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For Jewish author, invisible divide between religious and secular worlds
Nathan Englander grew up in an insular Jewish world and still says that "the whole world is Jewish to me."
March 19th, 2012
02:45 PM ET

For Jewish author, invisible divide between religious and secular worlds

By Todd Leopold, CNN

(CNN) – Nathan Englander’s characters are always looking over their shoulders.

They’re Jews, mostly, often of an intensely devout stripe, but whether they’re Israeli settlers, Orthodox youngsters or thoroughly assimilated middle-class New Yorkers, they’re waiting for judgment, either from history, a disappointed God or their next-door neighbors. They’re straddling worlds and don’t want to put a wrong foot in either.

Englander, author of a new book of short stories called “What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank,” has roots in many of these worlds. He was raised in an Orthodox community in Long Island, New York, and then entered the secular world when he went to college. He’s spent time in Iowa – at the famed Iowa Writers Workshop – and has lived in Israel. He now lives in Brooklyn and describes himself as “culturally Jewish.”

The concept of identity and its burdens is close to his heart.

“What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank” comes five years after Englander’s critically praised novel “The Ministry of Special Cases” and 13 years after his first story collection, “For the Relief of Unbearable Urges,” put him on the literary map.

The Foer questions: Literary wunderkind turns 35

Englander recently did the translation for a new Passover haggadah (a book that recounts the Exodus over the traditional meal), due out in March. He’s now at work on “The Twenty-Seventh Man,” a play based on a story from “Urges,” which will premiere in the fall.

Englander spoke to CNN while visiting New Orleans. The following is an edited version of the interview.

CNN: It’s been five years since “The Ministry of Special Cases,” and that took you several years. How long does it take you to write?

Nathan Englander: (For) the novel, I didn’t do anything else, except for like mild dental hygiene, for eight years.

I get so consumed. I work these stories in my head. I wrote five of the eight stories (in “Anne Frank”) in the last year. And I do draft after draft. As a reader, if I see a comma out of place, I slam the book shut. I did NOT invest all this time to see an errant comma.

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

This Jewish idea of kavanah – focus – I was raised with. The rabbis were always on us: “kavanah, kavanah” – “focus, focus.”

I also like the idea of things that transfer from Jewish life, like a makom kavuah (a fixed place for prayer). You pray in the seat in the same place every day, because that will help you.

It’s like writers, why you should sit at the same desk or eat the same thing or work at the same time: It’s all about finding focus. To write is an out-of-body experience. That is the point. That’s where the work gets done.

CNN: The Jews in your stories are almost carrying a physical burden and are always looking over their shoulders. Is this religious or cultural?

Englander: I don’t know if these are the ideas of a culture or of a religion. It might just be being a New Yorker. (But) these things are me.

I want to shy away from stereotypes. I get so sensitive about the Jewish writer thing (because) I understand where the assumptions come from. We all have to categorize. (But) a story’s only functioning if it’s universal. That’s the definition of art to me. It’s not a functioning story for me if it’s not absolutely real world, and it’s not absolutely real characters.

Follow the CNN Belief Blog on Twitter

I grew up totally religious in this insular world. I lived in Israel. I lived in New York. I lived as a religious person. I took a degree in Judaic studies when I was at college to learn everything secular. I’ve had many facets of Jewish experience. The whole world is Jewish to me. That was my experience. The other world didn’t exist. So for me to see this as somehow “other,” I have no sense of what “other” is.

CNN: Your stories are often haunted by the Holocaust.

Englander: I spent a fall in Berlin a couple years ago, and I was living at the American Academy, formerly the American Officers Club, and before that it was built by a Jewish banker who got out before the Holocaust, and then it was taken over by a high-ranking SS officer. But the point is to live in the house that was built by a Jew and also has the ghost of a very horrible Nazi, and basically our windows looked out at Lake Wannsee of the Wannsee Conference, looking across the way at the house where (top Nazi officer Adolf) Eichmann sat. … I feel like this book is part of that time.

Living in Germany in this Jewish house, this SS house, something snapped, a freeing thing. I suddenly became comfortable that this is how my head is patterned. If this is something that obsesses me and tortures me and focuses me and is all about this idea, that is how my brain is patterned, we are talking about me willing to be vulnerable and explore my pattern in this brain.

