Jack Krebs posted Entry 1680 on November 14, 2005 11:28 PM.
Trackback URL: http://www.pandasthumb.org/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.fcgi/1675

On a local discussion forum in Lawrence, Kansas today, a poster named “Conservativeman” wrote a nice succinct summary of the main arguments presented by the Intelligent Design advocates (IDists) at the Kansas “science” hearings last May, and of those arguments incessantly put forth by ID leader John Calvert.

It may be that I am being too repetitious in my posts here at the Panda’s thumb, making the same points over and over. However, I think these points may become critical in case the Kansas situation goes to court, so for me I think it’s worth my while (if not the readers) to try to get as clear of an understanding of the fundamental religious argument that is being made by the IDists in Kansas.

Conservativeman wrote,

The problem is that an “Evolution Only,” policy is not really scientific or constitutional. It is not scientific because it is officially biased rather than scientifically objective. Because it is biased, it is not religiously neutral. Evolution Only effectively requires our children to “know” that we come from a natural rather than an intelligent cause, that we are occurrences and not designs, and that we naturally arise without purpose from a purposeless process. It effectively teaches that no rational evidentiary basis exists for theistic beliefs. Evolution Only converts these scientific claims into dogmas that are the fundamental tenets of non-theistic religions and that directly contradict the fundamental tenets of theistic religions. Accordingly, in my opinion, Evolution Only is not “secular” or neutral. Rather it is an ideology that directly conflicts with the First Amendment rights of parents and students.

This argument is quite wrong in a number of fundamental and important ways – ways that may eventually be settled in a court case. I’d like to respond to these points a few lines at a time.

Conservativeman:

The problem is that an “Evolution Only,” policy is not really scientific or constitutional. It is not scientific because it is officially biased rather than scientifically objective.

By protesting “evolution only”, the IDists are really protesting that the theory of evolution is taught as solid, fundamental mainstream science; and that science is, as the good (and now rejected) Kansas science standards say, “the human activity of seeking natural explanations for what we observe in the world around us.” This is the definition of science the IDists have taken out because they want the possibility of supernatural explanations (design) to be considered as real science.

The theory of evolution is “biased” only in the sense that science itself is “biased”: science limits itself to explanations that are testable through empirical means. Science disentangled itself from metaphysical explanations about 500 years ago, a move that has proven to be quite successful. The only “bias” science has is a bias towards sticking to a method that has worked rather than resorting to a return to medieval modes of thinking.

Cman then writes,

Because it is biased, it is not religiously neutral. Evolution Only effectively requires our children to “know” that we come from a natural rather than an intelligent cause, that we are occurrences and not designs, and that we naturally arise without purpose from a purposeless process. It effectively teaches that no rational evidentiary basis exists for theistic beliefs.

This statement confuses scientific knowledge with metaphysical belief, and in doing so it creates a false dichotomy between that idea that something can be explained by natural causes and the idea that something was caused by God. Millions of Christians and other religious people do not accept this dichotomy because they believe that God acts through natural causes.

So when students are taught any scientific explanation (not just evolution), they are not being taught, explicitly or implicitly, that God wasn’t involved. Teaching the theory of evolution does not imply to students that they arose “without purpose from a purposeless process.”

This argument is the Wedge in action: if you are really for God you will reject science. However, this argument is proven false by the religious beliefs of millions who do not believe that causes are either natural or “designed,” but rather believe that both nature and God are involved because God acts through natural causes: many agree with St, Augustine that “nature is what God does.”

Conservativeman concludes by writing,

Evolution Only converts these scientific claims into dogmas that are the fundamental tenets of non-theistic religions and that directly contradict the fundamental tenets of theistic religions. Accordingly, in my opinion, Evolution Only is not “secular” or neutral. Rather it is an ideology that directly conflicts with the First Amendment rights of parents and students.

No. Science does not take a stand on these theological perspectives because science can’t. Science in general, nor the theory of evolution in particular, does not “contradict the fundamental tenets of theistic religions.” Science may contradict some people’s beliefs about the world: science stands strongly behind the claims, for instance, that the earth is over 4 billion years old and that all life is related through biological common descent. But science does not contradict the theistic beliefs of millions who accept the findings of science about the physical world and find those findings no threat to their beliefs about the spiritual world.

Conservativeman, and the ID movement in general, are really fighting philosophical materialism and atheism. They have made science, and evolution in particular, the target of this battle, but they are wrong to do so.

Conservativeman says that science is “an ideology that directly conflicts with the First Amendment rights of parents and students.”

This is the point that may eventually settled in the courts. My claim is that our school Board may well be in violation of the Establishment clause because they have based decisions about our science standards on the argument put forth here by Conservativeman: that science is atheistic. In doing so they have advanced a particular religious perspective (that it is either nature or God that acts) and rejected another religious perspective (that it is nature and God that acts.) In doing so, it is the Board that that has violated the First Amendment, not those who want to teach science while remaining neutral on theological issues.

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Comment #57500

Posted by Sir_Toejam on November 14, 2005 11:38 PM (e)

It is not scientific because it is officially biased rather than scientifically objective

anybody else see the problem with that?

Comment #57504

Posted by Sir_Toejam on November 15, 2005 12:04 AM (e)

My claim is that our school Board may well be in violation of the Establishment clause because they have based decisions about our science standards on the argument put forth here by Conservativeman: that science is atheistic

Perhaps it would be good to define atheism?

How could the lack of application of religious belief be a religion?

I certaintly can’t recall having seen any atheist churches lately.

I don’t agree that an atheist promotes an anti-religious perspective.

correct me if i’m off base here, but saying that doing science “promotes” atheism ignores how the scientific method works to begin with.

as has been pointed out MANY times, there are pleny of practicing scientists that are also religious.

science is taugt as a method, not a philosophy, regardless of the sloppy use of terms sometimes.

I’ve always viewed it as merely the instruction in how to use a set of tools, like one would instruct a mechanic in how to use a set of socket wrenches.

I guess I am failing to see the logic behind the argument that science negates religion, both in the constitutional sense mentioned and in any more esoteric sense.

Comment #57505

Posted by Anton Mates on November 15, 2005 12:11 AM (e)

Evolution Only effectively requires our children to “know” that we come from a natural rather than an intelligent cause, that we are occurrences and not designs, and that we naturally arise without purpose from a purposeless process. It effectively teaches that no rational evidentiary basis exists for theistic beliefs.

Which implies that there exists no evidence for God aside from the origin of humanity.

I dunno whether Conservativeman is a theist or not, but surely most Christians would disagree strenuously with that? I mean, yes, they value faith and all, but as Matt Young says, virtually every religion claims their truths have some detectable consequences. The healing power of prayer, personal mystic experiences, historical evidence for religious figures, stuff like that. How many theists openly reject all of that and instead say they believe in God purely because of the design argument as applied to homo sapiens?

Comment #57506

Posted by Hyperion on November 15, 2005 12:12 AM (e)

I wouldn’t be concerned about your posts here being repetitious. There is nothing wrong with repeating a point when it is relevent and valid.

Besides, in politics it often pays to be repetitious. Keep up the good work out there in the trenches.

Comment #57507

Posted by morbius on November 15, 2005 12:17 AM (e)

The problem is that an “Evolution Only,” policy is not really scientific or constitutional.

This is tendentious question begging right off the top. There is no “evolution only” policy, there’s a “science only” policy, which of course is both scientific and constitutional. Which reduces cman’s argument to nothing. All that remains is the oh so familiar question of whether ID is science.

Comment #57508

Posted by Karen on November 15, 2005 12:19 AM (e)

Amen. A great piece! (Not that it will spare you from future smitings from the fundies)

Comment #57509

Posted by Sir_Toejam on November 15, 2005 12:20 AM (e)

How many theists openly reject all of that and instead say they believe in God purely because of the design argument as applied to homo sapiens

perhaps the whole argument arises from poor religious education to begin with?

is it illogical to assume that many parents have been lazy about instructing their own children in what constitutes their faith, and all they end up getting across basically boils down to a design argument?

Comment #57511

Posted by morbius on November 15, 2005 12:24 AM (e)

It is not scientific because it is officially biased rather than scientifically objective

anybody else see the problem with that?

Not me; if we were talking about a “Lysenckoism only” policy, he would have a point.

Comment #57512

Posted by Sir_Toejam on November 15, 2005 12:26 AM (e)

heh. yup.

Comment #57513

Posted by morbius on November 15, 2005 12:26 AM (e)

OTOH, STJ, you can color me slow. I guess you were referring to the Kansas board injecting their bias in place of science.

Comment #57515

Posted by morbius on November 15, 2005 12:28 AM (e)

Hey, STJ, give me time to reconsider before slapping me around with your snark, wouldja? :-)

Comment #57518

Posted by Pete Dunkelberg on November 15, 2005 12:37 AM (e)

Is this your best opposition?
‘Science only’ is what science class is for. All school subjects are supposed to be biased in favor of being correct. He wants some subjects to be deliberately incorrect to make him feel good.

Give him a clue: you don’t honor the creator by stubbornly refusing to believe the creation. If his religion is so bad that it has to be propped up by lying to children about science, he has a personal problem.

Comment #57522

Posted by Pete Dunkelberg on November 15, 2005 1:03 AM (e)

I see no correct sentences from Cman, other than the technicality that when he says at the end that X is his opinion - I suppose it is.
However, he starts with the claim that science is not “scientifically objective”. Since he is working from a false premise, all sort of nonsense follows. GIGO. His premise will not be supportable in court.

Comment #57523

Posted by Sir_Toejam on November 15, 2005 1:10 AM (e)

your reference to lysenkoism pretty much hit what i was aiming for.

the decision by any school board to teach science only in science class is exactly the opposite of the lysenkoist style of “official decisionmaking” that is implied by Conservativeman. In fact, if we had the exact reverse situation, that is we taught religion in science class, THEN he could more clearly argue there is no scientific basis for making that kind of policy decision. oh wait… that’s what we DO have now in Kansas.

an a side note, i think this relates right back to the argument we had with Balter about the “value” of teaching ID in high school science class.

maybe it’s time to track down the entire history of research into the optimal structure of science curricula in K-12? I’m pretty sure there exist several studies, but they were done a while back. I’m sure a quick glance at the national science standards would give references.

http://www.nsta.org/standards

I’ve only seen bits and pieces myself of actual research, lots of anecdotal evidence, and my own observations of what happens when you actually DO include religious discussion in science class (hint: it leads to mass confusion and eventual requests that the whole subject be dropped and we move on from just about every student, and it ends up wasting at least a whole day, if not more).

perhaps total overkill, but if a few cites supporting the reasons for teaching science only in science class could be shown to “conservativeman”, or just attached to discussions of this nature on a regular basis, it could only help.

Comment #57528

Posted by pipilangstrumpf on November 15, 2005 1:29 AM (e)

Sometimes I wonder if sites such as this one haven’t done more escalate the culture wars and promote ID than Behe and Dembski between them could hope to accomplish in several lifetimes. Why the bother, folks? This is America, where if science has instrumental social value it is to generate a profit or competitive advantage internationally. Once it becomes obvious ID cannot produce any useful results investment will flee in the opposite direction and its propaganda victories become strategic disasters – for religion as well as ID. And if you’re one of those anxious Christians that resents naturalism or materialism or other nonsensism how will you feel then? ID is your worst enemy. It will only serve to strengthen the intellectual status of evolution. Bad ideas are good that way.

Comment #57530

Posted by Sir_Toejam on November 15, 2005 1:38 AM (e)

Why the bother, folks? This is America, where if science has instrumental social value it is to generate a profit or competitive advantage internationally. Once it becomes obvious ID cannot produce any useful results investment will flee in the opposite direction and its propaganda victories become strategic disasters – for religion as well as ID

leaving aside the rather ridiculous premise of your opening statement, the part of your argument quoted above is kind of negated by the numbers of school boards like that in Kansas and Dover that DID adopt such standards.

are you personally willing to suffer an entire class of students taught under such poor standards? would you sacrifice those kids educations cause it’s “no bother”?

Comment #57533

Posted by Registered User on November 15, 2005 1:51 AM (e)

Excellent post Jack.

And we should thank Conservativeman for reciting the script in such a concise manner.

The problem is that an “Evolution Only,” policy is not really scientific or constitutional. It is not scientific because it is officially biased rather than scientifically objective.

Indeed, decisions are made to teach the contemporary consensus understanding of various phenomena rather than present the pet “theories” of every crank walking the earth (e.g., AIDS deniers, holocaust deniers, evolution deniers, psychics, Talibani, etc.). The overwhelming consensus understanding of the history of life on earth is that life evolved. That is an objective fact. The overwhelming consensus of scientists is that “intelligent design” is creationist apologetics garbage that is utterly impotent as a scientific theory.

Because it is biased, it is not religiously neutral.

Teaching that life on earth evolved is not biased for or against religion, as described above. It’s biased only towards teaching the objective fact that the earth’s scientists understand that life on earth evolved, just as they understand that the sun goes around the earth and that you can’t measure the weight of a human soul. The bias reflects the interest that educators have in teaching children as much about what contemporary scientists understand as possible in the short time periods allotted. In contrast, introducing the religious claims of local parents and their preachers as “competing alternate theories” distorts reality in a way that is truly biased – biased against science, biased against the objective truth of what the current consensus of scientists is, and bias towards selected deistic religious beliefs.

Evolution Only effectively requires our children to “know” that we come from a natural rather than an intelligent cause, that we are occurrences and not designs, and that we naturally arise without purpose from a purposeless process.

Nope. “Evolution Only” merely asks that your children be exposed to the consensus understanding of scientists about how life on earth evolved, which is that life evolved without any detectable influence from a mysterious group of microbe-fetishizing alien beings.

Given the choice between lecturing kids in public school biology class about the mitochondrion and how it works, versus teaching kids that scientists can not rule out the possibility that mysterious alien beings might have created the universe, human beings, and all our memories “as is” ten minutes ago, I think the mitochondrion is more useful. At least, it’s more useful if we care about understanding and curing mitochondrial diseases.

It effectively teaches that no rational evidentiary basis exists for theistic beliefs.

Who can know what this guy means by “theistic belief”. Suffice it to say that “Evolution Only” doesn’t do what he claims anymore than teaching that bushes don’t talk undermines Christianity.

But the alleged lack of evidence for certain Bible-based beliefs would be a necessary and fun little controversy to explore in a Bible study class, I think. Namely, which Bible stories do we have evidentiary basis for and which ones are just too weird to believe? And how many different contradictions can we find in the Bible? Which religion allows you to have the most fun on earth and still live in paradise afterwards?

Evolution Only converts these scientific claims into dogmas that are the fundamental tenets of non-theistic religions and that directly contradict the fundamental tenets of theistic religions.

What in heck is a non-theistic religion? And news flash: the scientists can’t help it if someone’s religion has a “fundamental tenet” that either contradicts or has no relationship whatsoever to their consensus understanding of a phenomenon which they’ve collected data on for centuries. This is especially true on earth where the collected “fundamental tenets” of the world’s religions tend to evolve at least as fast as most living things.

Accordingly, in my opinion, Evolution Only is not “secular” or neutral. Rather it is an ideology that directly conflicts with the First Amendment rights of parents and students.

You’re entitled to your opinion, Conservativeman. Unfortunately for you, your arguments in support of your opinion are weak or incomprehensible. What’s most surprising is that you haven’t figured that out by now. Or perhaps you have and it doesn’t matter to you.

Comment #57534

Posted by morbius on November 15, 2005 1:52 AM (e)

However, he starts with the claim that science is not “scientifically objective”.

No, he didn’t start with that claim, he started with the claim that “Evolution only” policy is not really scientific. I noted above that the correct response is to point out that there is no such policy – any more than there’s a “Big Bang only” policy or a “Newtonian and Einsteinian and Quantum physics only” policy. Rather, there’s a “science only” policy, which is why evolution is included and creationism isn’t.

Comment #57539

Posted by Sir_Toejam on November 15, 2005 2:06 AM (e)

Given the choice between lecturing kids in public school biology class about the mitochondrion and how it works, versus teaching kids that scientists can not rule out the possibility that mysterious alien beings might have created the universe, human beings, and all our memories “as is” ten minutes ago, I think the mitochondrion is more useful. At least, it’s more useful if we care about understanding and curing mitochondrial diseases.

unfortunately, there are many who disagree with your quite reasonable choice, and would rather think it more important to teach that mousetraps are good examples of “irreducible complexity”.

the way the standards are now in Kansas, each school district can make their own choice as to what is important. I will be curious to see what choices they make, myself.

Comment #57541

Posted by Registered User on November 15, 2005 2:08 AM (e)

Sometimes I wonder if sites such as this one haven’t done more escalate the culture wars and promote ID than Behe and Dembski between them could hope to accomplish in several lifetimes. Why the bother, folks?

Personally, I have no problem with escalating the culture wars. The sooner we go head to head with the fundies on their issues, the better.

As to the possibility of this site promoting ID, that is absurd.

Yeah, from time to time you’ll get some clown popping up saying, “Oh, that guy morbius and Lenny Flank are the nastiest anti-religion bullies that’s why I’ll never be convinced that evolution is real.”

Don’t believe it. You can rest assured that thousands of people have learned from this site and others like it exactly why ID peddlers are disproportionately represented among the most pathetic and dishonest human beings on the planet.

And that will only increase. Even the world’s laziest journalists will figure it out eventually, when they get tired of everday people pointing out their lazy shilling.

Comment #57542

Posted by Sir_Toejam on November 15, 2005 2:08 AM (e)

What in heck is a non-theistic religion?

a non-theistic

Comment #57544

Posted by Sir_Toejam on November 15, 2005 2:11 AM (e)

Don’t believe it. You can rest assured that thousands of people have learned from this site and others like it exactly why ID peddlers are disproportionately represented among the most pathetic and dishonest human beings on the planet.

in support of the above, note the award on the front page.

Comment #57545

Posted by Registered User on November 15, 2005 2:17 AM (e)

there are many who disagree with your quite reasonable choice, and would rather think it more important to teach that mousetraps are good examples of “irreducible complexity”

Perhaps those who think that mousetraps are good examples of “irreducible complexity” would like to explain to me how they can know all the possible functions of a given protein.

Perhaps they could explain that to me over the phone.

You know, when I call them up and ask them about what it is they are teaching.

That’s after I hand out literature about Howard Ahmonsen and Rushdoony and the liars at the Discovery Institute to parents and kids at school board meetings, at student/parent open houses, and at the Burger King across the street from the school during lunch hour.

And I’ll just be getting started then.

Comment #57548

Posted by Sir_Toejam on November 15, 2005 2:33 AM (e)

go, man go!

Comment #57554

Posted by pipilangstrumpf on November 15, 2005 2:52 AM (e)

“are you personally willing to suffer an entire class of students taught under such poor standards?”

Oh come one, of all the useless crap that’s taught in high school and that high school students forget soon after (to their enormous credit) a lesson in ultimate origins in grade nine biology is at the bottom of my list of things that pose a danger to our precious children’s future. No one in this day and age interested in biology is going to be deprived or damaged by passing mention of theology somewhere in a high school in Piousville Kansas, nor someone interested in theology by passing mention – and that is all it is – of evolution. Let’s be real. An overwhelming number of people are not biologists, never meant to be biologists, and if they believe in evolution it’s just a cultural badge of merit that they wear because they certainly can’t defend it, a situation indistinguishable from not believing in it at all. I submit to you those people would have been better served in high school to learn car repair instead. I mean, as long as you’re thinking of the children. Sheesh.

Comment #57557

Posted by Sir_Toejam on November 15, 2005 3:02 AM (e)

right, if you feel warranted in ignoring ALL of the arguments involved in the actual substantive discussion of the issue, feel free to voice your opinion, but don’t expect any constructive response to it.

feel free to address the fears of real parents with the same complacent attitude you show here, like Judy who just today posted the following in a different thread:

Hi,

I apologize for posting off-topic but I was wondering whether anybody here could help me. My husband and I live in Indiana where, as you may have heard, the Republican led legislature is considering bringing forward legislation that would mandate the teaching of ID in public schools. I’ve written to the NCSE to ask for their advice and a friend suggested that this would also be a good place to request help. What can we do to organize opposition to this legislation? I’ve looked to see if there is a Citizens for Science group in Indiana, but there doesn’t appear to be one. We really don’t know what we’re doing; we just know we have to do something. We simply can’t sit by and let our educational system be hijacked. Any and all advice and/or suggestions would be appreciated.

Thanking you in advance,

Judy Kemp
Fishers, IN

yes, do feel free to trivialize everyone’s legitimate concerns with your rapier wit, that perhaps would go better with those you deem fit for jobs in “car repair”.

guess you never tried to go to college yourself, eh?

Comment #57561

Posted by Renier on November 15, 2005 3:38 AM (e)

I think the real problem is that the fundie folk are trying to use science to prove their supernatural claims. Just think of the old “lost neutrinos” problem. They tried to cite it as evidence for a young earth. How many times do they try and cite science to attempt to prove their supernatural claims? Then, they turn around and reject the very science they tried to abuse when the FACTS contradicts them, or they try and DICTATE what science is, to fit their views. You people are right. Evolution is the target because it poses the BIGGEST threat of all the scientific theories to their world view.

We have all seen what the fundies do. They misquote, twist and rape scientific data, all just to attempt to find proof of their supernatural claims. It’s been a very empty journey for them.

I am starting to feel really sorry for these people. To be so morally poor that one needs to stoop to such low morality, to lie and cheat, bite and scratch, all to try and maintain some belief in ones own higher morality… it’s sad. It all smacks of desperation. And that’s the whole point. I am not a psychologist, but I can see insecurity when it is so blatantly obvious. Insecure and desperate! It’s no wonder we cannot understand the lengths the fundies will go to, all just to peddle their religious views. I think they are really trying hard to convince themselves. It must be really hard to believe contrary to evidence.

English is not my home language, so please excuse the spelling and grammar.

Comment #57564

Posted by Morbius on November 15, 2005 5:32 AM (e)

English is not my home language, so please excuse the spelling and grammar.

Actually, your spelling and grammar is flawlessly superb. The only hint – ironically – is that we would say “native language”, not “home language”. :-)

Comment #57571

Posted by Renier on November 15, 2005 7:00 AM (e)

Native. Got it! Thanks.

Comment #57572

Posted by KL on November 15, 2005 7:40 AM (e)

“No one in this day and age interested in biology is going to be deprived or damaged by passing mention of theology somewhere in a high school in Piousville Kansas, nor someone interested in theology by passing mention – and that is all it is – of evolution. Let’s be real. An overwhelming number of people are not biologists, never meant to be biologists, and if they believe in evolution it’s just a cultural badge of merit that they wear because they certainly can’t defend it, a situation indistinguishable from not believing in it at all.”

It is this attitude that has created a scientifically illiterate society. All students should learn what science is and how it works, whether or not they retain any biology (or any other subject content) along the way. I don’t expect students to remember details years from now, but I do expect them to understand and appreciate how the discipline works and that theories in science have by definition a huge body of knowledge supporting them.

Comment #57573

Posted by Stephen Elliott on November 15, 2005 8:11 AM (e)

Posted by Registered User on November 15, 2005 02:08 AM (e) (s)

Sometimes I wonder if sites such as this one haven’t done more escalate the culture wars and promote ID than Behe and Dembski between them could hope to accomplish in several lifetimes. Why the bother, folks?

Personally, I have no problem with escalating the culture wars. The sooner we go head to head with the fundies on their issues, the better.

As to the possibility of this site promoting ID, that is absurd.

Yeah, from time to time you’ll get some clown popping up saying, “Oh, that guy morbius and Lenny Flank are the nastiest anti-religion bullies that’s why I’ll never be convinced that evolution is real.”

Don’t believe it. You can rest assured that thousands of people have learned from this site and others like it exactly why ID peddlers are disproportionately represented among the most pathetic and dishonest human beings on the planet.

And that will only increase. Even the world’s laziest journalists will figure it out eventually, when they get tired of everday people pointing out their lazy shilling.

My emphasis.

Amen to that,
Well said. I am one of those people.

Comment #57574

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 15, 2005 8:18 AM (e)

Most of Calvert’s, uh, “argument” was already trashed in the _Peloza v New Capistrano_ case.

Comment #57575

Posted by Jeremy Mohn on November 15, 2005 8:41 AM (e)

Excellent post Jack.

This is precisely the reason I chose to comment at the public comment sessions for the Kansas Science Standards back in February.

The authors of the Minority standards (Calvert, Harris, et al) claimed to be against “viewpoint discrimination.” However, they worded the standards in such a way (i.e. evolution is “unguided”) that they discriminate against a very common religious viewpoint.

Comment #57576

Posted by Greg H on November 15, 2005 8:47 AM (e)

Couple of comments:

To Judy, from Indiana:

I have been having some trouble finding a Citizens for Science style organization here in Iowa as well. Frightening, isn’t it, how states with so much of their economy tied up in (agricultural) science seem to lack any sort of motivation to protect that science.

For pipilangstrumpf:

I’m not sure I buy your don’t worry about it attitide. If you’re so “not bothered” why are you inclined to write? Seems like an awful waste of your time to me. We appreciate your opinion, as wrong as most of us think it is, but if it’s truly not bothering you, then, as you say, why bother?

More just in general:
While I’m not a scientist (what the heck do computer scientists do anyway?), I have to say that without science in general, and evolution in particular, life as we know it would not be possible. I don’t know if anyone else has caught the chemistry ads on TV with the melting TV, and medicine bottle, and toothpaste tube, but I found them to be quite disturbing, if only in the idea that there are people out there who want to turn the clock back 100 years (or more).

So let’s do that - it’s 1905 outside the window. What have you lost?

Well, we lost the airplane, so if you want to go see Paris, you’ll be spending a couple of weeks on a ship. You’ve lost anything that looks like a modern car - careful the hand crank doesn’t kick back and take your face off. Oh, and you’ve lost penicillian, and pretty much all of the other antibiotics, I would guess. Also, forget about relativity, so I hope you don’t live anywhere that depends on nuclear power. Let’s see….we lose the toaster (1909), the pH scale (1909), computers, airbags, oh..uh oh…we also lose the Intern…*poink*

Comment #57580

Posted by Flint on November 15, 2005 9:19 AM (e)

Consider the issue from Conservativeman’s point of view. For him, God IS, God does everything, is constantly active in the world, answers prayers, is a real physical presence, laid out what He did explicitly in the bible, which clearly states that evolution didn’t happen.

From Conservativeman’s perspective, there IS no neutral, there can’t be. Science, especially evolution, either worships God or rejects Him; there’s no possibility of being indifferent. And Evolution clearly rejects God: it claims that God LIED in the bible, and by not glorifying our divine purpose in being created and worshiping God, evolution has rejected God’s teaching and his continuous activity. For Conservativeman, there is theistic and there is anti-theistic, and everyone necessarily falls into one of those categories. Atheistic means actively rejecting God; it’s the only alternative to worshiping God.

And accordingly, “scientific objectivity” can ONLY mean an unbiased, open-minded investigation of God’s activites as the bible states. Rejection of God (which is what the word “evolution” actually MEANS, let’s nobody kid ourselves) is not religiously neutral in any way. By not teaching that God exists, it is teaching that God does NOT exist. There simply are no other possibilities. Those scientists who argue that God uses natural mechanisms to accomplish His purposes are necessarily saying that God LIED in the bible. Maybe some brainwashed liberal scientists are comfortable with a lying God, but conservatives are not.

Once again with feeling: There is no neutral. Those not FOR God are AGAINST God. Period.

Comment #57585

Posted by Dr. Kate on November 15, 2005 10:03 AM (e)

Or, JUST POSSIBLY, the Bible was written by hundreds of people over hundreds of years, has been translated into mulitple languages multiple times, and is not meant to be understood as the exact, inspired word of God.

“…unbiased, open-minded investigation of God’s activites as the bible states.”? Which Bible? Which version? Which translation? Is my King James version the correct description of “God’s activities as the bible states”? Or is my neighbor’s version translated into German more correct? Which one should we approach with an open mind? What if they disagree? What if (as is the case) the Bible DISAGREES WITH ITSELF?!?! What then? And what makes your interpretation of God’s word the “correct” one? Isn’t that INCREDIBLY conceited???

And what about stuff that isn’t in the Bible (any of them)? Does this mean that we can’t have or study or improve cars, microwave ovens, antibiotics, CPR, books, the printing press, computers, waterproof clothing, multivitamins, insulation, …? That we can’t study them? That we must restrict ALL scientific study ONLY to what is in the Bible? That will make our lives better.

And as for what evolution means:
per Webster’s New World College Dictionary, 4th edition :
evolution: 1 an unflodign, opening out, or working out; process of development, as from a simple to a complex form, or of gradual, progressive change, as in a social and economic structure
2 a result or product of this; thing evolved
3 a) a movement that is part of a series or pattern b) a pattern produced, or seemingly produced, by such a series of movements
4 a setting free or giving off, as of gas in a chemical reaction
5 Biol. a) the development of a species, roganism, or organ from its original or primitive state to its present or specialized state; phylogeny or ontogeny b) DARWINIAN THEORY (see LAMARCKISM, MUTATION)
6 Math. the extracting of a root of a given number: opposed to INVOLUTION
From the Lating evolutio, an unrolling or opening

Gee, I don’t see anything in there about rejecting God. In fact, I don’t see any mention of religion at all. Funny, that.

Teaching the theory of evolution teaches NOTHING about God. It does not mention Him at all. It is a SCIENTIFIC theory. It does not CONSIDER religion.

In science class, we need to teach students HOW TO THINK scientifically. This means that they will be able to evaluate claims. (Hey, could THAT be the real reason these people don’t want it taught? They WANT people to be scientifically illiterate. Because if people are scientifically literate, they will no longer fall for the lies, deceit, and just plain stupid statements put forth by these people. Talk about brainwashing.)

Students need to be taught what science IS and what science ISN’T, how to think like a scientist when it is appropriate, WHY science doesn’t address certain things (like Heaven, Hell, salvation, forgiveness, the weight of the human soul, etc). This is the purpose of education: to prepare students for the real world. Whether you like it or not, science exists. It improves our lives. Do you REALLY want to turn the clock back to 35 AD? When many of your children wouldn’t live past the age of 5? When you could be stoned to death for wearing the wrong fabric?

To each their own, I guess.

Comment #57586

Posted by Tim B. on November 15, 2005 10:03 AM (e)

“Teaching the theory of evolution does not imply to students that they arose ‘without purpose from a purposeless process.’”

Doesn’t Darwin’s modification through natural selection include the strong inference that nature’s unfolding is a blind, directionless process? This is where I’m sincerely confused. It seems either odd or disingenuous to me when scientists assert no contradiction between evolution and religion. Further, I’m left scratching my head when theistic evolutionists posit a similar claim.

Am I wrong in thinking that a blind process is unreconcilable with any notion of final cause or any kind of spiritual eschatology?

Comment #57587

Posted by Rilke's Granddaughter on November 15, 2005 10:13 AM (e)

Tim, I think the point is that all science is doing is claiming that no evidence of a directed process can be found. Things are ‘apparently’ random. God could be controlling the ‘chance events’ of the universe (indeed the Bible implies something like that). But God controlled events and random events are observationally identical (so far as we can tell).

Comment #57588

Posted by Rilke's Granddaughter on November 15, 2005 10:18 AM (e)

Another way to think about it is that science has proposed an explanation for the observed biodiversity and fossil record. It’s the best testable explanation we’ve found. That doesn’t mean that God didn’t get involved, simply that we can’t test that hypothesis.

This is what Dembski, Behe, et. al. get obsessed with - to somehow find an experiment to test for God. But they’ve yet to develop one.

Comment #57589

Posted by Rage on November 15, 2005 10:18 AM (e)

I was making the point the other day that this fight is about Materialism and Atheism. Thanks for confirming that I’m not the only one who thought that.

Keep fighting the good fight.

Comment #57590

Posted by k.e. on November 15, 2005 10:19 AM (e)

Contrast that with the Church of England, the Vatican and leading pro science Christian Churches. While they are not science neutral, they reserve their religious ethical and moral stance, they explicitly view science as revelation of God’s handiwork. And essentially realize that science is no danger to God.
The fundamentalist(literal) Christians are simply guilty of science envy and bibliolatry and mistakenly believe that mans dignity is diminished. They take advantage of peoples goodwill and religiosity to promote their Ignorance over Knowledge agenda.And with no central authority or debate with the broader Christian community look like other Fundamentalist religions.

Comment #57593

Posted by Tom B. on November 15, 2005 10:40 AM (e)

Regarding the Calvert/ID argument that science promotes atheism, the reasoning seems to go something like this:

science doesn’t include God in the equation

atheism doesn’t include God in the equation

therefore, science = atheism.

Of course, this is like saying:

apples are red

fire trucks are red

therefore, apples = fire trucks.

We need to use analogies like this when communicating with the public. There are too many syllables in terms such as “methodological naturalism” and “philosophical naturalism” for most people to readily grasp the difference.

Another good analogy is that if ID as a methodology were applied to our legal system, we could do away with expensive trials by avoiding the need to present physical evidence. Instead, there would just be arguments from each attorney and direction that the jury choose which story they “believed.” (And, yes, I know that happens even now, but no one wants to admit it.) With the popularity of TV shows like “Crime Scene Investigations”, we have a good opportunity to equate Evolutionary Biology to Forensic Science.

