Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Amazing -- Sailfish caught in Cape Cod Canal, MA, by a surf fisherman . . .

August, this year; a catch of a lifetime -- the fish got itself tail wrapped, and regrettably, was not able to be revived. Video:


 A storm soft plastic swimbait was used, probably similar to this 5" Blueback Herring:

Local video news report:

Boston News, Weather, Sports | FOX 25 | MyFoxBoston

The website for On The Water reports:
According to Mike at M & D’s in Wareham, a billfish of some kind was caught in the Cape Cod Canal Tuesday night at Murderer’s Row. At approximately 7:30AM Wednesday morning Cape Cod Tackle Facebook page posted, “I just watched a video on a customers cell phone of a guy catching a Marlin in the canal last night. I ‘m not kidding I said a Marlin. Caught at the Murders row last night. I’ll post pictures later when he sends them to me.”

“They thought it was a shark at first, so they cast back out and hooked up. It was hanging around in between the pilings, which is even more strange,” Mike told us when we called him later that morning.

At about 7pm Wednesday night, Mike also added to his Facebook page:
“I should also point out they tried to revive the fish but it did not survive. The fish ended up having the braid wrapped around his tail cutting deep into the front of the tail area. fish was caught on a custom rod/Shimano Baitrunner reel 50 lb braid and a Storm Blue Herring swim bait lure. anglers name withheld for now.”
 50 lb gel spun polyester braid probably has about the diameter of the more traditional 12 lb nylon mono line, and the reel (reportedly twice nearly spooled) and a surf fishing spinning reel could credibly handle a serious 50 - 80 lb fish. But, an amazing catch from shore.

Though, it should be noted that Sailfish do come in close to shore but usually far to the south. But then the seas were apparently quite warm  this summer.

Rare, but possible. END

Monday, December 23, 2013

Matt 24 watch, 232d: FFRF: "There is only our natural [= material] world" & Dawkins:"I am thoroughly happy with believing that children are predisposed to believe in invisible gods. . ." etc and other ways atheists saw off the branch on which they too are sitting

As we continue to look at the Freedom From Religion Foundation's anti-Christian poster:

. . . it is time to look at the implications of several common lab coat-dressed atheistical talking points that imply that the human mind is deeply delusional and so inadvertently back-fire through self-contradiction.

A good place to begin is a recent Daily Mail article, reflecting on the reliably anti-theistic NewScientist:

Brains 'are hardwired to believe in God and imaginary friends'

By Fiona Macrae

Religion is part of human nature and our brains are hard wired to believe in God, scientists believe.

The evidence includes studies of babies and children which have shown the brain is programmed to think of the mind as being separate from the body.

This distinction allows us to believe in the supernatural, to conjure up imaginary friends  - and to conceive of gods, this week's New Scientist reports.

Other studies suggest our minds come with an overdeveloped sense of cause and effect, which primes us to see purpose and design everywhere, even when there is none.

Children as young as seven or eight believe that rocks, rivers and birds have been created for a specific purpose.

Taken together, the two traits mean were are perfectly programmed to believe in god.

Professor Paul Bloom, a psychologist at Yale University in the US, said: 'There's now a lot of evidence that some of the foundations for our religious beliefs are hard-wired.

'All humans possess the brain circuitry and it never goes away.'
This sort of thinking is of course the sub-text behind the dismissal of "gods," "angels" and "devils" in the FFRF poster.

The Daily Mail article also cites the dean of the so-called new Atheists:
 Richard Dawkins. Britain's most famous atheist, argues in his book the God Delusion that religion is propagated through indoctrination, especially of children.

Evolution predisposes children to swallow whatever their parents and elders tell them, he argues, as trust and obedience are important for survival.

Asked about the idea of pre-programming, the  Oxford University professor said: 'I am thoroughly happy with believing that children are predisposed to believe in invisible gods - I always was.

'But I also find that indoctrination hypothesis plausible.  The two influences could, and I suspect do, reinforce one another.'
Then of course, we can cite prof William Provine of Cornell in the well known 1998 Darwin Day keynote address at University of Tennessee:

Naturalistic evolution has clear consequences that Charles Darwin understood perfectly. 1) No gods worth having exist; 2) no life after death exists; 3) no ultimate foundation for ethics exists; 4) no ultimate meaning in life exists; and 5) human free will is nonexistent . . . . The first 4 implications are so obvious to modern naturalistic evolutionists that I will spend little time defending them. Human free will, however, is another matter. Even evolutionists have trouble swallowing that implication. I will argue that humans are locally determined systems that make choices. They have, however, no free will . . .

