Timothy Sandefur posted Entry 612 on November 12, 2004 09:57 AM.
Trackback URL: http://www.pandasthumb.org/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.fcgi/610

You'll remember that the Dover, Pennsylvania School District has decided to include intelligent design in its curriculum. As this story notes, there's some pretty heated complaints in the neighborhood as a result. This story says the Pennsylvania ACLU is looking at the case, but hasn't yet decided what to do. (My own calls to them on the subject were not returned.)

Meanwhile, this editorial by Nancy Snyder seems to argue in defense of science, making the point that the schools should also teach the weakness of intelligent design.

But in the end, this editorial still makes the "equal time" argument, saying that

If a political science teacher presents the problems of the Democratic and Republican parties and makes students aware of the Libertarian party, without critiquing that party's strengths and weaknesses, that teacher has overstepped constitutional bounds. . .. Public school science curriculum that assesses the weaknesses of Darwinism must also assess the weaknesses of competing theories.

It's a fair point that the ID proponents are really trying to proselytize, not to teach. But the Democrat/Republican analogy is deeply misleading. Evolution is not like a political policy dispute, where there are pluses or minuses to taking one view or another. Reasonable people can disagree over the desirability, of, say, an earned-income tax credit versus a minimum wage increase. But there is no similar dispute over the scientific validity of evolution. Teaching "alternative theories" of the origin of species to ensure fairness is just as valid as teaching children that the earth might be flat or it might be round--or teaching them that the earth might orbit the sun, or the sun might orbit the earth--out of "fairness" to flat-earthers and geocentrists. Ms. Snyder concludes that "Discussing the unanswered questions posed by Darwinism and intelligent design and researching studies that explore those unanswered questions is effective science instruction." But it is just as effective as teaching students the unanswered questions raised by astrology and the users of divining rods.

But aside from the alleged "effective[ness]" of such education, Ms. Snyder argues that it would be legal to do this under the First Amendment. That is not necessarily the case. It is true that the Supreme Court said in Edwards v. Aguillard, 482 U.S. 578, 594 (1987) that "teaching a variety of scientific theories about the origins of humankind to schoolchildren might be validly done with the clear secular intent of enhancing the effectiveness of science instruction," but the point is that intelligent design is not a scientific theory--it's a religious statement, and that makes all the difference. The First Amendment doesn't prohibit schools from teaching bad science--in fact, the First Amendment does not prohibit schools from teaching students that the earth is flat, or that divining rods work. But it does prohibit the government from propagating a religious viewpoint. Intelligent design is a religious viewpoint. Thus Ms. Snyder's suggestion that "teaching the flaws" in intelligent design would render it a legitimate subject of instruction in a government school is incorrect.

Suppose a Catholic parent insists that the school district teach students that transubstantiation is literally true. A Protestant parent then steps up and says, "No, we ought to teach students that transubstantiation is just metaphorical." The second view may be more "moderate" in some sense--but it is hardly more legitimate a subject of instruction in a government school. In the same way, teaching students the flaws in intelligent design might moderate the fury of those parents who care about the scientific literacy of their children, but it would not render teaching religion constitutional.

The distinction here might seem like a subtle one. Government employees may teach students that some people believe in transubstantiation. They may teach students that they must respect people who believe in transubstantiation. They may assign Catholic students to give the class a presentation about what transubstantiation means. They may sponsor student debates in which a Catholic and a Protestant student debate the theological validity of the concept. They may invite students to write essays or poems about how they feel about the subject. A teacher may even tell students "I personally am Catholic, and I believe in transubstantiation." But a teacher may never say "transubstantiation is true," or "transubstantiation is a valid scientific concept, and here is the evidence for it." The state may not endorse a religious viewpoint. The same is true of intelligent design. The one thing that a government school may never do is say "intelligent design is true," or "intelligent design is a valid scientific concept," even if the teacher then goes on to explain various shortcomings in ID. Teachers may use ID as an example of a poor scientific theory, or as an idea of a contemporary mythology. Teachers may invite students to discuss their own personal views on the subject. But teaching it as a valid alternative to evolution, that just happens to have some flaws, is bad science education, and is unconstitutional.

In McLean v. Arkansas Bd. of Ed., 529 F.Supp. 1255 (D.C. Ark. 1982), the law did not prohibit teachers from teaching the flaws in creationism. Nevertheless, the court struck down the law requiring creationism education because

The State failed to produce any evidence which would warrant an inference or conclusion that at any point in the process anyone considered the legitimate educational value of the Act. It was simply and purely an effort to introduce the Biblical version of creation into the public school curricula. The only inference which can be drawn from these circumstances is that the Act was passed with the specific purpose by the General Assembly of advancing religion. The Act therefore fails the first prong of the three-pronged test, that of secular legislative purpose, as articulated in Lemon v. Kurtzman. . ..

Id. at 1264. So I don't think that "teaching the flaws" in ID would make it a proper subject of discussion in a science class--or a legal one.

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Comment #10210

Posted by fusilier on November 12, 2004 11:37 AM (e)

The radio personality Paul Harvey is mentioning Dover today, 11-12-04. He is explicitly saying (quoting from memory, I apologize for any errors) that “…this is as far as they can go, without saying the ‘G-word.’ “

Any court challenge might make use of this.

fusilier
James 2:24

Comment #10226

Posted by Steve on November 12, 2004 4:44 PM (e)

I think there’s a fair chance they’ll succeed in getting ID into high-school classrooms. But on the bright side, if the IDiots fail to win with this Creationism 2.0, I think they will have suffered a serious blow for ever getting a version of creationism into public school science. ID is such a general and vague creationism that it would be difficult to come up with a new kind which is not recognizable as ID. Even if they could, it would take years and lots of effort to get back to this level of political competitiveness. And could the Discovery Institute, Wells, Behe, Dembski, etc, publicly work for the new effort, without confirming that the new version is the same type of thing? If the courts successfully identify ID as creationism, and prohibit it, It’ll be a very good day in America. The creationists will have no clear idea how to proceed. AFAIK.

Comment #10230

Posted by Flint on November 12, 2004 9:16 PM (e)

Steve:

I find your optimism refreshing. Are you familiar with the tax protesters? This particular pathology is distinctly similar to creationism, but the differences are informative. The taxdolts aren’t disputing real-world evidence (which always has an element of ambiguity), but explicit law. They are opposed by EVERY tax accountant, court decision, administrative decision, lawmaker, and bureaucrat. They are jailed for being in contempt of court simply for *raising* these issues. Yet these factors don’t deter them in any way. The lawyers defending the taxdolts find more work than they can handle, every time their jail sentences expire.

For someone who has a hotline to the Truth, new arguments are unnecessary. The old arguments are still “right”, the only challenge is to word them so that the “kangaroo courts” can understand them. We can be thankful that the taxdolts aren’t trying to get their doctrines into high school civics classes.

Don’t lose sight of the fact that the overwhelming majority of US voters believe in the Christian God, accepts that science is a Good Thing, and fervently desires them to kiss and make up. ID holds forth the idea that they do so. Hallelujia, belief is upheld, science is ratified, the international competitiveness of US students is rescued without threatening Faith, God’s in his heaven and all’s right with the world. Do you really think any particular court decision can eliminate these social forces?

Comment #10231

Posted by Steve on November 12, 2004 9:24 PM (e)

SCOTUS precedent is a pretty strong thing.

Comment #10232

Posted by Flint on November 12, 2004 10:09 PM (e)

Steve:

I’m not quite sure what you’re referring to. I agree that SCOTUS decisions are important, but they are also problematic. For example, SCOTUS decisions formerly (before the Warren court) followed the format of presenting the argument of the losing side, then presenting the problems with that argument, then presenting the decision itself (with rationale). This format was a goldmine for quote-mining – just quote the part of the decision where the losing side’s argument is presented.

For another thing, Lawyers and courts make a career of differentiating (also known as “splitting hairs”). To some degree, this is inevitable. Fact situations are differentiated on the basis of details so unique to a case that it’s often difficult to extract a useful policy.

But let’s be optimistic and assume a SCOTUS decision that essentially discredits “intelligent design” or (better yet) the projection of ANY “intelligent” (i.e. humanlike, volitional) influence in the origin of species. Sounds great, but we still have more heads of this particular hydra to decapitate:

1) We don’t want a SCOTUS decision that might pre-empt any possible legitimate future scientific development. A broad decision today might seem like paradise, but tomorrow it might seem that SCOTUS is stifling genuine science based on obsolte understaings.

2) We don’t want to underestimate the perseverence of the opposition. This was the lesson of the tax protesters, who remain as virulent as ever despite explicit decisions and punishments. Remember (actually, considering your post, *understand*) that we’re dealing with a political and not a judicial issue. The foundation of the tax protester movement isn’t legal; it’s that people don’t want to pay taxes. Remember the Dred Scott decision? Religion being presented as “science” in high schools is prevented by entirely appointable judges. Bush is President. The SCOTUS tends to decide such matters 5-4 repeatedly. Three of those five won’t make it 4 more years…

Religious fanatics don’t change their faith because civil judges disagree. They simply work to get “better” judges. Roy (“Fuck the Constitution, my opinion uber alles”) Moore could be elected God here in Alabama by a huge majority. ANY solution to this condition is a band-aid. The people WANT a theocracy (which accepts their particular interpretation of scripture, of course).

SCOTUS decisions are no stronger than the composition of the court, soon to change and probably drastically and for a long time. Creationists, whatever their shortcomings, understand that their campaign is political, and understand politics.

(Parental decisions are also pretty strong, until the child leaves home. At which point, what matters isn’t so much the decisions as the perceived basis for them. And I just don’t believe that science will trump God’s Word as a basis for the curriculum. Temporary legal setbacks don’t perturb tax protestors or creationists)

Comment #10234

Posted by Timothy Sandefur on November 12, 2004 11:41 PM (e)

Flint is exactly right, although I would add a third item: We don’t want to undermine the freedom of religion, or freedom of conscience more generally, one of the great treasures of our Constitution. A Supreme Court decision holding that ID violates the Establishment Clause would almost certainly not damage freedom of religion, but there are fanatics on our side who would like to go farther than that, and censor ID even among private advocacy groups. That’s unwarranted, and if established, could easily backfire on us.

Second, he’s exactly right about most Americans wanting science and religion to kiss and make up. This brings to mind the delightful Simpsons episode in which Lisa discovers an “angel” skeleton, starting off a Scopes-trial in Springfield. In the end, the judge issues a restraining order, commanding Religion to stay at least 100 yards away from Science at all times. Hear, hear!

Comment #10239

Posted by Steve on November 13, 2004 12:57 AM (e)

“I’m just trying to get into heaven. I’m not running for Jesus.”

–Homer Simpson

Comment #10242

Posted by Pericles on November 13, 2004 6:06 AM (e)

And what was the “angel” skeleton? A ploy by business owners to publise the opening of a new shopping mall. Mammon is the new (old?) god?

Pericles

Comment #10246

Posted by Tom Gray on November 13, 2004 11:44 AM (e)

I know that I will probably regret this but I thought that I should respond. Darwinism prevailed over its competitor Lamarckism because of Darwin’s insight into selective advantage as the mechanism for evolution in biological system. Lamarck had proposed the inheritance of acquired traits. The theory is logically consistent but no mechanism capable of this has been found in biological systems.

However the inheritance of acquired traits is found in cultural learning. Cultures pass what they have learned onto their children in the form of scientific knowledge, culture, laws mores etc. This led James Baldwin in the 1890s to develop a theory on the effect of culture and the capacity to learn on evolution. Consider a species that has the capacity to learn. One member of that species discovers how to swim. Others can learn that skill as well. Suppose that swimming offers a competitive advantage. Then members of the species who are better at swimming have a selective advantage in breeding and so the genome will evolve to stress this capacity. Baldwinian mechanisms can accelerate bioogocal evolution considerably.

With the development of sociobiology and evolutionary psychology, Baldwin’s insights are now yielding valuable research results. Baldwin had a found a mechanism by which Lamarckism could operate. It operates at the cultural and at the interface between the cultural and biological levels. In the last ten years or so, there have been conferences and many papers written to explore Baldwin’s theory.

In the same manner a theory of evolution by intelligent design is not logically inconsistent. It just lacks a proven mechanism by which it can operate at the biological level. However, despite what is said in the posting below, it has viable mechanisms at the cultural level. At least one species (humans) is able to reflect on its culture and make deliberate changes to it. Using Baldwin’s insights, it can then be seen that intelligent design can be part of a hierarchy of evolutionary mechanisms that begin with Darwin’s selective advantage.

The dispute is not whether ‘Intelligent Design’ is a viable evolutionary mechanism. It is. The dispute is whether or not the design comes from within or without the evolutionary process. Modern theorists such as Mcluhan and Teihard de Chardin have developed theories that indirectly show how intelligent design can be created in the evolutionary process itself. There is no need to posit a god in a broader theory of evolution.

Comment #10247

Posted by Timothy Sandefur on November 13, 2004 11:57 AM (e)

I think it is slightly inaccurate to say that the Baldwin effect is “a mechanism by which Lamarckism can operate.” But Mr. Gray seems to be using this as an example to support the argument that we sometimes learn about mechanisms for certain observable facts, when we didn’t know about those mechanisms before. Fair enough, but that’s irrelevant, because it isn’t true that the only flaw in ID is its “lack[ of] a proven mechanism by which it can operate at the biological level.” The flaw in ID is that it posits theories that aren’t theories, and can’t be tested, and that the observable facts are already thoroughly accounted for by a coherent theory which has withstood a century of attacks with its health quite intact. It is of course possible that God planned all this out and is cleverly hiding from us, and nobody disputes that. And it’s possible that we could tomorrow discover convincing proof that this is so. But the flaw in ID is that there’s no evidence, no theory, no nuthin—just a bunch of dressed up creationism and allegations on the level of religious morality and the alleged social consequences of evolutionary science.

