Science, the Scientific Method, and Intelligent Design

Every year there is an unfortunate battle at some rural elementary school over the teaching of evolution. Complaining parents, more often than not fundamentalist Christians, often make fools of themselves, denying the weight of scientific evidence and, worse in my view, appealing to the same standards as multiculturalists, by demanding inclusion of their alternative curricula in the name of diversity. The recent Dover decision involving a Pennsylvania school board has permitted these archetypes to unfold in their predictable fashion.

Could there be a formula for a peaceful resolution? For all of the cultural elite's pretensions about creationism and intelligent design, their view of science, while it may make its adherents feel good, has little to do with what science actually can and cannot say.

First, science and its methods do not produce a series of irrefutable and immutable pronouncements from on high. Such "knowledge" would be a species of magic or prophecy. Rather, science is a method that eschews final and definitive announcements; it makes progress narratively, through a series of falsifiable explanations, any of which may be refuted and superceded by some discovery in a later experiment, that is, by some better and more definitive explanation. Any of its intermediate explanations are provisional, as they are all by their nature falsifiable.

Second, schools would be well served to use the debate on intelligent design and evolution to distinguish science from religion and philosophy and history. The hardest of the hard sciences, such as physics and chemistry, proceed through experimentation. "X" will or won't happen. And it will or won't happen regularly and predictably. Making such predictions with greater clarity and precision does not answer the bigger question of these events' significance. To use Aristotelian language modern science can explain efficient causes but not final causes. That is, these scientific explanations are both incomplete and temporary.

There is even less rigor and completeness in much of biology. The taxonomic or historical methods of biology are distinct from physics and chemistry. When the biologist finds fossils and tries to explain their significance and relationships, his methods are not so different from those of a historian or anthropologist. His activity is inductive and imaginative. The presence of these historical and descriptive methods in what is ordinarily thought of as the experimental world of falsifiable hypotheses would be a useful clarification of why such biological inquiry cannot, for example, claim the same pedigree as formulae that show the effects of gravity or radiation. Competing, defensible explanations may emerge from the same facts. And those facts cannot be proven or disproven through experiments; they can merely be known as more or less supported by the evidence.

As it stands, not science but a rationalistic and near religious faith in science--scientism, if you will--defines much of the high school science curriculum. Such texts and curricula often involve unsupported claims about what science can tell us regarding the origins of man and the universe that alienate religious people, who would otherwise be open to the more contingent and qualified message of authentic science. Far from encouraging superstition and obscurantism, a science curriculum that acknowledged its built-in limitations--limitations derived from its circumscribed methods and subject matter--would find a more receptive audience with religious people and a happier coexistence with all Americans. Competing explanations based on the same evidence--such as Intelligent Design--need not be excluded so long as they are based on the same observational and explanatory methods.

Instead, right now, archaic religious views confronts an equally archaic and quaint scientism, which would be more at home among the encyclopedists than it would be with any thoughtful scientist. Perhaps a starting point for this discussion would be the frank acknowledgement that the scientific method finds its cultural origins in the Christian worldview, a view that depends upon the foundational axiom that there is an orderly universe governed by laws promulgated for our benefit by God.

The present-day Manichaean struggle between advocates of an atheistic science and some acknowledgement of a divine role is based on mutual confusion, is unnecessary, and has drifted from what should animate both scientific and religious studies: the search for truth.

Posted by at December 24, 2005 9:43 PM
Comments
Comment #107242

Having recently been over at Dawn’s thread, I feel I must say, oh no! not again!

Merry Christmas to all! I hope you have as civil and interesting a conversation here as we did on Dawn’s thread.

Posted by: Erika at December 24, 2005 11:26 PM
Comment #107244

Chris

You made me think. It is a kind of mulitcultural thing. We accept Native American ideas about their orgin, even though they are clearly wrong scientifically. When they found that Kennewick man Native American tribes tried to destroy the evidence and the authorities almost let them to mainatain the PC bull.

I don’t believe in ID. But we should put it in the same context as the other PC crap we have to swallow.

A while back, my son asked me if Harriet Tubman was more important than George Washington. I thought it was a stupid question, until I looked at his history book.

Posted by: Jack at December 24, 2005 11:36 PM
Comment #107248

Science is about progressively learning to ask the right questions about the world to get true and meaningful answers from it about nature.

Unfortunately, the view commonly presented in the media is that science is a mostly complete endeavor which has all the answers sewn up. This creates the false impression amongst people that Science should be infallible, that science should have complete explanations for everything, or otherwise be regarded as at a lost for credibility.

Science’s credibility doesn’t spring from its completeness. No real branch of science can claim that. Science’s crediblity comes from its ability to discern helpful, useful theories from other theories and facts where the connections are not immediately obvious.

Many of the ideas we take for granted, that gravity is a universal force; that atoms are composed of electrons, neutrons and protons; that magnetism and electrical force are two faces of one and the same force- these are all products of science’s careful examination of our world. Needless to say, these theories have reshaped our world.

The issue with ID is that it has already reached it’s obvious conclusion without the rest of sciences help: that divine powers have intervened in natural history, and that there is a way to discern this kind of divine intervention from the natural. So what backs up the claim that the equations can determine what is divine or not? There’s the black hole at the center of ID and it sucks all the crediblity as a theory into it.

The trick with mathematics is that you can justify anything with logic, and math is logic, so you can justify near anything with math. It takes effort, discipline, and additional thought to seek out the mathematical character of the true natural laws at worse.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at December 25, 2005 12:02 AM
Comment #107249

UM Chris Roach???????

Wasn’t there just the same post on this site less than 2 days ago, that ended with 329 posts at last count???

Creationism should not be taught as part of public education.

HERE’S THE BIG QUESTION: IF religious doctrine is brought into the caricula, Do we change SAT’s so it includes questions on Intelligent design???

Why should we pay for that WITH OUR TAX DOLLARS??? Why should my tax dollars go to pay teachers (and fund a department/school books etcetera) who are teaching NON-SCIENCE if not non-sense all together??? And non sense that isn’t even SAT required, mind you.

Teachers have a limited amount of time to teach these kids what they need to know to pass the grade. Now they have to waste more time so that the REPUBLI-TARDS can be happy that the Bible (a work of fiction) is brought back into public education??? What does this supposedly produce? More morality or something? it’s a hogwash issue. Slight of hand that produces nothing beneficial.

I wish the Republicans would evolve out of the middle ages and accept the separation of church and state as being AMERICAN.

Republicans have a hard-on to create American Wahabism, because religion being inclusive to public education is exactly what Wahabism is.

Posted by: Novenge at December 25, 2005 12:07 AM
Comment #107256

I pay a lot of taxes and there are a lot of things in the curriculum I wouldn’t voluntarily pay for. If you think Intelligent Design proponents don’t refer to “scientific” data in formulating their arguments, you haven’t been reading the prominent books in the field.

Most I.D. believers, like myself, accept every scientific finding truly supported by evidence, including other primates and ourselves having a comfortably common and close ancestry.

What we don’t accept is that the universe has been proven to be an unintended accident, that life has been proven to be an unintended accident, and that intelligent life especially developed completely by chance and accident and serves no purpose except to keep us mindlessly propagating ourselves for no reason that the rest of the universe cares a whiff about.

We not only think that all the scientism rhetoric amounting to worship of blind randomness and unintentionality in creation is flat wrong, we expect to find real, conventional scientific evidence and arguments to refute it. If you read our literature, that is what you find—pictures, diagrams, graphs, and generally informed argument about everything from feathers to entropy.

To me the Darwininan theory of evolution is about in the same position as Newton’s theory of gravitation when inconsistencies in the orbit of Mercury were discovered. Einstein came along with ideas that kept most of Newton’s mathematics, but radically altered certain critical assumptions.

In all the discussions posted so far on other threads, I have heard many tacit admissions that scientism’s strong Darwinist interpretation has trouble explaining certain things, but no real admission that maybe what Darwinian dogma needs is another Einstein to give the whole theory a radical makeover.

I believe that is exactly what the theory of evolution needs. Intelligent Design proponents may not produce a convincing new theory themselves, but I strongly suspect that our ideas and unique perspectives will prod the scientism establishment (eventually) into being more open to truly radical ideas, especially as unrelenting continuing research in the biological sciences keeps revealing astonishing new facets and insights into the miracle of life.

Posted by: Michael L. Cook at December 25, 2005 1:27 AM
Comment #107258

DOUBT, NOT TOUT

Novenge: I couldn’t agree more. This re-packaged “creationism” idea is an irrational cultural parasite, a miasma, and groundless twaddle cobbled together out of not-very-well-veiled religious opportunism.

The pro-ID idea that careful scientific pursuit is invalid because it is incomplete actually tells the tale in a nutshell.

ID’s “completeness” is only possible with the same tired assumptions at its core. This, call it: “certainty disorder” is the inescapable and childish essence of ID. To imprint this into the thinking of young people is backwards, tragic, but unfortunately typical of a lack of rational inclusive scrutiny ID needs to exist.

Irony 1:
In other words, because of the unnecessary, fundamental and dishonest blow that such teaching would create in young students, the invariably Judeo-Christian engine driving this mess renders itself provably immoral and irresponsible.

But maybe it is exercises like this that will finally draw back the curtain on such ‘religism’ driven efforts. Perhaps such things as ID are the milestones, the benchmarks of the end game that will finally lay open the fallacies rendering such practices to the archives in the human library of progress.

Irony 2:
The very certainties that ID purports and must force itself to tout, ultimately leaves only cognitive dissonance in its wake as the current legal discourse easily betrayed. On the other hand, the equally necessary doubt, constant peer review, testing, rejection, discovery, progressively reformative, ever-changing basis of careful methodical scientific inquiry: in short, the uncertainly, ultimately offers far greater understanding and as a consequence, social stability than IDism will ever muster.


Posted by: Blogical at December 25, 2005 1:51 AM
Comment #107261

It seems that most people are missing the major point in some of these court cases, of which Dover is a prime example.

1. The Dover schools were NOT teaching intelligent design. In fact, the letter sent to parents specifically stated that they wouldn’t be discussing intelligent design or “origins” in class.

2. The statement that was to be read at the beginning of the section on evolution was entirely accurate. It did not claim that intelligent design is science. It did not diminish the meaning of a scientific theory. And it did not require any students to listen to the statement.

3. The letter encouraged parents to discuss the issue with their children at home.

If one reads the judge’s decision in this case, aside from faulty logic in several areas, what it basically says is that the words “intelligent design” cannot be spoken in a science class. This case was not about teaching intelligent design. What the judge did, essentially, is CENSORSHIP. The same could be said about the stickers in Georgia.

The school policy was not a violation of the “establishment clause.” The people of Dover had non-legal recourse available if they didn’t like the policy. They used that recourse appropriately when they voted the school board out.

Posted by: Jeff at December 25, 2005 2:17 AM
Comment #107266

Jeff, the problem with the statement in Dover is that it made a special case for evolution. We should say before all science classes that what they teach are “just theories”. Evolution is no more and no less a valid scientific theory than other sciences. It is certainly younger, and will change in the future, but that should be done by scientists, not in the classroom.

Michael, you’ll remember that Einstein changed physics through science, not through politics. I have no argument with scientists who want to try to make ID into a viable scientific theory. I have a problem with the people who are trying to say that it is ready for prime time now. Even the scientists who support ID have said it is not ready for schools, and I am willing to give them the benefit of the doubt and believe it is because they realize it is still too young, and not because they realized they would lose in court.

Posted by: Erika at December 25, 2005 3:05 AM
Comment #107267
I pay a lot of taxes and there are a lot of things in the curriculum I wouldn’t voluntarily pay for. If you think Intelligent Design proponents don’t refer to “scientific” data in formulating their arguments, you haven’t been reading the prominent books in the field.

I have to admit, no I haven’t. I’ve mostly read the writings of supporters of ID on the internet, and I would not voluntarily pay for the privledge of reading writing similar in quality and content to what I have read from that side of the debate thusfar.

Most I.D. believers, like myself, accept every scientific finding truly supported by evidence, including other primates and ourselves having a comfortably common and close ancestry.

Really? You wouldn’t know it from any debate that springs up about ID. Just look at the number of people arguing for a literal Creation of Man by God in the last thread on this subject alone. Including the idea that God literally made Adam from mud and Eve from a rib from Adam. (And let’s not even get into the logic that stems from the idea that there were a literal Adam and Eve and that Eve shared genetic material with Adam in a way that would make her both a clone of him and his daughter effectively.) You also wouldn’t know it from some of the major sites supporting ID, such as http://www.answersingenesis.org/

What we don’t accept is that the universe has been proven to be an unintended accident, that life has been proven to be an unintended accident, and that intelligent life especially developed completely by chance and accident and serves no purpose except to keep us mindlessly propagating ourselves for no reason that the rest of the universe cares a whiff about.

Nor should you. Because that’s not what Science in any form says, and is certainly not what is taught in our public schools. (I’m probably a more recent graduate of those schools than most here, I graduated highschool in 1999, and I know I was never taught anything even remotely resembling that despite taking both regular and AP biology.) It seems to me that this is a common misconception of what Science is really saying with regard to Evolution. And I think I’m starting to understand where the disconnect in communication is.

“Unintended”, “accident”, “chance”, “accident”, “no purpose”, “no reason”… you’re not asking science for a description of what happened, with words like these, you’re asking science to give it meaning. To give it significance, or a rationale. Science can’t answer those questions at our current level of development, and may never be able to. Even using the classic Creationist/ID example of the existance of a watch implying a watchmaker, finding the watch could never tell you the intention of the watchmaker in making it. Maybe he was fooling around and experimenting and seeing what he could make. Maybe he had a grand plan. Maybe he was just doing his job and wanted to get paid. Observing the watch and how it works just doesn’t tell you that much about the watchmaker. Bringing it back to evolution and cosmology, observing the universe doesn’t tell us a thing about whether what we percieve as accidents were intended by a higher power or not, and certainly not why that power might have intended them if such a power exists. The idea of “chance” itself begs the question of whether or not things are truly random or if they just seem random to us. Is each flip of the coin called before it lands, predestined, or is it just a matter of playing the odds? Science, working from a limited perspective, can only observe that there are patterns (odds) to such things… they really can’t answer the question of whether the individual outcomes that form those patterns were predetermined, however.

But let’s say, just for a minute, that there was no greater reason for us to be here. That there was no great cosmic plan, and that everything was just an accident, just random chance. Why exactly can’t you accept that? Is it logic, or faith? Because it seems to me that the proponents of ID have, by and large, reached that position through faith and then go back and try to find a way to logically argue it, rather than letting logic lead them to an answer in the first place.

Besides, if life has no inherent meaning, then it seems to me that what meaning it ultimately has is the meaning we give it ourselves, through our own lives and actions.

We not only think that all the scientism rhetoric amounting to worship of blind randomness and unintentionality in creation is flat wrong, we expect to find real, conventional scientific evidence and arguments to refute it.

Well, first of all I think the accusation that science worships randomness and unintentionality is a bit over the top, and contributes greatly to why we have a tendency to ignore ID arguments. Nobody (except possibly followers of Eris, and then only sometimes) worships randomness. We observe randomness. We observe that a coin flipped in the air will have a certain probability of coming down one way or another. We observe that, barring mutation, crossbreeding beings with certain dominant and certain recessive genes will have a certain probability of having only the dominant gene, only the recessive gene, or one of each. We do not worship unintentionality, but neither can we assume intention without real evidence of it. And so far there isn’t any. Which brings me to my second point. You said in the beginning of this post that ID proponents refer to scientific data in their arguments. But here you’ve admitted, point blank, that ID *expects* to find evidence to refute randomness and unintentionality. They haven’t been found yet. And a mere expectation of data does not rise to the level necessary to turn a hypothesis into a theory using the scientific method. This is exactly why it is not appropriate to teach ID in schools alongside evolution.

If you read our literature, that is what you find—pictures, diagrams, graphs, and generally informed argument about everything from feathers to entropy.

Actually, generally I find what literature I’ve seen from ID proponents online to be full of weak analogies and misunderstandings of science. http://www.arn.org/idfaq/How%20can%20you%20tell%20if%20something%20is%20designed.htm
http://www.origins.org/articles/ross_sulfurcore.html

The second one is so bad that I can easily refute it myself: it presumes that the Earth was designed for the life that would exist upon it, or else merely had an incredibly lucky series of “accidents”, both of which reverse cause and effect rather dramatically. The truth is that life is more likely to form in conditions that are favorable to it, so the fact that the earth had these “accidents” is what made life likely to form here in the first place, not the other way around.

This is the general quality of the ID literature that I have seen.

To me the Darwininan theory of evolution is about in the same position as Newton’s theory of gravitation when inconsistencies in the orbit of Mercury were discovered. Einstein came along with ideas that kept most of Newton’s mathematics, but radically altered certain critical assumptions.

Problem is, most of what ID proponents are calling inconsistencies in evolutionary theory really aren’t. They’re the result of the ID proponents misunderstanding evolution. See the previous thread on this subject for ready-made examples.

In all the discussions posted so far on other threads, I have heard many tacit admissions that scientism’s strong Darwinist interpretation has trouble explaining certain things, but no real admission that maybe what Darwinian dogma needs is another Einstein to give the whole theory a radical makeover.

Maybe it does, but ID has shown no signs of being up to that task. Quite the opposite, it has shown itself to barely understand science let alone evolution. It explictly wants us to accept the existence of an unseen, unknown, but “intelligent” designer working through unknown means to design life, the universe, or whatever ID claims is too complex and specified to occur by chance (even though they admit there IS a chance of it happening randomly, it’s just extremely unlikely). It also has not escaped the notice of most people that this intelligent designer is always posited to be a single being that made both life here and the universe at large. Polythetistic or even merely pagan concepts of creation seem not to be considered at all in the Intelligent Designer paradigm, and even the idea that the designer could be extraterrestrial rather than divine is usually said with a nod and a wink. This generally fuels the belief that ID is merely a new brand name for Creation Science.

I believe that is exactly what the theory of evolution needs. Intelligent Design proponents may not produce a convincing new theory themselves, but I strongly suspect that our ideas and unique perspectives will prod the scientism establishment (eventually) into being more open to truly radical ideas, especially as unrelenting continuing research in the biological sciences keeps revealing astonishing new facets and insights into the miracle of life.

Again, you admit that ID has not yet produced a convincing theory, but you act as if it is science that is the problem still, that we’re simply not open enough to new “radical” ideas. This is exactly why we say that proponents of ID do not understand science.

Posted by: Jarandhel at December 25, 2005 3:08 AM
Comment #107281

Chris,

Could there be a formula for a peaceful resolution?

Yes, privatise all public schools. ‘Separation of Church and State’ issue solved.

I bring this up because it is a fact that state monopoly of education creates this religious tension.

The separation of Church and State was meant to keep the State out of the indoctrination business. Instead, what we have today is the state taking it over and then using the term ‘separation of church and state’ to justify it’s newfound right to indoctrinate.

Why do we have public schools? There are two basic reasons: 1) to provide education for the poor, and 2) to provide the ‘right’ kind of ‘equal’ education for all American children.

I don’t have a problem so much with #1. But there are better ways of accomplishing it than a monopoly. It is #2 which is inherently unconstitutional.


Also, I agree with your statements about science 100%. I certainly have no quarrel with science and would never want evolution banned from any classroom.

However, I have two points, one about science education and one about evolution in particular. Science education in public schools is… well it sucks generally. This is a symptom rather than the disease however, because I think that education itself is not well served by our present system which at best shoots for mediocrity and at worst teaches social theories rather than how to learn.

Secondly, I think evolution is generally bad science. Maybe this is a result of the educational system or of the many science shows devoted to evolution I have watched over the years, but if evolution is in fact a fact it is not taught very well at all.

Are there transitional forms from one species to another for instance? When I was in school there were numerous ‘missing links’ that were widely touted but then later discarded— but never very loudly!

Watch a science show on discovery about any subject and they will talk about the why’s and whatfor’s getting into the nitty gritty of why they believe something in astronomy for instance. Watch a show on evolution and what you get is a guy (now it’s digital) in a half-man half-ape costume with narration talking about it as THE evidence. When all they are doing is extrapolating from a fragment of a bone.

Evolution itself has taken on the nature of a religion for many. There’s a great deal of faith going on in order to accept it.

Posted by: esimonson at December 25, 2005 4:03 AM
Comment #107307

Chris Roach, except for your conclusions, a very good article. My objections:

Science is not concerned with truth. Science is concerned with predictability and verifiability. Truth on the other hand is very dependent upon the perceptual constraints and choices of the individual seeking it.

