BILL MOYERS: This week on Moyers & Company…

ZACK KOPPLIN: Evolution and climate change aren't scientifically controversial, but they are controversial to Louisiana legislators. And basically, everyone who looked at this law knew it was just a backdoor to sneak creationism into public school science classes.


SUSAN JACOBY: I never do debates about the existence of God. Why would you do that? Who are you going to convince? I like to talk about public issues.

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BILL MOYERS: Welcome to this week’s broadcast and the “troublemaker” of the year. That’s right, my guest is the first recipient of a new award that singles out teenagers who are not afraid to speak their minds on major issues, even when everyone else around them disagrees. Not afraid, in other words, to stir up trouble for a good cause. That’s what Zack Kopplin was doing just the other day at a Save Texas Schools rally in Austin, the state capital:

ZACK KOPPLIN: Do we want Texas tax dollars being used to fund private schools teaching creationism? Say no Texas!


BILL MOYERS: Zack Kopplin was chosen to receive the first “troublemaker” of the year award because he’s made waves fighting on behalf of science and against laws making it easier to teach creationism in public schools.

Today’s fundamentalists, with political support from the right wing, are more aggressive than ever in crusading to challenge evolution with the dogma of creationism. But they didn’t reckon on Zack Kopplin.

Starting at the grass roots in his home state of Louisiana, he’s become a formidable adversary nationally, speaking, debating, button-holing politicians, and winning the active support of Nobel laureates, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, The New Orleans City Council and tens of thousands of students, teachers and others around the country who have signed on to his campaign. Troublemakers all. Zack is now 19 and a history major at Rice University in Houston. He’s with me now. Welcome to the show.

ZACK KOPPLIN: Thank you so much for having me on.

BILL MOYERS: What was it about the Louisiana Science Education Act that you didn't like?

ZACK KOPPLIN: Well, this law allows supplemental materials into our public school biology classrooms to quote, "critique controversial theories," like evolution and climate change. Now, evolution and climate change aren't scientifically controversial, but they are controversial to Louisiana legislators. And basically, everyone who looked at this law knew it was just a backdoor to sneak creationism into public school science classes.

BILL MOYERS: Who was behind it?

ZACK KOPPLIN: Nationally, there's this group called the Discovery Institute. They're a creationist think tank that's been pushing these types of laws all around the country for years and years. They even tried to get one nationally included in George Bush's No Child Left Behind with the Santorum amendment. And so they wrote this law and they passed it on locally to the Louisiana Family Forum, which is our affiliate of Focus on the Family. Senator Ben Nevers, who sponsored it, said the Louisiana Family Forum suggested the law to him because they wanted creationism discussed when talking about Darwin's theory. So we know from the horse's mouth exactly what this law is about.

BILL MOYERS: What's your understanding now of creationism? What essentially does it hold?

ZACK KOPPLIN: Essentially it's a denial of evolution, mainly based off a literal interpretation of Genesis.

BILL MOYERS: That God created the earth, a supernatural power intervened, and that's where we and the universe came from?

ZACK KOPPLIN: Yes. And so there're some versions that say the earth is less than 10,000 years old. There're some where they've, creationists have adapted and said, "Well, we got in trouble in the court case when we said that, so we'll say it's millions of years old. But evolution still doesn't happen. We were created in our present form." And that's intelligent design creationism. Intelligent design creationism is still creationism dressed up to look like it's scientific, but it's really not.

BILL MOYERS: When did you collide with this notion?

ZACK KOPPLIN: So the Louisiana Science Education Act passed back in 2008. It was the summer before my sophomore year in high school. And so I knew about it. My dad's been involved in Louisiana politics my entire life, so it was a dinner conversation. We'd be, like, "We can't believe this bad law is just, like, it's passing. But Governor Jindal will never sign it." We knew Governor Jindal. He's a very smart man. He's a Brown University biology major. And so we decided, "Okay, when it gets to him, he'll veto it."

BILL MOYERS: He's also a Rhodes Scholar.

ZACK KOPPLIN: He's a Rhodes Scholar, yeah. And so it got to Governor Jindal with overwhelming support. And Governor Jindal started voicing his support for intelligent design creationism, he signed the law and he's defended it ever since. And we were shocked. So for about two years I sort of stewed over this law. I wanted to fight it. I talked to all my friends. And my friends knew I couldn't stand this law. But I never really knew how to take it on at that point. I was still too young to really recognize I had a voice.

BILL MOYERS: At what point did you say that to yourself, "This is so important to me for my own reasons of conscience, that I'm going to make it my life as a young man.”

ZACK KOPPLIN: So, my senior year of high school, I had to do a senior project. And I had friends who learned how to cook healthy food, learned a new language. And I was just, like, none of that interests me. But you know what? But what got my attention was this law. And so on a whim, I sent an e-mail to Dr. Barbara Forrest, who's an expert about, an expert on this issue. She—

BILL MOYERS: Teaches philosophy, doesn't she?

ZACK KOPPLIN: She teaches philosophy at Southeastern Louisiana. So she was an expert witness at the Kitzmiller versus Dover trial, where—

BILL MOYERS: In Pennsylvania.

ZACK KOPPLIN: In Pennsylvania, where intelligent design creationism was ruled unconstitutional. And while it's not a Supreme Court case and doesn't have holding across the entire United States, it essentially has put a stop to intelligent design as a serious method of sneaking creationism into the classroom.

But, so she was an expert witness there and she happens to live 30 minutes away from me in Livingston Parish, a local hotbed of creationism. And so I sent an e-mail to her and said, "I'm a student at Baton Rouge Magnet High and I really want to fight this law." And so she apparently looked me up to make sure I wasn't a creationist plant and then set up a meeting with me. And we got going from there—


ZACK KOPPLIN: Yep. I didn't really ever expect it to actually take off the way it did. I sent one e-mail, and suddenly this whole campaign began.

BILL MOYERS: Who else helped you?

ZACK KOPPLIN: I set up a meeting with Barbara and I asked her, “who should I talk to locally?" We worked out Senator Karen Carter Peterson, who represents a district in New Orleans. And she was one of the few votes against the law when it first passed. So I got her to agree to sponsor a repeal bill. And that was a great meeting. She just said, "Okay, like, when do we get started?" And that was just her response to me, "When do we get started." So, I talked to her and I also talked to Barbara about if we wanted to bring some big names on board, who should I, like, who should I talk to? And one of the people she recommended was Sir Harry Kroto, who is a Nobel Laureate chemist at Florida State. And so I sent him an e-mail. And he immediately called, he sent me an e-mail back and said, "Hey, do you have time to talk on the phone, like, on Friday?" And so we set it up where I had written a letter for Nobel Laureate scientists to our state legislature. I talked to him. And I woke up the next morning with him and about ten other Nobel Laureates having signed the letter. And we just started building from there. And so we have 78 Nobel Laureate scientists onboard.

BILL MOYERS: But you haven't repealed the law. It's still in place.

ZACK KOPPLIN: I mean, we would, I would've liked the law to be repealed two years ago, or even five years ago now. But it's going to be a long, tough fight. And I think we know that at this point.

BILL MOYERS: You realize that you're bucking public opinion. The latest findings from Gallup last June are that 46 percent of Americans believe in creationism. 32 percent believe in evolution guided by God. I guess they would call that a form of intelligent design. And 15 percent believe in evolution without God's help. You're definitively in the minority.

ZACK KOPPLIN: I would say we've got about 54 percent that are in the majority because there's a difference between intelligent design and what I think that second option about God guided evolutionists, which be theistic evolution. And there's a lot of people who say that God has caused evolution to happen. But they don't, that's not actually intelligent design. Intelligent design specifically rejects evolution, especially on a large scale. Creationists like to break it up into micro, macro evolution. That's not a legitimate thing. That's not what scientists do. But that's how they say, "We can't accept change over millions of years." And—

BILL MOYERS: And the theistic theory?

ZACK KOPPLIN: Theistic evolution is to say what the Catholic Church accepts, where Pope John Paul II said there is no conflict between evolution and the doctrine of faith. And they just say, "We think God started evolution. And it's run the way scientists say it's run."

BILL MOYERS: Do you think the Gallup poll is simplistic?

ZACK KOPPLIN: I think it's very simplistic.

BILL MOYERS: Doesn't recognize the varieties of ideas on this subject—

ZACK KOPPLIN: Yes, having said that, the 46 percent who think the earth was formed in the last 10,000 years is a very scary number for me.

BILL MOYERS: Let me play you a clip from Representative Paul Broun of Georgia. He's a member of Congress. You've heard of him, I'm sure. And this was his appearance at an event organized by the Liberty Baptists Church in his own state.

PAUL BROUN: God's word is true. I've come to understand that all that stuff I was taught about evolution, and embryology, and big bang theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of hell. And it’s lies to try to keep me and all the folks who are taught that from understanding that they need a savior. You see there are a lot of scientific data that I found out as a scientist that actually show that this is really a young earth. I don’t believe that the earth’s but about 9,000 years old. I believe it was created in six days as we know them. That’s what the bible says.

BILL MOYERS: Representative Broun is a medical doctor. He is a member of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology. If he were sitting here instead of me, what would you say to him?

ZACK KOPPLIN: We need to change that attitude. I mean, we need to be teaching evolution and embryology and the big bang theory because, you know, while he may think they're lies from the pit of hell, they're not. They're good, established science. And if our students don't learn it, they're going to be at a disadvantage to the rest of the world, to China, to Britain to France. And we're not going to do what we need to really make the advances to keep our way of life and ensure the survival of the human race, if we don't teach our students science.

He has the freedom to be educated and educate his children the way he sees it. But, we have to make a specific distinction. Not in the public schools, not in publicly funded private schools, like voucher schools. And definitely not educating other people's children.

BILL MOYERS: You've taken this fight beyond the Louisiana law into the fight against school vouchers. Why?

ZACK KOPPLIN: I didn't initially really care about school vouchers because I was fundamentally a science advocate. And I was worried about evolution. And then last summer I got, a friend sent me an article by Alternet that had exposed a school in Louisiana in this voucher program that was apparently using curriculum that taught the Loch Ness Monster disproved evolution, and the Loch Ness Monster was real.

And so it caught my attention. And I said, "Well, let me look into this more." And so I pulled a list of the voucher schools off our department of education's website and just started going through them. And I'd look up a school and look up its website. And I'd go find a school that said, "Scientists are sinful men." And we are—


ZACK KOPPLIN: Sinful. And they rejected the things like theories like the age of the earth and anything else they said anything that, like, that that goes against God's word is an error. And so I found a school like that. I found a school that put in their student handbook that students had to defend creationism against traditional scientific theory. And so these are schools receiving millions in public money.

BILL MOYERS: Through vouchers—

ZACK KOPPLIN: Through vouchers—

BILL MOYERS: --transferring public funds from public schools to private religious schools.

ZACK KOPPLIN: And recently we, I exposed with MSNBC that over 300 schools in voucher programs in nine states and Washington DC are teaching creationism. We have schools that call evolution the way of the heathen. And so it's become pretty clear if you create a voucher program, you're just going to be funding creationism through the back door.

BILL MOYERS: Neal McCluskey at the Cato Institute writes, "Were Kopplin's argument fundamentally that taxpayers should not have their money taken against their will to schools with which they might disagree, it would be one thing: vouchers do transfer taxpayer money, though they provide far more overall freedom than does public schooling. But Kopplin's argument, like the arguments of so many people on numerous education issues, isn't ultimately about freedom. It's about prohibiting others from learning something he doesn't like."

ZACK KOPPLIN: I think Neal McCluskey is forgetting about the First Amendment fundamentally. We have a separation of church and state in this country. And creationism is fundamentally religious. And evolution is just science and is not religious.

And I think as you probably have discussed on the show, the free exercise of religion includes religion and non-religion. So this country is fundamentally secular. And there shouldn't be, you, we shouldn't bring in one specific, not even just Christianity, but one specific version of Christianity that would not teach what the Catholics, or the Hindus or the Muslims or the atheists believe in the public schools and teach it instead of established science.

BILL MOYERS: Do you ever wake up in the morning and say, "Hey, I'm only 19. I've got Rice, tough school to get out of and get started in my life, in my work. Why am I doing this?"

ZACK KOPPLIN: I don't think it's a choice. I think it's something that has to be done. And I'm the one who's in the right position to do it, so I'm going to do it.

BILL MOYERS: Well, Zack, I've enjoyed this conversation and I wish you well. Thank you for coming.

ZACK KOPPLIN: Thank you so much for having me on.

BILL MOYERS: Zack Kopplin is just the latest in a long line of dissenters and freethinkers.

Since America’s beginning, every generation has had to engage in the battle over freedom of religion and freedom from religion -- whether it’s Roger Williams fighting Puritan intolerance in New England, the deism of Jefferson and Thomas Paine in the early days of independence, or a man you may never have heard of – an orator so famous in the 19th century that standing-room-only crowds turned out wherever he went -- just to hear him speak.

He captivated audiences -- with his wit and warmth -- and enraged them, too, with his outspoken views on evolution, religion and reason, the separation of church and state, and women’s suffrage.

Robert Ingersoll was his name and he’s the subject of a new biography by scholar and journalist Susan Jacoby. She’s a writer possessed, as the New York Times has written, of a “fierce intelligence and nimble, unfettered imagination.”

Susan Jacoby specializes in American intellectual history with several books to her name including this favorite of mine, Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism.

Her new, must-read book, is The Great Agnostic: Robert Ingersoll and American Freethought.

Susan Jacoby, welcome back.

SUSAN JACOBY: I'm very happy to be back here today.

BILL MOYERS: Robert Ingersoll, once our most famous orator, a towering public intellectual between the end of the Civil War and the beginning of the 20th century? What drew you to him?

SUSAN JACOBY: It's hard to exaggerate how famous he was in the last two decades of the 19th century. Lecturing was then the chief form of mass entertainment, even though newspapers-- newspapers were read and widely circulated, there was no TV. There were no movies. Lecturing is what people went to to be entertained as well as informed.

And like everybody of his generation, his dates are 1833 to 1899. He was in the Civil War. He joined the Republican Party during the Civil War, because he was an abolitionist. But after the Civil War, something happens to him.