Comment #10248

Posted by Tom Gray on November 13, 2004 12:23 PM (e)

Intelligent design is a theory since it can make predictions. It is just that it has no specific mechanism to operate at the biological level. It can however operate at the cultural level and indirectly through Baldwinian mechanisms operate at the biological level. Human beings live within cultures that they have consciously designed. It takes no real insight to realize that the ability to live within a culture is through Baldwinian mechanisms has a strong Darwinian advantage. Thus Intelligent Design at the cultural level has likely (perhaps I should say possibly) had an effect on the human geneome.

To answer proponents of Intelligent Design, one must remember that they are advocating a true theeory. To me, it is obviously not viable at the specific biological level. Never tehs less it is a true theory that is incorrect due to the lack of a mechanism not because of any inherent logical flaw.

The real dispute is whether Intelleigent Design has a designer that resides within or wiothout evolution. It ahs been demsntrated that Inteleigent Design does not require an external designer and so by Occam’s Rule the Intelligent Design withn Evolution is preferred.

Comment #10249

Posted by Tom Gray on November 13, 2004 12:34 PM (e)

For an account of Baldwinian evolution, one may examine

http://www.cs.bris.ac.uk/Publications/pub_info.jsp?id=1000480

There are many other accounts available through a Google search.

Comment #10250

Posted by Tom Gray on November 13, 2004 12:41 PM (e)

For some reason the posting software put threee dots after the URL I psoted above. Please delete them to access the paper at that site.

A brief biography of Baldwin may be found at

http://encyclopedia.thefreedictionary.com/James%20Mark%20Baldwin

Comment #10251

Posted by Pete on November 13, 2004 1:30 PM (e)

Tom, if you don’t like the dots use Kwickcode including
text

Comment #10254

Posted by Tom Curtis on November 13, 2004 5:15 PM (e)

Tom Gray:

Intelligent design is a theory since it can make predictions. It is just that it has no specific mechanism to operate at the biological level. It can however operate at the cultural level and indirectly through Baldwinian mechanisms operate at the biological level. Human beings live within cultures that they have consciously designed. It takes no real insight to realize that the ability to live within a culture is through Baldwinian mechanisms has a strong Darwinian advantage. Thus Intelligent Design at the cultural level has likely (perhaps I should say possibly) had an effect on the human geneome.

Baldwinian mechanisms will have minimum effect on human evolution because the time scales are wrong. Given the size of the human population, time to fixation of any mutation with a selective advantage of 1% or less is in the 10’s to 100’s of thousands of years. Meanwhile cultures turn over in the hundreds of years. This means specific features of a culture will not result in a mutation becoming fixed in the population - and the Baldwin mechanism you propose will be effectively non-operant. This is not a claim that we are immune to Darwinian evolution. Far from it. But particular features of particular cultures, unlike the common features of all cultures, are too shortlived to be selectively influential.

Secondly, ID may be a theory in the logicians sense, ie, a set of propositions. But it is not a scientific theory. Specifically, it makes no falsifiable predictions except that certain Darwinian research programs will fail. Further, it does not have a clearly stated set of propositions from which falsifiable predictions could be derived with ancilliarly hypotheses. If you disagree on these points, please state the propositions, their emperical consequences, and how we could test for those emperical consequences.

ID has advanced three failed hypothesis in the philosophy of science-
That Darwinism is tacitly commited to metaphysical naturalism;
That there is a valid “design inference” from CSI; and that there is a valid “design inference” from IC. The rest is apologetics, and PR.

Comment #10261

Posted by Quentin Long on November 13, 2004 7:57 PM (e)

Question for Tom Gray: Exactly what ‘predictions’ does Intelligent Design make? ID asserts that a Designer exists, but you can’t make predictions off of the bare assertion that “a Designer exists”. You need to get into some detail about the nature of the Designer – what sort of tools, techniques, abilities, motivations, etc – and thus far, ID has explicitly rejected all inquiries as to the nature of the Designer, even going so far as to declare such inquiries a matter of theology, for crying out loud!
Sorry, but “an unknowable number of unknowable Designers, acting at an unknowable number of unknowable times in the past, used an unknowable number of unknowable tools & techniques to perform an unknowable number of unknowable actions, in accordance with an unknowable number of unknowable motivations” just isn’t science. It may not even be metaphysics, or, indeed, anything other than gobbledygook.

Comment #10275

Posted by Frank J on November 14, 2004 8:03 AM (e)

Quentin Long wrote:

Question for Tom Gray: Exactly what ‘predictions’ does Intelligent Design make?

I’m not sure what Tom will say, but there are well-rehearsed ID answers. The fact is that ID predicts, for example, “Precambrian rabbits” and “no Precambrian rabbits,” “human pseudogenes for chlorophyll” and “no human pseudogenes for chlorophyll.” Get the picture?

Tom Gray wrote:

Intelligent design is a theory since it can make predictions. It is just that it has no specific mechanism to operate at the biological level.

That is a rare admission from an IDer. The fact is that ID has no mechanism, no alternate theory, no alternate timeline, no alternative to common descent, and no promising hypothesis of abiogenesis. The back-and-forth between “evidence of design” and “evidence against (a caricature of) evolution” is just a strategy that keeps most audiences unaware that ID has nothing to offer but misinformation. As some ID critics have noted, and as the chief ID promoters have all but admitted, even if there were something to the “evidence of design” part, the theory would still be evolution.

Quentin Long wrote:

You need to get into some detail about the nature of the Designer — what sort of tools, techniques, abilities, motivations, etc — and thus far, ID has explicitly rejected all inquiries as to the nature of the Designer, even going so far as to declare such inquiries a matter of theology, for crying out loud!

My suspicion is that IDers avoid this question because they know that the most likely candidate for a designer is an alien, not God (note Dembski’s analogies to SETI, forensics and archaeology, and Behe’s mousetrap). But if ID pretends to be an equivalent alternative to evolution, this is not the main question that begs to be asked. Before one even gets to the “hows,” let alone “whether a designer” (which evolution never asks in the first place), one must ask IDers simply “what happened and when?

Comment #10276

Posted by Tom Gray on November 14, 2004 8:18 AM (e)

The most exciting aspect of the theory of evolution, for me, was the realization that it takes places at multiple levels and that the mechanisms at each level can be and are different. Another exciting realization is that intelligence can be a product of evolution. Unfortunately I do not see these realization and their implications reflected in the popular books on evolution that I read.

In Dennett’s “Darwin’s Dangerous Ideas”, for example, I read a lot of descriptions of skyhooks creating order from disorder without the need for a guiding intelligence. However I did not read about the interaction of various evolutionary mechanisms. I especially did not read about higher level mechanisms feeding back and modifying the results of lower level mechanisms. The book seems to be an advocacy of a single strongly held opinion in the face of detractors rather than an investigation of the issue.

Previously, I identified three levels of evolution – biological, cultural or learning and something that could be called the reflective level. The biological level contains the familiar Darwinian mechanism of selective advantage. The cultural or learning level contains the Baldwinian mechanisms. Taking the broadest definition of learning and culture, it can be seen that this is active across many species. Finally at least one species on Earth has developed the ability to reflect on and modify its environment. Evolution from inanimate material has created a reflective intelligence that can modify its own environment. Intelligent design can operate at this level.

Thus three levels of evolution can be described with mechanisms at higher levels modifying the context of lower level mechanisms and thus their results. Hypothetically, one can envisage the advantages of culture cooperating at the Baldwinian level to create the consitions whereby evolution at he Darwinian level would select for genomes that produce intelligent individuals who can live in society. The advantages of culture not aspects of any single culture are being sleeted for here. Baldwinian evolution accelerates evolution at the Darwinian level by modifying the environmental context so that the advantages of certain genes may be greatly increased.

With the development of a reflective intelligence, a species developed which can deliberately reflect on and actively modify its environment. It can intelligently design its environment. This in turn will be reflected at the Baldwinian level to encourage the development of certain traits and of course will to a certain extent be then fed back to the Darwinian level.

This idea of intelligent design within evolution is an answer to many of the objections of the hypothesis of intelligent design outside of evolution, For example, the retention of older adaptations and the lack of perfection in creation, is an obvious part of ID within evolution. The intelligent design of society is an ongoing matter not a single instant of creative perfection.

Personally, I find these ideas quite exciting. The interworking of multiple types of evolution and the means by which these interact give evolution to me a much more complete and rewarding character. A fuller understanding of evolutionary mechanisms provided better answers to those who object to it. If some of these objectors attempt to create a theory that is outside of evolution (i.e. ID), a good answer to that would be to show that that theory is not incompatible with evolution but seems to be an inevitable consequence of it.

Comment #10285

Posted by Frank J on November 14, 2004 11:05 AM (e)

Tom Gray wrote:

This idea of intelligent design within evolution is an answer to many of the objections of the hypothesis of intelligent design outside of evolution, For example, the retention of older adaptations and the lack of perfection in creation, is an obvious part of ID within evolution.

The only problem is that the major ID promoters and their creationist followers want no part of “intelligent design within evolution.” Sure, Dembski has admitted that ID “can accommodate all the results of Darwinism.” But (1) that statement is hopelessly ambiguous, and (2) IDers do everything to promote doubt about “Darwinism” and nothing to promote doubt about the potential alternatives, such as those proposed by the mutually contradictory creationisms, and often hinted by the IDers themselves.

If IDers had any interest in “intelligent design within evolution” they would take the advice of some of their own who admit that ID is not sufficiently developed to be taught in science class. Instead of pushing for “equal time” they might recommend Kenneth Miller’s “Finding Darwin’s God” as extracurricular reading. Miller’s speculations in the second half of the book may well be the closest thing to “intelligent design within evolution.”

Comment #10286

Posted by jay boilswater on November 14, 2004 12:02 PM (e)

Definitive PROOF of ID (at least of bumper stickers).
Note the tiny “legs” of the hapless Darwin as it is devoured
by Truth in this example.

Comment #10289

Posted by Tom Gray on November 14, 2004 1:04 PM (e)

I was primarily commenting on the integration of a variant of intellegent design to to evolution philosophy and science. One common way that politicians use to ovrcome opposition is to co-opt it. If someone wants intelligent design to be part of a science course then intelligent design within evolution could be taught along with Darwin, Baldwin and Lamarck. One could show how all of these theories can fit into a coherent whole. The issue of the intelligent designer coming from within or before evolution could be discussed.

ID is taught. Darwinism is taught. ID is put into its proper perpectie and students are taught the philosphical, cultural and scientfic purposes and origin of intelligence.

Co-opting an opponent is often times useful How can htey aregue if the opposition is agreeing with them?

Comment #10293

Posted by Flint on November 14, 2004 4:41 PM (e)

I suppose (some of) what Tom Gray is saying is at least plausible. Imagine a religion that teaches eugenics. Imagine some devout breeding population, large enough to represent a decent smorgasbord of selectable traits. Alternatively, imagine science develops some really creative human genetic engineering, and some breeding population decides to go nuts with it. Why couldn’t these cultural phenomena have a noticeable impact within cultural rather than geological time frames?

Comment #10295

Posted by Bryson Brown on November 14, 2004 5:44 PM (e)

Given the aims of the ID folk, I can’t see this reconciliation working out. Natural ID, whether by artificial selection, or by feedback between culture and the selection regime faced by our own genes, or by direct genetic engineering, just won’t cut it for them. These are perfectly compatible with hard-line philosophical naturalism (and that’s their main target).

I used to wonder why ID proponents don’t make the obvious, Aquinas-style regress argument for the existence of a supernatural designer: If complex specified information (or irreducible complexity, or both…) is required for the production of any natural designer, then there must be another designer who designed that designer. But in a big-bang cosmology there is only time for a finite number of such designers, and the first would be unexplained, violating the basic ID rules of inference. So there must be a designer separate from (prior to?) any sequence of natural designers.

But I’m just an innocent Canadian, without much sense of the politics surrounding the separation of church and state. I finally realized that one good reason (from the ID point of view, anyway) to avoid making such an argument is that it would reveal that ID is a religious point of view, and hamstring their political operation.

ID proponents don’t just want ‘space’ for some form of ID in biology, after intelligence has already evolved by natural means. What they want is a theistic science. Theism is part of science, they claim, because naturalistic accounts of the origin of life and its subsequent evolution must leave unfilled explanatory gaps. And it’s this story of unfilled gaps in natural history that they really want taught in the schools. (Telling any more of their positive story about how the gaps should be filled would make its religious content obvious. It would also drive a large number of wedges between various factions now cooperating in the ID movement!) So I think we have no hope of co-opting them.

Comment #10296

Posted by Tom Curtis on November 14, 2004 6:15 PM (e)

Flint:

In either of your scenarios, significant effects could occur in very short time scales (decades to centuries). But neither is an example of the Baldwin effect to which Gray appeals. For the Baldwin effect, you have to imagine a change in behaviour. This change results in a change in relative fitness for different alleles - resulting in different alleles becoming prevalent in the population. Thus a switch of diet to include a milk (or milk products) for adults will result in the spread of alleles, the lack of which is known as lactose intolerance. Lactose amongst caucasian Americans is 15%, amongst Masai 60% despite milk having constituted a large part of their diet for over a thousand years.

Comment #10297

Posted by Flint on November 14, 2004 7:09 PM (e)

Tom Curtis:

I guess I’m missing the obvious here. I thought adoption of new practices such as I suggested WERE changes in behavior. Aren’t breeding programs the imposition of a standard of “relative fitness”? Wouldn’t this result in “different alleles becoming prevalent in the population”? I wish I knew more biology.

Bryson Brown:

I think you’d have to look long and far to find anyone who does NOT recognize ID as a religious point of view. Certainly the ID proponents make no secret of their religious motivations, nor do the school board members trying to get ID into the science curriculum. I don’t think any court decision has even given lip service to the notion that ID isn’t religious.

You’re spot on about theistic science. The claim is made (with a straight face, hard as that is to imagine) that only Christians are competent to do good science, apparently because science is a search for answers, and only Christians have those answers to properly guide their science.