Is it true that the physical universe exists outside the perceptutal processes of a human being? Science cannot answer that question. Religion, requiring no empirical evidence to support its claims, can answer that and many have in postulating that God created the Universe and THEN created human beings. It is true for those who choose to believe it, and not true for those who choose not to.

I have yet to hear respected scientists say the big bang theory is the truth. But, I often hear Christians speak of their god as the only god as the truth.

My daughter attends Texas Public schools. She just turned 15 and in the 9th grade. She is taking chemistry and physics. Her texts and instruction have instructed her that the laws of the universe are laws only due to their long-standing verifiability and predictability. To the extent that such laws fail to predict, as in sub-atomic particle physics what happens in the macro phsical universe, those laws are not immutable. She has grasped this concept fairly well.

I say fairly well, because, she is 15, and her experience with the world, and her new introduction to the world of science is that of a novice, lacking the sophistication of better educated adults on questions like whether the tree falling in the woods actually makes a noise if no one is there to hear it. For her at this point, the tree does make a sound because as she said, the deer and squirrels are in the woods and they hear it.

And this is the crux of the issue regarding religion and science in schools. Proponents of both seek to grasp these malleable minds and train them to think in a particular fashion.

Some relgious proponents (by no means all) seek to train those minds to accept certain premises and conclusions without empirical evidence, and without question, the concept of a creator for example, and intelligence which precedes that of humans and the universe itself, which is separate and distinct from the universe as creation.

Science proponents seek to train those minds to question authority, which is the very heart of scientific inquiry. As anyone trained in science knows, when it comes to explaining the unknown, finding explanations often begins with discarding notions that no longer work to explain in light of new information. And therefore, what is required is a rejection of previous authorities on the subject to advance the cause of understanding and deriving new hypotheses which can be tested to find more comprehensive explanations.

And that is the rub. Science has no problem discarding authority when it fails, and in fact encourages it. Religion however, is at its core, authoritarian, God being the ultimate author. This is an unverifiable assumption proponents require to be accepted unquestioningly if one is to be brought into the fold of believers.

This is where the Fundamentalist Right Evangelical Christians (FREC’s) lose the majority of support for their actions in our public schools. It is plain as the nose on one’s face, that for FREC’s to increase their numbers, they must oppose the questioning and anti-authoritarian paradigm of thinking required of young people learning science. For if young people seek verifiable evidence for their beliefs, FREC’s believe they will lose these young as converts.

And why are converts so important? Converts are power. Especially in democracies. Converts mean money in the donation plates, pay the salaries of FREC leaders, converts mean political power in lobbying and organization, converts mean greater power to halt or modify the training of young potential converts in scientific inquiry and questioning of authority.

As you very poignantly observe, sciencific explanation demands subsequent generations to retest and reverify the results of the previous generation. This is anathema to relgion, which seeks to establish unquestioning acceptance and identification with their relgion through tradition, habits, and ritual. The only aspect of the word “NEW” which FREC’s embrace is in methodology of persuasion. Otherwise, new, is a concept which is anti-religious. “Give me that old-time religion” the song goes.

If it were not for FREC’s grab for power and goal of increasing their converts in future generations, as well as their fear of losing traditions, rituals, and habits, there would be no conflict between religion and science. Science does not seek, nor can it seek, to prove or disprove the existence of god, and as scientists are learning today, they cannot even prove or disprove whether the universe ever had a beginning (see string theory).

Posted by: David R. Remer at December 25, 2005 7:07 AM
Comment #107308

Jarandehl, the quality of the I.D. books is quite a bit higher than most postings and you can check them out from the library, you don’t have to buy them.

Let’s suppose, in a dreamy, theoretical kind of way, that it really, actually is the case that there are hurdles in bio-chemistry that the evolution of life just can not get over without positing a kind of “life force” that is not so much monotheistic in origin as it is pantheistic, say along the lines of the Gaia hypothesis (Gaia was proposed by a pretty good chemist you may recall.)

Let us suppose that some bright young minds realize that there are problems with Darwinian dogma that can’t be economically addressed without positing some new type of influence at work. I said “economically” because, in a certain sense, Occam’s Razor compels us to seek an economy of concept.

Let’s say a particular bright young genius’s attention is caught by the problem of explaining the immense difficulty of creating life in a test tube to the level of a simple prokaryotic cell. She is particularly caught by the fact that first life on Earth did not require “billions and billions” of years to work out all the complex chemical events, but appeared almost immediately after the Earth cooled and water arrived via interplanetary Federal Express.

She apprehends a problem with this, because if a prokaryotic cell can appear quickly in some type of primordial, pre-biotic soup, the (1) why don’t we see the process happening again occasionally in the last four billion years, producing new lines of life quite distinct from the rather idiosyncratic chemical way life evolved and has rigorously adhered to,

and (2) if the incubator conditions for life are so extremely special that they never have existed on this planet after the first few hundred million years, then maybe the panspermia idea must be taken seriously. Maybe life just came to our virgin planet as a spore on a space rock. But an objection looms to that inviting idea—why don’t we see more space rocks with extra-terrestial spores coming down? In fact, we find ancient meteors all the time, with no sign of spores, so it appears that if this was the route, the fortuitous spore-bearing rock came along with exquisite timing, as soon as the Earth was ready to be impregnated with life.

Both the concept of life spontaneously generating from a local warm pond of some very weird type and the concept of spore-rocks from space have this puzzle of their unique timing. Whichever it was, it is hard to explain why the process at work just quit and disappeared.

In fact, it is puzzling why we don’t see evidence of BOTH avenues to life on Earth, because if life can spontaneously generate from any type of a soup, the sheer vastness of the universe suggests that it would be happening a lot out there somewhere. Anything that can happen will happen a lot in the vastness. I have been using the outmoded idea of a soup in the sense of the warm pond or series of ponds originally proposed by first-life theorists. I should point out that both water and warmth are murder on the chemical chains that make proteins or RNA.

Our bright young genius has noticed something else that is curious about evolution—it mostly seems to consist of long periods of a dynamic stasis in which existing species work out new features in relatively minor ways in the midst of a gradual and general extinction trend.

Every now and then, however, a period of punctuation happens. Suddenly certain promising species brachiate like crazy. They seem to try everything, and for a long time everything they try co-exists until gradually the equilibrium returns and we get back to relentless extinction thinning the ranks.

She thinks to herself, hmmm, the mechanism of mutation is high-energy interstellar particles zinging down from outer space and ballistically modifying DNA. These mutations then get tested and affirmed or nixed by natural selection. But we know now that the cosmic rays responsible come from the outer edges of the universe, which means they originated billions of years ago, the time frame for when life kicked off on Earth.

Maybe, she thinks, whatever force once created life and causes these fortuitous punctuations is hard to find because it is so long ago and far away. She puts on an astronomer hat and voila, she cobs together some numbers that seem to indicate that all life-changing cosmic rays come from a single quasar, which she dubs Eden.

Ok, it’s a wacky theory. Special relativity sounded real wacky when first announced. Quantum mechanics is still wacky. The point I wish to make is that our young researcher will never announce her theory. Why? Because it smacks too much of the kind of thing that the Intelligent Design people prattle about. She knows that, if she publishes, Darwin’s dogmatists will send her career hopes up in seering flames of outrage.

My feeling is that some bold and wacky revisions of the theory of evolution are long, long overdue. They just aren’t going to happen in the present scientism climate.

Posted by: Michael L. Cook at December 25, 2005 7:29 AM
Comment #107309

esimonson, an all private education system would itself become an oligopoly, if not a monopoly. Also, private education is inherently more expensive than public education. So, let’s say you refund ALL property taxes for schools back to residents and tell them to find a private school in their area that teaches secular eduation. Since private school education is more expense, two things happen.

First, unlike the public education system, a private system would simply deny education to children whose parents for whatever reasons, many legitimate, can’t afford to send their kids to school this year. Is that good for America? I don’t think so. In the public education system, every child goes to school. Period.

Second, because private education is more expensive, and because an all private educational system would be stratified by cost and quality, poor families would be left with poor eduacation, and wealthy familes would receive outstanding educations K-12. This would create more problems in our society than it would solve.

The public education system for all its faults, is a great equalizer. Based on merit and determination, even very poor students get access to the same quality of educational materials, teachers, and environment as upper middle class students in the same school district, by and large. An all private educational system would negate this great equalizing effect.

Yes, in America there are some very underperforming public education districts. But, they are the exceptions not the rule. In an all private system, family income would make inferior education for the poor the rule, instead of the exception.

Posted by: David R. Remer at December 25, 2005 8:08 AM
Comment #107313

A Grand Experiment in The Art of Consuming.

Why the Left and Right can not come to terms with the reasons The Founding Fathers did what they did is because of their Realm of Thinking on the subject. Although Creation and Evolution make up good stories from “The Ancient and Old World’s,” can any American even imagine Our Founding Fathers after winning a war against the most powerful Nation on Earth settling this issue over how “We the People” should govern ourselves?

No, they were enlightened by what they saw when the group studied Humanity’s Civilization and the History of Nature as a whole unit. Although not ever taught by Eastern or Western Scholars, they saw that in Nature as in Human History everything must consume or be consumed by Space and Time. The only constant to this fact is that Life as we know it begins and ends at that point. Consume and live, don’t and perish to The Sands of Time. Strange, but true is this fundamental fact that drives science quest for knowledge.

Societies of Law, for all of their pitfalls, are also designed on this very ideology because that is the duty and responsibility of our elected officials. How best can we function to meet the Needs of all of our citizens while building and maintaining a Free Society so that a few can “Have it All.” First it was the High Priest that demanded that they be allowed to “Have it All“ than came along Kings and Emperors to stake claim to the land in order to make it profitable so that they could allow their people to consume in peace. Fast forward to the 21st Century and the President policies, are they not designed so that a few Americans can make a profit and thus be entitled to “Having it All?” Is not your daily life filled with the “Temptations of Consuming?” No, this is not a random act of mere “Non-Manipulation,” but a clever and intelligent way of working within a “Limited Resource Environment” so that someday the Human Race can and will live up to their full unalienable Rights as Humans to consume all they need and want within the Righteousness of the Law in a Society. And with that there is a Light of Hope imposed upon The Law of Man.

Religions and their March to Righteousness. Attempts to teach their followers how, what, and why one should consume properly and unfortunately judge others on they consumption habits. This natural Human Fear of not knowing is offset by the possibility that we are correct in our calculated assumptions. Thus faith in a Higher form of Thought and Existence must exist. And with that Ideology there is Life giving Energy that someday The Human Race will come to understand what has to be done in order to govern themselves properly in their consumption.

Up till now, this so called Higher Power has been seen as a myth in our Societal Thinking. And while a part of me wants to keep it a myth, the Larger side of me must bring to the Public Pulpit the fact that “Society’s Learned” and “Laypersons” are being taught to live in a different Realm of Thought other than Reality. Build a cube in the “Real World with only six sides and I’ll bet you it can not be done scientifically. Tell me poverty as we know it can not be solved and I’ll prove you wrong. However, tell me something does not exist because science can not explain it and you lose the natural trust of a child. So what is this so called “Higher Power” in our Society of Tramps and Thieves? The Righteousness & Truth found in this “Great Experiment in the Art of Consumption.” Only by facing our fears to met the requirements established by “The Riddle of a Righteous Nation” can Americans learn to govern ourselves so that All Consumers can become Self-Sufficient in the Art of Consuming as prescribed to by the Laws of Nature and “God’s Nature.” To that Ideology, the Founding Fathers anchored 4 of the eight points of a pyramid firmly on these Cornerstones as: “….four men distrustful of politics and yet operating in an increasingly democratic world. Jefferson sought to recast the political along the lines of friendship, while Hamilton hoped that honor would provide a secure foundation for self and country. Adams struggled to create a nation virtuous enough to sustain a republican government, and Madison worked to establish a government based on justice.” source

Now, my Conservative and Liberal Friends just how do we deal with the fact that “We are no longer controlled by “A Limited Resource World” and that it is our actions and words over the next 25-40 years that will determine how every Human on Earth will live and be able to consume a 100 years from now.

Posted by: Henry Schlatman at December 25, 2005 9:30 AM
Comment #107322

David, I guess I take exception with this, “This is anathema to relgion, which seeks to establish unquestioning acceptance and identification with their relgion through tradition, habits, and ritual.”

Why does religion need to be “unquestioning?” Why does every invocation of some notion of authority and tradition require mindless obedience.

I come from the Catholic tradition which, going back to St. Jerome, St. Thomas, St. Augustine, has long tried to reconcile reason and faith, scripture and tradition, the explainable and the unexplainable.

Contrary to popular understanding, there is actually something proufoundly revolutionary and unsable in modern-day fundamentalist Christians. The fundamentalist viewpoint has a deep conflict with the notion of authority, that some types of decisions should be reserved to properly trained and appointed experts, whether those experts are scientists, priests, theologians, judges, or whoever.

The essence of authority is the view that individual human reason must be guided and restrained both by established tradition and trained leadership. Both fundamentalists and tradition-based belief systems, of course, rely on authority and leadership. The difference with true conservatives (and Catholics) is that their concept of authority is defended openly and explicitly. Pace the fundamentalists, in our view not everything is simple and self evident, and we are willing to defer certain types of decisionmaking to those appointed in the field, whether by God, by tradition, by law, etc.

This is not blind obedience. The Catholic faith and its rich literature of philosophy, theology, etc. addresses these issues in a way appropriate to certain kinds of intellectuals. Of course, David and others should recognize that most people everywhere will not be scientists, will not come to their beliefs through careful reflection or testing of evidence. In such a world, the world we always live in that is, we should just hope that most people are indoctrineated in basic social morality lest we become a nation of highwaymen.

Posted by: Roach at December 25, 2005 10:30 AM
Comment #107325

The Blind Obedience Myth by Michael Novak

Above is a good article on the myth of blind obedience.

It’s obvious in this and the other thread that the opponents of ID are not committed scientists, nor particularly knowledgeable about science in general and evolutionary biology in particular. Look at the venom and blind irrationality of Novenger, for example. (I mean what kind of person that cared about education would allow the SAT to dictate the HS curriculum or dismiss the Bible merely as a “work of fictinon.”) Lord knows the left would turn on biology if it began to reveal uncomfortable things that counter important liberal shibolleths on any subject—such as racial equality or fetal pain. Look at the cartwheels done in response to the fact that maternal mitochondrial DNA shows that the various “races” in fact have been distinct for some time and those differences express themselves in various measurable ways, e.g., intelligence, bone density, fecundity, etc. Here’s a good summary article on the divergence between scientific discovery and our public discussions of race, including the continued dishonest invocation of the incantation that “there is no such thing as race.”

Novenge and others show that they view this fight as a chace to promote an un-American ideal with no foundation in our Constitution to influence local public schools: the French Englightenment concept of “separation of Church and State.” That is not an American concept. We have a lack of established Church, but we’ve long had public, governmental, and widespread acknowledgment of core, Christian (mostly Protestant) values in our public life. That is, we are a Christian nation without an established Church. Today, for instance, is a public holiday.

To deny this reality is, in part, to redefine our identity as a people. That’s why this seemingly esoteric debate on a HS curriculum occasions such strong emotions. On one side are those that are wanting to preserve American culture and allow other idioms to exist alongside the utilitarian, scientific, and incomplete foundation of much of modernity. On the other are those that want to redefine America according to an ahistorical myth of the Founding and the Founders—a myth that they were mostly liberal-leaning atheists who denied other idiomatic ways of knowing, such as philosophy, poetry, theology, etc.

M. Stanton Evans eviscerated that nonsense in his book “The Theme is Freedom.” Of course, the myth will persist in spite of any evidence to the controversy.

The culture war goes on; this is just one more front. My hope of some resolution is, of course, entirely quixotic. Let’s face it, until Christianity is relegated to the same status as fairy tales in our public life, the left will not be happy.

Posted by: Roach at December 25, 2005 10:46 AM
Comment #107326

Roach, regards “fundamentalist” disrespect for authority, to the extent that it is true it traces back to Martin Luther proclaiming that we peons did not have to take the priest’s word for everything, we could read the Bible for ourselves. After Guttenberg that was true and the urge to read the Bible for oneself sparked a literacy movement long before it really became an economic necessity.

I belong to a church that many outsiders would regard as “fundamentalist” simply because we believe in the Jesus story, including the resurrection. I was rather shocked in adult Sunday School when we took a poll and everyone agreed with the statement “I think the Bible is all true and some of it really happened!”

Most of my co-religionists accept the fossil record and other primates being our nearest relatives. We are adament, however, about the existence of God, because very, very often the Darwinist position comes across as
IT HAS BEEN PROVEN THAT THE UNIVERSE IS AN ACCIDENT AND THAT NO SUPERNATURAL POWER PLAYED A PART IN EVOLUTION.

If there is a God, indeed, if any supernatural, paranormal, or mystical occurences take place, then one has to suspect that mystical influences may be everywhere. There are no partially mystical worlds.

Posted by: Michael L. Cook at December 25, 2005 10:50 AM
Comment #107327
1. The Dover schools were NOT teaching intelligent design. In fact, the letter sent to parents specifically stated that they wouldn’t be discussing intelligent design or “origins” in class.

No, but it gave an official stamp of approval to “Of Pandas and People,” which teaches CreationID.

2. The statement that was to be read at the beginning of the section on evolution was entirely accurate. It did not claim that intelligent design is science. It did not diminish the meaning of a scientific theory. And it did not require any students to listen to the statement.

Let’s look at the statement:

The Pennsylvania Academic Standards require students to learn about Darwin’s Theory of Evolution and eventually to take a standardized test of which evolution is a part. Because Darwin’s Theory is a theory, it continues to be tested as new evidence is discovered. The Theory is not a fact. Gaps in the Theory exist for which there is no evidence. A theory is defined as a well-tested explanation that unifies a broad range of observations. Intelligent Design is an explanation of the origin of life that differs from Darwin’s view. The reference book, Of Pandas and People, is available for students who might be interested in gaining an understanding of what Intelligent Design actually involves. With respect to any theory, students are encouraged to keep an open mind. The school leaves the discussion of the Origins of Life to individual students and their families. As a Standards-driven district, class instruction focuses upon preparing students to achieve proficiency on Standards-based assessments.

It is not accurate because it is misleading. I singles out Evolution as a Theory to be questioned when Evolution is no more in doubt than Gravity, Plate Tectonics, or the Atom.

You are right that it did not use the words “Intelligent Design is science.” However, by introducing Intelligent Design as an approved alternative within science class, it give ID an authority within science. So, it indirectly but very much implies that ID is science.

It also forces every student to hear it in that it forces every teacher to say it. Implying that it doesn’t have an effect of giving an official stamp to ID because students could ignore it doesn’t make any sense.

Posted by: LawnBoy at December 25, 2005 11:02 AM
Comment #107328

Roach:

We have a lack of established Church, but we’ve long had public, governmental, and widespread acknowledgment of core, Christian (mostly Protestant) values in our public life. That is, we are a Christian nation without an established Church.

To that, sir, I can only respond with the following:

“As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquillity, of Mussulmen; and, as the said States never entered into any war, or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties, that no pretext arising from religious opinions, shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.” Article 11, US Treaty with Tripoli, 1796. The introduction to the online version of this treaty reads: “Authored by American diplomat Joel Barlow in 1796, the following treaty was sent to the floor of the Senate, June 7, 1797, where it was read aloud in its entirety and unanimously approved. John Adams, having seen the treaty, signed it and proudly proclaimed it to the Nation.”
http://www.stephenjaygould.org/ctrl/treaty_tripoli.html

Posted by: Jarandhel at December 25, 2005 11:10 AM
Comment #107330

Eric,

Are there transitional forms from one species to another for instance?

Yes

When I was in school there were numerous ‘missing links’ that were widely touted but then later discarded— but never very loudly!

You’re right that a few of the earlier specimens that were touted as intermediary forms to humans were found later to have been fake. However, they are no longer used as examples in Evolutionary theory, and our understanding of the descent of man does not depend on them at all.

Pointing to the tiny percentage of intermediary forms that were frauds as evidence that no “missing link” has been found is illogical; there are hundreds of other valid finds that we use instead. It makes about as little sense as saying that all Liberals are evil because you don’t like the actions of a couple Democrats.

Oh, wait…

Posted by: LawnBoy at December 25, 2005 11:26 AM
Comment #107331
It’s obvious in this and the other thread that the opponents of ID are not committed scientists, nor particularly knowledgeable about science in general and evolutionary biology in particular.

Roach, that’s just plainly inaccurate. Sure, Novenge was aggressive, but to say that all of the rest of us who are trying to show the meaning of science are not committed scientists is just an insult.

If you think we’re wrong, tell us. However, just ridiculing those who support the mainstream understanding of science and biology as being unknowledgeable about science and biology is ridiculous.

