Some Confused Atheists on Reddit

If that is Coyne, seems like he is a bit confused on the science here. Hopefully he will catch up soon.

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No, it wasn’t. Some guy on Twitter.

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@nlents they seem very confused about falsifiability and science. This is going to be a good opportunity, at some point, to explain how scientific hypothesis testing works.

Yes, but I wouldn’t say “wedge”. It isn’t really a tight fit, because just don’t know much about the past that far back.

I’m in conversation with Coop, and he is an expert here.

Here was my one, and hopefully only, post to them. Let’s see if they take me up on the invitation:

Some of us think Adam and Eve are a myth. Some of us think evolution are a myth. Either way, good science opens up space to engage larger questions together.

Hello. I’m S. Joshua Swamidass, the author of the GAE. Thank you all for this groundswell of interest in my work. I’ll look forward to seeing how the conversation develops as it becomes more informed. I admit, it is amusing at times to see such strong opinions about a book that most people here have never read. With that in mind, it shouldn’t be surprising that much of the objections here are what “could be” rather than what “is” in the book. A couple things to clear up,

First, this is a new advance in our understanding. It changes the game in this conversation, altering substantially how we understand the relationship between evolutionary science and traditional readings of Genesis. We thought they were in conflict, but they aren’t. Others have made contributions to this conclusion over the years, but this book ties all the pieces together, completing the scientific case.

Second, this book is written to anyone in society, not just Christians, which is why so many of the endorsers are secular scientists. Nathan, certainly, is not the only atheist endorsing this book. It follows the AAAS recommendations on engaging the public (https://www.aaas.org/sites/default/files/s3fs-public/content_files/Scientists%20in%20Civic%20Life_FINAL%20INTERACTIVE%20082718.pdf).

Third, both Nathan and I am a real scientist. In fact, I do affirm evolutionary science, and I liked Nathan’s book Human Errors. In fact, I bought a case of them to give to scholars at the workshop of my book. I’m really looking forward to his next book. I also am a practicing scientist, well respected in my field, though I am a computational biologist, not a “genomic” scientist (S Joshua Swamidass - Google Scholar Citations and https://swami.wustl.edu/swamidass_cv.pdf. As I explained, I’m following the AAAS guidelines on this. If you find it offensive what I am doing, I’d encourage you not to take a distrustful approach to science you don’t understand yet.

Fourth, it seems some of the commenters here are facing the “Humanist Dilemma” (A Humanist's Endorsement). See what an anti-religious scientist wrote,

“I will say that as a board member and past president of a somewhat prominent humanist organization , your endorsement of @swamidass ’ effort, and especially your clarity in how you did it, is not only consistent with humanist values, but nearly mandated by them . The challenge for me, as I already mentioned, is to find the balance between backing the effort and suggesting that the story of the fall, even nuanced with population genetics, is even worthy of consideration. I’m still working that through in my own head.”

This scientist is not alone. Here another atheist explains the dilemma another way: https://betterrightthanhappy.com/genealogical-adam-eve-an-attempt-to-reconcile-science-and-faith/. I understand it is hard to act ethically, for all of us. But the best of atheism is ethically guided by precisely this humanistic value. In the end, we have to be honest with the public about what science says, and in doing so we serve a common good. This common good is what I am after here, not just for Christians, but for scientists, and for atheists.

Fifth, will my book be misinterpreted? Of course it will! In fact, most of the critique and dismissiveness here is explained entirely as misunderstandings of my book and me, of course, but also misunderstandings of what the current consensus ini science really is. Will creationists abuse this book? Maybe, but that happens all the time. What I can tell you is that I will be very engaged in confronting misuse of my work to support anti-scientific ideas.

Sixth, a core value guiding me is honesty and forthrightness. This book is written from within mainstream science, as an honest account of what the evidence does and does not tell us. We owe it to society to give them such an honest account. If I made any mistakes in this book, also, I will retract them and clear the record. I will correct them in the next edition of the book.

We have an opportunity now to find a better way forward. We don’t have to agree with each other on everything to put the best science forward, and to make space for differences. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to good and encourage a better sort society.

If you’d like to discuss more, we are taking questions at Peaceful Science: https://discourse.peacefulscience.org.

Peace.

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I just skimmed through the reddit thread. Seems like @NLENTS is doing an admirable (if likely unpleasant) job of clearing up misconceptions.

I do think the kinda of misunderstandings about both the content and the goal of GAE are going to be very common among those who hear about the book.

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I agree, which is why we are really glad not be alone in this!

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It is going to be interesting how this pans out. It provokes such a predictable reaction, but the reaction is invariably based on a misunderstanding. Eventually people are going to start reading the book, and correcting their own misfires. What will happen then?

I think this could end up being a very interesting conversation that extends over at least a year.

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Yes I’ll admit to being pretty frustrated this morning, especially with Coyne. But I should thank him because I took my frustration out on the road and…

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I think he is facing a humanist dilemma. It is hard for all of us to act ethically, especially when it goes against our own prejudices.

I’ve known Jerry for a while and I think this is surprisingly out of character. Normally he would wait to read the book before commenting. In this case, I even let him preview parts of it that address him directly, but he hasn’t read the whole book yet.

This is just a sign, it seems, that the GAE work really is counterintuitive.

At the moment, I’m still betting Jerry will come around. The best versions of atheism are committed to truthfulness and humanist values. He thinks that Christianity is inherently evil, so I see a real dilemma here, but ultimately the perfect shouldn’t be the enemy of the good and we need to be honest about what science does and doesn’t say. Those are values I think Jerry holds, and when he gets more informed and gets some space, he may come around.

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@swamidass: It is perhaps more likely than not that a special created Adam and Eve doesn’t have any ancestry to anyone today nor 2000 years ago.

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That is a phenomenal run. 13 miles of 8 minutes per miles. This run clearly shows how human running endurance is an evolved trait. You make clear the accomplishments of Homo Erectus showing how they tracked prey until exhaustion.

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I felt like a real persistence hunter.

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However in Manhattan it is unlikely that you ran any prey into exhaustion.

Yeah but I live in queens. This is practically the Wild West by comparison. Lol also, I won’t be able to walk for a few days so I’m not ready for the savanna any time soon. Ouch.

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But you earned a few beers and nachos due to the calories used

We’re going out for Thai! (And yes lots of beers lol)

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Your running accomplishments is making me even more appreciative of the accomplishments of early humans. GAE being specially created were wimps. The real humans had a million years of accomplishments on their own to go from tracking down prey with stone tools to developing iPhones. I am proud of the accomplishments of my homo erectus ancestors. They accomplished much more than any special created GAE has. GAE reminds me of a spoiled rich kid who was born on third base and thinks that they hit a triple.

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Wow, they promptly banned me from that channel, saying it was “trolling.” I thought atheists cared about things like free speech and all. At least they didn’t delete the comment.

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