Nor should we neglect remarks by Nobel Prize holder Sir Francis Crick in his 1994 The Astonishing Hypothesis and their implications:
. . . that "You", your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behaviour of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules. As Lewis Carroll's Alice might have phrased: "You're nothing but a pack of neurons." This hypothesis is so alien to the ideas of most people today that it can truly be called astonishing.
And, we must not forget Harvard Biologiest Richard Lewontin:
[T]he problem is to get [people] to reject irrational and supernatural explanations of the world, the demons that exist only in their imaginations, and to accept a social and intellectual apparatus, Science, as the only begetter of truth [--> NB: this is a knowledge claim about knowledge and its possible sources, i.e. it is a claim in philosophy not science; it is thus self-refuting]. . . . It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes [--> another major begging of the question . . . ] to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute [--> i.e. here we see the fallacious, indoctrinated, ideological, closed mind . . . ], for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door. [From: “Billions and Billions of Demons,” NYRB, January 9, 1997. Bold emphasis and notes added. If you have been led to imagine that this is "quote mined" kindly see the filler citation and notes here.]
Game over, religion is myth and superstition, childish projections of  imaginary friends up to the sky and so on. Science, duly dressed in the lab coat, has spoken.

Not so fast:

1 --> Provine and Crick actually inadvertently expose the real problem: evolutionary materialism -- which, let us not forget, Lewontin reminds us is now being imposed before the evidence is allowed to speak and is thus allowed to censor the evidence --  drastically undermines the credibility of the human mind. So, it refutes itself. This was recognised publicly as long ago as the turn of the 1930's by the noted evolutionary thinker J. B. S. Haldane:
"It seems to me immensely unlikely that mind is a mere by-product of matter. For if my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true. They may be sound chemically, but that does not make them sound logically. And hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms. In order to escape from this necessity of sawing away the branch on which I am sitting, so to speak, I am compelled to believe that mind is not wholly conditioned by matter.” ["When I am dead," in Possible Worlds: And Other Essays [1927], Chatto and Windus: London, 1932, reprint, p.209. (Highlight and emphases added.)]
2 --> In short, if the thoughts of a Crick are nothing but the molecular agitations in his brain, and if a Provine has no sufficient freedom to choose and decide for himself, then thought, reasoning, knowledge, decision, ethics and more collapse into delusion. 

3 --> Without a real mind, so that we are genuinely capable of capable of thinking, knowing and deciding for ourselves, we become little more than whatever we have been wired up in our brains or indoctrinated by whoever had control of our formative years up to College. 

4 --> But, on the presupposition of evolutionary materialism, that matter, energy, space, time and resulting blind chance and mechanical necessity are all that exist, we do inescapably end up in the problem envisioned by Haldane over eighty years ago: sawing away the branch on which we must sit. 

5 --> For: "if my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true. They may be sound chemically, but that does not make them sound logically." Oops.

6 --> With that in mind, let us look afresh at how NewScientists' sources and Dawkins as well as FFRF etc. try to displace this problem of self-refutation by projecting it unto belief in God:
a: our brains are hard wired to believe in God

b: the brain is programmed to think of the mind as being separate from the body. This distinction allows us to believe in the supernatural, to conjure up imaginary friends  - and to conceive of gods

c: our minds come with an overdeveloped sense of cause and effect, which primes us to see purpose and design everywhere, even when there is none

 d: All humans possess the brain circuitry and it never goes away

 e: Evolution predisposes children to swallow whatever their parents and elders tell them

 f: I am thoroughly happy with believing that children are predisposed to believe in invisible gods

g: humans are locally determined systems that make choices. They have, however, no free will

h: "You", your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behaviour of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules.

i: You're nothing but a pack of neurons

j: there is only our natural [i.e. material] world
7 --> But obviously, the sauce that stews the goose cooks up the gander just as well. The basic problem is, that a rock has no dreams, and evolutionary materialism is forced to make the jump from rocks and molecules derived from rocks (our bodies are all formed "out of the dust of the earth"!) to self-aware, thoughtful, deciding, conscience-lashed conscious mindedness. For, plainly:

8 --> We are conscious and conscious that we live in a common external world, a world in which we perceive, think, reason, communicate, discuss, believe we know some things and more. So, if we try to reduce this all to genetically based brain chemistry and ion currents in neurons, multiplied by accidents of psycho-social conditioning, we are deeply undermining our first, undeniable fact: consciousness.

9 --> Let's take up the classic brain in vats delusion in the diagram just above, as an illustrative example.