Just because you disagree with us doesn’t mean that we don’t know or understand science.

Posted by: LawnBoy at December 25, 2005 11:31 AM
Comment #107334

“Why should my tax dollars go to pay teachers (and fund a department/school books etcetera) who are teaching NON-SCIENCE if not non-sense all together??? And non sense that isn’t even SAT required, mind you.”

Interesting point, except many subjects that are taught in high schools are not required for the SAT or ACT. I’m not sure about the SAT, but the ACT math section goes up to Algebra II. Does that mean teachers shouldn’t teach pre-calc, or calculus? Does that mean you won’t want your tax dollars to go towards higher-math education for students who are exceptionally bright? Until ID has been completely disproven (to my knowledge it hasn’t been yet, but correct me if I’m wrong), I don’t see why it can’t be at least mentioned in schools.

Posted by: xxreadytorun at December 25, 2005 11:32 AM
Comment #107335

Roach asked: “Why does religion need to be “unquestioning?”

Duh! Because, religion has a couple names for folks who do question whether there is a god, agnostics and atheists. Some religious people, and many FREC’s use these terms with derision. To be religious is to accept on faith the basic underlying assumption which has no proof, that God exists. If one questions this assumption, one is not religious, one is at best an agnostic.

Posted by: David R. Remer at December 25, 2005 11:39 AM
Comment #107336
Until ID has been completely disproven (to my knowledge it hasn’t been yet, but correct me if I’m wrong), I don’t see why it can’t be at least mentioned in schools.

Because science classes have a higher bar of entry than simply not being disproven. If you’re going to do that, you’ll need to also devote equal time to:

The bar for Science classes is that an idea has to be useful for understanding the world, predictive about new discoveries, and verified with experimental data. Evolution meets those standards. ID, like the Flying Spaghetti Monster, doesn’t despite not being disprovable.

Posted by: LawnBoy at December 25, 2005 11:39 AM
Comment #107337

Person A - believes that GOD created the heaven and earth and, of couse man. He or she would likely concede that the Bible (for all else it may be) is an historical account of the beginnings of Christianity. This person believes that Jesus Christ was born of the virgin Mary and is the son of GOD. After a period of time on earth Jesus generated a following of believers, disciples, etc. and, it was accepted by some that he was the King of the Jews. There were of course dissenters to this belief and ultimately Jesus was crucified. The believers agree that his death on the cross was to forgive our sins and whomsover believeth in HIM would have
everlasting life.
Person A and fellow Christians believe all of this on faith because by true definition, there are no facts in the Bible. To individuals of extreme faith however, the biblical accounts of the Creation and subsequent birth, life and death of Jesus Christ as the Son of GOD are facts.

Posted by: steve smith at December 25, 2005 11:40 AM
Comment #107338

David, it’s obvious you’re not familiar with the logical proof of God’s existence revealed in Aristotle, Aquinas, and Jerome.

Is this “empirical” proof. No. It’s a logical proof. What proof is there that empirical findings are in fact accurate representations of the world? Oops, it turns out science too depends on a kind of faith.

Posted by: Roach at December 25, 2005 11:51 AM
Comment #107339

OOPS, I pressed the button before I finished my previous post.

Sorry.

Person B believes that life evolved in a different fashion. A theory which I believe was offered by Charles Darwin. According to the believers in this theory there are scientific facts to support the theory.

Person B and those like thinkers believe that science offers proof of their belief. While it is known that even science is not without flaw and also has some faith based foundations, this theory explains away the possibility of Creation. I have no problem with people who support this method.

While I believe wholeheartedly that there should be a separation of church and state Evolution can be taught in public schools but Religion/Christianity cannot.

I know, that’s what churches are for. That’s where Christians go to learn that the Theory of Evolution is false. I think this is just as well because IMO students will listen to a “Person of the Cloth and a Parent, long before they will listen to a teacher.

Posted by: steve smith at December 25, 2005 11:56 AM
Comment #107342

Hi Chris,

“For all of the cultural elite’s pretensions about creationism and intelligent design, their view of science, while it may make its adherents feel good, has little to do with what science actually can and cannot say.”

By “cultural elite” you mean “people who have a clue about what science is.”

The debate has everything to do with what science can actually say and cannot say. ID isn’t a scientific theory. God may have created the universe but that’s not a scientific theory.

“the scientific method finds its cultural origins in the Christian worldview, a view that depends upon the foundational axiom that there is an orderly universe governed by laws promulgated for our benefit by God.”

You don’t have a clue about what the scientific method is. It certainly isn’t based on religion as you assert.

“The present-day Manichaean struggle between advocates of an atheistic science and some acknowledgement of a divine role is based on mutual confusion”

You’re attacking all science for being “atheistic”. Your views are primative and extremely uninformed.



Posted by: LouisXIV at December 25, 2005 12:05 PM
Comment #107346

The argument whether ID should be taught in schools is more about keeping religion out of public schools than the reliability of ID. Frankly that is simply the result of liberal activist judges and liberal Democrats who have twisted the First Amendment Disestablishment clause. They have falsely interpreted “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” as “Separation of Church and State.” There is no place the term Separation or Wall of Separation is employed in the First Amendmendment.

Darwin’s theory, though popular among scientist, is still a theory. Parents should have the right to have an alternative theory taught to their children even if it smacks of religion. ID is that theory.

Pertaining to Darwinism here is an interesting quote:

“Critics of intelligent design often claim that design advocates don’t publish their work in appropriate scientific literature. For example, Barbara Forrest, a philosophy professor at Southeastern Louisiana University, was quoted in USA Today (March 25, 2005) that design theorists “aren’t published because they don’t have scientific data.”

Other critics have made the more specific claim that design advocates do not publish their works in peer-reviewed scientific journals—as if such journals represented the only avenue of legitimate scientific publication. In fact, scientists routinely publish their work in peer-reviewed scientific journals, in peer-reviewed scientific books, in scientific anthologies and conference proceedings (edited by their scientific peers), and in trade presses. Some of the most important and groundbreaking work in the history of science was first published not in scientific journal articles but in scientific books—including Copernicus’ De Revolutionibus, Newton’s Principia, and Darwin’s Origin of Species (the latter of which was published in a prominent British trade press and was not peer-reviewed in the modern sense of the term). In any case, the scientists who advocate the theory of intelligent design have published their work in a variety of appropriate technical venues, including peer-reviewed scientific journals, peer-reviewed scientific books (some in mainstream university presses), trade presses, peer-edited scientific anthologies, peer-edited scientific conference proceedings and peer-reviewed philosophy of science journals and books. We provide below an annotated bibliography of technical publications of various kinds that support, develop or apply the theory of intelligent design.”

Here is the Link: http://www.discovery.org/scripts/viewDB/index.php?command=view&id=2640&program=News&callingPage=discoMainPage.

Posted by: Theway2k at December 25, 2005 12:22 PM
Comment #107348

Hi Chris,

“It’s obvious in this and the other thread that the opponents of ID are not committed scientists, nor particularly knowledgeable about science in general and evolutionary biology in particular.”

In point of fact the ID opponents blew the doors off the ID proponents on the other thread.

ID isn’t a scientific theory. Evolution is a scientific theory. Teaching ID as if it’s a scientific theory involves lying about what science is.

“the French Englightenment concept of “separation of Church and State.” That is not an American concept.”

Thomas Jefferson said that the Constitution built “a wall of seperation between Church and State.

Going by your “logic” Christianity isn’t an American concept.

Our Constitution is based on the principles of the French Enlightenment to a large extent. It is you that is being un-American.

“That is, we are a Christian nation without an established Church.”

Our Constitution is based on secular humanist philosophy. Our constitution is based on the idea that man can rule himself fairly which is secular humanist philosophy.

You are engaging in historical revisionism in an attempt to have really bad science taught in schools.

Posted by: LouisXIV at December 25, 2005 12:26 PM
Comment #107349

Hi Theway,

“Darwin’s theory, though popular among scientist, is still a theory.”

You’re saying that atomic theory (atoms combine to form molecules in certain fixed proportions) shouldn’t be taught as dognma?

You’re asserting that teaching that water is H20 should only be a guideline rather than a fact?

“Parents should have the right to have an alternative theory taught to their children even if it smacks of religion. ID is that theory.”

ID isn’t a scientific theory. Parents don’t have the right to have students lied to about what science is.

Posted by: LouisXIV at December 25, 2005 12:31 PM
Comment #107350

Hi xxreadytorun,

“Until ID has been completely disproven (to my knowledge it hasn’t been yet, but correct me if I’m wrong), I don’t see why it can’t be at least mentioned in schools.”

Just because something hasn’t been disproven doesn’t make it science. If that were the case then astrology would be science.


Posted by: LouisXIV at December 25, 2005 12:35 PM
Comment #107351

As for the birth of the scientific method, Louis, go read Descartes’ Meditations. I took a whole class on it at the University of Chicago.

The problem with the opponents of ID is that they classify certain knowledge as “science” and classify all other species of knwoledge dealing with the same subject matter as both non-science and therefore irrelevant from a science class on the subject. I disagree with this view that would separate knowledge into neat lanes that do not interfere. Take something like history; philosophy, economics, political science, etc. all relate to the same subjects.

When science purports to define wehre life and species come from and how they change, and when it purports in general to make certain kinds of truthful observations about the world, then it is depending on and implicating different aspects of philosophy, in particular philosohpy of science, metaphysics, and notions of causation. It can suppress these premises and axioms, but they are there nonetheless.

As for American history, Louis skips over a few things. Jefferson did not write the Constitution and was not a delegate at the convention. The Constitution represents a conservative reaction to the excesses of post-independence America, in particular Shay’s rebellion. While some proponents of the Constitution were certainly secular humanists—Paine, Jefferson—many were not, and they made up the bulk of delegates to the state and federal convention, e.g., John Dickinson, Edmund Randolph, etc.

There’s some good books on this including Mel Bradford’s Original Intentions, Kirk’s America’s British Culture, and the M. Stanton Evans book I cited above. I doubt you’ve read them, while I’ve read Gordon Wood and the Radicalism of the Ameriacn Revolution, and other secondary sources that make the pedestrian, predictable, and easily discredited myth you aim to peddle Louis.

Posted by: Roach at December 25, 2005 12:37 PM
Comment #107352

Hi Roach,

The scientific method doesn’t presuppose a universe ordered by God.

“As for American history, Louis skips over a few things. Jefferson did not write the Constitution and was not a delegate at the convention.”

I didn’t say that Jefferson wrote the Constitution. His views on it are American views though are they not?

“that make the pedestrian, predictable, and easily discredited myth you aim to peddle Louis.”

If what I said is easily discredited you should do so.

The fact is that the Constitution is based on the idea that man can rule himself fairly. The fact is that the idea that man can rule himself fairly is secular humanist philosophy.

You claim that you can prove me wrong on this and I’d like to see you back that up.


Posted by: LouisXIV at December 25, 2005 12:43 PM
Comment #107353
Let’s suppose, in a dreamy, theoretical kind of way, that it really, actually is the case that there are hurdles in bio-chemistry that the evolution of life just can not get over without positing a kind of “life force” that is not so much monotheistic in origin as it is pantheistic, say along the lines of the Gaia hypothesis (Gaia was proposed by a pretty good chemist you may recall.)

Well, for starters, anyone positing such a life force explanation would need to come up with a better explanation than that; such as specifically what this “life force” is, HOW it bridges the gaps in bio-chemistry, and why thusfar we have been unable to detect it. Oh yes, a reliable method of detecting it would probably also go a long way towards indicating the validity of this theory.

Let us suppose that some bright young minds realize that there are problems with Darwinian dogma that can’t be economically addressed without positing some new type of influence at work. I said “economically” because, in a certain sense, Occam’s Razor compels us to seek an economy of concept.

It’s interesting that you apply Occams Razor here when ID patently denies Occams Razor. In ID, when something merely becomes extremely unlikely, rather than positing that unlikely things can and do still happen by chance, they invoke the concept of an intelligent creator.

Let’s say a particular bright young genius’s attention is caught by the problem of explaining the immense difficulty of creating life in a test tube to the level of a simple prokaryotic cell.

How about even easier: a virus? We’ve already made that from scratch. And research is currently underway on making more complex organisms from scratch. http://www.sciencenewsblog.com/cgi-bin/snblog.pl?snblog=822051

She is particularly caught by the fact that first life on Earth did not require “billions and billions” of years to work out all the complex chemical events, but appeared almost immediately after the Earth cooled and water arrived via interplanetary Federal Express.

“almost immediately” is very relative in geologic time. We’re talking a few hundred million years, rather than billions. It’s still a very long time compared to a human lifetime, with a VAST amount of chemical interactions that can take place, with the conditions existing nearly planetwide. If researchers had the same scale to work on, perhaps they would have made synthetic life already.

She apprehends a problem with this, because if a prokaryotic cell can appear quickly in some type of primordial, pre-biotic soup, the (1) why don’t we see the process happening again occasionally in the last four billion years, producing new lines of life quite distinct from the rather idiosyncratic chemical way life evolved and has rigorously adhered to,

Well, just two little problems with that. First, it requires that any new life that forms be sufficiently distinct from preexisting life for us to be able to recognize it. Second, no “secondary line” would ever again have the same conditions that the original had in which to naturally develop; it would, immediately, have to compete with microorganisms which have had far, far longer to evolve. This would either force it to rapidly adapt, if it were able, or more likely to die out almost immediately after it came into existence. And by almost immediately, I mean days or even hours at best, not a few million years.

and (2) if the incubator conditions for life are so extremely special that they never have existed on this planet after the first few hundred million years, then maybe the panspermia idea must be taken seriously. Maybe life just came to our virgin planet as a spore on a space rock.

I fail to see how the one implies the other. Many conditions that existed on our planet during the first few hundred million years have never existed on them again. The conditions that created our moon, for instance.

But an objection looms to that inviting idea—why don’t we see more space rocks with extra-terrestial spores coming down? In fact, we find ancient meteors all the time, with no sign of spores, so it appears that if this was the route, the fortuitous spore-bearing rock came along with exquisite timing, as soon as the Earth was ready to be impregnated with life.

Actually, we’ve found quite a few meteors that show signs of life. http://www.utexas.edu/opa/news/99newsreleases/nr_199910/nr_meteor991001.html

Both the concept of life spontaneously generating from a local warm pond of some very weird type and the concept of spore-rocks from space have this puzzle of their unique timing. Whichever it was, it is hard to explain why the process at work just quit and disappeared.

Not really, we’re talking about a period of time when the earth was experiencing forces it would never again experience during its history. The moon was much closer, which had to influence the magnetic field of the earth, the atmosphere was different…

In fact, it is puzzling why we don’t see evidence of BOTH avenues to life on Earth, because if life can spontaneously generate from any type of a soup, the sheer vastness of the universe suggests that it would be happening a lot out there somewhere. Anything that can happen will happen a lot in the vastness. I have been using the outmoded idea of a soup in the sense of the warm pond or series of ponds originally proposed by first-life theorists. I should point out that both water and warmth are murder on the chemical chains that make proteins or RNA.

As I’ve said, we already have found evidence of panspermia, though this in no way indicates life did not also independently evolve on Earth. And I should point out that current evolutionary theory indicates RNA may have once served the purpose currently served by DNA, and that nothing precludes the existence of another mechanism, now defunct, that may have once served that purpose that would not be adversely affected by water and/or heat.

Our bright young genius has noticed something else that is curious about evolution—it mostly seems to consist of long periods of a dynamic stasis in which existing species work out new features in relatively minor ways in the midst of a gradual and general extinction trend.

Your genius doesn’t sound like much of a genius, since there’s nothing at all curious about that. Evolution is driven by environmental pressures… while those pressures remain the same, there is stability. When those pressures significantly change, species are forced to adapt or die out. That is entirely in line with evolutionary theory.

Every now and then, however, a period of punctuation happens. Suddenly certain promising species brachiate like crazy. They seem to try everything, and for a long time everything they try co-exists until gradually the equilibrium returns and we get back to relentless extinction thinning the ranks.

Again, see above. During periods of changing environmental pressures, brachiation naturally occurs as you see multiple RANDOM adaptations to the environment competing. Eventually one or more win out, adapting to a particular niche in the changed environment, and we return to stasis. There is nothing unusual about that, it is how evolution is EXPECTED to work.

She thinks to herself, hmmm, the mechanism of mutation is high-energy interstellar particles zinging down from outer space and ballistically modifying DNA.

If she thinks that, then she’s really no genius. Our atmosphere is VERY effective at blocking radiation.

These mutations then get tested and affirmed or nixed by natural selection. But we know now that the cosmic rays responsible come from the outer edges of the universe, which means they originated billions of years ago, the time frame for when life kicked off on Earth.

Even if this was true, it does not imply the existence of a designer of any sort. Cosmic rays of the normal variety are caused by our own sun. High energy cosmic rays are theorized to be caused by either supernova, colliding galaxies, or black holes. None of this requires the influence of intelligence.

Maybe, she thinks, whatever force once created life and causes these fortuitous punctuations is hard to find because it is so long ago and far away. She puts on an astronomer hat and voila, she cobs together some numbers that seem to indicate that all life-changing cosmic rays come from a single quasar, which she dubs Eden.

Whoah, that’s a huge leap. How on earth would she narrow things down to a single star, when no astronomer on earth has found a single point of origin for high energy Cosmic Rays? You’re delving a bit far into science fiction rather than science fact here.

Ok, it’s a wacky theory. Special relativity sounded real wacky when first announced. Quantum mechanics is still wacky. The point I wish to make is that our young researcher will never announce her theory. Why? Because it smacks too much of the kind of thing that the Intelligent Design people prattle about. She knows that, if she publishes, Darwin’s dogmatists will send her career hopes up in seering flames of outrage.

Actually, it has nothing in common with intelligent design. Even assuming that evolution was caused by a particular type of radiation, and even assuming that radiation had a single source, NOTHING in your genius’s hypothesis suggests the influence of intelligence in this process. In fact, quite the opposite, since under this model it would be almost a certainty that life would also *evolve* elsewhere under the right conditions because QUASARS DO NOT EMIT RADIATION IN A SINGLE DIRECTION LIKE LASERS. They’re omnidirectional. A quasar influencing the development of life is no more a sign of intelligent design than the sun influencing the development of life is, they’re both just environmental conditions.

My feeling is that some bold and wacky revisions of the theory of evolution are long, long overdue. They just aren’t going to happen in the present scientism climate.

But again, this all comes down to a feeling that such revolutions are “due” and that they’re “going” to happen. Feelings are not evidence. They’re not logical arguments. And they’re certainly not scientific theories that should be taught in a science classroom.

Posted by: Jarandhel at December 25, 2005 12:44 PM
Comment #107354

Hi Roach,

“Oops, it turns out science too depends on a kind of faith.”

Science is experimentally verifiable. Religion isn’t. You’re clouding the issue here.

We know that E=mc^2 because we know that nuclear/thermonuclear weapons explode with force beyond what chemical expolsives do.



Posted by: LouisXIV at December 25, 2005 12:50 PM
Comment #107355

Louis:

Don’t worry about Roach, he’s already beaten on the subject of American history but doesn’t want to admit it and tries to cloud the issue by asserting Jefferson wasn’t involved in the writing of the Constitution and that others who were happened to be Christian. In addition to the fact that nowhere in the Constitution is God or Christianity mentioned, and the fact that Jefferson did influence the Amendments including the Bill of Rights, note his complete lack of response to my direct quotation of the text of the treaty of Tripoli from 1796, unanamously approved by the senate after being read in its entirety with NO DEBATE, which states that the United States is in no sense founded on the Christian religion.

Posted by: Jarandhel at December 25, 2005 12:58 PM
Comment #107356

The elephant in the room:
The whole idea of religion is supposed to be based upon FAITH. And by definition, faith is believing in something without needing any of the requirements of tangible proof. Science, on the other hand is all about the discovery and study of tangible proofs.
This is precisely why science can never logically be equated with religion. Since it’s entire purpose is to meet requirements of proof, it must take NOTHING on faith. Indeed, the scientists who’ve made the greatest strides forward, are those who are able to question everything and who fearlessly venture beyond pre-conceived patterns of thought and beliefs.

ID proponents, in their attempt to somehow “scientifically” prove that God was the beginning of, and the creator of Everything are in actuality displaying that they are people without faith, otherwise they wouldn’t be searching for proof.
This is how we know that ID is about politics and control, rather than religious faith.

Posted by: Adrienne at December 25, 2005 1:01 PM
Comment #107357

Hi Jarandhel,

I’ve had several people tell me I’m wrong when I state that the Constitution is based on secular humanism. Nobody has been able to show that I’m wrong though.