As someone named John Davison wrote on the ARN board, “Intelligent Design is self-evident, but only to the objective observer.” Needless to say, objectivity and Christian doctrine are synonymous. Just ask them.

Comment #10299

Posted by Pete Dunkelberg on November 14, 2004 7:36 PM (e)

I’m not going to try to figure out what is being debated here or what it has to do with Dover, but I notice Tom Gray seemingly over excited by the Baldwin effect and at the same time complaining that a philosophy book which considers evolution at a very general level is not a biology text (D’oh).

Tom, I recommend that you first of all acquire and read a text on evolution (then you needn’t be concerned that a different sort of book isn’t one). Then since you like the theoretical side and ‘levels of evolution’, you can go for Niche Construction: The Neglected Process in Evolution and Genetic and Cultural Evolution of Cooperation .

Enjoy.

Comment #10300

Posted by Bryson Brown on November 14, 2004 8:18 PM (e)

Flint:

There’s a difference between acknowledging a personal religious motivation for supporting ID and acknowledging that ID itself is an intrinsically religious theory. Taking the second step would put a serious hole in any attempts to put ID on the curriculum for public schools in the U.S.

But I agree with your point about standards of objectivity. The Catholic doctrine of Natural law is a similar effort to turn religiously-motivated doctrines into ‘objective’ truths that we all must respect. Of course, the church turns out to be the authority on what these objective truths are– and anyone who disagrees is ‘diagnosed’ as too prideful (or otherwise corrupted) to see the truth.

A healthy epistemology of science (and ethics, too) is the remedy here– but it’s a hard sell, since it’s full of subtlties and (far worse) it fails to tell a lot of people what they want to hear.

Comment #10302

Posted by Tom Curtis on November 14, 2004 9:03 PM (e)

Flint:

The new practises you suggest are changes of behaviour. However, the consequent change in gene frequencies does not come about from natural selection. In once case it comes about from selective breeding - with selective advantages consequently in the range of 10% or higher. In the case of genetic engineering, the change of allele frequencies comes about by inserting new alleles into the genome multiple times. In principle, either of these could fix an allele in a single generation (if generations are discontinuos). But in fact, neither of these factors have been relevant to the current human genetic makeup.

IN contrast, change of gene frequencies due to the Baldwin effect have probably been quite significant in human evolution - but the relevant changes took place several hundred thousand to several million years ago. In contrast, events as recent as the invention of agriculture have not had time to result in the fixing of many (or any) alleles in human populations. Cultural phenomena more ephimeral than events like the invention of agriculture, which is to say, most of the particular content of any distinct culture, are also too ephimeral to register in terms of natural selection.

As I understand it, Tom Gray’s claim is that “the valid insights” of ID can be incorporated into conventional evolutionary theory by pointing out that some intelligent decisions have shaped evolution through the Baldwin effect. However, because of the slow turn over rate of evolution compared to that of culture, any such shaping is minimal.

This overlooks the two very obvious points. First, as stated so well by Bryson Brown, this is not the sort of reconciliation IDists could accept. Second, there are no valid insights from the ID movement to be incorporated into Neo-Darwinian theory.

Comment #10305

Posted by Flint on November 14, 2004 9:26 PM (e)

Tom Curtis:

I’m still not sure I see the distinction you are drawing, but I’m still pondering it. I do see the distinction between artificial selection (by different means), and natural selection.

Bryson Brown:

My understanding is that the courts, at least, have ruled that ID is a religious doctrine per se, and that any claim that the designer is other than the Christian God is pure smokescreen. But court decisions only last until another court disagrees. My concern is that the ID people, well aware of this, are directing their funding toward getting the “right” judges in place. Only one or two successes, and precedents can be set. I think the cases calculated to set these precedents are already designed and waiting for the appropriate political situation.

Comment #10306

Posted by jay boilswater on November 14, 2004 10:06 PM (e)

Flint wrote:
I think the cases calculated to set these precedents are already designed and waiting for the appropriate political situation.”

Yep, science trumped by politics, prepare for a “faith based reality” … there’s an oxymoron for you.

Comment #10307

Posted by RBH on November 14, 2004 10:09 PM (e)

Tom Curtis wrote

IN contrast, change of gene frequencies due to the Baldwin effect have probably been quite significant in human evolution - but the relevant changes took place several hundred thousand to several million years ago. In contrast, events as recent as the invention of agriculture have not had time to result in the fixing of many (or any) alleles in human populations. Cultural phenomena more ephimeral than events like the invention of agriculture, which is to say, most of the particular content of any distinct culture, are also too ephimeral to register in terms of natural selection.

At least one evolutionary change in humans in the recent past is attributed to the invention of agriculture, and in particular to the invention of intensive dairy farming. From here:

Lactase deficiency is a classic anthropological example of a genetic trait that has been influenced by cultural factors. There is a relationship between the frequency of lactase deficiency in a population and whether or not the population was involved in intensive dairy farming. Low levels of lactase deficiency are found in European populations with a long history of dairy farming, and highest levels in populations of Asian ancestry who were not dairy farmers. Low levels also occur in other populations that rely extensively on milk in their diet (like the Fulani of Western Africa, and it is believed, Khoi pastoralists of Southern Africa). These numbers suggest that the ability to digest whole milk later in life is selected for in environments where milk is a major source of nutrition and forms an important part of the diet.

RBH

Comment #10310

Posted by Tom Curtis on November 15, 2004 4:16 AM (e)

RBH:

Lactose intolerance is an example I quoted earlier in support of my thesis. Despite the fact that cattle were domesticated as early as 6500 BC and quickly became widespread, lactose intolerance is still found in around 15% of Caucasian populations. It stands at 60% amongst the Masai whose diet consists of milk and cattle blood. Perhaps lactose intolerance will be eliminated from the human gene pool in another 8,000 years, perhaps not. But that is the sort of timespan we are looking at. Truly seminal events such as the invention of agriculture, or the invention of writting will have an effect on human genetics through natural selection because the differences they make to our culture are so long lasting - but even for these events they are so recent that they will not have resulted in the fixation of many (if any) alleles. But the very slowness of the reaction to these seminal events shows that ephemeral events are unlikely to effect allele frequencies in the long term, or very much in the short term. And by ephimeral I mean such short lived phenomena as the Roman Empire, or Judaism. A feature uniquely advantageous in the Roman Empire might have risen to 1 or 2% of the Roman population before the collapse of that Empire rendered it neutral or harmfull. Only features beneficial in a celtic culture, and a Roman Culture, and a Frankish culture, and a Merovingian culture, and Feudal culture, and Renaissance/reformation culture, and a modern French Republic would continue to spread in France over the last 2,500 years (for example), and even such a feature would still be represented in a significant minority of the French population had it started its spread 2,500 years ago.

Comment #10312

Posted by Tom Gray on November 15, 2004 8:42 AM (e)

What I have really been saying is that if intelligent design is to be taught as a scientific theory then it should be taken seriously as a scientific theory and dealt with as such. One only has to ride in an airplane above a populated area to see the effect that intelligence is having on the natural environment. The difference between this observation and that of most proponents and opponents of intelligent design is that it takes into account the nature of intelligence. The discussions that I have see both by propones and opponents of intelligent design is assume that intelligence is some perfect abstract entity that is divorced from the real world. It is some sort of Platonian ideal that is best exemplified in the abstract reasoning of advanced mathematics. There is another more realistic view that intelligence is a property developed by evolution to cope with the real world. The intelligence of Adam Smith’s unseen hand, which is today called swarm intelligence, is an aspect of the intelligence that evolution has developed and uses

Any teaching or exploration of intelligent design should consider just what intelligence is and how intelligence designs. The design mechanisms of intelligence should be explicated. Evolutionary-based intelligence is reshaping the natural environment. It is undoubtedly having an effect on Darwinian evolution. The example of the moth changing colour after the Industrial evolution that is often used as a demonstration of Darwinian evolution is also an example of the effects of Baldwinian and evolutionary-based intelligent design.

One nice thing about this is that a discussion of intelligent design in this manner is compatible with millenarian Christianity. Evangelicals may object to it but millenarian Protestant churches that believe that it is the duty of mankind to prepare the world for Christ’s return will find resonance with it. Co-option of an opponent’s position to find allies is a useful political tactic.

Comment #10315

Posted by Bob Maurus on November 15, 2004 10:56 AM (e)

For Tom Gray,

Not sure if I entirely understand what you’re saying here. Is the definition of “intelligent design” you’re referencing addressing the cumulative results of decisions made by humans, as in “a shift from a hunting to an agricultural society” or the building of major urban settlements? If so, that wouldn’t square very well with what the ID crowd is trying to get accepted as science, would it?

Comment #10316

Posted by Tom Gray on November 15, 2004 12:27 PM (e)

The idea of extending the interpretation of intelligent design that would be taught is to co-opt the effort to teach it as a surrogate for a religious belief.

The use of an intelligent design at the cultural and reflective levels background allows the linking of Darwinian evolution to other branches of inquiry such as media studies and economics. It also allows the examination of the nature of intelligence. It could also be used in a comparative religions class to show the difference between fundamental and millenarian Christianity.

This may not be what the current advocates of intelligent design want but what one wants is not necessarily what one gets.

Comment #10317

Posted by Tom Curtis on November 15, 2004 2:36 PM (e)

Tom Gray:

If the idea is to co-opt the effort to teach intelligent design, it is doomed to failure. ID strategists would happily allow you to teach the effects of intelligence on the environment under the name of Intelligent Design; and then push to have the “rest of” Intelligent Design taught as well. I can hear them now: “Its hardly fair to teach only those aspects of ID without religious implications. The rest of ID is science as well, and to exclude it because of its religious implications is view point discrimination.”

This is assuming you could effectively coopt the name in the first place - which I doubt. Their PR machine is too large, and the concepts too disimilar for that to work.

Comment #10318

Posted by rubble on November 15, 2004 3:40 PM (e)

Syntax Error: mismatched tag 'url'

Comment #10319

Posted by Tom Curtis on November 15, 2004 4:59 PM (e)

Rubble, as an atheist evolutionist, I found your example as offensive as I found Jay’s ridiculous.

Comment #10322

Posted by Flint on November 15, 2004 7:14 PM (e)

Personally, I thought rubble’s image was comical. Where can I get one?

Comment #10323

Posted by johnsmith on November 15, 2004 9:20 PM (e)

I recently came across the negative comments on this website regarding the
possible role played by ID in evolutionary theory, and more specifically,
Dr. Meyer’s recently published article on the subject. When I read this
article, I found it to be interesting and thought provoking. In my first
exposure to biochemistry, through my undergraduate-level text book (Voet &
Voet), it was pointed out in the introductory chapter that insight into
fundamental questions related to the origins of life has rested on a
significant level of speculation. Our views on this subject are shaped by
philosophical considerations, as well as on modern investigations into
evolutionary biology. Does the central dogma of biochemistry not rest
partially on faith? That a primordial soup of chemicals evolved to
produce organisms, properly defined as linear polymers of 4 inanimate
nucleotides that direct their own unending reproduction, through
production of protein molecules that serve as the tools for this task.
This is the world from a biochemist’s perspective, and at its core is a
concept not easily rationalized.

While I did enjoy reading Dr. Meyer’s article, as pointed out in several
rebuttal arguments on this site, much of the evidence marshaled in defense
of his theories rests entirely on personal, biased interpretations of
published reports in areas such as phylogenetics that
are more appropriately interpreted from a neo-Darwinist understanding of
evolution.

My problem with the reaction to Meyer’s article on this and
other sites is not with the scientific arguments that refute his theories,
but in the condescending tone with which his view of
evolution has been dismissed. The harshest criticism seems not to have been directed at Meyer himself, but at the journal editor in the “inner sanctum”
of the scientific establishment who may not have funneled the paper through the review process without due dilegence. I do
agree with most on one issue: there is no room for articles in scientific
journals that rest on unsubstantiated speculative claims. A more
reputable journal would no doubt have rejected the article out of hand.
Nevertheless, we should all remember that throughout history, many of the
theories strongly espoused by the scientific establishment of the day have
not necessarily stood the test of time - it’s hard to imagine that history
won’t repeat itself. I doubt any of the views put forward by Meyer
will usurp the neo-Darwinist views defended by modern evolutionary
biologists. However, I do not believe that current evolutionary theories
regarding the origins of life are unassailable, and beyond philosophical
debate. After reading some of the reaction to this article I can’t help but feel that many scientists take themselves, and their views, a little too seriously on this issue.

Comment #10324

Posted by jay boilswater on November 16, 2004 1:19 AM (e)

Yes rubble, is that a photoshop or can they be bought, I want one too.
And Tom, as an agnostic retired engineer, interested in evolution, and all natural history, I would say:
Lighten up dude! I don’t advocate the thing, I thought it was so ludricrous that it was funny. And it is!
Johnsmith, let me retort, evolutionary theory makes no claim (that I know of) about the origins of life.
Your argument seems far afield and a bit disconected. I am interested in the “thought experiment” that David Raup has proposed to explain PE but it don’t follow that I am gung ho to embrace astrology.

Comment #10325

Posted by jay boilswater on November 16, 2004 1:41 AM (e)

Flint
Found it at:

Valiant Enterprises Inc.
PO Box 14095
Tumwater, WA 98511-4095

http://valiante.plugnpay.com/cgi-bin/SoftCart.exe/scstore/shophome.html?E+scstore

Procreation car plaque
6.95

I can hardly wait, gonna stick it on my Ducati, hope it’s not too big.

Comment #10326

Posted by Great White Wonder on November 16, 2004 2:46 AM (e)

johnsmit writes

However, I do not believe that current evolutionary theories
regarding the origins of life are unassailable, and beyond philosophical
debate.

That’s nice. Is that what your strawman believed before you beat him up?