10 --> This is of course a modern form of the classic parable of Plato's cave, in which men have been held prisoner from childhood and are forced to only see shadow-shows projected on the opposite wall of the cave, which they naturally imagine to be reality. Then, one is somehow released, and sees the cheat,t hen is dragged up into the real world, where he learns just how deluded he was. Taking pity on his fellows, he tries to return and help them, only to be targetted with dismissive hostility:


 11 --> The inevitable problem in this sort of scheme of course is that once we project a notion of general delusion unto any major aspect of the human mind, there are no firewalls. So, who is to say that the world in which we perceive ourselves as brains in the vats is not in turn another cave of shadow shows, or the apparent outer world of reality is not another cave in turn, and so on in an infinite regress of delusions. Which, is patently absurd.

12 --> Instead, we use a bit of common good sense and upend the lot: that we are conscious, self aware and thinking creatures who by multiple senses are also aware of a common external world is manifest and so, it makes no sense to imagine that we are subjects of general delusion. Yes, it is possible to err (which is something we can realise is undeniably true not just a matter of fact), but that is itself a point of certain truth. So, we recognise there are some things we can be certain of, and that we can make mistakes.

13 --> In particular, if we try to undermine freedom to think, decide, act and respond to the voice of conscience by imagining such are generally delusional or childish, comparable to having imaginary friends, we end up with the problem of general delusion. As the list of atheistical pronouncements made while dressed up in the lab coat above manifestly do.

14 --> No wonder ID thinker Philip Johnson has replied that Sir Francis Crick should have therefore been willing to preface his works thusly: "I, Francis Crick, my opinions and my science, and even the thoughts expressed in this book, consist of nothing more than the behavior of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules."  Johnson then acidly commented:  “[[t]he plausibility of materialistic determinism requires that an implicit exception be made for the theorist.” [Reason in the Balance, 1995.]

15 --> In short, the lab coat clad materialists here are plainly sawing off the branch on which they, too, are sitting. CRAACK!

16 --> Instead, UD Blog's W J Murray is apt:
If you do not [acknowledge] the law of non-contradiction, you have nothing to argue about. If you do not [admit] the principles of sound reason, you have nothing to argue with. If you do not [recognise] libertarian free will, you have no one to argue against. If you do not [accept] morality to be an objective commodity, you have no reason to argue in the first place.
17 --> So, we have no good reason to deny that we are conscious, minded, enconscienced (so, morally governed and morally struggling . . . ) creatures who have significant freedom to think, decide and act, and we are living in a world that in ever so many ways gives every good reason to see it as patently designed. (Start from how the world we live in -- the only world we actually observe -- on very strong evidence had a beginning, which implies that it has a begin-ner of awesome power. Multiply by the evidence that from its basic physics, it is finely tuned in ever so many ways, to support Carbon chemistry, watery medium cell based life. [Try here for a start, and look here at UD's V J Torley as he replied to P Z Myers' attempt to dismiss W L Craig's short arguments presented here at KF, last time.])

18 --> So much so, that the evolutionary materialists (as we have seen) are forced to project confident manner talking points that such are childish delusions to be dismissed . . . only to saw off the branch on which they too must sit.

19 --> But of course, to see that, we need to pause and think about the self-referential implications of what they are saying. Do that for a few minutes, and, OOPS -- CRAACK!

20 --> A particularly pivotal point is the sense we generally have that we are under moral government, as attested by the voice of conscience. This is a major point of our thoughts, life and conscious experience, so we have no good reason to imagine it is the delusion that has been suggested, on pain of sawing off the branch on which we all must sit.

21 --> That is we live in a world where OUGHT is credibly real. That means, there is a foundational IS in our world that grounds OUGHT. For which IS, across centuries of serious debate and discussion, there has been just one serious candidate: the inherently good, Creator God and Loving, utterly Just Lord.

22 --> So, the above attempts to brush aside such evidence as childish delusions projecting imaginary friends unto the sky, falls apart. Instead, what we see is that the evidence is so plain and so widespread that those who wish to deny it have to make up a story of general delusion that then saws off the branch on which they too must sit.

23 --> In short, we are back to the force of one of the most uncomfortable texts in the Bible, where the Apostle Paul, in rebuke to the decadence and monstrous evil of Rome -- by that time horrifically manifest in the person of the Emperor himself . . . Nero, argued:
Rom 1:19 For that which is known about God is evident to [men] and made plain in their inner consciousness, because God [Himself] has shown it to them.

20 For ever since the creation of the world His invisible nature and attributes, that is, His eternal power and divinity, have been made intelligible and clearly discernible in and through the things that have been made (His handiworks). So [men] are without excuse [altogether without any defense or justification], 21 Because when they knew and recognized Him as God, they did not honor and glorify Him as God or give Him thanks. But instead they became futile and [c]godless in their thinking [with vain imaginings, foolish reasoning, and stupid speculations] and their senseless minds were darkened.