He starts speaking out on behalf of separation of church and state, against what religion was silent about, about slavery for so long, and what religion was still silent about, about what needed to be done to provide true equality and education for former slaves. He is an active Republican. He has strong political ambitions. But he decides that speaking out on behalf of reason, on behalf of Darwin's theory of evolution, against attempts to introduce more religion into government, that this is more important to him than his political ambitions.

Which is the thing that first attracted me to him. Because I look around now at people, at congressmen who are so scared about what's going to happen two years from now that they can't vote against the National Rifle Association. And I think, "Who do we have in public life today who would give up big ambitions like that?

BILL MOYERS: You say he was one of those indispensable people, who keep an alternative version of history alive. What was the alternative version of history he kept alive?

SUSAN JACOBY: Well, first of all, he should be famous in American intellectual history if he'd done only one thing, which he did. He revived the memory of Thomas Paine. The historical reputation of Thomas Paine so famous, say, by 1800 because of the role he played in the revolution. "These are the times that try men's souls." Even school kids today know that. But he had really been eclipsed.

He was driven out of England, charged with treason, for writing The Rights of Man. His book The Age of Reason, which was published in 1793, the first part of it, in which he put forward the astonishing idea that the Bible was written by men, not actually directly handed down by God. The Age of Reason was published when he was in jail in France under the Jacobins, for opposing the execution of Louis the XVI, because he didn't believe in capital punishment as no free thinkers ever have.

Teddy Roosevelt, the future president, wrote a biography in which he called Paine "a filthy little atheist, which esteems a dirty bladder of water” -- bladder meaning a sack to carry in, not bladder the organ in the body – “as something to throw on all religion." So Ingersoll revived Paine's reputation.

You can say that because we're not a nation in which the majority of people are freethinkers, although secular America is growing we know from the Pew poll. You can say that he deserves to be obscure. But that's not right. Because history is a relay race. It's not some kind of a thing in which people's attention and views turn overnight.

Look how long it took to obtain women the vote. He is important because he kept this alive into the 20th century, until after the Scopes trial. Stupid intellectuals in New York and Boston decided that religious fundamentalism was dead, because Clarence Darrow had humiliated Williams Jennings Bryan on the stand. Well, as we know now, it wasn't dead at all. It just retired a bit from politics and was biding its time.

BILL MOYERS: You call Robert Ingersoll, quote, "One of the most important champions of reason and secular government in American history." And he raised the issue of religion, as you say, the role of religion. That the role it ought to play in the public life of the nation for the first time since the founding generation that wrote the Constitution.

SUSAN JACOBY: That's part of his importance, and he made a lot of people aware of something that had been forgotten, which were that ours was the first constitution in the world -- well, the first constitution, basically. I mean, you can't really call the Magna Carta anything like a constitution. It separated church and state. It didn't mention God.

BILL MOYERS: At a time when every government in Europe was uniting church and state.

SUSAN JACOBY: The fact that the Constitution didn't mention God still stands as -- religious fundamentalists are constantly trying to explain this away, saying it was an accident. Like men like Adams and Washington and Madison did things with words by accident. As Ingersoll pointed out and is true today, the fact that there was no God in the Constitution was debated at every state ratifying convention.

It was said that, "Under this constitution, an atheist, a Jew, or God help us even a universalist could become president," which was true in theory, but has actually not turned out to be true in practice. One thing that was true is you did not have to belong to a church throughout the 19th century to become president, as Ingersoll often spoke of Lincoln. And it very much shows what the attitudes were during the Civil War, which was thought by many to be God's judgment. And Lincoln certainly could not have been an atheist, but he wasn't religious in any conventional sense.

And anyway, this Protestant ministers came to Lincoln and they wanted to amend the Constitution to replace "We the people" not with God, but with Jesus Christ. And Lincoln said, "Well, I will do what my conscience and my sense of my duty to my country command." And what his choice to do was absolutely nothing. And Ingersoll talked about this, about these secular traditions.

BILL MOYERS: He actually said the glory of the founding generation was that they did not establish a Christian nation. And he praised those founders who wrote our Constitution for establishing the “first secular government that was ever founded” in the world at a time when government in Europe was still based on union of church and state.

"They knew that the recognition of a Deity would be seized by fanatics and zealots as a pretext for destroying the liberty of thought." Was that the intellectual grounding for his opposition to the claim that we were a Christian nation or that we should have God in the--

SUSAN JACOBY: Yes. And I would say that probably the majority of the founders believed in a kind of providence, a deity. They were speaking in the language of natural rights.

They weren't saying there's this kind of God or that kind of God that created you. They were saying, "We're all equal by nature." But it is in fact very important, the Declaration of Independence, while a declaration of independence, did not found our government. That's why we had to have first the Articles of Confederation which didn't work, and then the Constitution.

And it is very significant that they did not put this language in the Constitution. And, of course, the reason they didn't do it wasn't that they were all atheists or anything like that. The reason they didn't do it is they looked at what went on in Europe. And they said, "We don’t want any part of it."

One of the things Ingersoll again pointed this out. The last execution for blasphemy in France took place only ten years before the writing of the Declaration of Independence in the town of Abbeville -- the Marquis de la Barre.

It happened only ten years before the writing of the Declaration of Independence, 20 years before the Constitution. This is what the founders were looking to. And it's very understandable that they didn’t want to found, not just a Protestant nation, but a Christian nation. They saw what that did there.

BILL MOYERS: It turned to war, violence. In fact one of my favorite Ingersoll quotes is from the centennial address he gave in Peoria, Illinois, on the centennial of the Declaration of Independence in 1876. Recollect that, “the first secular government, the first government that said every church has exactly the same rights and no more. Every religion has the same rights and no more. In other words, our fathers were the first men who had the sense, the genius to know that no church should be allowed to have the sword.” They knew what the sword and faith had done in Europe.

SUSAN JACOBY: And they also knew the history of our own country, which loves to talk about the Puritans as if they were religiously tolerant, when the first thing the Puritans did was set up a theocracy in Massachusetts. And, this not being Europe instead of killing Anne Hutchinson and Roger Williams, there was plenty of places, there was Rhode Island for them to go to.

BILL MOYERS: Exile them.

SUSAN JACOBY: Yeah, but it was all right. They could start their own form of religion then. I mean, just as the Mormons got chased all the way across the country. But eventually, there was still land where they could set up and start persecuting Indians who didn't -- who didn't believe, and also other kinds of Protestants who didn't believe with them.

But one of the things was, then when the Constitution comes along, the states still all have all of these laws privileging Protestant Christianity. So also what they were doing in the Constitution is saying, "The federal government isn't going to allow this. We're going to let everyone run for office."

BILL MOYERS: Do you think any American politician would dare describe the secular spirit and letter of the Constitution as Ingersoll and others did in his time?

SUSAN JACOBY: No, no. Because an American -- the only declared atheist member of Congress, Pete Stark, retired this time. I'm sure Congress is exactly like the polls. I'm sure there are plenty of atheists and various kinds of unorthodox religious people in Congress. But they don't talk about it. You never hear President Obama making a speech about separation of church and state. He will occasionally allude to it.

But I think that either proclaiming allegiance to a religion or shutting up about it is still an absolute requirement.

BILL MOYERS: I wonder if you just turn off your mind when you hear or look the other way when you hear or don't even think about it anymore when you hear politicians, including the president, end every speech with "God bless America." They do that routinely, ritualistically.

SUSAN JACOBY: Nobody realizes that nobody ever did that before 1980. Politicians did not, when I was growing up in the 1950s--

BILL MOYERS: Same here. So what do you think when you hear that? I heard it the other day twice in one of the president's speeches.

SUSAN JACOBY: Public religiosity has become more important. And this is an idea I borrowed from really the great American religious historian Martin Marty. He said, "What this emphasis on symbolism is about is about ownership. It's not about religion. And it's also about a religion which is much more insecure than it was 50 or 100 years ago."

In other words, if you have confidence in the viability of your religious institution and your own faith, you don't need to hear the president saying, "God bless America." Quakers and Baptists in the early 18th century would have hated that, because they were opposed to government getting in on the religious attack.

But they would have been absolutely horrified at that. Teddy Roosevelt even, who is probably one of the most devoutly religious presidents we ever had. He tried to get "in God we trust" off the coinage. And he was attacked by the then religious right, this religious president, for being atheist.

The reason Teddy Roosevelt wanted God off the coins is the government in his view had no business putting God on money, putting God and maman together. So we really see how many of these issues that Ingersoll was dealing with, they mirror the things today. We have no spokesman like Ingersoll.

And while we have many spokesman for atheism, among the new atheists, we don't have anybody who is part of sort of the regular public fabric of the nation who talks about these things from all formats all the time, not in terms of -- I never do debates about the existence of God. Why would you do that? Who are you going to convince? I like to talk about public issues. But we don't have in Ingersoll somebody who's that well-known and important, who will come out and talk about the relationship of religion to public issues in this way.

BILL MOYERS: How do young people respond to you when you say, "I'm an atheist"? What questions do they ask?

SUSAN JACOBY: Bill, I get asked to lecture mostly at religious colleges, historically religious colleges, whether they're Catholic or Lutheran or Episcopalian, not too many of those left, or Baptist. I think because they're more interested in presenting a whole range of views, their questions at religious colleges are extremely intelligent. They know more about secularism than students at secular colleges do, because part of instruction at a liberal religious college with lots of faculty who aren't members of that faith, whether it's Georgetown or whether it's Augustana College.

Part of it is education, not only in different religious traditions. But -- this is why they have people like me to speak, but also secularism, freethought, atheism -- a lot of their parents think they're sending their kids there to get a good orthodox religious education, but what they often get is their first exposure both to kinds of religion and ideas that they haven't.

And I'm often asked questions about – they, in other words, they're more likely to know that there isn't God in the Constitution than kids at secular universities are. Because they've had courses that discuss the role of religious freedom and religious repression and secularism in the founding of the country. They aren't likely, they aren't likely to be people who, for instance, like this moronic Texas school board, which in its list of thinkers who influenced the revolution two years ago. And it's now, two years ago replaced Thomas Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence with Thomas Aquinas. Anybody at a good religious college would know that wasn't true.

BILL MOYERS: How do you explain the political agility of fundamentalists to get their worldview inserted into the textbooks?

SUSAN JACOBY: How I account for it is they're better organized. Ingersoll was always saying that. That religion is an organization for the perpetuation of its own values.

Freethought is never -- and that was true, by the way, of feminism for a long time. So I think one reason Ingersoll has been forgotten, as Paine was, nobody's come along to do for Ingersoll in this century what he did for Paine. I'm not an orator who gets asked to speak in 50 states or I would gladly do it.

BILL MOYERS: He was ahead of the times in so many--

SUSAN JACOBY: In everything.

BILL MOYERS: He was a feminist. He was for women's rights. He was for eight-hour working days. This in the Gilded Age, when the great wealth was spreading.

SUSAN JACOBY: And he was a Republican.

BILL MOYERS: He was Republican. His great fear was that invoking divine authority in politics, simply shut down the discussion.

SUSAN JACOBY: And how right he was. That what it's intended to do. Because if you believe in divine authority, then how can there be any other answer but what divine authority tells you.

BILL MOYERS: And he defended blasphemy, which is impiously speaking of religions, not because he despised religion, but because he wanted to stop the appeal to an authority that could make all the discussion and debate irrelevant.

SUSAN JACOBY: Well and there were still a lot of state blasphemy laws, which were never enforced because they so clearly violated, you know, not only the 1st, but the 14th Amendment by then. But at the time, you know, it's not until the 20th century that the 14th Amendment gets applied to the rest of the Bill of Rights. And so what Ingersoll was against was anti-blasphemy laws that could send people to jail. And while they weren't enforced, they were still on the books. And there was a blasphemy trial in New Jersey.

BILL MOYERS: Morristown, New Jersey.

SUSAN JACOBY: Yeah, in Morristown, New Jersey.

BILL MOYERS: A free thinker was on trial for circulating a pamphlet that denied the Bible was authorized by God and infallible.

SUSAN JACOBY: Yeah, the same Thomas Paine thing a hundred years later.

BILL MOYERS: One of my favorite sites in Morristown is the drum head depicting Thomas Paine writing "Common Sense."


BILL MOYERS: Here's what Ingersoll said in the defense of the fellow who was on trial. "I deny the right of any man, of any number of men, of any church, of any state to put a padlock on the lips, to make the tongue a convict. Blasphemy is the word that the majority hisses into the ear of the few."

SUSAN JACOBY: Yeah. And it's interesting. After that trial, a number of ministers who attended came up and shook his hand, as well. The jury, of course, found the blasphemer guilty. Although the governor saw to it that he didn't get sent to jail. The governor of New Jersey then was not somebody who wanted New Jersey to go down as the last state that sent somebody to jail for blasphemy. So he commuted it to a fine which Ingersoll paid.

BILL MOYERS: $200 bucks I think it was.

SUSAN JACOBY: Yeah, something like that.

BILL MOYERS: In those terms. But here's the paradox to me. Politicians still, in Ingersoll's time, politicians still had to pay greater obeisance to religion than in the founding generation a century earlier.

SUSAN JACOBY: Much more.


SUSAN JACOBY: Because this idea that we had been created as a Christian nation was, and particularly in Ingersoll's day, this was a period of great unease for Protestant religion, which basically, it wasn't just Christianity. It was Protestant Christianity. And here come all these immigrants after 1880. A lot of them are Jewish from Eastern Europe, who are obviously not Christians. And a lot of them are Catholics from Southern Italy and the Slavic countries. And at that point, the power structure of American cities was still run by Protestants.

Well, with all those Catholics coming up and setting up their parochial school system, the first really large scale religious school system, this is a period of great unease about how -- and American Protestantism itself is splitting in a way that affects our country, as you know very well, to this day, in that we have Protestants of the Henry Ward Beecher variety, who say, "Let's see how our religion can accommodate to the secular knowledge of Darwin's theory of evolution." And you have fundamentalists for whom William Jennings Bryan was the great spokesman, although he wasn't nearly as conservative as some of the anti-evolutionists today.

BILL MOYERS: No, he was quite liberal in social policy.