The Preable to the Constitution makes it quite clear that the Constitution is based on the philosophy of secular humanism.

“We, the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquillity, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

Posted by: LouisXIV at December 25, 2005 1:03 PM
Comment #107360

Hi Adrienne,

“The whole idea of religion is supposed to be based upon FAITH.”

That’s a good point.

There are many who I refer to as “idiots” arguing that science is religion (evolution based on faith) and religion is science (the Bible is a scientific theory).

Those who argue that science is religion and religion is science are stupid, desperate, or both.

Posted by: LouisXIV at December 25, 2005 1:22 PM
Comment #107365
The argument whether ID should be taught in schools is more about keeping religion out of public schools than the reliability of ID.

Maybe for some people, but not for me. My arguments and motivations are about keeping science curricula focused on science instead of being diluted with non-scientific principles.

Posted by: LawnBoy at December 25, 2005 2:07 PM
Comment #107366
On one side are those that are wanting to preserve American culture and allow other idioms to exist alongside the utilitarian, scientific, and incomplete foundation of much of modernity. On the other are those that want to redefine America according to an ahistorical myth of the Founding and the Founders—a myth that they were mostly liberal-leaning atheists who denied other idiomatic ways of knowing, such as philosophy, poetry, theology, etc.

Do you really believe this? If so, no wonder that we’re never going to find common ground. You’re assuming that the people who want to keep Science focused on Science have a hidden liberal atheistic agenda to destroy the country. I’m sure that’s a shock to the great number of Conservatives and Christians who reject ID on the entirely logical grounds that it is bad science.

I’m sure that Judge Jones, appointed by our current President and well-known as a committed Conservative, would be disappointed to hear that his legal and scientific reasoning is discarded because you simply don’t find it convenient.

Then again, he wouldn’t be surprised:

Those who disagree with our holding will likely mark it as the product of an activist judge. If so, they will have erred as this is manifestly not an activist Court. Rather, this case came to us as the result of the activism of an ill-informed faction on a school board, aided by a national public interest law firm eager to find a constitutional test case on ID, who in combination drove the Board to adopt an imprudent and ultimately unconstitutional policy. The breathtaking inanity of the Board’s decision is evident when considered against the factual backdrop which has now been fully revealed through this trial. The students, parents, and teachers of the Dover Area School District deserved better than to be dragged into this legal maelstrom, with its resulting utter waste of monetary and personal resources.

Roach, you may pat yourself on the back with your beliefs that you’re trying to save America from the evil liberals, but it’s just not true. You don’t get to redefined Science and call us unscientific for not liking your new definition, and you don’t get to pretend that you’re acting in anything other than self-interest.

Posted by: LawnBoy at December 25, 2005 2:16 PM
Comment #107369
Perhaps a starting point for this discussion would be the frank acknowledgement that the scientific method finds its cultural origins in the Christian worldview, a view that depends upon the foundational axiom that there is an orderly universe governed by laws promulgated for our benefit by God.

Roach,

No, the Scientific Method is much older than that. The primary elements of the Scientific method were in place in Ancient Greece: Plato mentions the teaching of arithmetic, astronomy and geometry in schools. Aristotle provided yet another of the ingredients of scientific tradition: empiricism. In his enunciation of a ‘method’ in the 13th century Roger Bacon, under the tuition of Robert Grosseteste, was inspired by the writings of Arab alchemists who had preserved and built upon Aristotle’s portrait of induction.

Yes, Descartes played a part, but to say that the Scientific Method is a Christian construct ignores the history of the Greek and Muslim influences.

And even if you were right, it wouldn’t mean that it is beholden to any particular interpretation of the Bible that some Christians hold true.

Posted by: LawnBoy at December 25, 2005 2:27 PM
Comment #107371
Perhaps a starting point for this discussion would be the frank acknowledgement that the scientific method finds its cultural origins in the Christian worldview, a view that depends upon the foundational axiom that there is an orderly universe governed by laws promulgated for our benefit by God.

Umm… “Christians” (as a whole apparently?) believe there is an orderly universe governed by laws? … are these the same Christians that believe there was a literal Adam and Eve and that Adam was literally sculpted from Mud and Eve was sculpted from one of Adam’s ribs? Doesn’t sound like they believe in orderly laws giving rise to the universe as we know it, it sounds like they believe in magical explanations, as long as the explanation for that magic is “God Did It”.

Posted by: Jarandhel at December 25, 2005 2:36 PM
Comment #107381

Roach,
Religion must seek and hold fast to that which is Right just like the Laws of the Land are held to be right by the best abilty of the Courts in America. Or does “The Culture War” want to include into the debate reasoning that our laws do not have to make sense or be right?

Posted by: Henry Schlatman at December 25, 2005 5:52 PM
Comment #107382

Two quick points.

First, Aristotelian and pre-modern science did not take off, in part, because the religious and philosophical views of the ancient world did not recognize an orderly, predictable, and beneficient universe.

Second, while it’s true some Christians veer into complete obscurantism, it does not have anything to do with the actual history of science. Modern science emerged in the Christian West for a reason, and, historically, the Christian West of that time period—15-1700—acknowledged the kind of universe I have discussed. It was, in other words, a cultural and metaphysical precondition of modern science to have the kinds of views of nature that only Christianity provided in contrast to the earlier paganism of Europe or the nihilistic or arbitrary views of nature growing from the Hindu and Buddhist cultures of the East.

I am not simply making up this point about the history of ideas that I thought would be uncontroversial. That said, I don’t expect I’ll be able to “prove” this any more than I can prove America is a “Christian nation” with a government without an established Church. The kind of proof that is arbitrararily demanded in thse subject areas is not available and never can be, any more than one could “prove” WWI was caused by alliances and nationalism.

Posted by: Roach at December 25, 2005 5:53 PM
Comment #107383

“if life has no inherent meaning…”
Posted by Jarandhel at December 25, 2005 03:08 AM


then what is the big deal? Nothing matters.

Posted by: bugcrazy at December 25, 2005 5:53 PM
Comment #107384

There is no better means of demonstrating ones ignorance of facts and of logical thought processes than a discussion of religion and science.

Posted by: Rick at December 25, 2005 5:55 PM
Comment #107385

Hi Roach,

“any more than I can prove America is a “Christian nation” with a government without an established Church.”

I hope that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to support your statement: “the pedestrian, predictable, and easily discredited myth you aim to peddle Louis.”

You had indicated that it’s easy to discredit what I said about the constitution being based on secular humanist philosophy.

Given that you used the words “easily discredited” I’m expecting you to back up your attack.


Posted by: LouisXIV at December 25, 2005 6:04 PM
Comment #107387
It was, in other words, a cultural and metaphysical precondition of modern science to have the kinds of views of nature that only Christianity provided in contrast to the earlier paganism of Europe or the nihilistic or arbitrary views of nature growing from the Hindu and Buddhist cultures of the East.

Actually, it took a significant change in Christianity for this to happen. Christianity had to accept that the human intellectual process could determine truths independent of the Bible and clerical authority. Unfortunately, much of current Islam has yet to accept that. Also unfortunately, the arguments you are making for ID are part of the attempt to reverse the intellectual advance that made scientific advancement possible in the Christian world.

Posted by: LawnBoy at December 25, 2005 6:46 PM
Comment #107386

I cited sources. I’d just be repeating their theses if I were to try to prove it. Let’s face it, some meta-question of US history will not be proven to anyone’s satisfaction here. So I pointed to my sources. You can read them or not as you wish.

Posted by: Roach at December 25, 2005 6:46 PM
Comment #107388

Hi Roach,

You’re saying I need to read several books in order for you to discredit what I said?

You are wrong Roach.

Fact: The Constitution is based on the philosophy that man can rule himself fairly.

Fact: The philsophy that man can rule himself fairly is secular humanist philosophy.

Therefore the Constitution is based on the philsophy of secular humanism.

You can’t refute that at all let alone discredit it right Roach?

Posted by: LouisXIV at December 25, 2005 6:50 PM
Comment #107399

Roach, it is truly heartening to see you dodging and avoiding all the holes in your argument put forth above by myself, Lawnboy, and others. Kinda feels like a carnival watching the dodging target trying to avoid being hit.

If you want credibility on this issue, acknowledge and respond to the Tripoli treaty comment which directly and incontrovertibly contradicts you assertion that this nation was founded as a Christian nation.

And if you can’t tell the difference between logical proof which needs no empirical evidence or testing and empirically scientific proofs, well, its fun to watch you weave and dodge and avoid.

No apology if anyone here has said anything which might have shaken your faith, but, then that’s the thing about faith isn’t it? By definition it can’t be altered by reality or experience, for by definition, it is adoption without reality bound evidence or replicatable experience. ID belongs in Sunday School, and The Texas Freedom Network made of Texas Religious peoples is making damn sure my daughter doesn’t have to hear it in her school. Thank Buddha!

Posted by: David R. Remer at December 25, 2005 8:36 PM
Comment #107402

Where to begin.

First, I disagree with this unproven premise, “The philsophy that man can rule himself fairly is secular humanist philosophy.” Since when? Christians have had self-rule of one kind or another since the earliest Church conclaves, the Pilgrims, etc. No one thought it required secularism until the French Revolution and its progeny; some, but by no means all, of the founders agreed with this sentiment, but that is only some evidence of the character of the Early American nation, it’s not defintive.

I disagree that scientific and other forms of knowledge are neatly separable in any curriculum at any level, and I think for any science to be “knowledge” it depends on a variety of nonscientific philosophical premises. I think any education worth its name does not pretend that one or another idiomatic way of “knowing” is final or independent of the other means, whether those are history, or philosohpy, or metaphysics, or whatever.

I am truly ambivalent about ID and am willing to be persuaded either way. I am also open to the argument that it’s too uncertain to be taught now in schools; that is, that the hard empirical work remains to be done and schools should err on the side of a bland consensus. I reject, however, the view that evolution is the final word because science as it has evolved historically does not allow such a final word. That is, there may be consensus on evolution, but no theory of evolution or anything else in science can be final, immune from revision, or independent of its own “weakest link” in the philosophy of science and the reliability of any empirical knowledge—itself something of a controversy, as one knows from reading Descartes.

Finally, as for the Tripoli thing, well, let’s say that one might say lots of things to avoid Muslims kidnapping one’s sailors. That is, it’s a statemetn under duress. Further, there have always been competing traditions within America, the tradition of the Great Awakening existed alongside the Jacobin clubs.

There are of course dozens of quotes by the founders acknowleding the Christian character of the American nation, viz., John Jay, the very first Supreme Court justice said, “Americans should select and prefer Christians as their rulers.” Patrick Henry said, “It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded not by religionists but by Christians, not on religions but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ.” Further, since most government in early America was at the state and local level, it’s silly to look to the lack of an established Church at the federal level and ignore the numerous established Churches and Oath requirements of states and localities.

There is a distinction between nation and state that is completely ignored by my critics on this score; one has to do with the fundamental character of a people and one has to do solely with its political institutions. Of course, they influence one another, but America and its culture clearly were Christian at the time of the Founding.


Posted by: Roach at December 25, 2005 9:13 PM
Comment #107404

While we’re on the subject of ‘arguments dropped,’ a few of mine have been completely ignored by critics, even though they aim at the foundations of their criticism.

1) The theory of evolution is not scientific in the same way as other parts of science because it is purely an inductive, imaginitive description of discrete facts and does not depend on any real experimentation involving falsifiable hypotheses.

2) Evolution as taught is not presented in the contingent and falsifiable fashion as all other scientific knowledge, but is instead presented as dogma, reaching final questions of causatino outside the realm of scientific expertise… and

3) (raised in comments, I think) that courts have no business decided curricular decisions about an arcane scientific debate, even if one side in that debate is religiously motivated.

Posted by: Roach at December 25, 2005 9:23 PM
Comment #107405

If quasars are indeed “directing” the evolution of life at a distance, and if they have other targets than Earth, then we would expect that possibly the same coded plan is being sent to all. The code would probably only work on Earth-like planets and the same type of fossil record would be produced.

If we discover intelligent life and it turns out to be as human-appearing as Star Trek’s Spock or the Romulans,the coded radiation hypothesis would have some support.

To me, this does seem to be Intelligent Design at work, although it may only be evidence of an ancient intelligent race that has found a unique way to propagate itself across the universe. For the scheme to work, however, they would have had to send adequate spores or signals to Earth to get life going with genomes that their later signals could modify in a non-random way, possibly causing punctuated equilibruim.

Posted by: Michael L. Cook at December 25, 2005 9:23 PM
Comment #107409

I am still waiting for science to disprove God.Untill then i will stick with God.

Posted by: G at December 25, 2005 9:55 PM
Comment #107412
I am also open to the argument that it’s too uncertain to be taught now in schools; that is, that the hard empirical work remains to be done and schools should err on the side of a bland consensus.

I’m not sure about “bland consensus”, but I believe this position is reasonable and generally accurate.

I reject, however, the view that evolution is the final word because science as it has evolved historically does not allow such a final word.

Fortunately, that’s not the claim by scientists. Any honest, educated Evolutionist will acknowledge that it’s not final and complete. Gaps remain unanswered; currently well-understood ideas will be turned upside-down by new experimental evidence. In fact, I will guarantee you that something currently understood about Evolution is wrong, but don’t ask me what.

Perhaps Evolution will be completely replaced someday by another Theory. It’s extremely unlikely, but it could happen. More likely is that the current theory will change in bits here and there as more information is discovered.

And ID is nowhere near ready to replace Evolution.

The theory of evolution is not scientific in the same way as other parts of science because it is purely an inductive, imaginitive description of discrete facts and does not depend on any real experimentation involving falsifiable hypotheses.

It depends what you mean by Evolution here. If you mean the idea that species change over generations, both within the species and into other species, then you are incorrect. The fact that change happens as evolution predicts has been observed. If, however, you mean the understanding about the exact steps that occured from the first single-celled organisms to you and me, you’re right; it’s inductive.

Evolution as taught is not presented in the contingent and falsifiable fashion as all other scientific knowledge, but is instead presented as dogma, reaching final questions of causatino outside the realm of scientific expertise

At the level of high school education, all science is taught this way, really. No one tells high school juniors that Plate Tectonics is a Theory that could potentially be disproved. The only reason Evolution comes across as more dogmatic is that it alone is attacked dogmatically; the other theories no longer need such a defense (too late for Galileo).

that courts have no business decided curricular decisions about an arcane scientific debate, even if one side in that debate is religiously motivated.

If you don’t think the courts have the right, then who does? Do you think school board members who intentionally ignore the advice of the science faculty of the district should be making such decisions in an arcane scientific debate?

I think it should be jointly done between scientific and educational experts. And it would have been, but the ID folk decided they didn’t like the results of the Scientific method and took it to the political process.

Posted by: LawnBoy at December 25, 2005 10:10 PM
Comment #107413
I am still waiting for science to disprove God.Untill then i will stick with God.

Feel free. No one’s telling you not to. Science can neither prove nor disprove God. This has nothing to do with curricular debates and ID, though.

Posted by: LawnBoy at December 25, 2005 10:11 PM
Comment #107415

Hi Roach,

“The philsophy that man can rule himself fairly is secular humanist philosophy.” Since when?”

Since about 500 BC when Greek philosophers were accused of secularism for having a moral system outside of religion.

By defenition the idea of man ruling himself fairly is humanism.

“The United States of America have exhibited, perhaps, the first example of governments erected on the simple principles of nature; and if men are now sufficiently enlightened to disabuse themselves of artifice, imposture, hypocrisy, and superstition, they will consider this event as an era in their history. Although the detail of the formation of the American governments is at present little known or regarded either in Europe or in America, it may hereafter become an object of curiosity. It will never be pretended that any persons employed in that service had interviews with the gods, or were in any degree under the influence of Heaven, more than those at work upon ships or houses, or laboring in merchandise or agriculture; it will forever be acknowledged that these governments were contrived merely by the use of reason and the senses.”
John Adams, “A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America” (1787-88)

Posted by: LouisXIV at December 25, 2005 10:28 PM
Comment #107416

LawnBoy,
Even if what created this great experiment in consumption is not “God,” but a branch of knowledge of our “Real World” than I’m for letting “God” keep control for now given the fact that we haven’t learned to govern Righteously. Close, thats questionable, but working on it.

Posted by: Henry Schlatman at December 25, 2005 10:28 PM
Comment #107418

Hi Roach,

“1) The theory of evolution is not scientific in the same way as other parts of science because it is purely an inductive, imaginitive description of discrete facts and does not depend on any real experimentation involving falsifiable hypotheses.”

Genetic change over time (evolution) is extremely well supported by experimental evidence.

Posted by: LouisXIV at December 25, 2005 10:30 PM
Comment #107419

Hi Roach,

“There are of course dozens of quotes by the founders acknowleding the Christian character of the American nation,”

“Cabalistic Christianity, which is Catholic Christianity, and which has prevailed for 1,500 years, has received a mortal wound, of which the monster must finally die. Yet so strong is his constitution, that he may endure for centuries before he expires.”
John Adams, letter to Thomas Jefferson, July 16, 1814

“One day the dawn of reason and freedom of thought in the United States will tear down the artificial scaffolding of Christianity. And the day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the Supreme Being as His father, in the womb of a virgin will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter.”
Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Adams, April 11, 1823

“”Because the establishment in question is not necessary for the support of Civil Government. If it be urged as necessary for the support of Civil Government only as it is a means of supporting Religion, and it be not necessary for the latter purpose, it cannot be necessary for the former. If Religion be not within the cognizance of Civil Government how can its legal establishment be necessary to Civil Government? What influence in fact have ecclesiastical establishments had on Civil Society? In some instances they have been seen to erect a spiritual tyranny on the ruins of the Civil authority; in many instances they have been seen upholding the thrones of political tyranny: in no instance have they been seen the guardians of the liberties of the people. Rulers who wished to subvert the public liberty, may have found an established Clergy convenient auxiliaries. A just Government instituted to secure & perpetuate it needs them not. Such a Government will be best supported by protecting every Citizen in the enjoyment of his Religion with the same equal hand which protects his person and his property; by neither invading the equal rights of any Sect, nor suffering any Sect to invade those of another.”
James Madison, Memorial and Remonstrance against Religious Assessments, addressed to the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Virginia, 1795

“”I had believed that [Connecticut was] the last retreat of monkish darkness, bigotry, and abhorrence of those advances of the mind which had carried the other States a century ahead of them. … I join you, therefore, in sincere congratulations that this den of the priesthood is at length broken up, and that a Protestant Popedom is no longer to disgrace the American history and character. If by religion we are to understand sectarian dogmas, in which no two of them agree, then your exclamation on that hypothesis is just, ‘that this would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it.’
Thomas Jefferson to John Adams, May 5, 1817

“During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What has been its fruits? More or less, in all places, pride and indolence in the clergy; ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, superstition, bigotry and persecution.”
James Madison, Memorial and Remonstrance against Religious Assessments, addressed to the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Virginia, 1795

“Who does not see that the same authority which can establish Christianity, in exclusion of all other religions, may establish with the same ease any particular sect of Christians, in exclusion of all other sects?”
James Madison, A Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments, addressed to the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Virginia, 1795

” If we look back into history for the character of present sects in Christianity, we shall find few that have not in their turns been persecutors, and complainers of persecution. The primitive Christians thought persecution extremely wrong in the Pagans, but practised it on one another. The first Protestants of the Church of England, blamed persecution in the Roman church, but practised it against the Puritans: these found it wrong in the Bishops, but fell into the same practice themselves both here and in New England.”
Benjamin Franklin, The Writings of Benjamin Franklin: London, 1757 - 1775

“Religion is a subject on which I have ever been most scrupulously reserved. I have considered it as a matter between every man and his Maker in which no other, and far less the public, had a right to intermeddle.” —Thomas Jefferson to Richard Rush, 1813

“I consider the government of the United States as interdicted by the Constitution from intermeddling with religious institutions, their doctrines, discipline, or exercises. This results not only from the provision that no law shall be made respecting the establishment or free exercise of religion, but from that also which reserves to the states the powers not delegated to the United States. Certainly, no power to prescribe any religious exercise or to assume authority in religious discipline has been delegated to the General Government. It must then rest with the states, as far as it can be in any human authority.” —Thomas Jefferson to Samuel Miller, 1808. ME 11:428

“Our Constitution… has not left the religion of its citizens under the power of its public functionaries, were it possible that any of these should consider a conquest over the consciences of men either attainable or applicable to any desirable purpose.” —Thomas Jefferson: Reply to New London Methodists, 1809. ME 16:332

Posted by: LouisXIV at December 25, 2005 10:39 PM
Comment #107420

Evolution has too many basic thoughts to be taught as anything to be considered factual, truthful, or even theory.