After reading some of the reaction to this article I can’t help but feel that many scientists take themselves, and their views, a little too seriously on this issue.

So true. If only we could learn to relax like Doc Meyer and not worry about accuracy and making comprehensible adult arguments, science would be so much more fun! Even really ignorant people could play as long as they said stuff that sounded scientific. It’d be like a science version of the U.S. government.

Comment #10327

Posted by Tom Curtis on November 16, 2004 4:34 AM (e)

Jay:

And Tom, as an agnostic retired engineer, interested in evolution, and all natural history, I would say:
Lighten up dude! I don’t advocate the thing, I thought it was so ludricrous that it was funny. And it is!

Jay, the truth fish eating the Darwin amphibian is so ridiculous as to be funny. The Darwin amphibian fucking the Jesus fish is pretty much as offensive as you can get. The Jesus fish is not an arbitrary symbol for Christians. In fact it was probably the first Christian symbol, preceding even the cross. This symbolism comes from a Greek Acrostic:

Iesus
CHristos
THeou
Yios
Soter,

which formed the greek word for fish. The meaning is:

Jesus Christ, God’s Son, Saviour.

This is the core of Christian belief. The Darwin Amphibian fucking the Jesus fish is then a graphic, hostile and offensive statement of Philip Johnson’s thesis that the battle is not between scientific theories, but between a materialistic philosophy which is implacably hostile to Christianity and the Christianity it opposes. Christians seeing such a symbol will rightly interpret it as meaning that Christianity and evolution are in an implacable war, and that the owner of the symbol holds Christianity and Christians in complete contempt.

That is not a view point I can accept, or keep silent about. Telling me to “lighten up” just tells me you have deeply skewed sensibilities on the subject.

Comment #10328

Posted by Flint on November 16, 2004 8:26 AM (e)

Tom Curtis:

I second the “lighten up” recommendation. Where you see implacable hostility, I see the cross-breeding of competing viewpoints, which frequently produces fertile offspring. Perhaps for some of us sex symbolizes pleasant optimism, and for others it’s a dominance game. This image may be a sort of Rorschach test.

johnsmith:

While you’re right that the possible mechanisms along the path to the first life-as-we-know-it are certainly speculative and we have as yet only tantalizing hints, this lack of knowledge doesn’t necessarily need to be viewed as an open door with a welcome mat inviting faith to enter. Faith, for the faithful, informs everything they see, do, and think. It doesn’t “bunch up” into high concentrations where we are ignorant, and spread invisibly thin where our knowledge is most secure.

The presumption that all of reality is assisted by divine guidance is comforting to many, and beyond the ability of science to speak about in any way. The presumption that all natural phenomena can ultimately be explained by natural causes (even if we know nearly nothing about those causes today) is necessary if the scientific method is to be worth applying to anything. Meyer et. al. pretty clearly wish to place a great deal of what science now investigates, off limits to that method, because the evidence collected leads most logically to conclusions incompatible with one sect’s beliefs about how the natural world “ought to be”.

The philosophical debate isn’t really about how life started, but about whether people should even be exposed to non-religious speculations, when (their) religion already has the absolute truth in black and white. In studying evolution and abiogenesis, science has barged into the innermost sanctum of that belief system, and is irreverently weighing and measuring and shining bright lights, rather than properly worshipping in the darkness.

Comment #10332

Posted by Great White Wonder on November 16, 2004 1:17 PM (e)

Tom writes

Christians seeing such a symbol will rightly interpret it as meaning that Christianity and evolution are in an implacable war, and that the owner of the symbol holds Christianity and Christians in complete contempt.

Tom, your confusing that cartoon with this symbol:

x
x
x
x x x x
x

Just fyi: Aleister Crowley is to Phillip Johnson what Einstein is to Bill Dembski. Don’t mess with the bull or you’ll get the horns.

Comment #10338

Posted by jay boilswater on November 16, 2004 6:06 PM (e)

Well Tom I hate to argue, but the TRUTH eating the tiny darwin, while ridiculous is
pretty offensive to anyone with two hemispheres to rub together. Not being a christian
I don’t find the other symbol any more offensive, in fact I have one on order!
I find I quite enjoy offending the current fundementalist christians, especially since
it is evident they either do not know, or do not care what Jesus was actually talking about!
As far a “skewed sensibilities” well I don’t know quite how to respond, except
to sing.
Because…
Every sperm is sacred,
Every sperm is great,
If a sperm is wasted,
God gets quite irate.

Let the heathen spill theirs,
On the dusty ground,
God shall make them pay for,
Each sperm that’s not found.
My apologies to Mr Python, and the Ape Ejaculate Thread.

Comment #10339

Posted by Jan on November 16, 2004 6:21 PM (e)

For those of you who do not know, here is what the first amendment says:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

When a teacher tells her class that the universe appears to have an intelligent design, is that teacher establishing a religion? Of course not! The liberal, socialist, secular, usually atheistic agenda that is being promoted in our government schools has convinced a generation of people that the first amendment will not allow the name of God to be voiced in public schools, but that was never the intention of our founding fathers. Our founding fathers only intended that we not establish a national religion that we reguire our citizens to become affiliated with or that we not force them to worship any particular deity. If this error is not corrected soon, it is going to be too late to correct it.

Comment #10340

Posted by Flint on November 16, 2004 6:46 PM (e)

Jan:

So which god(s) would you like your teachers to say created the universe? Allah? Thor? Wotan? The whole Greek pantheon? Should the teacher painstakingly detail a few thousand creation myths (and there are that many), giving each one equal time and credibility? What instruction do you suggest we drop, to make the time for this exercise?

The liberal, socialist, secular, usually atheistic agenda

Ooh, ouch, my sensitive ears find such cursing highly offensive. Can’t you limit your profanity to words of four letters like the rest of us?

Comment #10341

Posted by Great White Wonder on November 16, 2004 6:54 PM (e)

Jan, your founding fathers kept black people as slaves.

So screw your founding fathers. If they wanted to prevent forced worship, they could easily have said so. Apparently they wanted to go quite a bit further than that.

In any event, nothing in the Constitution requires that we step inside the backwards and sleazy slave-holding minds of the founders.

The principle that government and religion should not mix has obvious benefits that attach even to dim-witted rubes such as yourself.

Why not be thankful that you see a conciliatory reference to a deity on your currency? As a citizen of the United States who strongly believes in the First Amendment, that is a gigantic concession on my part. Now, please return to your warm pew and enjoy your cookie. Your preacher is about to tell you why dinosaurs should more accurately be referred to as Jesus Horses.

Comment #10343

Posted by Dagobert Steinitz on November 16, 2004 7:23 PM (e)

When a teacher tells her class that the universe appears to have an intelligent design, is that teacher establishing a religion?

When a teacher tells her class that the universe appears to have an intelligent designer, and Mohammed is his prophet, is that teacher establishing a religion?

Is that what you want? You want teachers teaching the kids their religious beliefs as fact? All of them, or just the ones you like? Do you have kids in the public school system? You deserve to have one with a Hindu teacher who believes like you do… So they can come home telling you how the universe appears to have a lot of Karma: they learned it at school.

Comment #10345

Posted by Jan on November 16, 2004 8:14 PM (e)

I think that Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Jews, Buddhists, and all named and unnamed are able to look at our awesome world and see that there is an intelligence to the design and an order to our universe. We would have to be quite stupid not to be able to tell that. It is quite wonderful and magnificent.

If you live in the USA, then you are governed by the constitution as it is the law of our land. Regardless of what our founding fathers did or did not do in their personal lives and regardless of mistakes they made or did not make, the constitution is our governing document. It has served us well. The first amendment states:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances

Comment #10348

Posted by Bob Maurus on November 16, 2004 9:07 PM (e)

Jan,

You said, “I think that Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Jews, Buddhists, and all named and unnamed are able to look at our awesome world and see that there is an intelligence to the design and an order to our universe. We would have to be quite stupid not to be able to tell that. It is quite wonderful and magnificent.”

Whenever you’re ready to back that claim up with credible evidence - we’re waiting. Until then, don’t be so cocksure or arrogant about it. I could as easily accuse you of stupidity for falling for that bullshit. Your Faith is yours, and respected - until you try to present it as objective reality. The ball’s in your court - go for it.

Comment #10350

Posted by johnsmith on November 16, 2004 9:32 PM (e)

Jay Boil:

“…let me retort, evolutionary theory makes no claim (that I know of) about the origins of life..”

It doesn’t? Then what’s the evolution vs. creationist debate all about? It don’t follow.

Flint:

“…Faith, for the faithful, informs everything they see, do, and think…”

“…but about whether people should even be exposed to non-religious speculations, when (their) religion already has the absolute truth in black and white….”

I think you’re oversimplifying what faith and religion is all about. I don’t believe most religious practitioners think they have it all figured out – nor are the philosophical questions that man has debated about through history laid out in “black and white” in religious texts (unless you take these allegorical works literally I suppose). There is room for question and debate in any open religion, scientific or otherwise.

Dagobert

Why is it you assume that teaching of religion involves indoctrination, rather than offering important insight into human history, culture and ethics. Should we abandon teaching art, theatre, Greek Mythology etc. as well?

Comment #10352

Posted by Flint on November 16, 2004 9:54 PM (e)

johnsmith:

It doesn’t? Then what’s the evolution vs. creationist debate all about? It don’t follow.

Technically, evolution is NOT a creation myth competing with Genesis. Evolution is limited to how one life form changes to another over the course of time. It states that these changes happen because the evidence indicates this, and it proposes mechanisms that might be the cause of the changes.

HOW life got started is an entirely different scientific topic called abiogenesis. This topic, though there has been some preliminary investigation, is still mostly philosophical. No theory of evolution makes even the slightest suggestion as to where the first life came from.

The source of confusion is that the Genesis myth says “God created all kinds of life as we see them” and in one fell swoop lumps the creation in with the kinds. Believers in creationism therefore expect theories of evolution to do the same, but they don’t.

nor are the philosophical questions that man has debated about through history laid out in “black and white” in religious texts (unless you take these allegorical works literally I suppose).

Yes, I suppose too. Creationists are, as designated by the term itself, those who take these allegorical works literally. If they did not, sites like this wouldn’t exist.

There is room for question and debate in any open religion, scientific or otherwise.

There are no “scientific religions”, and there can’t be. The two have no conceptual overlap. But I agree there is room for question and debate about everything.

Why is it you assume that teaching of religion involves indoctrination, rather than offering important insight into human history, culture and ethics.

There is a difference between teaching religion, and teaching ABOUT religion. Saying “here’s god’s truth” is qualitatively different from saying “here is what some subcultures believe; here (by contrast) is what others believe.” Anyone whose presentation takes for granted that there even ARE any gods, is indoctrinating.

Comment #10353

Posted by jay boilswater on November 16, 2004 10:32 PM (e)

johnsmith wrote:
“‘evolutionary theory makes no claim (that I know of) about the origins of life..’
It doesn’t? Then what’s the evolution vs. creationist debate all about? It don’t follow.”

Well, I will start by saying that, evolutionary theory makes no claim (that I know of) about the origins of life.
What I mean is what I just said, the initial genisis of life is not addressed by the theory of evolution, the theory has nothing to say about it. There is only one ‘data point’ for life (so far) and what we see here on the Earth is IT.
Darwin was concerned with the distribution and evolution of life that we currently see, the reasons that the world looks as it does.
The evolution vs. creationist debate is (in my opinion) all about politics, religion and perceptions of morality…not to mention a strange American fixation. If you want to go back to first principles then the cambrian explosion is far too recent.
If you insist on hunting down God, then 4 seconds before the first 3 seconds of the big bang would be a good place to start.
As far as I know this is fertile ground and unencumbered by any theories that I am aware of.

Comment #10354

Posted by johnsmith on November 16, 2004 10:58 PM (e)

Flint:

Once again, you’ve oversimpflied my argument and those made by most, but granted not all, who might not be so quick to rule out the possibility of Intelligent Design.

I’m familiar with the general scope of evolution and what the theory entails – but the core of the intelligent design debate lies at the boundary of what evolution and our scientific understanding of prehistoric biology has failed adequately explain. The logical course of a debate on Intelligent Design necessarily involves a discussion on the origins of life.

You say: HOW life got started is an entirely different scientific topic called abiogenesis. This topic, though there has been some preliminary investigation, is still mostly philosophical. No theory of evolution makes even the slightest suggestion as to where the first life came from.

One who might advocate or be willing to entertain the idea of Intelligent Design is merely pointing out what you’ve just stated. Or put in another way: that modern science can not explain important, fundamental questions relating to our existence – maybe because there is no reasonable answer beyond faith in a “being” that created a framework upon which evolution occurred. These issues are at the heart of the creationist vs. evolution (origins of life) debate.

Intelligent design is not an argument formulated on creationism by your definition (i.e. a view of life based on a literal interpretation of the book of genesis). Obviously there is no framework for such a debate with those who believe in Noah’s arc.

You say:

There is a difference between teaching religion, and teaching ABOUT religion. Saying “here’s god’s truth” is qualitatively different from saying “here is what some subcultures believe; here (by contrast) is what others believe.” Anyone whose presentation takes for granted that there even ARE any gods, is indoctrinating.

I don’t differentiate between teaching religion or ABOUT religion. Religious education doesn’t necessarily involve imploring: here’s the truth (i.e. indoctrination), nor should it.

Comment #10357

Posted by Traffic Demon on November 17, 2004 12:39 AM (e)

“This symbolism comes from a Greek Acrostic:

Iesus
CHristos
THeou
Yios
Soter”

Damn Greeks thought they were so smart when they couldn’t even speak English!

Comment #10359

Posted by Wesley R. Elsberry on November 17, 2004 4:22 AM (e)

From a comment I made at Carl Zimmer’s blog:

I’d like to make an observation on “intelligent design” in general. ID claims are aimed at obtaining a concession that evolutionary processes are insufficient to account for observed biological phenomena. After that, ID advocates hope that people will simply fill in with an “intelligent designer” of their preference to cover the gap. ID arguments are all of the negative variety: because evolution can’t do this, you must accept that an “intelligent designer” did.