CNN: I like how you investigate that theme about whether it’s better to look forward and put the past aside or to never forget.

Englander: I don’t know what other idea to have.

In the “Camp Sundown” story (about elderly Jews who believe a member of their vacation camp was a Nazi collaborator), the idea of all these things – of religion, of faith – is finding meaning or making order from chaos. So we need the Holocaust for that story; we need Jews for sure; we need East Coast Jewish culture for that story.

But the point that I’m exploring is, what do we do if justice has not been delivered? If someone will not deliver justice, do you deliver justice? Religion helps to frame those things.

CNN: Do you enjoy poking at the hypocrisy of your more devout characters, who seem unaware of how elements of their religious lives contrast with their secular lives?

Englander: Often what we’re saying when that person is hypocritical, we’re saying that person is human. So the idea is more that when there’s a social contract. Teachers have responsibility. Clergy. That’s where hypocrisy comes in.

Where this religious thing never stops interesting me is people negotiating that balance of humanity and faith and what (the Bible) says and what they’re supposed to do. I hardly ever feel comfortable saying I’m sure of everything. The idea of people wanting to change things with such great surety, using the Bible for that, is such a misuse of the Bible and such hubris.

Clearly, we’re supposed to treat each other better, and the idea of using the Bible to treat everybody worse in this country, to me, is just a crazy reading.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Books • Judaism

soundoff (314 Responses)
  1. False Dichotomy

    Okay, b4bigbang, one last chance to demonstrate that creationists don't just make stuff up. You said: "the atheists will publish that the fossils of a new species of prehistoric ape-like 'man' has been dug up, when later the 'fossil' was found to be a single tooth, which was subsequently found to be a common pig's tooth, they don't even bother to remove it from the textbooks! Why confuse the masses with the truth? i guess they're thinking."

    My response from below: What you are referring to was called "Nebraska Man" and was either a hoax or a mistake that was revealed decades ago...by scientists.

    I'm calling you out. Show me the modern textbooks that present "Nebraska Man" as a hominid fossil, show me or admit once and for all that you creationists often simply lie to try to support your point of view.

    I'm serious. What textbooks?

    March 21, 2012 at 12:18 am |
  2. Colin

    Maye I can help.

    Jewish religious world – a being created the entire Universe and its billions of galaxies (each with billions of planets) about 13,720,000,000 years ago. He then sat back and waited about that long for the Earth to form, for h.omo sapeins to evelove from earlier animals, and then started appearing to a nomadic tribe of Jews in the late Iron Age Middle East, assuring them that, out of the millions of other people on the planet at that time, they were the most important, provided they obeyed about 600 laws, 99% of which are only relevant to Middle Eastern farm life.

    Secular World – the above is complete BS.

    March 20, 2012 at 7:16 pm |
    • Observer2

      Much better, Colin! You seem to have lost that sky fairy nonsense.

      March 21, 2012 at 9:37 am |
  3. Urafkntool

    GOOOOOOOOOOOOOO IRAN!!!

    March 20, 2012 at 6:42 pm |
    • Deep Blue Sea

      Hey Abdul/godspeople/hg family how ya doin?

      March 20, 2012 at 8:49 pm |
    • Urafkntool

      Sorry. Wrong person. I'm just your average, run of the mill anti-se-m-it-e- r-ac–i-s-t

      March 20, 2012 at 11:34 pm |
    • Urafkntool

      Really though I'm a wh-it-e nationalist, but everyone assumes it's blanket r-a-c-i-s-m *shrug*

      March 20, 2012 at 11:35 pm |
  4. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer really changes things .

    March 20, 2012 at 12:26 pm |
    • mandarax

      You're REALLY annoying.

      March 20, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
    • Johnny Blammo

      I rarely even notice him anymore. The goofballs like this wanker and Reality just seem to vanish once you know they are cut-and-pasting relentlessly, without any thought whatsoever. I just tune them out. They are hardly worth an emotion, especially not annoyance . . . but it is okay to laugh at them if you so desire. Otherwise, don't waste another moment of you rprecious life.

      March 20, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
    • Jesus

      You've been proven a liar over and over again on this blog. A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested Friday morning...

