good".
Some people find the idea of life being created by God difficult to swallow. In the words of Richard Dawkins; the notion that a God "chose to create it in such a way that it looked as though he was not there" does not allow him the freedom to believe. This is where faith enters and sadly where Dawkins, amongst others, lack the understanding of its importance: God has chosen to remain hidden, for us to exercise faith; without which we cannot please him. Hebrews 11:6

Perhaps the most interesting (and also the most worrying) part of this whole thing is the apologetic rhetoric used by the Zoo owners:

''Our education policy is purely based around the National Curriculum.
Technically true I guess. They look at all the stuff they have to teach as part of the national curriculum, present it to the children and then contradict the bits they don't like.

''We are offering our visitors the chance to look at the evolution/creation debate.
Let's not forget that their visitors will often be young children. With signs like the one I showed above, how exactly are they being presented with a 'debate'?

''As it is a free country, that is within our right. Contrary to a small minority of people's claims we do not teach false science.
''This is clearly shown within the zoo, with one exhibition talking about Darwin and another offering another point of view.
We don't teach false science. We teach the correct science and then we contradict it with nonsense. That's acceptable, right?

''We are slightly different from popular Creationism and hold a view that the natural world around us is the product of both God and evolution.
''Although technically Creationists, we do not hold the stereotypical Creationist views that the world was created 6,000 years ago and there is no evolution.

''Out of 120,000 visitors we get approximately 10 complaints a year regarding this topic.

"Clearly the public do not share the British Humanist view point.''
I'd like to hope that this is because most visitors can't be bothered to write in and complain.

So yeah, the arguments are "we're just trying to teach science", "stop being thought police", "let us use our free speech to 'teach the controversy'" and finally Tony Blair's immortal "I'm very happy" apologetic:
Dr. Jenny Tonge (Richmond Park): Is the Prime Minister happy—[Hon. Members: "Yes."] Is the Prime Minister happy to allow the teaching of creationism alongside Darwin's theory of evolution in state schools?
The Prime Minister: First, I am very happy. Secondly, I know that the hon. Lady is referring to a school in the north-east, and I think that certain reports about what it has been teaching are somewhat exaggerated. It would be very unfortunate if concerns about that issue were seen to remove the very strong incentive to ensure that we get as diverse a school system as we properly can. In the end, a more diverse school system will deliver better results for our children. If she looks at the school's results, I think she will find that they are very good.

x-posted to [ profile] apololgetics
x-posted to [ profile] atheism
philosoraptor42: (Default)
A lecturer at my old university (University of Nottingham) called Conor Cunningham is presenting a programme called "Did Darwin Kill God?" on BBC2 in the UK.

Here's a link to an interview with him. (I discuss my own views on it further down):

While I was at the university, Conor Cunningham did a course on Darwinism in the theology department. It actually seemed like a smart idea at the time since he was keen to note that intelligent design and creationism are both dodgy. Unfortunately he also has this strange idea that the majority of Christians never actually had a problem with evolution in the first place.

I'd first noticed that he had some odd ideas when he insisted during a seminar from an outside speaker that anthropology is not prepared to look at itself in the same way that it looks at other social conventions. He suggested that medicine, for example, was not looked at with the same rigour as religion. That night one of my mutually-geeky PhD anthropology friends was talking to me over a drink after the science fiction society meeting and explained that actually anthropology of medicine was a major topic. Considering that Conor Cunningham is the research assistant for John Milbank (leader of the very orthodox and not terribly radical movement in theology known as "Radical Orthodoxy") I was surprised that he wasn't better informed.

Anyway, having heard this podcast my respect for the man has slumped spectacularly. He says that most people who criticised evolution did not do so for religious reasons (heaven forbid!), but because of a threat to the legitimacy of the aristocracy. How does he come to that conclusion? Well, from the sounds of it he mainly just takes it for granted.

There's a much longer interview here. I'm not sure it improves his argument, though at least he's not a nutcase:
Oh wait, as it nears the 8 minute mark he refers to eugenics as "the social consequence of Darwinism" and apparently the only countries which never passed eugenic laws were "Catholic countries" (guess what Mr. Cunningham's religion is...). *groan!*
philosoraptor42: (Default)
A new article from Mark Lawson on recent events related to science and religion, but he really hasn't done his homework....

"The possibility of an afterlife may now be proved by looking down towards the ground. Doctors at Southampton University are placing pictures in resuscitation areas that can only be seen from the ceiling."

Yeah, except that the people running the research project are actually not expecting any such proof to come out of these tests:

"It is unlikely that we will find many cases where this happens, but we have to be open-minded.

"And if no one sees the pictures, it shows these experiences are illusions or false memories.

"This is a mystery that we can now subject to scientific study."

Susan Blackmore did her own studies on astral projection in the past and discovered that the results pointed away from the conclusion that such projection was genuine. As such, it is hardly surprising that those running this study are already expecting similar results with near-death projection too.
More nonsense below the cut... )


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