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Antony Flew Considers God...Sort Of (Update - Jan. 2005)
The Secular Web ^ | 1/10/2005 | Richard Carrier

Posted on 01/11/2005 1:17:16 PM PST by jennyp

Update (January 2005)

Antony Flew has retracted one of his recent assertions. In a letter to me dated 29 December 2004, Flew concedes:

I now realize that I have made a fool of myself by believing that there were no presentable theories of the development of inanimate matter up to the first living creature capable of reproduction.

He blames his error on being "misled" by Richard Dawkins because Dawkins "has never been reported as referring to any promising work on the production of a theory of the development of living matter," even though this is false (e.g. Richard Dawkins and L. D. Hurst, "Evolutionary Chemistry: Life in a Test Tube," Nature 360(6399): pp. 25-26, 5 November 1992) and hardly relevant: it was Flew's responsibility to check the state of the field (there are several books by actual protobiologists published in just the last five years), rather than wait for the chance possibility that one particular evolutionist would write on the subject. Now that he has done what he was supposed to do in the first place, he has retracted his false statement about the current state of protobiological science.

Flew also makes another admission: "I have been mistaught by Gerald Schroeder." He says "it was precisely because he appeared to be so well qualified as a physicist (which I am not) that I was never inclined to question what he said about physics." Apart from his unreasonable plan of trusting a physicist on the subject of biochemistry (after all, the relevant field is biochemistry, not physics--yet it would seem Flew does not recognize the difference), this attitude seems to pervade Flew's method of truthseeking, of looking to a single author for authoritative information and never checking their claims (or, as in the case of Dawkins, presumed lack of claims). As Flew admitted to me, and to Stuart Wavell of the London Times, and Duncan Crary of the Humanist Network News, he has not made any effort to check up on the current state of things in any relevant field (see "No Longer Atheist, Flew Stands by 'Presumption of Atheism'" and "In the Beginning There Was Something"). Flew has thus abandoned the very standards of inquiry that led the rest of us to atheism. It would seem the only way to God is to jettison responsible scholarship.

Despite all this, Flew has not retracted his belief in God, as far as I can tell. But in response to theists citing him in their favor, Flew strangely calls his "recent very modest defection from my previous unbelief" a "more radical form of unbelief," and implies that the concept of God might actually be self-refuting, for "surely there is material here for a new and more fundamental challenge to the very conception of God as an omnipotent spirit," but, Flew says, "I am just too old at the age of nearly 82 to initiate and conduct a major and super radical controversy about the conceivability of the putative concept of God as a spirit." This would appear to be his excuse for everything: he won't investigate the evidence because it's too hard. Yet he will declare beliefs in the absence of proper inquiry. Theists would do well to drop the example of Flew. Because his willfully sloppy scholarship can only help to make belief look ridiculous.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Extended News; Philosophy; United Kingdom
KEYWORDS: antonyflew; atheism; geraldschroeder; intelligentdesign; richardcarrier; richarddawkins; theism
Here's the latest news on the "noted atheist finds God" front. Flew says he was "misled" by Richard Dawkins, and "mistaught" by Gerald Schroeder. Weird stuff!
1 posted on 01/11/2005 1:17:17 PM PST by jennyp
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To: jennyp

They have got him backtracking a little bit with regards to Dawkins, but in short, he's done w/ adovcating out right atheism.

The rank and file are not pleased. No indeedy. The sexual rule book has not been subject to change since the 60's. I won't be surprised if Flew has an 'accident' in the next few weeks, a stumble, a fall. Yes, it sounds kooky to say that, but when it comes to faith, belief, and the god fathers of that faith and belief, well, some disciples have been known to get flaky.

Just ask S. Rushdie.


2 posted on 01/11/2005 1:24:15 PM PST by gobucks (http://oncampus.richmond.edu/academics/classics/students/Ribeiro/laocoon.htm)
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To: jennyp
Flew says he was "misled" by Richard Dawkins, and "mistaught" by Gerald Schroeder

Who were, in turn, mislead by Darwin and every one of his subsequent successors.
3 posted on 01/11/2005 1:26:17 PM PST by mike182d
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To: Ed Current; Imaverygooddriver; Waywardson; cpforlife.org; DustyMoment; Ichneumon; Dimensio; ...

Antony-Flew-Partial-Switchback-Update PING.


4 posted on 01/11/2005 1:34:15 PM PST by jennyp (Latest creation/evolution news: http://crevo.bestmessageboard.com)
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To: mike182d
Who were, in turn, mislead by Darwin and every one of his subsequent successors.

