Then consider this list of questions posed to atheists:
2) Theists are IDiots
3) Catholic priests molest children.
2) What caused the Universe?
3) Why is there regularity (Law) in nature?
4) Of the Four Causes in nature proposed by Aristotle (material, formal, efficient, and final), which of them are real? Do final causes exist?
5) Why do we have subjective experience, and not merely objective existence?
6) Why is the human mind intentional, in the technical philosophical sense of aboutness, which is the referral to something besides itself? How can mental states be about something?
7) Does Moral Law exist in itself, or is it an artifact of nature (natural selection, etc.)
8) Why is there evil?
2) Myers' "Courtier's Reply" gambit is fine. If you think that a question is nonsense, say so.
3) No changing the subject. New questions are welcome, once the old questions are addressed.
4) The Law of Snark Conservation applies; thoughtful courteous answers get thoughtful courteous replies.
...the graveyard of rotting ideas that the Discovery Institute calls a blog...a particularly crusty and dogmatic alchemist stirring beneath the cobwebs of his dead discipline ...imposing the cracked and cloudy lens of his superstition...Imagine my surprise when a couple of days later Myers pens a post lavishly extolling...theologians(!):
I would never deny that there are many smart people among the believers, some are incredibly brilliant and thoughtful scholars. Theology is also awesomely sophisticated and complex..."Awesomely sophisticated..."? Myers goes on with an unusually long post, part man-crush on Aquinas, part hissing rage, alternately praising theology and excoriating it for twenty five paragraphs.
Life imitates art. Now let's review Myers' post, in context:
Anselm and Aquinas, to name a few, were men of genius who applied the power of human reason... and their intellectual craft...was remarkable...("Hobbits nice to Smaegol..." )
...misapplied as it may be ...to prop up archaic superstitions.. ("sneaky little hobbitses...")
We should also recognize the historical fact of religion's influence on scholarship. If I'd been born a thousand years ago, I would have aspired to the priesthood myself; it was virtually the only outlet for men of the mind to apply themselves. Even up to about 500 years ago, it was almost the only option for the literate and bookish, and most of the smartest men in Western history made it to their position by virtue of the priesthood directly or indirectly, through a religious education...("Hobbitses good...")
That, of course, has all changed now, and I suspect that we can credit the proliferation of third rate minds in religion to the fact that there are secular options now, and the really brilliant men and women of our time can pursue science and art while completely bypassing religion, and they're smarter to do that than to continue to posture for the follies of faith. ("nasty hobbitses..." )
It happens even in mid-sentence: Smaegol:
But yes, religion is full of clever people who make sophisticated arguments, bolstered in particular by a long history of literate savants who built up vast archives... ("...master's my frieeend...")
...of painstakingly dense rationalizations... religion has accumulated an armor of twisty, convoluted logic to defend itself...("...you don'ts haaave any friendsss...")Myers sputters for several paragraphs about Adam and Eve, and from there on it's pretty much all Gollum:
I personally don't feel that I need redemption...disobeying a psychopathic tyrant seems rather commendable to me...clever minds have constructed an elaborate castle of wind and vapor for their fairy tales, but bullshit shoveled into majestic mountains must still slump into shapeless, decaying mounds when the props are knocked out with the facts...amounts to nothing but a heap of compost now. (...nasty Christianseees...)So what occasioned Myers' little breakdown? My bet is that after one of Myers' recent ignorant posts -- 'Nothing abhors a vacuum; nothing caused the universe; philosophy is alchemy; there's no Moral Law' -- one of the better-educated (i.e. semi-educated) godless-cult members dropped Myers a line. Perhaps it one of the brightest of the Brights- a godless washed-up magician, or a New Atheist Buddhist faux-neuroscientist, or a 'Skeptic' naked lounge lizard and SGU special guest. Dawkins maybe. "You're making atheists look like a bunch of Luddites..." or something to that effect. So Myers wikipedia'ed Aristotle, Anslem, Aquinas (he just started with "a"; hasn't a clue about any of them), and, biting his lip, penned a couple of paragraphs about "genius," "brilliant men" and so on, praising and sputtering in turn.
It's an amusing battle in Myers' psyche, made public. P.Z. vs. Myers. Who'll prevail? The honest skeptic in search of truth? I'll put my money on the coprolalic narcissist.
Those of you used to a relatively cordial debate on this blog would be shocked by the tone of many Darwinist blogs. The arrogance and nastiness represented on many Darwinist (or Evolutionist) blogs may well give you an insight into the character of the author and also his or her integrity. A scientist who is confident in his point of view has no problem being courteous to his opposition in normal circumstances and keeps his temper under some kind of control even when pressed. A religious zealot whose belief system is threatened, and whose belief system does not include any rational basis for determining right or wrong? One can almost imagine a wild-eyed maniacal frothing at the mouth while in the process of pouring out bile in word form!
The purpose of quorum sensing is essentially to ensure that sufficient cell numbers of a given species are present before initiating a response that requires the population density to be above a certain threshold. A single bacterial cell secreting a toxin into a eukaryotic organism is not likely to do the host any harm and would waste resources. If, however, all of the bacterial cells in a large population co-ordinate the expression of the toxin, the toxin is more likely to have the desired effect.
Each species that employs quorum sensing -- which includes most gram negative bacteria, and also some gram positive bacteria -- synthesises a tiny signalling molecule (technically called an "autoinducer"), which diffuses freely across the cell's membrane. Autoinducers are species-specific, which means that each cell of the same species makes the same molecule. This means that the autoinducer is only present in high concentrations inside the cell when there are many cells of the same species nearby. Inside the cell, the autoinducer binds to an activator protein which is specific for that particular molecule and thus signals the bacteria to begin transcription of specific genes. As noted in the video, there is also evidence of a common autoinducer which is shared between many species of bacteria as a "conventional language."
Quorum sensing is very wide spread, particularly in gram negative bacteria. Pseudomonas aeruginosa, for example, uses such "population sampling" processes to trigger the expression of a significant number of unrelated genes when the population density reaches a certain threshold. These genes subsequently allow the cells to form a biofilm (which increases the pathogenicity of the organism and prevents the penetration of antibiotics).
What is especially striking about quorum sensing is the species-specificity of the autoinducer, as well as the more common language convention. And one wonders -- naturally -- what kind of Darwinian process may have led to its arisal. We are only beginning to scale the foothills of multicellular developmental biology. But there is also evidence that similar processes of cell-cell signalling are at work in higher taxa in influencing how cells work together and co-operate as part of an interconnected unit.
Is it an over-statement to say that information runs the show in Biology?