So, how do ID advocates wend their way toward finding evolutionary insufficiency? Do they identify phenomena with good evidential records of their origin and find that no natural mechanisms are able to cover the situation? No, they do not. ID advocates identify the systems that have the least evidence that can bear upon just how they might have arisen and whack on those. If evolutionary biologists don’t have the evidence to work with, they certainly can’t generate the “detailed, testable pathways” that ID advocates […] claim it is their burden to produce. This is such a weak and pathetic strategy that the term I use for Michael Behe’s arguments now is “God of the crevices”. You see, Behe’s claim to fame is to have taken the old young-earth creationist bleat of “what good is half a wing?” and bring it into the modern era of molecular biology, reborn as, “what good is half a flagellum?” Biochemistry, Behe says, is the basement floor, and there is no further place to go. Thus, the gaps Behe goes on about have a bottom, and are crevices.

Back in 2001, I was in a panel with William Dembski, and pointed out that the only way for ID to progress was to take up those case where there was evidence at hand. Things like the impedance-matching system of the mammalian middle ear and the Krebs citric acid cycle. Michael Behe was sitting in the audience at the time. Have ID advocates taken up those sort of systems for analysis? Not on your life.

“Intelligent design” advocates use Behe’s “irreducible complexity” and Dembski’s “specified complexity” as arguments to convince people to disregard theories which have some evidential support, and force acceptance of conjectures with no evidential support. It’s a good trick, that.

Comment #10377

Posted by Flint on November 17, 2004 8:41 AM (e)

johnsmith:

If you make simple arguments, you get simple explanations. I don’t know what you’re looking for.

the core of the intelligent design debate lies at the boundary of what evolution and our scientific understanding of prehistoric biology has failed adequately explain.

Who gets to say how much is “adequate”? By observation, the bar of “adequate” is set unreachably high by those who believe in supernatural forces. Also, when evidence is admittedly weak and indirect, should we say “we don’t know yet” or should we say “it happened by magic”? The former is honest; the second at least gives the appearance of filling a gap in our knowledge, while actually explaining nothing.

The logical course of a debate on Intelligent Design necessarily involves a discussion on the origins of life.

What’s to discuss? Nobody knows how life started. Some preliminary studies have been suggestive, but no more than that. So the two sides to the debate can be summarized pretty succinctly: The ID side says “I believe magic is the only possible origin; prove me wrong.” The scientific side says “We don’t know yet, BUT we’ve never had to ring in magic to explain anything in the natural universe yet, and we see no reason to start here.” So there we stand: The ID people have the answer before we start (because they cut corners and simply MADE IT UP), the science people hold out hope for increasingly better understandings as studies generate possibilities.

modern science can not explain important, fundamental questions relating to our existence – maybe because there is no reasonable answer beyond faith in a “being” that created a framework upon which evolution occurred.

You are correct that science has not yet explained (NOTE the difference between “has not yet explained” and “can not explain”) some questions about our existence. Whether these questions are important is a judgment call, but let’s say they are. But why throw your hands into the air already and say “I need an answer RIGHT NOW, even if I have to make one up”? The only reason to do so, is if you interpret “can not explain” to mean “is inherently incapable of explaining, so our only option is to make up whatever appeals to us.” Why not interpret it to mean “does not yet have a well supported explanation, but is working on it so be patient”?

If you are to be consistent, you’ll find that your haste causes more problems than it solves – by postulating a “being” who POOF created everything, you must now explain the origin of that being. And that’s MUCH harder. Most ID proponents refuse to address the question “where did your god come from originally?” as though running away from this problem solves it.

Intelligent design is not an argument formulated on creationism by your definition (i.e. a view of life based on a literal interpretation of the book of genesis).

Actually, there are many flavors of intelligent design. The YEC version is probably the most common, and THAT version is based on a literal interpretation of Genesis. But ID tries to be a “big tent” by being deliberately hazy, saying only that life required and/or requires something beyond natural processes, and lets believers in just about any deities fill in the blanks with their preferred version.

I don’t differentiate between teaching religion or ABOUT religion. Religious education doesn’t necessarily involve imploring: here’s the truth (i.e. indoctrination), nor should it.

Chuckle. You just contradicted yourself! You said you don’t differentiate, and then promptly differentiated. And the distinction remains real and important. I agree religious education should not presume the existence of any gods, and should present a wide range of contrasting beliefs without prejudice. And this presentation should be made in classes intended for the purpose, which are NOT science classes.

Comment #10379

Posted by Dagobert Steinitz on November 17, 2004 9:13 AM (e)

Why is it you assume that teaching of religion involves indoctrination, rather than offering important insight into human history, culture and ethics. Should we abandon teaching art, theatre, Greek Mythology etc. as well?

johnsmith… I don’t assume that. I was replying to someone who was suggesting it was appropriate for teachers to teach their religious opinion about intelligent design in the universe as science.

Comparative religion and religious history are fine by me.

Comment #10380

Posted by Salvador T. Cordova on November 17, 2004 9:42 AM (e)

Wesley wrote:

“It’s a good trick.”

I agree! It’s a fabulous strategy, and thus I think we can expect more of the same for the several few years. Research is expensive, but marketing books makes money. The wedgies have a well conceived strategy and they are carrying it out very effectively.

I think the anti-Darwin campaign versus doing positive ID research is the way to go for now, both scientifically and politically. We call that approach in logic, “PROOF BY CONTRADICTION”.

I think Paul Gross was right on the mark in proclaiming the success of the wedge. I note that, house minority leader, Nancy Pelosi, after John Kerry’s loss said:

“The Republicans .. had an election about wedge issues in our country”.

Because of the lack of research, I think the Discovery Institute actually opposed the teaching of ID at Dover. They found it’s far more effective to “teach the controversy”, like in Ohio, but have ID theory remain immune from scrutiny. Let the students fill in the blanks :-).

I think that’s the best strategy for the wedge, highlight the problems with Darwinism, but keep ID beyond examination. So in that regard, I think the strategy in Ohio is the model strategy.

The climate for ID will become more favorable with Bush (a creationist) appointing Supreme Court justices and and several federal judges. The controversy will be taught eventually in all schools, and evolution will be confronted in every class room in the United States, while at the same time ID remains above scrutiny.

Beautiful strategy!

Salvador
PS
I, as a Young Earth Creationist (YEC) don’t want liberal NEA teachers teaching creationism improperly. Therefore, “teach the controversy” is the best strategy for the YECs as well as the IDists.

Comment #10383

Posted by Flint on November 17, 2004 10:53 AM (e)

We call that approach in logic, “PROOF BY CONTRADICTION”.

Sigh. No, we don’t. Proof by contradiction works by assuming a theorem is true, and logically demonstrating that this assumption leads to a contradiction. The conclusion is that the theorem is false.

So we say “Assume A. Now show that this causes a contradicton. Therefore A is false.” What Salvador is doing is saying “Assume B is true. Now try to show that A is false. I have done so to my satisfaction, therefore B is true!” This may make Salvador happy, but it is not proof by contradiction.

Comment #10384

Posted by Bob Maurus on November 17, 2004 10:55 AM (e)

So, did Salvador have an epiphany moment somewhere on the road to Jerusalem? Or has some coyote stolen his identity? And how about The Cosmic Coyote as the ultimate Designer?

Comment #10385

Posted by Salvador T. Cordova on November 17, 2004 11:36 AM (e)

For the Record, from the Wedgie central headquarters:

http://www.discovery.org/scripts/viewDB/index.php?command=view&id=2302&program=CSC%20-%20Views%20and%20News

“Even the Seattle-based Discovery Institute, which supports scientists studying intelligent-design theory, opposes mandating it in schools because it is a relatively new concept, said John West, associate director of the institute’s Center for Science and Culture.”

The Discovery Institute know’s whats best for it’s cause. It is not wise to mandate teaching of creationism, ahem, I mean, intelligent design.

Attacking Darwinian theory vigorously, while keeping our theories out of the discussion by liberal leaning NEA teachers is the best course of action. I concede it doesn’t seem like a very sportsmanlike strategy by those sneaky wedgies. Good for them :-).

So, ironically, the Wedgies are in agreement with the Pandas. ID should not be a mandatory part of eductation in the public schools at this time.

Salvador

PS
Bob asked, “Or has some coyote stolen his identity?”

Yes it is the real Salvador T. Cordova posting. The email address, stcordova@hotmail.com is mine and so is the linked website www.SmartAxes.com and it’s the same one I have always used when posting here at pandasthumb.

Comment #10389

Posted by Wesley R. Elsberry on November 17, 2004 2:17 PM (e)

Salvador,

Yeah, it’s a good trick to substitute a conjecture with no empirical backing whatsoever for a well-developed body of scientific theoretical work with a proven track record of empirical successes. It’s just that it is also a thoroughly dishonest trick.

Wesley

Comment #10392

Posted by Bob Maurus on November 17, 2004 3:43 PM (e)

Thanks for the clarification, Salvador. One other question - what exactly are those theories you mentioned that you’re keeping out of discussion. I wasn’t aware that any existed.

Comment #10394

Posted by Jan on November 17, 2004 5:02 PM (e)

Bob, Your question surprised me because the evidence is so overwhelming. I hardly know where to begin.

Take for example this quote:
The suggestion that the Universe and its laws “have been purposely designed” has surfaced much more frequently in the past several years. For example, the late British cosmologist Sir Fred Hoyle wrote:

A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a superintellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as with chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature. The numbers one calculates from the facts seem to me so overwhelming as to put this conclusion almost beyond question (1982, 20:16).
In his book, Superforce: The Search for a Grand Unified Theory of Nature, Davies made this amazing statement:

If nature is so “clever” as to exploit mechanisms that amaze us with their ingenuity, is that not persuasive evidence for the existence of intelligent design behind the universe? If the world’s finest minds can unravel only with difficulty the deeper workings of nature, how could it be supposed that those workings are merely a mindless accident, a product of blind chance? (1984, pp. 235-236, emp. added).
and

Eight years later, in 1992, Davies authored The Mind of God, in which he remarked:

I cannot believe that our existence in this universe is a mere quirk of fate, an accident of history, an incidental blip in the great cosmic drama…. Through conscious beings the universe has generated self-awareness. This can be no trivial detail, no minor by-product of mindless, purposeless forces. We are truly meant to be here (1992, p. 232, emp. added).

The word Design itself implies a design as defined here:
To create or contrive for a particular purpose or effect
To conceive or fashion, To invent:
The purposeful or inventive arrangement of parts or details

Consider this:
If you have never considered the evidence of intelligent planning think about what would happen if any of the things we take for granted should be off by a fraction of a percentage. Consider the distance of our planet from the sun, of the amount of oxygen in the air we breathe, of the amount of carbon dioxide given off by plants, etc.
Consider your own body and the precision of your systems working together.
Here is a web site that you might enjoy http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Aegean/8830/mathproofcreat.html

Having worked all day and not having time to go into this further, I will have to continue tomorrow if you are still unconvinced that our universe shows evidence of intelligence behind the design.

Comment #10396

Posted by Tom Curtis on November 17, 2004 5:45 PM (e)

Jan:

What is Lee Smolin’s theory of evolving universes?

Is it science?

Can you refute it?

Comment #10398

Posted by Jim Harrison on November 17, 2004 7:14 PM (e)

What’s indisputable is that a sufficiently motivated believer can represent any set of physical facts as evidence for a creative intelligence just as an attorney can figure out a defense for any criminal if he’s paid enough. In either case, the conclusion comes first and the arguments are cobbled together afterwards. Meanwhile, the characteristics of the physical world that argue against design are seldom mentioned, especially the fantastic inefficiency of evolution and the awkward fact that the universe is mostly a frigid and pitch black vacuum. If there’s a creator, he didn’t do very damned much creating and he took his own sweet time doing it. If I were a believer with a sense of shame, I’d avoid natural theology and try to defend my faith on some other basis such as the reasons of the heart or even Neoplatonic mysticism.

Comment #10399

Posted by Jan on November 17, 2004 7:18 PM (e)

Tom, I am not a physicist or a scientist. I do, however, recognize intelligence (or the lack of it) when I encounter it.

Comment #10403

Posted by Jan on November 17, 2004 8:33 PM (e)

Jim, I never realize that you thought I entered this discussion with an idea that I needed to or was trying to defend my faith. I entered the discussion to simply remind those who might have lost sight of what the first amendment actually says and that being:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

No one was more surprised than I with the direction this discussion has taken. I made a suggestion that mentioning the name of God in a classroom is not forbidden by our constitution and it made a lot of people out there very furious as did the mention that our universe itself shows forth evidence of an intelligent design. If creation and/or intelligent design are ridiculous notions and so easily disproven, then one would not expect such outrage.

Comment #10405

Posted by johnsmith on November 17, 2004 9:14 PM (e)

Should our school systems be governed by religious zealots, who deliberately misrepresent the foundations of science to protect their myopic view of the world?

Should our school systems be governed by the left-wing self-appointed zeitgeist of the scientific community, who would impose their own bounds on philosophical and spiritual debate? Those who would disregard potential communal benefits arising from the practice of religion.

Religious fundamentalists will gladly adopt ideas such as “Intelligent Design”, to refute scientific theories that conflict with their understanding of the world, and their hold on reality. The blow-hards of the scientific community actively invite debate on matters such as “Intelligent Design” (and other philosophical arguments), and tailor their arguments to address the fundamentalists*. In skewing the debate toward the opinion of the uninformed and disconnected minority, these scientists hope to discredit, through association, those religious practitioners who have a more germane and informed view on these issues. This, as a means to undermine the true value of a moderate religious education, and those individuals who would have their children receive it.

Fortunately, the populous as a whole seems to understand that a balance can and should be struck between these warring, self-serving groups.