Ahem, Gerald Schroeder is one of your guys.

5 posted on 01/11/2005 1:36:14 PM PST by jennyp (Latest creation/evolution news: http://crevo.bestmessageboard.com)
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To: jennyp
he was ... "mistaught"

He was mistaught? That might work for a 12-year-old, but he's been around awhile to check things out for himself. How odd.
6 posted on 01/11/2005 1:38:49 PM PST by BikerNYC
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To: jennyp
This is just sad. On earlier threads, I suggested that, because of his age, Flew was quite possibly losing a step or two. This piece by Carrier would appear to support that view.

Sad.

(Thanks for the ping, jennyp.)

7 posted on 01/11/2005 2:22:02 PM PST by snarks_when_bored
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To: jennyp

Not everyone is sharp into great age; hardly anyone is, actually.

At his age, Flew should confine himself to wondering whether to eat a peach, and keeping his trousers rolled. ;^)


8 posted on 01/11/2005 2:27:35 PM PST by headsonpikes (Spirit of '76 bttt!)
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To: gobucks
Using the same standards of my opponents, I would say anything from a secular site is not credible since they are admittedly biased and cannot therefore be objective.

Another objection would be that personal correspondence is always suspect. Case in point: Their elevated blood pressure at Patterson's letter to Sunderland admitting there are no transitional forms, real or imaginary.

9 posted on 01/11/2005 3:00:56 PM PST by Dataman
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To: jennyp


I'm on the ping list!

Wait wait, this is my favorite line

The Reason Anthony Flew will not be "researching" God is because

"I am just too old"


10 posted on 01/11/2005 3:05:33 PM PST by LauraleeBraswell ("Hi, I'm Richard Gere and I'm speaking for the entire world. -Richard Gere)
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To: BikerNYC


""Mistaught""? Well, that's a new one. At least he was original.

whatever happened to people saying straight out that they were wrong?


11 posted on 01/11/2005 3:08:22 PM PST by LauraleeBraswell ("Hi, I'm Richard Gere and I'm speaking for the entire world. -Richard Gere)
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To: Dataman

the secular sites are good, however, for watching how they keep each other 'on the reservation'. Sort of like a barometer...


12 posted on 01/11/2005 3:12:01 PM PST by gobucks (http://oncampus.richmond.edu/academics/classics/students/Ribeiro/laocoon.htm)
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To: jennyp
Despite all this, Flew has not retracted his belief in God, as far as I can tell.

Science is a matter of believing God did it -- and trying to figure out how.

13 posted on 01/11/2005 3:28:55 PM PST by Tribune7
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To: Dataman
Another objection would be that personal correspondence is always suspect.

As are exceprts from letters. We are witnessing Mr. Carrier have a crisis of faith.

14 posted on 01/11/2005 3:32:04 PM PST by Tribune7
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To: Tribune7; gobucks
We are witnessing Mr. Carrier have a crisis of faith.

Strange as it is, I would think atheists would have no problem with Flew's defection. Yet they seem to be extremely upset about it and begin not to address his argument, but attack him personally as in the above posts. Gobucks has a point about keeping each other on the reservation. But, assuming atheists really believe they are correct, I remain surprised at how threatening an ex-atheist can be. After all, they tell us that belief in God is no different than belief in the tooth fairy. Yes, I know the real reason, but it isn't the one they give.

15 posted on 01/11/2005 3:51:00 PM PST by Dataman
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To: Dataman
But, assuming atheists really believe they are correct, I remain surprised at how threatening an ex-atheist can be.

Me too.

16 posted on 01/11/2005 3:54:14 PM PST by Tribune7
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To: gobucks
The rank and file are not pleased. No indeedy.

Actually, the general attitude from genuine, hardcore, in your face atheists (amongst whom I do not count myself) has been "who cares?" or "Antony who?"

The sexual rule book has not been subject to change since the 60's.

Huh?

I won't be surprised if Flew has an 'accident' in the next few weeks, a stumble, a fall. Yes, it sounds kooky to say that, but when it comes to faith, belief, and the god fathers of that faith and belief, well, some disciples have been known to get flaky.

I agree. You're a kook.
17 posted on 01/11/2005 4:15:04 PM PST by Dimensio (http://angryflower.com/bobsqu.gif <-- required reading before you use your next apostrophe!Ah, but)
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To: jennyp

"Here's the latest news on the "noted atheist finds God" front. Flew says he was "misled"
by Richard Dawkins, and "mistaught" by Gerald Schroeder. Weird stuff!"