In this regard, we need to keep hammering on the fact that ID really is against ALL science.

Comment #57595

Posted by Russell on November 15, 2005 10:59 AM (e)

It seems either odd or disingenuous to me when scientists assert no contradiction between evolution and religion.

First of all, specifically what assertions, by whom, are you referring to here?

I think we’ve been around the block several times on this one. I don’t know about “odd” or “disingenuous”, but I am uncomfortable with this particular line of argument, because it really depends on your definition of “religion”. Despite the bromides that pass for political wisdom these days, there really is nothing to prevent anyone from embracing a stupid religion.

I see it as the job of science and scientists to describe physical reality objectively. Let the various religions deal with it - or not - as they see fit.

Comment #57596

Posted by Flint on November 15, 2005 11:07 AM (e)

Dr. Kate:

Yes, of course it’s not rational. I’m not arguing that Conservativeman’s viewpoint is rational, I’m trying to present what it IS. What’s really more important to us here: the fact that we can mock his faith and share a chuckle, or the fact that his faith is essentially shared by a politically powerful faction and we make no effort to even understand what their problem is.

Looking up “evolution” in a dictionary is pure ostrich-speech. WHO CARES what the dictionary says? Evolution is a code-word for denying God. Creationists all know this as deep in their brains as possible.

Teaching the theory of evolution teaches NOTHING about God. It does not mention Him at all. It is a SCIENTIFIC theory. It does not CONSIDER religion.

I’m beginning to understand why some of the creationists who show up here get so frustrated. I write an entire post trying to highlight a viewpoint, and Dr. Kate pretends I never said a word. So I can only repeat in the hopes that Dr. Kate is less impervious than most creationists. So here we go again. As far as creationists are concerned, by not mentioning God, by not considering God, evolution DENIES GOD! It is NOT POSSIBLE to be neutral, when religious doctrines are founded on pride. Creationist reading of scripture says nothing about microwave ovens or cars, computers or printing presses. It says, very explicitly, that God created Man in His own image, from clay, all at once, as we are today. This is TRUTH. It is not open to discussion. Period. Unless evolution agrees with Truth, it is DENYING GOD! WHY is this so hard to understand?

Tom B:

science doesn’t include God in the equation

atheism doesn’t include God in the equation

therefore, science = atheism.

Of course, this is like saying:

apples are red

fire trucks are red

therefore, apples = fire trucks.

Nope. You are making things too complicated. It’s much more the case that science doesn’t include God in the equation, THEREFORE science is atheistic. Not that hard, really.

What the scientific people (apologies to Bester) are saying is, there are three legs on this stool: theistic (saying goddidit), anti-theistic (saying God did NOT do it), and atheistic (not saying anything about any gods not present in the evidence). And so the argument says: science is (in this sense) a-theistic, doesn’t address any gods one way or another, ruling them neither in nor out.

What Conservativeman is saying is for him and all the multitudes like him, there are only TWO legs: for God, or Against Him. Scientific theories do not include or require any gods. Therefore science is against God.

In this regard, we need to keep hammering on the fact that ID really is against ALL science.

Yes and no. To the creationists, science is only against God in selected respects, where their sensitivities are offended. To a scientist, either the scientific method works or it does not. To a creationist, the scientific method is just fine so long as it is not applied to investigate sensitive religious doctrines. It’s very much as though there are bright lines in the creationist brain, and when science crosses them, the critical faculties simply switch off, all at once and totally.

So it’s probably more helpful to recognize that ID is NOT against all science, ID is against violations of non-negotiable articles of faith.

Comment #57597

Posted by k.e. on November 15, 2005 11:07 AM (e)

Tom B.

…if ID as a methodology were applied to our legal system, we could do away with expensive trials by avoiding the need to present physical evidence. Instead, there would just be arguments from each attorney and direction that the jury choose which story they “believed.” (And, yes, I know that happens even now, but no one wants to admit it.) With the popularity of TV shows like “Crime Scene Investigations”, we have a good opportunity to equate Evolutionary Biology to Forensic Science.

The legal analogy is perfect !

Everyone but the truly challenged would get that.

Comment #57598

Posted by Tim B. on November 15, 2005 11:09 AM (e)

Rilke’s Granddaughter,

Thanks for the explanation. But even as I read it in nodding agreement, a doubt interposed itself: if no evidence of a directed process has been discovered, doesn’t such scientifuc inquiry imply that to assert a directed process (Christians, et. al.) is to think apart from reason? Isn’t there really an implication of religion as absurd until it manages to discover a directed process? I’m trying to get at something here that is less a negative default (religious belief is fine since it deals in transcendent categories, *not* science) than a positive implication (with no empirical data or testing to verify religious doctrine, then to hold those beliefs in tandem with scientific beliefs must be a kind of schizoid senselessness).

Comment #57599

Posted by cleek on November 15, 2005 11:13 AM (e)

How could the lack of application of religious belief be a religion?

“secularism is a religion” is a staple talking point of the wingnut right. no, it doesn’t make sense, but it doesn’t have to - its job is to muddy waters, throw sand in eyes, distract and side-track. and it does that job very well.

Comment #57600

Posted by qetzal on November 15, 2005 11:15 AM (e)

Rilke's Granddaughter wrote:

Another way to think about it is that science has proposed an explanation for the observed biodiversity and fossil record. It’s the best testable explanation we’ve found.

Taking this a critical step further, it’s also the only explanation that allows us to successfully predict what we should and should not observe in the future regarding biodiversity, the fossil record, etc.

That’s the true value and utility of any scientific theory. It allows us to anticipate future observations. That’s also what allows us to develop new theories based on existing ones.

If theories were explanatory but not predictive, there would never be any scientific advancement. Science would merely be a collection of observations. We might have an explanation for each observation, but the explanation would be useless because it would have no relevance to any other observation.

Comment #57601

Posted by John Smith on November 15, 2005 11:23 AM (e)

I go to the University of Illinois and I have seen quite a few creationists in our graduate Life Sciences programs. One gets used to these lunatics after a while, and I just ignore them.

Today, I read a letter in our campus newspaper and I just shook my head in shame that my University admits these kooks to graduate programs. These people then wave their Ph.D. degrees to add weight to their inane babblings. Here’s the letter:

http://www.dailyillini.com/media/paper736/news/2005/11/15/Opinions/Letter.Bad.Science-1057358.shtml

Comment #57602

Posted by k.e. on November 15, 2005 11:24 AM (e)

So Flint what do you suggest ?
A neutral statement or the 3rd leg is no good.
Therapy ?

Comment #57603

Posted by Rilke's Granddaughter on November 15, 2005 11:25 AM (e)

Tim B wrote:

Thanks for the explanation.

You’re welcome!

But even as I read it in nodding agreement, a doubt interposed itself: if no evidence of a directed process has been discovered, doesn’t such scientifuc inquiry imply that to assert a directed process (Christians, et. al.) is to think apart from reason?

Not necessarily. Theism is by definition unexaminable by science; science doesn’t have the means to inspect and include a theistic explanation. After all, suggesting a ‘best testable explanation to fit the facts’ does not exclude a priori non-testable explanations.

Isn’t there really an implication of religion as absurd until it manages to discover a directed process?

Not unless you insist that religion approach truth in the same fashion that science approaches truth. Again, consider something something like “why is the sky blue?” We can propose a testable explanation (scattering) or a theological explanation (God likes blue). As a metaphysical bias, I favor what I can test; but there is reason to necessarily think that “testable”=”better”.

I’m trying to get at something here that is less a negative default (religious belief is fine since it deals in transcendent categories, *not* science) than a positive implication (with no empirical data or testing to verify religious doctrine, then to hold those beliefs in tandem with scientific beliefs must be a kind of schizoid senselessness).

That’s the nice thing about evolution: it allows God to fit into the quantum/random gaps without taking away from the theory. In some ways, it is highly compatible with theism.

Comment #57604

Posted by k.e. on November 15, 2005 11:27 AM (e)

Tim provides the name of the malaise.

Comment #57605

Posted by Rilke's Granddaughter on November 15, 2005 11:30 AM (e)

qetzal wrote:

If theories were explanatory but not predictive, there would never be any scientific advancement. Science would merely be a collection of observations. We might have an explanation for each observation, but the explanation would be useless because it would have no relevance to any other observation.

True. But I think what often confuses ‘non-scientists’ is the variability of predictive power in theories: evolution, for example, requires data at a level of detail we cannot support.

Comment #57606

Posted by Caledonian on November 15, 2005 11:32 AM (e)

May we be honest for a moment? The scientific method most certainly *is* incompatible with religion. Regardless of the specific content of a religion (which current science may or may not contradict), the emphasis on faith simply doesn’t mesh with science’s emphasis on reason and observation. Religious precepts either make meaningful statements about the world (in which case science can draw conclusions about those assertions) or are devoid of content.

Comment #57607

Posted by k.e. on November 15, 2005 11:32 AM (e)

Bah
So Flint what do you suggest ?
[For Co..Man]
A neutral statement -no good
The 3rd leg - no good.
Therapy ?

Comment #57608

Posted by Tim B. on November 15, 2005 11:33 AM (e)

Russell,

I’m perplexed at your consternation about by sentence. Should I have said “some scientists” or have Googled the comments of an actual scientist? Are generalities taboo? I seem to recall having read that a goodly number of research biologists are theistic evolutionists. And I seem to (again, generally) recall that a goodly number of atheist biologists consider science as neutral about religious issues, therefore not in contradiction.

By the way, what do you think would qualify as a non-stupid religion?

Comment #57609

Posted by k.e. on November 15, 2005 11:36 AM (e)

Caledonian
You do know what a Fundamentalist is don’t you?

Comment #57610

Posted by Caledonian on November 15, 2005 11:40 AM (e)

Rike's Granddaughter wrote:

Theism is by definition unexaminable by science; science doesn’t have the means to inspect and include a theistic explanation.

Wrong. Only a God of the Gaps is beyond scientific inquiry, and such a deity does not exist.

That’s the nice thing about evolution: it allows God to fit into the quantum/random gaps without taking away from the theory. In some ways, it is highly compatible with theism.

In the same way that Evaporative Cooling is compatible with the idea that “God made my oatmeal cooler so I wouldn’t burn my tongue”. It’s all so clear now! Why didn’t I see it before?!

Comment #57611

Posted by C.J.Colucci on November 15, 2005 11:44 AM (e)

Tim B.:
You’re not wrong. Although science, particularly the theory of evolution, does not logically entail a directionless, purposeless universe inconsistent with the God of most religions (that is, such a God could exist, though nothing in the method of science would allow us to determine or even investigate that), the very considerations you raise do put enormous pressure on such beliefs. It is surely no accident that a recent survey of scientists’ religious beliefs showed a 60-40 split (I forget which way) on the question of theism. Even taking the smaller 40 percent as the non-theist side, this is an order of magnitude greater than the prevalence of such beliefs in the general population. As a matter of social fact, knowledge of science now correlates to disbelief in much revealed religion, and, as Darwin himself knew quite well, the theory of evolution stuck the fatal knife into natural theology. The creationists and ID’ers either know or intuit this, and they are not wrong.

Comment #57612

Posted by Brian on November 15, 2005 11:47 AM (e)

[quote]Accordingly, in my opinion, Evolution Only is not “secular” or neutral. Rather it is an ideology that directly conflicts with the First Amendment rights of parents and students.[/quote]

I love how IDists seem to think that science is an [i]American[/i] process. I hardly think that that scientists in Europe care about First Amendment rights or any other Constitutional clause.

Science is much bigger than America (no matter how much the Conservative Right feels that they have dominion over the Earth). To change science standards has a much bigger influence that what goes on in this country.

Brian

Comment #57616

Posted by k.e. on November 15, 2005 11:59 AM (e)

Brian replace square brackets with angle brackets

Comment #57618

Posted by Katarina on November 15, 2005 12:06 PM (e)

Syntax Error: mismatched tag 'kwickxml'

Comment #57619

Posted by stefan on November 15, 2005 12:08 PM (e)

I think the science community misses a critical aspect of the entire debate, and that is the importance of the imagination. Many “regular folks” who support ID do so not because they are frothing-at-the-mouth wackos like the more vocal supporters but because, to them, ID “makes sense” and engages their sense of rightness and beauty. Certainly their leaders and peers have a huge impact, but ultimately it’s the individual that must be swayed. Pro-science rational people fail to engage the public at that emotional level, but instead insult them with statements along the line of “You are wrong and must be stupid or at best uneducated. WE have the answer”.

I am only marginally knowledgeable about evolutionary principles, yet I embrace that view completely. But since I’m not an expert, my attempts to convince the ID people can only come across as Belief, not as knowledge. This supports Conservativeman’s argument.

There is an emotional resonance to ideas about Purpose and Self, even if those are merely anthropomorphic projections onto the universe. People will not willingly abandon those concepts without satisfying alternatives.

To me, the concept of evolution - both biological and the bigger scale of the evolution of the universe, is more beautiful than any religion. Injecting a God into the process cheapens it and turns the universe into a toy-like gizmo or Vegas magic show.

I once heard on the radio (Science Friday, I think) a scientist claim “all children are creationists”. Of course, they grow out of it. I notice this process in my own understanding; I naturally accepted New Age ideas like Higher Mind or goal-directed evolution. Only later in my 30s and 40s did those concepts become unsatisfying.

Certainly, people who decide the content of school curricula are not children - at least in terms of age. But they ARE children intellectually.

People who are trying to keep evolution on the table and ID off need to keep this in mind - that without a gut-level agreement, there will be resistance.

This is where scientists and educators can make a difference in “the controversy”; they need to argue not only the science, but also the beauty of the concepts and the process. There must be a satisfying - not merely correct - replacement to the ultimately bankrupt ID argument.

Comment #57620

Posted by Tim B. on November 15, 2005 12:09 PM (e)

C.J. Colucci,

Your post granted me a large sigh of relief. For some time now, I’d been questioning my own sanity – just couldn’t understand the blitheness of some folks who reconcile strongly apparent directionlessness with a metaphysically allowable directedness. The force of actual experience dilutes, to my thinking, the wishes for a purposeful (yet quantumly hidden) biological process. As you say, one is not logically exclusive of the other, but sometimes even logic must bend toward the worldview most conforming to actual data on the ground.

May I impose on you to comment about a thought experiment?

What would be wrong, given the ingrained nature of religion in the general culture, to allow three types of classes in K-12:

1. comparative religion (absent any scientific methodology)

2 science, including biological evolution (absent any religious methodology)

3. philosophy, wherein criteria for critical thinking are introduced and emphasized (from which, the question of reconciling religion and science is left to the students’ application of philosophical methodology).

Comment #57621

Posted by Flint on November 15, 2005 12:12 PM (e)

k.e.

The only long-term solution I see is good education, starting at birth. By the time the battle has become one of faith vs. evidence, belief vs. logic, no hearts or minds are any longer being reached. I suspect very very few hearts and minds are reached even by the age most people start public school; the die has been cast. The final product may not yet have been formed, but I think that’s something different. By the 9th grade, almost nobody “finds Jesus” who comes from a culture where exposure to “Jesusness” is unknown.

And there seems little doubt that creationists are well aware of this - the younger we can reach people, the more control we have over what eventually sets up and becomes immutable in their minds. Creationists already control a great many parents, and have institutionalized church attendance, Sunday school, bible school, and regular daily prayer as often as possible. But government ratification of religion is still really beneficial, because it broadens the environment of “Jesus exposure.”

It’s said that we don’t know who discovered water, but we know it wasn’t a fish. For fish, water is simply reality. There’s nothing with which to contrast it. The same goes for religious exposure, I think. It’s the constant cultural background noise, taken for granted. So it’s important to make sure it doesn’t fade out, because the silence would be a contrast that might wake people up. So we KEEP “taking god for granted” on our currency, in our pledge, in our government-granted official holidays, and in our media. (Driving through Arkansas, I’m able to find six preacher stations and often nothing else).

I think the ratio was 60-40 with the 40 being theists or deists among scientists, and shrinking. Life scientists had few Believers, maybe single digits, last I read. The NAS was also 90% or more atheists/agnostics. And those scientists who ARE theists are rarely biblical literalists. I conjecture that most children of scientists grow up in households where religion is simply not present, less by design than because it just doesn’t have occasion to cross the minds of the parents.

Hopefully, this situation can snowball. But I’m arguing that we need to recognize that the battle is really waged over the training of very young children. We need to keep government from reinforcing exposure (and yes, there is an official government religion, Newdow is spot-on correct and will never get anywhere!) We also need to keep (and encourage) evolution in public school biology. Currently, if I read Jack Krebs and others correctly, most states have evolution in the official curriculum, and most biology teachers somehow never get to that subject, because it causes irate parents to hassle the administration.

I don’t see any legal way to address the systematic non-mention of evolution nationwide in high school science classes, except by chipping away at the obvious offenses (like Dover and maybe Kansas) and mostly improving the quality of our educational system. Statistically, education is a good remedy for literalistic religious belief. But nobody can reach Conservativeman. All we have is evidence, and faith is explicitly belief without or despite evidence.

Comment #57624

Posted by Katarina on November 15, 2005 12:12 PM (e)

Ok. seems I have to re-write my post.

The point that everyone here seems to be missing is this:

Conservativeman does not equate good science with evolution. He believes himself to love science, in fact. What he trusts is not the process, necessarily, but the conclusions of the individual scientists, because they are supposedly biased by their pevelant atheism and find what they sought in the first place.

This misconception needs to be addressed by demonstrating that the scientific method and the peer review process are indeed excellent filters for personal biases and even conspiracy attempts. Many people who are against evolution almost by necessity must believe in a conspiracy theory within the leading scientific bodies. My suggestion is that we put emphasis on why scientific method and peer review are immune to personal biases, religions, and conspiracies.

Comment #57626

Posted by Jeff Guinn on November 15, 2005 12:14 PM (e)

Flint:

Excellent, thoughtful posts – thank you.

However, your explanation of the point of view of someone who is an adherent to a revealed religion left out an alternative.

That is, assume for the moment rational inquiry is, correctly, if incompletely, explaining nature. In so doing, rational inquiry is showing us the hand of God (something, IIRC, St Augustine assured us we would find).

That doesn’t make scientists in general, or evolutionary biologists in particular, anti-theist.

But it does make revealed religion adherents idolators.

Comment #57628

Posted by Dr. Kate on November 15, 2005 12:23 PM (e)

Yes, Flint, you’re right: Conservativeman’s viewpoint IS shared by a large political body. And I fully understand what you are saying, in that we ought to make an effort to understand what his viewpoint is. And believe it or not, I do understand that point of view, although I don’t agree with it.

Quoting the dictionary is not “ostrich-speech” (whatever that means) when a major point of your previous post was predicated on the notion that “the word evolution REALLY means…rejecting God.” Now, you are entitled to a belief that the theory of evolution requires someone to reject God. However, you are NOT entitled to redefine the meaning of a word (unless you work for the Kansas BoE and the word is “science.”).
“Evolution is a code-word for denying God. Creationists all know this as deep in their brains as possible.” Not true. Evolution isn’t a “code-word” for anything. It’s just a word. Period. Again, you are entitled to a belief that all scientists are evil, brainwashing devils, but you’re NOT allowed to redefine words to suit your religion.

“Creationist reading of scripture says nothing about microwave ovens or cars, computers or printing presses. It says, very explicitly, that God created Man in His own image, from clay, all at once, as we are today. This is TRUTH. It is not open to discussion. Period. Unless evolution agrees with Truth, it is DENYING GOD!”
Ah yes, truth with a capital T.

Science does not deny you the right to believe in a creationist reading of scriptures (although I’m still curious as to WHICH PARTICULAR version of the scripture you’re insisting is God’s word). If you want to ignore evidence that God created, that’s fine, and that’s your right. And if you want to think that scientists deny God because they study His creation using the tools and capacities that He gave them, then that’s your right too.

And, interestingly enough, since we live in America: guess what? If you don’t believe in evolution, if you think that God’s only way of communicating with people is a very old, self-conflicting book, and you want to make sure that that’s all your kids learn too: You can TAKE THEM OUT OF PUBLIC SCHOOL. Or, even, just take them out of the classes that offend your “sensitive religious doctrines.” That’s your right. But it’s NOT your right to make sure that MY kid gets brainwashed into believing you’re particular brand of dogma.

The problem is that religion is inherently personal. Even if two people go to the same church, read the same version of the Bible, their experiences with religion and their beliefs will be different. And there’s no way to “prove” that one is right or that one is wrong (unless you claim, as it seems many people do, to be able to read the mind of God). Religion is a personal thing. Which is probably why we have this problem at all.

Comment #57632

Posted by Russell on November 15, 2005 12:29 PM (e)

Russell,

I’m perplexed at your consternation about by sentence. Should I have said “some scientists” or have Googled the comments of an actual scientist? Are generalities taboo?

Whoa! I didn’t mean to imply there was anything wrong with your comment, I only meant that I would want to consider, case by case, if the claim was “evolution is NEVER inconsistent with religion”, “evolution is NOT NECESSARILY inconsistent with religion”, “evolution is not inconsistent with MY religion”, etc.

I seem to recall having read that a goodly number of research biologists are theistic evolutionists. And I seem to (again, generally) recall that a goodly number of atheist biologists consider science as neutral about religious issues, therefore not in contradiction.

Right. Well. What I’m trying to say is that - depending on exactly how that’s phrased, for which we’d have to take a particular example - I think it can easily be an argument I’d want to distance myself from.

By the way, what do you think would qualify as a non-stupid religion?

Here’s my definition of tolerance: I keep that kind of opinion to myself.

Comment #57636

Posted by qetzal on November 15, 2005 12:47 PM (e)

Rilke's Granddaughter wrote:

I think what often confuses ‘non-scientists’ is the variability of predictive power in theories…

Perhaps, but my experience is that most non-scientists and even many scientists fail to understand the importance of predictive power. For example, there was a long exchange in the comments section of a recent post on Derek Lowe’s blog In The Pipeline.

One commenter who called himself “fool” claimed that creationism and ID were every bit as scientific as evolution, because they could explain the same set of facts equally well. As far as fool was concerned, it was all just a matter of interpretation:

fool, commenting on In The Pipeline, wrote:

What does “science” mean? It’s coming up with theories and models to explain the observations. Why do you think I have trouble with the observations themselves rather than the narrow minded intellectually arrogant way of interpretation of some evolutionists.

and in a subsequent comment:

The crux of it is one’s interpretive framework derived from one’s world view–either exclusively materialistic/naturalistic or willing to consider a creator.

As a model, ID/creationism is no more inconsistent with the physical observations than evolution. Of course personally I’d submit that it fits better than evolution.

As far as fool was concerned, science is only about explanations and interpretations of what we already know. By his definition, creationism/ID is science. His last point is also quite correct. Given an all-powerful deity, ID/creationism can absolutely fit the facts better than evolution.

Ironically, fool claimed that he is a scientist - a medicinal chemist. Yet he couldn’t see that ID isn’t science and evolution is. That’s because he didn’t really appreciate that science is fundamentally about prediction, not just explanation.

This is really just another way of saying science must be falsifiable. Explanations that make no predictions are compatible with all possible future observations. Therefore they can never be falsified. But non-scientists especially don’t understand falsifiability, or why it matters. If you tell the average American that ID isn’t science because it can’t be proven wrong, there’s a good chance they’ll just say, “Huh? So what? I guess that means ID isn’t wrong, then!”

Predictive power is much easier to explain. (In a general sense, at least. I grant that it’s difficult to demonstrate the predictive power of evolution to a lay person’s satisfaction.) Emphasizing predictive power also allows you to sidestep the whole materialist/non-materialist, natural/supernatural morass. You can explain to a lay person that science is basically just a way of describing our universe that allows us to predict what we will and will not observe in future situations. Science doesn’t rule out the existence of non-materialistic, supernatural things. But if those things are fundamentally unpredictable, they aren’t useful as scientific explanations.

Comment #57638

Posted by Rilke's Granddaughter on November 15, 2005 1:13 PM (e)

As far as fool was concerned, science is only about explanations and interpretations of what we already know. By his definition, creationism/ID is science. His last point is also quite correct. Given an all-powerful deity, ID/creationism can absolutely fit the facts better than evolution.

Do you really think so? Given the nature of the PoE, I would think that a ‘deity-free’ universe with undirected evolution is a better fit to observation.

And evolution is handicapped by the problem I mentioned: predictions of future observations are both vague and limited; we simply can’t get access to enough detail about the initial conditions to predict the emergence of a flagellum, for example. That gives the Modern Synthesis some PR problems from the get-go.

Comment #57639

Posted by Rilke's Granddaughter on November 15, 2005 1:16 PM (e)

Out of curiosity, do you include in ‘prediction’ the ability to explain new observations? Or simply the ability to generate potential ‘future’ events?

For example: given the MS and observation, one could have predicted that whale precursors would be found with certain characteristics.

But can one predict what an evolutionary descendent of a whale will look like?

Comment #57640

Posted by CJ O'Brien on November 15, 2005 1:18 PM (e)

What’s interesting to me is the fixation on “purposeless” or “undirected” processes.

The strong theist sees atheist implications of the idea of natural selection, that the fantastic web of biodiversity we see is the product of a process that simply cannot
“see ahead.” So, long-term Purpose would seem to be absent. But what makes these people so sure that Divine Purpose would be so easy to detect, were it in fact operative?

Presumably strong theists believe that God’s purpose is active and ongoing, so why do they not see a problem with our “undirected” economy, in which a large and dynamic construct is the product of short-term decisions made in the interest of individual gain, without top-down oversight? Where is God amidst all this activity by the “Invisible Hand”? If this seemingly purposeless process can be the instrument of providence, why not the short term reproductive advantage of competing lineages?

To layer on the final bit of irony, I feel sure that someone using the moniker “Conservativeman” is a firm believer in free market principles.

Comment #57642

Posted by RBH on November 15, 2005 1:28 PM (e)

Greg H asked about a Citizens for Science group in Iowa. Tara is organizing one. See here.

RBH

Comment #57644

Posted by Katarina on November 15, 2005 1:29 PM (e)

Qetzal’s emphasis on science’s predictive ability is a good approach.

From qetzal’s comment, fool’s comments illustrate well the point that I made earlier. Creationists say “we don’t trust the conclusions that scientists draw from the science,” rather than, “we don’t trust science itself.” They point to the fact that PEOPLE are doing science, and people are prone to bias.

This is a valid point, unless one understands what is really involved in the scientific process. It is huge, it is international, and it does not depend on one group of people with a conspiracy. It is the best filter of bias that we know.

Comment #57645

Posted by Katarina on November 15, 2005 1:32 PM (e)

Sir Toe_Jam,

Which thread did Judy post in? I too live in Indiana.

Comment #57648

Posted by Rilke's Granddaughter on November 15, 2005 1:45 PM (e)

What’s interesting to me is the fixation on “purposeless” or “undirected” processes.

The strong theist sees atheist implications of the idea of natural selection, that the fantastic web of biodiversity we see is the product of a process that simply cannot “see ahead.” So, long-term Purpose would seem to be absent. But what makes these people so sure that Divine Purpose would be so easy to detect, were it in fact operative?

I think it may have something to do with the ‘value’ that people place on their own lives and the lives of their loved ones. Most people (well, most theists, anyway) seem uncomfortable with the idea of self-ascribed value - that the meaning, value, or purpose of their actions is dependent on their own actions. In a way, it’s a form of egotism. I don’t think it’s the ‘event’ foresight that bothers them.

Presumably strong theists believe that God’s purpose is active and ongoing, so why do they not see a problem with our “undirected” economy, in which a large and dynamic construct is the product of short-term decisions made in the interest of individual gain, without top-down oversight? Where is God amidst all this activity by the “Invisible Hand”? If this seemingly purposeless process can be the instrument of providence, why not the short term reproductive advantage of competing lineages?

Free will. Most Christian theists dissociate the ‘events’ of their lives - which occur on the basis of free-will, with the ‘value’ of their lives - which depends on God.

To layer on the final bit of irony, I feel sure that someone using the moniker “Conservativeman” is a firm believer in free market principles.

Which makes him somewhat non-conservative? I don’t know - even such archtypical capitalists as John D. and Carnegie liked some amount of government control.

Comment #57658

Posted by Caledonian on November 15, 2005 1:56 PM (e)

Tim B. wrote:

What would be wrong, given the ingrained nature of religion in the general culture, to allow three types of classes in K-12:

1. comparative religion (absent any scientific methodology)

2 science, including biological evolution (absent any religious methodology)

3. philosophy, wherein criteria for critical thinking are introduced and emphasized (from which, the question of reconciling religion and science is left to the students’ application of philosophical methodology).

For starters, critical thinking is inherent to the nature of the scientific method. Trying to teach science without skepticism is like trying to teach mathematics without the concept of numbers.

It should also be noted that, as a field of inquiry, all of the good stuff that starts up in the category of Philosophy tends to be absorbed by the scientific fields most related to them. Whatever’s left tends to be wrong, pointless, or both.

Comment #57661

Posted by Stephen Elliott on November 15, 2005 2:05 PM (e)

Posted by Katarina on November 15, 2005 01:32 PM (e) (s)

Sir Toe_Jam,

Which thread did Judy post in? I too live in Indiana.

Katarina,

It is post #57308 over on IA and ID in the WSJ update on CfS thread.

Hope that helps.

Comment #57663

Posted by Anton Mates on November 15, 2005 2:10 PM (e)

Rilke's Granddaughter wrote:

Do you really think so? Given the nature of the PoE, I would think that a ‘deity-free’ universe with undirected evolution is a better fit to observation.

I don’t think it can be. There will always be some quirk of some organism that seems “odd” or unexplained–why did that particular mutation occur? Why did that particular Cambrian species die out?–and although such surprises and mysteries aren’t incompatible with evolutionary theory at all, you can always play the deity card to have an explicit explanation of them.

You can’t get a better fit than “Everything is exactly as it is because God wanted it that way.” It’s predictively useless, but it is a very complete explanation. Even if it fails to explain God.

Comment #57664

Posted by CJ O'Brien on November 15, 2005 2:12 PM (e)

Free will. Most Christian theists dissociate the ‘events’ of their lives - which occur on the basis of free-will, with the ‘value’ of their lives - which depends on God.

Sure. But “God helps those who help themselves,” right? Meaning that a strong theist who works hard, prides himself on honest dealing, and gets wealthy, will certainly “thank God” for his good fortune, even though, looking back, every transaction, every good deal, was made by individuals, with, as you point out, free will, and their own interests at heart. On the surface, this collective outcome would seem as “undirected” as the “good fortune” of human evolution.

Comment #57665

Posted by Katarina on November 15, 2005 2:14 PM (e)

Stephen Elliott, very kind of you.

Comment #57666

Posted by Flint on November 15, 2005 2:18 PM (e)

Jeff Guinn:

That is, assume for the moment rational inquiry is, correctly, if incompletely, explaining nature. In so doing, rational inquiry is showing us the hand of God (something, IIRC, St Augustine assured us we would find).

That doesn’t make scientists in general, or evolutionary biologists in particular, anti-theist.

But it does make revealed religion adherents idolators.

This is a disturbing notion, at least to me. You seem to be saying that there are two basic approaches to religious belief: wrong (idolators) and irrelevant (layering an unnecessary god onto a natural process to accomplish nothing useful). And of course, “rational inquiry” basically means relegating any gods to the back burner, as vestigial anachronisms suffered by those who have managed to overcome their religious toilet training.

I prefer to think of religion as providing answers to philosophical and semantic issues that otherwise bother people or make them feel insecure.

Dr Kate:

Quoting the dictionary is not “ostrich-speech” (whatever that means) when a major point of your previous post was predicated on the notion that “the word evolution REALLY means…rejecting God.” Now, you are entitled to a belief that the theory of evolution requires someone to reject God. However, you are NOT entitled to redefine the meaning of a word

Not I. But I think we shouldn’t have that much of a struggle noticing that creationists react to the word “evolution” exactly as though it were an encoded symbol for denying their god. Just as the word “choice” is an encoding of the word “murder.” Most creationists could not give you even an outline of the canonical notion of evolution (differential reproductive rates), but would instead produce something like “the claim that my grandfather was an ape.”

Evolution isn’t a “code-word” for anything. It’s just a word. Period. Again, you are entitled to a belief that all scientists are evil, brainwashing devils, but you’re NOT allowed to redefine words to suit your religion.

Sorry, but you have missed the point. Words can mean whatever any large group of people agrees they mean. And in fact, that sort of specialized semantics, that jargon, is common to any political camp. And so the Randroids speak of taxation as theft (special meaning), and those who benefit from social programs as “looters” (special meaning). Words can and do become rallying slogans entirely independent of their nominal meanings. (And if you have a good dictionary, look up the derivation of nearly any word, and you’ll find that it has morphed a great deal from the original root).

…Or, even, just take them out of the classes that offend your “sensitive religious doctrines.” That’s your right. But it’s NOT your right to make sure that MY kid gets brainwashed into believing you’re particular brand of dogma.

What we have here is a political struggle. You speak of creationists’ political rights being restricted by your preferences, while creationists speak of their spiritual duty to convert the wicked (that’s you, of course) NO MATTER WHAT IT TAKES.