SUSAN JACOBY: Oh, in social matters, yes. But even on religion, who say, "No, no, every word in the Bible is literally true." And this split in American Protestantism, which really begins to affect every aspect of politics in the late 19th century, which is why Ingersoll's issues were so prominent. This is the split we have today, too. Except that now Protestants have joined forces with the conservative wing of American Catholicism.

BILL MOYERS: I’ll be back with more from Susan Jacoby in just a moment. But first, this is pledge time on public television. That’s why we’re taking a short break so you can show your support for the programming you see right here on this public television station.

BILL MOYERS: For those of you still with us, sixty-five years ago, the Supreme Court voted eight to one to uphold the rights of one woman and her fifth-grade son who went up against popular opinion to keep religious education out of public schools. Vashti McCollum was the woman's name. She and her family lived through two lower court losses, intimidation from her community in Champaign, Illinois, and three years of what she called “headlines, headaches and hatred.” Here’s a brief look at the Peabody Award winning documentary, “The Lord Is Not on Trial Here Today,” the story of her fight for the separation of church and state in America.

ED DESSEN in The Lord Is Not On Trial Here Today: She had a terrible time. The town hated her.

RON ROTUNDA in The Lord Is Not On Trial Here Today: She was not the hero to many people, she was somehow the devil incarnate.

NARRATOR in The Lord Is Not On Trial Here Today: She was called “that awful woman” by her neighbors, and “that atheist mother” by newspapers across the country. Her friends stopped returning phone calls rather than risk speaking with her. She was branded a communist, and the Illinois State Legislature nearly stopped her and her husband from ever working at the state university again. She received up to 200 letters a day, some of the writers claiming they would pray for her; many wishing for much worse.

VASHTI McCOLLUM in The Lord Is Not On Trial Here Today: They heard this down at the Piggly Wiggly down there on Main street, They’re going to lynch you. Oh I said, is that all?

NARRATOR in The Lord Is Not On Trial Here Today: All because, in 1945, Vashti McCollum, a young mother of three from Champaign, Illinois, would file a historic lawsuit that would forever change the relationship between religion and public schools in America.

VICTOR STONE in The Lord Is Not On Trial Here Today: It has been listed as the foundation case for prayer in school and religious education in school.

DAVID MEYER in The Lord Is Not On Trial Here Today: What McCollum did, was it endorsed a view of the first amendment that pushed public life and religion into separate spheres divided by this wall of separation. I think public opinion polls show that a majority say they think the term, a wall of separation between church and state is written into the text of the First Amendment, and of course it’s not. It’s an idea, it’s a metaphor, that is contestable, but it’s one that the Supreme Court put the weight of the Constitution behind in the McCollum decision.

JIM McCOLLUM in The Lord Is Not On Trial Here Today: All cases involving the crossing of the line regarding establishment of religion – crèches on public property, ten commandments in public buildings and on public property, prayers in schools and this sort of thing, all these stem from the McCollum case. That’s basically the significance of the case.

NARRATOR in The Lord Is Not On Trial Here Today: The case would shine a national spotlight on this small, central Illinois town, turning Vashti McCollum into an unlikely champion of the separation of church and state.

WALTER FEINBERG in The Lord Is Not On Trial Here Today: What courage it must have taken for a mother and her young children to stand up to that and say “this is something that you can’t do. You cannot bring g-d into the public school”.

ANNOUNCER: We now return to Moyers & Company.

BILL MOYERS: You mention that Pew Research study, which shows that the number of people who say they have no religion at all, they call nones, N-O-N-E-S.

SUSAN JACOBY: Oh, I hate that so much.

BILL MOYERS: But they're growing in number.

SUSAN JACOBY: Well I think that there are many more members of that group who are atheists than will admit it. Again, I think a lot of that group just says, "Oh, well, I don't belong to any church." But if asked, "Are you an atheist?" they won't say so.

All of Americans have absorbed the fact that atheism is a bad word. And they think there are a few more who call themselves agnostics. Others prefer to call themselves humanists. You can be all three. An atheist, agnostic, a secular humanist, a freethinker. I'd answer to all of them. But I'm an atheist. And I think a lot of those people are, too. There is a particular group in the Pew Poll, who won't say they're atheists, they say, "I'm spiritual but not religious."

I don't respect people like that very much. Because I think that they've bought into the idea that to be a humanist, to be concerned about your fellow human beings, to show that concern, that you can't say you're an atheist, because that's what so many people think.

It’s important to show that atheists who move about in the world, who get married, who love their children, who buy clothes and like makeup, we're just, we're like everybody else who's a humanist in many of our values. We are not--

BILL MOYERS: You're just not going to heaven.

SUSAN JACOBY: We’re just not going to heaven. We're not somebody -- no, but once you can't demonize people, once you know that this person down the block you like is an atheist, you can't think about atheists in the same way. When you began to know that they were people you knew.

BILL MOYERS: What's hard about being an atheist in an obviously pluralistic society soaked in religiosity?

SUSAN JACOBY: There's nothing hard about it in New York City, obviously. What is hard about it, I can really answer that question, because the "Dallas Morning News" reprinted the piece I wrote about atheism, which mentioned Ingersoll's views that atheism and agnosticism were the same. But this piece I wrote was reprinted in full in the "Dallas Morning News" the week after it ran at the Times.

My author website nearly crashed with e-mails from people of all ages, from all over Texas, saying how thrilled they were to read this piece talking about what their lives were like in small towns in Texas. The oldest person who wrote me a letter was an 85-year-old African American man from Amarillo, who talked to me not only about his experiences as an atheist in Texas, but as an atheist in the African American community in Texas.

In other words, groups in which African Americans are among the most religious people in the country. And while it doesn't translate into economic conservatism, many of them are very religiously conservative. And he said how wonderful it was to have something to show his friends. And I thought, "My God, there really is a hell, an African American atheist for 85 years in Amarillo." He was somebody who revered WEB Du Bois, who, of course, was an atheist, but never got much traction in the African American community on that issue.

BILL MOYERS: Why are you an atheist?

SUSAN JACOBY: Why? Because it's what makes sense to me. I look at the world around me. I'm an atheist because of -- which has made a lot of people an atheist, because of the theodicy problem. The problem of if there is this all good, all powerful, all loving god, you know, how come kids are shot in Newtown? How come people when I was young died of polio-- a child I knew? How come?

It started me thinking about what every religious thinker has thought about and had to come to grips with, which is how do you account for the problem of evil beside your belief in an all-powerful God? Well, the classic Christian answer, which satisfied Augustine, does not satisfy me or any atheist. Which is that we have free will. And we are responsible for all the evil in the world.

No, I think the evolution of the polio virus and Darwin's theory of how it happened is responsible. That there is no such thing as intelligent design. If God had been an intelligent designer, what purpose would polio serve? Well, the answer to that is it's a mystery. We don't know what God's plans are. That's what my mom told me when I was a kid. My mom stopped going to church when she was 85 years old.


SUSAN JACOBY: I asked her why. I knew it couldn't be my influence, certainly. She said, "I've been thinking about the problem of evil. And it makes no sense." She said, "Why should people suffer?" because, of course, she knew so many people unlike her who had lost their minds to Alzheimer's. She said, "This makes no sense." She said, "I do not believe that there can be a God whose plan this could be a part of. I never could have said this when my parents were alive. If being old is good for anything, I can do exactly what I want."

BILL MOYERS: What Robert Ingersoll come to mean to you in the great intellectual tradition of America?

SUSAN JACOBY: He -- first of all, he shows how even if you don't get remembered for it in perhaps the way you should later on, that doesn't deny the role you play anymore. Nobody knew who Elizabeth Cady Stanton was from about 1900 until the new feminism really began to take hold in the 1980s, because she was written out of the suffragists movement for writing a book called "The Woman's Bible," which criticized all the misogyny in the Bible.

The fact that nobody knows about you and maybe history doesn't give you your just reward and certainly not in every time, because there are fashions in history, doesn't mean that you didn't play an important role.

So he carried on a tradition. And just as those feminists who got written out carried on a tradition which was picked up later on. And the second reason he's so important is that he is a model of what you have to do to fight for an unpopular idea. And you can't do it by hiding behind other labels, because other people are going to criticize you for it.

BILL MOYERS: You quote Ingersoll saying that the result of all of this public religiosity that was surrounding him and surrounds us today is that quote, "We reward hypocrisy and elect men entirely destitute of real principle. And this will never change until the people become grand enough to do their own thinking."

SUSAN JACOBY: And to admit to their own thinking.

BILL MOYERS: What do you mean?

SUSAN JACOBY: Not just to do their own thinking, but to open up their mouths and tell other people about their own thinking. When he died, an editor in Kansas said, "There will come a time when men--" he talked about the political career Ingersoll did. "There will come a time when men may run for office and speak their honest convictions in matters in religion. But not yet," he ended his editorial. Can't we say that now? "But not yet."

BILL MOYERS: Robert Ingersoll said of Thomas Paine, "His life is what the world calls failure and what history calls success." Can the same thing be said of The Great Agnostic?

SUSAN JACOBY: I hope so. What I would like to see is history calling his life a success more than it has since the 1920s. That's my aim here. His life was a success. And it should be recognized as a success and a very important contribution to the cause of reason in this country, one which is just as relevant today that was when we were fighting about the same issues 125 years ago.

BILL MOYERS: The book is The Great Agnostic: Robert Ingersoll and American Freethought. Susan Jacoby, thank you very much for being with us.

SUSAN JACOBY: Thank you. It's a real pleasure.

BILL MOYERS: At our website, our video archive includes more conversations with free thinkers on faith and reason, and god and politics. Novelists Salman Rushdie, Margaret Atwood, evolutionary scientist Richard Dawkins, and writer Martin Amis, and many more. They’re all at I’ll see you there and I’ll see you here, next time.

Watch By Segment

Fighting Creeping Creationism

March 1, 2013

Religious fundamentalists backed by the right wing are finding increasingly stealthy ways to challenge evolution with the dogma of creationism. Their strategy includes passing education laws that encourage teaching creationism alongside evolution, and supporting school vouchers to transfer taxpayer money from public to private schools, where they can push a creationist agenda. But they didn’t count on 19-year-old anti-creationism activist Zack Kopplin.

From the time he was a high school senior in his home state of Louisiana, Kopplin has been speaking, debating, cornering politicians and winning the active support of 78 Nobel Laureates, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the New Orleans City Council, and tens of thousands of students, teachers and others around the country. The Rice University history major joins Bill to talk about fighting the creep of creationist curricula into public school science classes and publicly funded vouchers that end up supporting creationist instruction.

Also on the program, journalist and historian Susan Jacoby talks with Bill about the role secularism and intellectual curiosity have played throughout America’s history, a topic explored in her new book, The Great Agnostic: Robert Ingersoll and American Freethought.

The Lord Is Not on Trial Here Today courtesy of Jay Rosenstein Productions. You can watch the trailer here.

Learn more about the production team behind Moyers & Company.

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  • Jeff Burritt

    While I don’t always agree with the solutions talked about by Mr. Moyers and his guests, I agree with the problems as he sees them almost completely. I’d like to thanks Mr. Moyers for what he does and how he does it. This program is one of the last bastions of clear thinking on the boob-tube.

  • Liz

    What a wonderful young man! I hope Zack keeps up the fight and broadens his coalition. Thank you for bringing us this inspiring story!

  • Jake

    I feel there is something evil with these creationist with their extremism which is comparable with the muslim taliban in afghanistan. There is always zero room for negotiation with these people. Zero room for independent thought, just a demand for blind obedience. Its petrifying to me that they just want to warp young minds with their dogma. They want zero abortion, but could care less how that baby and its poor mother survive into adulthood. Poor babies with minimal health care, minimal assistance with education, housing, work training skills will have a very difficult time surviving in a complex world, regardless of their religious beliefs, its not a level playing field.

  • cipher

    A wonderfully dedicated and courageous young man, a credit to his parents and teachers.

  • Amy

    Dear Mr. Moyers, you are one of the last few spiritual
    inspirational intelectuals remaining in our society, and I thank you for it. I have been watching and listening to your interviews for many years. Thanks again, and I look forward to your next letter/interview. I sincerely appreciate it.

  • davidp

    This is a U.S. political and religious problem. Creationism viewed by many is a description how things happened in a literal way in the beginning chapter of Genesis. Some of the early eastern church fathers believed in the creation event but they were fighting against pagan or gnostic thought that God did not create because God could not handle material stuff because material stuff was evil. So put this into the argument.

  • David Eddy

    I appreciate your presentation of and definition of what secular religion is all about. Those who believe in Darwinism are just as guilty of a closed mind as those who believe that their religious beliefs are infallible.
    All of what science has discovered has been through the understanding of the design and function of physical reality. It is the uttermost arrogance that what science does is consider what they know makes them more intelligent than the intelligence that made their existence possible as well as the rest of physical reality possible.
    The denial of the reality of non-physical reality is just as foolish as is believing that physical reality does not exist. Concepts are not a physical reality yet they are what we depend on to understand what we perceive Mathematics and science are not physical; they are non-physical concepts. When it comes to science; it is all hypothetical and subjective. Science makes the mistake of assuming that everything we perceive is the only thing that exists when what we perceive is dependent on impulses that may or may not be consistent with reality. I feel pain when in fact pain is in the mind not in the body and can be as real when imagined as when there is actually a source of the pain.
    Science is already proving that biology is a rational function of DNA that creates organic matter of which we are constructed into a designed and functional entity through carbon rings.
    I submit the math axiom; “Things equal to the same thing are equal to each other”. Physical reality has all of the attributes of the things we use our intelligence to create and it logically follows that it takes intelligence to create the physical reality we experience.
    Darwin’s theory of evolution is non-sequitur because what we experience as physical reality is not random; it has continuity, design and function consistent with intelligent intent.
    Evolution is no more than the change of physical reality as it changes shape and relationships in a continuum.

  • Anonymous

    The scientific EVIDENCE condemsn Darwinian/Macro evolution.
    Why should the scripture be tortured tos say somthing that is not does not

  • Christopher R Weiss

    There is so much wrong with what you have just laid out, I could write pages of rebuttal. Instead, I will focus one particular thing which shows how weak your argument is.

    Pain is a physical process of nerve stimulation. It can be blocked by severing a nerve, providing medicine, introducing an electrical signal, or training someone to redirect his or her attention, changing the flow of stimuli. These are physical measurable processes. If pain is physical then most of what you have said about a non-physical reality falls away.