*footnote - see many of the opinions expressed on this site

Comment #10408

Posted by Great White Wonder on November 17, 2004 9:27 PM (e)

Could Jan possible be one of those dissembling CECCs with a sensitive little chip on his shoulder?

He writes

I made a suggestion that mentioning the name of God in a classroom is not forbidden by our constitution

Is that what you said? That’s merely beating a silly strawman. No one here disagrees. But I clearly remember you defending the teaching of a bogus religiously motivated pseudoscientific “theory” in public school classrooms. And I sort of remember that your argument began with something along the lines of …

The liberal, socialist, secular, usually atheistic agenda that is being promoted in our government schools has convinced a generation of people that the first amendment will not allow the name of God to be voiced in public schools …

… which is false and, yes, I think I can smell the kool-aid on your breath.

In fact, if anyone has “convinced a generation of people” what you claim, it is the conservative evangelical Christians with their incessant whining and crying about being “persecuted” whenever they are told they cannot use Federal employees to preach on their behalf. You’d think it would be enough that our congressmen and women and President are continually evoking the Christian deity … but no. Some greedy power-hungry bastards are never satisfied.

If creation and/or intelligent design are ridiculous notions and so easily disproven, then one would not expect such outrage.

Unless of course the “outrage” is really just frustration from explaining simple concepts such as “honesty” to script-reading fact-ignoring hypocrites that seek to propogate their religious beliefs via the public school system. In that case, the reaction would hardly be unexpected.

Comment #10409

Posted by johnsmith on November 17, 2004 9:31 PM (e)

Re Jay Boil and your comment:

“…The evolution vs. creationist debate is (in my opinion) all about politics, religion and perceptions of morality … not to mention a strange American fixation…”

I agree 100%.

Comment #10410

Posted by Great White Wonder on November 17, 2004 9:33 PM (e)

johnsmith writes

In skewing the debate toward the opinion of the uninformed and disconnected minority, these scientists hope to discredit, through association, those religious practitioners who have a more germane and informed view on these issues. This, as a means to undermine the true value of a moderate religious education, and those individuals who would have their children receive it.

Excuse me for asking but, according to your “balanced” view, where exactly are the children of these “german and informed” individuals supposed to receive their “moderate religious education”?

Comment #10412

Posted by Tom Curtis on November 17, 2004 10:11 PM (e)

Tom, I am not a physicist or a scientist. I do, however, recognize intelligence (or the lack of it) when I encounter it.

From this I take it you know nothing of Smolin, whose theory explains “fine tuning” in an entirely naturalistic manner. His is just one of several that does so. How then can you know that “fine tuning” is a result of the activity of a supernatural being if you haven’t checked out the alternatives that explain the data equally well?

Comment #10415

Posted by Salvador T. Cordova on November 18, 2004 12:53 AM (e)

Bob asked:


Thanks for the clarification, Salvador. One other question - what exactly are those theories you mentioned that you’re keeping out of discussion. I wasn’t aware that any existed.”

Answer: Creationism, particularly Young Earth Creationism (YEC). It may not be legal to teach YEC, so it may be a moot point anyway.

YEC has testable hypotheses. For example, some empirical research is very consistent with Eve living 6,500 years ago. There are also testable hypotheses in geology. It’s early in the game, but I think YEC is viable scientific theory…

I was an Old-Earth Darwinist, but my mind changed as time passed. I’m not alone. At least 2 publicly declared YEC biologists (Gordon Wilson and Timothy Standish) are from my school, George Mason University (GMU). Yet this is the same school where Harold Morowitz who testified in McLean vs Arkansas now teaches. 3 professors, including 1 PhD MIT in physics from my school publicly rejected the Big Bang. There are creationists in various science faculty postions as well. I suspect the founder of the bio-informatics department was a creationist. This is a modest secular school with 2 Nobel Laureates in economics….

Also, amazingly, YECs have Kurt Wise who works with Gordon Wilson (GMU class of 2003) on Baraminology. Wise was PhD student under Stephen J. Gould.

I say all this to point out that educated individuals can disagree with mainstream theories. We have educated biologists, physicists, and geologists who are YECs. The fact YEC has religious implications is the reason it’s rejected with such emotion. But as a scientific theory, it’s empirical backing is better established than it is given credit for.

However, unless we have first rate teachers teaching YEC honestly and fairly in the high schools, I’d rather not have it taught. I don’t trust that NEA tearchers will teach YEC correctly. So YEC is best left undiscussed in the high school for now. That’s not to say educated YECs cant’t defend their theories before scientists.

See:
http://www.arn.org/ubb/ultimatebb.php?ubb=get_topic;f=13;t=001264

Salvador

Comment #10416

Posted by jay boilswater on November 18, 2004 2:25 AM (e)

Salvador wrote:
“YEC has testable hypotheses. For example, some empirical research is very consistent with Eve living 6,500 years ago. There are also testable hypotheses in geology. It’s early in the game, but I think YEC is viable scientific theory … “

Oh the shame, the ignorance and the shame.

Comment #10420

Posted by Neil Johnson on November 18, 2004 10:30 AM (e)

Salvador wrote:

The fact YEC has religious implications is the reason it’s rejected with such emotion.  But as a scientific theory, it’s empirical backing is better established than it is given credit for.

Please specify some of this empirical backing.

Comment #10421

Posted by Bob Maurus on November 18, 2004 1:27 PM (e)

Sorry, Jan - your “evidence” for design is underwhelming at best, and consists of nothing more than unsupported conjecture and arguments from incredulity. Your position boils down to, “I can’t accept that it was a natural process, therefore it was designed.”

The fine tuning argument you trot out is a perfect example of “Lookingback” - We’re here because we were designed and we know we were designed because we’re here. Everything had to be just so for us to be here and it’s exactly that way and that proves that it was intentional. What utter nonsense.

I can look backwards and “prove” that any event you care to mention was intelligently planned and designed. It had to have been, right? How else could every little detail have fallen into place so perfectly? Simple answer- it didn’t.

We’re here as a consequence of a series of events, which we must assume were natural events since we have zero evidence for supernatural events. Feel free to try again, but please do try a little harder. Being subjective, Faith does not qualify as objective evidence.

Comment #10423

Posted by Great White Wonder on November 18, 2004 1:33 PM (e)

Salvador brags

We have educated biologists, physicists, and geologists who are YECs.

Salvador, you should team up with the “educated” biologists, physicists and geologists who believe in extra-sensory perception, poltergeists, and Sasquatch. Your army of “educated” bullshite-loving rubes would be that much bigger – and that much more powerful!

You might also want to include in your group the “educated” biologists, physicists and geologists who are addicted to internet porn, alcohol and/or drugs. That will make your meetings a lot more fun to attend.

Comment #10424

Posted by Salvador T. Cordova on November 18, 2004 1:39 PM (e)

Neil Johnson Asked:

“Please specify some of this empirical backing.”

Evidence of Adam and Eve:

1. They existed. See work by world’s foremost Darwinist Geneticist Bryan Sykes:

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0393323145/qid=1100804957/sr=8-2/ref=pd_csp_2/104-4003088-9185510?v=glance&s=books&n=507846

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0393058964/qid=1100804983/sr=1-2/ref=sr_1_2/104-4003088-9185510?v=glance&s=books

2. Eve existed recently:

The original estimates placing Eve at 150,000 years ago are not consistent with the best empirical evidence. The best empirical evidence places her at 6,500 years ago:

See one of the Top Yec theorists:

http://www.smartaxes.com/dna_mutation.html

I have often felt that Darwinian evolution can’t achieve large increases in complexity because selection favors simplicity. If higher taxa had been around for millions of years, they should be long extinct. Bryan Sykes says the human race will go extinct in 125,000 years. Even if he’s off by a factor of 10, then one wonders why we’re even around in the first place. Geneticist Crow has expressed similar concerns. Those facts are more consistent with Special Creation and the Fall of Man than Darwinian Evolution.

So, I reiterate, I don’t want creationism taught in Public Schools at Dover yet. In no way does that mean YEC theorists are not able to defend their scientific beliefs.

Salvador

Comment #10430

Posted by johnsmith on November 18, 2004 3:12 PM (e)

Re. Bob’s response to Jan

So too is your argument less than compelling, unsubstantiated, and as a response typical of the general opinion offered by your kind, hypocritical.

I suspect you’re highly critical of a fundamentalist who dismisses evolution entirely, because some of the questions pertaining to the theory remain unanswered, and intractable from a scientific perperspective.

With regard to these questions, some, like Jan, have adopted a rationale based on “intelligent design”, rather than on “natural law” or a “natural progression” that has yet to be elucidated scientifically.

You, dismiss Jan’s ideas because they’re based on subjective reasoning, while failing to understand that with regard to these issues – so are yours!

“ … I can look backwards and “prove” that any event you care to mention was intelligently planned and designed. It had to have been, right? How else could every little detail have fallen into place so perfectly? … “

Wow, who could counter that claim?

“ … Feel free to try again, but please do try a little harder … “

Likewise

Comment #10433

Posted by Jon Fleming on November 18, 2004 4:10 PM (e)

See one of the Top Yec theorists:

http://www.smartaxes.com/dna_mutation.html…

I origianlly burst our laughing … but then I realiazed that Salvador is right. Sean Pitman is one of the top YEC theorists, perhaps even the top YEC theorist. With effort he might work his way up to college udergraduate level biology some day.

Comment #10434

Posted by Great White Wonder on November 18, 2004 4:11 PM (e)

You, dismiss Jan’s ideas because they’re based on subjective reasoning, while failing to understand that with regard to these issues – so are yours!

Topic 1: DNA exists.

Is that a subjective or objective observation, johnsmith?

Topic 2: Living organisms reproduce themselves but not perfectly.

Is that a subjective or objective observation, johnsmith?

Topic 3: The next time it rains, if you carry an open umbrella over your head, it will keep your head drier than it would be if you weren’t carrying an umbrella.

Is that a subjective or objective observation, johnsmith?

Comment #10436

Posted by Dagobert Steinitz on November 18, 2004 5:01 PM (e)

Jan’s analysis is subjective, and most of evolutionary biology is objective. But the important difference is that Jan’s analysis (or at least the desire to have it preached in front of a classroom) is informed by religion, and evolutionary biology is informed by a scientific methodology.

Subjectivity is why Jan’s viewpoint isn’t scientific. Religiosity is why it is verboten for teaching as fact in the classroom.

Comment #10437

Posted by Flint on November 18, 2004 5:04 PM (e)

GWW:

Hey, you know that’s not far. You’re nearly asking that johnsmith actually *know* something, beyond how to pontificate piously. I don’t know how far you’ll get, since johnsmith claims that science has yet to produce any evidence scientifically!

Comment #10438

Posted by Bob Maurus on November 18, 2004 5:13 PM (e)

Johnsmith,

Yes, some of the questions pertaining to the mechanisms of evolution remain unanswered, and those answers are slowly being puzzled out through continuing research and discoveries. On the other hand, ALL of the questions pertaining to intelligent design are being ignored by IDists, who have yet to even present a credible hypothesis, let alone a Theory.

I’m critical of a mindset which rejects out of hand hundreds of years of research and a major body of multi-discipline physical evidence of natural phenomena, in favor of an appeal to supernatural entities and causes. Such a rationale seems less than rational.

“Wow, who could counter that claim?” Precisely - and that’s why Jan’s or anyone else’s fine-tuning arguments are utter nonsense. The fact that we are here proves only that - we’re here. Lay out an objectively reasoned case for any other conclusion.

We have hard evidence for the existence of one “intelligent designer” - humans, who are responsible for every single “CSI” exhibiting object whose origin is known which, for all practical purposes, is all of them. ID’s method of “proof” would have us then claim, based on that evidence, that humans are therefore responsible for all known biological organisms and the obviously complex universe. Is that what passes for compelling argument in your mind?

“Subjective reasoning” as a concept sounds suspiciously like an oxymoron to me. I do not subscribe to the notion that Faith trumps Science. Feel free to try again, but please do try a little harder.

Comment #10443

Posted by Salvador T. Cordova on November 19, 2004 9:53 AM (e)

jon fleming wrote:

I origianlly burst our laughing … but then I realiazed that Salvador is right. Sean Pitman is one of the top YEC theorists, perhaps even the top YEC theorist. With effort he might work his way up to college udergraduate level biology some day.

FYI: the initials of M.D. after a person’s name indicate they are a medical doctor. :-)
Those initials were clearly indicated in the byline of the web article I linked to. Being the helpful person that I am by nature, let me attempt enlighten jon fleming on some things:

1. Pitman has M.D. written after his name
2. that means he is a medical doctor
3. medical doctors have a good knowledge of undergraduate level biology :-)

I personally would rate Walter Brown, PhD MIT, professor of engineering and physics, as the Top YEC of today. A.E. Wilder-Smith Oxford grad with 3 PhDs in Chemistry and Pharmacology, a former Nato General, I would rate the top YEC of the previous generation. Wilder-Smith was so respected he was sought after to give the Huxley Memorial lecture, that’s right, a creationist, gave the Huxley Memorial lecture. LOL! Us YECs aren’t all like (ugh, gag, choke) Dr. Dino Hovind.

It’s comments like jon fleming’s which help motivate IDists to fight Darwinism in places like Dover and motivate the electorate to elect creationists to public office. With inspirational comments like jon fleming’s, I expect in the near future, there will be more school districts mandating the teaching of creationism, ahem, I mean Intelligent Design.

Comment #10445

Posted by RBH on November 19, 2004 1:52 PM (e)

Salvador wrote

3. medical doctors have a good knowledge of undergraduate level biology :-)

I taught in an excellent private college for 20 years, and had any number of pre-med students in various classes. Very very few of them took any evolutionary biology. If they took advanced biology at all they tended to focus on microbiology. Biology is a large and varied discipline, and a few (maybe as few as just an intro course) undergrad courses are a bare introduction to anything resembling a professional level of knowledge. The minimum requirement for admission to, say, the Mayo Medical School is just one year of undergraduate biology. That’s an introductory course, folks, and that’s all that’s required. M.D. does not stand for “minor deity.”