The big bang is what some consider to be the beginning. If this is so, then where did the matter come from to cause the big bang. Theorists cannot even come close to guessing when the big bank even occured. This also would be the only time that a big bank created order instead of chaos.

If we came from lower primates, fish, or whatever the belief is, then that is a gross error. The DNA code does not allow another species to be developed from the one with DNA being referenced. For instance, an alligator cannot grow feathers.

If the earth is billions of years old, then the population of earth as we know it today would have 100’s of billions of people today.

Dating of what some claim to be 1 million, 100 million, 1 billion, 100 billion and so on, is not agreeable amonst the proponents. There is a wide disagreement on the type of dating.

According to Scientific American May 1984, there were a couple of writers that claimed that the entire universe was created from nothing. That is stretching theory a long, long way. There has to be matter for something to happen.

Life can only come from living matter.

Non-Observable + Non-Testable = Non-Scientific

Posted by: tomh at December 25, 2005 10:46 PM
Comment #107423

Michael L. Cook-
If God is capable of creating a universe of this startling level of complexity, with such a breadth of history to it, with so much scale and detail spread across the universe, are human beings at all capable of apprehending God’s design, much less understanding it correctly?

If God is perfect, why the ad hoc modifications to create life? A perfect God would have life integrated fully into the design of the universe.

If God wants our belief in him to be born of faith, why seed the universe with discontinuities that could give the game away prematurely?

If God wanted himself proved, why would he design it in such a way that generation would be denied the evidence necessary for belief?

What I find hard to believe is that God would be so comprehensible, that we could somehow understand the difference between something designed in nature and something produced naturally. To really, authoritatively claim that, one would need comprehensive knowledge of God’s design. How can we manage that when a complete understanding of nature eludes us now, and no one person could learn enough in a lifetime to understand it anyways?

An interesting aside comes to mind from Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen’s The Collapse of Chaos: There is no way to describe a binary star system in Einstein’s theory of relativity. One has to resort to Newton to do that.

All theories are approximations. Some are only useful if you limit the time period of your prediction; Weather forecasts rarely predict things well beyond a week or so. Some are monstrously inelegant, though accurate. Our computers run on such a theory. Some theories simply look at things through a particular lense, and aren’t worth much for a person from another discipline

We got limits to what our minds can handle, though we use our cleverness and education to improve our score. But we’re learning.

Who is anybody to say that they got the permanent answer ahead of everybody else? Scientists don’t claim that. Darwin’s theory has been modified, retrofitted, reworked, and reconceived hundreds of times. But something remains the same: Change moves back and forth, and things emerge from that change that rework the dynamics and explode the possibilities.

You would be right to say our knowledge is incomplete, but to say that ID completes it is presumptuous, because nothing I see indicated that ID is the product of verifiable inquiry. In the meantime, there is no shortage of complexity that seems to involve itself here. If we count on some uncheckable equations to tell us there is no need to proceed, we may find that we are once again faced with the prospect of having science rollback attempts at cornering it with new and better theories. It seems foolish to me to wager people’s faith in God on the inability of people to explain certain aspects of evolution. It’s happened before: others have pronounced mysteries inpenetrable, only to see such artificial boundaries pierced.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at December 25, 2005 11:26 PM
Comment #107424
She apprehends a problem with this, because if a prokaryotic cell can appear quickly in some type of primordial, pre-biotic soup, the (1) why don’t we see the process happening again occasionally in the last four billion years, producing new lines of life quite distinct from the rather idiosyncratic chemical way life evolved and has rigorously adhered to,

Given the attractability of the building blocks of proteins, it likely has happened. But good luck seeing it before it’s been eaten. A “new line” would only survive in the absence of established lines which would destroy or consume it.

I’m going to go eat my Campbell’s now… mmm. mmmm. goood….

Posted by: Taylor at December 26, 2005 12:20 AM
Comment #107425
Evolution has too many basic thoughts to be taught as anything to be considered factual, truthful, or even theory.

I assume you meant basic flaws. Anyway, your examples given show a significant misunderstanding of Evolution and the scientific process. Hang out at talkorigins.org to pick up some pointers.

The big bang is what some consider to be the beginning. If this is so, then where did the matter come from to cause the big bang. Theorists cannot even come close to guessing when the big bank even occured. This also would be the only time that a big bank created order instead of chaos.

Quantum theory allows for matter and anti-matter to form spontaneously out of nothing, destroying each other in the process. A major idea of the Bi Bang is that the universe is the result of this explosion. Theorists come very close to guessing when it happened. The big bang initially created chaos, but order developed over time as the universe developed.

Anyway, the Big Bang is Physics and has nothing to do with the biological Theory of Evolution.

If we came from lower primates, fish, or whatever the belief is, then that is a gross error. The DNA code does not allow another species to be developed from the one with DNA being referenced. For instance, an alligator cannot grow feathers.

That is inaccurate. You are asserting as disproof of evolution the claim that Evolution is wrong. Such circular reasoning gets you nowhere.

Mutations and other common genetic processes allow for new forms to be created where they hadn’t existed before.

If the earth is billions of years old, then the population of earth as we know it today would have 100’s of billions of people today.

Yes, if there were no such thing as disease, war, resource competition, etc. This is a ludicrous argument.

Dating of what some claim to be 1 million, 100 million, 1 billion, 100 billion and so on, is not agreeable amonst the proponents. There is a wide disagreement on the type of dating.

What dating are you talking about? Approaches like Carbon Dating? If so, you’re just wrong. Radiometric dating is well established within the known and understood limitations.

According to Scientific American May 1984, there were a couple of writers that claimed that the entire universe was created from nothing. That is stretching theory a long, long way. There has to be matter for something to happen.

This is a repeat of your earlier argument against the Big Bang.

Life can only come from living matter.

Typically, yes. However, there is lots of research (though incomplete) that shows how it might have happened once. And once is all we needed.

Non-Observable + Non-Testable = Non-Scientific

Thank you for summarizing a primary argumentagainst Intelligent Design.

Posted by: LawnBoy at December 26, 2005 12:28 AM
Comment #107450

This response to a BBC science award article applies here:
Dear BBC,
About your piece on evolution-science:
I am a geologist and have seen the process of evolution under the microscope, mainly in forams, some fusilinids, etc . I believe the process. Incidentally I worked several years in and around Rincon(name in article), Tx (Hidalgo Co) in Vicksburg, Wilcox & in numerous other sections.
And, I also know the first rule in scientific investigations insists on observation. We can never observe, & correctly detail, even with radio telescopes the totality of events of the universe’s creation, ergo the numerous theories concerning. Last I recall there’s 5 string theories and counting.
The process is one thing, conclusions therefrom are another. There is a fly in the ointment: each successive species evolving is supposedly a superior chosen by nature(natural selection) therefore a flourisher. Thing is, between man and ape, there are only a handful of these “missing links” The math is no good. There should be at least as many of them(superior survivors - a fossil record) as there are extant apes. A predicted succession is missing. It’s like you leave out one of your reigns & a king. The record there I know - The numbers are not in that record.
Conclusion: inference and deduction are insufficient in the rigorous proof required to sustantiate the theory forming it into fact. From there, you have to take some final steps on faith, which is what the creationists do all along - Oh dread consternation, great wailing and gnashing of teeth. The science award is premature.
(From what I know of judges , they would be the very last capable of discerning the merit of any of these matters. )
Have great holidays!
best regards,
blmorris@swbell.net

Posted by: Burley Morris at December 26, 2005 6:13 AM
Comment #107464

Hi Burley,

“Thing is, between man and ape, there are only a handful of these “missing links” The math is no good.”

You’re ignoring mountains of genetic evidence. The math is real good in the sense that the math in forensic DNA analysis is good.

Posted by: LouisXIV at December 26, 2005 8:00 AM
Comment #107465

Hi Burley,

“Thing is, between man and ape, there are only a handful of these “missing links” The math is no good.”

You’re ignoring mountains of genetic evidence. The math is real good in the sense that the math in forensic DNA analysis is good.

Posted by: LouisXIV at December 26, 2005 8:04 AM
Comment #107480
There is a fly in the ointment: each successive species evolving is supposedly a superior chosen by nature(natural selection) therefore a flourisher. Thing is, between man and ape, there are only a handful of these “missing links” The math is no good. There should be at least as many of them(superior survivors - a fossil record) as there are extant apes.

A handfull? Actually, there are many fossils of intermediary steps.

Anyway, your logic is flawed (if I understand it correctly). You seem to be claiming that there should be at least as many fossils of ancestors as there are living apes. This makes the invalid assumption that all corpses become fossils. In fact, fossilization is a process that happens only rarely. As Wikipedia notes:

Fossilization is actually a rare occurrence because natural materials tend to decompose. In order for an organism to be fossilized, the remains normally need to be covered by sediment as soon as possible. However there are exceptions to this, such as if an organism becomes petrified or comes to rest in an anoxic environment such as at the bottom of a lake.

Criticizing Evolution because fewer than expected specimens became fossils misunderstands the odds of fossilization.

Posted by: LawnBoy at December 26, 2005 9:13 AM
Comment #107487

Michael-
I have found during the course of my life that it is one thing to think up an explanation, it’s another to ensure that it reflects reality.

How do we ensure that ID reflects reality? We can’t, because we cannot interrogate the supernatural. As incomplete as Evolution is, it nonetheless rests completely on sound scientific foundations. You don’t have to believe in Gaia or the Horned God of the Wiccas to believe the theory of evolution.

The problem with recreating life is that it emerged from a situation alien to that today, and one we are not sure about the details of. We know that free oxygen in the atmosphere was far less common. We wouldn’t even be able to measure its amount in a full percentage point. Hard radiation was pummelling the surface of our planet, and numerous other chemical and geological situation were present in a way no longer the case now. With all these things being the case, life was likely the product of an emergent phenomena that we might sooner stumble on by accident than deduce on purpose. We may have come up with our own recipe for life before nature’s gets figured out.

There may still be places producing life, but those places might exist in the most inhospitable environments on earth, like volcanic vents or in the rock deep in the crust or mantle.

The ID folks dwell on the complexities of the chemical reactions, as if the chances for these things are as well understood as that of a deck of cards. But both the new science and the old on this subject agree that the likelihood of chemical reactions is not a singular thing. Different environments, temperatures, substrates, and combinations of other reactants and catalysts can change the probability of complex chemicals developing.

As for punctuated equilibrium, I think there are other ways to explain long-term stability of form followed by short-term shake-ups. The key is to understand ___ things:

1)Nobody starts with a clean slate. We all start life with a huge proportion of genes different from other folks, including a number of novel mutations from recent generations.

2)Development in the womb starts not with our own DNA, but with the messenger RNA and chemical environment of the womb. Only later does our DNA take over. Implication: nature has a way of keeping the form of species stable under most circumstanctes. This is what prevents (1) from radically changing humanity’s form.

3)Genes act emergently, and recursively. Certain changes in both environment and development can create radically different results. All those accumulated differences get expressed.

And therefore the appearance of a jump, despite the fact that the pressures and mutations had been going on for some time.

Wacky theories can become not so wacky when presented in the fullness of their detail and facts. They can also be revealed as truly and irredeemably wacky, which some people find hard to accept. The key is to understand that it is not our own opinions that make a theory reliable or unreliable, it is the claims they make, and the logic with which they back things up. ID’s logic, by its nature, cannot submit itself to the skeptical inquiry of other scientists. There’s no way to confirm a God exists with the tools of science. So there’s this big hole where there should be an explanation. ID proponents claim its unavoidable, but why should scientists just take their word for it? They don’t do that for anything else, and shouldn’t.

Science isn’t about being fair to all ideas, it’s about ideas having to earn their credentials. Now, to some extent, the system can be manipulated or prejudice can force it in a counterfactual direction, but that’s the case with any human system, and science’s discipline, properly applied, can correct for a lot of that. The upshot of this, though, is that we’re not simply being offered theories whose acceptance is based on pure gift of gab.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at December 26, 2005 9:53 AM
Comment #107492

Well to me it is pretty simple. You can take what little the human mind can comprehend and come up with as an accepted standard and rule out all other theory,or you can keep an open mind to mans ability to eventually study and find more answers. I do not think that evolution rules out the exsistance of God. I also do not think that science should be the end all determining factor in ones belief in creation of life. So like i have said, my children go to private school, and they do so for this very reason. Simply put, they will not recieve the type of education i would like them to recieve in public schools. The system there is flawed,in general. I am more than happy to pay the extra expense to ensure that my kids learn, and learn the right way!

Posted by: G at December 26, 2005 10:19 AM
Comment #107500

Chris, thank you for addressing the issues directed toward you.

You said: “First, Aristotelian and pre-modern science did not take off, in part, because the religious and philosophical views of the ancient world did not recognize an orderly, predictable, and beneficient universe.”

That is utter nonsense. Modern science, IN FACT, used Plato, Aristotle and others of the pre-modern science period as their starting point for building modern methodology. Plato and Aristotle were students of centuries of thought which was based in large part on discovering the predictability of the physical world, especially the Aegean Sea which was wreaking havoc on Greek shipping and insurers of cargoes. Plato’s universe was built on the concept of ideal which the physical universe reflected with distortions. Plato’s universe was orderly, and sought predictability in earnest as did Aristotelian thought. The whole Socratic Dialectic in the voice of Socrates was based on the predictability of human behavior and thought processes.

I will grant you some leeway on the Ancient Greeks not having beneficent view of the universe, instead they had a view of some beneficent gods who could be reached through appeasement.

The Middle Ages, due to the rise of feudalism, created a pause in the progression of empirical thought from the time of the Greeks and Romans, Egyptians, and Persians, until the Renaissance resumed its development on the texts of the ancients passed down through the scribes and monks of the Middle Ages. It was the end of feudalism and the rise of mercantilism in Europe that resparked the kind of empirical inquiry that was the hallmark of ancient Greek and Roman scholars at their pinnacle.

Your comment above utterly fails to grasp the history of the development of modern thought and inquiry which in fact is just a continuation of what the Ancient scholars had already begun. It was feudalism after the erosion of the Roman Empire that interrupted the progression, not any fundamental differences in Ancient scholars “orderly, predictable, and beneficient universe” views.

And Chris, you stated: “The theory of evolution is not scientific in the same way as other parts of science because it is purely an inductive, imaginitive description of discrete facts and does not depend on any real experimentation involving falsifiable hypotheses.”

This too is patently false. Anyone who has reviewed the research of mutation and propagation studies of everything from bacterial cultures to fruit flies and genetic crop alterations has to recognize that evolution is empirically observable, even predictable where sufficient controls are in place, and replicable in the laboratory.

You are right that there is a difference between nation and state. We are not and never have been a Christian state, but, too, we are not and never have been a Christian nation either. It is true enough to say that Christianity has been the dominant religious influence in American culture and our nation’s development. But, it has by no means been exlusive as scant review of the 1920’s, 1930’s and early 1940’s literature will attest with its heavy focus on Eastern religions and philosophies, partly as a result of the heavy Chinese importation of labor around the turn of the century, or, the influence of American Indian views in the 1960’s and 70’s environmental movements. The Old Man of the Desert was a heavy influence on me in the 1960’s as written by Carlos Casteneda. Such views are still influential today both in the U.S. and around the world in the anarchist movements and groups. These movements and thoughts stand in contrast to Christian views of man’s dominion over nature. American culture is a study of the competition between these differing cultural views and value sets, NOT a study in the exclusivity of Christianity in shaping the values and yardsticks of political and philsophical thought at work in our nation today. Far from it.

Posted by: David R. Remer at December 26, 2005 10:30 AM
Comment #107501

tomh-

Life can only come from living matter.

It happens all the time: Photosynthesis, salt intake, the carbon cycle, etc.

As for creation of the universe from nothing, our universe coalesced from a bunch of energy, according to theory. The background noise from all that is significant: Three degrees Kelvin in the vacuum of space, and baseline microwave radiation wherever you choose to point a dish.

Radioisotope dating is not unreliable as you say. In fact, the numbers on these things are well known. Whoever told you that scientist don’t know how to date things that well doesn’t know the science.

In terms of population, we haven’t been around as a species for more than 100,000 years, with modern man only emerging 50,000 years ago Throughout that time, man’s ability to reproduce has not been arbitrary. Anybody whose had to raise children knows it’s not easy, and it’s only been more difficult as you go further into the past.

In terms of where we came from, DNA code constantly mutates. We’re practically nothing but mutations, some older than our species. Evolution is basically the rest of the world interacting with those genetics, giving the advantage to those genes and collections of genes that can produce creatures able to survive the real world conditions out there.

The mistake is believing that evolution says such changes operate independent of heredity, that wholesale differences in features can just pop up at random. That’s not the case, and it reflects a poor reading of the theory to believe so. The features develop within species from pre-existing features.

We don’t evolve from apes, apes and hominids evolve from a common ancestor, with our changes from therein out confined to our hereditary lines. If Humans evolve the ability to see infra-red, it has to evolve from some pre-existing genes dictating how our eyes work, and the genetic results will be confined to our species and those species that develop from it.

It should be understood that evolution was never meant to say that creatures change randomly for no reason, but to say that creatures evolve towards a form that suits their environment, carrying with them the legacy of their past evolution. We haven’t lost the simian aspects of our body’s construction, we’ve modified them.

As for the application of entropy, that’s flawed at best. We’re not dealing with a closed system, and besides thermodynamics is better applied to engines and things like that. With life, you have a force which by definition resists entropy, creating different kinds of order, and different types and layers of it.

All in all, what we have here is a system that works pretty well to describe the natural world. It’s not perfect or complete, but neither is our knowledge in the first place. Science isn’t about perfecting human knowledge, but improving it. The Big Bang and evolution are observable and testable theories. They just don’t appeal to the classical, literalist, preconceived notions that some have of the universe.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at December 26, 2005 10:33 AM
Comment #107510

As for the modern and ancient sciences, I guess I just look at the history differently. No doubt in the rennaissance and early modern europe, ancient texts like Plato and Aristotle were more widely distributed and looked to for guidance by modern scientists like Bacon, Descartes, Copernicus, etc. That said, these texts were always around in some sense or other. Aquinas borrowed heavily from Aristotle and Augustine from Plato. But only in the beginnings of modern science do we begin to see real scientific progress.

It seems to me that the metaphysics and method of ancient science and modern science are very different. Whereas the ancients had a rarefied view of causation—efficient, final, formal, etc.—moderns have, in some measure, simply narrowed their focus to what used to be described as solely the efficient cause. That is, where an Aristotle was concerned with a tree’s “purpose” in the larger scheme of things, a modern scientist is simply concerned with repeatability and regularity. Man, a tree, a star, a bug—they’re all just matter in motion to the modern scientist.

This “low but solid ground” of modern science is both its genius and a potential flaw. While modern science has advanced our understanding and technology by orders of magnitude over the ancient world, it has also left us devoid of the connections between different realms of knowledge, and in particular moral knowledge, that depended on the ancient view of causation, that is, ancient metaphysics. (See generally Alisdair MacIntyre, *After Virtue.*)

The real problem, and one still unresolved, is how to demarcate the realm of natural science from the realm of moral life, which depends in some measure upon the pre-modern view of our freedom and the purposefulness of our nature.

Posted by: Roach at December 26, 2005 10:53 AM
Comment #107528

We can’t demarcate it. There is no boundary. Science and Technology are part and parcel of our modern existence. They form the basis on which many of our interactions with the world and between each other take place.

In many ways, the changes in society we have seen are much the result of the advances in transportation, telecommunications, and medicine, among other fields. Our emotional, psychological, and spiritual lives have been transformed by this complex stew of interactions and enabling disciplines. The world is changing because of all we have discovered, and we have no choice but to change with it.

On the other hand, though, certain needs and desires of humanity never change, so the adaptation isn’t always simply one of going with the change, but often one of opposing, moderating, or changing the nature of the change occurring.

The question, in the end, is how well our society and we ourselves adapt to our newfound knowledge and capabilities, and how true we can stay to those things that make life worth living, and let ourselves experience happiness.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at December 26, 2005 12:27 PM
Comment #107587

Fellow mutants.
Any theory on origins is pure speculation.
How can you observe anything that happened millions of years ago? Isn’t saying the similarities in dna are proof of evolution just as much of a streach as saying it was designed by the same mind.
wouldn’t a human making bacteria in a dish be intelligent design?
The constitution was designed to insulate against tyranny. previous countries had tried monarchy,theocracy,democracies and dictatorships.
They had all failed. Our system of checks and balances with a federal republic was the best they could do to avoid situations like mob rule or judicial tyranny.
This was and is a christian country. Just read the school textbooks from the past. The old refrences rightly address the dangers of religious establishments making laws for everyone else
It has nothing to do with endorsement. The ten commandments and moses are engraved all over the supreme court building. Showing the basis for the laws we have. The religious institutions cannot interperate these for us in civic law, but secular people should not ban them.
Tyranny is making laws that bypass the people,state or federal interest. They are all supposed to agree.