    Claiming mathematics has a non-physical representation is an old platonic idea. It isn’t relevant. The ability to do math is a learned thing which when the brain is damaged it is lost.

    The physical evidence for evolution neither proves nor disproves the existence of a non-physical reality. What we know, we can verify. What you believe has no proof of any sort beyond your own faith. Your understanding of what is physical and what is not is demonstrably false as shown by your incorrect understanding of pain.

  • Anonymous

    The Universe as evident in life itself is in a constant
    dynamic cycle of creation. If Creation were static, we would simply be here. No
    birth, no death, no life, no living. We exist as a creation of creation. Creation
    is the blood that flows in our veins. We do not exist with out it.

    The question then of
    God is whether God is the Creator or the Creation or both one in the same. We may
    never answer that, but it is self-evident in our consciousness of our own
    existences that we were created. We were created by the Universe, as part of
    this Universe, by the forces of creation inherent in the Universe. Would these
    forces of creation be the hand of God? Maybe?

    Then wouldn’t
    science be revealing the hand of God, inherently revealing the Creator to us
    and giving us a new understanding of and insight to our creation and our
    Creator? Maybe the fear of science for the religious is that the God revealed thru
    the study of Creation may not meet their expectations and demands. That life
    itself is its own purpose and we are just part of life pursuing its own

    But why we have
    the capacity to experience living and enjoy being alive is where the heart of
    the debate should be. Not over the mechanics of it.

  • David Eddy

    Christopher; if pain is physical it must have dimensions and weight. You do not understand the basic requirements for physical. If you think science and math is physical; you need to quantify it. When you feel love, there is no physical reality, it is only a concept.
    Words can have many meanings depending on their context. There is no physical to it.
    What you have posted is not consistent with reality.

  • Anonymous

    One of Zack’s final points was that the creationism scam is but one religious belief.
    The ancient and some present Hawaiians have a chant that takes the Earth’s and life’s creation into consideration.
    In a truly free culture that practiced freedom of Religious belief, the Kumulipo would be a respected teaching.
    The fact that Religious fundamentalists feel that they are the only belief to be taught is very bad, unconstitutional and shows a downfall of our society.
    Their goal without a doubt is to replace our government with a Theocracy where their belief would be the controlling law in the United States. We must prevent that at all costs.

  • sofi

    I agree, Jake. These people are close-minded, sure they are right. They are fanatical and obsessive. You are right to link them with the anti-abortion, no birth control crowd. For these latter, the issue that gets them exercised is that which involves (removing) control of women over their own bodies and their own lives.

  • Christopher R Weiss

    Pain has a potential you measure across a nerve just like electricity. You can quantify pain in terms of neurotransmitters. It is like measuring voltage across a circuit.

    Please try again,

  • Christopher R Weiss

    If you damage the Broca or Wernicke areas in your brain, you will lose the ability to speak or to express yourself in language.

    Language is a physical ability within the brain.

    You really should take a neuro-psychology class. Your understanding of the brain is sorely lacking.

  • Danny Haworth

    This is very inspiring! Keep up the great work, Zach. You are an example to other young people who have not realized that they have a voice, too.

  • Danny Haworth

    How in the world is a nutjob like Paul Broun on any committee representing science? Appalling.

  • David Schnur

    I am enjoying your conversation that comes from watching this very interesting episode of Bill’s show. You both raise some interesting points. However, let me try to offer a point of view that may serve to connect the best of both views.
    I see this very complicated concept of the proof of the existence of a deity or the nature of reality from an existentialist point of view. Is not the existence of a creation the proof of a creator regardless of any human perception? And, to examine this further, would it not be appropriate to honor and respect that creation regardless of whether you can, or should identify the creator of it? For example I can appreciate the invention and creation of the automobile without ever meeting or even knowing the identity of its creator.

  • Jerry Blast Dorrough

    The base opposite of what’s true, good and right is what’s false, evil and wrong in false theology. By definition and in letter and spirit the U.S. Declaration of Independence affirms Deism as the one and only theology in rejection of all man-contrived religioncraft as false theology. The Founders saw the need to “dissolve the Political Bands which have connected them with another [Evildoers of Kingcraft, Corporatecraft and demonic Christiancraft], and to assume among the Powers of the Earth, the separate and equal Station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them…”Thomas Paine said it best in the brilliant composition titled “The Age of Reason–The Complete Edition.” This book includes all three parts of Paine’s “The Age of Reason” and his essays on the true theology of Deism as opposed to false theology. Paine wrote: “It is from the study of the true theology that all our knowledge of science is derived and it is from that knowledge that all the arts have originated…That which is now called natural philosophy, embracing the whole circle of science, of which astronomy occupies the chief place, is the study of the works of God, and of the power and wisdom of God in His works and is the true theology…It is only in the CREATION that all our ideas and conceptions of a WORD OF GOD can unite. The Creation speaks a universal language, independently of human speech or human language, multiplied and various as they may be. It is an ever-existing original, which every man can read…It does not depend upon the will of man whether it shall be published or not; it publishes itself from one end of the earth to the other. It preaches to all nations and to all worlds; and this WORD OF GOD reveals to man all that is necessary for man to know of God.”

  • Anonymous

    Because the Republicans control the House and make appointments to committee leaderships. And because Speaker Boehner isn’t particularly concerned about scientific illiteracy. Sigh.

  • Anonymous

    And some of us are jealous of his ‘troublemaker’ moniker, having lost our own crowns as we grew old and tired and preoccupied. Kudos to Zack!

  • Alice Brown

    Thank you, Mr. Kopplin. I definitely think Creationism should be taught in a Logic class to show how people with unprovable superstitions can overcome the rational teaching of evolution. And how easily undereducated people are led.

  • David Schnur

    That is a very good point. Based on my humble limited perceptions, I ask the question, is the existence of a creation preliminary proof of a creator of some kind. Further questioning would seem foolish. For example, the computer I am composing this post on was thought and created into being. It exists. Is my respect and enjoyment of it diminished by the fact that I don’t know how, or who created it? I think not.

  • adam

    Shame on you!! Delete a comment

  • David Eddy

    Energy is not physical unless it has converted to matter. As a particle it is physical; as a wave it is not physical. Even particles appear as physical, disappear to non-physical and reappear as physical. Electrons convert to photons. A caterpillar does a metamorphose to a butterfly based on non- physical predetermined intelligent change from a functional caterpillar to a functional butterfly. The whole structure of physical reality is based on systems that are intelligent and create both intelligent and non-intelligent physical entities. Choices are non-physical while their effect on physical reality can be drastic. That is why Choices are a critical catalyst that changes people’s reality. Electrons have energy that contains non-physical messages that there is pain in a given area of the body.

  • David Eddy

    Christ opher; your concept of reality is sorely lacking.

  • moderator

    I think we are getting off topic. Please return to the content of the video.

    Sean @ Moyers

  • Ra’Chell Britton

    I have only one problem with Ms. Jacoby’s interview; she says that she can not respect those that call themselves spiritual but not religious. I am taken aback that she says that those of us that use this description to describe our religious beliefs do so because we are afraid to describe ourselves as atheist. If atheism represents the belief that the soul is not eternal, then I can not call myself atheist. I have studied many different religions and although there were many aspects of those different religions that I could feel in my deepest self were true I could not say I subscribed to all of the beliefs of any one religion. I have no choice but to use the term humanist, which I am, but I am a spiritualist as well. I simply believe something that does not fit into any mold, even the one called atheist.

  • Anonymous

    Creationism isn’t creeping, it’s dwindling. That diminishing belief is causing a marginalized part of the population to lash out. Unfortunately this shrinking group does still have a majority of votes in enough districts to disrupt our government. I see this as a temporary hurdle and unavoidable hurdle.

  • Anonymous

    We need Zack Kopplin in Louisiana right now. Jindal is doing that very thing. Taking funds from public school to give to private schools. He is a disciple of ALEC and the policies that they are pushing republicans to enact.

  • Shunyam

    I’m an atheist and concur with most of Jacoby’s comments, but I take exception to her comment that the people who call themselves “spiritual but not religious” are copping out of the debate or just new-age agnostics. My sense is that they are more interested in direct spiritual experience than with intellectual debate. But spiritual experience doesn’t mean union with a creationist God or reading scripture. If they use the term “god,” it refers to a spiritual quality more akin to what the Buddha described and not to a grand entity pulling strings and allowing or causing catastrophes. The “spiritual but not religious” crowd is, to my way of thinking, comfortable with a universe that is 5,000,000,000 years old.

  • Donna

    What is disconcerting is the association between evolution and Darwinism. Science is based on hypothesis, has been wrong before. When there is that much investment, pride included. is a lazy out to defend a wrong theory than even looking at evidence that does not support their being right. There have been those who set out to disprove creationism only to find substantial science to support it. I am of the opinion
    it is basically one in the same. Whats more tying the debate to global warming only alienates a significant segment of those who could be of support for what
    is an issue that matters, being about enhancing quality of life.

  • Donna

    As to free thinkers, look at dogs that have “devolved” to poodles, where’s the evoloution in that?

  • David Schnur

    there is no such concept as “DEVOLVE” Evolution is a progressive change in form based on previous genetic traits.

  • David Schnur

    Thank you!

  • David Schnur

    What scientific evidence to support creationism are you refering to?

  • Gretchen Robinson

    Or Michelle Bachmann on the “Intelligence” Committee??

  • Gretchen Robinson

    I think Ms. Jacoby wants atheists to come out of the closet and for many of us, it isn’t safe. Or we’re working up our courage. Which gets me thinking what bullies the religious right is. You risk a lot ‘coming out.’ Your family, your employment situation might suffer. Check out the lead article in this month’s “Church and State” at

  • Gretchen Robinson

    I didn’t know Jindal is that educated. What a sell out these politicians do in order to get ahead in the rebarbative party.

  • David Eddy

    Sean; David Schnur Seems to understand the connection to the topic but I respect your request and appreciate the fine job you do as a moderator. I will try to get back on topic.

  • David Eddy

    Right Sean;
    David Schnur Seems to understand the connection to the topic but I respect your request and appreciate the fine job you do as a moderator. I will try to get back on topic.

  • moderator

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts, I never want to take sides or stifle discussion, just need to move things along sometimes. Thanks for understanding .

    Sean @ Moyers

  • Ken Holt

    Zack and Bil, Thank you for your wonderful work. I hope you can get on Rachel Maddow show and more – keep spreading the word. Ken

  • David Eddy

    Right David; physical reality consists of physical being that is constantly changing in the present with the transition of physical matter from one form to other forms and the change of the location and relationship of physical matter within total space. We understand things as becoming and going away when they are actually just basic particles taking various shapes and locations. Fortunately, physical reality is consistent with our needs and desires. This fact of life is hardly a coincidence.

  • trader vicc

    19 year old pissy pants snot nosed lib….

  • David Schnur

    Let me offer one more thought before we end this very interesting conversation. I must confess to some personal frustration that our society seems to be trapped at the kindergarten lesson of evolution by always attributing the theory of evolution to Darwin and his initial research. So much has been added to the knowledge of evolution through DNA research, particle theory, and even dark matter as it relates to molecular reformation. All these amazing discoveries seem to go unnoticed and almost disassociated from Darwin’s original concept. Similarly, wouldn’t it seem peculiar if we only referred to Galileo in our understanding of what we now know about the vastness of the universe? Why is this?
    This may be due to the change in our culture in how scientific discoveries are largely made inside a corporate and institutional culture and as a consequence not directly associated with a particular individual. Maybe this is a great advance in its own right if it helps us move these amazing concepts along for the benefit of our culture. After all does it matter how these thoughts come into being, and just that they do.

  • David Schnur

    This is a very interesting topic for those of us that see simplicity hidden in complexity.
    It is only human pride that drives both sides of this (and many others) debate. One thing that both a believer and an atheist have in common is the need to feel they are right about what is admittedly in this moment in time an unsolvable question. Can an atheist prove the non-existence of a deity? It is a well known axiom that you can’t prove a negative. Then religious believers offer their faith in the mythology and allegory from the bible as proof of existence of more than what in fact just that, their faith. Just as opinions are not to be substituted for fact, faith cannot replace reason. The scientific method requires the discipline to temper limited human perceptions and use reason to arrive at a conclusion, while a person of faith sees this same discipline as a threat to their faith. While a believer sees faith as evidence of things unseen, this is no comfort to the curious and scientific mind.
    This is truly where science comes in to sort it all out. The truth is ALWAYS revealed in the fullness of time if one is that patient. Science, if left to its methods may one day prove definitively the origins and evolutionary processes of the universe. We are only seeing the beginning of this scientific advance at both ends of the micro/macro spectrum with the advances in DNA research and the Hubble telescope. If this knowledge comes to pass and science offers us objective proof of the existence of a creator (or creative foce), and the edge of creation, would faithful people be able to accept it? Let us not forget that some very well meaning religious believers passionately held the view that the world was flat, and the earth was the center of the universe in spite of what the scientific community had proven. Some may dispute it to this day if their faith is strong enough. Sadly that is not faith in anything more than human pride.

  • Bill

    Zack Kopplin, this high school science teacher is proud of your stand for science literacy in the public schools, and for your willingness to take on the establishment in your community. Keep up the great work!

  • Linda

    What was the name of the book that Zack Kopplin read that he mentioned on the show? I think they also showed a picture of it

  • Nadja Rosellen

    Thank you for this wonderful show!