There’s an important reason why it’s not possible to be a creationist and honest at the same time. The evidence flatly contradicts creationist doctrine; thus the evidence must be ignored, misrepresented, taken out of context, or otherwise force-fit to doctrinal requirements. Since the doctrine is simply wrong on the merits, one cannot use merit defending it. But defense is still required by the tenets of the faith itself. Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons and the like are REQUIRED by their faith to preach door to door, and to fight to get their doctrine into any place it’s not already well established. MOST ESPECIALLY including YOUR kid’s brain.

The whole point here is that we can’t afford to sit back and expect our “rights” to be preserved simply because we like them. Creationism never sleeps. Rights are in practice NOT inherent, they are ALWAYS negotiated. Science deploys evidence and logic, creationism deploys boundless energy tied to unshakeable faith. This is a political battle. Should you lose it, you will retain the “right” to worship as the State permits, according to God’s Will (current administration’s version).

Comment #57668

Posted by improvius on November 15, 2005 2:20 PM (e)

Tim wrote:

Doesn’t Darwin’s modification through natural selection include the strong inference that nature’s unfolding is a blind, directionless process? This is where I’m sincerely confused. It seems either odd or disingenuous to me when scientists assert no contradiction between evolution and religion. Further, I’m left scratching my head when theistic evolutionists posit a similar claim.

Am I wrong in thinking that a blind process is unreconcilable with any notion of final cause or any kind of spiritual eschatology?

Don’t Newton’s Laws of Motion include the strong inference that the universe’s unfolding is a blind, directionless process? This is where I’m sincerely confused. It seems either odd or disingenuous to me when scientists assert no contradiction between physics and religion. Further, I’m left scratching my head when theistic physicists posit a similar claim.

Comment #57670

Posted by Caledonian on November 15, 2005 2:30 PM (e)

improvius wrote:

Don’t Newton’s Laws of Motion include the strong inference that the universe’s unfolding is a blind, directionless process?

No, they don’t.

Next question.

Comment #57671

Posted by Morbius on November 15, 2005 2:31 PM (e)

you can always play the deity card to have an explicit explanation of them.

The deity card does not explain anything, any more than “it’s magic” explains anything.

It’s predictively useless, but it is a very complete explanation. Even if it fails to explain God.

Contradiction. If it’s predictively useless, it isn’t an explanation, and you certainly aren’t explaining anything by saying “it’s the result of an unexplained cause through unexplained means”.

Comment #57673

Posted by Differentviewpoint on November 15, 2005 2:37 PM (e)

Personally I disagree with both sides of the argument. I trust science and the scientific method. So I will not be attacking science, instead I will attack the theory using Science only. First, in the scientific method you have to do an experiment to test a theory however what experiment can you do to disprove evolution? you can’t for the problem is in the theory it self for it is circular reasoning. The only experiments possible are attempts to prove the theory which unfortunately it is impossible for science to prove anything. Circular reasoning is a logic flaw in the theory thus the theory does not have to be accepted. It is quite apparent that adaptation occurs and quite frequently however in recorded history with people observing there has been no species that has truly evolved. The closest would be the dog however a some dogs are still able to breed with wolves and the offspring is viable therefore while adapted it has not evolved and even if it did it was not natural and therefore not in accord with the theory. While there is fossil evidence that proves nothing, because it is just assumed that one species evolved into another but there is no way to test that.
These same arguments can be made against the creationists. It is a circular reasoning as well with no way to test scientifically if it is true or not.
I understand that the theory of evolution is very useful in understanding biology but it is not fact just a theory and an untestable one at that.
As for challenging religion, to me the theory does not challenge religion. We do not know how god made the earth. In the bible god does not give moses a specific and detailed account of how he did it. Also Moses was not equipped with either the scientific or language skills to give a detailed account nor was it his intent to do so. However the account is surprisingly accurate if you do not force the time periods to be specifically days. If you take them to be periods instead then they fit pretty well with the accepted scientific viewpoint of how the earth was created and how/when the various species arose, the difference being of course birds.
As for a solution to the problem of what is taught in schools, if this were the only problem I would be happy and we could work on it, but don’t the school systems have bigger problems to work on that should be solved first? However since we are forced to deal with this subject, why not let the parents and students decided?

Comment #57675

Posted by Morbius on November 15, 2005 2:39 PM (e)

Doesn’t Darwin’s modification through natural selection include the strong inference that nature’s unfolding is a blind, directionless process?

If you think so, it’s up to you to explain why. It certainly isn’t self-evident. How, for instance, does NS imply that the meteorite strike 65 million years ago was blind and undirected? Or any other event or condition that favors some organisms over others?

Am I wrong in thinking that a blind process is unreconcilable with any notion of final cause or any kind of spiritual eschatology?

You’re certainly wrong to think it without being able to justify the claim.

Comment #57677

Posted by Morbius on November 15, 2005 2:42 PM (e)

Caledonian wrote:

improvius wrote:

Don’t Newton’s Laws of Motion include the strong inference that the universe’s unfolding is a blind, directionless process?

No, they don’t.

That was improvius’s point.

Comment #57681

Posted by Morbius on November 15, 2005 2:46 PM (e)

First, in the scientific method you have to do an experiment to test a theory however what experiment can you do to disprove evolution? you can’t for the problem is in the theory it self for it is circular reasoning. The only experiments possible are attempts to prove the theory which unfortunately it is impossible for science to prove anything. Circular reasoning is a logic flaw in the theory thus the theory does not have to be accepted.

Talk about circular reasoning! No, experiments are not “attempts to prove the theory”. You say you “trust” the scientific method – stop trusting and start investigating, because you seem to have no idea what the scientific method is.

Comment #57683

Posted by Morbius on November 15, 2005 2:49 PM (e)

in recorded history with people observing there has been no species that has truly evolved

blah blah complete ignorance blah blah.

Comment #57685

Posted by Katarina on November 15, 2005 2:53 PM (e)

Differentviewpoint again demonstrates the point I made earlier:

The creationist thinks that he/she embraces and loves science! But if this is so, why not believe the most respected scientific bodies in the world when they put their support behind evolution?

Is there a conspiracy theory?

In what way does the scientific method sheild against personal bias (presumably atheistic), and conspiracies?

Comment #57686

Posted by Morbius on November 15, 2005 2:54 PM (e)

I prefer to think of religion as providing answers to philosophical and semantic issues that otherwise bother people or make them feel insecure.

How is this any different than providing answers to empirical problems? In both cases, the “answers”, i.e., “explanations”, have the same question begging nature.

Comment #57690

Posted by Morbius on November 15, 2005 3:00 PM (e)

In what way does the scientific method sheild against personal bias (presumably atheistic), and conspiracies?

Because the scientific method is effective, and rewards results. Anyone, including scientists, can believe what they want, but if what they believe isn’t actually predictive, they won’t get anywhere.

Comment #57691

Posted by improvius on November 15, 2005 3:00 PM (e)

Katarina wrote:

Is there a conspiracy theory?

I have long maintained that Creationism/ID is exactly that - a conspiracy theory. And a somewhat vague one at that. Although I’m still not clear on what the overall goals of the conspiracy are supposed to be. I think it’s comparable to an Illuminati theory.

Comment #57695

Posted by qetzal on November 15, 2005 3:04 PM (e)

Rilke's Granddaughter wrote:

Do you really think so? Given the nature of the PoE, I would think that a ‘deity-free’ universe with undirected evolution is a better fit to observation.

Anton Mates explains my point very well in #57663. I concede it depends on your definition of “better fit.” Evolution is certainly the more parsimonious explanation.

Out of curiosity, do you include in ‘prediction’ the ability to explain new observations? Or simply the ability to generate potential ‘future’ events?

For example: given the MS and observation, one could have predicted that whale precursors would be found with certain characteristics.

But can one predict what an evolutionary descendent of a whale will look like?

No, I don’t think we can predict what a whale’s descendents will look like in a few million years. Certainly not given our present level of understanding, and maybe not ever, given the stochastic elements involved in evolution.

But I don’t see that as a problem. I don’t expect a theory to predict everything, even within its field. I’m only saying it has to predict some things.

The whale precursors is a fine example. In that case, the future ‘event’ evolution predicted was that we would find fossils of extinct organims with those characteristics. Evolution also predicts that we will not find fossils of whale-like organisms with bird wings.

Evolution predicts that genetic homologies will be consistent between organisms. We won’t find that chromosome 1 of some new mouse species is most closely related to another mouse, while chromosome 2 is most closely related to a shrew.

Those are all reliable predictions we can make based on the theory of evolution. In contrast, of course, creation by an omnipotent deity allows none of those predictions. Such a deity could, by definition, create a new mouse using chromosome 1 from another mouse, chromosome 2 from a shrew, and chromosome 3 from a starfish.

In fact, creationism can only make predictions if we assume there are some things the creator can’t (or won’t) do. I doubt that’s a conclusion most fundamentalists would like.

Comment #57696

Posted by Flint on November 15, 2005 3:05 PM (e)

Morbius:

How is this any different than providing answers to empirical problems? In both cases, the “answers”, i.e., “explanations”, have the same question begging nature.

I disagree, obviously. Saying “goddidit” certainly begs any question based on evidence, but doesn’t beg questions based on insecurity. Science simply can’t help you answer questions like “What is the purpose of life? Why am I here? Where will the “me” be after I die? Am I a good person?”

As far as I’m concerned, religion properly exists to provide “answers” to those questions, in the sense of anything that ameliorates the insecurity. The important thing is, there is no right answer to these questions, and every religion can provide a different answer and still serve the desired purpose.

Comment #57697

Posted by Morbius on November 15, 2005 3:05 PM (e)

P.S.

I don’t understand the parenthetical; it’s empirical bias that the scientific method filters out. Theistic scientists do just as good science as atheistic scientists.

Comment #57704

Posted by Morbius on November 15, 2005 3:11 PM (e)

Science simply can’t help you answer questions like “What is the purpose of life? Why am I here? Where will the “me” be after I die? Am I a good person?”

Nor can religion. It can make claims, but it can’t justify them. That’s question begging.

The important thing is, there is no right answer to these questions,

Actually, there are right answers, in the sense that semantic analysis can show that the questions are malformed or based on erroneous assumptions.

Comment #57708

Posted by Ron Zeno on November 15, 2005 3:15 PM (e)

Differentviewpoint wrote:

However since we are forced to deal with this subject, why not let the parents and students decided?

Golly, after your parroting of ridiculous creationist propaganda, you end with asking why parents and students shouldn’t decide?

Because we want our children to get the best possible education. Hopefully, an education far better than that of Differentviewpoint, who is so hopelessly confused by the same old creationist bs.

Comment #57709

Posted by improvius on November 15, 2005 3:16 PM (e)

Nor can religion. It can make claims, but it can’t justify them. That’s question begging.

Ah, but that’s the point. It still answers the questions. What you don’t seem to like is that it doesn’t answer them rationally. But then, it never claims to, does it? It’s based on faith, not reason. Faith is like the invisible boat you jump onto when you reach the end of reason’s pier.

Comment #57713

Posted by Morbius on November 15, 2005 3:24 PM (e)

Where will the “me” be after I die?

Where will the whirring of the fan be after the fan is turned off and dismantled? Science is showing that there is no empirical reason to think that there’s anything to “me” that isn’t, like the whirring of the fan, a manifestation of physical events in the brain. Science doesn’t answer the question if you assume that there’s something more to you than that, but it does reduce the assumption to no more than that – raw baseless assumption. Without that science, “me” seems to be a separate thing, just as “life” once seemed to be a separate thing. Religion “answered” the question “what is life” by talking about spirits and God’s breath and the like – science replaced such non-answers with real answers.

Comment #57714

Posted by Jeff Guinn on November 15, 2005 3:26 PM (e)

Flint:

Once again, full points on your postings.

You wrote:

“This is a disturbing notion, at least to me. You seem to be saying that there are two basic approaches to religious belief: wrong (idolators) and irrelevant (layering an unnecessary god onto a natural process to accomplish nothing useful). And of course, ‘rational inquiry’ basically means relegating any gods to the back burner, as vestigial anachronisms suffered by those who have managed to overcome their religious toilet training.”

I must not have made my point clearly – it wouldn’t be the first time.

The Bible makes specific statements about the natural world, statements that, within the Creationist universe must be true in order for the Bible, and the particular version of God Creationists worship, to be true. (Their formulation, not mine.)

The option they exclude is that God exists, but, as demonstrated by Nature itself through rational inquiry, is not the one they worship.

In other words, they are so busy condemning the messenger that they haven’t taken the message on board – they are idolators; rational inquiry has shown the God they worship isn’t the God that is. Their mistake is making their core spiritual values dependent upon physical implementation details.

Nor does rational inquiry relegate God to a back burner. It may well be that we could find some element in natural history that is in fact unbridgable by anything other than a miracle (anyone remember the cartoon about a student doing a mathematical proof, with “Then a miracle occurs” as one of the steps?).

That would bring God, or some proxy thereof, very much to the front burner, making assertions that science is somehow atheistic complete nonsense.

Comment #57715

Posted by Morbius on November 15, 2005 3:26 PM (e)

Ah, but that’s the point. It still answers the questions.

So does goddidit. Which was my point, as you’ll note if you follow along closely.

Comment #57717

Posted by Russell on November 15, 2005 3:27 PM (e)

Differentviewpoint wrote:

First, in the scientific method you have to do an experiment to test a theory however what experiment can you do to disprove evolution? you can’t for the problem is in the theory it self for it is circular reasoning.

I will charitably assume that Differentviewpoint is new to this discussion, as we’ve gone round the block many times with this particular misconception.

As J.B.S Haldane famously pointed out, evolution would be neatly disproved by finding a vertebrate fossil in pre-Cambrian rocks. Likewise, evolution would have been pretty well debunked if it turned out that DNA sequences did not closely reflect phylogeny as inferred by fossil, morphological, and other measures.

To say that a theory is, in principle, “unfalsifiable” is a whole different thing from saying a theory has survived every effort to disprove it, and at the moment no one can (or cares to waste his time trying to) think of yet another way to try to disprove it.

But, hey! You’re still welcome to look for that pre-Cambrian rabbit fossil, or the primate DNA that more closely resembles an earthworm’s than a human’s. Keep us posted!

Comment #57725

Posted by Katarina on November 15, 2005 3:33 PM (e)

Morbius,

I am not sure where you are unclear, but theism or atheism are irrelevant to scientific method. The next question is, are personal theistic MOTIVES relevant? So the creationists would say. What my creationist friends would tell you is that most scientists are in fact motivated by their atheism and are looking for conclusions that support their atheism. That this is what drives them to do science in the first place, and that in turn, this has an effect on their results and their conclusions.

My specific observation is that this is the accusation that we have not addressed thoroughly enough. We need to systematically answer such questions. I am not a scientist, but I have a vague familiarity with the process of sending out one’s work to scientific journals, getting papers published, and corresponding with other researchers on methods, hypotheses, conclusions, further research, etc., through my breif experience as a research assistant in college. Those doing the research may be better able to explain to lay people just how rigorous peer review is, and whether any kind of conspiracy could withstand it.

Comment #57726

Posted by Morbius on November 15, 2005 3:33 PM (e)

It may well be that we could find some element in natural history that is in fact unbridgable by anything other than a miracle

This is tantamount to saying that it may well be that argument from ignorance is not a fallacy.

anyone remember the cartoon about a student doing a mathematical proof, with “Then a miracle occurs” as one of the steps?

The point of such a “proof” is that it isn’t a proof and the thing being proved has not been proved at all. The point is the opposite of your statement – “miracle” is just a meaningless placeholder word that doesn’t do any explanatory work.

Comment #57728

Posted by Morbius on November 15, 2005 3:36 PM (e)

I am not sure where you are unclear

I’m not unclear. But perhaps you are.

Comment #57735

Posted by Stephen Netherwood on November 15, 2005 3:40 PM (e)

This ‘conservativeman’ is a complete (oxy)moron.

How can anyone expect to be taken seriously when they give themselves away with phrases like ‘non-theistic religions’?

A ‘non-theistic belief system’ might be a viable phrase but ‘non-theistic religion’ is simply an oxymoron. Only someone anxious to suggest that there is no difference between ‘believing’ in God and ‘believing’ in natural selection could seriously use such a phrase.

Comment #57737

Posted by Katarina on November 15, 2005 3:40 PM (e)

Maybe I am unclear. Unclear about what? I agreed with your comments. Maybe I mis-worded my comments, earlier. I don’t know. The point?

Comment #57745

Posted by improvius on November 15, 2005 3:51 PM (e)

So does goddidit. Which was my point, as you’ll note if you follow along closely.

Ok, I see that now. Maybe Flint’s point is that religious answers can still have value, even if all they do is make someone feel better. Or maybe they are useful in getting people out of strange mental loops that have no rational solution.

Comment #57754

Posted by Ron Zeno on November 15, 2005 3:57 PM (e)

Katarina wrote:

I am not a scientist, but I have a vague familiarity with the process of sending out one’s work to scientific journals, getting papers published, and corresponding with other researchers on methods, hypotheses, conclusions, further research, etc., through my breif experience as a research assistant in college. Those doing the research may be better able to explain to lay people just how rigorous peer review is, and whether any kind of conspiracy could withstand it.

Katarina has a good point here, something that I wish was well-covered in references from the PT home page. Basically, it would be nice to have a reference on how science works.

It’s more that just the peer review process that’s used to approve papers for publication (which usually includes the paper being revised to address reviewers’ concerns). It’s the process of accepting criticism of the paper once it is published and of clarifying how the research was done to allow anyone to attempt to duplicate it.

It’s the duplication of research and research findings that reduces the chances of bias, error, fraud, unconscious cheating, self-deception, etc.

Comment #57755

Posted by Flint on November 15, 2005 3:59 PM (e)

improvius:

Ah, but that’s the point. It still answers the questions. What you don’t seem to like is that it doesn’t answer them rationally. But then, it never claims to, does it? It’s based on faith, not reason. Faith is like the invisible boat you jump onto when you reach the end of reason’s pier.

Bingo. There really ARE no right answers to ill-formed or meaningless questions, there are only satisfying or unsatisfying answers. Religion provides satisfying answers. Satisfying answers are not non-answers, regardless of how UNsafisfying Morbious himself finds them. If he found them satisfying, he’d be religious. Indeed, if he found the questions themselves meaningful, he’d be well along that path.

Yet these are questions people commit suicide and fight wars and undermine educational curricula over. Waving them away does not satisfy those who are deeply concerned with finding answers to them.

Jeff Guinn:

The Bible makes specific statements about the natural world, statements that, within the Creationist universe must be true in order for the Bible, and the particular version of God Creationists worship, to be true. (Their formulation, not mine.)

The option they exclude is that God exists, but, as demonstrated by Nature itself through rational inquiry, is not the one they worship.

I’m not sure I follow this very well. You seem to be saying that creationists have misdefined their god, in such a way as to come into conflict with science. But for them to regard any god(s) as maybe (though we haven’t found the evidence yet) somehow involved in reliable natural processes is to admit that their conception of both god and scripture is profoundly wrong. Not likely, I’m afraid. For them, a god that doesn’t produce clear miracles, in defiance of physical law, is no god at all.

Katarina:

What my creationist friends would tell you is that most scientists are in fact motivated by their atheism and are looking for conclusions that support their atheism…My specific observation is that this is the accusation that we have not addressed thoroughly enough. We need to systematically answer such questions.

I’m inclined to agree with you here. This is just another way of phrasing what I’ve been trying to say all along here (maybe your way communicates better than mine). To the creationist, his god is is an obvious, direct, unavoidable, atomic observation. These are supposed to be the bedrock of science, right? How could any sane person possibly, honestly deny the manifest presence of God? This would be like denying the existence of the sun! (and in fact, recognizing the sun is PART of recognizing God, who created it!)

And therefore, something must be wrong with scientists, some irrational Fear of the Lord, that drives them to deny the self-evident and spend their whole lives wallowing in that denial. What incredible fear, what desperation!

Comment #57756

Posted by Rilke's Granddaughter on November 15, 2005 4:01 PM (e)

The irony is that DifferentPointOfView may have a legitimate concern: evolution the theory is devilishly hard to falsify. After all, the two key mechanisms are observations: replication of living organisms is imperfect, introducing variants in a population; and variation affects reproductive success. Even if exceptions were found, that wouldn’t change the observations.

At this point, even if we found the legendary Pre-Cambrian Rabbit (PCR), it would not ‘falsify’ the observations mentioned above. All a given observation might do is indicate that, for a specific population or individual, certain features were not produced by variation+selection (+drift, etc. - I’m simplifying).

Like any good theory, it’s a collection of strongly supported hypotheses - falsifying one doesn’t necessarily invalidate the others.

Can we really falsify evolution?

Comment #57757

Posted by Morbius on November 15, 2005 4:02 PM (e)

Katarina: You asked

“In what way does the scientific method sheild against personal bias (presumably atheistic), and conspiracies?”

Now you say “I am not sure where you are unclear, but theism or atheism are irrelevant to scientific method.”
Which is exactly what I said (emphasis added): “it’s empirical bias that the scientific method filters out”.

I gave an answer to your question about how the scientific method guards against bias – the scientific method rewards results, it’s built upon what works; unlike with psychics and prophets, predictions have to actually be borne out. Peer review is not a part of the scientific method proper – Galileo wasn’t peer reviewed. Peer review is a filter that forces scientists to carefully validate their work before it is submitted to a wider audience. It’s an efficiency measure, but science can be done without it. Note that not just science is peer reviewed; many philosophy journals are also peer reviewed, but that doesn’t get the content of philosophy journals any closer to the truth (at least not discernably).

As for disabusing creationists of their false beliefs about science and scientists, we aren’t likely to be able to do that when we can’t disabuse them of far more obvious false beliefs; the problem lies deeper than that.

Comment #57760

Posted by Morbius on November 15, 2005 4:07 PM (e)

The irony is that DifferentPointOfView may have a legitimate concern: evolution the theory is devilishly hard to falsify.

This misconceptualizes falsification. The point is not to falsify a theory, it is for theories to be falsifiable. It’s devilishly hard to falsify what isn’t false.

Can we really falsify evolution?

No, because it isn’t false. But if it were, that would have become evident.

Comment #57762

Posted by Rilke's Granddaughter on November 15, 2005 4:11 PM (e)

I agree with Flint. In fact, a theist nailed this problem long ago. Aquinas said

However, it is to be borne in mind, in regard to the philosophical sciences, that the inferior sciences neither prove their principles nor dispute with those who deny them, but leave this to a higher science; whereas the highest of them, viz. metaphysics, can dispute with one who denies its principles, if only the opponent will make some concession; but if he concede nothing, it can have no dispute with him, though it can answer his objections. Hence Sacred Scripture, since it has no science above itself, can dispute with one who denies its principles only if the opponent admits some at least of the truths obtained through divine revelation; thus we can argue with heretics from texts in Holy Writ, and against those who deny one article of faith, we can argue from another. If our opponent believes nothing of divine revelation, there is no longer any means of proving the articles of faith by reasoning, but only of answering his objections–if he has any–against faith. Since faith rests upon infallible truth, and since the contrary of a truth can never be demonstrated, it is clear that the arguments brought against faith cannot be demonstrations, but are difficulties that can be answered.

in other words, the theist knows that the atheist is wrong. It’s just a matter of finding the error - but he knows, a priori, that the error is there.

Comment #57763

Posted by Morbius on November 15, 2005 4:12 PM (e)

Following up: the ToE is not a fixed statement. What survives in the ToE is that which, while falsifiable, has not been falsified. That which has been falsified has been discarded. Thus, the current theory is robust and resistant to falsification – theories evolve.

http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/evolphil/falsify.html

It is significant that, although it is often claimed that Darwinism is unfalsifiable, many of the things Darwin said have in fact been falsified. Many of his assertions of fact have been revised or denied, many of his mechanisms rejected or modified even by his strongest supporters (e.g., by Mayr, Gould, Lewontin, and Dawkins), and he would find it hard to recognise some versions of modern selection theory as his natural selection theory. This is exactly what a student of the history of science would expect. Science moves on, and if a theory doesn’t, that is strong prima facie evidence it actually is a metaphysical belief.

Comment #57764

Posted by Arden Chatfield on November 15, 2005 4:13 PM (e)

How can anyone expect to be taken seriously when they give themselves away with phrases like ‘non-theistic religions’?

A ‘non-theistic belief system’ might be a viable phrase but ‘non-theistic religion’ is simply an oxymoron

Not really. Some denominations of Buddhism, such as Theravada, have been defined (correctly, in my opinion) as ‘non-theistic religions’.

However, I highly doubt that’s what Conservativeman had in mind. I think he was using it as a category for us wicked secular humanists. You know, ‘science is a religion’, all that.

Comment #57766

Posted by Rilke's Granddaughter on November 15, 2005 4:15 PM (e)

But Morbius, that’s my point - can the theory of evolution actually be falsified? I would claim no - some mechanism can be shown to be unecessary or not present, but the theory cannot be shown to be false.

Comment #57767

Posted by Morbius on November 15, 2005 4:17 PM (e)

Bingo. There really ARE no right answers to ill-formed or meaningless questions, there are only satisfying or unsatisfying answers. Religion provides satisfying answers. Satisfying answers are not non-answers, regardless of how UNsafisfying Morbious himself finds them. If he found them satisfying, he’d be religious. Indeed, if he found the questions themselves meaningful, he’d be well along that path.

As I noted, there are rational reasons to find the questions meaningless, malformed, or based on erroneous or hidden assumptions. It isn’t just a matter of personal levels of satisfaction or unsatisfaction.

Comment #57771

Posted by Morbius on November 15, 2005 4:26 PM (e)

But Morbius, that’s my point - can the theory of evolution actually be falsified? I would claim no - some mechanism can be shown to be unecessary or not present, but the theory cannot be shown to be false.

Again, the theory cannot be shown to be false if it isn’t false. The current ToE consists only of what isn’t, or hasn’t yet been, shown false. To say that the ToE can’t be shown false, in your sense, is like saying that the theory of physics can’t be shown to be false – where the theory of physics is whatever it is, independent of any specifics. That’s a tautology, but like so many tautologies it’s pointless – whereas real falsification, in Popper’s sense, is not. Of course, if evolution is true, then there is some valid theory of evolution. What you are saying is that it isn’t possible to show that there is no valid theory. Right, it isn’t possible to show that, because it isn’t true. But that’s irrelevant.

Comment #57773

Posted by Rilke's Granddaughter on November 15, 2005 4:29 PM (e)

I guess I’m not making my point clear. I’m not arguing about a detached version of reality; and I agree that the Modern Synthesis does consist of those mechanisms and hypotheses that have not been eliminated. But can the Modern Synthesis be ‘disproved’? Can the Modern Synthesis be falsified? In a very real and critical sense, it can’t be - no matter how many PCRs we might find.

Comment #57774

Posted by Differentviewpoint on November 15, 2005 4:35 PM (e)

Well thanks for not really looking at what I was saying that was cool
“No, because it isn’t false. But if it were, that would have become evident.”
That is a classic example of circular reasoning.
“No, experiments are not “attempts to prove the theory”. You say you “trust” the scientific method — stop trusting and start investigating, because you seem to have no idea what the scientific method is.”
that’s cool, you misquote me. I did not say that the experiments were to prove but to disprove. Like I said it is impossible to prove anything. For a theory to be acceptable it has to be disprovable and not provable. As was pointed out the question is if even if you find human tracks with that of dinosaurs or a rabbit fossil in another period the theory would still hold simply because it is circular or whatever evidence can be used to support the theory. Don’t try telling me about the scientific method if you don’t know it yourself.
Also in finding DNA of a earthworm like that of a monkey. That’s just stupid to ask. It is like trying to find the same computer coding in mspaint as is in the apple os. However you can find a lot of the similar coding in the apple os and the windows os or a Linux os. In a way you could apply the theory to evolution to computers and it would fit perfectly.

Comment #57775

Posted by Morbius on November 15, 2005 4:36 PM (e)

In a very real and critical sense, it can’t be

Then how, prey tell, did we arrive at it? The Modern Synthesis can be disproved if God rearranges the world to eliminate the evidence that supports it. It can be disproved in other worlds, not this one. It’s falsifiable but not false.

Comment #57776

Posted by Katarina on November 15, 2005 4:40 PM (e)

Morbius,

Oh, I get it.

You’re right, the problem is deeper for some, but not all. How well do you understand creationists? I am surrounded by them. My friends, my neighbors, even my husband, to some extent, though he’s coming around. They believe creationists because they were raised to dis-trust scientists, in particular evolutionary scientists.

I talk to them every day, deal with them every day. Believe me, talking about what science is and is not (as Eugenie Scott and others have already advocated) goes a long way. Going into more detail with that discussion does reach people, especially if they view scientists as elitists in “ivory towers.”

Comment #57777

Posted by improvius on November 15, 2005 4:42 PM (e)

As was pointed out the question is if even if you find human tracks with that of dinosaurs or a rabbit fossil in another period the theory would still hold simply because it is circular or whatever evidence can be used to support the theory.

That’s just wrong. There’s nothing AT ALL circular about evolutionary theory. It is hypothetically possible to find MOUNTAINS of evidence that disprove it. People have looked for that evidence, but have not found it. Now explain to me how you think that is circular.

Comment #57778

Posted by Flint on November 15, 2005 4:45 PM (e)

Morbius:

As I noted, there are rational reasons to find the questions meaningless, malformed, or based on erroneous or hidden assumptions. It isn’t just a matter of personal levels of satisfaction or unsatisfaction.

We aren’t communicating. I agree with all you say. Nobody has accused creationists or for that matter True Believers (in the biblical sense that faith is belief in the absence of evidence) are rational. You are saying: Personal satisfaction is irrelevant to irrational people. But most people are irrational in important ways, and questions like those I posed have been taken seriously, as meaningful, by the majority of people since the dawn of recorded history. You contemptuously wave them all away. Too bad your waving doesn’t make them GO away, or stop collecting big sums of money to be spent for political campaigns and PR efforts.

RGD:

I’m not sure I follow you either. Are you saying that the theory of evolution is by now supported by such an enormous body of evidence, that it has ipso facto achieved too much inertia for a few PCRs to budge much? What would we do, do you suppose? Layer on the presumption of some future invention of a time machine, and carry on?

Comment #57779

Posted by Sir_Toejam on November 15, 2005 4:50 PM (e)

I understand that the theory of evolution is very useful in understanding biology but it is not fact just a theory and an untestable one at that.

by the logic presented in your post, ALL theories are inherently untestable.

simply because we proceed from the idea that theories can only be refuted, not proven, in no way means they are untestable. It would be very correct to say that no theory is “provable”, however it is not the function of scientific theories to “prove” anything to begin with. It is the strict avoidance of dogma that makes science what it is, and able to be as successful as it has in answering questions that arise from our own observations.

on another topic, someone pointed out the value in reminding others of the “beauty” inherent in many scientific theories, including evolutionary theory.

I know, for me at least, that when i was much younger, the idea that modern evolutionary theory was NOT random or directionless was what made it so appealing.

What i mean by that, is that while mutations that produce variation might be stochastic, selection pressures themselves produce far from random results.

Growing understanding of how selection pressures balance against one another, to continuously modify all living things, was the primary thing that sparked my interest in evolutionary biology when i was a senior in high school, and only has compounded itself as i have grown older.

the issue continues to attract the interest of many, even including long time luminaries in the field like Trivers:

http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/trivers04/trivers04_index.html

another aside:

I think many get hung up on the artificial constructs scientists use to categorize things for easier study. taxonomic concepts aren’t meant to define philosophical principles, but rather just to more easily categorize the things we see around us to expediate study.

In so doing, i think this is where many people (religious and non) get confused between the similarly artificial contstructs of “micro” vs. “macro” evolution, rather than thinking of evolution working on a continuous basis.

while the argument as to what constitutes a species is an interesting one, it at heart is an artificial one designed merely for expediency, and is too often misused in creationist arguments, as well demonstrated in the thread about bacteria recently posted above this thread.

Comment #57780

Posted by Wesley R. Elsberry on November 15, 2005 4:52 PM (e)

A point to clarify: “evolution” is a class of phenomena. Instances in that class are identified by the diagnostic characteristic of allele frequency [or association] change in populations over time. (Mayr pumps for “changes in adaptation and diversity”, but I prefer an objectively quantifiable definition.) Allele frequencies have been observed to change in populations over time, which establishes instances in the class of phenomena called “evolution”. Because the class “evolution” has instances, it exists. The *only* way to disprove “evolution” per se is to show that *every* *single* *one* of the studies that document the diagnostic characteristic of the phenomenon to somehow have been wrong. *Each* one, one by one and separately. Nothing else will suffice.

There are many separate (and separable) theories which attempt to explain how the phenomena identified as evolutionary occur. These I term “evolutionary mechanism theories”, which has some degree of useful redundancy.

Comment #57781

Posted by Morbius on November 15, 2005 4:53 PM (e)

“No, because it isn’t false. But if it were, that would have become evident.”
That is a classic example of circular reasoning.

No, it isn’t.

T (theory) -> E (evidence)

!E -> !T

It’s a simple contrapositive.

that’s cool, you misquote me. I did not say that the experiments were to prove but to disprove.

No, I did not misquote you.

http://www.pandasthumb.org/archives/2005/11/the_fundamental.html#comment-57673

The only experiments possible are attempts to prove the theory which unfortunately it is impossible for science to prove anything.