About all Flew needs is to be pointed to G.K. Chesterton.
About a century ago, he (in so many words) said he put his faith/belief about
ultimate causes in the orthodox teaching of Christianity.

Otherwise, he'd spend all his days (and nights) needing to adopt a new belief system
put forward by the high priests of science that were the most influential at the time.
(honestly, the most fashionable ones...)

(N.B.: this was NOT advocacy of "obscurantism"...simply noting the constantly
shifting sands when humanity depends on an endless string of geeks to tell
them how to live their lives.)


18 posted on 01/11/2005 5:35:47 PM PST by VOA
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To: jennyp

"Theists would do well to drop the example of Flew. Because his willfully sloppy scholarship
can only help to make belief look ridiculous."

Hmmm...no mention of the lengthy interview with Prof. Gary Habermas in this article.
And no explicit and specific refutation of that interview.

Well, in the interest of full and unbridled access to source materials, here's the link to
Flew's interview with Habermas
http://www.biola.edu/antonyflew/
(downloadable .pdf also linked on that page)
WARNING: the interview will be unsettling to folks that like Islam and The World Council of Churches).

The interview was also mentioned today on Charles Colson's "Breakpoint Commentary" at
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1318594/posts

I'll post the URL for this thread at the thread listed just above.


19 posted on 01/11/2005 5:47:48 PM PST by VOA
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To: VOA
Great stuff!

nonetheless he had concluded that theism was true. In Flew’s words, he simply “had to go where the evidence leads.”

HABERMAS: You very kindly noted that our debates and discussions had influenced your move in the direction of theism. (11) You mentioned that this initial influence contributed in part to your comment that naturalistic efforts have never succeeded in producing “a plausible conjecture as to how any of these complex molecules might have evolved from simple entities.”

FLEW: I think that the most impressive arguments for God’s existence are those that are supported by recent scientific discoveries. I’ve never been much impressed by the kalam cosmological argument, and I don’t think it has gotten any stronger recently. However, I think the argument to Intelligent Design is enormously stronger than it was when I first met it.

20 posted on 01/11/2005 6:17:02 PM PST by Dataman
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To: Dataman
Great stuff!

Thanks for checking out the interview.
I transparently admit that I've been posting links to it because I am
sympathetic to Flew's struggle with the issues of "life, the universe and everything".

And I do try to make sure the interview gets exposure to all interested parties...
seeing how it's not just about evolution v. creationism...but also for
Flew's comments on Islam, communism and other issues.
21 posted on 01/11/2005 6:26:42 PM PST by VOA
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To: jennyp

bump for publicity...


22 posted on 01/11/2005 6:43:59 PM PST by VOA
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To: jennyp
It would seem the only way to God is to jettison responsible scholarship.

Well, it's now established that the author of this piece is an imbecile of the first water.

23 posted on 01/11/2005 6:49:45 PM PST by wideawake (God bless our brave soldiers and their Commander in Chief)
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To: Dataman
et they seem to be extremely upset about it and begin not to address his argument, but attack him personally as in the above posts. Gobucks has a point about keeping each other on the reservation.

Many thanks. :)

24 posted on 01/11/2005 7:10:38 PM PST by gobucks (http://oncampus.richmond.edu/academics/classics/students/Ribeiro/laocoon.htm)
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To: jennyp

read later


25 posted on 01/11/2005 10:33:01 PM PST by LiteKeeper (Secularization of America is happening)
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To: LauraleeBraswell
I'm on the ping list!

Sorry, it was an ad-hoc ping list. I'm really bad at keeping up with the "official" ping lists, so I don't know which ping-list keepers to ping. :-)

26 posted on 01/12/2005 12:52:54 AM PST by jennyp (Latest creation/evolution news: http://crevo.bestmessageboard.com)
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To: Tribune7
We are witnessing Mr. Carrier have a crisis of faith.

Hardly. If Flew really wrote what Carrier says he wrote, then Carrier is right to be frustrated with him. That is very shoddy scholarship for someone who's supposed to be so influential.

27 posted on 01/12/2005 12:55:26 AM PST by jennyp (Latest creation/evolution news: http://crevo.bestmessageboard.com)
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To: Dataman
Strange as it is, I would think atheists would have no problem with Flew's defection. Yet they seem to be extremely upset about it and begin not to address his argument, but attack him personally as in the above posts.

The argument speaks for itself. We knew when he announced it that the origin of life isn't the insurmountable problem he seemed to think it was, and we knew that Gerald Schroeder was just another creationist who can't get the probability calculations right.