  • Carrie Geren Scoggins

    Carrie Geren Scoggins facebook page


    TYPOS WORKED ON, MY APOLOGIES FOR BIBLIOGRAPHY AT BEGINNING) ***Evolution is part of a new age racist false religion called “spiritual Evolution”*** DEBATE OVER CREATIONISM IN SCHOOLS BEING ATTACKED BY BILL NUY THE SCIENCE GUY, ON DARWIN’S RACIST WRITINGS AND SPIRITUAL EVOLUTION RELIGIOUS BELIEFS (non Christian story of creationism, still not Science) By Carrie Geren Scoggins head of TN Libertarian Party: [—–;Sources of information. include the following, and if is about the Darwinism being racist look up his racist book “In The Decent Of Man.” Nova’s “Decoding Neanderthals,” and “The Twisted Cross,” by Carr, concerning the false religion part. Also, Ed Deckers book on Freemasonry, John Ankerberg’s countercult books such as “The Encyclopedia of New Age Cults And False Religions,” Texe Marr’s Dark Majesty,” exposing the Freemasonry cult and their racism in his many books. Gary Kah’s “New World Religions,” ae all good sources of information All of these
    books have bibliographies and footnotes citing their sources.————————- my letter ———————————————————– I was Elated to see Nova air, “Decoding Neanderthals,” on PBS last night. I am so glad genetic proof that Caucasians from Germany, near Neander Valley, were highest scoring for sharing genetic make up with Neanderthals! YES, THAT MEANS THAT INDEED THE NAZI’S THEMSELVES WERE BEARING THE GENETIC CODE OF NEANDERTHALS, WHICH THEY CALLED SUB HUMANS! THE MINORITY RACES HAD FEWEST, IF ANY FALSE NEW AGE RACIST SPIRITUAL EVOLUTION TEACHINGS RELIGION TOTALLY DISPROVEN! ( false teaching of spiritual evolution is racist, the root source of Darwin’s racism as shown in his racist statement from his book “In The Decent Of Man,” stating “the Caucasian race is the highest evolved race,” and “Eventually the highest evolved races will annihilate the lesser evolved races,” showing his horrible racist beliefs that
    spawned him trying to use Science to legitimize his false new age religion. ) Spiritual evolution taught iies that we all start out as a lesser evolved spirit, in a one celled lesser evolved organism, them evolve upward through life cycles of reincarnation, returning to earth again after death as a higher evolved spirit/ animal. The spirits evolve upward through the species as the reincarnate, called transmigration, evolving ever higher until reaching the sub human stage. This is where which they wrongfully state that a human spirit begins as a smaller organism, and when that animal dies the spirit reincarnates, evolving upward into yet another more complex species, ongoing until the spirit goes through many life cycles in a process called transmigration, then evolving and reincarnating into the “sub human” stages of man they believe are minority races, then upward unto the caucasian race, then into a god or god- man. This horrible religion caused the
    Nazi false religion, and the class system in India where the darkest skin means slave class. THIS IS THE RELIGION DARWIN AND MORTON TRIED TO USE SCIENCE TO JUSTIFY WITH IT BEING THE ROOT OF DARWINISM! (religions believing humans can evolve into a god, some represented by Tibetan swastika or Egyptian, cycle of life spiritual evolution symbol) This false religion founded Hinduism, Latter Day Saints, parts of Wicca where “familiars are called “lesser evolved human spirits,” Freemasonry ( Knights Templar, Knights Of The Klu Klux Klan, and The New Order Of The Templar Masonic temple of Germany that taught Adolph Hitler this false religion), Nazi beliefs, beliefs, Rosicrucian, et. THANK GOD IT IS DISPROVEN!!! Carrie Geren Scoggins facebook page to contact or Libertarian Party Of TN Carrie Geren Scoggins Facebook Page Masonic temple of Germany that taught Adolph Hitler this false religion) Nazi beliefs, temple of Germany that taught Adolph Hitler this
    false religion) Nazi beliefs, Rosicrucian, et. THANK GOD IT IS DISPROVEN!!! Carrie Geren Scoggins facebook page to contact or Libertarian Party Of TN Carrie Geren Scoggins ————————————– THANK GOD IT IS DISPROVEN!!! Carrie Geren Scoggins facebook page to contact or Libertarian Party Of TN Carrie Geren Scoggins – Libertarian Party Of TN Carrie Geren Scoggins -[p.s. Darwinism was brought to America by McKenzie crime family, via Dayton, TN “monkey trials,” headed up by family of Sheriff RL McKenzie grandfather who brought Darwinism here and brought lawsuit to keep it in our public schools, he was the Sheriff of Dayton, TN. charged with 59 counts of racketeering charges but not convicted thanks to his mob crime family in TN law enforcement stretching to many counties, and to his family victims for court, helped frame their victims and witnesses! My brother and I were their victims 22+ years ago and still today they stalk us with
    informants keeping our name and credibility ruined!]

  • Carrie Geren Scoggins

    Zack does not know Darwin was a racist, shown in his racist book “In The Decent Of Man, and that Darwinism or evolution, has been aroundin Hindiluism, and the racist new age spiritual evolution teachings in Nazi Germany, evolution is non Christian creationism, the racism comes in as the false religion teaches that a spirit starts out as a lesser evolved animal, dies and reincarnates coming back as a higher evolved species, going through the species evolving higher each time in life cycles, called transmigration, represented by a swastika, tibetan or Egyptian, representing these “cycles of life,” the racism starts in the stages evolving into humans, that this religion teaches the spirit evolves into the “sub human” stages of man which they falsly accused minority races of being, then evolves into a white race human which they falsly labeled the highest evolved race. Darwin makes this racist statement in “In The Decent Of Man,” that “The caucasian race is the highest evolved race,” and eventually”the highest evolved races will ennighlate the lesser evolved races.” I doubt this teen activist knows this! Carrie Geren Scoggins head of TN Libertarian Party, or facebook me at Carrie Geren Scoggins. Z

  • Carrie Geren Scoggins


  • Mark Conlan

    I was fascinated by this show, particularly by Susan Jacoby’s discussion of the evolution of the role of religion in U.S. politics since the writing of the Constitution. I find it fascinating and, as a freethinker/atheist, maddening that if anything the unspoken religious test for public office in the U.S. (as opposed to the actual religious tests forbidden in the Constitution) has become narrower over the years. At the time the Constitution was written, no one who did not believe in some sort of God could be elected to public office in the U.S. Over time — and especially since the 1950’s, when our enemy in the Cold War was defined as not just “Communism” but “Godless Communism” and belief in some form of the Judeo-Christian religious tradition became implicit (and sometimes explicit, as in the addition of the words “under God” to the Pledge of Allegiance, which essentially tells atheists, agnostics and polytheists that they cannot be good and true Americans) — that test has tightened. I can still remember the bizarre “faith debate” in the Democratic Presidential primaries in 2008, aired on CNN, in which Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and John Edwards were all called on nationwide TV to express their belief, not only in God, but in a God that actively and consciously intervenes in human affairs and can be successfully appealed to through prayer. That would have disqualified virtually all the Founding Fathers, most of whom were Deists who believed (much like the “theistic evolutionists” Jacoby also mentioned) that God had created the earth and the universe in the first place but then let them alone. Indeed, if you read the Declaration of Independence and its reference to a “Creator” and “Nature’s God,” it is not a theistic document at all; those are the ways you would have expected a well-known Deist like Thomas Jefferson to refer to God.

    One correction and a question: John Adams was not at the Constitutional Convention (Jacoby listed him with Washington and Madison as a voice at the Convention for a secular state), and do any recordings exist of Robert Ingersoll’s voice? He died 22 years after the invention of the phonograph, so it is at least conceivable — though had he lived a decade longer, into the birth of the mass-market commercial record industry, he would almost certainly have been recorded and his records would probably have sold as well as William Jennings Bryan’s.

  • Stephen Tighe

    who says waves aren’t physical? matter exhibits PHYSICAL properties of both particles and waves, eg., the two-slit experiment. both are physical. the laws governing propagation of waves don’t treat them as any less physical than the laws expressed in terms of particles.

  • Katy M.

    it’s by design, for sure… that “creeping” thing.

  • David Eddy

    Right on David; intellectual snobbery is way out of hand and it is causing those in the know to be overwhelmed by those who are only show. I went to China with nineteen philosophy professors to China twenty years ago and distributed my books Earthland (on Kindle) at ten universities there. Since then the Chinese have become proficient at economics. I applied the principles of Tao balance of the yin and yang to economics. My principle of economics is that the demand side of economics must balance with the supply side of economics and that there must be sufficient funds on the demand side of economics to support all of the nations needs. “Money” is only a means to an end.
    This same principle applies to Religion and science. They are both essential elements of social stability that make civilization possible. Religion must support the ethical needs of people and Science must support practical needs of people to understand dealing with the physical elements of reality.
    If we want to survive our own technology, we must have accurate definitions of reality and the moral principles to prevent poverty and war. We are here to enjoy life not turn it into hell on earth.
    Darwin’s failure was not recognizing that “random selection” is not possible because random and selection are mutually exclusive.

  • Donald Depew

    I strongly suspect that about everybody, Americans anyway, are really atheists if they‘d admit it, or had to defend their belief otherwise on their own. I doubt that any believe deep down that even their own “God” really “exists, in the flesh” on earth, or anywhere in the “real” universe. If a guy came up to them all excited saying, “I just met God and had a long chat with him over coffee“, instead of saying wow, tell us all about it, they’d probably think he was nuts and probably dangerous.

    Well I’ve been an atheist con-theist most of my pretty long life, who believes there’s no god and who’s against all propagandist self aggrandizing organizations that push that there is. However, I am fascinated by the recent prospect of the Higgs boson, jokingly named the God Particle. I wonder if anybody in the particle physics community that named it entertain the possibility as I do, that if a godhead actually did exist corporally in the universe, it would indeed reside- and exert its impact- everywhere, existing corporally way down in the sub-atomic regime, at the heart of every atom, of everything everywhere–where, lo and behold, where the Higgs boson resides.

  • Helen Elder

    Zack, keep up the good job! Yes, we teach science in schools and we teach religion at home, at church and in private schools. And it is the parents responsibility to discuss and teach their own religion to their children, not the public school system.

  • Wade Wilson

    There are many credible scientist who do not buy into Darwinian Evolution. I don’t feel the necessity of getting into a debate on what is an Evolutionist echo chamber here. The trick is to find the biggest toothless goober protestant who speaks against evolutionary theory based on the Bible and class all others who aren’t convinced into this category. Look up the writings of David Berlinski. The other issue is when our school system decided to establish one and only one religion for our schools, secular humanism. The secular humanists are such hateful bigots.

  • Gene Bivins

    Even if we grant for discussion’s sake that schools are bastions of “secular humanism”, the English they teach is just English. The math they teach is just math, and the science they teach, including the science of biology encompassing natural selection, is just science.

    Explain, if you can, what “secular humanism” adds to or detracts from science that changes it. It’s you talking about this “religion”, not the schools or the parents who send their kids to those schools. You’re just applying what you think is a deprecatory term to public education in order to discredit part of what it teaches. Your straw man isn’t going to work.

  • Gene Bivins

    Donna, dogs don’t “devolve” to poodles. Poodles, like tiny terriers and giant hounds and all other breeds of the domestic dog are human manipulations. Left alone, in the wild, even just roaming city streets, they breed with each other and, within very few generations, all return to the natural state, about the size and appearance of wolves. This is not evolution.

  • Camille

    Shunyam–I winced at that comment, too. But then I took her point to mean that to say ‘spiritual but not religious’ is something that doesn’t and shouldn’t need to be said–that atheists don’t have to overtly qualify their non-believing in ‘God’, making sure their interlocutor understands that despite their ‘flaw’, they’re actually a good person.

    I don’t know if that’s what she meant, but that’s what it made me think of, and I’m glad, because that’s a good point; hadn’t thought about it before. If something of that nature comes up, I usually say, “I’m a very spiritual person. I made up my own spiritual practice.” True story!

    And I agree, and am completely on board with the Buddha stuff. I love your whole comment, and definitely fall into the camp you describe.

    By the way, if you haven’t already seen the PBS presentation of The Buddha, do. I’ve watched it about 147 times, when I’ve been in low moods and also in good ones. It’s an all-occasions pleaser. Peace, bro. Or sis.

  • Buck

    This is the best piece of journalism on free thought and reason that i have seen. Congratulations Zach — keep up the good work.
    Susan Jacoby — Ingersoll has been a hero of mine for many years — thank you for bringing his story to a new generation — and finally so many thanks to the far seeing Tashti McCollum — I must learn more about you. Thanks Moyer and Co for a very enlightening program.

  • Micheal Henry

    So encouraging to see reason and logic represented on television. I am a proud Atheist and am loving the rise of our movement. Feel to connect with me via Facebook.

  • Bud

    Christianity compared to the muslim taliban in Afghanistan? That’s a stretch at the very least, don’t you think, Jake? Agreed, Creationism is an incorrect understanding of our existence, but it is not sinister and does not deny human rights as does radical islam. Christian extremism is more akin to the cult of liberalism, the doctrine most opposed to Creationism and thus apposed to all of theism. Try to discuss truth with one who has been indoctrinated into the rigid dogma of liberalism. Your chances of changing a fundamental Christian’s mind with reasonable facts are much better. “Zero room for independent thought” accurately describes the cult of liberalism. The reason I make this comparison is based on many years of debating both doctrines… fundamental Christianity and the religion of Liberalism. Neither can be easily penetrated, but in my experience, I have changed a few Christian fundamentalists’ minds, but I have yet to penetrate the mind of one liberal cultist. His god is Barack Obama. No, you who are a part of this cult will not buy this, not in this mortal life, but redirect your focus onto liberalism for a time and you will see unshakable dogma in the face of undeniable truth. If you examine it honestly, you will find it to be a religion of denial.. denial that is, of any truth that conflicts with its doctrine. A whole nation of misinformed citizens and their news systems is afflicted by the religion of liberalism, who’s human god is now making reckless decisions that are gutting and undermining our general welfare … ‘overload our entitlement system and the economy can not withstand the weight’. As any honest observer can see, the Cloward/Piven strategy is well underway (read up on it). Liberalism is the basis of atheism. Better that we support Christianity where at least there is a belief in a real god, rather than a human who has assumed the roll of one.

    Read the Urantia Book!!!

  • GodVlogger (on YouTube)

    Zack Kopplin and Susan Jacoby were both terrific in these interviews.

    I tip my hat to both of them! Well done.

  • edith

    Not to mention how easy the population would be to control under a theocracy.