I can’t see any value in further conversation with you. Have a nice day.

Comment #57782

Posted by Differentviewpoint on November 15, 2005 4:56 PM (e)

In the same way it is hypothetically possible to find mountains of evidence to disprove that God created the world. What about the second law of Thermo Dynamics? that is evidence against ToE.
This is another example of why it is a circle:
“Right, it isn’t possible to show that, because it isn’t true.”

I will agree that many religions are irrational and do indeed worship false gods. Religion like science should be a search for truth. In my religion all truth is accepted wether religious or scientific.

A proof for the creation would go something like this:
If God created the world, then the fossil evidence would support the way it is written in the bible (assuming of course that the bible is translated correctly and/or is the word of god).
I would venture to say that discounting the days part the evidence is in favor of the biblical record.

Comment #57783

Posted by Morbius on November 15, 2005 4:57 PM (e)

We aren’t communicating.

Indeed.

I agree with all you say.

As you mischaracterize what I have said.

You contemptuously wave them all away.

When in doubt, go ad hominem.

Comment #57784

Posted by improvius on November 15, 2005 4:58 PM (e)

Yeah, that looks like a 100% accurate direct quote to me, too.

Comment #57785

Posted by Sir_Toejam on November 15, 2005 5:00 PM (e)

What about the second law of Thermo Dynamics? that is evidence against ToE

uh, are you joking?

Comment #57786

Posted by Flint on November 15, 2005 5:04 PM (e)

Morbius:

Take chip off shoulder. Try again.

As you mischaracterize what I have said.

Not intentionally, if at all. Can you point out where this is so?

When in doubt, go ad hominem.

No doubts, no ad hominem either. The world is filled with irrational people trying to do inimical things. Dismissing them as irrational is both accurate and missing the point. Remember, this is a thread about how people in Kansas, as exemplified by Conservativeman, see the world. You seem to be saying: But this way of seeing the world is WRONG! And I agree, it IS wrong. My goal isn’t to show that it’s wrong, but to understand how and why people come to those conclusions, and how this can be made less common in the future.

Comment #57787

Posted by Morbius on November 15, 2005 5:05 PM (e)

A point to clarify: “evolution” is a class of phenomena. Instances in that class are identified by the diagnostic characteristic of allele frequency [or association] change in populations over time.

But evolution in that sense is not what either creationists or RGD say isn’t falsifiable. RGD mentions the Modern Synthesis, but that’s falsifiable because it would be demonstrably false if there were no genes. The creationists are talking about common descent or “common ancestry”, especially as it applies to humans. That too is falsifiable because it would be demonstrably false if there were no genetic or morphological regularities and hierarchies.

Comment #57789

Posted by Sir_Toejam on November 15, 2005 5:06 PM (e)

just in case you weren’t, I’m not even going to bother going into why that is so wrong. I just refer you to here:

http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/thermo.html

if you actually wish to discuss why you are wrong after reading that, please start a thread in the ABC area where you can demonstrate more clearly why you think any law of thermodynamics refutes TOE.

Comment #57790

Posted by Morbius on November 15, 2005 5:08 PM (e)

no ad hominem either

Making claims about my attitudes certainly is. This conversation isn’t profitable.

Comment #57791

Posted by improvius on November 15, 2005 5:10 PM (e)

I don’t even know where to begin to address all of the incorrect statements in post 57782. At this point, I am afraid that DVP is a True Believer™, and any further discussion on my part (or on the part of anyone else here, for that matter) would be futile.

Comment #57792

Posted by Julie on November 15, 2005 5:10 PM (e)

Katarina wrote:

I am not a scientist, but I have a vague familiarity with the process of sending out one’s work to scientific journals, getting papers published, and corresponding with other researchers on methods, hypotheses, conclusions, further research, etc., through my breif experience as a research assistant in college. Those doing the research may be better able to explain to lay people just how rigorous peer review is, and whether any kind of conspiracy could withstand it.

I’m less experienced than some of the folks here, but I’ve been first author on several papers and the heavily contributing second author on another. I’ve also served as a referee a couple of times, have felt very much honored to be asked to do so, and take that task very seriously.

I can describe what the process has been like for me as an author or co-author of scientific papers:

First paper: Accepted by a major journal with only minor changes.

Second paper: Submitted to a major journal, which didn’t accept it on the first try but suggested that we (a.) use an additional data analysis method and (b.) resubmit the paper. We did both, and the journal published the paper on our second try.

Third paper: Submitted to a major journal, which rejected it on the first try but suggested we add a few more lab experiments and re-submit. This paper included some findings that were most definitely unexpected. One reviewer remarked that the paper was very interesting, but since extraordinary claims required extraordinary evidence, we needed to do a bit more. We did the additional experiments, which supported the claim much more strongly than did the initial experiments, and the journal accepted and published the revised version.

Fourth paper: Got a non-committal review from one referee and a positive one from a second referee, but the referees and editor felt that the paper would be more suited to a journal in a different subspecialty. So, that paper’s been revised and submitted elsewhere. Still awaiting editorial decision.

In one of the cases above, a co-author and I both disagreed with a comment made by a referee, and explained our position in a polite and professional manner in our next cover letter to the editor. I think this went a long way. It’s important to remember that journal referees aren’t looking for a fight; they’re simply commenting whenever they find something unclear or unconvincing, and it’s the writer’s job to support and clarify his or her claims on request. My experience has always been that the review process improves a paper, sometimes vastly. A scientist who is convinced that he or she knows everything won’t get very far!

Incidentally, though getting that third paper published was a rigorous process, it was anything but insurmountable. The referees cared less that the findings were unusual than that they be very, very well supported by evidence. Referees won’t ask you to take anything on faith, but they’ll certainly expect you to be very familiar with the previous literature!

Comment #57793

Posted by Sir_Toejam on November 15, 2005 5:11 PM (e)

Morbius:

Take chip off shoulder. Try again.

see, I’m not the only one who feels this way, M. We all have a chip on our shoulder of some kind, but yours appears inordinately large.

don’t take offense, I have had the same lecture pointed at myself many times.

Comment #57795

Posted by Morbius on November 15, 2005 5:13 PM (e)

M. We all have a chip on our shoulder of some kind, but yours appears inordinately large.

Once again, STJ, take it to ABC, along with Flint.

Comment #57796

Posted by Sir_Toejam on November 15, 2005 5:19 PM (e)

uh, the point is, Morbius, that your constant ascerbic attitude is taking away from the substantive points you are making, and forcing the rest of us to spend energy responding to them.

If you don’t want to acknowlege that, then you all you do is make that chip on your shoulder even bigger.

I tried to take this OT because i didn’t want to waste any more time OT with it, but your continuing attitude forces the issue.

deal with it.

Comment #57797

Posted by Morbius on November 15, 2005 5:22 PM (e)

Stop being such an ass. This is a board about evolution and ID, not about me.

Comment #57798

Posted by Sir_Toejam on November 15, 2005 5:22 PM (e)

hell, at least tend to reserve your scorn for those that really deserve it, rather than, well EVERYBODY.

Comment #57799

Posted by Sir_Toejam on November 15, 2005 5:25 PM (e)

This is a board about evolution and ID, not about me

i think you missed my point, you ARE making it about you.

If you can’t admit your own character flaws, it will degrade your own performance on more substantive issues.

that’s all.

Comment #57803

Posted by Morbius on November 15, 2005 5:30 PM (e)

i think you missed my point, you ARE making it about you.

I don’t control your keyboard.

If you can’t admit your own character flaws, it will degrade your own performance on more substantive issues.

That’s about me. I didn’t type it. QED.

Anyone want to talk about evolution and ID?

Comment #57804

Posted by Russell on November 15, 2005 5:35 PM (e)

DpoV wrote:

As was pointed out the question is if even if you find human tracks with that of dinosaurs or a rabbit fossil in another period the theory would still hold simply because it is circular or whatever evidence can be used to support the theory.

As written, this makes no sense. Is there a typo in there somewhere, the correction of which would render it grammatical and sensible?

Don’t try telling me about the scientific method if you don’t know it yourself.
Also in finding DNA of a earthworm like that of a monkey. That’s just stupid to ask. It is like trying to find the same computer coding in mspaint as is in the apple os. However you can find a lot of the similar coding in the apple os and the windows os or a Linux os. In a way you could apply the theory to evolution to computers and it would fit perfectly.

Again, this makes no sense to me.

ToE predicts that there will be a graded continuum of similarity between the genetic material of organisms that reflects their ancestry. That’s a prediction you can test. If it were not borne out, then bye-bye ToE. None of this talk of computer code changes those simple facts.

(Incidentally, I don’t find your tone particularly conducive to productive discourse. If your next response is similarly unhelpful, I’ll just wish you a nice life and be done with you.)

Comment #57806

Posted by C.J.Colucci on November 15, 2005 5:36 PM (e)

Tim B.:
To respond to your question, the only objection I would have to your proposed three K-12 courses is that whoever we got to teach them would probably make a hash of it. If we could get past that, fine.
But a comparative religion course, which I would favor given competent instructors, would be a political disaster. The last thing any religiously zealous parent would want is a course that treats his or her religion as one set of beliefs among others with no privileged claim to truth and either explicitly or implicitly encourages the kiddies to compare and evaluate their competing claims and rules.

Comment #57807

Posted by Differentviewpoint on November 15, 2005 5:38 PM (e)

“ALL theories are inherently untestable.”
No I will give you an example, Gravity- if mass atracts mass when you drop something it will fall if you are on earth. try that test. If it doesn’t work the perhaps Gravity doesn’t exist.

It seems really easy for you guys to just give someone a label and dismiss, not even consider for one moment if something is right or not. not even put it to the test. you call your selfs supporters of science but you do not even use science in the answering of simple questions to your theory. instead you label, make fun of, scorn or simply ignore any attempt at discussion by the other side. I will admit that many religous do the same thing however that does not make them right either. If there is no room for dissent then science stops and it becomes just dogma. A dogma that is as much a religion as any other religion. Where is the evidence that what I said is wrong? And while you guys are in the mood of talking bad about religions, you just give the conservitaves so much more reason to think that they are right. In this simple discussion board you have shown that in a small way the Conservativeman was complettly and utterly right to have his views. Not because they are right but because of the beating up of those that would impose thier world view on others. You guys are worse then the worst JW or Mormon that ever existed if you are like that because you would use the law to force what has become apparent to be your belief system on others. Interestingly the JW just try to show you are wrong and the Mormons just want you to read a book and then do a test, pray about it.

Comment #57808

Posted by PaulC on November 15, 2005 5:40 PM (e)

What about the second law of Thermo Dynamics? that is evidence against ToE

No it isn’t. The 2nd law states that entropy cannot decrease in a closed system. But entropy is not exactly what conventional wisdom holds it to be. Entropy http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Entropy is a measure of the number of possible states of a system and physical systems can exhibit self-organization without decreasing the entropy. Indeed, a highly organized system may have many more possible states and therefore higher entropy than the less organized starting conditions. Self-organization includes easily repeatable phenomena such as snowflake formation; if these don’t contradict the 2nd law, then why would evolution?

Talk origins covers this briefly since the misunderstanding is so common. http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-misconceptions.html#thermo

The misconception really is a bit hard to shake, and the fact that the earth isn’t a closed system, while true, isn’t exactly the point in my opinion. Self-organization is a well-established repeatable phenomenon and often occurs concurrently with increasing entropy. What we see is a system going from something intuitively “uninteresting” to something “more interesting” that we call organized. The point often neglected is that the more interesting state can actually have higher entropy than the uninteresting one. This is where the common intuition about entropy fails.

Comment #57809

Posted by Differentviewpoint on November 15, 2005 5:40 PM (e)

sorry Russell I was responding to someone else. Thanks for your reply

Comment #57810

Posted by Morbius on November 15, 2005 5:42 PM (e)

“ALL theories are inherently untestable.”

Talk about misquoting!

Troll, troll, troll, along, gently down the stream …

Comment #57813

Posted by PaulC on November 15, 2005 5:45 PM (e)

After posting, I realize I used the phrase “more interesting state.” To clarify, I am referring to the macroscopic state, which encompasses many possible states in the sense needed to determine entropy.

Comment #57814

Posted by Katarina on November 15, 2005 5:45 PM (e)

Julie,

Thank you. Your description demonstrates a very straight-forward process which demands evidence and extensive fact-checking.

Comment #57815

Posted by Morbius on November 15, 2005 5:49 PM (e)

Self-organization includes easily repeatable phenomena such as snowflake formation; if these don’t contradict the 2nd law, then why would evolution?

Or if babies growing into adults doesn’t contradict 2LOT …

Comment #57816

Posted by darwinfinch on November 15, 2005 5:51 PM (e)

“Differentpointofview” would more aptly be call it/her/himself “Sameoldbu–sh–“.

Comment #57817

Posted by improvius on November 15, 2005 5:51 PM (e)

DVP wrote:

It seems really easy for you guys to just give someone a label and dismiss, not even consider for one moment if something is right or not. not even put it to the test. you call your selfs supporters of science but you do not even use science in the answering of simple questions to your theory.

I understand that’s how it may seem to you. The reality is that most of us have seen these same arguments (entropy, circular theory, etc.) over and over again. They were wrong the first time we saw them, and they’re wrong again this time. It’s not that we haven’t considered your point, it’s that we’ve already researched it extensively. We did the homework a long time ago.

The other problem is that, in my experience, no amount of arguing or presentation of evidence will sway someone who comes in with those arguments. So while I’m interested to see what the others can do with you, I can’t bring myself to make the effort.

Comment #57818

Posted by PaulC on November 15, 2005 5:54 PM (e)

Morbius merely provides valuable quality feedback to keep our discussion precise and intellectually honest. Sometimes he provides valuable meta-quality feedback to keep us from personalizing things or spending inordinate time accusing other posters of expressing hostility, having a chip on their shoulder, etc. Morbius would never do this himself. As anyone can see, his only ambition is to maintain quality at all levels spanning from content to level of discourse. Think of him as Mr. Quality.

Comment #57821

Posted by Katarina on November 15, 2005 5:57 PM (e)

Differentviewpoint:

This is a discussion, not science. Everyone and anyone is free to say whatever they please. And you are perfect for venting their anger with creationists in general, or even with each other. They will take it out on you, they are human, and it has nothing to do with evolution in general.

Now that you have been labeled a troll, it will be very difficult for you to get into a discussion with any desirable results. Take my advice, don’t expose yourself to abuse, leave while your dignity is still intact.

Comment #57823

Posted by Morbius on November 15, 2005 5:59 PM (e)

It’s not that we haven’t considered your point, it’s that we’ve already researched it extensively.

We have, in fact, considered and addressed it right here. With the consequence of being falsely accused of misquoting, and having our own statements quoted wildly out of context, reversing their meaning.

PaulC wrote:

Morbius merely …

OT. Take it to ABC, where you and STJ can discuss me to your heart’s content without bothering the folks here who are interested in evolution and ID.

Comment #57824

Posted by Stephen Elliott on November 15, 2005 6:04 PM (e)

Morbius,
Quick question.
Do you post elsewhere as “Ghost of Paley”?

Comment #57825

Posted by Morbius on November 15, 2005 6:04 PM (e)

Now that you have been labeled a troll

I labelled DVP a troll for falsely accusing me of misquoting him or her, and then turning around and changing STJ’s

by the logic presented in your post, ALL theories are inherently untestable.

to

“ALL theories are inherently untestable.”

Comment #57826

Posted by PaulC on November 15, 2005 6:05 PM (e)

Thanks for the meta-quality feedback, Morbius. My fingertips are quivering with my newly enhanced level of discourse. Somehow taking it to ABC wouldn’t do this announcement justice.

Comment #57828

Posted by 1/2smartenough on November 15, 2005 6:08 PM (e)

Morbius-
As good as you have stated the posistion on scientific vs. ID, doesn’t it come down to the challenges and what slant a court puts on the decision? I don’t mean to throw it on you soley to answer, but I have taken alot of what you said as better than I could have ever put it.

I can only sit from the back and know that I don’t like ID as science, in a world religion class I could accept some of the ID theories.

Comment #57829

Posted by Morbius on November 15, 2005 6:08 PM (e)

Do you post elsewhere as “Ghost of Paley”?

Do you ask ridiculous questions elsewhere?

Comment #57833

Posted by Morbius on November 15, 2005 6:20 PM (e)

As good as you have stated the posistion on scientific vs. ID, doesn’t it come down to the challenges and what slant a court puts on the decision?

I’m not quite sure what you mean by “it”. Court decisions will affect (but will not solely determine) the course of science education in the U.S., but they don’t determine whether ID really is science.

I can only sit from the back and know that I don’t like ID as science, in a world religion class I could accept some of the ID theories.

Well, the ID claim that the complexity of life implies a designer is certainly something that could be mentioned in a world religion class, but when it comes to talk about irreducible complexity, specified complexity, and the like, I think there’s a problem discussing them in that context.

Comment #57865

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 15, 2005 7:34 PM (e)

Once again with feeling: There is no neutral. Those not FOR God are AGAINST God. Period.

But ID’s not about religion. No siree, Bob.

(snicker) (giggle)

Comment #57867

Posted by Pierce R. Butler on November 15, 2005 7:39 PM (e)

Rilke’s Granddaughter: … to somehow find an experiment to test for God. But they’ve yet to develop one.

I and numerous of my friends have shouted explicit insults and blasphemies at the sky, yet none of us has been struck by much worse than a hangover the next morning. Maybe if we tried it during a thunderstorm, wearing pointy-tipped tinfoil (not aluminum!) hats…

But can one predict what an evolutionary descendent of a whale will look like?

Extrapolating from recent observations, it will look extinct.

can the theory of evolution actually be falsified?

Darwin, iirc, suggested that his theory could be disproven by finding a single species which behaved more for the benefit of another species than for its own.

Comment #57871

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 15, 2005 7:43 PM (e)

Personally, I have no problem with escalating the culture wars. The sooner we go head to head with the fundies on their issues, the better.

I agree. I say we drive them into the ground. Particularly now, when they are at their weakest.

Yeah, from time to time you’ll get some clown popping up saying, “Oh, that guy morbius and Lenny Flank are the nastiest anti-religion bullies that’s why I’ll never be convinced that evolution is real.”

I see no need to make nice-nice with the nutters. My strategy for dealing with them is simple —- I kick them, kick them again, kick them till they’re down, kick them in the head as they lie there, then run them over with a truck just to make sure.

My aim is to destroy them, utterly, as an effective political movement. I want to trash all their arguments, exacerbate all their internal schisms, cut them off from their funding, turn their ideas into public laughingstocks, and crush them completely in any and all relevant elections.

In this fight, one side will win, one side won’t. I want our side to be the one that will win, and their side to be the one that won’t. I make no promise in any of that to be “nice”. Or even “polite”.

And I make no apologies for any of that.

Comment #57876

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 15, 2005 7:53 PM (e)

(sigh)

Are we gonna have another religious war?

What the hell good will that do?

Comment #57880

Posted by Morbius on November 15, 2005 7:58 PM (e)

But can one predict what an evolutionary descendent of a whale will look like?

One can predict that it will bear morphological and genetic similarities to whales. We can make relatively precise estimates of the degree of similarity of the genome as a function of how far into the future the descendant occurs. But asking to draw a picture is a bit like asking a physicist who will live and who will die from a nuclear bomb blast.

Comment #57883

Posted by H. Humbert on November 15, 2005 8:04 PM (e)

Differentviewpoint wrote:

If God created the world, then the fossil evidence would support the way it is written in the bible (assuming of course that the bible is translated correctly and/or is the word of god).
I would venture to say that discounting the days part the evidence is in favor of the biblical record.

If the bible were an accurate account of the history of the world (discounting the time frame), the evidence and fossil record should show that seeded plants and trees existed before the ever sun ignited, and that birds existed before any other land animal.

This is not what they show. Therefore, the bible is wrong about the order of events. But if the bible is wrong about both the time frame and order of events, what is left of the story to support the claim that “the evidence is in favor of the biblical record?” There is none.

Now, since you have also said that “In my religion all truth is accepted wether (sic)religious or scientific,” you should now be more than willing to reject the Genesis account of creation as untrue. Will you? Or will you find yet another excuse to deny scientific truth for ancient myth?

Comment #57889

Posted by Sir_Toejam on November 15, 2005 8:17 PM (e)

I see no need to make nice-nice with the nutters. My strategy for dealing with them is simple —— I kick them, kick them again, kick them till they’re down, kick them in the head as they lie there, then run them over with a truck just to make sure.

very next post:

(sigh)

Are we gonna have another religious war?

sorry lenny, i just had too! it was just too obvious.

*snicker*

Comment #57893

Posted by Flint on November 15, 2005 8:23 PM (e)

A few people take positions that, when all of their output is considered together, parse out as near as I can tell to something like “religion, considered generally, is an irrational crutch offering nothing substantive of value, that people once leaned on until science came along with the capability of (at least in principle) answering every well-formed, meaningful question the human mind can imagine.” So if you have a question science can’t answer, either it’s a meaningless question or you aren’t phrasing it correctly, or else perhaps it’s stupid.

This isn’t to say that ID per se is valid; it’s basically a legalistic but transparent attempt to get creationism into courts and classrooms. But Conservativeman isn’t arguing that ID is not religion, he’s arguing that evolution IS religion, in this general sense of addressing questions of the meaning and purpose of life. He sees evolution as a matter not of a correct explanation of evidence, but as a matter of right and wrong.

It’s not going to help anyone to claim that the “right” answer to “what is the purpose of life?” is “Sorry, [gongggg], question does not parse, based on incorrect assumption.” Contrary to the pseudorationalists, religion is NOT just simply incompetent science, anymore than True Believers are correct in regarding evolution as a false faith. Religion serves very necessary purposes fully satisfying to perhaps most people.

Most of the rational critiques of Conservativeman are much like telling a child overcome with grief when his pet dies, “snap out of it. Bawling won’t help anything!” We might all recognize that grief is a waste of effort. Snapping out of it doesn’t become any easier because we recognize this, though. It’s not on the same wavelength.

Comment #57898

Posted by Sir_Toejam on November 15, 2005 8:31 PM (e)

But asking to draw a picture is a bit like asking a physicist who will live and who will die from a nuclear bomb blast.

I usually like to compare it to predicting the weather.

same constraints apply.

in areas where we have relatively stable and clear inputs into a localized meteorological phenomenon, one can predict with a high degree of probability, farther into the future than in unstable areas, or areas with fluctuating or too many variables.

I think this specific topic (the ability to predict the direction of phenotypic change based on knowlege of selection pressures) has always been an an interesting (and critical, of course) area of research, and i have seen several papers that in fact make future predictions of specific patterns emerging when the primary selection pressures are known. In fact it is the proven predictive power of evolutionary theory that has made it so robust. Just as robust if not more so than current meteorological theory, in fact.

I distinctly remember the work of John Endler on poecilliids (guppies) in the field where he analyzed the expected selection pressures on various features, and correctly predicted the phenotypic changes expected when those pressures relative strength’s were modified.

they were excellent experiments on the subject.

you can find references here:

http://www.lifesci.ucsb.edu/eemb/faculty/endler/research/research.html

Comment #57903

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 15, 2005 8:42 PM (e)

sorry lenny, i just had too! it was just too obvious.

I try to limit my stomping and truck-running-overing to people who are on the OTHER side.

Stomping people who are on OUR side (like, say, theistic evolutionists), doesn’t, uh, help us very much.

Comment #57904

Posted by Wesley R. Elsberry on November 15, 2005 8:43 PM (e)

But evolution in that sense is not what either creationists or RGD say isn’t falsifiable.

Their problem, not mine.

Comment #57906

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 15, 2005 8:46 PM (e)

So if you have a question science can’t answer, either it’s a meaningless question or you aren’t phrasing it correctly, or else perhaps it’s stupid.

For years now, I have a standing request for anyone to answer the question “is murder wrong?” using the scientific method.

No intelligible answers, yet…. .

Comment #57916

Posted by Katarina on November 15, 2005 8:58 PM (e)

Flint, your last comment is right on the money. I couldn’t agree with you more.

So, what’s the next step? Answer creationists in a kind tone, as you would a child? Or put emphasis on why evolution is not religion? Or just sit back and wait for the creationism balloon to over-inflate and pop on its own?

Comment #57938

Posted by Jeff Guinn on November 15, 2005 9:28 PM (e)

Flint:

I second what Katarina said – your discussion of the Creationist mind set is very insightful.

In response to Katarina, I would suggest spending less time on why the naturalistic theory of evolution is true, and more time on making these points:

1. Science is a process
2. All scientific theories share certain characteristics – they are induction from first order knowledge and possess deductive consequences.
3. Naturalistic evolution is no different than any other scientific theory (most Americans admire science in general, go for the halo effect)
4. Presently, ID/Creationism does not qualify; however, should it propose an evidence based theory with constraining deductive consequences, then by all means it belongs in the realm of scientific inquiry.

Nothing like putting the ball in their court.

Comment #57941

Posted by Differentviewpoint on November 15, 2005 9:32 PM (e)

“If the bible were an accurate account of the history of the world (discounting the time frame), the evidence and fossil record should show that seeded plants and trees existed before the ever sun ignited, and that birds existed before any other land animal.”

Interesting that you say that, the bible is not meant to be an account of the history of the world. I already stated about the birds. You will note that it says that first there was light and that there were day and night. In the early stages of the earths formation the stars would not have been vi sable even when the first recorded fossils are dated to be. Even not necessarily being plants these single cell organisms would not have been considered by moses writing 5000 years ago to be animals. To him anything that is not an animal would be a plant. Also to the Hebrews the difference between birds and fish as well as between the atmosphere and the ocean was not very well defined. In Portuguese by the way it says Reptile. You would force on moses the responsibility of saying everything perfectly. When he as I said had neither the language skills nor the science to give a perfect and detailed account. It was not his intent to give such an account but instead explain in a way that people could understand at that time the start of the human race.

I have an theory. Here is my theory Computers are evolving. They suffer from natural selection, survival of the fit est if you will. Therefore going back in time they get simpler and going forward they get more complex. Also a “proof” that computers are evolving is that the programs get more complex. I in fact can predict as was predicted about the whale that the next evolutionary step of the operating system will look much like the systems currently in use with some difference but much of the basic coding will be used. Even if not it just means that another species of programing was more fit for survival. A way to disprove my theory would be if a supercomputer could be found in the time of the slide rule or if the program notepad had the same coding as Microsoft windows. I now think that in 10,000 years when computers have evolved to have a complex society they will debate over wet her in the history programs given to new computers they should included the idea that man created them which is obviously obsurd or whether they evolved. Since by this time man will be ignored by the computers it will be almost certain that the idea of evolution will win.

Comment #57956

Posted by H. Humbert on November 15, 2005 9:53 PM (e)

Are you actually suggesting that every living thing needs to be manufactured individually like inanimate objects? No? Then drop the “obsurd” analogy.

Or maybe you were implying that god had to blunder through trial and error and lacked the omnicience to directly design living creatures as finished products?

Either way, terrible argument and terrible theology.

Comment #57961

Posted by Differentviewpoint on November 15, 2005 10:04 PM (e)

satire my friend satire.

Whether it was trial and error or not, I want to see you create a man on mars as man is now and mars is now, from basic elements.

obsurd? what then is childbirth if not individually manufacturing every living creature?

Comment #57965

Posted by Steviepinhead on November 15, 2005 10:08 PM (e)

DVP divulged:

Also to the Hebrews the difference between birds and fish as well as between the atmosphere and the ocean was not very well defined.

[Emphasis added.]

Well, that would certainly explain that walking-on-water thing…

Comment #57966

Posted by H. Humbert on November 15, 2005 10:14 PM (e)

satire my friend satire.

Satire usually has a point.

Whether it was trial and error or not, I want to see you create a man on mars as man is now and mars is now, from basic elements.

Haha, what? Now if we can’t make human life from scratch on hostile planets, then…what? We’re aren’t gods? No kidding. What an amazingly vacuous observation. Or is this more of your “satire?”

obsurd? what then is childbirth if not individually manufacturing every living creature?

Offspring are not manufactured, they are grown. Perhaps the superficial similarities of these two distinct processes have somehow confused you?

And the word is absurd.

Comment #57967

Posted by Sir_Toejam on November 15, 2005 10:14 PM (e)

Stomping people who are on OUR side (like, say, theistic evolutionists), doesn’t, uh, help us very much.

yes, yes. i apolgize, it was just the juxtapostion of those two statements….

you understand, don’t you?

Comment #57968

Posted by Differentviewpoint on November 15, 2005 10:15 PM (e)

You jest, surely you realise that the new testment was written in a differnt period and in different langueges then the old testament. Greek doesnt have that problem and a greek influened culture wouldn’t either.

Comment #57969

Posted by Steviepinhead on November 15, 2005 10:17 PM (e)

DVP:

satire my friend satire.

Ah, the old Scott Adams gambit. How original.

[With a tip of the hat to recent posts on Pharyngula.]

Comment #57971

Posted by Sir_Toejam on November 15, 2005 10:18 PM (e)

So if you have a question science can’t answer, either it’s a meaningless question or you aren’t phrasing it correctly, or else perhaps it’s stupid

i have never met a scientist who did this, Flint.

most scientists are quite comfortable with questions they can’t answer - usually it means fertile grounds for future research.

Comment #57972

Posted by Steviepinhead on November 15, 2005 10:22 PM (e)

Oh, I never jest where sacred texts are concerned.

Heaven forfend!

Comment #57975

Posted by Differentviewpoint on November 15, 2005 10:33 PM (e)

I would have assumed that the observation would have been fairly apparent, thanks for the spell check I have a disability in basic English skills so if spell check doesn’t get it I won’t. You are really taking the theory too literally. Lets say, assuming god, that god wants to make mars and earth like this one is. He could not make man right off, assuming he works through natural causes. So he would have to terraform mars. How? well first he would have to get more water there, heat it up, take bacteria to start forming O2 so forth. Very long process that would leave a fossil record similar to that found in evolution. If it were evolution or not would be relatively unclear.

By the way, I realize this may sound stupid but, what exactly is this great difference between manufacture and birth, especially if a self producing machine were created?

Comment #57977

Posted by James Taylor on November 15, 2005 10:49 PM (e)

Differentviewpoint wrote:

By the way, I realize this may sound stupid but, what exactly is this great difference between manufacture and birth, especially if a self producing machine were created?

Manufacturing is the process of crafting an object by tools and skills from design, to test, to prototype, to reengineer, to retest, to production line, to supply chain, to distribution.

Birth is the moment a child is born after the natural reproduction process has finished or aborted.

Very different, you can’t recall a child.

Comment #57982

Posted by H. Humbert on November 15, 2005 10:57 PM (e)

He could not make man right off, assuming he works through natural causes.

If you are capable of accepting this assumption, then why is evolution (which looks only at natural processes) less appealing to you than ID, which says that natural processes are insufficient to produce certain feature of life–that god must have tweaked his creation with little miracles along the way? Or are you simply not aware that ID is in direct opposition to theistic evolution, which claims that god works through nature?

If you believe that god works through nature, then you are more than welcome to believe that god used evolution as his tool. What you cannot do (and remain consistent with the evidence) is deny that evolution is responsible for creating the diversity of life on this planet.

Comment #58002

Posted by Differentviewpoint on November 15, 2005 11:38 PM (e)

simply not aware that ID is in direct opposition to theistic evolution. Also If god revealed that he used evolution as his tool I would accept it, however as that has not been revealed at present time will with hold judgment. Natural selection, adaptation so forth is not the problem, indeed for me evolution is not necessarily the problem however might be, the problem is when a person uses evolution and science in general as a argument against god or rather as a dogma or religion and would impose forcefully that idea on students. It is more a problem of bias then science in schools. If a teacher would or wants to use evolution as an attack against religion that is a violation of the first , and therefore should not be done. If teachers were unbiased everything would be fine, unfortunately for as much as one may try it is impossible to be unbiased your worldview will seep into the teaching. In such case simply telling or teaching that other people, even some scientist think otherwise would be a way to combat that bias. It is apparent from this board that to many here evolution is for them a religion which they unquestionably accept and react in exactly the same way as most people in any religion when the dogma is challenged in the search for truth. In other words name calling (troll, True Believer instead of heretic, witch), circular reasoning (I am right because I am right), anger leading to action (kicking them or whatever instead of burning at a stake or crucifying). Science does not have emotions only ideas. If Evolution is correct and everything else is wrong as claimed here then the evolutionist have no reason to get upset over someone wanting to present other information, rather they should accept it as it breeds discovery. Allowing teachers to teach evolution but to also teach something else whatever it may be it should become obvious from the use fullness, the creditability, and the logic to the students which is right and which is wrong. Also there are still somethings which current evolutionary theory can not explain perfectly, such as the very start of life on earth. One other comment that was made, if you found a species that lived to benefit others, economics can explain that even altruistic people are acting out of self-interest even faith based altruism, so finding such a species would prove nothing. Microcrondia, Chlorophyll are some things that could in theory be considered species that live for the good of other species. So if in economics there can be no true altruism how can one expect that of biology? Therefore that test of evolution is a circular reasoning, something that proves itself to be true.