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      Plus don't forget. The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs!! .. .. .. ... .. . ..

      March 20, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
    • OhYeah

      "You're REALLY annoying."

      Yeah, and so is prayer and neither of them work. LOL!

      March 20, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
    • Reality

      ONLY FOR THE NEWCOMERS:

      As a good student, you have read the reiterations of the "fems" (flaws, errors, muck and stench) of religion. Therefore the seeds have been planted in rich soil. Go therefore and preach the truth to all nations, reiterating as you go amongst the lost, bred, born and brainwashed souls of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism as Rational Thinking makes its triumphant return all because of you!!!!

      March 20, 2012 at 6:38 pm |
    • just sayin

      All prayer posts are sincere, individual heart felt encouragements to prayer, none are copy/ paste.

      March 20, 2012 at 8:56 pm |
    • Reality

      ONLY FOR THE NEWCOMERS:

      A prayer for the new world:

      The Apostles' Creed 2011: (updated by yours truly based on the studies of NT historians and theologians of the past 200 years)

      Should I believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
      and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
      human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven?????

      I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
      preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
      named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
      girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)

      Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
      the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

      He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
      a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of
      Jerusalem.

      Said Jesus' story was embellished and "mythicized" by
      many semi-fiction writers. A bodily resurrection and
      ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
      Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
      grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
      and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
      called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.

      Amen
      (References used are available upon request.)

      March 20, 2012 at 11:50 pm |
  5. Brad

    Thinker23 said "There is no reason whatsoever to declare that the designer did his job and retired. It makes MUCH MORE SENSE to assume that He is still with us improving and making changes to his creations as necessary." Your assumption might be comforting to you, but it doesn't make more sense without evidence. In fact there would seem to be evidence to the contrary. One thing that comes to mind: many existing diseases with a genetic basis arose comparatively recently and are arising now by mechanisms that could easily prevented by fairly trivial editing by an involved designer.

    March 20, 2012 at 9:34 am |
    • HeavenSent

      Past the seeker as he prayed
      came the crippled
      and the beggar
      and the beaten.
      And seeing them... he cried,
      "Great God, how is it that a loving creator
      can see such things
      and yet do nothing about them?"
      God said,
      "I did do something.
      I made
      YOU."

      ~Anonymous

      March 20, 2012 at 9:49 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      It is of course up to humans to help those whom God created with defects as He isn't very fond of his factory rejects.

      Lev.21:17-23
      Whosoever ... hath any blemish, let him not approach to offer the bread of his God. For whatsoever man he be that hath a blemish, he shall not approach: a blind man, or a lame, or he that hath a flat nose, or any thing superfluous, Or a man that is brokenfooted, or brokenhanded, Or crookbackt, or a dwarf, or that hath a blemish in his eye, or be scurvy, or scabbed, or hath his stones broken; No man that hath a blemish of the seed of Aaron the priest shall come nigh to offer the offerings of the LORD made by fire: he hath a blemish; he shall not come nigh to offer the bread of his God. ... Only he shall not go in unto the vail, nor come nigh unto the altar, because he hath a blemish; that he profane not my sanctuaries.

      March 20, 2012 at 9:53 am |
  6. Prayer Is Not Healthy For Children And Other Thinking Beings

    Evolution changes things.
    Gradually.
    Proven.

    March 20, 2012 at 8:42 am |
    • just sayin

      Never been shown to work. Evolution remains an unproven theory.

      March 20, 2012 at 8:43 pm |
    • False Dichotomy

      Just Sayin, it's just pathetic that people can live in an privileged country the modern world surrounded by genetic research, medical treatments, DNA evidence in courtrooms, cloning, lactose tolerant populations, vaccines, sickle-cell anemia, domesticated plants and animals, etc etc etc and still be so blind and profoundly ignorant that they could utter that comment with a straight face.

      March 20, 2012 at 10:03 pm |
    • WASP

      @"just sayin": research the term scienctific theory with that lovely little device you have infront of you. while you're at it research banned from the bible 1 and 2; education is a blessing, ignorance a sin.