22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools [professing to be smart, they made simpletons of themselves]. 23 And by them the glory and majesty and excellence of the immortal God were exchanged for and represented by images, resembling mortal man and birds and beasts and reptiles. [--> in those days, idols in temples surrounded by often scandalous myths, nowadays, images in museums and on the web or TV, or in textbooks surrounded by a priori materialist ideologies dressed up in a lab coat serve much the same purpose]

24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their [own] hearts to sexual impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves [abandoning them to the degrading power of sin], 25 Because they exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, Who is blessed forever! Amen (so be it).

26 For this reason God gave them over and abandoned them to vile affections and degrading passions. For their women exchanged their natural function for an unnatural and abnormal one, 27 And the men also turned from natural relations with women and were set ablaze (burning out, consumed) with lust for one another—men committing shameful acts with men and suffering in their own [d]bodies and personalities the inevitable consequences and penalty of their wrong-doing and going astray, which was [their] fitting retribution.

28 And so, since they did not see fit to acknowledge God or approve of Him or consider Him worth the knowing, God gave them over to a base and condemned mind to do things not proper or decent but loathsome, 29 Until they were filled (permeated and saturated) with every kind of unrighteousness, iniquity, grasping and covetous greed, and malice. [They were] full of envy and jealousy, murder, strife, deceit and treachery, ill will and cruel ways. [They were] secret backbiters and gossipers, 30 Slanderers, hateful to and hating God, full of insolence, arrogance, [and] boasting; inventors of new forms of evil, disobedient and undutiful to parents.

31 [They were] without understanding, conscienceless and faithless, heartless and loveless [and] merciless. 32 Though they are fully aware of God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve to die, they not only do them themselves but approve and applaud others who practice them. [AMP]
24 --> Looks like the old apostle had a serious point.

So, it is back to whose report will we believe? Why? END

PS: At Christmas season, this of course leads back to why believe in angels any more than Santa Claus, which is duly mocked by Dan Barker and his FFRF. The answer is, first, that while there are many legends about Santa, there is a historical basis, the old bishop of Smyrna, St Nicholas. So, if we have no good reason to dismiss the reality of God, there is no good reason to doubt that he may have created other orders of being, whom we may call angels . . . messengers.  And, some such angels may be fallen from their original estate, and so there is no in principle reason why devils are necessarily superstitious myths also. Yes, there may be legends aplenty and dubious reports, but let us keep an open mind.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Matt 24 watch, 232c: The ghost of C S Lewis weighs in (via a video) vs FFRF on the question of science, religion, the reality of God and miracles

This time, let us focus on the pivotal ideas in the FFRF poster, that all that exists is the natural world and that "Religion" is therefore "but myth and superstition . . . "

As we have been observing the FFRF poster confidently asserts:

The obvious pivotal issue is that in our day such atheism wears the lab coat, and pronounces its assertions in the name of science, which in their minds, trumps "religion." (BTW: It seems, sadly, that such atheists are usually so ignorant or dismissive of philosophy that they can only equate religion with superstition, they have no conceptual category that allows them to recognise why there are diverse worldviews and why a worldview different from their own may be reasonable. Part of our job is to educate such, including on the inevitable worldview roots of science and of their evolutionary materialist secular humanist scientism.  Including, the decisive weaknesses in that view. Later on, DV.)

C S Lewis long ago answered -- actually, ANTICIPATED -- quite decisively, with the very miracle at the heart of Advent Season as the miracle in play: that Jesus of Nazareth was born of a virgin. 

This has been brought to the attention of a modern audience by way of an animation -- thanks to C S Lewis Doodle:

Two George III sixpences, HT Wiki
Here, we can see how by way of the example of two sixpences put in a drawer on successive days, we can understand the difference between a law of nature acting freely by mechanical necessity and/or by chance processes similar to what happens when we roll a pair of fair dice, and what happens with intelligent intervention. The two coins put in a drawer will add up to twelve pence or one shilling's worth -- unless someone intervenes. And if a thief intervenes, he will have not so much broken the laws of arithmetic as those of England.

Just so, it was not ignorance of the laws of nature that led Joseph to change his mind about divorcing his espoused wife Mary. (And yes, the betrothal of that day was much stronger than our modern engagements are. One had to get a divorce to break it -- it was unconsummated marriage.)

Joseph full well knew how women usually become pregnant with child. 

But, he was also open to the possibility that the world is not a closed, self-contained material, mechanical system with room only for chance and deterministic causal influences that trace ultimately to the physics and happenstance circumstances of the Big Bang or the like.