Comment #58003

Posted by Sir_Toejam on November 15, 2005 11:42 PM (e)

however might be, the problem is when a person uses evolution and science in general as a argument against god or rather as a dogma or religion and would impose forcefully that idea on students

but, nobody does this.

have you ever actually attended a high school science class in the US? or even seen videotape of one, talked to a US high school student who is currently in a biology class?

you are accepting the creationists arguments that this is how the theory is presented, but it simply isn’t true.

Comment #58004

Posted by Sir_Toejam on November 15, 2005 11:44 PM (e)

also, could you please break up your posting into paragraphs so it isn’t one big block of text; makes it very hard to read.

Comment #58005

Posted by Differentviewpoint on November 15, 2005 11:53 PM (e)

I attended a high school biology class, fairly recently actually and that is how the theory was presented in some of the classes. For some of the other classes not the teacher I took, Intelligent design was presented but after the class was over with the teacher closing the door and telling the students one of which was my brother to not tell the other biology teachers what he was saying.

Comment #58007

Posted by improvius on November 15, 2005 11:57 PM (e)

Very long process that would leave a fossil record similar to that found in evolution. If it were evolution or not would be relatively unclear.

Are you suggesting that the process of evolution would be the same whether or not a god caused it to happen? Because I think that most people here would agree with that.

Comment #58009

Posted by Sir_Toejam on November 16, 2005 12:00 AM (e)

I attended a high school biology class, fairly recently actually and that is how the theory was presented in some of the classes.

oh? what high school was that? i’d be curious to see if your science teacher agrees with your assessment.

*sigh* you are apparently just another product of junk science, according to your own testimony.

you can fix that, if you want.

Comment #58010

Posted by H. Humbert on November 16, 2005 12:03 AM (e)

Differentviewpoint wrote:

If Evolution is correct and everything else is wrong as claimed here then the evolutionist have no reason to get upset over someone wanting to present other information, rather they should accept it as it breeds discovery. Allowing teachers to teach evolution but to also teach something else whatever it may be it should become obvious from the use fullness, the creditability, and the logic to the students which is right and which is wrong.

No, teachers should teach the best scientific theories available. People would be (and rightfully so) outraged if instructors taught alchemy alongside chemistry, or astrology alongside astronomy, or the Holocaust along with a denial of the Holocaust. We don’t fill children’s heads with a mishmash of facts and disinformation and then expect them to “logically determine what is right.” There is limited school time as it is. We teach children only what has withstood rigorous scientific scrutiny.

Evolution has. It has replaced the once-dominant theory of special creation solely on its own merits. It has been confirmed through discovery after discovery, experiment after experiment.

Nothing in evolution rules out a belief in god. It is as “atheistic” as meteorology or physics. It is god neutral. But it isn’t the job of science teachers to talk to children about god anyway. That’s the duty of their parents or preachers. Trying to insert a theological discussion into biology classes is exactly what the Constitution forbids. For you to try and somehow twist it around and claim that scientistists must discuss god or be guilty of promoting atheisism is shamefully dishonest.

Comment #58011

Posted by improvius on November 16, 2005 12:03 AM (e)

If a teacher would or wants to use evolution as an attack against religion that is a violation of the first , and therefore should not be done.

Absolutely. If a teacher is in a class and says, “there is no god and evolution is the proof,” then that is clearly in violation of the separation clause. It’s also not scientifically valid. The students and parents should call the ACLU immediately in that case.

Comment #58012

Posted by improvius on November 16, 2005 12:09 AM (e)

I attended a high school biology class, fairly recently actually and that is how the theory was presented in some of the classes.

Given that much of what you’ve posted here is incorrect, (including almost everything in post 58002), I am disinclined to believe your account of the high school biology class.

Comment #58013

Posted by H. Humbert on November 16, 2005 12:09 AM (e)

For some of the other classes not the teacher I took, Intelligent design was presented but after the class was over with the teacher closing the door and telling the students one of which was my brother to not tell the other biology teachers what he was saying.

And why would a teacher need to keep his lessons “a secret?” Because what he was teaching was unconstitutional and could probably get him fired. The very fact that you are on this web site arguing over the validity of evolution shows that you have been cheated out of a proper education. If I were you, I’d sue the school.

Comment #58014

Posted by Sir_Toejam on November 16, 2005 12:13 AM (e)

uh, given the posters apparent difficulty with the english language, would it be a far stretch to assume he hadn’t actually attended any high school in the US?

after all, he never said so.

Comment #58020

Posted by Differentviewpoint on November 16, 2005 12:46 AM (e)

It was in the US, my disability is registered. AS I said there are things far more important for the school boards to be worried about. It seems kinda interesting to me that I am in the third year of collage and have been cheated out of a proper education. Interesting how one moment you guys are quite happy to discredit god and religion quite happy to want the courts to intervene in previous posts but now when confronted with what really was done and what a lot of you really are you try to buy face to cover up.
Really cool guys. You assume even in your cover up that I am wrong.

It is also quite interesting that there are many references in early US literature and in court cases to god, I guess that Thomas Jefferson and George Washington didn’t know much about the first amendment or they probably wouldn’t have said those things.

Comment #58023

Posted by Sir_Toejam on November 16, 2005 12:58 AM (e)

I am in the third year of collage and have been cheated out of a proper education

hmmm. you made it to college didn’t you? that’s a remarkable achievement for one with your apparent disability.

aside from that, as we have already pointed out, your characterization of science teaching is either disingenous, or based on an anomolous experience.

if the latter, which at least one person here accepted on face value, it was immediately pointed out as to what you could do about that.

if not, then who cares?

Thomas Jefferson … said what things?

iirc jefferson was most outspoken on the question of the seperation of church and state.

painting science as religion is not doing you any favors.

how one moment you guys are quite happy to discredit god and religion

huh?

ok you are a quite confused person. do you have an actual substantive question, or did you just come to preach nonsense?

want to fix your education? think you got a bum rap? then do it. nobody is stopping you from learning what is out there but yourself.

good luck with that learning disability.

Comment #58028

Posted by H. Humbert on November 16, 2005 1:32 AM (e)

Differentviewpoint, it is clear that it isn’t evolution you have a problem with, but with atheism. I’m sorry if it bothers you that evolution allows some people to be emotionally fulfilled atheists. I’m sorry that science cannot provide empirical evidence for the god you believe in. But that’s the way it is, and no amount of evolution-denial is going to bring kids to Jesus, no matter what you’ve been told. All it can do is spread ignorance.

Comment #58035

Posted by Wayne Francis on November 16, 2005 3:04 AM (e)

Comment # 57673

Differentviewpoint wrote:

Comment #57673
Posted by Differentviewpoint on November 15, 2005 02:37 PM (e) (s)
Personally I disagree with both sides of the argument. I trust science and the scientific method. So I will not be attacking science, instead I will attack the theory using Science only. First, in the scientific method you have to do an experiment to test a theory however what experiment can you do to disprove evolution? you can’t for the problem is in the theory it self for it is circular reasoning. The only experiments possible are attempts to prove the theory which unfortunately it is impossible for science to prove anything. Circular reasoning is a logic flaw in the theory thus the theory does not have to be accepted. It is quite apparent that adaptation occurs and quite frequently however in recorded history with people observing there has been no species that has truly evolved. The closest would be the dog however a some dogs are still able to breed with wolves and the offspring is viable therefore while adapted it has not evolved and even if it did it was not natural and therefore not in accord with the theory. While there is fossil evidence that proves nothing, because it is just assumed that one species evolved into another but there is no way to test that.
These same arguments can be made against the creationists. It is a circular reasoning as well with no way to test scientifically if it is true or not.
I understand that the theory of evolution is very useful in understanding biology but it is not fact just a theory and an untestable one at that.
As for challenging religion, to me the theory does not challenge religion. We do not know how god made the earth. In the bible god does not give moses a specific and detailed account of how he did it. Also Moses was not equipped with either the scientific or language skills to give a detailed account nor was it his intent to do so. However the account is surprisingly accurate if you do not force the time periods to be specifically days. If you take them to be periods instead then they fit pretty well with the accepted scientific viewpoint of how the earth was created and how/when the various species arose, the difference being of course birds.
As for a solution to the problem of what is taught in schools, if this were the only problem I would be happy and we could work on it, but don’t the school systems have bigger problems to work on that should be solved first? However since we are forced to deal with this subject, why not let the parents and students decided?

You sure know how to read from the creationist handbook.

“It is quite apparent that adaptation occurs and quite frequently however in recorded history with people observing there has been no species that has truly evolved. The closest would be the dog however a some dogs are still able to breed with wolves and the offspring is viable therefore while adapted it has not evolved and even if it did it was not natural and therefore not in accord with the theory.”

It seems your knowledge is truly limited. With the various species of Ensatina we have a nice continuum of species from one to another. All species are able to breed to some extent with neighbouring species but the further away 2 species get the less viable and fertile the 2 species breeding attempts become. Species at either end of the geographic area have been genetically seperated long enough that they are no longer genetically compatible.

This is just one of many examples. There is a lot of research that has been done in regards to Equids and how they have evolved into 6 very different species with wide variations in chromosome numbers yet all can interbreed to some extent most with low viability rates and even lower fertility rates. Even so we have 2 species that can interbreed, again despite different numbers of chromosome, and their offspring are not only viable but highly fertile. You have to think that dogs have not been around that long. Genetic differences have not had time to build up to the point many creationists say is needed for an event they say can not happen. Equids took 4 million years to produce the 6 species we see with significant genetic changes. In that same time period Pan paniscus and Pan troglodytes and Homo sapiens all have evolve drastically less then the Equids yet most people can’t tell a mountain zebra (Equus zebra) apart from a plains zebra (Equus quagga) yet the genetic difference are enormous when we compare it to the differences between homo sapiens and other great apes.

Comment #58036

Posted by Renier on November 16, 2005 3:25 AM (e)

My 2c worth: I am from a different country and I used to be a fanatical fundie for many years. I used to think evolution implies God is not needed, and I fought it wherever I could. Ignorance was my biggest mistake. I would quote anti-evolution things from hear-say sources as if it was all proven facts. To me it was. I had biology at school, but evolution was never mentioned. The school itself was a state school, but 100% Christian. As I said, I was very ignorant on what evolution really was. I understood the “random change over time” concept, but could for the life of me not understand how people thought it all just happened. I might not be the smartest bloke on the block, but I could see the RELATION between species, genus. So it was clear that there was some form of evolution or adaptation. My understanding was simple. God started it, things evolved or adapted (within species) and humans had no relation to apes. All my arguments against evolution were the usual hear-say stuff you still find these days.

During a faith crisis (never hearing from God) I decided to start clean with the whole religion thing. A fresh start from the beginning! Then I started reading. Pseudo-genes, Vitamin C error genes in humans and apes, Genetics, RNA replication, mutation, fossil record and atomic half life dating methods. I made a REAL effort to understand BOTH sides of the debate. I read day and night until I thought I knew what was going on. As my knowledge increased, my ignorance decreased. I read up on star formation, quantum mechanics and physics. After about two years I was ready to decide. There was no question left in my mind. Evolution is true. I did not have to believe it, because I KNEW it. Abio-genesis is the most likely explanation for how it all started and all in all there is not the slightest evidence for a God. I stood in total awe at what science was and had achieved. Sub-atomic particles, to me, were more mysterious and intriguing than any mysticism in any religion. Quantum mechanics was like magic. I took a very agnostic stance in the beginning. If there is a god, he is hiding himself very well. If he is hiding, he does not want to be found.

My point is that what people really need is knowledge. The biggest problem is that very few people would take ANY effort to obtain this. People just don’t care. If their leaders tell them that evolution is a lie, they will believe it, just like I did. Educate the public. That’s what the Idiots did, although with false information, but they had real results. Just the simple argument about the Vitamin C error gene is enough evidence that Evolution is real. How many people from the public know about the Vitamin C gene?

Things are changing here in my country. Only now is evolution being written into school biology. We also have IDiots here, pestering everyone while trying to peddle their lies. Luckily, our minister of education does not tolerate them, so they only preach to the converted.

Comment #58038

Posted by Renier on November 16, 2005 3:38 AM (e)

To Wayne Francis:

Is “Equus quagga” not extinct (VERY recently)? I know there is a project here that tries to breed the Kwagga, a type of mountain zebra from normal zebras. Could you perhaps have swapped the names around, so that the mountain zebra is “Equus quagga” and the one from the plains is “Equus zebra”? Just curious.

Comment #58041

Posted by k.e. on November 16, 2005 4:05 AM (e)

STJ 2 above . The Inward Journey.

Comment #58043

Posted by Sir_Toejam on November 16, 2005 4:28 AM (e)

The Inward Journey

hmm. I’m beginning to think shedding all the materialism necessary to continue that journey isn’t in my bag o tricks.

been there, tried that.

maybe later.

maybe sooner.

who knows.

Comment #58044

Posted by k.e. on November 16, 2005 4:43 AM (e)

Ur doing fine right….now

Comment #58045

Posted by Sir_Toejam on November 16, 2005 4:46 AM (e)

the problem is, i keep trying to grab that and keep it, like a snowflake in the palm of my hand.

Comment #58047

Posted by H. Humbert on November 16, 2005 5:01 AM (e)

Excellent post, Renier. Out of curiosity, what country do you hail from?

Comment #58048

Posted by morbius on November 16, 2005 5:01 AM (e)

Flint wrote:

Contrary to the pseudorationalists, religion is NOT just simply incompetent science

This is a strawman that flips things on their head. You claimed that

Science simply can’t help you answer questions like “What is the purpose of life? Why am I here? Where will the “me” be after I die? Am I a good person?”

This is simply not so – science can help to answer such questions; it has helped me and many others. See, for instance,
www.naturalism.org
and Daniel Dennett’s “Freedom Evolves”.

That it can help answer such questions does not mean that it can establish whether murder is wrong as an objective fact; that point-missing strawman is at the far end of obtuse. But science can provide information that can go a long way towards providing the sort of security that you mentioned. That doesn’t mean that religion can’t do so, but it is not the case that, in order to deal with insecurity, one must go to religion. Most of the non-religious people I know are among the most secure I know, while many religious people are wracked with doubt. That doesn’t mean that religious people can simply abandon their religion and substitute science; that’s not what I was saying. But some people do lose their faith and, through a long and hard process, embrace science; for instance:

Renier wrote:

I stood in total awe at what science was and had achieved.

It can make one swoon and cry. The unaware have no idea of what they are missing.

Comment #58050

Posted by k.e. on November 16, 2005 5:59 AM (e)

STJ - Chasing off the Vandals is fun but doesn’t help.
JC’bell had a corny sounding but easy to see what he meant “Follow your Bliss”

Morbious
?”The Joy of “life’s” creation” substitute favorite Deity

Comment #58051

Posted by Renier on November 16, 2005 6:03 AM (e)

Thank you Humbert. I am from South Africa.

I agree with Morbius in the above comment (#58048). Science can make one free, in a certain way. During my religious times, it was always a battle to “do this” and “not do this”. Constant strain to try and make sure one stays within God’s will. I realised after throwing off the yoke of religion that I can just be myself and do what I want. Guess what? It turns out that I am not a bad person after all. I have more respect for nature, see every person as an individual and appreciate the “here” and the “now” much more.

Science is often seen as cold, clinical and impersonal, and it can be that, to many people. One thing I found in Science was honesty. It can be so very very critical of itself, scrutinising everything, but the results are thorough. It has given us SO much. Religion has also taken so much credit for things that Science did for us. If a new cure is developed by hard working scientists, months of labour and dedication, then the next Sunday the credit is given to God by the pulpit. God had 6000 years (according to the bible) to exterminate some virus, or find a cure for it, but never did it. Why not? Why did He make the virus in the first place? No thank you, I’ll stick with science any day. I can see hundreds of the results from science every day of my life and wish I could live for a thousand years to see all the great things it will give us in future.

No pie in the sky for me. I don’t worry about heaven and hell (bribery and blackmail). I can just enjoy every day for the wonder that it is. To be blatantly honest and I know some people will take offence, but I can honestly say that I am a more content and a more fulfilled person now. Ingersol had the same experience…

Comment #58052

Posted by k.e. on November 16, 2005 6:36 AM (e)

Renier said
….heaven and hell (bribery and blackmail).
JP II actually caught up to the game by saying they are states of mind in the here and now.

Comment #58053

Posted by k.e. on November 16, 2005 6:42 AM (e)

Renier said

One thing I found in Science was honesty”

That is the one single thing that drives the Fundies(bibliodolators) crazy with envy.

Comment #58055

Posted by Greg H on November 16, 2005 8:03 AM (e)

I did find the Iowa Citizens for Science group yesterday (in case anyone else is interested).

The website is at http://www.iowascience.org

Comment #58056

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 16, 2005 8:09 AM (e)

Also If god revealed that he used evolution as his tool I would accept it, however as that has not been revealed at present time will with hold judgment.

Um, how would God reveal this. An appearence on “Larry King Live”? A thundering voice from the heavens?

Just curious.

Comment #58057

Posted by Tim Hague on November 16, 2005 8:11 AM (e)

morbius wrote:

It can make one swoon and cry. The unaware have no idea of what they are missing.

Well said. You know your stuff, it’s just a shame (deliberately OT this) that you still have problems expressing it.

Sir_ToeJam wrote:

uh, the point is, Morbius, that your constant ascerbic attitude is taking away from the substantive points you are making

You’ve been having problems with your attitude with a few people on this thread today, to add to the problems you were having with me and a few others on a thread yesterday. Some of the people you are having problems with are (like me) firm supporters of evolution.

From your posting I judge you a fan of logic and the scientific method. So use it. There are two hypotheses:

a) All these other sensible pro-evolution people are having attitude problems
b) You are having attitude problems

Apply occams razor…

morbius wrote:

Anyone want to talk about evolution and ID?

Yes we all do. We also like to feel that our opinions - even when they differ from yours - are being respected. You don’t show that so don’t be surprised if you get no respect back. We want to discuss evolution and ID - however we may get to the point when we don’t want to discuss it with you.

Comment #58059

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 16, 2005 8:17 AM (e)

I attended a high school biology class, fairly recently actually and that is how the theory was presented in some of the classes. For some of the other classes not the teacher I took, Intelligent design was presented but after the class was over with the teacher closing the door and telling the students one of which was my brother to not tell the other biology teachers what he was saying.

Both of these teahcers can be sued.

It is illegal to teach that there is no god. It is just as illegal to teach that there is, behind close doors in secret.

Comment #58060

Posted by Renier on November 16, 2005 8:19 AM (e)

Um, how would God reveal this. An appearence on “Larry King Live”? A thundering voice from the heavens?

Perhaps in a tortilla?

Comment #58061

Posted by Tim Hague on November 16, 2005 8:20 AM (e)

Renier wrote:

I am a more content and a more fulfilled person now

Thanks for sharing your story with us Renier. The fundies do seem to have problems with the idea that it’s possible for anyone to lead a fulfilling life without their God being responsible.

It always gets me when I see it said that evolution leads people to atheism. For me, it was the other way round, I was an atheist before I got any real science education. My parents let me make my own mind up, so I did.

Comment #58062

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 16, 2005 8:21 AM (e)

Syntax Error: mismatched tag 'kwickxml'

Comment #58064

Posted by k.e. on November 16, 2005 8:27 AM (e)

morbius
In your honour I looked up “Samurai Koan” and guess what ?
A link with “Kill Bill” came up. I must say I’ve never seen it
however

David L. Simmons is a Ph.D. candidate in Religion and Literature at the University of Chicago Divinity School and a Martin Marty Center dissertation fellow.

Has written a review that comes close to what I had in mind.

http://marty-center.uchicago.edu/sightings/archive_2005/0310.shtml

By the way I DON’T think it means killing other sentient beings ;)

Comment #58068

Posted by Renier on November 16, 2005 9:02 AM (e)

Tim Wrote : It always gets me when I see it said that evolution leads people to atheism. For me, it was the other way round, I was an atheist before I got any real science education. My parents let me make my own mind up, so I did.

It was not just evolution. I think evolution might just have triggered the whole thing because it contradicted my literal understanding of the bible. Just curious, but you say you were an Atheist. What religion did you adopt?

Comment #58070

Posted by Tim Hague on November 16, 2005 9:09 AM (e)

Syntax Error: mismatched tag 'kwickxml'

Comment #58072

Posted by Tim Hague on November 16, 2005 9:13 AM (e)

Renier wrote:

It was not just evolution. I think evolution might just have triggered the whole thing because it contradicted my literal understanding of the bible. Just curious, but you say you were an Atheist. What religion did you adopt?

Sorry, should have said ‘I was an atheist already‘. I became an atheist before I learned any science and I still am an atheist (agnostic atheist to be precise). So, evolution didn’t “lead me down the path of atheism”, I was there already.

Comment #58074

Posted by improvius on November 16, 2005 9:28 AM (e)

Um, how would God reveal this. An appearence on “Larry King Live”? A thundering voice from the heavens?

I think God would probably leave clues like fossils and genetic patterns.

Fr. James Thornton wrote:

The very nature of the Earth,

of the heavens, and of life

point us to recognition of God.

..except for those rocks over there, just ignore them. And those bones. And don’t look too closely at your DNA, either. Oh, and radioactive elements - just pretend you never saw those…

Comment #58075

Posted by Flint on November 16, 2005 9:29 AM (e)

Sir Toejam:

i have never met a scientist who did this, Flint.

most scientists are quite comfortable with questions they can’t answer - usually it means fertile grounds for future research.

You are confusing questions science can’t answer, with questions science can answer but hasn’t done so yet. This is why I carefully used the phrase “in principle.” My argument here is that there are valid questions, with satisfying answers, that science cannot address AT ALL.

Renier:

I used to think evolution implies God is not needed, and I fought it wherever I could.

This is perhaps a subtle distinction. The scientific method (methodological naturalism) does indeed imply that no gods are needed; the presumption is that if any gods ARE needed, then the physical universe becomes capricious and unpredictable. What science does NOT imply is that no gods are involved, or that no gods exist. But to be needed implies that some physical phenomenon cannot be explained without any gods. Science indeed does reject this implication.

all in all there is not the slightest evidence for a God

But hopefully you realize that the only evidence against any gods is the indirect observation that there’s no evidence FOR them. In other words, this argument goes that if there WERE any gods, they’d be so stone obvious even the veriest dunce couldn’t help but smack into them continuously.

My point is that what people really need is knowledge. The biggest problem is that very few people would take ANY effort to obtain this. People just don’t care.

I think you’re right, the only long-term effective way to battle creationism/creation science/intelligent design/sudden appearance theory is effective education. And people CAN, as you were, be inspired to obtain and value an education. They can also be inspired to reject education; it’s primarily a function of parenting. Right now, we’re in the unpleasant position of trying to *force* even minimal exposure to science to students, over hidebound determined parental objection. One of the largest contributing factors to the growth of home-schooling in the US is the desire to protect children from exposure to heretical ideas.

Morbius:

This is simply not so — science can help to answer such questions; it has helped me and many others.

Then I stand corrected. I admit I have quite a bit of difficulty imagining how to apply the scientific method to “what is the purpose of my life” so as to arrive at a “most likely correct answer” that anyone replicating the experiment will agree with. I understand that science can and does provide meaning for many people. But it doesn’t do so by applying the scientific method, but rather by supplying the promose of the kinds of answers certain people have a need for. Not everyone shares that need.

But some people do lose their faith and, through a long and hard process, embrace science; for instance

I’m not sure I’d buy this quite so baldly. Some people embrace science without losing their faith, but their faith morphs from empirically false received wisdoms to something more abstract. You can be a full-blooded evolutionary scientist and STILL find it useful or necessary to believe that your soul survives your physical death.

Lenny’s question as to whether murder is wrong isn’t a strawman, it’s an illustration of the philosophical limits of science. The stricture “murder is wrong” is a protocol, which we have declared to be “true” because the question is *important*, even if science can’t address it objectively. Religion everywhere (as far as I can tell) is a social mechanism for internalizing the most important protocols (as determined by that society), so that people obey them through internal compulsion rather than logical analysis.

Comment #58087

Posted by Tim B. on November 16, 2005 11:13 AM (e)

Morbius,

Last night, you challenged my assertion that natural selection was an undirected process, suggesting that I should justify my claim. I was taken aback, fortunately resisting the urge to lash out with something like: well, the argument against solipsism is also an assertion, but most rational people defer to an intuitive sense of its falsity. I decided to sleep on it.

This morning, I pondered my motivation in proclaiming NS undirected and realized it was based on the opinions of folks such as Dawkins, Mayr, E.O. Wilson, and Dennett (his algorthmic assessment seemed like a pretty blind yet beautiful process). Being too lazy today to research how they might have come to their nonteleological opinions, I will proffer the hunch that it is based more on metaphysical commitment than empirical or logical analysis.

So, thank you for questioning my premature certainty on this issue.

Comment #58095

Posted by Tim B. on November 16, 2005 11:40 AM (e)

C.J. Colucci,

Thanks for the responses. I think you’re right about the strong connection between philosophy and science, especially regarding critical thinking. Your last note is also perspicacious: especially in the US, which is saturated with willful ignorance, roaming brands of religion, cultural degradation, and hair-trigger hotheadedness, to attempt a somewhat objective approach to religious studies in, say, high school would be about as effective as a perforated umbrella.

Comment #58105

Posted by k.e. on November 16, 2005 12:31 PM (e)

Flint
I tried to follow your excellent comments for long term goals to reduce creationism on this thread. Too much to get through, skipped last 1/3.

What you have identified is the victim attitude of “Identity Politics” (look it up)
Your early education plan is an ideal but not realizable as you probably realize.

Short of the Govt. restricting religious doctrine (as per Spinoza) or a major revelation and re-Christening by the Evangelicals the only obvious alternative is to keep chopping off the Hydras heads, cauterizing the stumps and burying the preaching in the swamp a la Lenny etc.

The real problem I see is leadership. GWB should have said I’ll get my experts to look at ID(mmphf). It would be ironic if it cost the GOP votes.

The major Christian Church’s don’t seem to be in dialog to remove just plain bad theology no leadership again.

The media are next to useless with their self censorship and equal time stuff.

The beauty is the Fundies are their own worst enemy and by talking to them in their own code which I urge everyone to try to get their minds around plus various motherhood statements to salve their insecurity there may be some erosion. Really you’re dealing with something that may never go away.

Probably the best you can get is a truce (court stalemate) and maybe a slight reduction in insanity through education
.

“Its just Human Nature, we need to understand it”

That T shirt someone suggested needs to appeal to the lowest common denominator.

Dr Phil is never going to get a call from a shampoo company, evolution is never going away GET OVER IT.

Comment #58110

Posted by Differentviewpoint on November 16, 2005 12:42 PM (e)

“Um, how would God reveal this. An appearance on “Larry King Live”? A thundering voice from the heavens?”
through a prophet like was done in the past and is done now in some religions.

“Right now, we’re in the unpleasant position of trying to *force* even minimal exposure to science to students, over hidebound determined parental objection”
What ever happened to the US being the land of the free or to liberty? It is fine to teach science but to force it. It is these kinds of statements that get the conservitives in an uproar. If I don’t want to study or believe in evolution that should be fine, I don’t have to. I can study computer science and economics instead or whatever else. my value to society is not decreased and if I would rather my kids not to learn about the theory of evolution, so what it should be my right to do that.
As for evidence of God in the system, the very fact that there is a system could be an argument for God. If you find a clock in the middle of an field, you know the old argument.
Does not the very science of biology point to a disigner. My anology to computers still holds. If scientists can insert genes or rather reprogram a cell or creature with relative ease could not god? It would explain some things.

Was stated that if there were a monkey that had genes very different to that of man would be evidence against evoulution, what about normal bacteria and the bacteria that lives in hot springs and the like, they are extremely different from what i know. Yet even finding that it does not destory the evolutionary theory, why? because nothing can it is dogma.

Comment #58111

Posted by Ron Zeno on November 16, 2005 12:47 PM (e)

Go away, troll.

Comment #58114

Posted by Sir_Toejam on November 16, 2005 12:56 PM (e)

yes, yes, you preached to us before, remember?

we addresed any salient points (few) you made before.

Does not the very science of biology point to a disigner. My anology to computers still holds. If scientists can insert genes or rather reprogram a cell or creature with relative ease could not god? It would explain some things.

was this a rhetorical question, or did you actually want to know something?

It would explain some things

assuming your question isn’t just rhetoric, i would ask you… which things?

Comment #58116

Posted by Sir_Toejam on November 16, 2005 12:59 PM (e)

If I don’t want to study or believe in evolution that should be fine, I don’t have to. I can study computer science and economics instead or whatever else

uh, by that logic, we should just let students pick and choose whatever they want to learn, yes?

why have school at all? shouldn’t it just be entirely optional, there, ridiculouspointofview?

Comment #58117

Posted by CJ O'Brien on November 16, 2005 12:59 PM (e)

Yet even finding that it does not destory the evolutionary theory, why? because nothing can it is dogma.

Correction: Nothing HAS. Why? Probably because it’s true.

And, yeah. Best to just go away. You’re repeating arguments that were refuted years before you were born.

Comment #58118

Posted by Julie on November 16, 2005 12:59 PM (e)

It is also quite interesting that there are many references in early US literature and in court cases to god, I guess that Thomas Jefferson and George Washington didn’t know much about the first amendment or they probably wouldn’t have said those things.

If you think that the First Amendment prohibits the mention of God or religion in American literature, or that it prohibits political leaders from making personal comments related to God or religion, you may not have read it in a while. It’s easy enough to find on line or in a history textbook.

I’m honestly curious. Do you feel “cheated” in your education if your English professor requires you to read and discuss a novel that has no religious content, or includes atheist or polytheist characters? If your art professor discusses sculpture from pre-Christian Europe or shows you slides of paintings that have secular themes? If your history professor doesn’t state that God was on the side of the Allies in World War II?

If you can’t study natural phenomena or human activities without becoming angry or snide when they’re not presented as religious sermons, there’s a problem. If you’re not even willing to see a difference between a discussion of a secular subject and an attack on your religious beliefs, I’d go so far as to say that you might not be ready for college yet.

When teachers can be hassled for not introducing religious or supernatural content into studies of natural or human activity, everyone’s knowledge of the world suffers. And, this is exactly what ID pressure groups are trying to achieve in places like Dover and Kansas.

Comment #58119

Posted by Flint on November 16, 2005 1:04 PM (e)

k.e.:

On the contrary, I think we’re seeing the sort of change I hope to see more of, though we’re talking a few percent per generation, nothing overnight. I always felt it was much more dangerous to have creationism as “the environment”, taken for granted. When Christian prayer was added to the Pledge, or put on the currency, nobody complained. As a child, I recited prayers to Jesus in public school right along with everyone else - it was part of the ritual of starting the day, along with the Pledge (no “under God” in it then) and the roll call. The current (and IMO rather silly) campaign of the ACLU against crosses in city escutcheons would never have crossed anyone’s mind. The Jews in my neighborhood had Christmas trees and exchanged presents. It just WAS.

And similarly, I find the persecution complex the fundies all seem to suffer from, to be a reflection of the perceived loss of a privileged and protected position in government and society. When Judge Roy Moore erected his 5-ton statue of the Ten Commandments, those of other religions immediately demanded equal time. Roy Moore was horrified. Granting equality to other religions was *persecuting Christians*.

So the fairly recent revival of fundamentalism and religious extremism strikes me as a reaction to this loss of privilege. The generic demand to “show me why you should have more rights than your neighbor” has galvanized a previously complacent power structure. They feel threatened much moreso than ever before. And this reaction has the very real benefit of moving them from “just the way it is” to an increasingly well-defined target.

Conservativeman can no longer sit in his private club, discussing with fellow members why the heathen are so morally inferior. Instead, he’s in the spotlight, forced to justify WHY AND HOW he is superior. And once his position is articulated, the non-extremists have something to evaluate and find wanting. I have enough faith in people generally to find this polarization encouraging. The US has become too heterogeneous for the extremists to prevail.

Comment #58120

Posted by Sir_Toejam on November 16, 2005 1:05 PM (e)

Go away, troll.

yeah, you’re right Ron.

Comment #58130

Posted by improvius on November 16, 2005 1:34 PM (e)

If you find a clock in the middle of an field, you know the old argument.

I know I shouldn’t take this bait, but maybe I can set you straight on just one thing here.

Just one of the many reasons why the “watchmaker” analogy falls apart is that you can’t simply extrapolate “God” from “human”, unless you think “God” is really just some sort of advanced version of homo sapiens. Your watch was made by a human. It’s a human artifact. Your argument is that the world, as a hole, somehow resembles a human artifact. Therefore, the world must have been created by a human or human-like entity. Do you really think that?

Comment #58135

Posted by Differentviewpoint on November 16, 2005 2:03 PM (e)

I liked Flints comments. pretty good, resolved a doubt I had. Thanks.

Improvius the answer would in fact be yes.

What I am worried about, what I feel to be wrong, is not that we study other cultures, religions ideas or whatever, it is when one is given preference over the others. This one being atheism. I have no problem with secular education the problem is when it is used in the schools to teach religion.

You have not refuted my arguements you ignored them.

“we should just let students pick and choose whatever they want to learn, yes?”
“why have school at all? shouldn’t it just be entirely optional, there, ridiculouspointofview?”

I believe in free markets, so for me school being optional and what you learn in school being relativly optional makes sense. There would not be this problem because if you wanted your kid to go to a school where they teach evolution then send him, if you wanted him to go to another school then send him to that school where they don’t learn evolution. neither side would be trying to force the other side to conform to their worldview.