  • David Eddy

    Higgs Boson Explained: How ‘God Particle’ Gives Things Mass Huffington Post Science.
    There also exists a Higgs field. It gives particles mass. (Mass is physical Quantity,( physics) the property of an object that is a measure of its inertia, the amount of matter it contains, and its influence in a gravitational field.) Matter is substance, the material substance of the universe that has mass, occupies space, and is convertible to energy
    Except for masless photons and gluons, “all elementary particles get their masses from their interactions with the [Higgs] field, kind of like being ‘slowed down’ by passing through a thick syrup,” explained James Overduin, a physicist at Towson University in Maryland.
    I would like to respectfully submit that science has proved that there is more to reality than that which is physical reality. There is also non-physical reality such as concepts with no physical reality that can effect physical reality. My point is that we have to recognize and teach both the physical aspects of reality and the non-physical aspects of reality in order to have a complete understanding of all forms of reality. People need to deal with both objective reality and subjective reality; religion and science.

  • David Eddy

    Like it or not; we are here on earth to procreate and be a part of the History of Earth. We can do what is necessary to make life a good experience or turn life into hell on earth. We must live within the reality of what already exist and use our skills and talents to support meaningful and worthwhile experiences. We need religion to provide moral guidance and government to prevent chaos. Right now both are corrupted and are doing evil instead of good. What you sow is what you reap. We need to seed what is good and what is kind and remove the weeds that strangle our existence.

  • truthhurtsgood

    Great show. We should have free thought and religion should be kept out of our schools. I love Jacoby’s answer to the assertion that the founding fathers “forgot” to mention God in the Constitution.

    I do take issue with Jacoby stating that she has little respect for those who describe themselves as “spiritual but not religious.” They are not all closeted atheists. I know this because I, along with many of my family and acquaintances, am in this category. We reject religion as being about control but we believe very firmly in a consciously created and maintained universe.

    As to the presence of evil and “unfairness” in the world, I don’t see this as a spiritual deal-breaker. I believe that this all comes with dualism, which allows us to appreciate ideas or conditions by means of knowing their opposites. I don’t see “God” as all powerful because the reality of free will means that each being’s will is a strong as “God’s” will. I also believe that human beings are immortal, non-physical beings borrowing a human body in order to experience concepts that cannot be fully appreciated in the non-physical. In my view, we are all playing in “God’s sandbox” and can’t really be harmed, although we can experience pain and our physical bodies can “die.” We live many lives and experience horrible injustices, illnesses, disabilities in some, and experience great success and joy in others.

  • David Eddy

    The non-physical concepts are still in the brain while the access to the concepts is no longer functioning. The actual concepts are not physical while the brain cells that hold them are physical. Neurons transmit nerve messages. The messages are not physical while the neurons are physical. DNA is physical while the instructions for constructing biological form and function are not physical.
    My theory is that the intelligence to construct rational and functional physical reality is a universal effect that is caused by a separate system thought processes that are not physical.
    It is essential that science accept this theory in order to understand the intelligent function of physical reality. To assume that there is only physical reality is to ignore all of the process that make physical reality possible.
    Without the attribute “intelligence” people would be unable to survive in the physical world. It is also true that without intelligent design physical reality could never be more than chaotic random activity which is at the lowest level of physical reality. Darwin’s theory of evolution ignores the most essential element of reality which is the intelligent design of physical reality that makes it consistent with people’s needs and desires. It also undermines people’s ability to cope with physical reality.
    The theory of Random Selection is an oxymoron because random and selection are mutually exclusive.
    Religion is as important as science when it comes to people’s lives because they must cope with emotional needs as well as physical needs. Allowing people’s lives to be controlled by random selection is dangerous and foolish.

  • The Zen Carpenter

    Blah, Blah, Blah……… Obama is to blame for everything……… You failed to recognize the conservative cult of haters and takers that you seem to belong to. Putting aside the fact that your rant has very little to do with the topic at hand, let me offer another point of view.

    I think the underlying message Ms. Jacoby is presenting as a “free thinker” is to think for yourself and resist the brainwashing of both of
    these extremist “cults” (conservative and liberals). The fascism that is perpetuated by conservatives in an attempt to hide their ignorance by reciting the party line is arguably just as destructive to our society as the naive but well meaning agenda of Mr. Obama’s “Cult”.

    I apologize to the blog for my participation in this diversion from topic and I look forward to all the comments from those that can, and choose to, think for themselves.

  • wyonne

    what scares me about the creationalism deal is that these believers vote on other things also dog help us w

  • Bobo

    My faith trumps your logic when we live in a partial theocracy.

  • David Eddy

    Steven, from what I recall of that study, the particles did not arrange themselves as expected on the other side of the barrier and there were no waves involved. Waves are just energy fields with no substance. Orbits of particles can change orbit appearing at a different orbit with no trace of the transition. Not only that laws are not physical they are just an attribute. When there is no weight involved, there is no matter and therefore no physical attributes. Two dimensional items have no weigh and are not physical either. It is essential to have the correct definition of being in order to prevent errors. Ignoring wrong or insufficient definitions of terms is causing much of the confusion when it comes to the comprehension of essential elements of Science and religion. Knowing what is physical and what is not physical is rudimentary.
    Physical: existing in the real material world, rather than as an idea or notion, and able to be touched and seen.

  • Ted Buila

    Perhaps a bit of the discussion might address the opening of public school curriculum doors to “Voucherism” and what is fast becoming the third rail of public pre-K to 12 education: “Charter Schoolism.”

    Put in other words, is creationism the camels nose or tail when it comes to what passes for US public school curriculum/education?

  • James Maiewski

    Thank you for giving me the impetus to read “Freethinkers.” In return, I would make a reading suggestion of my own.

    As much as I feel that the Enlightenment cannot be praised enough for its elevating the empirical above (often uniformed) speculation and superstition (not to mention sophistry, a good deal of which is on display in these comments), there is much to be decried in its effects on the political world. In many ways, patriotism was a replacement for, or augmentation of, the religiosity it replaced. In any event it it worth contemplating that it was not an unalloyed good. This is explored at length in the fascinating account: “Holy Madness: Romantics, Patriots, and Revolutionaries, 1776-1871,” by Adam Zamoysk.

  • Shawna Carroll

    I agree, Bill Moyers is awesome. I am so glad he came back!!!!

  • Anonymous

    I was looking forward to seeing this on Channel 8 in Houston but it was preempted by fund raising programs. Will it be shown on this station in the near future?

  • Ed Lewis

    Bravo Zack, Susan, Bill. What a forward-thinking young man, and a refreshing hope for the next generation. So nice to hear intelligent, lucid perspectives. Gives me hope. Thanks.

  • Kirby Gupton

    I doubt that there are “many” creditable scientists who dispute Darwinian Evolution.Also,secular humanism isn’t a religion,and I don’t know of even one school system that seeks to establish it as such.

  • Kirby Gupton

    Buddhism as a means for dealing with suf-fering in this physical space-time existence has value, but if a Buddhist says that he is in
    contact with a spiritual realm separate from physical space-time reality,then his thinking has veered off into the woods! All spiritual
    thoughts,feelings,emotions,etc. exist in the mind/brain,and nowhere else.The view that science and religion are compatible stems
    from the belief that science and religion are
    addressing different realms of existence, to
    each its own.The Pope uses this same argu-ment, as do all religions, but science shows
    that physical space-time reality is a closed
    system in which all causation is physical cause producing physical effect according to natural physical laws, that it is extremely implausible that any supernatural realm,di-
    vine, spiritual, or otherwise, exists, and that even if it does,no cause from any supernat-
    ural realm,outside physical space-time, can come into this causally closed physical sys-tem and act causally.The supernatural does not exist,accept this,move on, and enjoy your life.

  • Kirby Gupton

    Maybe the universe/existence wasn’t created at all,so no creator,divine or otherwise.Maybe it is infinite in the true sense of infinity-having no limits,meaning, no beginning,no end.

  • Kirby Gupton

    [Having/holding/believing] a concept is being in a mental state,-being in a mental state is just a dif-ferent mode of presentation of being in a neural state,just a different level of description of a neu-ral state-neural states are physical things-having
    a concept is being in a physical neural state-

    concepts are a physical reality.
    Darwinian Evolution is a non-teleological,non-goal
    oriented,purposeless,natural,physical process that produces RESULTS(not goals)that mimic in-
    telligent design. No foresight, design, intent, goal,
    purpose,meaning,or intelligence-no teleology at all.

  • Kirby Gupton

    Love is an emotion.When one feels love,there is a real,physical pattern of neural activity occurring.Saying you feel love is another way of saying there is physical activity occurring in your brain.

  • Kirby Gupton

    It is false that morality is based on religion.
    There are many moral atheists.

  • Kirby Gupton

    physical reality is not intelligently nor
    stupidly designed,it is not designed at all.

  • Anonymous

    Although I found Susan Jacoby’s interview intriguing, I take issue with this statement:

    “There is a particular group in the Pew Poll, who won’t say they’re atheists, they say, “I’m spiritual but not religious.”

    I don’t respect people like that very much. Because I think that they’ve bought into the idea that to be a humanist, to be concerned about your fellow human beings, to show that concern, that you can’t say you’re an atheist, because that’s what so many people think.”

    I take no issue with the word “atheist” personally, I am not religious. Yet, I am decidedly spiritual. To discount the very possibility that there are some of us “out there” who are not concerned about labels, do not adhere to one orthodoxy or another, but who DO feel the call of something much larger than themselves and choose to call it “spiritual,” is no better than the zealots who demean and discriminate against atheists. I would ask Ms. Jacoby how describing myself as a “humanist” or an “atheist” be more exact to my feelings of spirituality? These feelings are not generated by some over-arching love for humanity as one might glean from the term “humanist.” Instead they come from a deep sense of being part of something much greater than oneself–like gazing up at the stars and seeing the Milky Way, knowing that you are such a small portion of that which is. Humanity may be part of that, but I do not identify with just that small, slender portion of Life. Can this not, in a sense, be “spirituality”?

    I do not believe I define this term lightly or without meaning for myself. Perhaps, Ms. Jacoby might broaden her thinking about the possibility that people can be spiritual without being religious and that it isn’t always or necessarily a “cop out” for fearing the “A-word”.

  • Av12

    We need to keep faith in our society

  • Kirby Gupton

    If you understand that all spiritual feelings come from your brain and die with your brain,then,ok, you are spiritual,not religious.If you believe that you have a spirit/soul that lives on after the death of your brain,you are religious.

  • Gary Goodman

    Evolution is the best supported “theory” in science today. There are but a handful of scientifically trained Creationists out there — some making a nice living lying like yellow dogs (apologies to canines) about “problems” with evolution which is the MOST complex science. As for “secular humanism” where can I worship?

  • Gary Goodman

    Your arguments about the “Non-physicality” of DNA instructions flies in the face of established science. How can it not be physical? It’s real and has effects.

  • Gary Goodman

    Progressive? No. Adaption depends on the ecology of the environment. Some changes promote the expansion of the population, some hurt, and some have no real effect. Life branches out. It does not “progress.”

  • Gary Goodman

    There is no evidence for a “natural” form of canines coming about from interbreeding of breeds. You just get more mutts!

  • Gary Goodman

    And plenty of ethical agnostics as well. Morality from On High are a cop-out. Let ancient tribes set the mores of modern society? How foolish.

  • Kirby Gupton

    I agree.I believe in Darwinian Evolution.I’m not faulting secular humanism,I just would not call it a religion.Why do you seem to disagree with my previous post?

  • Kirby Gupton

    “We reject religion as being about control but we believe very firmly in a consciously created and maintained universe.”

    “I also believe that human beings are immortal, non-physical beings borrowing a human body in order to experience concepts that cannot be fully appreciated in the non-physical. In my view, we are all playing in “God’s sandbox” and can’t really be harmed, although we can experience pain and our physical bodies can “die”.”


  • Kirby Gupton

    Your post is silly nonsense!!!

  • The Zen Carpenter

    It ”branches” out progressively, not regressively. In other words, moves forward or progresses.

  • Kirby Gupton

    Not only is the “soul” not eternal,there is NO evidence that souls exist at all!

  • Dan-o

    I watched the segment on Moyers with Mr. Kopplin. I am excited to see a young person act upon his beliefs. But, there were a number of commonly held misconceptions and errors regarding creationism expressed as fact though. Creation scientists, yes there are scientists who believe in creationism and it is a growing trend, use the same information as evolutionists but come to differing conclusions. Persons such as Newton, Boyle, Farraday and virtually all founders of modern science believed in creationsim. To say creationism prevents science from “working” is completely wrong, a.k.a. “strawman.” Some really extreme examples were used to prove his points. Just like anything else, one can always find extemists. The vast majority of creationist do not hold to the examples given. This is just misrepresenting the creation viewpoint. Anyone who wishes to take a strong stand for or against any idea should take the time to really know and understand both your and your opponents strengths and weaknesses. Mr. Kopplin did not have a clear idea of what creationism teaches.

    There are 2 basic types of science. The first is observational science and the second is historical science, such as the paleo sciences. Creation scientists, use and advocate observational science all the time. Where the groups split is the interpretation of evidences for the age of the earth and evolution. Much of my life I was a devout evolutionist. When I actually took the time to look at both sides of the issue, I discovered what I had been taught was filled with inconsistencies which had conveniently been covered up. I will not go into these since there are many books written on the subject. If you don’t believe me, I challenge you to read some of the published research and books on the subject.

    I have read many of your comments on this site. Think about some of these comments. Under evolution, can there be anything such as evil or good? The whole evolutionary model assumes blind chance, not right or wrong. Therefore when anyone uses terms such as right or wrong, that person is borrowing from Biblical principles. Anyone using these terms is actually affirming Biblical truths, yet at the same time denying them. Another concept which seems to escape many of the respondents is the concept of censorship. By saying creation ideas should not be taught, that person advocates censorship, yet most often he/she would be appalled at the thought of censorship. Actually what is advocated, is that only approved ideas should not be censored. Ideas contrary to his or her worldview should not be allowed. That my dear friend is censorship.

  • David Eddy

    People can believe whatever they desire but that does not change reality. Reality only exists in the present. The past no longer exists and the future has not yet happened. What happened in the past becomes subjective and what happens in the future is calculated based on what happened in the past.
    Reality happens in real time and is perceived in the past after the fact by human senses that transmit information to the brain that has to process the information and provide the mind concepts that are consistent with reality.
    How we perceive reality is based on a lot of information from many sources. One of these sources is religion that creates particular responses to reality. Religion is a part of our culture and effects our perception of reality no matter what we want to claim we believe.
    It is essential that we have an accurate impression of reality in order to deal with it realistically.