So, it seems that the dismissal "[t]here are no gods" -- we agree, there is but one true Living God, our creator and Lord -- is not the pivotal matter, but instead the declaration, "[t]here is only our natural world." That is, FFRF and others of like atheistical ilk imagine that reality is material, and believe that "science" has somehow proved it so.

Which science, when, where, by whom, how?


Not psychology or biology, and not chemistry. 

And least of all, physics.

Science properly understood studies the natural world as a going concern in light of empirical observations, it is unable to explain its ultimate root. 

Save, that cosmology (a branch of physics) is more and more finding out that the physics of our cosmos is highly fine tuned in ways that allow Carbon Chemistry, watery medium cell based life to exist on terrestrial planets. Ways that look suspiciously like a design. (We will follow this up later.)

But also, at bottom, the confident assertions by FFRF also pivot on the notion that "there is no evidence for God," so belief in God MUST be blind faith, or superstition similar to believing in good luck due to having a rabbit's foot in your back pocket.

(Perhaps, such need to ask themselves why they have come to imagine there is no such evidence, on what grounds. And, whether what they really mean is, "there is no evidence that I am willing to properly follow up, fairly evaluate and accept if the balance of the evidence points that way." A very different thing indeed.)

However, it may be more useful to simply cite a current short summary of five pointers to God, as was presented by the noted Christian philosopher, William Lane Craig, during a recent television interview:

In an accompanying article he notes . . . and he is a leading expert on the views of modern atheists with many public debates with leading atheists to the point where some are now gun-shy:
. . . most atheists, in my experience, have no good reasons for their disbelief. Rather they’ve learned to simply repeat the slogan, “There’s no good evidence for God’s existence!”  . . . . 

In my publications and oral debates with some of the world’s most notable atheists, I’ve defended the following five reasons why God exists:

1.  God provides the best explanation of the origin of the universe.  Given the scientific evidence we have about our universe and its origins, and bolstered by arguments presented by philosophers for centuries, it is highly probable that the universe had an absolute beginning. Since the universe, like everything else, could not have merely popped into being without a cause, there must exist a transcendent reality beyond time and space that brought the universe into existence. This entity must therefore be enormously powerful. Only a transcendent, unembodied mind suitably fits that description.
 2.  God provides the best explanation for the fine-tuning of the universe. Contemporary physics has established that the universe is fine-tuned for the existence of intelligent, interactive life.  That is to say, in order for intelligent, interactive life to exist, the fundamental constants and quantities of nature must fall into an incomprehensibly narrow life-permitting range.  There are three competing explanations of this remarkable fine-tuning: physical necessity, chance, or design. The first two are highly implausible, given the independence of the fundamental constants and quantities from nature's laws and the desperate maneuvers needed to save the hypothesis of chance. That leaves design as the best explanation.
3.  God provides the best explanation of objective moral values and duties. Even atheists recognize that some things, for example, the Holocaust, are objectively evil. But if atheism is true, what basis is there for the objectivity of the moral values we affirm? Evolution? Social conditioning? These factors may at best produce in us the subjective feeling that there are objective moral values and duties, but they do nothing to provide a basis for them. If human evolution had taken a different path, a very different set of moral feelings might have evolved. By contrast, God Himself serves as the paradigm of goodness, and His commandments constitute our moral duties. Thus, theism provides a better explanation of objective moral values and duties.

4.  God provides the best explanation of the historical facts concerning Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection.  Historians have reached something of consensus that the historical Jesus thought that in himself God’s Kingdom had broken into human history, and he carried out a ministry of miracle-working and exorcisms as evidence of that fact.  Moreover, most historical scholars agree that after his crucifixion Jesus’ tomb was discovered empty by a group of female disciples, that various individuals and groups saw appearances of Jesus alive after his death, and that the original disciples suddenly and sincerely came to believe in Jesus’ resurrection despite their every predisposition to the contrary. I can think of no better explanation of these facts than the one the original disciples gave:  God raised Jesus from the dead.

5.  God can be personally known and experienced.
 The proof of the pudding is in the tasting. Down through history Christians have found through Jesus a personal acquaintance with God that has transformed their lives.
So, is it really true that there is "no evidence" for God, or is it that there is no evidence that some are willing to accept that might just put an unwelcome Divine Foot in the door of their comfortable ideology? {Added, Dec 22: Cf. UD's V J Torley respond to P Z Myers' attempted dismissals of W L Craig's brief arguments, here.}

And if God is, why would he not ever have good reason to occasionally act beyond the usual course of nature to fulfill a higher purpose? 

Such as, the prophesied and fulfilled incarnation of the Christ, his life and service, his death burial and resurrection as witnessed by 500 who could not be stopped by dungeon, fire or sword -- or worse? 