Comment #58136

Posted by H. Humbert on November 16, 2005 2:05 PM (e)

Or another take on the watchmaker analogy:

Just as a non-magic artifact implies a non-magical designer, a natural artifact implies an all-powerful magical being that is outside time and without beginning.

Uh, wtf??!!

It always blows my mind that people can earnestly offer such simple-minded and pathetic “proofs” of god.

Comment #58141

Posted by Sir_Toejam on November 16, 2005 2:21 PM (e)

I believe in free markets, so for me school being optional and what you learn in school being relativly optional makes sense

hmm. and what do you think is necessary to maintain a democracy that supports a free market?

you say you are attending college. why?

Comment #58147

Posted by Flint on November 16, 2005 2:39 PM (e)

Once again, the old “atheism is a religion” canard pops up. To the Believer, *everything* is a religion, including the lack of ANY religion. Like if you don’t teach plumbing in science class, you are teaching the religion of a-plumbing. The polarization of “those not for me are against me.”

An “a-theistic” education is one that takes no sides about religion in any direction. And nearly everything in the public school curricula anywhere are perfectly teachable without any mention of religion.

I doubt there’s any possible way to overcome the conviction that “anything that disagrees with my religion, must necessarily be another religion.” Sorry, but FORCING your beliefs into schools or science labs doesn’t turn them into churches. And finding your efforts to do so ineffective, doesn’t make these churches either. Not everything is a church. Some religions just try to horn in where they don’t belong and claim persecution when they’re resisted.

Comment #58150

Posted by Differentviewpoint on November 16, 2005 3:04 PM (e)

Please note that the constitution forms a Republic and not a Democracy. What is needed to maintain free markets? that the government do nothing except defend the country and create fair laws.
this a discussion about evolution and how it is taught in school and not about economics or political theory.

H. Humbert has a twisted veiw of what god is to me.

Why do I attend college? because it is in my own self interest.

A active teaching against god is teaching religion. As can clearly be seen on this board, do I need to get all the quotes from here and point out exactly in what way they form a religion or set of beliefs? It is this same set of beliefs that of god does not exist that is sometimes taught in schools. Most of the time it isn’t, but it is that some time that it is, that worries me. It is also the extremely harsh reaction to any type of dissident on the so called God neutral that also worries me.

NPR recently ran a story about intelligent design telling how scientists and teachers are persecuted and denied the ability to even study or look at whether or not intelligent design has merit. It appears that the intelligent design scientists are forced to spend all their time defending themselves on a theory that isn’t completely formulated. What does the science community have to fear? that god exists? Why not instead have the teachers of schools mention that perhaps evolution is not totally accepted by the whole science community. That is if privatizing the school system is not an option.

Comment #58152

Posted by Sir_Toejam on November 16, 2005 3:10 PM (e)

this a discussion about evolution and how it is taught in school and not about economics or political theory.

then why did you raise the issue to begin with?

you’re the one who wanted to talk about free markets.

you’re lack of understanding about how free markets actually work speaks volumes.

I see no reason to continue. you really are just a troll

Comment #58154

Posted by Differentviewpoint on November 16, 2005 3:17 PM (e)

Wow thats cool, I am studying economics and I don’t understand it. amazing, good thing my teachers don’t know that. Perhaps you should inform them?

I gave the idea of using the market solve the problem but it was more letting the parents have the kids learn what they will. It was not nessarily an attempt to bring free markets into the picture.

This discussion board is about the fundamental and wrong religious argument of the IDist in Kansas if I am not mistaken. while I do not hold all of the views I am cabable of making the arguments. What kind of discussion is it if there is only one side represented?

Comment #58157

Posted by morbius on November 16, 2005 3:33 PM (e)

I admit I have quite a bit of difficulty imagining how to apply the scientific method to “what is the purpose of my life” so as to arrive at a “most likely correct answer” that anyone replicating the experiment will agree with.

Intellectually dishonest strawman goalpost moving. Feh.

Comment #58158

Posted by Flint on November 16, 2005 3:35 PM (e)

Differentviewpoint:

A active teaching against god is teaching religion.

Absolutely true. Anyone who teaches that there are no gods is violating the law by teaching religion. Public school teachers can make no explicit religious statements, either for or against anyone’s gods.

As can clearly be seen on this board, do I need to get all the quotes from here and point out exactly in what way they form a religion or set of beliefs?

Yes. I see a great deal of “belief”, grounded in solid experience, that science does what it sets out to do - explain and predict. But this is like believing that if you press the accelerator, you will speed up. It’s not religious belief, it’s a predictive statement based on past experience and an understanding of the principles and mechanics involved.

It is this same set of beliefs that of god does not exist that is sometimes taught in schools.

Nope, if anyone in public school taught that any god does not exist, that would be a slam-dunk legal suit. Public school teachers and administrators cannot make religious statements.

Most of the time it isn’t, but it is that some time that it is, that worries me.

If you can find ANY public school teacher who teaches that ANY god does not exist, I’ll be glad to join you in a lawsuit.

It is also the extremely harsh reaction to any type of dissident on the so called God neutral that also worries me.

What is this harsh reaction? What is the “so called god neutral”? Public schools are not legally permitted to take any position on any gods, either for or against.

NPR recently ran a story about intelligent design telling how scientists and teachers are persecuted and denied the ability to even study or look at whether or not intelligent design has merit.

Scientists are prevented from studying intelligent design only insofar as there’s nothing to be studied. Intelligent design is a pure religious doctrine, without scientific content or merit. You either accept it on faith, or you do not. There’s no science there. Teachers, like scientists, are welcome to study intelligent design all they want. What they can NOT do is teach that it’s science in science class. It is not science, it is religion. Teaching religion in science class will get you “persecuted” the same way shoplifting will, for the same reason. It’s illegal.

It appears that the intelligent design scientists are forced to spend all their time defending themselves on a theory that isn’t completely formulated.

This is dishonest enough to approach DI standards! There’s really no such thing as an “intelligent design scientist” in the sense of one who does scientific research in intelligent design, because there is no science there, there are no hypotheses, there’s nothing to be researched. There is NO THEORY AT ALL. So if these people ARE scientists (and some of them used to be), they’re welcome to do real science; nobody is stopping them. Instead, they CHOOSE to spend a great deal of time trying to prop up the claim that their personal religious beliefs are “scientific” somehow. Perhaps there’s more money in it that way?

What does the science community have to fear? that god exists?

The scientific community cannot investigate any gods; the rules of science don’t allow for that. Instead, the science community is most qualified to argue that intelligent design is *not science*. But we ALL have perhaps some reason to fear that if the forces of ignorance gain the political power they’re shooting for, in a generation or two there won’t be ANY scientists. Ignorance will win the field.

Why not instead have the teachers of schools mention that perhaps evolution is not totally accepted by the whole science community.

Because this is false. Evolution IS accepted by the whole science community, with only a tiny handful of dissenters – and these dissenters are invariably Christian fundamentalists, and very rarely work in any field related to evolution. Indeed, there are enough scientists out there so you could probably find another handful that believes in UFOs, another that thinks there’s a real human face carved on Mars, another that believes some people can read minds, etc. ANY large body of people will have fringe elements.

That is if privatizing the school system is not an option.

At least in the US, you can home-school your children and protect them from exposure to ideas you don’t like, at least until they leave home. If you’re skilled, you can render them impervious to knowledge quite surprisingly broadly.

Comment #58159

Posted by Steverino on November 16, 2005 3:39 PM (e)

Differentviewpoint,

You are just flat out wrong.

Science that does not support Religion is not a religion itself. It’s disingenuous to make that argument.

Science is…no more or no less…it’s just Science, it has no biased. It travels down the path of research and testability…to where ever that may lead. It does not identify the final destination and then select only the data, or misrepresent the data to support that pre-determined outcome.

ID/Creation/YEC…are all based in the beliefs of Christianity (Thanks to Pat Robertson for confirming this for nation). Scientific data does not support ID or any of it’s clones but, yet you all want to force the acceptance of the pseudo-science on our children.

Where is the honesty of the ID crowd?

Comment #58162

Posted by improvius on November 16, 2005 3:47 PM (e)

NPR recently ran a story about intelligent design telling how scientists and teachers are persecuted and denied the ability to even study or look at whether or not intelligent design has merit.

I call BS until you can produce a link to the story. I suspect you are actually mis-representing the story on Sternberg.

The notion that anyone is interfering with ID research is absurd, because there is no such thing as ID research.

Why not instead have the teachers of schools mention that perhaps evolution is not totally accepted by the whole science community.

That’s also misleading. It would be more accurate to say that, as a whole, the world’s scientific community accepts and endorses evolution.

Comment #58163

Posted by morbius on November 16, 2005 3:50 PM (e)

Yes we all do. We also like to feel that our opinions - even when they differ from yours - are being respected. You don’t show that so don’t be surprised if you get no respect back. We want to discuss evolution and ID - however we may get to the point when we don’t want to discuss it with you.

Snore. I guess misrepresenting people’s arguments with dishonest innuendo and hyperbole is what you call respecting their opinions: “Some people on here seem to be of the opinion that ‘all design hypotheses are bad’ and will jump on anyone who suggests otherwise”

There’s a lot that I respect, but dishonesty and hypocrisy aren’t among them. I didn’t say anything about getting respect, let alone being surprised, I said that STJ’s comments were OT, ad hominem, and irrelevant. Yours are all of that plus dishonest and pretentious. Whether you respect me or discuss things with me is of no concern to me, except that I do wish that such juvenile personal attacks would not be passed off as “discussion” here.

Comment #58164

Posted by Flint on November 16, 2005 4:07 PM (e)

Morbius:

Intellectually dishonest strawman goalpost moving. Feh.

No, it’s a good-faith effort to understand what you are trying to say. It’s also a clear articulation of how I think religious people WILL interpret what you say. You are remarkably quick to accuse those of dishonesty, who fail to interpret what you say as what you *meant to say*.

I could, of course, adopt your technique and accuse you of running away, tail between your legs and calling names, when it turned out that your claims made no sense and you got called on it. But I’d prefer trying to discuss what I think is an important issue. If your ego is too big for this exercise, that’s OK. Not everyone is able to credit differing opinions as having any validity.

Comment #58167

Posted by morbius on November 16, 2005 4:42 PM (e)

Last night, you challenged my assertion that natural selection was an undirected process, suggesting that I should justify my claim.

In fact you asked whether NS implies an undirected process, said you’re confused, and then asked again how NS can be reconciled with eschatology. You certainly shouldn’t be taken aback when someone takes your question seriously.

I didn’t just challenge the implication, I asked how we know that the environmental events that result in selection are not themselves directed. And I did more than suggest – I noted that the burden of a claim is on the one making it.

I was taken aback, fortunately resisting the urge to lash out with something like: well, the argument against solipsism is also an assertion, but most rational people defer to an intuitive sense of its falsity.

Ah, but I had already gave my answer to this by noting that your claim isn’t self-evident. Deferring to intuitions is rational when the claim isn’t under challenge, but not when it is; such intuitions have proven wrong over and over again. And analogies are particularly inappropriate in such circumstances – “X needs no defense” certainly doesn’t imply that Y needs no defense – not without circularly assuming the conclusion. And many rational people have, rather than deferring to their intuitions about solipsism, explored the subject at length. See, e.g., http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solipsism
also, while not quite solipsism, David Chalmers’ The Matrix as Metaphysics illustrates that such issues may not be as simple as they seem.

This morning, I pondered my motivation in proclaiming NS undirected and realized it was based on the opinions of folks such as Dawkins, Mayr, E.O. Wilson, and Dennett (his algorthmic assessment seemed like a pretty blind yet beautiful process). Being too lazy today to research how they might have come to their nonteleological opinions, I will proffer the hunch that it is based more on metaphysical commitment than empirical or logical analysis.

I think this misses my point. I didn’t question the judgment that algorithmic processes are blind and undirected, I questioned how you know that events are blind and undirected. Perhaps God set up this blind undirected process but occasionally hurls meteors at it or in some other way affects it. I share the metaphysical views of Mayr et. al. But you asked the question of how other views can be justified.

So, thank you for questioning my premature certainty on this issue.

You’re welcome. But I urge you to go back and look at your post I responded to and think about how you expressed that certainty.

Comment #58169

Posted by morbius on November 16, 2005 4:51 PM (e)

No, it’s a good-faith effort to understand what you are trying to say.

It is anything but that. Here’s what I wrote:

That it can help answer such questions does not mean that it can establish whether murder is wrong as an objective fact

and yet your response was

I admit I have quite a bit of difficulty imagining how to apply the scientific method to “what is the purpose of my life” so as to arrive at a “most likely correct answer” that anyone replicating the experiment will agree with.

Bad faith. And calling it good faith is more bad faith.

Comment #58170

Posted by James Taylor on November 16, 2005 5:04 PM (e)

DPoV wrote:

“Um, how would God reveal this. An appearance on “Larry King Live”? A thundering voice from the heavens?”
through a prophet like was done in the past and is done now in some religions.

Prophecy is big business. Don’t fool yourself and don’t let others. Truths would be revealed to all and not to a single privileged person should it be actual Truth. Those that claim to be prophets have dubious intent. Most important lesson to learn from religion is that ALL men are flawed including the supposed prophet.

Comment #58179

Posted by Doyle on November 16, 2005 5:50 PM (e)

Since I’ve slogged through all the posts from MTVland, I feel I’ve earned the opportunity to ask an evolution question. Can we now identify,(or is anyone working toward identifying) any adaptations in homo sapiens that could be considered evolutionary? I don’t mean the presence of vestigial organs; I mean something like the development of stronger teeth or better hearing. Or has our success as a species eliminated the most severe pressures of natural selection?

Comment #58181

Posted by Stephen Elliott on November 16, 2005 6:08 PM (e)

You’re repeating arguments that were refuted years before you were born.

Terrible response. Everyone has to learn. Did you know the Earth was a globe when you were about 4? That was also discovered before you was born.

I don’t think DPV is a troll…just someone still struggling with personal beliefs/world view.

Oh and Dif Point View,
are you aware that the DI have been lying to all and sundry about Int Design?

Comment #58182

Posted by Katarina on November 16, 2005 6:10 PM (e)

Morbius,

I am glad to see you having a discussion with Flint about undirected, or seemingly undirected events that drive mutations and natural selection, and vhow we can’t really tell whether god was involved or not.

I tried a while ago to defend the theistic evolution perspective on PT with a commentor named ts, whom I no longer see here, with this very same argument, incidentally. I felt the blog sorely needed it. It got very heated, personal, etc., and my feeling was that I failed.

However, I am very happy to see you doing a better job than I did. Of course, you have not taken on ts, but Flint can be tough too.

Comment #58185

Posted by CJ O'Brien on November 16, 2005 6:19 PM (e)

Mr. Elliot,
I am sorry you do not approve of my troll-dismissal. I will attempt to be more devastatingly incisive next time.

I am sure I was pathetically ignorant as a child. The difference, I believe, is that I was interested in learning, not spouting off about my ignorance. Suffice it to say that you and I differ about DPoV’s outlook and motivations.

My “terrible response” was a frustrated dismissal of someone who would outright assert that 2LoT refutes evolution, and explicitly refer to Paley’s watchmaker argument without acknowledging its obsolescence. Someone responsible for such verbiage should be made aware that they are parroting long-dead lines of fallacious reasoning.

Comment #58186

Posted by morbius on November 16, 2005 6:29 PM (e)

I am glad to see you having a discussion with Flint about undirected, or seemingly undirected events that drive mutations and natural selection, and vhow we can’t really tell whether god was involved or not.

That was Tim B, not Flint.

I tried a while ago to defend the theistic evolution perspective on PT with a commentor named ts, whom I no longer see here, with this very same argument, incidentally. I felt the blog sorely needed it. It got very heated, personal, etc., and my feeling was that I failed.

However, I am very happy to see you doing a better job than I did. Of course, you have not taken on ts, but Flint can be tough too.

The reason you don’t see ts here is because it would be unethical for both ts and morbius to post to the same board.

Think hard on that, and what it might mean about your perceptions.

Comment #58187

Posted by improvius on November 16, 2005 6:37 PM (e)

I don’t mean the presence of vestigial organs…

Why not? How is it not “evolutionary” to get rid or reduce the size of features that we no longer need? I don’t understand the qualifications you’re trying to put on your question.

Comment #58190

Posted by morbius on November 16, 2005 6:45 PM (e)

Can we now identify,(or is anyone working toward identifying) any adaptations in homo sapiens that could be considered evolutionary? I don’t mean the presence of vestigial organs; I mean something like the development of stronger teeth or better hearing. Or has our success as a species eliminated the most severe pressures of natural selection?

Lactase persistence appears to have recently evolved along with the domestication of cattle. And there’s evidence of ongoing selection pressure from disease, notably malaria, on certain genes.

Comment #58193

Posted by Stephen Elliott on November 16, 2005 6:55 PM (e)

Mr. Elliot,
I am sorry you do not approve of my troll-dismissal. I will attempt to be more devastatingly incisive next time.

lol Touche

Fair enough. It is just that I am not sure that DPV is a troll.
He sounds a bit like I did about a year ago.
Not many people have a good grounding in biology.

There is a very good chance that he has come here straight after having been lied to by ID fraudsters.

Time will tell I suppose.

Comment #58194

Posted by Alan Fox on November 16, 2005 6:56 PM (e)

ts and morbius

Surely not. Morbius’ comments are full of wit and humour, and not at all pedantic.

Comment #58195

Posted by Katarina on November 16, 2005 7:01 PM (e)

Isn’t it unethical to defend one point of view, disappear, then re-appear with a different name, defending the opposite point of view? The funny part is, the discussion with ts got me to seriously re-consider my own “faith.” I took his arguments very seriously.

Oh well, forget about it.

Comment #58199

Posted by Gav on November 16, 2005 7:20 PM (e)

Differentviewpoint is no troll. Well on the way to becoming a theistic evolutionist, indeed.

In the spirit of helpfulness I’d suggest that DVP considers the story of Elijah and the prophets of Ba’al. Regarding ID …. where’s the fire, chaps?

Comment #58200

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 16, 2005 7:25 PM (e)

“Um, how would God reveal this. An appearance on “Larry King Live”? A thundering voice from the heavens?”

through a prophet like was done in the past and is done now in some religions.

Can you tell us how to identify the True Prophets™© from the idiotic ones?

After all, IDers Jonathan Wells thinks Sun Myung Moon is The True Prophet©™. How can we tell if he’s right about that or not?

Other than your (or his) say-so?

Comment #58202

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 16, 2005 7:33 PM (e)

This is simply not so — science can help to answer such questions; it has helped me and many others.

Then I stand corrected.

Not so fast ….

I admit I have quite a bit of difficulty imagining how to apply the scientific method to “what is the purpose of my life” so as to arrive at a “most likely correct answer” that anyone replicating the experiment will agree with. I understand that science can and does provide meaning for many people. But it doesn’t do so by applying the scientific method, but rather by supplying the promose of the kinds of answers certain people have a need for. Not everyone shares that need.

I have to jump in here. Science is a method. It’s not a philosophy, not a worldview, and not a way of life. Those who attempt to turn it into one, are mis-using and abusing science every bit as much as the fundies do who try to force science to fit their religious views.

If it can’t be investigated using the scientific method, then it ain’t science. Period. No matter HOW bloody “inspiring” or “comforting” it may be.

Comment #58208

Posted by morbius on November 16, 2005 7:42 PM (e)

Isn’t it unethical to defend one point of view, disappear, then re-appear with a different name, defending the opposite point of view?

As I said, Katarina, consider your perceptions – they aren’t always accurate.

The funny part is, the discussion with ts got me to seriously re-consider my own “faith.” I took his arguments very seriously.

Sounds like a good thing to me. Now, go back and read what I wrote above:

I share the metaphysical views of Mayr et. al. But you asked the question of how other views can be justified.

I hold the same views I have always held.

Oh well, forget about it.

Forget about taking arguments seriously? What matters above all is the content of the argument, the facts and reasoning.

Comment #58214

Posted by morbius on November 16, 2005 7:56 PM (e)

Those who attempt to turn it into one, are mis-using and abusing science every bit as much as the fundies do who try to force science to fit their religious views.

So Renier, when he says “Science can make one free, in a certain way” is like a fundie? Theistic evolutionists who say that science reveals God to them are like fundies? That view sounds like intellectual fascism to me.

Science informs us, and information helps us make all sorts of judgments. To then stomp one’s feet and scream that the judgments themselves aren’t objective findings of the scientific method is to willfully miss the point.

Comment #58216

Posted by Tim B. on November 16, 2005 8:10 PM (e)

Morbius,

I have a tendency to enter a discussion by insinuating my opinion through query rather than declamation. At this point, that’s neither here nor there.

I had not thought about differentiating between process and event. Your meteor reference, as unprocessed event, went right over my head, so to speak.

I should have provided more context for my entry into the discussion. When I speak of “process,” I have in mind a Process, allowing no “room” for anything outside the system. Events would be products of process (no god-hurled projectiles permitted). But this is circular reasoning on my part. Having concluded the way things must be, anything outside my conditions is, de facto, inadmissible.

Nevertheless, I have a sense that your logical slicing and dicing puts too much burden on a metaphysical assessment of natural selection versus teleology, requiring the would-be thinker about such things to always be looking over his shoulder for wrathful cosmic missiles or stampeding invisible pink elephants. A form of probability, I think, accrues through observation and experience. Logical possibility is pretty much a wide-open market.

But I did ask the question, and you simply provided an answer. I appreciate your taking it seriously. I was sincerely confused about how theistic evolutionists project confidence in their commingling of blind process and hovering deity. Less the commingling than the confidence.

Comment #58219

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 16, 2005 8:40 PM (e)

Science informs us, and information helps us make all sorts of judgments.

Advice from one’s grandmother also informs us, and advice from one’s grandmother also helps us make all sorts of judgements. And in many cases, advice from one’s grandmother is more helpful than all the science in the world. Disagree? Then go ahead and ask “science” whether you should marry this person or that one. Do you love your current partner? Did you make that decision “scientifically”? I very much doubt it.

“Informing us about questions” isn’t the same thing as “answering questions”. If you disagree, then please, by all means, go ahead and show me how to use the scientific method to answer the simple question “is murder wrong”.

Science may indeed be able to inform that decision. (So, of course, does advice from one’s grandmother.) Science may even be able to provide us with minute details of human brain chemistry that inform us as to how murderers think, or why this person murders and that one doesn’t.

NONE of which tells us simply whether it’s wrong or not. (shrug)

Science doesn’t make that decision. Science CAN’T make that decision. WE do.

Comment #58220

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 16, 2005 8:45 PM (e)

To then stomp one’s feet and scream that the judgments themselves aren’t objective findings of the scientific method is to willfully miss the point.

But my dear ts, that *IS* the point. If the judgement doesn’t come from the scientific method, then it **doesn’t come from science**. And to say that it *does*, is to mis-use and abuse science.

Simple, huh.

But, the last time we had this conversation, it led to a big dick-waving contest that didn’t help anyone.

I have no interest in waving my dick, and no interest in seeing you wave yours again. So I’ll drop the matter.

You may, if you like, have the last word.

Comment #58221

Posted by improvius on November 16, 2005 8:45 PM (e)

I was sincerely confused about how theistic evolutionists project confidence in their commingling of blind process and hovering deity. Less the commingling than the confidence.

I suspect that they simply don’t place artificial constraints on their deity of choice. Or rather, they don’t presume to know the reasons and mechanisms used by a deity.

One of the funniest things to me is how creos think they can build some sort of rational trap in which they can ensnare proof of God’s existence. Do you really think you can just catch God in a jar?

Comment #58225

Posted by Katarina on November 16, 2005 9:04 PM (e)

I don’t claim my perceptions are always correct. I consider corrections.

As I recall, my discussion with ts was about whether the theistic argument was as valid as the atheistic one, not whether it was the correct choice. Morbius’ act of arguing in support of theistic evolution implies it is a valid viewpoint. Morbius has a different position than ts did.

This is a happy moment, for it tells me we learned from each other and our past discussion was not a failure.

Comment #58226

Posted by morbius on November 16, 2005 9:14 PM (e)

Nevertheless, I have a sense that your logical slicing and dicing puts too much burden on a metaphysical assessment of natural selection versus teleology, requiring the would-be thinker about such things to always be looking over his shoulder for wrathful cosmic missiles or stampeding invisible pink elephants. A form of probability, I think, accrues through observation and experience. Logical possibility is pretty much a wide-open market.

I quite agree to the latter two sentences. But your question was not whether you should be required to be constantly asking whether God is involved. Rather, you put the shoe on the other foot by talking about what NS implies – that’s a claim as to what isn’t logically possible. If it isn’t logically possible for God to exist and even influence evolution by affecting the inputs to NS, then it isn’t disingenuous – on those grounds, at least – to say that they are compatible.

I was sincerely confused about how theistic evolutionists project confidence in their commingling of blind process and hovering deity.

I can’t clear up any such confusion – I’m not a theist and only vaguely comprehend how they think. I merely tried to point out that a certain implication was not self-evident, and needed justification. (Oddly, for that alone I’ve been accused of reversing my “point of view” as to whether we can “really tell” whether God directs events. My POV has always been that the question is like asking if we can “really tell” whether angels dance on pins – it rests upon confusions about semantics, epistemology, and ontology.)

Comment #58228

Posted by morbius on November 16, 2005 9:26 PM (e)

As I recall, my discussion with ts was about whether the theistic argument was as valid as the atheistic one, not whether it was the correct choice. Morbius’ act of arguing in support of theistic evolution implies it is a valid viewpoint. Morbius has a different position than ts did.

Sigh. I have not argued in support of theistic evolution – all I did was note that Tim B. asked whether a certain implication held and I stated that it wasn’t self-evident. This had nothing to do with whether I consider “theistic evolution” to be a “valid viewpoint”, whatever that means. My response to Tim has nothing to do with our previous discussions about whether your personal experiences of God were veridical, and the like. I hold the same views about that now as I did then. And now, as then, you appear unable to separate out different arguments and claims, lumping them all together into sweeping but incredibly vague categories like “the theistic argument” and “the atheistic one”.

Comment #58229

Posted by morbius on November 16, 2005 9:28 PM (e)

Make that

If it isn’t logically impossible for God to exist and even influence evolution by affecting the inputs to NS, then it isn’t disingenuous — on those grounds, at least — to say that they are compatible.

Comment #58230

Posted by morbius on November 16, 2005 9:36 PM (e)

Science informs us, and information helps us make all sorts of judgments.

Advice from one’s grandmother also informs us,

Or misinforms us.

I wrote:

To then stomp one’s feet and scream that the judgments themselves aren’t objective findings of the scientific method is to willfully miss the point.

Lenny wrote:

Science doesn’t make that decision. Science CAN’T make that decision. WE do.

Sigh.

Stomping people who are on OUR side (like, say, theistic evolutionists), doesn’t, uh, help us very much.

Those who attempt to turn it into one, are mis-using and abusing science every bit as much as the fundies do who try to force science to fit their religious views.

Sigh sigh sigh.

I have no interest in waving my dick

Uh, right.

Comment #58231

Posted by Richard Speck on November 16, 2005 9:42 PM (e)

Do you-all “read before you rant”?

‘Kansas reinstated a traditional definition of science which reads: “Science is a systematic method of continuing investigation that uses observation, hypothesis testing, measurement, experimentation, logical argument and theory-building to lead to more adequate explanations of natural phenomena.”’

If so, just what is your personal definition of science? Or is it the “continuing investigation” line (rather than old dogma) which is the problem?

Darwin recognized that his conjecture (that evolution has occurred by random processes with natural selection ALONE) was falsifiable by a single counter example. Several plausible examples have now been well documented. The conjecture that Intelligent Design must have been involved in creating these structures (and not just a genetically engineered Tomato) can be falsified by simply outlining a reasonable process (with selectable advantages at each step) to bring these structures into being. (At some point the question of available time must be addressed in addition to a credible path).

ID DISCUSSIONS WOULD HAVE ALREADY ENDED IF THIS WORK HAD BEEN DONE!

Intelligent Design is not an attractive theory in paleontology (although it is a very important topic in archeology), but if it takes an unattractive theory to shake mindless confidence in a badly flawed one, then that is good for science. The result may be something entirely different which addresses Darwin’s failures without undermining people’s conviction that humans possess the only intelligence in the universe.

Comment #58232

Posted by Katarina on November 16, 2005 9:44 PM (e)

I wasn’t specific because I only have snippets of time to write here, and I have to make it short. Three kids under 5, with one of them being a newborn, takes a little higher priority at the moment than sparring with ts.

I will back down because you are right, I have not exhaustively read each of your comments on this topic, nor do I have the time/inclination to, so perhaps I was mistaken that you made a single argument supporting the possibility of theistic evolution.

I lack the essential body part referred to by the good Rev, so good night.

Comment #58233

Posted by improvius on November 16, 2005 9:47 PM (e)

Speck - the little snippet is only a fraction of what was changed.

Comment #58234

Posted by improvius on November 16, 2005 9:53 PM (e)

Several plausible examples have now been well documented.

Well, clearly we are unaware of any examples of, um, whatever disproves evolution.

Comment #58236

Posted by morbius on November 16, 2005 10:00 PM (e)

Do you-all “read before you rant”?

What rant, other than your own?

Darwin recognized that his conjecture (that evolution has occurred by random processes with natural selection ALONE)

ToE has moved on – it now includes other mechanisms in addition to NS.

was falsifiable by a single counter example. Several plausible examples have now been well documented.

No, they haven’t. If you’re referring to examples of “irreducible complexity”, examples of IC do not falsify ToE, in fact they are predicted by ToE. (If you’re going to offer what Darwin said about the eye, be sure to include the whole quotation.)

The conjecture that Intelligent Design must have been involved in creating these structures (and not just a genetically engineered Tomato) can be falsified by simply outlining a reasonable process (with selectable advantages at each step) to bring these structures into being.

Aside from the burden shifting, it has already been shown that IC doesn’t contradict ToE. And responding to individual examples doesn’t falsify ID because a) other examples can be brought forward and b) IDists are never satisfied with the explanations. Some of the work of showing how these structures could have evolved has already been done and is in progress – this work is, predictably, ignored or rejected by IDists.

ID DISCUSSIONS WOULD HAVE ALREADY ENDED IF THIS WORK HAD BEEN DONE!

Shouting it doesn’t make it so. To the contrary, there is ample reason to think this isn’t so – reasons well laid out by Flint and others in this thread.

Comment #58238

Posted by morbius on November 16, 2005 10:07 PM (e)

I will back down because you are right, I have not exhaustively read each of your comments on this topic, nor do I have the time/inclination to, so perhaps I was mistaken that you made a single argument supporting the possibility of theistic evolution.

You really should have evidence rather than your vague impressions before accusing people of reversing their point of view. From this very thread:

The deity card does not explain anything, any more than “it’s magic” explains anything.

Sound (vaguely – because that’s all you seem to go by) familiar, Katarina?

Comment #58240

Posted by Ron Zeno on November 16, 2005 10:17 PM (e)

The trolls are multiplying :(

Katarina - Did you get your questions answered?

Maybe I could put my answer another way: the scientific method is open to all. Nothing about it is hidden. Nothing about it requires faith or deference to authority.

If you want to know how science handles its mistakes and recovers from them, I recommend The Undergrowth of Science: Delusion, Self-Deception, and Human Frailty by Walter B. Gratzer.

Comment #58241

Posted by Katarina on November 16, 2005 10:22 PM (e)

Oy. Will bite one more time. I never accused you of reversing your point of view. Point of view is subjective and none of my business. I thanked you for arguing that there is no way for us to know whether god directed a seemingly undirected process or not, a point I made to you in your past identity.

Your dick is bigger. End of story. Use the energy on creationists.

Comment #58242

Posted by morbius on November 16, 2005 10:25 PM (e)

I suspect that this is the statement that Katarina had in mind:

Theistic scientists do just as good science as atheistic scientists.

But this doesn’t mean that I think that theistic evolution is a “valid viewpoint”, any more than saying that scientists who support Cheney’s torture camps do just as good science as those who don’t means that I think supporting Cheney’s torture camps is a “valid viewpoint”.

And of course my statement was not meant as a universal; some theistic scientists, such as Michael Behe, have done some very bad science (or have presented non-science as if it were science).

Comment #58243

Posted by Katarina on November 16, 2005 10:29 PM (e)

Ron Zeno,

I don’t know if I got my questions answered. I am looking for a way to describe the scientific process as pretty much immune to bias and conspiracies. Hopefully it will help bring at least some evolution-doubters around, at least when they make the accusation that scientists are biased. The book sounds interesting, perhaps it will help me form the argument more specifically.

I wouldn’t want to be too vague;)

Comment #58244

Posted by morbius on November 16, 2005 10:30 PM (e)

I never accused you of reversing your point of view.

Excuse me? Are you just going out of your way to quibble? You certainly accused me of something very much like that:

Isn’t it unethical to defend one point of view, disappear, then re-appear with a different name, defending the opposite point of view?

Your dick is bigger.

It doesn’t take one to act like one.

Comment #58245

Posted by Katarina on November 16, 2005 10:32 PM (e)

TS, no that is not the statement I had in mind, just drop it, I withdraw, you win.

YOU WIN!!!!