Posted by: kruser at December 26, 2005 3:57 PM
Comment #107608

David & Chris,
I don’t disagree with what you’re saying. It’s just that it’s incomplete.

The Middle Ages, due to the rise of feudalism, created a pause in the progression of empirical thought from the time of the Greeks and Romans, Egyptians, and Persians, until the Renaissance resumed its development on the texts of the ancients passed down through the scribes and monks of the Middle Ages.
…is only guilty of a little laziness.

No doubt there was a pause in Europe, but not in the Arabic world (clearly there is a pause going on there now, which is half the problem). The reason it seems that there is a break between the ancients, to whom I would also add India (maybe China, but I’m not sure of the extent any knowledge sharing took place), is that the Arabs first absorbed each of these knowledgebases and then expanded on it before passing back into Europe, primarily through Spain and Sicily (where is the Eagle by the way?). Plenty of good examples, but it’s most important to recognise that the Arabs were the first to challenge the Greek method and logic with widespread empiricism, that is measurement & observation. The people you’ve mentioned were all important, but an emergent Europe on a crusade buzz wasn’t going to properly recognise it’s intellectual debts. And unfortunately we’re still dealing with that lie.
Bacon for example was a big fan of Arabic science which make his life more difficult, and he would be since he studied at Oxford where the school of science was established by Jews who came over to England, under the wing of the Normans, as they fled Spanish Cordoba but brought the Moorish sciences with them.
Aquinas didn’t completely agree with Averroes, but he does owe him a real debt. (I’m using this link especially to make it more accessible for your mindset Mr Roach)

If you aren’t afraid of a little (more) inquiry & knowledge, I can really recommend a book by Robert Briffault, “The making of humanity” (that has the un/fortunate alternative title of Rational Evolution). Probably best to find it at a major library, at $300 a pop on Amazon you’d have to be really keen otherwise.

This is a great article too,
Islam, once at forefront of science, fell by wayside
lots to think about. I would argue that it’s not so much that we need Iraq to become democratic (& I’m getting OT here), but that places like Baghdad have to regain their status as centres of rigorous learning.
If I can also suggest that a core fear that drives many of us to passionately jump to the defence of science against that section of religion who seem intent on rejecting science & reason, is that we don’t want the Western world to make the same mistake Islam probably did a couple of hundred years ago. So it’s clear, though it should already be, Science wants to just do it’s own thing. It never has, not does it want to pick a fight with Religion. I do giggle to myself in private about the beliefs of some, but I don’t mean any real harm. It’s like how I as a physicist will now and then refer to the other sciences (chemistry included) as ‘stamp collecting’ (they’re rolling their eyes now)… not in a serious fashion, more like wrestling with a younger sibling, so that they can defend themselves better. Which they just did… clever strategy though Chris Roach, respect & big up yourself.
Back on topic, I’d argue it takes just as much faith to believe there is no God as it does to believe in one. What would help is if sensible religious people who hold St. Aquinas & Reason in high regard would deal with the religious nuts and their anti-intellectualism, so that we don’t have to. Thankfully the Republican elite are taking care of business now. If Alito doesn’t make it into scotus for some yet unknown reason, maybe Judge Jones will be the next to the plate.
Yes, the rumours are true Chris, liberals do know how to play wedge politics. Especially lapsed Catholics where the priests were Jesuits.

Posted by: Jon at December 26, 2005 5:43 PM
Comment #107610

Jon, thanks for filling in the details. In considering how deep into detail to go, I halted at explaining the Arabic spread of empiricism all the way to India, as it would have considerably lengthened the argument and lost reader attention span.

I thank you for pointing out however, how Islam was instrumental to the halted progress of empirical inquiry in the Middle East and the ramifications of that for those who would like to convert the US into a relgiously based nation.

Posted by: David R. Remer at December 26, 2005 5:55 PM
Comment #107675

Kruser-
Any theory on origins is speculation if you do not have evidence. For the Big Bang we got the omnidirectional background noise and residual heat, coupled with the observable speeding away of galaxies in all directions. For our planetary formation we have the composition of asteroids and other space material, and we have observable planetary nebulas beyond our Solar System. Hell, we know of hundreds of planets by now. Some of those we’ve discovered are in our own Solar System!

As for similarities in DNA, what we prove is heredity of the creature. Evolution explains why these genes and not others, why these characteristics and not others. We don’t have wolf-like or deer like characteristics because those are characteristics within the family. Dogs have their characteristics, as do antelope, because they share much closer common ancestors with those animals. I don’t personally dispute God as creator, In fact, I believe he did such a good job that there are no seams. God would not need to do an ad hoc adjustment to his world to create life.

As for us? Yes, when we bioengineer a germ, there is intelligent design. Ours. And because we aren’t able to properly disguise our intervention, a well-trained enough geneticist or biologist could problem eke out that design. But when dealing with God, we’re not simply dealing with the one who designed the creature, but the one who designed the world. Seeing as how God is perfect, knows all and sees all, he would be quite capable of fully integrating life into our world on a level that it would inevitably produce it.

I think what has kept this country one where the Christian faith is strong, is the dissociation between religion and state. Because of it, one does not need to reject, say, being a baptist, in order to reject the right-wing. Look at Europe, and you will see governments that either still have connections to an established church, or which cast one down in the process of their political change. Although secularism was fashionable for a time in America during the latter years of the 20th century, we should take note that there was not the momentum here for the strictest strain of secularism as there was in Europe. I think the fact that many of these places had established churches contributed to that backlash.

Our best course of action is to exercise our religion in life. From there, everything else proceeds.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at December 26, 2005 9:21 PM
Comment #107699

Well said Stephen.

There are theories that prove with math that the universe is in a cycle and will pull back together also. I don’t have near the time I would like to study these things but I believe it was Hawkins.
Belief in origin from nothingness and disorder verses a mind is really the core of this debate. I haven’t seen much for proof either way. Just finite inconclusive examinations with religious agenda mixed in. Humanist and Christian alike.

Posted by: Kruser at December 26, 2005 9:56 PM
Comment #107914

Not to through a Monkey Wrench into everyone thoughts, but science no longer believes that live was an “accident.” In addition, the most common thought is that life not only was NOT an accident, but it is so abundant in the universe that it is present nearly everywhere.

Look at this planet, anyplace that life is capable of being in, it is there. Life is in places where we would not even think to look. Such as the sulfuric waters that issue from geysers in Yellowstone National Park. Life is in the deepest parts of the ocean where no sunlight has penetrated since the oceans formed.

One scientist even grew, yes, GREW a tree in a 100% silicone environment. It is a beautiful crystal formation requiring no air, only sunlight and silicone. And its still growing.

Humans tend to be so arrogant when it comes to defining life. They think that “Humans” are the only form of life worth even thinking about.

They fail to see beyond their own petty beliefs and accomplishments, and they fail to see that LIFE is not just human, it is everything and it is everywhere.

To think that some intelligent being designed life so that WE HUMANS can worship him, disregarding all other forms of life, and giving us his BLESSING to kill, and destroy other life, is so arrogant and misguided that it is laughable.

Life will go on, not only on this planet, but on many others in the universe, even after humans, in their stupidity, can no longer inhabit this plant.

Posted by: tom at December 27, 2005 8:41 AM
Comment #107930

Kruser-
By no seems, I mean there is no fingerprints in the facts to be left behind. God’s role must be a matter of faith. We will not prove it, now or ever. Grace, not proof, will be the means by which we come to believe.

I have seen much evidence that evolution is a fact, and I have little reason to doubt it. My belief is that the level of order at which God works is far beyond any we can apprehend. And rightly so, because any God we could comprehend, with us not comprehending the rest of the universe that well, would be no God.

Some might argue, therefore, that I am a fool and a superstitious person to believe in God. Well, that’s their response, and I know why they go in that direction. But I’ve come to believe that complete rationality is impossible, and that it is no intellectual sin to believe both in the refinement and expansion of man’s knowledge, and in God. I just believe we have to keep our minds clear on which is which.

The Temptation to prove God is the temptation to be able to compel others, through our own superior intellects, to agree with us and worship as we do. I think, and I hope people understand I judge nobody here, that this reflects an absence of faith- both that we feel we need proof to turn people to God, and that we do not trust his grace to overcome the obstacles to faith in him in the modern day.

We must realize that Religion is not about worldly knowledge such as science deals with, but instead, the truth about ourselves, and how we should deal with others.

Tom-
We should hold off on saying that life is everywhere just yet, if only because scientific skepticism requires it. It is true that life on Earth exists in places and environments that are beyond the scope of normal living conditions

As for the Silicone tree, I’d hold off on calling that life, personally, until I see your source. It could be nothing more than crystal formation, which can occur spontaneously given the right conditions. It would, however, be one of many phenomena that put paid to the notion that order cannot emerge from disorder spontaneously.

One of the first steps to people realizing that divine intervention in time was not necessary to produce life, is the realization that there are many other examples of seemingly random systems creating non-random, orderly results, and that the chemicals that produced life may have been brought together thereby to produce life.

To survive on this planet, I think we will have to realize that the consequences of our behavior are under nature’s control, rather than ours, and that we must use the brilliant minds nature gave us to do what all creatures do with nature: adapt. One thing for sure: the world isn’t getting any simpler, any time soon.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at December 27, 2005 10:36 AM
Comment #107939

Scientific theories sometimes require a leap of faith before they win acceptance. Galileo, for instance, stared through a primitive Huygens telescope and declared it proven that Jupiter had moons. In the absence of photographic plates, other people looked through the same very primitive apparatus and were not sure they were seeing anything! Galileo got in trouble with the Inquisition because he was the original “Mr. Attitude” and they were the stalwart upholders of tradition. The church was not entirely close minded, but like NFL referees today, they needed clear and convincing proof to overthrow the ruling on the field.

A similar instance was the expedition to confirm general relativity by means of observing the orbit of Mercury during a total eclipse. A distinguished British astronomer found the anomaly he expected to find and general relativity was considered ratified. It is a good theory and has been more accurately confirmed many times since, but some have questioned whether that first confirmation was legitimate, given the severe limitations of the instruments used.

Much the same type of problem clouds the present debate on Global Warming. People are “adjusting”
their instruments to get the result they expect to get. Looking at any area of interest not previously investigated in a rigorous way, assumptions tend to be made about baselines and other variables that are unwarranted.

I expect that ten or twenty years from now the I.D. debate will be hotter than ever, mostly because of new research turning up layer after layer of incredible complexity and fine-tuned conditions necessary for life to appear and thrive in an indifferent and hostile material world.

Posted by: Michael L. Cook at December 27, 2005 11:10 AM
Comment #107953

Billboards For reason

there are two key elements to consider in the argument for ID in public schools in America.

1) America is 39th in regards to education in the world.
2) Intelligent design does not qulaifiy as a Scientific theory.

See the following:

U.S. Losing the Science Race
Discover Magazine, January 2006, Pg 37

Science and engineering in the United States are in dangerous decline—and the country needs a concentrated effort to reverse the trend. That was the conclusion of a 20-member panel of the National Academies in October. “America today faces a serious and intensifying challenge with regard to its future competitiveness and standard of living,” said panel chairman Norman Augustine, retired Lockheed Martin chairman. “Further, we appear to be on a losing path.”

The performance of U.S. students in middle and high schools on international math and science exams is below the average of 38 other countries. Even advanced American math and physics students score near dead last among students in 20 tested countries, the panel reported. Since 1990 the number of bachelor’s degrees in engineering has declined 8 percent; in mathematics, 20 percent. While 32 percent of U.S. students graduate with degrees in science and engineering, the figure in China is 59 percent.

Fewer grads means less research. Science Watch, a review of the Web research tool Essential Science Indicators, found a decline in U.S. representation among the world’s published scientific papers, dropping from 38.5 percent in 1990 to 33.3 percent in 2004. Meanwhile, the Asian-Pacific share increased and “will likely outstrip that of the United States in six or seven years.” Such declines may be reflected in the business of science; the National Academies reported the U.S. share of global high-tech exports fell during the last two decades from 30 to 17 percent, and its share of manufactured goods dropped from +33 billion in 1990 to –24 billion in 2004.

What to do? The panel proposed a $10 billion to $20 billion solution. It includes offering scholarships to draw top students into teaching math, science, engineering, and technology. The brightest young researchers should receive new grants worth $500,000 each. Overall, the panel said, the United States should increase investment in basic research by 10 percent annually for seven years. —Bruce Stutz


Why Intelligent Design is, in fact, not a theory at all.

“One requirement of science is that it makes specific predictions, which can be tested in a laboratory.” states geologist Robert Hazen “Another requirement is that it does not rely on supernatural or miraculous processes.”

The primary case that intelligent design promotes is that life and the universe have systems that are so complex that they can only be explained by a creator. The very essence of that theory is completely un-testable. The only test that stands up is if we can not explain it it must have been designed.

If it was designed by “a creator” a single being or entity; whether that be God, an Alien or the Giant Spaghetti Monster then we are left without testing. The protocol for testing is to give up and stop researching because the answers to the question are to difficult to explain.

This attitude and the answers themselves are unacceptable and are a further symptom of the bigger problem we are faced with in our poor quality of education that our children receive today. - Prescott Small

Posted by: Prescott Small at December 27, 2005 11:52 AM
Comment #108009

Prescott,

I believe that we are in agreement if I understand what you are saying.

I believe that eventually the question of the Intellignet Designer comes down to this:

If life is so elegant or complex that it could not be randmoly created, thus requiring a Designer… then who created the Designer?

If our evidence shows that something cannot be a result of any other reason than someone intervening at some level… can that someone have been randomly created?

Even opening the discussion up a bit to include aliens (if they exist or not) then who would have created the aliens?

So, even if someone wins at one level and convinces everyone that an Intelligent Designer was responsible for life on our earth then we will have to then qustion the nature of that Intelligent Designer… which a lot of people call God… and a lot of people believe is religion.

Are we saying the same thing?

My belief is that if I do not understand something there is a defficiency in my knowledge at that point in time… I do not attribute it to some unknowable entity and leave it at that.

To All,

As to the question or statement starting this discussion:

“The recent Dover decision involving a Pennsylvania school board has permitted these archetypes to unfold in their predictable fashion.”

I would agree. This case was judged on its merits. In law, intent is considered. Please do not disagree with me on this. If you do question it, please read any Court of Appeals or any Supreme Court ruling… there will be the Majority and Dissenting opinions and you will see “intent” used throughout the courts considerations. Intent of the plantif or defendant, the prosecution, the law makers…

The judge found that the intent of the School Board was to introduce religion into the schools under the guise of ID and “open scientific debate.”

His ruling, if read, does not question the source of life. He states that based on what was presented in his court, it was used as a means to violate the law.

Even the Discovery Institute who is one of the largest supporters of ID was not happy with the School Board allowing this to go to court. I do not agree with a lot of their beliefs and ideas, but if anyone is interested they can explore that Institute’s website and read their position and their opposition to the Dover school board.

Posted by: Darren7160 at December 27, 2005 1:42 PM
Comment #108168

Hi Chris,

“The real problem, and one still unresolved, is how to demarcate the realm of natural science from the realm of moral life”

Do you mean “should we drop thermonuclear weapons on people because we have the technology to do so?” and stuff like that?

Posted by: LouisXIV at December 27, 2005 5:28 PM
Comment #108170

Hi Chris,

“The real problem, and one still unresolved, is how to demarcate the realm of natural science from the realm of moral life”

Do you mean “should we drop thermonuclear weapons on people because we have the technology to do so?” and stuff like that?

Posted by: LouisXIV at December 27, 2005 5:30 PM
Comment #108191

That’s part of it, but the issue is broader. How do we retain the ancient view of morality, that depends upon a notion of human freedom, when science says that human beings are no different than trees or animals (we’re all star dust), and when science says our pretentions of specialness are just phantasms of our evolutionary biology, pretentious self-delusion by beings no different, no freerer, and no less determined than any other part of the natural universe. We’re all just matter in motion under this view, for whom morality of any kind is an illusion.

Posted by: Roach at December 27, 2005 7:40 PM
Comment #108199

Hi Chris,

“How do we retain the ancient view of morality”

What ancient morality do you mean? According to the Bible people should be executed for idolatry, violating the Sabbath, and blashpemy.

“and when science says our pretentions of specialness are just phantasms of our evolutionary biology”

Are you saying that anybody who isn’t based on pre-enlightenment thought doesn’t respect humanity?

I don’t see modern rationalists as being any less moral than ancient religious people. It’s true that modern rationalists have access to far more powerful weapons but modern rationalism doesn’t seem to cause people to be less respectful of human beings than ancient people were.

Posted by: LouisXIV at December 27, 2005 8:12 PM
Comment #108200

Mr. Roach,

Your argument is one that interests me very much. This is the one of absolute versue relative morality.

My understanding (which could be wrong or different than other’s) of them is:

ABSOLUTE morality is based on a deity. One that says what is wrong (sinful) and what is right (virtuous). To be valid, behavior or limitations on our behavior need a reference source… such as the 10 Commandmants saying “Thou shalt not…” etc.

When we determine the morality of something then it must be in relation to what the absolutes are as laid out by the deity and the tenents and traditions that have arrived from that religion.

RELATIVE morality says that it is not necessary for a “superior being” to have morality. It can be based on what is best for society. What is best for one without causing harm to another… it depends on the perspective of the environment in which it derives.

I would guess that it is possible for an action or a person to be moral whether or not they have every heard of a particular God we are familiar with. There are still some areas of this world that are pretty “primative”.

Without the reference to a particular western religion is their behavior still moral or is it just a cooincedence?

Business is stronger in the Republican Party than the Democratic Party. Business, in itself, is amoral. The legal and, if you want to call it moral, obligation of company executives is to maximize profits. Ethics in business majors are a single class. At least they were when I got by degree in business.

Business has a very dramatic impact on our lives. Bophol, 3-mile island, Love Canal, outsourcing jobs because something can be done cheaper in another country (note, most of these countries are not giving their people a comfortable living wage within the lower living expenses but is exploitive labor), fraud such as ENRON and Tyco… Many of these companies are big players in the Republican party (or were before indictments).

Science does have a morality of a sorts. It is open to scrutinity of others. It is dependant on funding which determines also morality of the reseach… as in, if investors or funding entities have issues with the morality they don’t fund. Peer review, protocols.

We can do as people do with business. Business is not a person, it is ran by people and those people are responsible for moral behavior.

Science is not a person and the people are responsible if the morality of their investigations are in question.

Some can argue that morality and science have nothing to do with each other… but to them there is the old ethics question… if it was found that there was a cure for (fill in the blank) that was discoved by the Nazis in their concentration camp experiments, should we use them?

Just some thoughts.

Posted by: Darren7160 at December 27, 2005 8:13 PM
Comment #108201

Louis, your arguments are not serious, and I fear by grappling with them any furter I’ll do some damage to my own intellect by slumming, as it were.

You either do not understand me or are deliberatley misrepresenting my views. By ancient view of morality I mean any morality at all, and that is clear from my post. It’s contrasted with “modern” morality, which is to say the denial of any possibility of any authentic morality and authentic freedom at all. Classical morality until the enlightenment meant the notion that there might be some outside guide for our behavior, that this guide matters, that it should influence our actions, and that it has a claim to being true. It does not matter what the particulars are for the poitn I’m trying to make, though in juvenile fashion you have erected a few strawmen. The question is whether the materialism and determinims of natural science permit the concept at all.

That people are not so terribly immoral today does not prove your point. People have been terrible—more terrible and more efficient, in fact—in the business of mass murder and oppression after the dawn of science. This extends from the murderous revolutionaries of France, the tyrants of the 20th Century, or the scientifically educated but morally imbecilic 9/11 hijackers. That some people out of habit and insecure sentimentalism have not yet resorted to outright barbarism is not guarantee in the future, and the numerous small barbarisms of our time suggest a dark future.

Perhaps you should read a book or two before you deign to opine on complicated matters of philosophy obviously outside your realm of expertise. Perhaps something like C.S. Lewis’ Abolition of Man or Descartes Meditations. Until you do so, I fear you’re wasting everyone’s time, including your own.

That all said, I find your aguments boring, irresponsible, and unclear. You do not state your own view on matters and you are either willfully ignorant of a pretty simple point I made or you are too dull to understand it.

Posted by: Roach at December 27, 2005 8:27 PM
Comment #108204

Morality is not Christianity,unless I have been mistaken.So where does it come into the eqaution of ID?Since so many feel it is just that creationism?