That is, the focus of this Advent season.

That is, too, the possibility of and value of evidence for miracles is going to be settled in the end on whether one is willing to accept that God is possible in light of evidence that is accessible all around us and -- as our consciences testify -- even inside us. For, if we are subject to moral government -- the force of OUGHT, that strongly indicates that we live under a Moral Governor, the inherently good God, our Creator.

We seem to be zeroing in on a will problem here.

Let us ponder that, this Christmas season. END

PS: Note the onward exchange between V J Torley and P Z Myers, here.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Matt 24 watch, 232b: A tale of two signs, as evolutionist prof and militant atheist Jerry Coyne cheers on censorship -- or, what does the miror psychology of projection have to do with the sort of "religion is superstition" sign that FFRF has put up?

This is a case where it is useful to cross-post from Uncommon Descent, as we have a very interesting contrast of two signs to address:


>>>Coyne et al cheer on censorship — it is time to take notice . . .

Yesterday, UD News  headlined a case of radical secularist censorship in Los Angeles being cheered on by Jerry Coyne et al. The case concerns the removal of the following sign (shown under fair use) that was formerly present at a Museum of Natural History in that city:

Notice, what Coyne says in exultation over the removal of the sign:
If I get any other information I’ll convey it, but for now I’m pleased that God is out of the Museum and no longer gets credit for “creatures.”  It’s a victory for secularism, for sure.
Something is blatantly, deeply wrong.

Wrong with the push to censor. Wrong with the willingness of the museum’s leadership to be intimidated by Darwinist thuggery — and yes, this is thuggery. Wrong with professors who should value academic freedom, freedom of expression and diversity but instead are cheering on censorship.

And — most importantly, wrong in a civilisation that is so rapidly losing its way, that it too often does not see a warning-sign for what it is.

By way of illustration, let me contrast a second sign that seems to have been put up (at Advent season, nothing less) by the Freedom From Religion Foundation in the Illinois State legislature building . . . which IIRC, is the same state where prof. Coyne is based; a sign reportedly put up by the FFRF in the name of freedom of religious expression:

The stereotypical, scapegoating accusatory message and significance of its timing at the Christmas season could not be clearer.

(Let’s ask: have Mr Coyne and ilk loudly called for removal of this blatant piece of bigotry and scapegoating hostility that refuses to acknowledge the most obvious facts that — despite the inevitable sins that any movement with a track record in history will also have to deal with  –  Judaeo-Christian theism is a legitimate and intellectually serious worldview with thousands of years of positive contributions to our civilisation including advancing humanitarianism, civil liberty, learning and science? I doubt it. [And while I am at it, let us remember: if we are to make sensible policy choices, we must compare real with real in light of material pros and cons, not real with utopian ideal or whitewashed . . . as in, strawman tactics make for poor and often unjust or abusive and corrupt policy. Cases in point are obvious, all around and on the ash-heaps of sound history. Which, we had better learn and value as a record of hard-bought experience and lessons; lest we repeat its worst chapters.])

{BTW: if you doubt the direct connexion between the two, ponder this comment by NewEnglandBob in Coyne’s Combox:

Critical thinking – 1, Superstition – 0.}

I took time out to comment on the news post, and as it is beginning to slide down the page, let me now headline that comment:
>> This pattern of intolerance and censorship of legitimate and historically important perspectives begins to call forth an analysis of motives, attitudes and habitual patterns.

For instance, Jesus — in a psychologically deeply insightful observation — warns that we should beware and seek to address the plank in our own eye when we want to take the speck out of someone else’s eye, and says that he who is faithful/unfaithful with little will be much the same with greater power and responsibility. So, while the temptation for objectors to design theory etc is to try to twist this about and project it accusingly against us, given their refusal to acknowledge history (BA77 [OOPS: Barb] is so right to point to Newton and by extension many others down to today . . . ) and to pretend that those on our side can only be ignorant, stupid, insane or wicked, we need to hold up a mirror.

For instance, Egnor reports how Coyne exults:
The anonymous donor quote at the NHM has been removed. My second-hand source tells me it will not be replaced. No doubt your efforts, coupled with those of a science reporter at KPCC looking into the mess, compelled the administration to finally do the right thing. Without doubt, you and your WEIT audience were the driving forces, for which I’m grateful.
This is censorship of a legitimate perspective on science, from a context that is educational.
It is part and parcel of an increasingly widespread pattern that projects blame, base motivation, hatred/enmity to science and shrill accusations of intent to create a theocratic, right wing tyranny.
This outrageously false and unbalanced scapegoating is beginning to look like blame the victim/ blame the perceived other, projection to me.