  • David Eddy

    Foolish is ignoring reality.

  • aedarshani

    I am a scientist. Of course I believe in Evolution but don’t these people have a right to believe as they chose just as I have my right? Or is it a matter of funding.

    I have to admit the sheer numbers of people who believe in literal Biblical truth is frightening. Last statistic I saw was 60% believing in the Biblical account.

  • kirby

    I do not see the relevance of the first two paragraphs of your response to my post.
    It is certainly true that our perception of reality is based on information from many sources, but for me, religion isn’t
    one of those sources. Religious infor-
    mation that is defective in at least two ways: everything it tells us about phy-sical space-time reality is false, and what it tells us about realms of reality or existence that are “over and above” physical space-time is COMPLETELY non-testable, so the ONLY basis of
    belief that such a realm exists is blind,
    unjustified,unjustifiable faith. This does
    not do it for me.
    Religion as part of our culture,does, in
    some sense affect our perception of reality,but so what? This is just saying
    that ALL knowledge, belief, or
    experience,real or imagined,veridical or false, figures in our perception of reality.So in that sense, my non-belief in religion af-fects my perception of reality. Science, however, gives us the only objective truth we have about the only reality there is- this physical space-time reality in which we are embedded.Science has repeatedly proved theistic notions regarding
    physical reality to be false.And basic scientific principles,like physical causal closure,causal completeness of physics, and the conservation of energy principle, make notions of supernatural causal forces,divine or otherwise,very implausible. This does not mean that science can absolutely prove the non-existence of divine or other supernatural forces,but to para-phrase Bertrand Russell, it cannot be certainly proved that a teapot doesn’t orbit Jupiter,but the evidence we have makes it very highly implausible!
    You say, “It is essential that we have an accurate impression of reality in
    order to deal with it realistically.” This is true,but theism does not contribute to an accurate impression of reality in any way.If religion disappeared,our impression of reality would not change in any significant way.


    THANK YOU! Finally, someone who knows what they are talking about using correct terminology rather than unbridled venom. Souls, in religion, are pure energy having converted to energy at death. Scientists have measured a loss of a couple of ounces at the time of death. Religion and science go together…Religion depends on storytelling (the Bible) and parables…science has names for everything. Only difference. Sigh…

  • David Eddy

    WOW! I appreciate your very pragmatic defense of Science and in particular Darwin Evolution. If reality was no more than a mechanical mechanism based on random activity, life would not be possible, there would be nothing that is meaningful or functional. The reality we experience could only exist for an instant and then return to chaos. There must be intelligent design and a knowledge of the ways and means to cause continuity, function and design that can sustain itself. There would be nothing that science could test to prove their theories let alone people with intelligence. Physical reality is what we call physical whereas Science is non-physical concepts based on what we learn from physical reality and intelligent comprehension.
    There is an intelligent comprehension from the discipline called physics that is an axiom that claims “things equal to the same thing are equal to each other” People are considered intelligent because they can comprehend reality and deal with it realistically and in some instances change reality. This same attribute applies to what we call “nature” Which proves that “Nature” is also an intelligent force throughout the universe. Science may never discover “God” but it has already discovered that DNA which is a function of “nature” can perform intelligent tasks.
    Religion has to exist in order for it to go away and it is already a part of Earth’s History. The impact of the concept “religion” has already changed much of people’s lives and their thinking for better or worse.
    People have to deal with both physical reality and non-physical reality whether they want to or not. If people do not face reality and fix their current direction, they will not be around to enjoy the magnificent fruits of “nature”. We will be our own worst enemy.

  • kirby

    I have no idea what you mean to say!
    Let me just say that I don’t believe in
    intelligent design nor non-physical reality. Biological evolution by natural selection is a non-teleological physical process that results in life. Cosmologi-cal evolution is a non-teleological phy-sical process that results in existence/
    physical reality/the universe. Perhaps we have different definitions of “intelli-gent design”,and are merely talking past one another.
    As for religion, I have none, and my life has what meaning and morality I give it. Religion as a concept is, for me, in-
    coherent nonsense,and any good that people do,in the name of religion,they could and likely would do without any belief in supernatural divinities.
    This is not even to mention all the harm
    done and the suffering caused in the name of religion.

  • kirby

    What is your definition of “intelli-
    gent design” and what is your evidence that the universe is intelligently designed by a divine intelligent designer? And please don’t say that since it APPEARS to be
    intelligently designed then it MUST BE intelligently designed.And don’t say that it must be intelligently designed because you can’t imagine what else could be true. Religious belief is human superstition run wild,and
    its basis is fear of biological death!

  • miriamgreen

    You have sighted the tip of the iceberg in emerging political power of an extremist christian belief best know as Opus Dei. I encourage all readers to do some research. Scalia is Opus Dei, as is Ric Santorum, Mitch McConnell, Sen Brownback, and a host of others. Their espoused doctrine, begun in the 1930s when it came to US, has been to end the separation of church and state. Never forget the comment ‘I almost threw up when I heard about the separation of church and state [Pres Kennedy] which he repeated during his campaigns.
    Opus Dei is a very dark secretive organization with money, influence, and political power growing

    why do you think all these bills against women are now in the laws, or coming up for votes? Check their sponsors. You will find they are ALL connected to Opus Dei. And so are the Vatican 007 cardinals Opus Dei, a special organ of the Vatican. Obviously Paul Brown is also Opus Dei
    and it is their organization, their high schools and colleges, and their alumni. in legislature or other positions of power and wealth, that are running that show. Please, do some research on your own and when you begin to get the picture, make sure others know about it.

  • Anonymous

    I disagree.

  • Anonymous

    Actually there is some evidence that there could be. If energy is never lost yet changes, it would be difficult for anyone to argue that some new form would emerge from the energy released upon death. There is an unaccounted for weight loss in the human body at the point of death. It might be such an energy.

  • David Eddy

    I am an engineer. My special interests are Science and Social Systems. I read Physics for entertainment as well as the Bible for spiritual guidance. The reason the Bible has been read for thousands of years is that it provides the foundational understanding of the principles of human interaction and social consciousness.
    We are not machines and we function both at the mechanical level as well as the intelligent level. The mechanical level is all about physical reality and the intelligent level is all about understanding reality and dealing with it realistically. Because of our emotional attribute of our intelligence; we have to deal with both physical reality and emotional reality. The emotion hate has caused much death of people and destruction of physical ‘things”. People have to deal with both their emotions and the physical world; both nature and nurture.
    We are at a critical “time” in the evolution of what is happening on this earth. Our wrong concepts of what reality is all about is setting us up for extinction. We either use our intelligence to become civilized and work together to prevent a war to end all wars and human life in the process or we let our emotions run amuck and destroy everything we have labored to accomplish.

  • David Eddy

    My apologies if I have offended your sense of reality. The fact of the matter is that concepts do not contain matter. They are only a thought and can be wrong or right. Your thought “natural selection” means nature selected it.
    I consider selection a rational and intelligent attribute. This error by Darwin has caused the corruption of social evolution that has caused sociopathic and even psychopathic behavior that takes the humanity out of people and causes them to do great harm to each other without just cause.
    Organized Religion is guilty of the same error. Organized religion can be corrupted just like any other human organization.
    Knowing the difference between good and evil is an essential human attribute. Good and evil are both non-physical yet able to change physical reality for the better or the worse. This is especially true when it comes to the quality of people’s lives and their environment.

  • David Eddy

    Right Ellesee; another good point is that even physical particles with mass can skip in and out of this plane of existence as well as disappear and reappear on the other side of a physical barrier.

  • David Eddy

    I disagree too Ellesee; I think we are out of the area of the extent that science has been able to prove, but I believe it is a reasonable assumption that like the metamorphose of the caterpillar to the moth. We could appear in one form and then reappear in another form. Replicators are a very real possibility and science may be working on that possibility.
    More than two thousand years ago there was a group of philosophers who believed physical reality was made up of particles that formed and reformed to become our physical world.
    Science needs to be open to possibilities not conservative nay Sayers. That mental state is going to cause our extinction if we do not get over that mental illness.

  • David Eddy

    Concepts do not have any of the attributes of physical. There is no mass, there are no dimensions and they have no energy. They just exist as universal representatives of language. They are the counter part of physical.
    Definition of NONPHYSICAL: not composed of matter … Synonyms bodiless, ethereal, formless, incorporeal, insubstantial, nonmaterial, nonphysical, spiritual, unbodied….www. Merriam-

  • kirby

    Let me try again.Concepts are a physical reality in the sense that they only exist as mental content. Mental states, with their content, are another level of description/mode of presenta-tion of simultaneously occurring physi-cal neural states.Having any mental state with intentional,representational,
    conceptual content is to be in a neural state.Mental state and neural state are two ways to describe one thing,one way physical,another phenomenal or
    mental.Concepts are abstract mental
    content.But concepts don’t just float in the air,they only exist as abstract men-tal content,and are the elements that compose linguistic expressions(sen-
    tences/propositions).We have many
    concepts of abstract,non-existent en-
    tities-unicorns,dragons,easter bunny,
    Santa Clause,God,etc.- and these abstract entities ONLY exist as inten-
    tional objects of mental states.There is no more evidence that some divine,
    supernatural force or god created this
    universe/existence than that a unicorn
    or the Easter Bunny did. Speaking in a
    technical sense,concepts aren’t physi-cal, but neither is any other mental
    content.But again,mental states with their content are another description of
    physical neural states.Whenever one has ANY mental state with its content,
    that is a pattern of physical neural ac-
    tivity,just a matrix of synaptic connec-
    tions.There is the physical,descriptions
    of the physical,and imagination,nothing

  • David Eddy

    Then you are saying that everything that happened in the past is nonphysical and cannot be tested by science so therefore you discard it as not believable. Millions maybe billions of people understand that we cannot know everything for a certainty and must depend on written history and documentation that has been accumulated. That means that you are very short on important information.
    Millions of people believe there is more to life than physical structure but you want to minimize reality and put it in a little box and ignore what is not to your liking. The Bible has been a very real influence on people’s lives and their response to everyday reality. We need to maximize our understanding of reality; not minimize it.

  • David Eddy

    Thanks for your great patience with my attempt to clarify the problem of Darwinian evolution. I agree that there is evolution but it is a rational effect not a Natural Selection because Natural Selection would require intelligent selection. This is a vital matter that will affect life as we know it.
    Best Wishes, Dave

  • kirby

    We do need to maximize our
    understanding of reality,but my contention is that neither religion
    nor the bible provide ANY under-standing of reality.Everything religion says about the physical universe is incorrect(as shown by science), and nothing it says about supernatural realms of existence is based on ANY evidence..It’s all based on,only on,blind faith.Very little,if any-thing, the bible says can be verified. If you believe it, you believe it blindly.The bible was written by many authors over an extended period of time, has been translated and mistranslated into many languages,has had things added
    and things taken out, and contains a
    wealth of myth,superstition,and false-ness.Neither religion nor the bible is a
    reliable guide to understanding reality.

  • David Eddy

    I can even add to your assessment of the Bible that it was written by people without the technical information that science has provided. It is also true that it was written for people at a lower level of technical knowledge. I have written four books Earthland that are available on Amazon Kindle that has attempted to correct that problem.
    While people have come a long way with their technical skills, we are falling behind in our social skills and our understanding of what it takes to support our present population and control of our technology so it does not destroy us.
    Our present level of technology requires the necessary economic stability to prevent another world war.
    Our lack of social skills are stressing out everyone and causing serious deviant coping.
    Our entertainment is creating a fear factor, sociopaths and psychopaths that are a danger to everyone.
    Life is all about Binary Systems that work together to create much of our physical and mental reality. Ignoring mental reality which affects physical reality is a bad idea. Physical reality and mental reality must work together to provide a viable reality that is consistent with people’s needs; otherwise, we will be toast.

  • Lyle

    When scientists ascend to the podium as experts, and then proceed to declare that God is not required for evolution to commence, they are transforming the podium into a pulpit of their own design, preaching a philosophy/pseudo religion that is decidedly unscientific. I am not surprised, however, that the extremists on both sides are unwilling to attempt actual communication.

  • kirby

    I doubt your ability to “correct” the bible.
    What do you mean by “social skills”?

  • kirby

    This above post is me.I don’t know why it says guest.

  • David Eddy

    Sorry for the delay; I missed you post. Your post is very comprehensive. Most scientists are concerned about the accuracy of their theories and are glad to consider other possibilities. Some are arrogant and think they know it all. I was asking my Three year old granddaughter a difficult question and her reply was, “I cans’t know everything”.
    There is a television program on the Public Broadcasting System that supports my theory of nonphysical influence on physical reality. It is a movie called The Quantum Activist. It is about a physicist Professor Amit Goswami who has written a book explaining the influence and function of mind and matter relationship. Sometimes there is a quantum leap to a theory that then is verified by scientific method. New information can then be applied to that theory that further explains the principle.
    We are desperately in need of new theories of economics, government and science to survive the threat of social collapse. Censorship and dogma are preventing essential changes in modus operandi (way of doing things).

  • David Eddy

    Right AV12; Every time I get up in the morning, I have faith that the bedroom floor is still there. Recently, It was reported that a sink hole appeared under a person’s house and he fell 100 feet to his death. Right now our society is experiencing sink holes that need to be fixed if we do not want to fall into them. While it is necessary to have faith in your society; it is also necessary that life threatening situations must be corrected.
    These are not mutually exclusive necessities.

  • David Eddy

    I just raised my hands above my head in response to your post as directed by my mind which is nonphysical. This action was in response to symbolic words that are not physical.
    I am not thinking about my posting as I type; it is just happening in response to input from a nonphysical source. The computer is responding to my typing through binary numbers that are not physical. Why is it so hard for you to comprehend that there is more to reality than physical matter.
    In answer to number 1. I believe that God exists in a different plane of existence and that this other plane of existence has an influence on this plane of existence. The concept God is not physical and is only a name. By any other name He is still God.
    In answer to 2. The evidence of God is based on fact that God’s Spirit dwells within me as a vital element of my being. I am more than the sum of my physical parts. Otherwise, I could not make this reply.
    I appreciate your concern for science and obviously there is always more to say when you are dealing with all of reality. I cannot know everything and neither can anyone one else.
    There are many fields of knowledge. Science is only one of them. I would not want a scientist giving me a heart transplant. The same goes for a psychologist.
    What we do need is a field of knowledge that includes all of reality.