Comment #58246

Posted by morbius on November 16, 2005 10:37 PM (e)

I thanked you for arguing that there is no way for us to know whether god directed a seemingly undirected process or not, a point I made to you in your past identity.

I did not argue that. To the contrary, as I wrote above:

I merely tried to point out that a certain implication was not self-evident, and needed justification. (Oddly, for that alone I’ve been accused of reversing my “point of view” as to whether we can “really tell” whether God directs events. My POV has always been that the question is like asking if we can “really tell” whether angels dance on pins — it rests upon confusions about semantics, epistemology, and ontology.)

That’s the same position I have taken with you in the past. But, now as then, you don’t understand it, and thus misrepresent my position every time you try to state it.

Comment #58248

Posted by morbius on November 16, 2005 10:41 PM (e)

YOU WIN!!!!

Please stop shouting. I thought that was likely to be what you had in mind, and so I wanted to explain what I did and didn’t mean by it. It’s not a contest, it’s about what is true and what isn’t, about understanding and clarity.

Comment #58250

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 16, 2005 10:45 PM (e)

Some things never change, huh. (sigh)

Comment #58251

Posted by morbius on November 16, 2005 10:54 PM (e)

Some things never change, huh. (sigh)

Still wagging that thing around, eh Lenny? What was it you said?

But, the last time we had this conversation, it led to a big dick-waving contest that didn’t help anyone.

I have no interest in waving my dick, and no interest in seeing you wave yours again. So I’ll drop the matter.

You may, if you like, have the last word.

Yeah, right. Hypocrisy, thy name is Flank,

Comment #58252

Posted by Richard Speck on November 16, 2005 11:02 PM (e)

This “snippet” is the one being actually addressed by critics. (If you know of other, more serious changes, these commentators haven’t noticed them.)

‘Kansas reinstated a traditional definition of science which reads: “Science is a systematic method of continuing investigation that uses observation, hypothesis testing, measurement, experimentation, logical argument and theory-building to lead to more adequate explanations of natural phenomena.”’

[Headline] Philosophers Notwithstanding, Kansas School Board Redefines Science

By DENNIS OVERBYE
Published: November 15, 2005

“The changes in the official state definition are subtle and lawyerly, and involve mainly the removal of two words: “natural explanations.” But they are a red flag to scientists, who say the changes obliterate the distinction between the natural and the supernatural that goes back to Galileo and the foundations of science.” [end quote]

I take this excitement to mean that “politically correct” explanations are voted in as “natural explanations” while “systematic … continuing investigation” might lead one to new ideas. (Not that Intelligent Design is a new idea if restricted to recent millenniums, as in archeology.) Not so very long ago, communication at long distances could proceed by no “natural explanation”!

I am aware that that the theory of evolution has moved on to some very novel ideas (the cells want to evolve into something better…), but I don’t believe any of them are included in common biology books.

More importantly, if ToE is a falsifiable science, then it will always face new evidence which may challenge its assumptions. That is inherent in widespread definitions of science (including the new Kansas version), not a product of unthinking critics making up interminable challenges. The explanations I have read “evolving” the flagella (as a useful structure) contain a lot of hand waving. They are a far cry from Behe’s experimental work showing that if any one of the 40 proteins involved in manufacturing this structure is removed or seriously modified, then this costly biological assembly has no selectable advantages for the cell. Other evolutionary examples show rapid removal of unnecessary structures, not proliferation in a population.

Comment #58253

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 16, 2005 11:06 PM (e)

Mr Speck, I have just one simple question for you ——– if ID is science, then why do IDers need to try to use legal methods to change the definition of science. Why can ‘t they just do science, under the same old definition that everyone ELSE has been doing science.

Or are IDers just lying to us when they claim ID is science …

Comment #58255

Posted by Doyle on November 16, 2005 11:17 PM (e)

“I don’t mean the presence of vestigial organs…

Why not? How is it not “evolutionary” to get rid or reduce the size of features that we no longer need? I don’t understand the qualifications you’re trying to put on your question.”

mprovious-I put that limitation on my question only because I believe I already understand that part of the picture. I’m wondering, basically, if we are still evolving. Someone wanted to know what whales would be like; I’m wondering what we’ll be like. What are we learning from studies of the extremely old, or the extremely anything? I’m trying to interest my daughter in studying science, genetics,etc. (as a lawyer, it is the least I can do to point her to something useful). So, what are we finding out?

Comment #58256

Posted by Sir_Toejam on November 16, 2005 11:20 PM (e)

Speck-

Have you looked at the orginal definition of science?

“Science is the human activity of seeking natural explanations for what we observe in the world around us”

you are quite right on the key point being changed from the original being that of “natural explanations”, but quite wrong in thinking it was changed to “systematic … continuing investigation”.

in fact, the key point was that it was changed to:

“logical argument”

the problem with this is, that anybody can argue a subjective but logical argument for just about anything.

I could argue that Astrology is quite logical from a certain perspective.

does that make it science in your mind?

there was and IS a good reason to specify the exact term “natural explanations” in any definition of science. Natural phenomena are simply the things that can be investigated by science, period.

If you’d like I’m sure someone here would be happy to provide you a link to a complete history of how the scientific method was developed the way it was, but I’m sure you can easily see why science can’t investigate the supernatural, even though the supernatural might seem “logical”, can’t you? and thereby see why removing the key concept that defines the entire purview of science would be a bit distressing?

Comment #58257

Posted by Sir_Toejam on November 16, 2005 11:36 PM (e)

doyle, start here:

http://www.talkorigins.org/

find something you think might be interesting, then take the topic to your local university library and ask the resident librarian help you do a literature search to check out the most recent work on the topic.

they’ll be happy to help.

don’t forget to think in terms of behavioral as well as morphological evolution. I meet relatively few people who have a good grasp of behavioral ecology and ethology, so i guess that’s why it often gets overlooked. Some of the most interesting studies i have ever read were involving the evolution of animal behavior (like altruism, for example), as well as some of the most controversial (for obvious reasons).

also, it sounds obvious, but I recall that nothing sparked my interest in science more than talking to an actual scientist. Whether it was the animal trainers at Sea World when i was little, or college/university professors as i grew older. when you visit your local university, get a contact list and try to contact the departments your daughter might find the most intersting (like the molecular biology department, or the population genetics department, for example), and tell what interests your daughter has and ask if there is someone she could meet.

good luck.

Comment #58258

Posted by Sir_Toejam on November 16, 2005 11:40 PM (e)

I’m wondering, basically, if we are still evolving

short answer:

yup. kinda hard not too.

Comment #58262

Posted by vandalhooch on November 16, 2005 11:58 PM (e)

Syntax Error: mismatched tag 'kwickxml'

Comment #58265

Posted by vandalhooch on November 17, 2005 12:05 AM (e)

STJ

You beat me to a response for Doyle!

I’d also like to answer his earlier question: “Can we now identify,(or is anyone working toward identifying) any adaptations in homo sapiens that could be considered evolutionary?”

The short answer is … all of them.

Vandalhooch

Comment #58266

Posted by improvius on November 17, 2005 12:07 AM (e)

This “snippet” is the one being actually addressed by critics. (If you know of other, more serious changes, these commentators haven’t noticed them.)

The Overbye article is more of an overview than an in-depth analysis. The “critics” are addressing much more than that.

Revised Kansas standards: http://www.ksde.org/outcomes/scstdworkingdoc.pd

(Start around p. 74)

I’m not going to list all of the specific changes here. There are several, and they’ve been covered in detail elsewhere:

http://thequestionableauthority.blogspot.com/2005/08/kansas-boe-wants-to-lie-to-students.html

http://thequestionableauthority.blogspot.com/2005/08/kansas-boe-wants-to-lie-to-students_12.html

http://www.educatedguesswork.org/movabletype/archives/2005/08/whats_wrong_wit_1.html

http://www.ksde.org/outcomes/sciencestdreviewkarenbartelt.pdf

Comment #58269

Posted by k.e. on November 17, 2005 12:11 AM (e)

morbius great work,
however this is what what I Really had in mind with my last post.
One last time.

Zen and the Way of the Sword: Arming the Samurai Psyche

A soldier named Nobushige came to Hakuin, and asked: “Is there really a paradise and a hell?”
“Who are you?” inquired Hakuin.
“I am a samurai,” the warrior replied.
“You, a soldier!” exclaimed Hakuin, “What kind of ruler would have you as his guard? Your face looks like that of a beggar.”
Nobushige became so angry that he began to draw his sword, but Hakuin continued: “So you have a sword! Your weapon is probably much too dull to cut off my head.”
As Nobushige drew his sword Hakuin remarked: “Here open the gates of hell!”
At these words the samurai, perceiving the master’s discipline, sheathed his sword and bowed.
“Here open the gates of paradise,” said Hakuin.

Lenny thanks for making the point that science will NOT teach you much/anything about the culture of living. The anything which I think is morbius’ point is that a very careful learning of the methods used in science will teach one how to think accurately and incisively. Morbius I think defends accurate thought and takes culture for granted which is fair enough. But in the defensce of the Art we must look outwards or be accused of idolatry ourselves.

Comment #58276

Posted by Morbius on November 17, 2005 12:49 AM (e)

The anything which I think is morbius’ point is that a very careful learning of the methods used in science will teach one how to think accurately and incisively. Morbius I think defends accurate thought and takes culture for granted which is fair enough.

No, I certainly don’t do that. Science and the kind of thinking you correctly refer to can, for instance, inform us (in a way that our grandmothers cannot) that a significant number of people on death row are innocent of the crimes they have been charged with. This can lead to changes in people’s attitudes about the court system, what constitutes justice, the validity of retribution … Science can lead us to reevaluate notions of free will when we see that action potentials result in muscular motion precede conscious decisions to make the motion. Science and careful intellectual analysis can lead and has led to huge changes in society and culture. Lenny can stomp and scream and wag his dick around all day long, accusing people of being like fundies because they make statements about science that he doesn’t understand, but it doesn’t change the facts. I already mentioned Daniel Dennett’s “Freedom Evolves” – this book shows how science can, in conjunction with careful analysis, produce radically new insights and, yes, solutions to some very old problems in how we think of ourselves. I also mentioned http://www.naturalism.org, that explores a large number of such issues in great detail. Here’s an example:

http://naturalism.org/currents.htm#fearofmechanism

Kenneth Silber (“Are we really just smart robots?” in Reason, April, 2005) is worried about the encroaching scientific understanding of our brains and behavior. If science shows us to be simply smart biological machines, he believes this undermines liberal democracy, human rights, moral responsibility, and self-worth; all is permitted and authoritarian regimes will flourish.1 Fortunately, he argues, John Searle (Mind: A Brief Introduction) and Jeff Hawkins (On Intelligence) have shown the mechanistic thesis is false, so we needn’t worry. Human beings, although part of nature, nevertheless have a special something that grounds our dignity and value.

The difficulty is that Silber doesn’t quite specify what this special something might be. Is it consciousness? Nothing in Searle’s biological naturalism or in Hawkins’ account of intelligence requires that our capacity for consciousness couldn’t be computable and thus a property of a machine, once we understand the functions of the neural processes subserving consciousness. Could it be free will? But even Searle admits that the experience of free will might be an illusion, perhaps an adaptive illusion at that (although it’s more likely the result of not being able to see the causal workings of our own brains). Could it be personhood? But personhood rests on physically instantiated capacities for sentience and self-concern, and complex though these are, there’s no reason in principle why intelligent machines might not someday have moral claims on us, were they given such capacities (on this point, see I Robot, and Benjamin Soskis’ article “Man and the machines” in Legal Affairs).

Although he doesn’t establish the existence of a special human something (a soul, perhaps?), Silber needn’t worry that the mechanistic thesis poses a threat. Even if it turns out that we’re amazingly complex biological machines, we nevertheless remain persons, and our desire to be treated as ends in ourselves won’t diminish. After all, that’s “hard-wired” into the very neural architecture of our brains, as are the rest of our basic motives and desires. We’d still love and protect our families, fear death, abhor tyranny, enjoy a good meal, and generally life would go on, minus the belief in the soul. So we can relax: there’s no moral or political threat stemming from science, should it unmask us as “mere” machines. Even if we are, we’ll continue to defend our freedoms with all the resources nature has given us.

TWC 4/05

1. This is also Paul Davies’ worry about the scientific attack on contra-causal free will, see “Davies’ Really Dangerous Idea.”

Comment #58279

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 17, 2005 1:16 AM (e)

I think is morbius’ point is that a very careful learning of the methods used in science will teach one how to think accurately and incisively.

Morbius/ts wants science to be a worldview/philosophy.

It’s not.

Comment #58280

Posted by Sir_Toejam on November 17, 2005 1:28 AM (e)

totally tongue in cheek here:

http://www.drwhoguide.com/who_4k.htm

Morbius, exiled Time Lord, greatest criminal mind in the galaxy and long presumed dead, is not entirely dead, and Solon is in the process of bringing him back to life.
The only other inhabitants are the ancient sect of the Sisterhood of Karn who are out to avenge themselves against the Time Lords. Can the Doctor prevent the evil Morbius from regaining absolute power or will he be sacrificed by the Sisterhood?

I just couldn’t help myself.

Comment #58283

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 17, 2005 1:51 AM (e)

Can the Doctor prevent the evil Morbius from regaining absolute power or will he be sacrificed by the Sisterhood?

Hmmm. “Sacrificed by the Sisterhood” sounds like it could have, uh, interesting possibilities…. ;>

The sad thing is that Morbius makes some very good points, when he’s not busy trying to prove that he has the biggest dick in the room.

Oh well. I’ve seen this movie before. I really don’t want to sit through it again. (shrug)

Comment #58285

Posted by Sir_Toejam on November 17, 2005 1:57 AM (e)

“Sacrificed by the Sisterhood” sounds like it could have, uh, interesting possibilities

check out the episodes on the page i linked to and find out what happens to the good doctor!

ahhh, brings back memories. Dr. who was a bit cornball, but it was still great fun.

Comment #58286

Posted by Morbius on November 17, 2005 2:19 AM (e)

Lenny wrote:

Morbius/ts wants science to be a worldview/philosophy.

Hey, you dick waving fool, why don’t stick to something within your ken, like bashing IDiots.

Comment #58287

Posted by Morbius on November 17, 2005 2:27 AM (e)

Morbius, exiled Time Lord

Wrong Morbius.

“Monsters! Monsters from the ID!”

Comment #58289

Posted by Sir_Toejam on November 17, 2005 2:35 AM (e)

Dr. Edward Morbius: “My evil self is at the door, and I have no power to stop it!”

Comment #58293

Posted by Tim Hague on November 17, 2005 3:10 AM (e)

Morbius wrote:

Snore. I guess misrepresenting people’s arguments with dishonest innuendo and hyperbole is what you call respecting their opinions: “Some people on here seem to be of the opinion that ‘all design hypotheses are bad’ and will jump on anyone who suggests otherwise”

That’s a quote of mine from another thread. (Completely OT? Surely not.) Whatever made you think that my opinion was being expressed about you in the first place? I wonder.

Morbius wrote:

There’s a lot that I respect, but dishonesty and hypocrisy aren’t among them. I didn’t say anything about getting respect, let alone being surprised, I said that STJ’s comments were OT, ad hominem, and irrelevant. Yours are all of that plus dishonest and pretentious.

Is that the best you can do? You haven’t even scratched the surface of my shortcomings yet. I have loads and loads more. I also make mistakes regularly. I’m only human after all…

I do however recognise the King of Ad Hominem when I meet him, so I bow before you… I apologise if my feeble attempts do not yet reach your lofty standards, I will watch and learn and strive to do better.

Comment #58294

Posted by Tim Hague on November 17, 2005 3:18 AM (e)

Tim B wrote:

I think you’re right about the strong connection between philosophy and science, especially regarding critical thinking. Your last note is also perspicacious: especially in the US, which is saturated with willful ignorance, roaming brands of religion, cultural degradation, and hair-trigger hotheadedness, to attempt a somewhat objective approach to religious studies in, say, high school would be about as effective as a perforated umbrella.

Even a perforated umbrella keeps some of the rain off!

I’m British and was mostly schooled in the UK. We don’t have the legal seperation between Church and State that you have in the US. We teach comparative religion classes in school. We also have a much lower percentage of actively religious people. Could there be a correlation? I think it’s worth considering.

I believe I’m right in saying that the US has the highest percentage of actively religious people of any developed country. I can’t help but feel one of the most effective strategies you could have for ‘defending’ science would be to lobby for teaching religion at school. You could instantly turn a load of the ID propaganda around by asking for comparative religion classes (it’s only fair to teach all sides etc). It would give the ‘creation scientists’ and ID proponents a forum, but one they would have to share with a half dozen other religions, and would leave the science free to be taught properly.

Comment #58295

Posted by Tim Hague on November 17, 2005 3:29 AM (e)

Richard Speck wrote:

Intelligent Design is not an attractive theory in paleontology (although it is a very important topic in archeology)

This is a common misunderstanding of what ID is about. Archeology is looking a human design of artificial structures, which is totally different to ‘miraculous’ (i.e. no detectable mechanisms) intelligent design of biological constructs. We know how humans design things. By trial and error and learning from previous mistakes. We know that the purported designer of the so-called ‘irreducibly complex’ bacterial flagellum couldn’t have used trial and error because the flagellum is ‘irreducibly complex’ - you can’t trial something that doesn’t function if you remove one of it’s parts. So the flagellum must have been produced from whole cloth - one minute it’s not there, the next it is, and fully functional to boot.

When you compare human design with ‘Intelligent Design’ you are comparing chalk and cheese.

Comment #58296

Posted by Alan Fox on November 17, 2005 3:40 AM (e)

Tim Hague wrote:

I can’t help but feel one of the most effective strategies you could have for ‘defending’ science would be to lobby for teaching religion at school.

But ID isn’t religion, according to its proponents. Mind you, my lack of faith in the religion (Anglicism) I was taught and expected to practise at the local Church of England school, flowed from the hypocrisy I experienced there and at my local church. I can’t understand why creationism doesn’t produce the same result. Maybe bible-belters lack a cynicism gene.

PS don’t mind Morbius, he’s just a big softy really.

PS to Morbius. Did ts actually stand for truth seeker?

Comment #58297

Posted by Tim Hague on November 17, 2005 3:42 AM (e)

DifferentViewpoint wrote:

By the way, I realize this may sound stupid but, what exactly is this great difference between manufacture and birth, especially if a self producing machine were created?

This is an interesting question, and one I have had a look at it in the past. The big difference is that humans are grown from a single cell (the fertilised egg cell) and machines are constructed from parts. There is no particular reason why humans should be grown from a single cell - wouldn’t it be more efficient for the mother to use some existing components to ‘build’ a baby? A mother already has bone cells, liver cells, brain cells - even starting with just a few each of these would be a lot less error prone than expecting a single cell to contain all the information for all possible types of cell in the body.

One possible reason (maybe, possibly) why we grow from a single cell is that it’s an indication of our origins, i.e. we once were a single cell. Of course I can’t prove that, but it’s a nicely rounded hypothesis.

Comment #58301

Posted by Tim Hague on November 17, 2005 3:51 AM (e)

Alan Fox wrote:

Maybe bible-belters lack a cynicism gene.

That sounds like a testable hypothesis to me. I guess we’d have to look to see if there’s a dominant gullible gene that represses the cynicism gene as well.

Comment #58302

Posted by Morbius on November 17, 2005 3:59 AM (e)

By the way, I realize this may sound stupid but, what exactly is this great difference between manufacture and birth, especially if a self producing machine were created?

The most obvious difference is that we have a whole set of facts about biological reproduction that enter into our explanation of observed evolution, whereas in the case of hypothetical self-reproducing machines, we don’t know the facts of the reproduction process or whether there would be any evolution – there’s no a priori reason to expect any. The previous question was “what then is childbirth if not individually manufacturing every living creature?” – you can call it that, but doing so misses everything that’s relevant. Also, this question was in the context of “Here is my theory Computers are evolving. They suffer from natural selection, …” – but computers are not self-reproducing machines, so the “theory” is absurd and the claim of natural selection is false.

Comment #58303

Posted by Morbius on November 17, 2005 4:14 AM (e)

Dr. Edward Morbius: “My evil self is at the door, and I have no power to stop it!”

The evil self in the movie is the monster from the ID. Hopefully we do have the power to stop the real one.

Comment #58304

Posted by Alan Fox on November 17, 2005 4:17 AM (e)

the claim of natural selection is false.

Indeed, the bottle-neck of gamete formation is necessary for evolution to proceed, which is why Tim Hague’s point about why differentiated maternal cells aren’t donated to the embryo is academic.

PZ’s thread seem to the point here. Where and how is the information on embryological development packed into the genome?

Comment #58306

Posted by Tim Hague on November 17, 2005 4:35 AM (e)

Alan Fox wrote:

Indeed, the bottle-neck of gamete formation is necessary for evolution to proceed, which is why Tim Hague’s point about why differentiated maternal cells aren’t donated to the embryo is academic.

Is it academic? I agree it’s just speculation, however continuing on that line the bottle-neck of gamete formation could still be maintained as long as the sexual organs are developed from the embryo. Assuming compatability there’s no particular reason why the ‘building’ of the rest of the tissues shouldn’t be helped along by a maternal donation.

Comment #58307

Posted by Morbius on November 17, 2005 4:37 AM (e)

One possible reason (maybe, possibly) why we grow from a single cell is that it’s an indication of our origins, i.e. we once were a single cell.

Sexual species grow from two cells. As for why gametes are single cells – the fact that the cell is the basic biological unit just might have something to do with it. Nothing smaller would do, and multiple-cell gametes would be both considerably more complex and more fragile.

Comment #58308

Posted by Morbius on November 17, 2005 4:43 AM (e)

Assuming compatability there’s no particular reason why the ‘building’ of the rest of the tissues shouldn’t be helped along by a maternal donation.

It wouldn’t have been possible before the rather recent development of the uterus.

Comment #58309

Posted by Alan Fox on November 17, 2005 4:44 AM (e)

Assuming compatability there’s no particular reason why the ‘building’ of the rest of the tissues shouldn’t be helped along by a maternal donation.

Wouldn’t the built-in age counter in maternal cells cause them to expire prematurely (Dolly the cloned sheep). And the fact that this would be clone material from the mother would prevent these tissues evolving. Not convinced, Tim, sorry.

Comment #58311

Posted by Tim Hague on November 17, 2005 5:07 AM (e)

Hey, I’m not suggesting it as a realistic proposition, I know all the objections given the way things actually work. All I’m saying it - if you were starting from scratch and (ahem) ‘designing’ a system for sexual reproduction - would you do it the way it is? Would growing a new human from a single cell be the most efficient way of doing it?

I’m don’t think it would.

And morbius - I know two cells are involved but I did specifically state a ‘fertilised human egg cell’. At that point - once the genetic materials of mother and father have merged - there is only the one cell.

The other reason why I make the point is the age old ‘mud to man’ argument from the IDists and other creatinists. They make sweeping statements like “it’s imbecilic to imagine that humans could have come from a single cell” whereas in fact we all do come from (grow from) a single cell. It’s not ‘imbecelic’ therefore to imagine it at all.

Comment #58312

Posted by Tim Hague on November 17, 2005 5:07 AM (e)

Hey, I’m not suggesting it as a realistic proposition, I know all the objections given the way things actually work. All I’m saying it - if you were starting from scratch and (ahem) ‘designing’ a system for sexual reproduction - would you do it the way it is? Would growing a new human from a single cell be the most efficient way of doing it?

I don’t think it would.

And morbius - I know two cells are involved but I did specifically state a ‘fertilised human egg cell’. At that point - once the genetic materials of mother and father have merged - there is only the one cell.

The other reason why I make the point is the age old ‘mud to man’ argument from the IDists and other creatinists. They make sweeping statements like “it’s imbecilic to imagine that humans could have come from a single cell” whereas in fact we all do come from (grow from) a single cell. It’s not ‘imbecelic’ therefore to imagine it at all.

Comment #58313

Posted by Alan Fox on November 17, 2005 5:15 AM (e)

Tim Hague wrote:

The other reason why I make the point is the age old ‘mud to man’ argument from the IDists and other creatinists. They make sweeping statements like “it’s imbecilic to imagine that humans could have come from a single cell” whereas in fact we all do come from (grow from) a single cell. It’s not ‘imbecelic’ therefore to imagine it at all.

That’s an excellent point, and observable, and being worked on (see PZ on cichlids), and hence my previous question about where the information is packed.

Comment #58315

Posted by morbius on November 17, 2005 5:36 AM (e)

And morbius - I know two cells are involved but I did specifically state a ‘fertilised human egg cell’. At that point - once the genetic materials of mother and father have merged - there is only the one cell.

You speculated that this was because we originate from single cell organisms – my point was that, now that we develop from two cells from two different organisms, rather than from a single cell as in asexual reproduction, the notion that the reason we develop from a single cell (a zygote) because we originate from single cell organisms doesn’t make sense. However, the fact that the cell is the unit of biology does relate very much to the fact that we originate from single cell organisms.

It’s hard to see what the alternative is to “only the one cell”. An embryo developing from a fertilized egg and cells from maternal tissue? These cells wouldn’t have the same DNA. And you might want to look into the details of embryonic development to understand why a maternal contribution of mature tissue-specific cells doesn’t make sense. And even if it did make sense, try to imagine the mechanism by which such tissue cells would become joined to the zygote – it would have to be much more complex than the single-source mechanism we do have. The reason the we develop from a single cell is because anything else would be a mess.

Comment #58316

Posted by guthrie on November 17, 2005 5:42 AM (e)

How entertaining. I find myself agreeing with both Lenny and morbius.

Comment #58317

Posted by morbius on November 17, 2005 5:47 AM (e)

And yes, your point that, as individuals, we develop from a single cell into human adults is a very good point to throw at those like Blast who say that evolution from single cell organisms isn’t plausible. But that’s very different from suggesting that the reason we develop from a single cell is because we evolved from a single cell – that confuses and weakens the force of the good point.

Comment #58318

Posted by Alan Fox on November 17, 2005 5:49 AM (e)

The reason the we develop from a single cell is because anything else would be a mess.

Can we rule out what we don’t know? We reject Dembski’s EF because it fails to account for the unkown. I think the Irishman’s reply, to the way to Dublin, “If it’s Dublin yer goin’ to, I wouldn’t start from here.” might apply to our thinking. Development of life here seems constrained by evolution, but who knows what lifeforms have arisen on other worlds?

Comment #58319

Posted by morbius on November 17, 2005 5:55 AM (e)

How entertaining. I find myself agreeing with both Lenny and morbius.

That might just be because Lenny is arguing with a strawman.

Comment #58320

Posted by morbius on November 17, 2005 6:03 AM (e)

Can we rule out what we don’t know?

Non sequitur. I just gave reasons why one would expect embryonic development to start with a single cell. Feel free to offer a rebuttal.

Development of life here seems constrained by evolution, but who knows what lifeforms have arisen on other worlds?

I’m not talking about other worlds, I’m talking why the actual observable development from a single cell on this planet makes sense, a lot more sense than mature maternal tissue cells getting somehow incorporated into the embryo. This of course assumes mothers, tissues, cells, and embryos.

Comment #58321

Posted by Tim Hague on November 17, 2005 6:15 AM (e)

Well actual observable development from a single cell on this planet does happen in most cases. However we have exceptions to that rule for multicellualar organisms even on this planet. For example sponges, which are often hermaphrodites and also can reproduce asexually by splitting. Multiple cells, not single.

And of course we can’t rule out what we don’t know. Anything else would be a failure of imagination.

Comment #58322

Posted by morbius on November 17, 2005 6:19 AM (e)

Let me try this again:

The reason the we develop from a single cell is because anything else would be a mess.

Can we rule out what we don’t know?

I didn’t offer a formal proof. I started with “It’s hard to see …”. I originally wrote something like “The most likely reason …” but edited out “most likely” because it was more snappy without it, and because I counted on a certain level of comprehension.

Comment #58323

Posted by Stephen Elliott on November 17, 2005 6:26 AM (e)

Posted by Tim Hague on November 17, 2005 05:07 AM (e) (s)

Hey, I’m not suggesting it as a realistic proposition, I know all the objections given the way things actually work. All I’m saying it - if you were starting from scratch and (ahem) ‘designing’ a system for sexual reproduction - would you do it the way it is? Would growing a new human from a single cell be the most efficient way of doing it?

I’m don’t think it would.

And morbius - I know two cells are involved but I did specifically state a ‘fertilised human egg cell’. At that point - once the genetic materials of mother and father have merged - there is only the one cell.

The other reason why I make the point is the age old ‘mud to man’ argument from the IDists and other creatinists. They make sweeping statements like “it’s imbecilic to imagine that humans could have come from a single cell” whereas in fact we all do come from (grow from) a single cell. It’s not ‘imbecelic’ therefore to imagine it at all.

my emphasis

I think that could be developed into a very good anti-creo argument (if it hasn’t already been done).

Comment #58324

Posted by morbius on November 17, 2005 6:31 AM (e)

However we have exceptions to that rule for multicellualar organisms even on this planet. For example sponges, which are often hermaphrodites and also can reproduce asexually by splitting. Multiple cells, not single.

I didn’t say anything to the contrary. I wrote about why our development from a single cell makes sense – why one might well predict it if one didn’t already know anything about embryos.

And of course we can’t rule out what we don’t know. Anything else would be a failure of imagination.

That statement seems rather unimaginative to me. Science involves offering plausible hypotheses and explanations and applying Occam’s Razor. It is, of course, not logically impossible for a mother’s bone tissue to end up in the embryo, but that’s neither here nor there, any more than that it’s logically possible that the Earth is 6,000 years old but the evidence has all been rearranged by God to make it seem like it’s not. This sort of not ruling out isn’t imagination, it’s abdication of the intellect.

Comment #58325

Posted by Tim Hague on November 17, 2005 6:36 AM (e)

Syntax Error: mismatched tag 'url'

Comment #58326

Posted by Tim Hague on November 17, 2005 6:46 AM (e)

We’re talking at cross purposes morbius.

You are talking about a specific example of human development from a single cell the way we see it now. I have moved on to talking more hypothetically about imagining other ways it could have been done, without the prior assumptions based on the way it has already happened.

I am taking the position of the hypothetical ‘designer’ and starting with a clean slate.

If we went to another planet and saw what was happening there, would evolution be the same as what we see on our planet? We don’t know, so we can’t rule out any possibilities we can imagine.

Sorry for any confusion!

Comment #58327

Posted by Tim Hague on November 17, 2005 6:50 AM (e)

Stephen Elliott wrote:

I think that could be developed into a very good anti-creo argument (if it hasn’t already been done).

I haven’t seen it done anywhere else, which of course doesn’t mean that it hasn’t! I’ve done it on my blog. As morbius has pointed out I may have a weakness in my argument concerning evolution from a single cell (I’m mulling it over), but the basic point is pretty strong.

Comment #58330

Posted by morbius on November 17, 2005 7:09 AM (e)

You are talking about a specific example of human development from a single cell the way we see it now.

No, I’m talking about why we would predict such a thing if we didn’t know how the embryo actually forms and develops.

I have moved on to talking more hypothetically about imagining other ways it could have been done

I haven’t seen anything about “other ways it could have been done” – just talk about maternal tissue being included – that’s not a “way”. I have explained why that’s implausible – why it’s not what we should expect. Which pertains your statement that I’ve been addressing:

there’s no particular reason why the ‘building’ of the rest of the tissues shouldn’t be helped along by a maternal donation

But there are particular reasons why that “shouldn’t” happen – such as cells with differing DNA, the need for mechanisms that get that tissue to the zygote and join them into a whole somehow, and the fact that maternal tissue cells have already been specialized for their specific tissue functions, so it’s not clear why they should play any role in the development of the organism. Organs develop, they aren’t present on the first day of the existence of the organism; thus cells from such organs would be out of place; they wouldn’t “help” at all. I think the failure of imagination here is in trying to imagine how this would actually work – when I imagine it, I see all these problems. But if you don’t bother to do the exercise of thinking it through, then you can just settle for the quoted statement.

But somehow I feel like I’m wasting my time, because actually reasoning about this indeed does not seem to be your purpose.

Comment #58331

Posted by morbius on November 17, 2005 7:21 AM (e)

Let’s go all the way back to this:

There is no particular reason why humans should be grown from a single cell - wouldn’t it be more efficient for the mother to use some existing components to ‘build’ a baby?

The answer is no – growth is much more efficient that manufacture. Imagine trying to build a snowflake.

A mother already has bone cells, liver cells, brain cells - even starting with just a few each of these would be a lot less error prone than expecting a single cell to contain all the information for all possible types of cell in the body.

Manufacture might indeed be more less error prone, but that’s a different issue. You need a way to get there; skyhooks aren’t allowed.

Comment #58332

Posted by Tim Hague on November 17, 2005 7:24 AM (e)

No, I’m talking about why we would predict such a thing if we didn’t know how the embryo actually forms and develops.

Whatever - you are working on your predictions based on what we already know. Which was my point. I’ve already agreed with you a while back:

Tim Hague wrote:

Hey, I’m not suggesting it as a realistic proposition, I know all the objections given the way things actually work.

You’re preaching to the converted. I’ve already thought it through.