Where, writ large and backed by growing radical secularist power, it is manifestly part of a blame the target turnabout accusation that all too easily becomes a big lie propaganda agenda.

Where also, of course, such a lie can and must be shown to be a case of speaking with willful disregard to the truth one knows or should know, hoping to profit by what is false being perceived and acted on as if it were true. In this case, through outright censorship of a donor’s plaque.

And where we are cautioned, on the mirror principle, to note with Freud et al (and I here cite Wiki speaking against interest):
Psychological projection was conceptualized by Sigmund Freud in the 1900s as a defense mechanism in which a person unconsciously rejects his or her own unacceptable attributes by ascribing them to objects or persons in the outside world.[1] For example, a person who is rude may accuse other people of being rude . . .
.Projection tends to come to the fore in normal people at times of crisis, personal or political,[13] but is more commonly found in the neurotic or psychotic[14]—in personalities functioning at a primitive level as in narcissistic personality disorder or borderline personality disorder.[15]
Carl Jung considered that the unacceptable parts of the personality represented by the Shadow archetype were particularly likely to give rise to projection, both small-scale and on a national/international basis.[16] Marie-Louise Von Franz extended his view of projection, stating that: “… wherever known reality stops, where we touch the unknown, there we project an archetypal image”.[17]
The philosopher Ludwig Feuerbach based his theory of religion in large part upon the idea of projection, that is the idea that an anthropomorphic deity is the outward projection of man’s anxieties and desires . . .
That last part is revealing: Feuerbach (who is where Marx began from, and IIRC is notorious for his you are what you eat materialist view . . . ) has simply swept away the serious reasons for a mature worldview that takes God seriously — and thus rightfully sees him as the Father of compassion and God of all comfort — and instead paints a ridiculous strawman caricature. Which itself invites the counter- analysis that asks, what is he afraid of in his own system that he projects to others. Not, as a mere rhetorical turnabout, but in the context of the well warranted observation that the portrait projected is manifestly a strawman so it invites analysis on mirror psychology grounds.

Now, let us apply to Coyne et al.

1 –> Obviously, they have begun by not doing duty of care to truth or fairness, about the easily discovered Judaeo-Christian theistic roots of modern science, and the historically important and quite legitimate view that echoes Boyle, Kepler, Newton, Pascal, Pasteur, Kelvin and ever so many others down to today:
in science we seek to think God’s creative and sustaining thoughts after him, serving him and others by exploring our world to more accurately understand it and so be better stewards of it and its resources . . .
2 –> There is nothing illegitimate or unduly threatening in such a view of and approach to science. That is obvious. Indeed, we do the public and especially children a disservice if we leave them with the impression that this view has not been historically important, a source of much good, and continues to be an important view today held by many working scientists, engineers and medical practitioners in all sorts of fields.

3 –> Likewise — as as BA77 hints at just above by citing the US Declaration of Independence of 1776 (which speaks to God no less than four highly significant times, and makes rights endowed by our Creator the pivot of its argument) — it is a manifest distortion of historically anchored truth we know or should know to pretend that faith in God is an inevitable prelude to tyranny. (And yes, we are aware of and address the sad history of the sins of Christendom, cf. here on. The problem is that we are not dealing with balance here, but a persistently repeated one-sided litany designed to stir up fear, suspicion and even hate leading to destructive anger. Instead, let us state the obvious: no influential movement of consequence in history will not have its record of sins as amidst wheat poisonous tares will forever spring up. As humans we are finite, fallible, morally and intellectually struggling, and too often ill-willed and even hypocritical. The moral hazards of being human which we must all struggle with. Hence Jesus’ counsel on planks in one’s own eye: first remove the plank then you can see clearly to help the other with the sawdust in his eye.)

4 –> Just the opposite, when — in Ch 2 sec 5 of his 2nd treatise on civil government — Locke (building on a foundation laid by theologians and Christian thinkers, writers and statesmen during and before the Reformation) set out to ground what would become modern liberty and democracy . . . and not least through that same US DOI of 1776, he cites a comment by “the judicious [Anglican canon Richard] Hooker,” where in his Ecclesiastical Polity that worthy comments on the neighbour love ethical principle that is at the pivot of Biblical morality:
. . . if I cannot but wish to receive good, even as much at every man’s hands, as any man can wish unto his own soul, how should I look to have any part of my desire herein satisfied, unless myself be careful to satisfy the like desire which is undoubtedly in other men . . . my desire, therefore, to be loved of my equals in Nature, as much as possible may be, imposeth upon me a natural duty of bearing to themward fully the like affection. From which relation of equality between ourselves and them that are as ourselves, what several rules and canons natural reason hath drawn for direction of life no man is ignorant . . . [Hooker then continues, citing Aristotle in The Nicomachean Ethics, Bk 8:] as namely, That because we would take no harm, we must therefore do none; That since we would not be in any thing extremely dealt with, we must ourselves avoid all extremity in our dealings; That from all violence and wrong we are utterly to abstain, with such-like . . . ] [Eccl. Polity, preface, Bk I, "ch." 8, p.80.]
5 –> These facts are not exactly obscure or hard to learn, so there is no excuse for the sort of persistently willful distortion and projections that we are seeing, which are now manifesting themselves in cases of abuse of law, administrative power and influence, here to impose a characteristic mark of growing tyranny — undue censorship of public education.