RBH

Comment #10448

Posted by Jon Fleming on November 19, 2004 3:20 PM (e)

FYI: the initials of M.D. after a person’s name indicate they are a medical doctor. :-)

I’m aware of Dr. Pitman’s credentials … unfortunately, I am far more aware of his capabilities and knowledge than you are.

I personally would rate Walter Brown, PhD MIT, professor of engineering and physics, as the Top YEC of today.

Goes to show ya that a fool can get through MIT. (As an MSME from MIT, I get to say things like that). It’s kinda sad to see someone totally ignorant of biology and geology get picked as “the Top YEC of today”.

Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. Matthew 7:20.

Comment #10449

Posted by Jon Fleming on November 19, 2004 3:23 PM (e)

It’s comments like jon fleming’s which help motivate IDists to fight Darwinism in places like Dover and motivate the electorate to elect creationists to public office.

Gee, interest in the truth and advancing science don’t figure into it? Well, I knew that already.

With inspirational comments like jon fleming’s, I expect in the near future, there will be more school districts mandating the teaching of creationism, ahem, I mean Intelligent Design.

Not inspirational, just pointing out how pathetic your “one of the Top Yec theorists” is.

Comment #10464

Posted by Salvador T. Cordova on November 20, 2004 7:36 AM (e)

jon fleming wrote:

Gee, interest in the truth and advancing science don’t figure into it? Well, I knew that already.

Keep up the good work, that’s another inspirational misrepresentation. IDists believe their position represents truth, they are highly motivated to see the truth taught.

They are highly interested to see the the icons of evolution exposed for the fallacies that they are. At the end of an ID presentation at Jason Rosenhouse’s school last month, a biology junior inquired about my hypothesis that undirected abiogenesis is impossible. She said, “what about Urey-Miller?”

I asked what chemistry courses had she taken. She replied, “general chemistry, organic, bio-chemistry…”. I said Urey-Miller is fallacious. The mixtures were racemic, plus there was no mechanism to polymerize the monomers with exclusive alpha-peptide bonds….. Should have seen the look on her face, because of her knoweledge in these fields, she realized quickly which side had been playing fast and loose with empirical facts. Similar story when we discussed fallacious homologies.

And in nearby UVa, Paul Gross school, there is an IDEA chapter there. Grad students in biochemistry and physics and molecular genetics. They know the case for evolution is promoted with fallacious arguments. And they are only more motivated to hold their position because their classmates are unable to defend Darwinian evolution, and they know that a few biology and medical faculty are creationists. One IDEA biochem grad student said, “my classmates will shy away from a head to head debate, they know their case rests on a house of cards.”

See:
http://www.ideacenter.org/contentmgr/showdetails.php/id/1244

Urey-Miller, fallacious homologies – that’s the kind of junk that needs to be purged from science education, yet I’m agast that such beliefs persists into the junior year of college biology majors.

Oh, and here is the worst icon of all: “descent with modification under Darwinian evolution automatically generates hierarchical molecular taxonomies over hundreds of millions of years”, thus the the hierarchical patterns confirm Darwinian evolution. Hierachical patterns may emerge over the short term, but Darwinian evolution will erase them in the long term. Molecular hierarchies contradict Darwinian evolution, despite the proclamations of Douglas Theobold. See:
http://www.arn.org/boards/ubb-get_topic-f-13-t-001496.html

Perhaps in Dover they should cover the history of how Darwinian evolution progressed in the scientific world on fallacious suppositions and how it continues to progress on fallacious suppositions.

Comment #10468

Posted by Jon Fleming on November 20, 2004 8:33 AM (e)

a biology junior inquired about my hypothesis that undirected abiogenesis is impossible. She said, “what about Urey-Miller?”

I note that your response was a merely a criticism of a real scientific experiment, not an attempt support of your claim. Urey-Miller indicated that undirected abiogenesis may be possible, but no criticism of it can support your claim of the impossibility of such. It’s a logical impossibility.

Grad students in biochemistry and physics and molecular genetics. They know the case for evolution is promoted with fallacious arguments.

Appeal to authority, and pretty pathetic authority at that.

Hierachical patterns may emerge over the short term, but Darwinian evolution will erase them in the long term.

Your and ReMine’s unsupported/disproved fantasies are not evidence.

Comment #10473

Posted by johnsmith on November 20, 2004 2:02 PM (e)

Newton said in Principia:

“The most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion on an intelligent and powerful Being.”

Einstein once said:

“Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.”

Where would these two have stood in the face of “overwhelming objective evidence in favor of evolution” offered by modern molecular biology? Who knows, but on the question of ID, I put more stock in quotes from these two gentlemen, than in the offerings of shiteheads like GWW and his “rubes”.

Comment #10474

Posted by Bob Maurus on November 20, 2004 2:12 PM (e)

johnsmith,

What the hell is a “shitehead”? Does it have anything to do with Iraq?

Not sure who you’re responding to, but was that your evidence?

Comment #10475

Posted by Jim Harrison on November 20, 2004 3:06 PM (e)

Zillionth time it’s been pointed out, but….

Einstein’s God is the God of Spinoza, Deus sive Natura. Quoting Einstein to bolster traditional theism is either dishonest or ignorant.

Comment #10480

Posted by johnsmith on November 21, 2004 12:02 AM (e)

Bob:

johnsmith,

What the hell is a “shitehead”? Does it have anything to do with Iraq?

Not sure who you’re responding to, but was that your evidence?

I think it’s obvious, Bob, what I meant by “shitehead”. I was merely responding to GWW in a manner she responds to others (… and I should add that I find her posts to be hilarious and enjoyable to read).

Bob - I didn’t respond to your last post because I felt we were arguing different issues.

For the record, I believe in the theory of evolution. “What’s true in yeast is true in humans” is a principle that I accept and has been established by modern cellular and molecular biology. With regards to the debate on the origins of life/ID, I don’t think that science has anything compelling to offer on this – other contributors to this site seem to agree. So, on this philosophical issue, why should I accept censorship of those who would argue in favor of ID?

As one who is religious, let me add that I believe that two defining characteristics of humans are intelligence and inquisitiveness. I would therefore never adhere to a doctrine that would explicitly or implicitly seek to suppress these characteristics. Your view, I believe, as expressed in the following statement:

I’m critical of a mindset which rejects out of hand hundreds of years of research and a major body of multi-discipline physical evidence of natural phenomena, in favor of an appeal to supernatural entities and causes

is shaped by a general ignorance of religion, and may be the result of overexposure to the battle in the United States between religious fundamentalists and left-wing elitists.

Bob, you stated earlier that:

” … Yes, some of the questions pertaining to the mechanisms of evolution remain unanswered, and those answers are slowly being puzzled out through continuing research and discoveries … “

Is that your general understanding of how science works; scientists chipping away, bit by bit, slowly getting to the truth? I respectfully point out again, that this view may be a bit naive, and is not easily supported.

Have you heard of Kuhn’s: The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Kuhn’s treatise on science might give you pause to rethink. I won’t try to rehash all of his ideas (it’d be better to read the book), but one interesting point that I can’t help but mention, is that he believed generally, that scientists are not objective and independent thinkers.

As you can imagine, that point hasn’t been openly embraced by many scientists - sometimes the truth hurts!

More information on Kuhn can be found at:

http://www.emory.edu/EDUCATION/mfp/Kuhnsnap.html

Comment #10481

Posted by johnsmith on November 21, 2004 12:07 AM (e)

Bob:

johnsmith,

What the hell is a “shitehead”? Does it have anything to do with Iraq?

Not sure who you’re responding to, but was that your evidence?

I think it’s obvious, Bob, what I meant by “shitehead”. I was merely responding to GWW in a manner she responds to others (… and I should add that I find her posts to be hilarious and enjoyable to read).

Bob - I didn’t respond to your last post because I felt we were arguing different issues.

For the record, I believe in the theory of evolution. “What’s true in yeast is true in humans” is a principle that I accept and has been established by modern cellular and molecular biology. With regards to the debate on the origins of life/ID, I don’t think that science has anything compelling to offer on this – other contributors to this site seem to agree. So, on this philosophical issue, why should I accept censorship of those who would argue in favor of ID?

As one who is religious, let me add that I believe that two defining characteristics of humans are intelligence and inquisitiveness. I would therefore never adhere to a doctrine that would explicitly or implicitly seek to suppress these characteristics. Your view, I believe, as expressed in the following statement:

I’m critical of a mindset which rejects out of hand hundreds of years of research and a major body of multi-discipline physical evidence of natural phenomena, in favor of an appeal to supernatural entities and causes

is shaped by a general ignorance of religion, and may be the result of overexposure to the battle in the United States between religious fundamentalists and left-wing elitists.

Bob, you stated earlier that:

” … Yes, some of the questions pertaining to the mechanisms of evolution remain unanswered, and those answers are slowly being puzzled out through continuing research and discoveries … “

Is that your general understanding of how science works; scientists chipping away, bit by bit, slowly getting to the truth? I respectfully point out again, that this view may be a bit naive, and is not easily supported.

Have you heard of Kuhn’s: The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Kuhn’s treatise on science might give you pause to rethink. I won’t try to rehash all of his ideas (it’d be better to read the book), but one interesting point that I can’t help but mention, is that he believed generally, that scientists are not objective and independent thinkers.

As you can imagine, that point hasn’t been openly embraced by many scientists - sometimes the truth hurts!

More information on Kuhn can be found at:

http://www.emory.edu/EDUCATION/mfp/Kuhnsnap.html

Comment #10488

Posted by Wesley R. Elsberry on November 21, 2004 10:47 AM (e)

johnsmith,

Nice bit of condescension on matters Kuhnian…

However, I can’t help but notice that when it comes to scientific matters, there’s over two centuries of utter failure on the part of Paleyists to contribute anything that would be a positive support for any Paleyist hypothesis. Or, for that matter, any statement of a Paleyist (or neo-Paleyist) scientific hypothesis. That’s true whether you’re a Kuhnian or prefer some other flavor of philosophy of science. I seem to have heard that the truth hurts sometimes…

But if all one has to work with is digression, Kuhn makes for a good one.

Comment #10489

Posted by Salvador T. Cordova on November 21, 2004 11:10 AM (e)

Jan,

I’d like to respond to something Tom Curtis wrote:

From this I take it you know nothing of Smolin, whose theory explains “fine tuning” in an entirely naturalistic manner.

Smolin offers a speculation, it is an untestable unprovable speculation, and weakly supported at that! It thus is nothing more than a metphysical hope that a SuperIntellect (as Hoyle suggested) doesn’t exist.

If they’re going to teach in Intelligent Design at Dover (which the DI and myself have reservations about), we should do it right and not halfway. For starters:

Hoyle somewhat inspired the search of the SuperIntellect. It has been pursued by other cosmologists like John Barrow and Frank Tipler. They believe God is a reasonable deduction from the Schrodinger Wave Equation, as do I.

Every physical system is fully actualized by an observer outside the system. The cosmos is a physical system, therefore an All-Powerful, All-Knowing, non-material Intelligence outside the cosmos is actualizing physical reality. That is a controversial, but natural deduction from the laws of physics alone, with no appeal to religious texts.

Tipler writes:

I am as surprised as the reader. When I began my career as a cosmologist some twenty years ago, I was a convinced atheist. I never in my wildest dreams imagined that one day I would be writing a book purporting to show that the central claims of Judeo-Christian theology are in fact true, that these claims are straight-forward deductions of the laws of physics as we now understand them. I have been forced into these conclusions by the inexorable logic of my own special branch of physics.

– Tipler from the opening of his book, Physics of Immortality

and Morowitz, who teaches at my school George Mason University, who also testified against the Creationists in McLean vs. Arkansas 21 years ago wrote in 2002:

Emergence of Everything:

This book has proceeded with two agendas: to study emergence by examining a number of examples, and to see for the nature and operation of God in the emergent universe. We thus have reviewed in a very general way a series of novelties from the Big Bang to the Spirit. At each stage we have sought for underlying interactions, laws, and ways in which actual outcomes have been selected to form the complex world of the possible. The laws of physics and chemistry have been identified with the immanent God, a very impersonal God committed to a lawful universe. This is the nature of God posited by Spinoza, Bruno, and Einstein. The immanence is unknowable except through a study of the laws of nature. We study God’s immanence through science. I am sure that there are scientists and theologians who are uncomfortable with that statement but its truth seems undeniable…

Deep within the laws of physics and chemistry the universe is fit for life. This fitness we identify with God’s immanece….The present study of this fitness take place under the rubric of “design”

in Cosmic Joy, Mowowitze wrote:

from Cosmic Joy page 280:

What emerges from all this is the return of “mind” to all areas of scientific thought. This is good news from the point of view of all varieties of natural theology. For a universe where mind is a fundamental part of reality more easily makes contact with the mind of god than does a mindless world.

page 298:
Like Dyson and Henderson and Teilhard, I find it hard not to see design in a universe that works so well. Each new scientific discovery seems to reinforce that vision of design. As I like to say to my friends, the universe works much better than we have any right to expect.

Intelligent Design in Dover does not have to be creationist. It would be interesting to explore the Origin of Life reasearch by Morowitz, and then his deep fascination with MIND toward the latter part of his career. He was director of a research center deeply devoted to the study of Intelligence:

http://www.gmu.edu/news/gazette/9912/krasnow.html

Though my theology disagrees with Tipler and Morowitz’s idea of who the Intelligent Designer of the Cosmos is, one can see that Intelligent Design is a reasonable scientific position…..