      March 21, 2012 at 9:32 am |
  7. Ykcyc

    @Urafkntool
    I think the real problem is unconsciousness, ignorance, ideologies..., insanity. Humans got lost in their minds and lost touch with reality. Just because you “think” and believe something to be true, does not make it true! All it is, is an uncounscious opinion. Ability to see that is a first step to freedom from all opinions. You are not your opinion. The problem you imagine to be is just a non existant fear, fobia. You may lack the courage to admit it and see it for what it is. Good luck.

    March 20, 2012 at 8:25 am |
    • Urafkntool

      The only time I can think of when humans got lost in their minds is when we allowed non-whi-tes into whi-te nat-ions. Now we can't stop the flood and we're being overran, ou-tbr-ed and k-i-l-l-e-d off. Stu-p-i-d-ity at it's finest.

      March 20, 2012 at 7:01 pm |
  8. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    March 20, 2012 at 7:23 am |
    • Jesus

      You've been proven a liar over and over again on this blog. A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested Friday morning...

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      Plus don't forget. The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs!! .. .. .. ... .. .

      March 20, 2012 at 8:34 am |
  9. Reality

    ONLY FOR THE NEWCOMERS:

    To be fair to the author:

    1. origin: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F20E1EFE35540C7A8CDDAA0894DA404482

    “New Torah For Modern Minds

    Abraham, the Jewish patriarch, probably never existed. Nor did Moses. The entire Exodus story as recounted in the Bible probably never occurred. The same is true of the tumbling of the walls of Jericho. And David, far from being the fearless king who built Jerusalem into a mighty capital, was more likely a provincial leader whose reputation was later magnified to provide a rallying point for a fledgling nation.

    Such startling propositions – the product of findings by archaeologists digging in Israel and its environs over the last 25 years – have gained wide acceptance among non-Orthodox rabbis. But there has been no attempt to disseminate these ideas or to discuss them with the laity – until now.

    The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, which represents the 1.5 million Conservative Jews in the United States, has just issued a new Torah and commentary, the first for Conservatives in more than 60 years. Called "Etz Hayim" ("Tree of Life" in Hebrew), it offers an interpretation that incorporates the latest findings from archaeology, philology, anthropology and the study of ancient cultures. To the editors who worked on the book, it represents one of the boldest efforts ever to introduce into the religious mainstream a view of the Bible as a human rather than divine docu-ment. “

    2. Jesus was an illiterate Jewish peasant/carpenter/simple preacher man who suffered from hallucinations (or “mythicizing” from P, M, M, L and J) and who has been characterized anywhere from the Messiah from Nazareth to a mythical character from mythical Nazareth to a ma-mzer from Nazareth (Professor Bruce Chilton, in his book Rabbi Jesus). An-alyses of Jesus’ life by many contemporary NT scholars (e.g. Professors Ludemann, Crossan, Borg and Fredriksen, ) via the NT and related doc-uments have concluded that only about 30% of Jesus' sayings and ways noted in the NT were authentic. The rest being embellishments (e.g. miracles)/hallucinations made/had by the NT authors to impress various Christian, Jewish and Pagan sects.

    The 30% of the NT that is "authentic Jesus" like everything in life was borrowed/plagiarized and/or improved from those who came before. In Jesus' case, it was the ways and sayings of the Babylonians, Greeks, Persians, Egyptians, Hitt-ites, Canaanites, OT, John the Baptizer and possibly the ways and sayings of traveling Greek Cynics.

    earlychristianwritings.com/theories.html

    For added "pizzazz", Catholic theologians divided god the singularity into three persons and invented atonement as an added guilt trip for the "pew people" to go along with this trinity of overseers. By doing so, they made god the padre into god the "filicider".

    Current RCC problems:

    Pedophiliac priests, an all-male, mostly white hierarchy, atonement theology and original sin!!!!

    2 b., Luther, Calvin, Joe Smith, Henry VIII, Wesley, Roger Williams, the Great “Babs” et al, founders of Christian-based religions or combination religions also suffered from the belief in/hallucinations of "pretty wingie thingie" visits and "prophecies" for profits analogous to the myths of Catholicism (resurrections, apparitions, ascensions and immacu-late co-nceptions).