Gobucks has a point about keeping each other on the reservation. But, assuming atheists really believe they are correct, I remain surprised at how threatening an ex-atheist can be. After all, they tell us that belief in God is no different than belief in the tooth fairy. Yes, I know the real reason, but it isn't the one they give.
It shouldn't be any different than belief in the tooth fairy. But people like me are a small minority who are despised by people like you who are in the majority.

We're not a persecuted minority, thank Jefferson, but feared & even despised, especially 'round here? Absolutely.

28 posted on 01/12/2005 1:30:58 AM PST by jennyp (Latest creation/evolution news: http://crevo.bestmessageboard.com)
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To: jennyp
I now realize that I have made a fool of myself by believing that there were no presentable theories of the development of inanimate matter up to the first living creature capable of reproduction.

Well, name a single presentable theory.

29 posted on 01/12/2005 2:13:19 AM PST by AndrewC (Darwinian logic -- It is just-so if it is just-so)
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To: jennyp
But people like me are a small minority who are despised by people like you who are in the majority.

Do you have a persecution complex or just a poor self image? I don't despise you. Because I don't follow your reasoning or think your caricaturization of Christians is misinformed does not mean I despise you. Your value as a human does not depend on your personal positions. Christianity teaches the intrinsic value of human life primarily because the imago Dei. Contrast that with the atheistic belief that we are only evolved animals. There is no basis for intrinsic value in that system. Peter Singer, for example, thinks we may be of less value than other forms of life.

30 posted on 01/12/2005 5:59:04 AM PST by Dataman
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To: jennyp
If Flew really wrote what Carrier says he wrote, then Carrier is right to be frustrated with him.

Why should it bother Carrier as to what Flew thinks?

31 posted on 01/12/2005 8:05:34 AM PST by Tribune7
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To: Tribune7
Why should it bother Carrier as to what Flew thinks?

Because, as a wise woman recently said, "That is very shoddy scholarship for someone who's supposed to be so influential." That and the fact that Carrier has had actual correspondence with Flew, so there's a relationship there. Why shouldn't he be frustrated with him over this?

I assume you're trying to imply that Carrier is secretly frightened that (horrors!) God really does exist and now he has to stop participating in the daily drug-induced sex orgies that all us atheists must surely be engaging in behind your back? Hardly.

32 posted on 01/12/2005 12:34:27 PM PST by jennyp (Latest creation/evolution news: http://crevo.bestmessageboard.com)
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To: Dataman
Christianity teaches the intrinsic value of human life primarily because the imago Dei. Contrast that with the atheistic belief that we are only evolved animals. There is no basis for intrinsic value in that system.

Of course there is. We're human beings, regardless of how we came to be human beings. That is the basis of all morality - the necessary conditions of a thriving life, given the facts of human nature.

I could just as easily ask you: Why is it so important to your self-image to know who your very distant ancestors were? Don't you have any self-worth on your own?

33 posted on 01/12/2005 12:38:25 PM PST by jennyp (Latest creation/evolution news: http://crevo.bestmessageboard.com)
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To: jennyp
I assume you're trying to imply that Carrier is secretly frightened that (horrors!) God

If I really, really didn't believe in God I would not care one whit what someone else did nor would I jump on him if he were unable to fully articulate a change in the reasoning. In fact, I suspect I'd be a little like Voltaire in seeking sincere believers for those I hire with the reasonable expectation that they would be more inclined to show up for work and less inclined to pilfer.

the daily drug-induced sex orgies that all us atheists must surely be engaging in behind your back?

Here. Read this.

34 posted on 01/12/2005 2:03:48 PM PST by Tribune7
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To: jennyp; Dataman
That is the basis of all morality - the necessary conditions of a thriving life, given the facts of human nature.

What is human nature? Anyway, the necessary conditions of a thriving life, given the facts of pond scum nature are the basis of all morality? Or, the necessary conditions of a thriving life, given the facts of dolphin nature are the basis of all morality? etc.

35 posted on 01/12/2005 4:32:30 PM PST by AndrewC (Darwinian logic -- It is just-so if it is just-so)
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To: AndrewC

Pond scum morality & dolphin morality look a lot different than human morality, I suspect. What kind of moral principles would be necessary for the development of the kind of pond scum society where pond scum can become the best pond scum they can be?


36 posted on 01/13/2005 2:52:57 AM PST by jennyp (Latest creation/evolution news: http://crevo.bestmessageboard.com)
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To: AndrewC; jennyp
What is human nature?