6 –> Where, patently, there is nothing that is genuinely obscene or unduly offensive in the following inscription which was removed due to agitation, without proper accountability:
“The Nature Lab is a gift to Los Angeles to celebrate all of God’s creatures and enable NHM to broaden our understanding of the natural world through the process of scientific discovery.” Anonymous Donor 2013
7 –> So, we have serious grounds for now applying the mirror psychology principle to Coyne et al and their censorship.

8 –> Obviously, such fear God and fear that the world of nature and of human experience of the inner and outer world is so replete with signs that point to God and to our duty under him, that to advance their agenda of teenager rebellion writ large, they must do everything to induce us to fear, loathe, suspect and exclude God from our reckoning and to act with hostility to those who act through acknowledging God. (Cf here on and here on in context.)

9 –> They are also obviously deeply angry, as the all too persistent shrillness of their rhetoric reveals. But also, deep seated anger is a key motivator of the dark triad manipulative and abusive pattern of narcicissim, machiavellianism and sociopathy that is an increasing concern today. That is, the darker side of “cool,” and it is a big red warning flag. (And yes, I come from hurricane country. I know storm signs and warnings when I see them.)

10 –> Where, obviously, such anger and threatening attitudes are easily projected to others who are designated, stereotypical, strawmannised scapegoats. Which in today’s age, increasingly obviously, is what Christians — let’s be direct — are typically set up to be by radical secularists.

11 –> And as Aristotle warned, in The Rhetoric Bk I ch 2, when he discussed the persuasive power of pathos, ethos and logos, our judgements when we are pleased and friendly are very different from those we make when we are pained and angry.

12 –> So, it is time to expose the attitudes and behaviours of Coyne and others who are already resorting to and cheering on censorship, that they are beginning to build up the same pattern of “a long train of abuses and usurpations” that dismisses concerns and remonstrance, that warrants taking serious action to carry out reformation in the teeth of those who by their persistent behaviour — cf the case in view here, outright censorship — show themselves threats to liberty and self-determination and self-government of and by a free people. >>

Folks, the warning signs and flags are going up all around. Time to take heed, before things spin utterly out of control. END

PS: By way of a small push-back to Coyne et al and FFRF et al also at , let me put up two 101 level videos that speak to the general public.

First, as the idea that God is Creator is being attacked and censored, Strobel’s The Case for a Creator:

Second, in reply to the dismissal of “Religion” at the Advent season as empty and destructive superstition, Strobel’s The Case for Christ:


I went on to clip from Coyne's comments box, as the commenters inadvertently further underscore the point:
Here is more from Coyne’s Combox, by a JGago:
Excellent news! This was the right decision by the administrators. I have already received an email from a colleague at the Museum and this are in fact great news. I know the curators and managers at the Museum played the main role by confronting the administrators, so thanks to them and to those of you who sent emails to the administrators.
This looks a lot like a deeply entrenched institutional problem to me.
Also, notice this declaration of intent by another commenter, calling himself Kevin Meredith:
Here’s what I predicted/speculated in the comments to the first post:
“Now, what would be really funny is if there’s enough of an outcry, or anonymous is outed or something, so that he/she/them agrees to let the sign come down, but doesn’t insist on donation refund so as not to look any more ignorant.”
The first part seems to have come true. The second part, re. what happens to the money, would be tougher to verify. Anonymous probably won’t ask for a refund of past cash, but I bet they withhold future payments, next year’s grant or whatever.
I wonder if these folks understand what they are revealing about themselves in light of their words and the mirror/projection principle given the underlying distortions, strawman tactics and hostile stereotypes? (As in why would someone clinging to a position that has to view/treat others as shown, project to others that they are “ignorant”? And why is he thinking in terms of “out[ing]” people — as in target-painting?) 
In the face of such a pattern, it is not melodramatic to say: gale warning. It is time for us to pay attention to what is going on and act prudently in good time before the storm hits in full force. END