    Current problems:
    Adulterous preachers, pedophiliac clerics, "propheteering/ profiteering" evangelicals and atonement theology,

    3. Mohammed was an illiterate, womanizing, lust and greed-driven, warmongering, hallucinating Arab, who also had embellishing/hallucinating/plagiarizing scribal biographers who not only added "angels" and flying chariots to the koran but also a militaristic agenda to support the plundering and looting of the lands of non-believers.

    This agenda continues as shown by the ma-ssacre in Mumbai, the as-sas-sinations of Bhutto and Theo Van Gogh, the conduct of the seven Muslim doctors in the UK, the 9/11 terrorists, the 24/7 Sunni suicide/roadside/market/mosque bombers, the 24/7 Shiite suicide/roadside/market/mosque bombers, the Islamic bombers of the trains in the UK and Spain, the Bali crazies, the Kenya crazies, the Pakistani “koranics”, the Palestine suicide bombers/rocketeers, the Lebanese nutcases, the Taliban nut jobs, the Ft. Hood follower of the koran, and the Filipino “koranics”.

    And who funds this muck and stench of terror? The warmongering, Islamic, Shiite terror and torture theocracy of Iran aka the Third Axis of Evil and also the Sunni "Wannabees" of Saudi Arabia.

    Current crises:

    The Sunni-Shiite blood feud and the warmongering, womanizing (11 wives), hallucinating founder.

    4. Hinduism (from an online Hindu site) – "Hinduism cannot be described as an organized religion. It is not founded by any individual. Hinduism is God centered and therefore one can call Hinduism as founded by God, because the answer to the question ‘Who is behind the eternal principles and who makes them work?’ will have to be ‘Cosmic power, Divine power, God’."

    The caste/laborer system, reincarnation and cow worship/reverence are problems when saying a fair and rational God founded Hinduism."

    Current problems:

    The caste system, reincarnation and cow worship/reverence.

    5. Buddhism- "Buddhism began in India about 500 years before the birth of Christ. The people living at that time had become disillusioned with certain beliefs of Hinduism including the caste system, which had grown extremely complex. The number of outcasts (those who did not belong to any particular caste) was continuing to grow."

    "However, in Buddhism, like so many other religions, fanciful stories arose concerning events in the life of the founder, Siddhartha Gautama (fifth century B.C.):"

    Archaeological discoveries have proved, beyond a doubt, his historical character, but apart from the legends we know very little about the circu-mstances of his life. e.g. Buddha by one legend was supposedly talking when he came out of his mother's womb.

    Bottom line: There are many good ways of living but be aware of the hallucinations, embellishments, lies, and myths surrounding the founders and foundations of said rules of life.

    Then, apply the Five F rule: "First Find the Flaws, then Fix the Foundations". And finally there will be religious peace and religious awareness in the world!!!!!

    March 20, 2012 at 7:22 am |
  10. b4bigbang

    So let's deal with God as the designer:

    Changability means that the designer made imperfect creatures, and selective breeding means that lowly man could improve upon God's work. You are now smack dab in the middle of "the argument from poor design." You are also deep into the "argument from ignorance" fallacy.

    Theology is clearly not your strong point, evidenced by your faulty logic re God giving Man dominion.
    I gotta go now too but i hope to chat w/ya later!

    March 20, 2012 at 1:52 am |
    • tallulah13

      You remind me of what my dad used to say to our not-so-bright dog many years ago: "You're just barking to hear your brains rattle."

      March 20, 2012 at 2:34 am |
    • Thinker23

      "Changability means that the designer made imperfect creatures..."

      There is no reason whatsoever to declare that the designer did his job and retired. It makes MUCH MORE SENSE to assume that He is still with us improving and making changes to his creations as necessary.

      March 20, 2012 at 5:58 am |
    • Reality

      What we do know: (from the fields of astrophysics, nuclear physics, geology and the history of religion)

      1. The Sun will burn out in 3-5 billion years so we have a time frame.

      2. Asteroids continue to circle us in the nearby asteroid belt.

      3. One wayward rock and it is all over in a blast of permanent winter.

      4. There are enough nuclear weapons to do the same job.

      5. Most contemporary NT exegetes do not believe in the Second Coming so apparently there is no concern about JC coming back on an asteroid or cloud of raptors/rapture.