Salvador

Comment #10490

Posted by Ed Darrell on November 21, 2004 3:06 PM (e)

Jan said:

For those of you who do not know, here is what the first amendment says:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

When a teacher tells her class that the universe appears to have an intelligent design, is that teacher establishing a religion? Of course not! The liberal, socialist, secular, usually atheistic agenda that is being promoted in our government schools has convinced a generation of people that the first amendment will not allow the name of God to be voiced in public schools, but that was never the intention of our founding fathers. Our founding fathers only intended that we not establish a national religion that we reguire our citizens to become affiliated with or that we not force them to worship any particular deity. If this error is not corrected soon, it is going to be too late to correct it.

Jan, I regret that you didn’t get a more careful response to your legal claim.

As Madison pointed out several times, the rights in what is now the First Amendment (it was the third amendment in the original series proposed) the rights enumerated there are not granted there – they existed within the people’s rights when the people wrote the Constitution, and they retained those rights because they did not delegate them to any arm of any government. The First Amendment restates them, and adds the kicker that Congress may not legislate against them.

For the purposes of what you propose, it means that Congress cannot pass a law empowering a teacher in a public school to espouse religion. That is beyond the power of Congress, and the religious belief rights remain with the people (and the kids in the class, of course – not the teacher, who is a government employee).

When a teacher claims that the universe is the product of an intelligence, upon what evidence does he base that claim? What paper published in what journal makes that claim? What was the test applied, and how could a kid duplicate the test?

If there is no such paper, no such journal, no such test and no such chance at duplication, then the statement is a statement of faith.

Teachers may not insist that any statement of faith they make is the way to believe. That right belongs to the kids. The teacher is not authorized to make such a statement of faith by state law in any state – and for good measure, each state constitution contains language similar to or stronger than the First Amendment.

The states may not pass laws authorizing statements of faith, by their own Constitutions, and by the law of the First Amendment, whose authority over the states was reiterated in the Civil War and the 14th Amendment.

Unless the statement the teacher makes is one based on science, in a science class, no teacher has the authority to make the claim that the universe is designed. He does not have that authority because the First Amendement, which you cited, denies Congress the power to grant that authority, and because that authority is expressly withheld from government in the U.S. Constitution and each of the state constitutions. Since there can be no law authorizing such a religious statement as you propose, it will always be illegal.

It is not the secularists who have convinced too-gullible Americans that a mere mention of God is forbidden in schools. In fact no secularist makes that claim. On the other hand, fear-mongers like Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, and D. James Kennedy regularly make such misstatements of fact. The only place you will hear that a mention of God is forbidden is in Christian media, from people who need to make you fearful in order to get you to send money, or to send posts railing against good science to semi-public blogs.

When Madison wrote the First Amendment, he intended to grant no less religious freedom than was already granted in each state charter – which is to say, absolute freedom from any state church, national or state. That was the point of Jefferson’s official proclamation to the Danbury Baptist, who had asked for federal intervention against Connecticut’s establishment of a state church. (Jefferson didn’t intervene, but pointed out that such an action on the part of a state was contrary to the Constitution.)

So when your hypothetical science teacher tells his students that some deity, or a little green man (if he sticks to the Discovery Institute dogma), is behind the creation of the universe, without science to back his claim, he is illegally attempting to establish religion by making an expressly religious statement.

I’d be pleased to provide you with the information you need to get the facts about the Constitution, about the science of evolution, and about the faith required for intelligent design, if you want to pursue the issue. And if you would be open to the concept that most of us Christians agree with that law and that science, I could provide you information that these stands are neither atheist nor socialist.

Comment #10492

Posted by Tom Curtis on November 21, 2004 4:56 PM (e)

johnsmith:

Have you heard of Kuhn’s: The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Kuhn’s treatise on science might give you pause to rethink. I won’t try to rehash all of his ideas (it’d be better to read the book), but one interesting point that I can’t help but mention, is that he believed generally, that scientists are not objective and independent thinkers.

It is true that individual scientists are not open and objective thinkers. They all have their individual foibles and metaphysical presupositions. It is also true that, due to extensive training, the extent to which this is true of scientists is far less than it is true of most others. What is most important, however, is that the individual foibles and presupositions of scientists are individual foibles and presupositions. Scientists disagree amongst each other extensively as regards to metaphysical presupositions, epistemological supositions, and preferences. When one scientist leans to heavily on a metaphysical presuposition, you can be sure another scientist will take exception - and eviscerate his argument. The consequence is that the consensus theory in any given field objective and free of presuposition for all intents and purposes. (This does not mean an individual scientists exposition of the consensus theory will be free of presupposition. Dawkins’ exposition of Darwinism, for example, is influenced by his atheism; just as Simon Conway Morris’ exposition is influenced by his Christianity.)

The upshot is that, unless compelling reasons can be given to the contrary, a person appealling to the “metaphysical presuppositions of scientists” as reason to ignore a particular theory it typically just taking a lazy way out of critically analysing their own presuppositions.

Comment #10493

Posted by Tom Curtis on November 21, 2004 5:38 PM (e)

Salvador:

Smolin offers a speculation, it is an untestable unprovable speculation, and weakly supported at that! It thus is nothing more than a metphysical hope that a SuperIntellect (as Hoyle suggested) doesn’t exist.

Allow for argument that Smolin’s speculation is “untestable unprovable … and weakly supported”. This places it in exactly the same boat as speculations about a supernatural creator fine tuning the universe for life. Thus, given the premises of the fine tuning argument, we have no more reason to believe in such a creator than we had before we examined those premises.

In fact, however, Smolin’s theory is testable (as is the fine tuning hypothesis). It can be determined, in principle, if the universe is more favourable for black hole creation than it is for life; or whether it is ideal for life though less than ideal for black hole creation. The former situation would favour Smolin’s hypothesis, the latter the fine tuning hypothesis. That we are not yet in a position to make such a determination means that any direct argument from “fine tuned” physical constants to the existence of a creator is simply an argument from ignorance. Any such argument that fails to mention non-supernaturalistic competitors is either an ignorant argument from ignorance - or dishonest.

Hoyle somewhat inspired the search of the SuperIntellect. It has been pursued by other cosmologists like John Barrow and Frank Tipler. They believe God is a reasonable deduction from the Schrodinger Wave Equation, as do I.

Every physical system is fully actualized by an observer outside the system. The cosmos is a physical system, therefore an All-Powerful, All-Knowing, non-material Intelligence outside the cosmos is actualizing physical reality. That is a controversial, but natural deduction from the laws of physics alone, with no appeal to religious texts.

This argument has at its base a thought experiment by Werner Heisenberg. In this thought experiment we imagine trying to determine the position of a particle. To do this we must bounce another particle of the first - but that imparts momentum to the first particle changing its momentum and position. By using smaller particles we can restrict this effect, but there is a limit to how much we can restrict it - as specified by the Heisenberg uncertainty principle.

In the Schrodinger equations, the wave function is the measure of our uncertainty of the position of a particle. Supposedly an “observation” colapses the wave function - but an “observation”, interpreted physically, is just sort of thing that occurs in Heisenberg’s original thought experiment - ie, the interaction between two particles.

Invoking God to collapse the wave function of the universe is simply allowing theological prefference to run ahead of your willingness to think straight.

Comment #10501

Posted by Steve on November 22, 2004 12:04 AM (e)

They’re so close, but not quite. The observation which collapses the wave function is made by Santa Claus. I think that’s a reasonable deduction from the Schrodinger Equation.

BTW, collapses of vectors in Hilbert space are done by the Easter Bunny, whose office is across the hall from Santa’s, in momentum space.

Comment #10513

Posted by Salvador T. Cordova on November 22, 2004 10:45 AM (e)

jon fleming wrote:

Your and ReMine’s unsupported/disproved fantasies are not evidence.

jon was referring to supposed support of evolutionary theory because of molecular taxonomies.

Perhaps Jon would care to state whether he believes hierarchical patterns in molecular taxonimies is an automatic consequence of Darwinian common descent with modification.

Hierarchies will exist in the short term, but not in the long term because of configurational entropy.

The supposed overwhelming molecular evidence of Darwinan evolution is actually devasting evidence against it. Few people realize this until they study the facts carefully. They just assume because a hierarchy is created in the short term (over a few generations) it will necessarily imply the hierarchy is sustained in the long term…..

So, I suggest jon or someone answer this question:
“Are hierachical patterns in molecular taxonomies an inevitable consequence of Darwinian descent with modification?”

Douglas Theobold sometimes posts to pandas thumb. I’d be curious to see if he would be so bold to keep asserting the fallacious argument that Darwinian evoltuion creates hierarchies because Darwinian evolution is a “self-replicating markov processes with branching”.

This is the kind of stuff that should be covered if ID is taught in Dover. A cursory explanation wouldn’t take but 1 or 2 lectures if done right, and it will be obvious the supposed support of Darwinism from molecular taxonomies is devasting evidence against Darwinism.

Salvador

Comment #10517

Posted by Ed Darrell on November 22, 2004 11:21 AM (e)

Salvador said:

This is the kind of stuff that should be covered if ID is taught in Dover. A cursory explanation wouldn’t take but 1 or 2 lectures if done right, and it will be obvious the supposed support of Darwinism from molecular taxonomies is devasting evidence against Darwinism.

Sure – if you propose a six-month course in Darwinian evolution, we could give two days to lecture on ID, accompanied by two days of lecture on how ID fails to be science at every turn.

But in a course that probably will run 10-days of evolution, to suggest 20% of the time for pseudo-science is pure nuts.

Creationism isn’t cut out for a world where conservatives push a law called “No Child Left Behind.”

Hmmm. Is there any world creationism IS cut out for?

Comment #10518

Posted by Ed Darrell on November 22, 2004 11:29 AM (e)

Mr. Sandefur said:

But in the end, this editorial still makes the “equal time” argument …

As a nation, as policy, we have abandoned the idea of equal time. That has led to the rise of the religious right, who now ask for equal time.

Sure. When the religious right brings back equal time with the FCC and politics, and religion, we’ll see that the religious right gets an equal say in front of a qualified forum of 8th grade students.

I’m sure Rush Limbaugh will be pleased to give equal time on his show, even to evolution.

(Don’t you love it when they beg for mercy under the standards they trashed just a moment before?)

Comment #10522

Posted by Ed Darrell on November 22, 2004 11:50 AM (e)

Mr. Sandefur said:

But in the end, this editorial still makes the “equal time” argument …

As a nation, as policy, we have abandoned the idea of equal time. That has led to the rise of the religious right, who now ask for equal time.

Sure. When the religious right brings back equal time with the FCC and politics, and religion, we’ll see that the religious right gets an equal say in front of a qualified forum of 8th grade students.

I’m sure Rush Limbaugh will be pleased to give equal time on his show, even to evolution.

(Don’t you love it when they beg for mercy under the standards they trashed just a moment before?)

Comment #10528

Posted by Great White Wonder on November 22, 2004 12:54 PM (e)

Ed asks

Creationism isn’t cut out for a world where conservatives push a law called “No Child Left Behind.”

Hmmm. Is there any world creationism IS cut out for?

Yeah Osama’s Talibanic Afghanistan. Remember what that was like?

Osama bin Laden is a creationist, just like Salvador. Of course Osama is also primarily a rational human being, just like Salvador.

The most important difference between Osama and Salvador? Osama is relatively honest.

Comment #10629

Posted by Rilke's Granddaughter on November 23, 2004 3:57 PM (e)

Sal, this

Perhaps Jon would care to state whether he believes hierarchical patterns in molecular taxonimies is an automatic consequence of Darwinian common descent with modification.

Hierarchies will exist in the short term, but not in the long term because of configurational entropy.

is far from a coherent position.

In what fashion will ‘configurational entropy’ eliminate our ability to make predictions on the basis of molecular hierarchies? You’re not confusing this with thermodynamics again, are you? The two are unrelated.

The supposed overwhelming molecular evidence of Darwinan evolution is actually devasting evidence against it. Few people realize this until they study the facts carefully. They just assume because a hierarchy is created in the short term (over a few generations) it will necessarily imply the hierarchy is sustained in the long term …..

And since you haven’t demonstrated this to be true, we should somehow take your word for it?

Do us a favor: show the mathematics behind your contention; the actual result patterns that your non-Darwinian mechanisms would entail.

Otherwise your remarks lack a constructive aspect.

Comment #10640

Posted by Jon Fleming on November 23, 2004 6:28 PM (e)

So, I suggest jon or someone answer this question:
“Are hierachical patterns in molecular taxonomies an inevitable consequence of Darwinian descent with modification?”

Irrelevant.

You’ve claimed that “configurational entropy”, whatever that is, will prevent nested heirarchies in the long term. Let’s see your math.

Comment #10817

Posted by Neil Johnson on November 28, 2004 4:57 PM (e)

Salvador,

I’m sorry I couldn’t respond to your posts #10424 and #10443 earlier; we are running three faculty searches and I have spent most of the last few days reading and re-reading CV’s ( I think I know some of the candidates better than my family at this point!)

In #10424 you listed two popularizations found on Amazon.com, both of which argue (as I recall) that there are particular commonalities to human ancestry, but refer to “Eve” in a metaphorical sense rather than the literal sense you indicated. The Web article by Pitman appears to argue much the same thing. But the nature of human commonality is not really the point: you did not attempt to address the actual question I posed about evidence for a young Earth. Even if you posit that humanity arrived here late last night, there is still a massive volume of evidence pointing to a vastly older Earth than that wished for by YECs’.

In #10443, you offered Walt Brown as a reliable YEC authority, which tells me (again!) that you haven’t been doing your homework. Brown’s hydroplate “theory” (sneer quotes mandatory here) doesn’t stand up even to a cursory inspection by a bright high-school student. Instead of trying to work out an alternative to plate tectonics, he has doodled up something for the Crackpot Hall of Fame, and claims that no mainstream geologist will debate him about it, a charge that is demonstrated as false here:

http://gondwanaresearch.com/hp/walt_brown.htm

So, once again, can you offer real evidence supprting a young Earth? Before trying to answer, feel free to browse www.talkorigins.org. It may help prevent you from launching any clay pigeons that I can shoot down from the hip.

Neil