  • kirby

    Saying that intentional mental states cause intentional action is just a psy-
    chological level mode of presentation/
    description/explanation of physical
    processes in your brain.Neural activity,
    say in the prefrontal cortex,causes ac-
    tivity in the motor cortex,which causes
    nerve impulses to move down efferent
    nerve pathways to the control centers of muscles,ligaments,and tendons,and
    causes them to move in various ways,
    which is physical behavior (includes
    speech). This is one physical, neural
    causal chain described/presented /ex-plained from two different points of view,or perspectives,one physical,
    one phenomenal/psychological (one thing, two descriptions- mental as de-scriptive of neural).I don’t believe that there is more to reality than matter in space-time acting causally,such cau-sation being described from a physical perspective OR described from a phe-nomenal/psychological perspective.
    As for answer to #1,there is NO evi-dence of a god,existing in a different
    plane of existence,acting causally in this causally closed physical space-time universe.More important,there is no evidence of ANY plane of existence outside of or “over and above” this physical space-time existence. Yes,
    god ONLY exists as a concept in the
    synaptic matrix of your brain!
    As for #2,your BELIEF that God’s Spirit dwells within you as a vital element of your being is certainly NOT fact,nor evidence of god’s existence.Surely you see this.
    Finally,for any belief or information,from
    any source,to be knowledge,it MUST be in accord with the objective truths
    about reality that science reveals.
    Surely you see that the very possibility of heart transplants is science incarnate?

  • kirby

    You don’t have BLIND faith,meaning not based on evidence,that the floor is believe it’s there because a track record of its being there every morning,based on renewed evidence every morning.EVIDENCE! EVIDENCE! EVIDENCE!

  • kirby


  • kirby

    “The reason the Bible has been read for thousands of years is that it provides the foundational understanding of the principles of human interaction and social consciousness.”

  • kirby

    Are you equating “spirit ” with energy?
    If you are,tell me how ‘spiritual energy”
    could leave this existence and go to some other existence,in light of the FACT that this universe neither loses nor gains energy.Of course,when bio-
    logical organisms die,the chemical molecules of elements that compose them don’t die,they just change form,
    by going back into the molecular/
    atomic soup and becoming part of some other matter,organic or inorganic.I suppose,in some sense,this could be considered a type of rein-carnation,but it has nothing to do with any supposed spirit that reincarnates.

  • David Eddy

    Hmm! Interesting Kirby; when I have a problem with people not getting what I am telling them, I have a tendency to speak louder which does not really do anything for their lack of understanding. It is obvious that you are trying to tell me something and the capital letters do not really help.
    Have you never read a text book? Do you ever do deductive or inductive reasoning. Do you dismiss everything that happened in the past? Why do you want to minimalize reality to the point of extinction. All there really is that is the basis of physical reality is energy. Even a “God” particle that science has proved to exists becomes nothing.
    We are intelligent beings and we experience what is both physical and mental. It is a binary system and is what existence is all about. Fiction becomes reality and attitudes destroys physical “things”. You might want to rethink what you think reality is. It is what it is and it is in constant transition. We have to deal with reality realistically or we perish.
    We do not live by bread alone but by all the reality that life provides.

  • David Eddy

    Right Kirby; I have evidence the floor is still there because I am standing on it. I also I have evidence that I have intelligence because I can tell the floor is still there. I have learned that the floor is made of matter consisting of molecules that consist of atoms that consist of particles that consist of energy and that there is more space by far than there is physical anything.
    There is also energy, gravity, centrifugal force, attraction, repulsion, continuity, purpose design, movement and location all involved. Without purpose there would only be chaos which exists at the lowest level of reality. These levels of reality, from chaos to what we experience, can be either physical or nonphysical . Most of these concepts are from what I have learned not experienced. All that I have experienced is from my sensory system that is physical while the messages are not physical. I have faith in the messages that science has provided as well the messages my sensory system has provided. We both have faith in science. But I expect science to have an open mind and except theories that are consistent with reality not theories that have premises that are not consistent with reality and are non-sequitur.
    This message is brought to you by a very real Creator because if He did not exist, neither would we because we are one of his favorite creations. This is not a perfect world but it is a whole lot better than any other being offered. Religion and Science are different fields of inquiry but there should be a field of inquiry that includes all aspects of reality.

  • kirby

    Ha!Ha! The caps were an accident! I got so involved in what I was saying that I didn’t notice them until I posted, and at that point I didn’t want to bother with changing them.I did it on some other posts also.Now,when I put
    individual words in caps, I do it on purpose for emphasis.
    We surely do experience the physical and the mental,but what I am saying,
    and what you never address,is that the
    mental is a mode of presentation of physical neural activity. Do you not understand what I mean,or do you just
    not want to address this notion? I have indeed read textbooks,and done both types of reasoning. I am a retired musician,and I spend my time reading in philosophy of mind,metaphysics,
    theory of knowledge,some little cos-mology/science,and all the anti-religion literature I can get my hands on. I do not think it is accidental that the vast majority of scientists and philosophers
    are atheists.I am a native Texan,liberal,
    populist,atheist,have no tolerance for B.S.(see,caps),call ’em like I see ’em, and if that hurts someone’s feelings,so much the worse for them! Except for the insulting parts, your posts are mostly incoherent,and like most theists, you seem uninterested in jus-tifying your beliefs with any EVIDENCE
    (whoops,caps again!).Why do religious
    folk have such a fear and hatred of evi-
    dence? Is it because you know there is
    not any that supports your incoherent,
    inconsistent,superstitious theistic non-
    sense? Religion is just fear of death in-carnate. It explains nothing.There is no god, accept this, relax, and enjoy your life. I am atheist,enjoy life,am engaged with it,am moral,and have no need for
    religion. You can be all this too!!!

  • David Eddy

    You might be interested the Seed Theory. This theory is that just as seeds are able to generate all of the elements necessary to grow a plant. Concepts are also able to generate all of the elements necessary to create physical reality. There is also the concept of seed money to Build physical instillations and institutions. The idea of a corporation being a person is a very extreme example of this concept.
    Hollywood is also a concept that became a reality that has become a creator of physical reality from fiction.
    “What you sow is what you reap” is another truism that causes realities both bad and good in relationship to people’s needs and desires. Every person is an entity that contains the concept of their being that can exist in any host environment that is compatible with their needs.
    Possibilities are only limited by mutually exclusive.

  • kirby

    How do you know that god is not deceiving you into thinking that you have intelligence and that the floor is there? (just kidding!)
    We have scientific evidence for the
    existence of centrifugal force, energy, gravity,attraction,repulsion,movement,
    and location in the natural world. I do
    not know what “continuity” means. We
    have no scientific evidence for the ex-
    istence of teleology (purpose, design,
    foresight, intention, goals, etc.) in the natural world(except in human minds/
    brains,the only place teleology exists).
    Quantum indeterminacy isn’t chaos.
    Scientific theories are the only theories that are consistent with reality,in fact science is the only source of objective truth about reality. Everything religion has told us about reality, through the ages,has been wrong,or untestable.
    You say,”This message is brought to you by a very real Creator because if He did not exist, neither would we because we are one of his favorite creations.” What is your evidence that this is true?

  • kirby

    Talking of concepts creating reality is just Berkley’s idealism,a pretty much discredited notion.Otherwise,the rest of your post is incoherent babble!(SEE,
    I said I call ’em like I see ’em!).

  • David Eddy

    What you just posted is subjective and based on faith in Science. Will you not accept the fact that what I post is subjective and based on religion? I have observed changes in physical reality because of religious belief and I have had bad things happen that could have been avoided if I had done what Christ suggested. For one thing, I fell out of a jeep going sixty miles an hour because of excessive drinking. All I got was some bruises. I have also survived other instances when death should have occurred but did not. My wife twisted her ankle coming down the stairs in the statue of liberty and could not put weight on her foot. I teach Judo and those kind of injuries take weeks to heal. There were some Christians there that offered their prayers to heal her ankle and we thought it was worth a try. They laid their hands on my wife’s head and prayed. She put her weight on the foot and there was no pain.
    There are many anomalies that have been documented that were not consistent with the normal function of physical reality.
    There is a whole lot more to reality than what meets the eye. We still have much to learn both in the field of religion and the field of science.
    If we can keep from doing self-destruct because of bad ideas both from religion and science. There is much that we will learn.
    A flat learning curve will be deadly.
    There is overwhelming evidence that mental states cause physical activity and nonphysical stress causes physical damage. Everyone experiences that phenomenon

  • David Eddy

    I have no problem with the caps or the scientific explanation of Brain and nerve function. I do have a problem with your denial of nonphysical reality. Bad ideas are just as bad as bad actions.
    I too am a musician along with a lot of other activities. I have played trumpet in Dance bands as well as brass bands and Orchestras. Presently, I am playing the didgeridoo which s a real challenge.
    The difference between Good music and bad music is a personal choice but it is best when it is pleasing to the ear.
    I also prefer ideas that are consistent with reality and are consistent with people’s best interests. I have written four books called Earthland that are on Amazon Kindle that attempt to get people to understand the necessity of efficient social systems that are efficient and consistent with functional reality.
    For some strange reason it seems physical reality is consistent with what we need to survive and we need to keep it that way.

  • David Eddy

    The evidence is that I am here and able to post this reply. Without being created, I could not exist. Therefore a creator is an obvious fact that is proved by my physical and mental being.

  • David Eddy

    Obviously you are blind and bitter. May your eyes be healed and your bitterness cured.

  • Guest

    What exactly in my post do you con-sider subjective? Surely not my de-scription of how brains cause be-havior.This is well-supported by neuro-
    I do indeed accept the fact that your posts are subjective, and based on blind faith in religion.My faith in science is not blind faith,it is based on science’s exemplary track record of providing objective truths about reality. Religion also has a track record of tell-ing us things about reality ,and it is abysmal,just completely wrong.
    People can surely act in ways that change physical reality, and their ac-tions may be based on religious be-lief,but this fact is no proof of the ver-acity of theistic beliefs,and surely any-thing done in the name of religion can be done without religious belief.
    As for your anecdotal(based on casual observations or indications rather than rigorous or scientific analysis) exam-ples concerning escapes from what you believe to be sure death,and ankle sprains,and your inexpert knowledge of both,not to mention miracle healings by the laying on of hands(really!), if you don’t see the problem of considering these things to be evidence,I doubt anything I say is going to make you “see the light” (joke!).This is neither valid inductive nor deductive reason-
    ing. As for the “many anomalies that have been documented that were not consistent with the normal function of
    physical reality”, tell me some, but I hope they are not just as anecdotal
    as your previous examples.
    You say: ”There is overwhelming evi-dence that mental states cause physi-cal activity and nonphysical stress causes physical damage.Everyone experiences that phenomenon.” This is an expression of dualist causal inter-action,and it raises many problems.For
    example,if the mind is immaterial, non-physical,outside space-time,and the
    brain is material,physical,located and extended in space-time,how do you explain their causal interaction? How does something non-physical come into physical reality and act causally,
    and vice versa? The inability of dual-
    ists,whether of substance or property
    type,to give an adequate explanation of this causal interaction, is a prime motivation for my belief that mind/brain are one,in the sense that mind is just a psychological mode of presentation of the workings of the brain. Think about it.You have a mental state of pain
    (headache,say),and you take asprin,
    which causes the pain to go away by physically affecting your brain.Or men-
    tal stress causes illness,you relieve the stress and the physical illness goes away.Surely such cases of “physical/
    mental” causal interaction are ones in which physical, described physically, causes physical ,described mentally,
    and vice versa.

  • Guest

    I am neither blind nor bitter.I am happy
    and content. I am, however, tired of thinking people deferring to and ac-
    commodating incoherent,superstitious
    theistic nonsense! The way I put it (so as to bug theists) is: “Thank god I’m an

  • Guest

    You are here as a result of the non-tel-eological process of biological evolu-tion by natural selection,that process itself being the result of the non-teleo-logical process of cosmological evolu-tion. Man has no preferred status in reality.Get over it!

  • Guest

    There is no non-physical reality.
    Theistic ideas reveal nothing about reality.

  • moderator

    Everyone involved in this thread has made their point, please return to commenting on the actual show and avoid any further personal insults. This is the final request.

    sean @ moyers

  • moderator

    Everyone involved in this thread has made their point, please return to commenting on the actual show and avoid any further personal insults. This is the final request.


  • David Eddy

    My final comment Why would you thank God if you are an atheist? You must be a closet theist.

  • kirby

    Your final request should have been aimed at David Eddy and me equally.
    After all,David Eddy has had conflict with other comentors,I have only had conflict with David Eddy.Replying to only me makes it look as if I am the only one at fault.

  • kirby

    It’s a joke,fool!

  • kirby

    Right on Zen carpenter!

  • moderator

    Was trying hard not to say any one person was at fault, just trying to keep our board a friendly and safe place to comment.

    Thank You,

    Sean @ Moyers

  • kirby


  • Elene

    Exactly. I was annoyed by Ms. Jacoby’s assumption that anyone who uses the description “spiritual but not religious” (which I put on my Facebook profile before I knew anyone else was using it) is really an atheist who is too cowardly to admit it. My own meaning is much like what Shunyam described, interested in direct spiritual experience (though I love intellectual debate!). Many people feel that formal religion gets in the way of spiritual experience rather than facilitating it.

  • Scott

    I feel there has always been evil sponsorship behind forcing children to embrace evolution. Evolution is taught throughout the educational system as if fact when in fact it is obvious that humans were created with intelligent design. To even consider that human beings evolved from chemicals and proteins over billions of years is absurd.

  • Tom Brown

    Creationism, the Tea Party, and religious extremism are all based on fear. Fear born of ignorance.

  • bubba

    This whole post is absurd in the extreme!

  • bubba

    Absurd view!

  • Antonio Echeverria

    Religion is mythology!

  • Antonio Echeverria

    Wars come from THE RELIGIOUS, not the rational. Religion is mythology!