After 6000 years of human history, modern man is still denying human nature. Christianity has it right. Left to himself man tends to rebel against God. He is different from the animals in his ability to appreciate and create art, to be altruistic, to reason, to speak to choose. He is basically sinful, not basically good. Evolutionists see man as a machine, without free will, only a "higher" animal with an inexplicable religious drive, without special value, basically good.

Which view corresponds to reality?

37 posted on 01/13/2005 5:57:02 AM PST by Dataman
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To: jennyp; Dataman
Pond scum morality & dolphin morality look a lot different than human morality, I suspect.

Well, then it appears you agree with me that your statement concerning all morality was wrong. Further, if there is a morality involving pond scum and dolphins, it surely establishes that morality is based on a "point of view", and thus the bug-a-boo of the lack of an objective basis for morality stares the Objectivist in the face.

38 posted on 01/13/2005 9:33:01 PM PST by AndrewC (Darwinian logic -- It is just-so if it is just-so)
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To: AndrewC
Ahem, aside from the fact that pond scum & (most likely) dolphins haven't the brainpower to conceive of principles of behavior in the first place, Objectivism has always purported to be a philosophy for humans.

You're defending the God of the Nits again.

39 posted on 01/14/2005 12:26:26 AM PST by jennyp (WHAT I'M READING NOW: Darwinian Natural Right by Larry Arnhart)
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To: Dataman
He is different from the animals in his ability to appreciate and create art, to be altruistic, to reason, to speak to choose. He is basically sinful, not basically good.

Let's see... you say our special ability is "to appreciate and create art, to be altruistic, to reason, to speak, and to choose." And from this you conclude that we are "basically sinful, not basically good"? Evolutionists see man as a machine, without free will, only a "higher" animal with an inexplicable religious drive, without special value, basically good.

Only creationists can see that strawman. Real evolutionists, at least those of us not on the far left, see man as a machine with free will. It's only creationists who can't get it through your heads that there is no contradiction there.

40 posted on 01/14/2005 12:30:24 AM PST by jennyp (WHAT I'M READING NOW: Darwinian Natural Right by Larry Arnhart)
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To: jennyp
Objectivism has always purported to be a philosophy for humans.

Well, you confirm my " it surely establishes that morality is based on a "point of view"". And Joseph Stalin was a human, thus my point stands. Plus you have now introduced "principles of behavior" which along with "human nature" are concepts you have left undefined.

41 posted on 01/14/2005 2:16:45 AM PST by AndrewC (Darwinian logic -- It is just-so if it is just-so)
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To: jennyp
And from this you conclude that we are "basically sinful, not basically good"?

Now Jenny, that is not what I said and you know it. Why is it when an argument gets too difficult, your side resorts to deliberate distortion? Sure, the vast difference between man and his supposed closest relative is a problem for evolutionists. Why not just admit it rather than pretend it isn't there. Better yet, fall back on the old faithful, "Someday science will tell us...."?

Real evolutionists, at least those of us not on the far left, see man as a machine with free will.

OK, that's telling. Only evolutionists not on the far left are real evolutionists. But no, your leaders do not allow for free will. If you accept the premise, you must accept the conclusions.

The philosophical implications of naturalism are troubling both to naturalists and non naturalists. One of the more absurd implications is the absence of free will:

Of course it takes a free will to argue against the existence of a free will. This is why the conclusion is troubling to naturalists. It is both absurd and self-refuting.

It is also worth noting that any worldview that puts more effort into denying reality than explaining it really isn't something to take seriously.

And here's one compliments of Gary:

He writes in his 1994 book The Astonishing Hypothesis:

posted on 11/19/2004 4:44:29 PM CST by GarySpFc (Sneakypete, De Oppresso Liber)
42 posted on 01/14/2005 6:53:14 AM PST by Dataman
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To: Dataman
It is also worth noting that any worldview that puts more effort into denying reality than explaining it really isn't something to take seriously.

<sigh> Sadly, that describes your posts here precisely!

43 posted on 01/14/2005 12:46:05 PM PST by jennyp (WHAT I'M READING NOW: Darwinian Natural Right by Larry Arnhart)
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To: jennyp
Sadly, that describes your posts here precisely!

I won't hold that against you since, as Francis Crick explained, you really couldn't help it.

44 posted on 01/14/2005 1:13:32 PM PST by Dataman
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To: Dataman

This is just a trial post. I am using Amiweb browser on an Amiga emulation.

I miss my old Amiga 1000. It seems to work, but it sure is different. I guess I got too used to the MSloth stuff.


45 posted on 01/15/2005 8:39:43 PM PST by AndrewC (Darwinian logic -- It is just-so if it is just-so)
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