      6. All stars will eventually extinguish as there is a limit to the amount of hydrogen in the universe. When this happens (100 trillion years?), the universe will go dark. If it does not collapse and recycle, the universe will end.

      7. Super, dormant volcanoes off the coast of Africa and under Yellowstone Park could explode catalytically at any time ending life on Earth.

      Bottom line: our apocalypse will start between now and 3-5 billion CE. The universe apocalypse, 100 trillion years?

      o Think infinity and recycling with the Big Bang expansion followed by the shrinking reversal called the Gib Gnab and recycling back to the Big Bang repeating the process on and on forever. Human life and Earth are simply a minute part of this cha-otic, sto-cha-stic, expanding, shrinking process disappearing in five billion years with the burn out of the Sun and maybe returning in another five billion years with different life forms but still subject to the va-ga-ries of its local star.

      March 20, 2012 at 7:25 am |
    • False Dichotomy

      @b4bigbang, you said: "the atheists will publish that the fossils of a new species of prehistoric ape-like 'man' has been dug up, when later the 'fossil' was found to be a single tooth, which was subsequently found to be a common pig's tooth, they don't even bother to remove it from the textbooks! Why confuse the masses with the truth? i guess they're thinking."

      My response from below: What you are referring to was called "Nebraska Man" and was either a hoax or a mistake that was revealed decades ago...by scientists.

      I'm calling you out. Show me the modern textbooks that present "Nebraska Man" as a hominid fossil, show me or admit once and for all that you creationists often simply lie to try to support your point of view.

      I'm serious. What textbooks?

      March 20, 2012 at 9:17 am |
    • @youignantdotcom

      "It makes MUCH MORE SENSE to assume that He is still with us improving and making changes to his creations as necessary."

      Assuming something based on nothing is #ignant.

      March 20, 2012 at 10:26 am |
    • Oh Yeah

      Thinker23
      If a designer God is still at work then he's mainly employed in making new disease bacteria and viruses. Not exactly helpful to we humans.

      March 20, 2012 at 10:27 am |
  11. b4bigbang

    No serious medical or scientific source considers the coccyx to be anything other than vestigial.

    You've already established that 'vestigial' is not limited to a 'proof' of Darwinian evolution, but your latest comment, flying in the face of the fact that u must admit a modern neccesity of this structure seems to demand that vestigiality is indeed proof.
    Darwinian evolutionists claim the coccyx as strong evidence of evolution because it looks like an animals tail somewhat, when in the womb or in the case of genetic deformity.
    The Ider says that the commonality we have with our physical design with the animal kingdom gives strong evidence of a master designer who designed all of them along similar lines.

    March 20, 2012 at 1:44 am |
    • False Dichotomy

      Come on, b4bigbang, I'm calling you out. Show me the modern textbooks that present "Nebraska Man" as a hominid fossil, show me or admit once and for all that you creationists often simply lie to try to support your point of view.

      I'm serious. What textbooks?

      March 20, 2012 at 9:19 am |
    • Oh Yeah

      b4bigbang

      The commonality of our physical design with the rest of the animal kingdom gives strong evidence of descent from a common ancestor species. Why would a omni-powerful and intelligent designer god be so uninspired as to work off of the same basic plan?

      March 20, 2012 at 10:31 am |
    • Al

      It's not called the tailbone for nothing there, Sparky! 😉

      March 20, 2012 at 11:30 am |
    • WASP

      @B4: haven't done much research on your own have you? obviously not. people are born with tails of varying sizes. now the tail bone doesn't grow into that fleshy little tail but it can still be moved to some extent. so reason would dictate that if we can grow tails then either the designer has a sick sence of humour or we evolved from something that had a tail in the past.

      March 21, 2012 at 9:44 am |
  12. b4bigbang

    "...If species were God-made, they would not be manipulable by humans. You are still supporting evolution."

    Your 'scientific' logic here has failed you. IDers do believe in much of the evolutionary theory (just not all the ape-man evolving into modern humans stuff), we even have old earth IDers, plus the fact that the Bibles states, neither implictly nor explictly that If species were God-made, they would not be manipulable by humans.
    Where did you come up with that? The Bible clearly teaches that God gave dominion over the animal kingdom to Man.