Posted by: G at December 27, 2005 8:51 PM
Comment #108217

Bottom line, if conventional evolutionary mechanism can not satisfactorly explain how the rotary flagella of e-coli could be slung together by random chance only, then other theories get a chance.

In physics there is a brand-new fledgling theory that concerns Dark Energy driving the acceleration of the expansion of the universe.

Now, you can’t see Dark Energy. Really, the only place dark energy exists at all in some fairly esoteric other theories that physicists have bandied about.

Right now Intelligent Design proponents do not have to specify what the “designer” is like. For all we know, the esoteric metaphysics of quantum mechanics may open this door for us some day.

All I do know is that when conventional evolutionists say, “Just wait a bit, we are about to explain how the rotary flagella, the clotting of blood, and all other extremely complex biochemical phenomena can come about incrementally.

You had better just believe our “just so” theories in this regard, or we will shout you down and get some conservative judge to validate our dogma, whether it really can explain the leading-edge issues or not.

Posted by: Michael L. Cook at December 27, 2005 9:42 PM
Comment #108220

Michael L. Cook-
Galileo did not declare anything proven He took notes on what he saw, and others could go back and see what he saw. Galileo got in trouble with the Inquisition because the Catholic Church at that time was more beholden to philosophers like Ptolemy and Aristotle than to skeptical methods of inquiry.

Same thing with Relativity. However much the first observation was flawed, we would later be able to confirm his theory by other means.

As for Global Warming, it depends on what you mean by adjusting instruments. Scientists often adjust instruments to screen out irrelevant noise or effects that skew the reading. That said, if you were to see a warming trend over the oceans similar to that over land, despite the way that heat island effects have interfered, then you might start to think that the heat island effect is not the primary mover in rising temperatures.

This is much about what science is about- working out the patterns from within the noise. When the field involves elements of higher-order complexity, with chaos and emergent effects in play, that gets more difficult. People like you often use the uncertainty to assert that your theories might be true.

Trouble is, that’s an argument from ignorance. Logically speaking, just because we don’t know whether one model applies, doesn’t mean the model claimed to apply by you or I really does fit the bill.

The more I’ve read about it, the more I’ve found that life isn’t such a delicate thing, with such precise needs to grow. Life is by its nature opportunistic. It takes the lemons the environment hands it, and often makes lemonade.

Roach-
What does science say? Be humble. You’ve got gifts unique in all the Animal Kingdom, but you still have all the needs of such a creature, and your intelligence allows you to do a lot more to screw up your support system than other creatures. Recognize what you depend upon, and your intelligence will be a gift, not a curse.

I think Religion says the much the same thing, but from a different angle, one regarding humanity for the most part, but also our relationship with the universe as a whole.

Our problem in the 21st century is that technology and society are caught in a feedback loop of change where each feeds the other, and that change is coming at us at incredible speed, so much so that we’re having a tough time catching our breath. Catch it we must, though, because what’s at stake is our ability to fucntion and enjoy our lives as human beings.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at December 27, 2005 9:52 PM
Comment #108224

Michael L. Cook-
Maybe all that’s lacking to explain rotary flagellum is one discovery, or one experiment with protein. We don’t even have a full understanding of how proteins fold and react. How can you claim to know that there is no scientific explanation.

Not everything has to be programmed by DNA, or constructed piece by piece like a kid would create a lego castle. The difference between an E. Coli germ with its modern flagellum, and its ancestor strain may have been the use of a different protein, perhaps not as easy to produce, or not as efficient in its job. It doesn’t have to be a straightfoward, linear addition. Also, the flagellum doesn’t necessarily have have to use the flagellum before as it is now. Nor do the other parts of the bacteria have to be the same. With probably billions upon billions of generations for E-Coli, and all the mechanisms for genetic transfer among them, only one germ out of the astronomical number of them alive has to get it right, for all to eventually get it right.

It seems like ID’s approach is to point out the inevitable limitations of science, and claim that they are somehow immune, and in possession of a better answer- this without a provable hypothesis of their own.

It would be unscientific to take your word for it that there is no natural explanation for the complex chemistry of biology, or to accept an ad hoc explanation for that complex chemistry that we can’t even properly verify.

What you folks want is the abolition of the scientific discipline as we know it, to be replaced by one in which supernatural and preternatural explanations are accepted, even without the kind of testability that we demand of even most basic of theories to call them such. You want respect from the scientific community and the public that you haven’t earned.

Until you get that, ID is the ultimate “Just So” theory.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at December 27, 2005 10:15 PM
Comment #108229

Daugherty, I have proposed some tests. The creation of a prokaryotic cell in a test tube, or a series of test tubes, would falsify the I.D. hypothesis even in my eyes. As a practical matter, discovery of ANY significant alien life forms in outer space is going to let the air out of the tires of creationists (but not necessarily I.D. proponents.)

If we actually meet some intelligent aliens pretty soon that care to communicate with us, they will probably have their own creation story or stories. Even if they seem more advanced than we are we will probably maintain some skepticism about their stories.

You or I won’t be here, but if a few more centuries go by with no alien life showing up and still no “scientific” answer to the first life on Earth origin, I suspect supernatural theories will become a lot harder to ridicule than in the present day.

Posted by: Michael L. Cook at December 27, 2005 11:19 PM
Comment #108230

Michael L. Cook,

Bottom line, if conventional evolutionary mechanism can not satisfactorly explain how the rotary flagella of e-coli could be slung together by random chance only, then other theories get a chance.

I responded to this in the A Theory is a Theory… is a Theory thread. Here’s a repost:

“…here’s a big discussion here about the argument using the rotary flagellum. And here is a proposal for how the flagellum evolved.

or we will shout you down and get some conservative judge to validate our dogma, whether it really can explain the leading-edge issues or not.

Well, I think you jumped the shark.

We’re not shouting anyone down. The conversation happened coolly and methodically according to the scientific method. We can’t help that ID folks didn’t like the resutls of the scientific analysis and took it to the political arena and the courts.

We didn’t “get” a conservative judge; he was assigned randomly in a case that would never have happened if not for “inane” behavior by people pushing a religious idea for religious reasons and then lying about it.

It’s not dogma. It’s science that has been validated to a far greater extent than anything else has come close to.

And it explains many more leading-edge questions than you seem to give it credit for.

Posted by: LawnBoy at December 27, 2005 11:27 PM
Comment #108237

Hi Chris,

“your arguments are not serious”

That goes double for you.

““modern” morality, which is to say the denial of any possibility of any authentic morality”

I assume by “authentic” you mean your morality? Otherwise what you said makes no sense at all given that there is such a thing as modern morality.

Our country was founded based on modern morality which is to say morality based on reason rather than religion.

“People have been terrible—more terrible and more efficient, in fact—in the business of mass murder and oppression after the dawn of science.”

Efficiency has increased imorality has not. Oppression hasn’t increased. Oppression has been going on throughout history.

When do you consider the dawn of science to have occured. There is a case to be made that it started in ancient Greece.

“the numerous small barbarisms of our time suggest a dark future.”

Ummm…Chris? You don’t seem to have a clue here. Barbarisms, great and small, have been going on throughout history.

“Perhaps you should read a book or two before you deign to opine on complicated matters of philosophy obviously outside your realm of expertise.”

Given that you don’t seem to be aware of history at all you’re the one who should read a book. I’ve read plenty of books.

“You do not state your own view on matters and you are either willfully ignorant of a pretty simple point I made or you are too dull to understand it.”

I do state my own views on matters. Why are you lying?

Your statements about ancient morality and barbarisms make it quite clear that you know nothing of history.

Posted by: LouisXIV at December 28, 2005 12:02 AM
Comment #108344

Lawnboy, the cool thing about science is that it describes a lot of things with extreme precision.
Explanations are another realm, whether we are talking about quantum mechanics or the fossil record.

I see several tendencies at play in leading edge biology research that bode well for I.D. type theories. One is the controversy over selfish vs altruistic genes. The more altruistic genes become, the more it looks like EVERYTHING might be cooperating all of the time, as in Gaia theory.

Another is the micro vs macro evolution problem. Lots of evidence for and about micro, nothing for macro but a bunch of thumb-sucking propositions. Part of the macro thing is why brachiation diagrams are invariably upside down.

Even on micro evolution, in my estimation Stephen Jay Gould did the evolutionists a lot of harm that they haven’t realized yet, because he basically shoe-horned a lot of intellectually popular, politically correct academic principles into the micro debate, such as in his proclamation that intelligence really has not been very critical in the micro evolution of homo sapiens for the last three million years.

Then there is the splendid realm of physics and advanced mathematical theory. Someone asked me why an intelligent designer would create enticing mysteries like the golden ratio, pi, and the many worlds, parallel universes, and cats that are simultaneously dead and not-dead.
The better question is why and how a random, unintended universe would come to exhibit such intricate and surprising features.

Why would God be so opaque? Christian theology has always been rife with the suggestion that the doings of man are sometimes opaque to God. This is the legitimate side of deism, God sometimes appears in the Bible and asks people what they have been doing, is even “surprised” to find out! God is apparently extremely busy and can’t pay attention to everything all the time, he may even rely on the reports of angels on some issues.

The “god of the gaps” characterisation is a good one, but I suggest that the gaps in question are more like chasms. We I.D. fanciers get heartily criticized in every other post of intellectual cheating by using supernatural, paranormal, and metaphysical stratagems to address all the huge issues in the study of life that the conventional evolutionary approach struggles with. I prefer to say that we are “thinking outside the box!”

When you and Bob (rmck?) posts I get the rare technical challenge. Some I.D. proponents apparently have really made fools of themselves by getting entropy wrong. I’ve always conceded that entropy can decrease locally, fueled by an energy source like the sun or a good thermal vent on the ocean floor. The more intriguing thing about entropy is not just that “hot” systems are less organized in some sense than “cold” systems, but that information theory must be taken into account.

A science fiction writer long ago proposed that a sun could be a functioning intelligence, because it is relative complexity and organization that matters, not absolute. Another problem is that we humans are very impatient. We are likely to catch an alien radio message if it comes to us coded at the rate that our consciousness is accustomed to deal in. If there is life out there that takes a century to code one word, or that can cram a whole encyclopedia of knowledge into a tiny micro-second burst, we may have a lot of trouble catching it

All in all, I.D. people like myself are actually very excited about science. I love the search for Earth-like planets and wish I could live 10,000 years to know the answers we will find when our really deep space probes send back their findings.

Posted by: Michael L. Cook at December 28, 2005 6:45 AM
Comment #108351

Hi Michael,

“Another is the micro vs macro evolution problem. Lots of evidence for and about micro, nothing for macro but a bunch of thumb-sucking propositions.”

You are flat out wrong here. There is massive amounts of evidence for what you call “Maroevolution”.

The fossil record and modern genetics provide mountains of evidence that evolution occurs.

“All in all, I.D. people like myself are actually very excited about science.”

You I.D. people don’t seem to have a clue about what science is. Most of you actually use the “Evolution is one of several theories” bit which is utter nonsense in a science class.

Posted by: LouisXIV at December 28, 2005 8:07 AM
Comment #108355
Another is the micro vs macro evolution problem. Lots of evidence for and about micro, nothing for macro but a bunch of thumb-sucking propositions.

This is incorrect. There is lots of evidence for macroevolution and speciation.

The “god of the gaps” characterisation is a good one, but I suggest that the gaps in question are more like chasms… I prefer to say that we are “thinking outside the box!”

Feel free to suggest that they are chasms. However, when your examples of such chasms are things like flagella that have plausible explanations, then you lose credibility.

Thinking outside the box is a great way to try to come up with new solutions to problems. However, when the new solution doesn’t actually solve the problems, the points you get for creativity don’t cover the points you lost for having an invalid answer

Posted by: LawnBoy at December 28, 2005 9:14 AM
Comment #108356

Hi Michael,

“Lots of evidence for and about micro, nothing for macro but a bunch of thumb-sucking propositions.”

You are flat out wrong. There is massive evidence for what you call “macroevolution”. Genetics books and the fossil record are full of evidence.

“All in all, I.D. people like myself are actually very excited about science.”

Given that you don’t seem to know what science is (ID isn’t) I’m a bit skeptical about that statement.

I believe in ID. I’m well aware that, like many of my beliefs, it’s not based on scientific evidence.

Posted by: LouisXIV at December 28, 2005 9:14 AM
Comment #108360

Micahel,

If conventional evolutionary mechanisms cannot explain the rotary flagelle of e-coli then I would suggest that it could be do to a lack on knowledge or that the Theory of Evolution is not complete.

To pick out one or two items and attempt to discredit a scientific theory because of our inability to answer a question scientifically within the constraints of one theory, I believe, it a bit hard to accept.

The old say… there ARE exceptions to every rule (how else would we explain the platypus GRIN). So, to find something that is an exception to a scientific theory would lead scientists to reevaluate their theory in light of this discovery… not throw up their hands and attribute it to an ID (ID being used as a means to introduce God in the case of the Dover ruling if you read the judges ruling).

“Right now Intelligent Design proponents do not have to specify what the “designer” is like. For all we know, the esoteric metaphysics of quantum mechanics may open this door for us some day.”

I would agree with this, however, the school board in Dover and possibly the state on in Kansas are trying to use it to introduce God into public schools. Science may mean one thing about Evolution and ID but the people using it for political purposes have been using it to try to force God into the science classroom. Evidence the Dover case and the Pat Robertson announcement that Dover has pushed a stick in God’s eye and they may not have His Grace when a disaster comes.


“All I do know is that when conventional evolutionists say, “Just wait a bit, we are about to explain how the rotary flagella, the clotting of blood, and all other extremely complex biochemical phenomena can come about incrementally.”

Is there a time restraint that we don’t know about?

Judges often are called upon to decide issues scientific which they are not qualified to answer and science is not prepared to present. There is the example of the cell phones and microwave energy causing brain cancer.

IF the proponents of ID truely believe that ID is a scientific theory, is it the place for a judge to determine the validity and maturity of a scientific theory?

Is it the role of even a school board to determine the validity or maturity of ANY scientific or socio-economic theory?

On average, the school board memebers are intelligent and highly dedicated to the students.

However, I believe that this is a case of minimal governmental interference… let those that object to evolution explain it to their children… let those that do not object let the school do it job the best they can.

As an educator I can say that I would be sorely limited in my ability to give all students all intracsies or all theories. Many people do not have the requisite learning.

Now, if society is willing to include a couple of more years (currently it can take about 6 years depending on the college and the state to become a teacher) and is willing to also fairly compensate the teacher for the additional costs as well as the value of the increased knowledge, then maybe this might work.

But again, the courts have consistently ruled that there are some concepts (religion) that a public school grades 1-12 are not ready for… in light of their maturity and the significantly unequal power relationship the teachers have over the students at this age.

Posted by: Darren7160 at December 28, 2005 9:44 AM
Comment #108366

Dark Energy and My FM-Factor Theory

“In physics there is a brand-new fledgling theory that concerns Dark Energy driving the acceleration of the expansion of the universe.

Now, you can’t see Dark Energy. Really, the only place dark energy exists at all in some fairly esoteric other theories that physicists have bandied about.”

Does this dark matter explain why something in the physical world is happening? Such as the orbit of a planet that doesn’t appear to follow our understand, but once we have a theory of a black hole to go with our theory of planetary mechanics we understand a bit more?

This above statment fits in nicely with my FM factor theory. While in the military I was well trained in electronics, but there were some things we just could not explain at a tech school level of electronics and when asked we would say it was, “FRIGGIN-MAGIC”.

In the effort to have an open discussion (because as a wishy-washy flip-flopping Liberal I want to include everyone’s opinion in debate (changing one’s mind in face of new or more compelling evidence is a sign of moral weakness for some reason… however standing firm to a wrong opinion regardless of the TRUTH is considered the sign of a man with integrity. Go figure!) I want to posit my FM Theory.

Now, the FX-Factor is a variable not a constant. Depending on my level of not figuring it out I assign a value to my theory. This leaves it open to debate as to whether my numerical value is the right one, but it also lets people participate who are not scientists and might possibly distract them from the bigger picture.

Say the platypus. I cannot explain him! I give him an FM-Factor of 0.98 and call it a day.

Current flow in a DC circuit would have an FM-Factor of 0.50.

Possibly it is late and I want to go home but I cannot until I finish my work. Throw a high leve FM-Factor in there and call it a day!

Possibly we could convene an ecumenical council to go through our high school biology textbooks and any other books they might choose and they could put sticky notes with an agreed upon FM variable for each theory.

A suggested label could be something along these lines:

As determined by a committee consisting of a theologian, philosopher, two ordained ministers and one concerned mother, we have determined that the following “theory” described in this text be assigned an FM variable of _____.769___. (Please remember, the higher the value the more likely that there is an Intelligent Design involved.)

Would Intelligent Design become a part of the No Child Left Behind state standardized tests?
1. Intelligent Design is:
a. A political construct used to introduce Creationism into the classroom.
b. A convenient and expedient way to explain something we cannot figure out.
c. A new form of accounting pioneered by ENRON.
d. All of the above.

Why bother with pesky gaps in our knowledge of how something works? Instead of presenting what we have to the world and opening it up to the collective knowledge and review of peers, we can simply use the FM variable.

Oh sure, people will contest the value given to the variable, but there should always be room for serious scientific debate.

Posted by: Darren7160 at December 28, 2005 10:01 AM
Comment #108383

Michael L. Cook-
The I.D. Hypothesis is unfalsifiable. That’s the problem. Your theory depends on calculations of probability, which in turn depend upon the notion that the likeliness or unlikeliness of a chemical change or other aspect of nature can spell the difference between divine intervention, and nature running its course.

But what is that probability based on? Why choose that threshold? Why not some other number? How do we suss out God’s method of intervention, and characterize it in a way that allows us to examine the assumption made in that number which we use to distinguish the natural from the supernatural?

All scientific equations and theories are approximations. The question is, what does ID approximate, if anything, and how do we improve our approximation? Though Evolution is an incomplete explanation, it is a refineable theory, and because it is based in natural explanations, we know where to start from. In terms of discovering how such an unlikely collection of proteins got together in the E. Coli bacterium’s cilia, The big help in discovering this could be in the genes, or it could be illumninated by studies of how proteins fold. We don’t even know how proteins do their job, much less that the current working configuration of the cilia is the only possible one. Worse, ID cannot tell us what direction to take our research, after we’ve asserted that some divine force intervened. It cannot tell us what the implications are elsewhere. It can only serve to demonstrate, in a fashion that attempts to take on the mantle of scientific authority, that God was involved.

“Great!”, You say. But the whole thing that makes science credible is it’s ability to check back explanations against nature, to make sure that what we believe is going on is more than just what we believe, that it is a perception of reality, not a fabrication of our mind.

There’s no way to guarantee rationally that the supernatural is not a fabrication of our mind. Presented with that, the choice to believe or not believe in God is up to the individual. Isn’t that how it always was?

As for Micro vs. Macro evolution, that’s a canard. Sooner or later, something separates populations of animals. The march of mutations and subsequent selection changes the genes. In dealing with adaptation, the visual metaphor has been mountains or islands of adaptability. The laws of physics, the terrain, the chemistry of the environment, among other things, all begin to change the way the creature organizes itself over time. This, you do not dispute, because it is demonstrable in many places.

All Macro evolution says is that sooner or later, the organizing principles of the creature change its nature so much from others of its kind that they mate less often, or maybe even not at all. As the changes build up, the different populations become even less suitable as mates, and separate changes occur in each species that widen’s the gap. At some point, fertile offspring between the species becomes unlikely at best. That’s speciation. Once that gap exists, there’s no going back, and the species diversify separately.

Gould has certain theories and hypotheses on what what happened. So do others. Since the explanation is incomplete, people are suggesting their own views, and each has their own perspective on things. Richard Dawkins will tell you one thing about life. Jack Cohen and Ian Stewart another. Stephen Jay Gould will give you his opinion. The debate is central, and if their ideas aren’t good, the debate will wear them down and wear them out.

As for physics and advanced mathematical theory, we must consider one very crucial realization: there is no way to construct a mathematical theory that completely describes the world, without including statements in that system that contradict and self destruct the whole system. Mathematics can describe the world, but there’s always a question of how much the numbers describe it, and how much they merely describe our filters on the universe.

Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen, in their books, ask the question of why certain ratios emerge out of nowhere, why complex systems seem to conspire to create these collapses of chaos.

Take Pi for example. Wonderful ratio. But what does it mean? In one very important way, it’s an abstraction. It’s not even an integer. You don’t see 3.14 kids walking around, or see chicken’s lay 3.14 eggs. It is a relationship, rather, and one we can only approximate, never fully determine.

The Golden Ratio, too. We see it all over the place, but it’s still an approximation describing a relationship.

