Daniel Dennett’s One Way Street of Censorship

FYI: this post has been moved here.


  1. He tips his hand in many ways, most notably with the requirement that "scientifically informed education about every religion in the world should be mandatory in school." That is a category error. You don't use science to weigh the color blue and you don't use science to assess historical claims.

  2. Mariano,

    Incidentally, it seems worthwhile mentioning that the overwhelming majority of American theists have studied the Darwinian theory of evolution for a minimum of a dozen years and have also had exposure to criticism of the Darwinian theory of evolution.

    Without a citation, I assume that you're just referring to K-12 public school education. As much as I wish it were true that we gave any real amount of time to science education in public schools, the reality is very different. We may be told here and there a little bit about the theory of evolution or the special theory of relativity, but for the most part teachers stick to what they can handle: requiring kids memorize latin names of animals and making paper mache models of the planets. It is equivalent to saying that you "studied theology for a dozen years" because you memorized some verses for Awana.

    I didn't understand the theory of evolution for any nontrivial definition of "understand" until I was in college and read books on my own. Two of the most helpful authors in making the subject accessible to the public are Richard Dawkins and Daniel Dennett. They helped me begin to understand evolution in much the same way that Stephen Hawking helped me begin to understand special relativity.

    On a side note, I suspect that if people rejected special relativity for religious reasons, Stephen Hawking would be a "New Atheist" as well. When you dedicate yourself to helping people understand a complicated scientific subject, I can imagine how frustrating it would be when superstition gets in the way.


    "scientifically informed education" does not mean the application of the scientific method to studying religion; it means that we should take into account the knowledge that we have gained from science about nature when evaluating historical or religious claims about nature.

    For example, the bible contains the geneaology of Jesus back to the first human, which could be at most, around 4,000 years long. But we know that humans had been on the planet much longer than that, so we must reject the geneaology or the claim that Adam was the first human. By being scientifically informed, we can separate the parts of the Bible that may actually be accounts of history from those that are just stories that should not be interpreted literally.

  3. Evolution is indeed a fact. How that evolution took place (random variation with natural selection) is the theory. The fact of evolution screams out of the taxonomic classification systems, the geographic distribution of species and the fossil record (to name a few). Many anti-evolutionists like to claim that sense no one was around to see the process that it can't be a fact: this is simply wrong. If you see a person on one side of the street and then later you see that person on the other sided of the street it is a simple fact that the person crossed the street - it is only in the question of 'how' the person crossed that you are dealing in theory. You are confusing the fact that is explained with the explanation.

    It is right and proper to refer to Darwin's theory as 'Evolution by means of Natural Selection'. This distinguishes it from the other (different and failed) theories that tried to explain the fact that species evolve over time. Lamarckism is just one of the more prominent.

  4. Its indisputable that atheists use evolution as tool of propaganda.

    In Kansas City, the former religion editor of the Kansas City Star...who got canned by the way...uses his reputation to maintain a blog (The Bill Tammeus blog)which is essentially a front for propagandizing for atheism.

    Fascinating stuff, and inhabited by some really vicious little Russian immigrant trolls who were raised under the Officially Atheistic Soviet Education System.