    March 20, 2012 at 1:26 am |
    • You don't need fossils to see evolution

      You are as reply-button-challenged as you are intellectually challenged.

      You are clearly conceding the point that evolution is at work – beings can be changed, as in selective breeding. Good. That pretty much means all your points tonight have collapsed. All you are trying to say now is that God is at the source. So there is no more science involved.

      So let's deal with God as the designer:

      Changability means that the designer made imperfect creatures, and selective breeding means that lowly man could improve upon God's work. You are now smack dab in the middle of "the argument from poor design." You are also deep into the "argument from ignorance" fallacy.

      There is no reason to debate your silly assertions further, and it's bedtime.

      March 20, 2012 at 1:47 am |
    • @youignantdotcom

      "The Bible clearly teaches that God gave dominion over the animal kingdom to Man."

      LOL and that book was written by a bunch of men trying to control a population. Learn the history of your religion. #youignant.

      March 20, 2012 at 10:27 am |
  13. b4bigbang

    Also, u keep saying that my inclusion of Flew's activity is anecdotal. I'm not attempting to say "Flew is right about everything" (indeed, he's not!) but that as a leading philosopher of science his conversion should be looked into by atheists with an open mind.
    And yet, every time i bring him up, none of the atheists want to commit to retracing his steps in an attempt to discover what the evidence is that changed his mind.
    Always ignored, or dismissed as "he was senile" an accusation Flew defended himself against.

    March 20, 2012 at 1:19 am |
    • You don't need fossils to see evolution

      STILL anecdotal opinion without the slightest shred of evidence, and you still are too clueless to use the reply button!

      Other scientists have refuted Flew far mor persuasively than I, and a quick google search will find those. Even the wikipedia article you so conveniently cherry-picked will list them, as well as the strong support for the position that Flew was going senile, and that another person actually wrote his opinions.

      But it's STILL unsupported anecdotal opinion, without the slightest shred of evidence.

      March 20, 2012 at 1:32 am |
  14. b4bigbang

    You don't need fossils to see evolution

    You provided "cooked" evidence, planted by creationists on a non-scientific website. The author is an occupational therapist, which is a LONG way from being a scientist.

    Here is a properly thought out and supported discussion of the subject: http://oolon.awardspace.com/vestigial.htm

    I can scarcely see an anonomous website which by it's own admission is designed to combat ID as a better source than a secular mainstream site like ehow, which has no bias either way and no axe to grind.
    What makes 'oolon' a better expert in human anatomy than the medical community?
    Besides, what do ya think re the Nat Geo article on foxes? It was the cover article only a few months ago.

    March 20, 2012 at 1:11 am |
    • You don't need fossils to see evolution

      Get a clue and start using the "reply" button.

      Are you really going to continue presenting the claim of an occupational therapist on eHow as being the voice of the medical community? That is incredibly funny!

      No serious medical or scientific source considers the coccyx to be anything other than vestigial.

      March 20, 2012 at 1:25 am |
  15. b4bigbang

    Your latest post is a cop-out to the least reliable form of evidence on the planet: anecdotal assertion. You picked one single guy, and treat his unsupported opinion as evidence. He is not presenting any evidence either.

    Are u referring to my Flew posting? If so, I'll defend it by saying:
    1) Flew looked at other people's work, including the ID that you don't like, and when confronted with what this leading atheist thinker saw as good evidence, converted from atheism to deism. I would think that atheists would like to check this kind of thing out, that is, if the atheist is truly open-minded (like Flew was).

    2) My inclusion of this was valid also because i read that one of the main reasons Flew converted was his study of more recent ID papers.

    Btw, i answered your question re the "tailbone" too.

    March 20, 2012 at 12:58 am |
    • You don't need fossils to see evolution

      Still anecdotal opinion. No evidence at all. You are supplying nothing but fallacies.

      March 20, 2012 at 1:01 am |
    • Al

      Flew is simply getting too senile to remember all the great reasons why he disbelieved. Why should the opinion of the few atheists turned believers trump that of many more who have left their faiths to embrace reason?