Schrodinger’s Cat is just a thought experiment, a way of one scientist to point out the flaws in another scientists reasoning by pointing out the absurdity of the cat being in an indistinct state until somebody opens the lid. The solution could be as simple as the detector (which is necessary to release the poison that kills the cat) being the observer- that all that’s needed is an interaction.

As for the Many World’s interpretation (parallel Universes are part of that), it could be true, but it could also be an error in somebody’s calculations. It’s a wonderful idea, regardless, but its one who’s validity is not necessarily a sure thing (especially since we cannot observe the parallel universe)

One thing for sure: The universe is by no means random. Science, in fact, is about how the universe isn’t random. The real problem nowadays, is figuring out why its so difficult to predict and describe things.

ID gives up on explaining that complexity. Don’t deny it. That’s the whole point of insisting on intervention- it removes the need for a natural explanation. Science, though, hasn’t given up, and a picture is emerging of the complex way in which the laws of nature operate.

You call it thinking outside the box. I call it being trapped inside the skull. Science encourages people to take their incomplete theories about reality, and feed them back into and against reality. It encourages people to look for signs that they might be wrong, not merely signs that they might be right. Your approach breaks that feedback loop, and introduces a number of factors which we can never be certain are not figments of your imagination, mistakes in the calculations.

As for Entropy, let’s consider that the laws of thermodynamic were meant to describe ideal heat exchanges in steam engines and the like. For information systems it works somewhat well, but for the more complex, less orderly systems of life, the universe, and most different kinds of systems out there, it’s not useful at all, especially when one system’s disorder is another system’s order.

As for God? I believe the opacity and the denseness belong to us. I believe that the incidents in the bible are legends and fables mostly, written down long after the fact, and often through a process at the tail end of years of oral transmission.

I don’t believe in the God in the Gaps theory. I believe the supernatural exists all around us, in a higher level of reality that we are almost completely incapable of experiencing. I think, in many ways, God has us contained mostly within the laws of nature, but having designed nature and everything over it, he can manipulate the world without our having a clue, because he’s built in such controls.

The God I see is one who is so far beyond us that any encounter will be mysterious and bewildering, and man will be forced to put that truly alien encounter in the context of their own lives.

I also think God wants us to be forced to ask the question of whether we believe, not just have the answer laid out for us. With ID, the answer is right there, and the God who says that people are blessed who believe in him without seeing him in the flesh betrays his own presence.

What’s more, the question comes up of whether God would do that to all the people who came before us. Why would God prove his presence, if he was interested in doing that, in such a way that only people of the 21st century could get it? I believe God leaves his presence unproven because he wants us to have a choice.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at December 28, 2005 10:37 AM
Comment #108394
Why would God prove his presence, if he was interested in doing that, in such a way that only people of the 21st century could get it?

Perhaps some cosmic variant of the Prime Directive? ;-)

Posted by: Jarandhel at December 28, 2005 11:06 AM
Comment #108404

On macro-evolution being less reliable than micro-evolution, I was thinking of the evolution of the horse and also of what causes punctuated equilibrium bursts. At one point I recall suggesting that quasars at the edge of the known universe are still directing the changes in life on earth by causing mutations (quasars also trigger lightning, believe it or not!)

One key point is the relatively short time life had to get going on Earth as soon as it cooled and (presumably) water arrived. A few hundred million years and life starts showing up. I also am out of time and will go to work to return in nine hours to catch up on the debate

Posted by: Michael L. Cook at December 28, 2005 11:26 AM
Comment #108458

Michael L. Cook-
Punctuated Equilibrium might just be an example of a critical state shift, not unlike a forest fire occuring after sufficient fuel has built up.

In this case, though, what would build up would be genetic variations. The tipping point might be a mutation in a crucial place that causes all the other ones to produce a new feature. Or it could be some sort of shift in the environment that punishes the old genetic configuration, and rewards some upstart. Given that such conditions might be local to one area, you don’t even have to see one species become totally extinct to give birth to another.

Micro-evolution is simply macro-evolution viewed close up. It’s no more distinct from macro-evolution than a brick is from the wall it builds. those who profess believe in micro but not macro-evolution simply refuse to consider that populations can separate, and develop sufficiently far apart from each other that their hereditary lines become permanently distinct.

As for Quasar’s directing the whole process of life and lightning, I would advise you to consider the following: as powerful as quasars are, there are a whole load of Supernovas, Gamma Ray Bursters, Star Formation events, Black Holes and steadily burnings stars merrily pouring out hard radiation into the Cosmos. Quasars are mostly of interest because of the incredible amount of radiation they put out, but the fact is, these things are typically billions of light years distant, and the inverse square law ensures that the radiation is very attenuated when it gets to us.

Even then, most ionizing radiation and cosmic rays get filtered out by the combination of the Ozone Layer and the Earth’s magnetic field. The hardest stuff we get on a regular basis is the UV rays that give us a tan. As for it causing lightning, there are times in which intense solar winds or flares can cause electrical disturbances, but lightning is mostly the result of good old fashioned friction.

As for the few hundred million years, I think it’s easy to underestimate the mind numbing length of that time span. It’s assuming a great deal to offer a signficant fraction of our Planet’s lifespan as evidence of the shortness of the time it took life to develop.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at December 28, 2005 1:21 PM
Comment #108719

If you haven’t already heard this, you must, repeat MUST listen to this,
‘My Fundamentalist Education’
Something for all people to learn from regardless of your perspective.

loki (the artist formerly known as Jon)

Posted by: loki at December 28, 2005 10:10 PM
Comment #109182

My source on cosmic rays causing lightning was the Science channel only a month ago, but I can not recall where they got it. They illustrated lightning as a “top down” release of stored charge initiated by the cosmic rays and ozone trigger.
My understanding was that quasars could be beam-like projectors at the poles, which makes it easier to explain their phenomenal energy output. That just may have been someone’s original speculation…

tried loki’s link, but my computer not up to the audio.

Posted by: Michael L. Cook at December 30, 2005 10:34 AM
Comment #109279

Michael L. Cook-
Most quasars are thought to be galaxies with supermassive black holes at their centers. The gravity draws the matter around it in at such speed that it creates intense energy. What makes it even more powerful is the magnetic fields that develop in the hot gas which focus the matter into jets. These jets travel out at half the speed of light (any significant fraction of the speed of light is pretty fast)

As for causing lightning? As I said before, inverse square. They’re stronger intensity-wise than most objects of equivalent distance, but they are billions of light years out.

As for the lightning strikes you’re talking about, I think I saw the show you’re talking about- I think they are called sprites, and that they can shoot up fifty miles into the atmosphere. That said, I remember the cause being prosaic thunderstorms.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at December 30, 2005 9:04 PM
Comment #109284

Apparently some people think that it may not take much to initiate lightning—maybe only fast neutrons from collisions high in the stratosphere.

While periphally on the subject, I’ve been meaning to say that a lot of conservative animus towards institutional science at the moment is driven by reaction to the claims of environmentalists. A good for instance would be the Ozone Hole controversy over Antarctica. Folks like me have been waiting for the annual ozone hole to be “fixed” by the banning of CFC’s.

That hasn’t happened. The old hole keeps showing up and behaving about like it always has, which strengthens our contention that it was a natural thing in the first place. The MSM never give the latter view any exposure at all, but are happy enough to parrot the new explanation—“residual CFC’s” are still leaking out in vast amounts.

I hope I live another 20 years so I can point out how junk science really got done big in the USA the last three decades. December, 2025, scientists announce the large ozone hole detected this year is still the result of residual CFC leaks.

Similarly, our local MSM representative, the Seattle Times, is full of stories about how polar bears were drowning last summer because the distance between summertime ice flows is becoming so great.

Actually, back in the 1970’s energy companies thought that the Arctic Ocean was sufficiently open in the summer that oil tankers could make it directly from the North Slope of Alaska to the North Atlantic, along the route Henry Hudson imagined. The tanker sent as an experiment made it through, but with prohibitive damage. Y

Real old timers may remember that in the mid 1950’s the ice on the Arctic Ocean was thin enough that the conning tower of the Nautilus could poke through it to visit the North Pole.

The reality is that the sparcity of thick ice in the far north had never been scientifically studied very much until quite recently. What a surprise that the expeditions of ardent environmental scientists are crowing about all the “new” conditions they have found. (1) they are zealots whose grants and promotions depend on finding exactly what they went to find (2) it is always fun to “find” something new, because that way people pay a lot more attention to you, and (3) these are academics of the same ilk who have adjusted decades worth of instrument temperature readings from satellites and balloons because the data was subbornly about a degree Centigrade too cold to fit global warming orthodoxy.

Frankly, science per se anymore does not inspire a lot of intelletual confidence. Closer to the subject of Darwinism, the definitions of “species” we get from leftist science only grow more and more ridiculous. Most recently Puget Sound Orca killer whales have been officially designated a different “species” from other killer whales that have 99.999% or better the same DNA.

The Northern variety of Common Spotted Owls threw 50,000 people out of jobs in the NW and devastated whole communities. The DNA variation of this alleged species from common spotted owls is probably about like the whale comparison. The latest “Northern” spotted owl mystery is why they are still disappearing, after all the sacrifice of working class Americans to save them. Latest theory, barn owls are killing them off!

Since remnants of egg shells are always found in the wild, and thin egg shells can be produced by any stress, it’s funny that someone hasn’t come up with a theory that second hand smoker from smokers who are being ever more remotely banished from urban areas is causing the cute little northern owls to vanish. Certainly, some “scientists” would be found to sign off on the idea, now that I have proposed it.

I seem a little angry tonight, guess it’s time just to watch football and say good riddance to 2005. . .

Posted by: Michael L. Cook at December 30, 2005 9:39 PM
Comment #109555

A very interesting discussion overall.

A problem I have with the whole thing is that, as someone who believes in a truly omnipotent God, I am committed to a faith in a God who could have started the universe from scratch TODAY. Never mind the foolishness about ten thousand years ago.
Anybody who claims to believe in a fully omnipotent God who can’t accept this idea is lying to himself. His object of faith becomes conditional- founded in stuff dependent on conditions in the physical world. The world, therefore, is really his god.
If you believe in the omnipotent God exploration of science becomes a quest for the mind and creativity of the creator, not a defensive exercise in trying to prove something to those who do not believe. If God could be proved there could be no faith (which would eliminate a central tenet of Christian religion). In as much as the debate over I.D. shows that even solid science is not enough to prove the reliability of good ideas to those determined not to believe, the idea that a form of science could somehow relieve science of its theological sterility is likewise just silly.
God is not so insecure he needs to be proven. Science cannot reveal anything of which he does not approve. For the believer in an omnipotent God the apprehension (by this I mean the acceptance of the insights we are given) of science is part of a religious experience full of deep meaning. It does not matter that it may point to a past in which we are not merely closely related to chimpanzees but are, in fact, related to the bacteria we must fight off the keep from rotting in our tracks.
If that’s the world God wills that I should live in today ought I not think that an awesome creation? Is there any way I would have suspected such a thing without the clear-eyed sterility of the scientific method? Probably not.
This discussion is made necessary not by those who believe in God, but by those who fear that the God they desire to be is not as they would have him be. In this regard good science is not their friend.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at December 31, 2005 10:13 PM
Comment #109575

Michael L. Cook-
They’d have to be colliding with something up there, because otherwise the Neutrons would not be causing much of any of that kind of disturbance, since such particles are electromagnetically neutral.

In terms of junk science, I’m not convinced that your people are justifying claims that this is all junk on anything else than personal incredulity.

Millions of fridges and air conditioner units have been buried in dumps over the years, with billions of cans of aerosol spray, all gradually corroding and decaying. Is it unreasonable to believe that they may still be leaking this stuff into the air? Additionally, we’re dealing with the dynamics of an atmosphere here, and they are not at all uniform, especially around the poles.

You talk about the thawing up north as if its some kind of myth. It’s not. There is plenty of scientific evidence that there is a significant rise in temperatures going on, not the least of which is the northward crawl of the permafrost. As for taking the Northwest Passage, the lack of ice getting in the way is not some odd scientific fact everybody else missed. The ice around the arctic fluctuates (as does that around the antarctic) in keeping with the seasonal change in what places are persistently at freezing. The thinness of the ice at the North Pole is not a surprise either, nor a result of global warming- put simply, the Arctic is an ocean, and the water only freezes so deep beneath the surface.

When you get around landmasses, the ice gets thicker, because it’s not got a body of water to float upon. It piles up. Those ice sheets are miles thick. There are many places in the North that are still rebounding from the last ones that slid over.

As for that temperature difference, it’s likely a difference of model, because the warming trend has been noted at temperature guages over water, and it fits the pattern that the more controversial guages on land and in the cities have shown. Given that the only thing they have in common is the atmosphere as a whole, the warming trend appears to be quite real, thank you very much.

Your sense of science seems to one of somebody who learns most of what they know from the debunkers and the critics of the scientific point of view. I’ve spent all my life on the other side, and I see little persuasive to disrupt my trust in science.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at January 1, 2006 2:47 AM
Comment #109581

I think global warming is real as well. But I do suspect whether it is quite as suddenly intense as represented, or whether it is proven in any sense that all other possible causes of warming have really been ruled out, leaving humanity to blame.

I think that science, like all human activities, can be subject to intellectual fads and the tendency of orthodoxies to develop which hinder reaching the next stage of understanding, such as being able to wrap the mind around the concept of “irreducible complexity.”

Personally, I think that eventually somebody is going to figure out with regard to the really difficult biochemical pathways of evolution that something is at work much like the mathematical concept of “strange attractors” in chaos theory. Such attractors seem like a new force or maybe even like metaphysics, but really they are only the way that certain highly complex mathematical algorithms work out, particularly those involving imaginary numbers.
If you are familiar with the strange land of Tor’Bled Nam and the reality of certain forms seeming to repeat endlessly, but never being quite identical, you’ll know what I am getting at.

Posted by: Michael L. Cook at January 1, 2006 3:48 AM
Comment #109705

I hope this isn’t oversimplistic.
If by a huge miracle occured against all odds or mathematical calculations an amino acid formed in the beginning. Wouldn’t this have to replicate millions of times for a few to join together and form say, DNA. Without any reproductive ability to cause mutations how could anything form pre single cell? How could the cell mutate the ability to split when it couldn’t reproduce itself? Evolution is an impossible thing to apply logic to for me.

Posted by: Kruser at January 1, 2006 10:58 PM
Comment #109870

Hope you check back, Kruser. Amino acids don’t happen to become DNA, but if you look back over all the discussion we had on this thread you will sure find a lot of people who think that proteins and nucleic acid strings can get together by pure blind chance alone and then begin a long, unintended journey to form some extraordinarily complex organisms!

Posted by: Michael L. Cook at January 3, 2006 12:22 AM
Comment #109922

This is a long overdue response to David Remer’s post over a week ago.

“Also, private education is inherently more expensive than public education.”

I’d like to see your proof of this statement. Every property owner pays for the public education system. Every renter pays the property tax of the property leased. You cannot look at your property tax bill and say that is the per-student cost of public education. How many property taxpayers do not have children? They are also contributing to public schools. Also, you are paying for public schools your entire life, not just when your kids are in school.

According to the Cato Institute article researching “school vouchers”:
“The average tuition for all private schools, elementary and secondary, is $3,116, or less than half of the cost per pupil in the average public school, $6,857.”

Here is the link:
http://www.cato.org/pubs/briefs/bp-025.html

Granted, these statistics are 10 years old, but I doubt that the cost of private schools has risen at a rate that would reverse the comparison.

I’d like to see your data. Please, quote an independant, unbiased source, not a biased NEA or public school webiste.

Posted by: Rich at January 3, 2006 1:13 PM
Comment #110018

Darn it, I can’t find where, but someone on this thread responded to my suggestion that numbers like pi or the golden ratio present a kind of higher-order challenge to the idea of the universe as a mere unintended, random, accident.

The responder implied that patterns in pi or the golden ratio are random because pi is random. Of course, pi is the very antithesis of a random number, and so is the golden ratio.

Like it or not, this universe was built with rules which require that, if you do certain well-defined operations in a precise way, you will always get the same digit in the ten billionth decimal place for pi.

More incredibly, you can get wonders like the Mandelbrot set, which expressed pictorially becomes the land of Tor’Bled-Nam. These are not “random” either, but the products of deterministic rules applied mechanically which reveal a new type of reality—an abstract reality which may have pre-existed the universe!

To me, that creeping close to what I think Intelligent Design is about, especially if we find that life, like good mathematical algorithms, eventually produces the same results.
Maybe there is life “out there” but the only intelligent life in our technology-wielding sense will never be intelligent lobsters, but primates very close to us in design and scale.

Stephen Hawking has suggested that parallel universes might have completely different internal laws of physics. Like the inside of black holes, it us not for us to know what can or can not go on there. Maybe even 2 + 2 = 5

In our universe, mathematics as we discover it is a strange language we have literally “found!”

We could get really metaphysical and plunge into quantum mechanics type ideas that maybe the universe is truly random and without ANY pre-conceived verities, not even mathematical truths, but that our consciousness causes such ephemera to be created and somehow the act of observation somehow constrains further observation to keep coming up with the same rules.

Either way, it seems clear that Darwinists can not wave the magic wand of “randomness” over everything.

Posted by: Michael L. Cook at January 3, 2006 10:18 PM
Comment #110599

SCHOOLS - APPLES AND ORANGES

It really is impossible to compare public schools with Charter or private schools. There are just to many differences to allow for an unbiased comparison.

For example:
Public schools must accept ALL students, regardless of disabilities or learning abilities.

Private schools, even if they receive public money are not required to do this.

Private schools, can and do, “cherry pick” their students, which will give them a higher scoring on academic achievement tests… if they take them (private schools are not required under NCLB to administer the mandatory state assessment tests).

Private schools, if any poor performing students slip through the admissions of a current student goes through a tough time they can be asked to leave.

Christian school examples: My son was only 5 when his mother and I spilt up. He was upset and the private Christian school said that he would have to leave. A friend of mine had her son take out of his Christian school for the same reason.

Public Schools do not have this “luxury”.

There are fixed costs, variable costs and marginal costs. The money that follows the child is more of a marginal cost….

How much more does it cost to add one student into a classroom? Because the building and salary costs are already being fixed and paid regarless of 10 students or 15 students or 20 students in the class, if there is $3500 per student following each student… you take one student out and it is $3500 lost.

Do this across a couple of grades and it adds up to real money that seriously effect the operation of the school.

Disinterested 3rd party confirmation? That is difficult. The ones that will research this are the ones with an agenda… and the CATO Institute has an agenda just like the NEA or public school. I always read the “ABOUT US” at websites before I decide to quote or use them as a source.

NEA is a professional organization of teachers dedicated to the teaching profession. Yes, the do advance their agenda because they are teachers and know better than others what they need to be successful profession teachers.

Rob Brown (Previous head of the Dept. of Ed.) Stated to a room full of America’s Governors that the NEA was a terrorist group.) Funny how he felt comfortable saying that within this administration.

God forbid you want to look to the actual costs of operating a school from an actual school! Instead, go to CATO and quote them. Do you know where their numbers come from? Accounting can be just as imaginative as statistics (Just as ENRON).

When I lived in CA my children were still in a private Christian school. There was a propostition on the ballot to give vouchers for students going to private schools. I voted against the vouchers.

Those children in our public schools will be my neighbors someday. I want the best educated neighbors I can possibly have.

Bottom line… comparisions between public, private and Chater schools is more than academic achievements tests or dollars per student.

Posted by: Darren7160 at January 6, 2006 8:46 AM
Comment #111245

The only thing I would underline here is that “Evolution” has become a religion to many and makes many assumptions because, to a large degree, it is un-testable and, therefore, not true science. Those of us who have a belief in a higher power yet are also educated well enough to understand “Scientific Fundamentalism” can only cringe when the idea of random selection and other various postulates are stated as fact in almost every form of media and in the classroom. I believe that children should be taught the mechanics of science that are provable and testable (genetics, chemistry, embryology, fossil records), but I don’t believe that they should be taught in public schools, one way or another, a theory of how or why we came to be. Let this be reserved when their minds are less impressionable so they can form real opinions. What I am sick of is that I pay taxes to have the “religion” of an, un-provable, and large degree “random” theory taught as fact to my children. I simply don’t want them to view their lives in such a pathetically narrow and boring way. The truth is we can’t even accurately determine or recall what happened 100 years ago, let alone define as fact how we came to be millions of years ago.

Posted by: Tom Robbins at January 8, 2006 6:23 PM
Comment #119868

Hi everyone. Just to let you know there is a great new raffle going on.. It’s for a brand new Mustang GT Convertible!!, I found it here.

Posted by: James at February 2, 2006 11:54 PM
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