      March 20, 2012 at 11:39 am |
  16. b4bigbang

    Oh, and here's a direct answer to the "tailbone" mystery:
    http://www.ehow.com/about_4595962_the-tail-bone.html

    In this article u will find that it serves a needed purpose, and the article goes on to say that even the term "tailbone" is a misnomer.

    March 20, 2012 at 12:38 am |
    • You don't need fossils to see evolution

      You provided "cooked" evidence, planted by creationists on a non-scientific website. The author is an occupational therapist, which is a LONG way from being a scientist.

      Here is a properly thought out and supported discussion of the subject:

      http://oolon.awardspace.com/vestigial.htm

      March 20, 2012 at 12:56 am |
  17. b4bigbang

    Sorry, my last post re the foxes was an answer to:

    You don't need fossils to see evolution

    Hey b4bang/atheismchickens/prayertroll – Alien Orifice and I provided many examples of evolution clearly at work now. Why have you ignored them and continued with your childish fossil fraud conspiracy theory? I liked AO's tailbone evidence – why do you have the remnants of a tale at the base of your spine? Is is a fraud?

    March 20, 2012 at 12:34 am |
  18. b4bigbang

    There's more than one explanation for "vestigial" organs. It's been proven that mammallian gross anatomy can change quite significantly in only a couple of decades – through selective breeding, for example.
    Did you read the National Geographic article that demonstrated how the vertebrae/tail and other parts of foxes' anatomy changed in a Russian experiment? The researchers intent was merely to see if the wild could be bred out of the fox.
    All the researchers did was mate the foxes chosen from each litter that demonstrated less fear towards humans than their litter-mates and they were astonished to see [as an unexpected 'side-effect'] these unanticipated major physical changes occur over only a few generations, along with a high degree of domestication as well.
    A fascinating article!

    March 20, 2012 at 12:33 am |
    • You don't need fossils to see evolution

      Selective breeding is induced evolution. If species were God-made, they would not be manipulable by humans. You are still supporting evolution.

      March 20, 2012 at 12:59 am |
    • Thinker23

      "If species were God-made, they would not be manipulable by humans."

      WHY not?

      March 20, 2012 at 5:55 am |
  19. b4bigbang

    Attention atheists: A former atheist and academic converts from atheism to deism – read and heed!

    In late 2006, Flew joined 11 other academics in urging the British government to teach intelligent design in the state schools.[27]

    In 2007, in an interview with Benjamin Wiker, Flew said again that his deism was the result of his "growing empathy with the insight of Einstein and other noted scientists that there had to be an Intelligence behind the integrated complexity of the physical Universe" and "my own insight that the integrated complexity of life itself – which is far more complex than the physical Universe – can only be explained in terms of an Intelligent Source." He also restated that he was not a Christian theist.[28].

    Source: wikipedia entry "Antony Flew".

    March 20, 2012 at 12:23 am |
    • You don't need fossils to see evolution

      You keep changing the subject. What perfect proof of your inability to defend any position.

      Your latest post is a cop-out to the least reliable form of evidence on the planet: anecdotal assertion. You picked one single guy, and treat his unsupported opinion as evidence. He is not presenting any evidence either.

      March 20, 2012 at 12:46 am |
    • Al

      Flew is now senile. Too bad, he once had a very alert mind.

      March 20, 2012 at 11:28 am |
  20. b4bigbang

    Alvin Pimples, International Man of Mystery: "That's hilarious! One post down you are calling evolution a fraud, and now you are claiming God did it!"

    Read closer. Pointing out fossil frauds should not be interpreted as a blanket disbelief of evolution!

    March 20, 2012 at 12:03 am |
    • Alvin Pimples, International Man of Mystery

      Right. You are a Christian who points out "fossil frauds" because you believe in evolution. That is a superlative bit of intensely lame disingenuity. I now promote you to High Priest of Stupid.

      March 20, 2012 at 12:14 am |
    • You don't need fossils to see evolution

      Hey b4bang/atheismchickens/prayertroll – Alien Orifice and I provided many examples of evolution clearly at work now. Why have you ignored them and continued with your childish fossil fraud conspiracy theory? I liked AO's tailbone evidence – why do you have the remnants of a tale at the base of your spine? Is is a fraud?

      March 20, 2012 at 12:20 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.