What I am postulating is - imagine that evolution on our planet didn’t happen in the way we already know it did. Start from the beginning with no prior assumptions or predictive frameworks. Start before life on earth began. Are there any other mechanisms we could potentially imagine for sexual reproduction that could (possibly) be more efficient than being grown from a single cell? If you were the ‘desinger’ and you had a free reign to do whatever you liked, would you have designed human reproduction the way it works today?

Comment #58333

Posted by guthrie on November 17, 2005 7:36 AM (e)

Well, I dont think Lenny was arguing a straw man. But I think the 2 of you were arguing at cross purposes for some of the time.
Your own stuff didnt fall into place until I read this:
“No, I certainly don’t do that. Science and the kind of thinking you correctly refer to can, for instance, inform us (in a way that our grandmothers cannot) that a significant number of people on death row are innocent of the crimes they have been charged with. This can lead to changes in people’s attitudes about the court system, what constitutes justice, the validity of retribution “

So, a bit of feedback- perhaps you could try and shortcircuit the long time it takes to reach the stage where each side finally states its basic points and assumptions.

Comment #58335

Posted by morbius on November 17, 2005 7:47 AM (e)

Well, I dont think Lenny was arguing a straw man.

When he goes on with challenges to use the scientific method to determine whether murder is wrong when no one has claimed or implied that it can, that’s by definition a strawman. It’s also a very immature tactic, but then we are talking about Lenny.

Your own stuff didnt fall into place until I read this:
“No, I certainly don’t do that. Science and the kind of thinking you correctly refer to can, for instance, inform us (in a way that our grandmothers cannot) that a significant number of people on death row are innocent of the crimes they have been charged with. This can lead to changes in people’s attitudes about the court system, what constitutes justice, the validity of retribution “

So, a bit of feedback- perhaps you could try and shortcircuit the long time it takes to reach the stage where each side finally states its basic points and assumptions.

I had previously mentioned Dennett’s “Freedom Evolves” and naturalism.org; I guess I figured that anyone who actually cared about what I was talking about could click on the latter, and perhaps google the former if they weren’t already familiar with it.

Comment #58336

Posted by morbius on November 17, 2005 7:58 AM (e)

Are there any other mechanisms we could potentially imagine for sexual reproduction that could (possibly) be more efficient than being grown from a single cell?

Starting from a single unit which replicates and then the larger set of units replicates and so on is extremely efficient – it’s exponential. It’s much more efficient than constructing something bit by bit. I’ve responded about the alternatives you have actually mentioned. If you can propose something more efficient, I’d be quite interested.

Comment #58338

Posted by Renier on November 17, 2005 8:17 AM (e)

Tim wrote :
If you were the ‘desinger’ and you had a free reign to do whatever you liked, would you have designed human reproduction the way it works today?

No, I would have given males multiple orgasm ability ;-)

Comment #58341

Posted by Tim B. on November 17, 2005 9:29 AM (e)

Tim Hague:

I believe I’m right in saying that the US has the highest percentage of actively religious people of any developed country. I can’t help but feel one of the most effective strategies you could have for ‘defending’ science would be to lobby for teaching religion at school. You could instantly turn a load of the ID propaganda around by asking for comparative religion classes (it’s only fair to teach all sides etc). It would give the ‘creation scientists’ and ID proponents a forum, but one they would have to share with a half dozen other religions, and would leave the science free to be taught properly.

I applaud your suggestion, even as I agree with C.J. Colucci that the politics here in the US would make the push for such a thing highly problematic. I remember a conversation I had at work with a college graduate here in the deep South. I wondered why he had no interest in science, history, other cultures, or even art and literature. His response was to the effect that everything he needed, knowledge-wise, could be found in the Bible. He also said, “Why should I study anything that might create a doubt in the Bible’s authority? I would be betraying God to listen to the ‘wisdom’ of the world.” And on more than one occasion, “God said it, that settles it” – which seemed to be his motto or mantra.

It’s so hard for me to understand that mindset. I suppose I can understand its peculiar internal consistency, but the staggering lack of curiosity about the world and life’s complexity leaves me benumbed. To go through life never experiencing the aesthetic drenching of wonder before a Corot landscape or in listening to a Schubert trio is to have, in my view, an arid and parched life.

Comment #58344

Posted by k.e. on November 17, 2005 9:51 AM (e)

One word Tim

bibliolatry
1.Excessive adherence to a literal interpretation of the Bible.
2.Extreme devotion to or concern with books.

Leading to the death of Wisdom and rise of Ignorance.

A little poetry perhaps ?

Yeats

(click on the link next to the spiral for the whole thing)

The Second Coming

Comment #58347

Posted by improvius on November 17, 2005 9:56 AM (e)

Tim Hague wrote:

When you compare human design with ‘Intelligent Design’ you are comparing chalk and cheese.

That’s exactly the problem I was pointing out earlier. ‘Intelligent Design’ is just another way of saying ‘Human Design’, or at the most, ‘Human-like Design’. ‘Intelligent’, in the case of ‘Intelligent Design’, is a standard set solely by examing human creations. The IDers are the ones trying to cheese up the chalk here.

Comment #58350

Posted by k.e. on November 17, 2005 10:06 AM (e)

Syntax Error: mismatched tag 'kwickxml'

Comment #58351

Posted by qetzal on November 17, 2005 10:07 AM (e)

As for why gametes are single cells — the fact that the cell is the basic biological unit just might have something to do with it. Nothing smaller would do, and multiple-cell gametes would be both considerably more complex and more fragile.

Actually, something smaller could do. An extruded nucleus, for instance, or even some sort of virus-like particle containing just the male’s genome. But those would indeed be more complex solutions than using single (albeit specialized) cells.

I doubt fragility would matter. The embryo is certainly robust enough to pass through 2-, 4-, 8-cell stages, etc.

I suspect the specific issue is the need to fuse the gametes’ genomes. Much easier to do accurately with only one cell per gamete.

Tim Hague’s idea reminds me of spider plants. They grow those little “baby” plants at the end of thin stalks. I wonder if the “babies” originate from one or multiple maternal cells. They could be an imperfect example of what Tim’s suggesting, but only for asexual reproduction.

Hard to imagine a workable scenario for sexual reproduction.

Comment #58352

Posted by Tim B. on November 17, 2005 10:08 AM (e)

k.e. –

Yes, indeed. That is my favorite Yeats poem. I have trouble warming to many of his poems, but that one struck me like a lightning bolt the first time I read it many years ago.

Comment #58353

Posted by Flint on November 17, 2005 10:14 AM (e)

Some things that may have slipped under the radar:

Science and the kind of thinking you correctly refer to can, for instance, inform us (in a way that our grandmothers cannot) that a significant number of people on death row are innocent of the crimes they have been charged with. This can lead to changes in people’s attitudes about the court system, what constitutes justice, the validity of retribution

This is misleading, because it’s partially correct but pointed in the wrong direction. Let’s presume for the sake of illustration that we have *perfect* access to all the facts in every case. That there can no longer be any doubt about what happened, or about who is more nearly telling the truth, because everyone is fully informed. This would surely change attitudes about the court system, which would no longer need to grapple with “reasonable doubt”.

But would it change attitudes about what constitutes justice? Nope, it would not. Our current system *presumes* that there is no reasonable doubt before administering sentences. It’s not likely that those sentences would change much if there isn’t ANY doubt, rather than only a little bit of unreasonable doubt. The only attitude change would be that in SOME cases, we could sleep easier. In most cases (far less than 1% actually reach a jury trial), there really IS no doubt; the facts are not contested.

Would certain knowledge of the facts (the best science can offer, at the limit) change any attitudes about the “validity of retribution”? Again, no it would not. Which gets us to the next piece of misdirection:

When he goes on with challenges to use the scientific method to determine whether murder is wrong when no one has claimed or implied that it can, that’s by definition a strawman. It’s also a very immature tactic, but then we are talking about Lenny.

Lenny’s point is that science is fully equipped to address questions of fact, and poorly equipped (if at all) to address questions of moral rectitude. There has, at least as Lenny and I read it, a *strong, consistent* implication that science can effectively speak to these issues, even if not directly. But science is limited in this respect, to establishing the fact situation in great detail. Whether one person killing another was murder is a legal question, not scientific at all. Even if the law says a given fact situation WAS murder, this STILL doesn’t tell us whether murder is wrong generally. Perhaps science could be used to describe a society’s dynamics were murder is NOT wrong, and all that would imply for the members of that soceity. But science still can’t tell those people whether they would prefer to live with such changes.

In general, science holds the promise of providing more complete, accurate, and better-integrated information. It means our decisions will be better informed, and our abilities to predict the consequences of our actions will be improved. But science cannot inform our goals and values beyond this. Today, science can essentially tell us the exact status of a fetus at any given time from conception to birth. Science can never tell us if abortion is wrong; that determination is a protocol.

Comment #58356

Posted by Tim B. on November 17, 2005 10:17 AM (e)

Morbius,

This may not have much relevance to the general topic (or it might allow a quasi-mystical tangent to be interjected into arguments about natural processes), but I wonder what your take might be on panpsyhcism? Your earlier mention of Chalmers sparks this query.

Comment #58358

Posted by Katarina on November 17, 2005 10:26 AM (e)

Morbius,

I owe you an apology. I have trouble with the KwickXML code, so I will use the old way:

“I think this misses my point. I didn’t question the judgment that algorithmic processes are blind and undirected, I questioned how you know that events are blind and undirected. Perhaps God set up this blind undirected process but occasionally hurls meteors at it or in some other way affects it. I share the metaphysical views of Mayr et. al. But you asked the question of how other views can be justified.”

You acknowledge the possibility that God can have undetected effect on seemingly blind undirected processes. My mistake was reading more than that into it, and not taking the time to read the rest of your comments.

My impression that acknowledging this possibility is further than you were willing to go as ts may have been mistaken. I will take your word on it, since you own both ts and morbius, and not I.

Also, I apologize for my uncivil tone. To everyone else I apologize for the off-topic clutter of this -unintended- dispute.

Comment #58360

Posted by Stephen Elliott on November 17, 2005 10:45 AM (e)

Katarina,
To block a quote.

Use (quote) to start, then (/quote) to end the block.
All you have to do is change () to >.
It is pointy brackets you need; not the traditional or square ones.

Comment #58361

Posted by Stephen Elliott on November 17, 2005 10:47 AM (e)

That should have been ( ) to >

Comment #58362

Posted by Stephen Elliott on November 17, 2005 10:52 AM (e)

weird my first pointy bracket keeps disappearing.
Try again; change ( to and ) to >

If it doesn’t work this time you change the bracket ( to the arrow above your comma button.

Bah! This is frustrating.

I have previewed this one; and first pointy bracket refuses to show up.

Comment #58364

Posted by k.e. on November 17, 2005 11:09 AM (e)

Comment #58119
Posted by Flint on November 16, 2005 01:04 PM (e) (s)

Conservativeman can no longer sit in his private club, discussing with fellow members why the heathen are so morally inferior. Instead, he’s in the spotlight, forced to justify WHY AND HOW he is superior. And once his position is articulated, the non-extremists have something to evaluate and find wanting. I have enough faith in people generally to find this polarization encouraging. The US has become too heterogeneous for the extremists to prevail.

Yes.. as I was saying they are their own worst enemy and communications being what they are now means their horizon which used to end at the front gate of the plantation means they have a bigger opposition.

I guess the outcome in Dover and the Media response (or lack of) will show how much damage that spotlight has done.
Whatever the case we must make sure the do not try and Give to God what is Caesar’s and give to Ceasar what is God’s.

Morbius
Thanks - another ‘ism. I’ll have a look.

Ethics and Law in my view can be dealt with by the body politic in the modern west as it has been since Ancient Greece in fact much to the disgust of the Fundies our Law came from Rome not Jerusalem

Until science uncovers and explains the subconscious and finds a cure for its worst excesses; Its interplay with dreams and perceived reality can best be explained by a combination of science and the study of Myth and Mythical Archetypes. How can a new Myth be developed that meets these requirements ?

Back to the Master of Myth: J Campbell (“Myths to Live By” last sentence)


It is - and will forever be, as long as our human race exists- the old, everlasting, perennial mythology, in its “subjective sense”, poetically renewed in terms neither of remembered past nor of a projected future, but of now: addressed, that is to say, not to the flattery of “peoples,” but to the waking of individuals in the knowledge of themselves, not simply as egos fighting for place on the surface of this beautiful planet, but equally as centers of Mind at Large*- each in his own way at one with all and with no horizons

*12th Century “The book of the twenty-four Philosophers”

Comment #58365

Posted by Norman Doering on November 17, 2005 11:11 AM (e)

Stephen Elliott wrote:

Use (quote) to start, then (/quote) to end the block.
All you have to do is change () to >.
It is pointy brackets you need; not the traditional or square ones.

I’m testing that theory now.

I didn’t question the judgment that algorithmic processes are blind and undirected, I questioned how you know that events are blind and undirected.

As for myself, I don’t know it for certain, but I see not point to so much that happens, ebola, earthquakes, cancer, religious wars… Those things look blind and undirected.

And it just seems so damn arrogant for us sitting on this speck of dust in a universe so vast for us to think we are the reason it exists.

Comment #58366

Posted by k.e. on November 17, 2005 11:15 AM (e)

Follow up

The Book of 24 Philosophers is a work ascribed to Hermes Trismegistus,
written in Europe around the year 1200. It consists of 24 definitions
of God, the most famous of which is ‘God is an infinite sphere whose
centre is everywhere and whose circumference is no where’, quoted by
Meister Eckhart, Alan of Lille and Thomas Bradwardine, among others. A
critical edition of this text has recently been published:

Comment #58370

Posted by Norman Doering on November 17, 2005 11:30 AM (e)

morbius wrote:

Starting from a single unit which replicates and then the larger set of units replicates and so on is extremely efficient — it’s exponential. It’s much more efficient than constructing something bit by bit. I’ve responded about the alternatives you have actually mentioned. If you can propose something more efficient, I’d be quite interested.

The exponential element could be accelerated by starting with multiple cells. We actually waste a lot of sperm and eggs and we have more sex than children. Men shoot a large city’s worth of potential people into the vagina and most of them die. Why not have a multiple egg structure accepting a multiple sperm gene contribution and use more sperm at the start. This could allow for having more fathers and making use of more sex. The woman could hold the semi-fertilized egg and get the various sperm parts from different men or the same man.

Also, the idea of replicating every bit of information in every cell is wasteful. Why give a skin cell all the information to make a child when it only needs enough information to make another skin cell or neighbor cell? When differentiation begins, why not hand off differentiated genes too? Replication would be faster without replicating unused code.

It would also save weight.

Comment #58371

Posted by Katarina on November 17, 2005 11:31 AM (e)

Use (quote) to start, then (/quote) to end the block.
All you have to do is change () to >.
It is pointy brackets you need; not the traditional or square ones

Thank you!

Comment #58386

Posted by Alan Fox on November 17, 2005 12:46 PM (e)

Morbius wrote a while back (you other folks keep odd hours)

Non sequitur. I just gave reasons why one would expect embryonic development to start with a single cell. Feel free to offer a rebuttal.

I can’t, which is rather the point. As Tim remarked, we are limited by our experience and imagination. Richard Adams’ puddle analogy comes to mind.

Comment #58399

Posted by Norman Doering on November 17, 2005 2:03 PM (e)

Alan Fox wrote: “I can’t, which is rather the point.”

I think I did. Check out my post previous to this – it’s right above Katarina’s.

Comment #58402

Posted by jim on November 17, 2005 2:15 PM (e)

This is a somewhat relevant quote…

You know, I used to think it was awful that life was so unfair. Then I thought, wouldn’t it be much worse if life were fair, and all the terrible things that happen to us come because we actually deserve them? So, now I take great comfort in the general hostility and unfairness of the universe.
–Marcus, from _Babylon 5_

Comment #58403

Posted by Caledonian on November 17, 2005 2:18 PM (e)

Also, the idea of replicating every bit of information in every cell is wasteful. Why give a skin cell all the information to make a child when it only needs enough information to make another skin cell or neighbor cell? When differentiation begins, why not hand off differentiated genes too? Replication would be faster without replicating unused code.

That’s a great idea. However, I suspect that the mechanisms required to pull that off are too complex for natural selection to quickly jump to. There’s also the question of how it would be determined that a given cell was going to have a specific function.

Comment #58411

Posted by Mike Rogers on November 17, 2005 3:21 PM (e)

I just wanted to comment because I thought Krebs’ post does a great job of answering a creationist objection that often isn’t directly addressed so the issue is allowed to smolder in the minds of the creationists. Specifically, they truly believe that teaching evolution unopposed in biology classes is not religiously neutral but atheistic preselytizing.

There seem to be two main classes of issues here. One class involves general epistemological questions. First, what the role of naturalistic assumptions in science and scientific research? This is the issue of methodological naturalism. Often neglected is that this question is essentially related to the role of scientific knowledge relative to other kinds of knowledge about the world and in philosophy within the broader body of social knowledge. This is the issue of scientism (taking knowledge obtained by scientific methods to be the only valid or reliable sort of knowledge). The other main set of issues involve questions that are really internal to theology.

Dealing with the theological issue first, in order to believe the equation,

teaching evoution = preaching athiesim

you must first believe, as creationists and even IDers apparently do, that a naturalistic evolutionary explaination for living things and a belief in creation by a supernatural God are mutually exclusive. It’s true that, prima facia, they don’t fit comfortably together, but plenty of reasonable people have come been able to reconclie both beliefs, albeit with a non-literal interpretation of the Bible. For some people Biblical literalism is just a non-negotiable point. In that case, there’s no simply disputing with them. The best we can do is leave them alone with their dogmatic beliefs and in their own little world and its their own damned fault if they then find they cannot satisfactorily engage the real one. Note, however, that the fundies strict insistence on literal interpretations does not have an excellent or even an ancient theological pedegree. You only need to read Paul in 2 Corinthians or Augustine’s “Confessions” or “On Christian Doctrine” to realize the early founders of Christianity specifically eschewed literalism.

Sans literalism, there is a nearly continuous spectrum of ways to reconcile evolution with thieism. The range from desistic ideas, which I regard as actuall a form of theism with accompanying ideas that God for some reason set up nature as a wholly-designed but causally closed mechanism (many of the 16th century deists were actually Puritans and most were influenced by Calvinistic ideas of determinism), to guided evoltuion ideas with miraculous intervention either continuously, semi-continuously to occasional miraculous intervention by fiat. Any of these options are easy to regard as possible because none of us were present to observe all of natural history (although theological considerations would engender preferences, particularly one’s position regarding determinism and free-will). So that’s why I regard this as a near contiuum. And notice that, because we don’t have the data to decide among them, the evolutionary theist can simply beg off on this question. They simply don’t have to commit. The can merely wave their arms at the array of possibilities and prudently avoid committing to any specific theory here and claim sufficient intellectually respectbility, just as they often do on theodicy. (Other things, appart from natural philosopy, being equal).

By their own statements the IDers could comfortably go along with this approach. Their problem, or at least what they claim is the problem, is with the idea that the process is necessarily all natural or materialistic. Actually it’s more comlicated than that because even a “mostly physical” evolution of the natural world, where I mean apparently determined by physical causes up to practically measurable phenomena, does not strictly rule out God’s involvement with the world. But there is then a pretty good plausibility argument to support naturalism which will appeal to those who are otherwise so inclined. And that’s what really bothers the ID folks - they want to see direct support for supernaturalism from science even it derives from highly questionable interpretations of the data and specious arguments. In this wise they have more in common with traditional creationsists than they care to admit, even to themselves.

In any eveny, I think I’ve made clear that it’s easily possible to reconcile theism and evolution as long as you’re not a literalist. And to be fair I think we can concede that, if some kind of God is logically possible, then divine intervention and some kind of guided evolution is logically possible. So we really ought not to appear to demand that everyone must believe that everything in the history of evolution was purely the result of physical causes and chance in order to accept the emperically supported reality of evolution. But this is a more general philosophical point and it leads us to the next topic of the other class of epistemological questions about metaphysical naturalism and the limits of science.

Something that I find particularly perverse about the ID movement is that, looked at in one way, it appears to be based on a complete aquiescence to scientism. Scientism is the ideology that scientific truths are the only justified truths or that scientific methods are the only valid methods of justifying beleifs of any type or subject matter. I’m a committed scientist and defender of science yet I have no trouble admitting that scientism is clearly just plain wrong. Consider Law, ethtics or metaphisics, for example to say nothing of theology, whether you beleive in God or not. Now, before ID, theologians, creationist and otherwise, rightly criticized unsupported metaphysical extrapolations of scientific theories as scientism. On the other hand, supernatural incurisions into science generally bear no fruit (although they occasionally inspired important theoretical speculations, cf. Netwon) except when they get translated into intesubjectively testable, physically realizable propositions, which can then be understood without the supernaturalism. And most of time, people haveproduced good theories most efficiently by simply seeking natural explainations for natural phenomena and usually the phenomena are mundane enough that no sensible person would consider doing otherwise. Over the years it has become clear that at least of lot nature, if perhaps not all, is causally or nomoogically self-contained and (this a very important point) that it is extremely usefull to undestand as much of those natural causes as possible.

The doctrine of metaphysical naturalism (MN) then arose as an honest attempt to honor the value of progress in scientific knowledge of natural causes while at the same time avoiding scientism insofar as it restricted science to knowledge of nature and natural processes. IDers like Phillip Johnson do not understand this anit-scientistic, epistemological limitation aspect of MN. It does recommend that scientists continue trying to understand nature by prefering hypothoses involving natural causes. It does not say that science will or must always succeed in doing so. The rationale is that strongly emperically supported natural explainations (such as evolution) are sufficiently valuable that scientists should be encouraged to think of and suggest such hypothoses and that, if they prove successful, they should not be rejected or criticized simply by virtue of being natural or physical. (There is an tacit assumption here that a more comprehensive knowledge of nature need never conflict with religious belief, but then most Christians over the past couple of centuries weren’t fundamentalists so this is not usually considered problematic. Creationists probaly should be but I think the problem is with fundamentalism, which I frankly don’t think can be made intellectually respectable.) On the other hand, supernatural explainations tend to be either too general (“God created everything”) or sui generis (“God miraculously intervened here”) so that they just do not relate to any predictable or repeatable classes of pheonemona which could therefore be testable. That doesn’t mean that such claims are wrong, it just means that they don’t make hypothoses that can reasonably be tested by scientific methods, which are bound by the requirement of testablitly via observations, about which transculturally and intersubjectively agreed interpretation is possible. But there do exist other valid methods (philosphical analysis, logical analysis and other less-restricted forms of evidential argument and inference, such as occurs in legal arguemnts and public debates) with which to evaluate such claims. If we eschew scientism then we can still argue or maintain those claims at a more highly integrated level of knowedge such as metaphysics or just plain extra-scientific public knowledge. There really is a place for legitimate debate on the relation of God to nature but that place is not within science or the science class-room.

So, in limiting scientific knowledge to knowledge of nature, MN places a limit on scientific knowledge that is as much intended to keep science out of places where it doesn’t belong as it is to keep speculative metaphysics and theology out of science. It only functions to exclude consideration of the possible reality of God when seen in light of scientistic presumptions, which was, unfortunately, the case with logical positivism and continues to be the case some modern analytic philosopers. Here, the IDers have a do legitimate gripe because MN has often been used in this way. But note that one only gets a conflict at all (unless you’re a literalist) if you go along with scientism in accepting that something has to have the word “scientific” attached to it to be belief-worthy. The IDers probably would deny my charge of scientism. But, by now everybody recognizes the old design argument as merely a plausibility argument based on shaky analogy. So I really do not see how it can possibly help their broader social agenda to try to spiff it up by making it look “scientific” at the expense of annihilating a clear, genuine epistemic distinction that has aided the progress of modern science while keeping science and relgion from having unneccessarily conflicts (these conflicts always end up looking ridiculous at the end of the day because no serious theologian is really, in his heart, committed to literal truth of particular Biblical statements about particular facts of nature like the claim that hares “chew the cud”).

The IDers believe that our society is corrupted because science dominates our philosophical and metaphysical views and so does not permit a broader philosphical understanding among the masses. If that is so, then please explain why America is most religous of all the developed countries in the world, why 59% of the population rejects evolution and more than 95% admit to a belief in a God although we have 14% “unchurched” rate? Our modern society has problems and I think there are a variety reaasons for it. And I think the IDers have found a simple, single scapegoat for it in science.

Comment #58418

Posted by JS on November 17, 2005 4:25 PM (e)

I’m British and was mostly schooled in the UK. We don’t have the legal seperation between Church and State that you have in the US. We teach comparative religion classes in school. We also have a much lower percentage of actively religious people. Could there be a correlation? I think it’s worth considering.

I’m Danish, and I’ve made much the same observation w.r.t. Denmark. Keeping clergy on the dole seems to make it much less virulent and anti-democratic. Or, rather, it seems to keep the virulent and antidemocratic part of the clergy from reaching a wider audience, because if they catch the eye of the Ministry of the Church, they are going to catch a job lot of flak as well… And, probably more importantly, they are going to go off the dole :-D

The fact that they’ll have to find their own buildings in which to perform services if they piss off the Ministry bad enough to bar them from using the publicly owned ones probably helps too.

And the fear that the government will be too heavy-handed in its interference with church issues has so far been proven unfounded. The govt. has, to my knowledge, only intervened in cases where a priest manifestly had to be smacked down (one debacle with a Bishop who advocated barring of women from church offices being a fond memory of mine).

- JS

Comment #58421

Posted by guthrie on November 17, 2005 4:36 PM (e)

Ahh but it was the naturalism.org site that made me agree with Lenny. I cannot see how a statement like:

“By understanding natural causality in the light of science, this version of naturalism shows our full connection to the world and others, leads to an ethics of compassion, and gives us control over our circumstances. It therefore supports progressive and effective policies in areas such as criminal and social justice, addiction and behavioral disorders, environmentalism, and science education and awareness.”
follows from the fruits of the scientific method.

Comment #58423

Posted by morbius on November 17, 2005 4:40 PM (e)

But would it change attitudes about what constitutes justice? Nope, it would not. Our current system *presumes* that there is no reasonable doubt before administering sentences.

This is pure sophistry, along the lines of arguing about the number of teeth in a horse’s mouth without bothering to examine any horses. Such attitudes do change in practice, despite your bizarre misreasoning about it.

Flint wrote:

Lenny’s point is that science is fully equipped to address questions of fact, and poorly equipped (if at all) to address questions of moral rectitude.

I guess you just don’t know what a strawman is. Even if the point were valid, it would be dishonest to say “nah, nah, you can’t determine whether murder is wrong via the scientific method!” when no one has suggested that as a form of science addressing questions of moral rectitude. And beyond that, addressing “moral rectitude” was never the issue at all. The closest any of your questions came to that was “Am I a good person?” The way science can address that is not by addressing “moral rectitude” but by informing us about the viability of notions of free will. We can see this with findings in cognitive science, where the topic has become particularly hot since the Libet experiments that I alluded to earlier. And we can see it explored in Dennett’s “Freedom Evolves”. I’m pretty sure Dennett isn’t a fundie or like a fundie, despite Lenny’s idiotic ranting (hypocritical after he complains about others attacking those on our side). If you really want to carry on your point-missing argument about justice and morality, I suggest you do it with Dennett.

And as for whether science can tell us whether abortion is wrong: many people feel that it can tell them, because whether it is wrong or not hinges, for them, on what attributes the fetus has when aborted. That doesn’t mean it can tell “us”, as a matter of objective fact, because whether it is wrong is a function of both facts and values, not values alone. But for a given set of values, a set of facts can be determinative. Denying that is simply denial.

Comment #58424

Posted by Alan Fox on November 17, 2005 4:42 PM (e)

Norman proposes

Why not have a multiple egg structure accepting a multiple sperm gene contribution and use more sperm at the start. This could allow for having more fathers and making use of more sex. The woman could hold the semi-fertilized egg and get the various sperm parts from different men or the same man.

Also, the idea of replicating every bit of information in every cell is wasteful. Why give a skin cell all the information to make a child when it only needs enough information to make another skin cell or neighbor cell? When differentiation begins, why not hand off differentiated genes too? Replication would be faster without replicating unused code.

as a response to Morbius’

I just gave reasons why one would expect embryonic development to start with a single cell. Feel free to offer a rebuttal.

I don’t see the difference being huge from one single-celled embryo to an embryo that is a cluster of cells, if one assumes that the parent can only invest limited resources in its offspring, and that maximum effort will be invested in the embryo (energy required to make one large unicellular embryo is equivalent to making the same size of embryo consisting of a multicellular cluster).

I am forced back to the conclusion that we don’t know what we don’t know. PZ’s thread about coding for development addresses the evo/devo issue addresses the issue of how development can be programmed into the zygote. I am hoping for answers when Pharyngula is back on line

Maybe it is cost effective to have the full genome available in every nucleus. Taking a computer analogy, maybe having a hard disk with excess and redundant capacity but identical in all locations simplifies the read/write requirements. This is where my lack of imagination fails me, and convinces me that we can’t speculate on what we don’t know; which is why W Dembski Esq is wasting his and others’ time.

Comment #58428

Posted by morbius on November 17, 2005 4:54 PM (e)

Tim B. wrote:

I wonder what your take might be on panpsyhcism? Your earlier mention of Chalmers sparks this query.

Chalmers is convinced that consciousness isn’t a physical phenomenon. But he has the problem of how then it arose so late in the world’s history. So he offers the hypothesis that there are precursors to consciousness present throughout matter – “panprotopsychism”. He offered this tentatively, saying that he had no commitment to it; I don’t know how he feels about it these days. To me it’s like pan-dancing-angelism. It is beyond me how someone as brilliant as Chalmers (encounter him in person and you’ll know this immediately) can indulge in such drivel, other than that our minds are feedback systems, and he applies that brilliance to spin out explanations and rationalizations for a view that is, at bottom, incoherent.

Comment #58431

Posted by morbius on November 17, 2005 5:15 PM (e)

Ahh but it was the naturalism.org site that made me agree with Lenny. I cannot see how a statement like:

“By understanding natural causality in the light of science, this version of naturalism shows our full connection to the world and others, leads to an ethics of compassion, and gives us control over our circumstances. It therefore supports progressive and effective policies in areas such as criminal and social justice, addiction and behavioral disorders, environmentalism, and science education and awareness.”
follows from the fruits of the scientific method.

Are you saying that you would expect that the scientific method would determine whether the statement is true or false? That would be contradictory. The author didn’t say his statement follows from the scientific method; it’s full of judgments, such as what is compassionate and progressive, and what counts as effective. Does your statement follow from the scientific method? Does Lenny’s statement about what can and cannot follow from the scientific method follow from the scientific method? Of course not. So this is just an elaborate strawman, unless you can show that someone actually claimed that the sentence above follows from the scientific method. As for whether the sentence can be supported by scientific findings, you would have to examine the evidence that the author lays out as support. To claim beforehand that such support isn’t possible would be an argument from ignorance.

Comment #58435

Posted by morbius on November 17, 2005 5:46 PM (e)

I owe you an apology.

Thank you.

You acknowledge the possibility that God can have undetected effect on seemingly blind undirected processes.

This still overstates my position – I do not, in fact, acknowledge this because I don’t consider the concept of God to be coherent. All I said was that the blindness of natural selection – by being an algorithm – does not alone contradict that possibility. But there are other reasons to reject it – or rather, to reject it on a metalevel, to reject talk about such possibilities as being meaningful, any more than the claim that it’s possible that Zeus can have undetected effects on blind processes, or that it is possible that horses are really unicorns by virtue of having horns on their noses that are undetectable by any means.

But Tim’s question was, how can people claim that science and religion can be consistent without being disingenuous. And that’s easy – just because he or I believe something doesn’t mean that someone who claims that it’s possible to disbelieve it isn’t being candid.

Comment #58437

Posted by Norman Doering on November 17, 2005 5:50 PM (e)

Alan Fox wrote:

I don’t see the difference being huge from one single-celled embryo to an embryo that is a cluster of cells, if one assumes that the parent can only invest limited resources in its offspring,…

Such a cluster could grow a little faster. But you’re right, it wouldn’t be that much an advantage except as a gene mixer, multiple parents instead of just two.

…and that maximum effort will be invested in the embryo (energy required to make one large unicellular embryo is equivalent to making the same size of embryo consisting of a multicellular cluster).

The most wasteful part of sex is the male contribution. Women are stuck with the heaviest investment in creating a child. The competition between sperm from one male is a waste. I don’t see it contributing much to the evolution of the final product, a human child. If the male produced fewer sperm and added nutrient contributing cells to replace some of those sperm he could add some energy investment to the growing embryo and repeat that investment with each sex act.

I am forced back to the conclusion that we don’t know what we don’t know.

True, my ideas are merely science fiction. However, the underlying principles are there.

Maybe it is cost effective to have the full genome available in every nucleus.

Maybe there are good reasons for it evolutionarily. But I doubt it’s cost effectiveness in principle. It’s not like the operating system on every computer on the net - we don’t use it. The reason it’s there is because we’re more like a bacterial colony than we like to admit.

… we can’t speculate on what we don’t know…

Oh, yes you can. That’s how you start learning those things you don’t know, by imagining things that might be. Then you test those speculations and call them “theories.”

Comment #58439

Posted by Morbius on November 17, 2005 5:57 PM (e)

I have previewed this one; and first pointy bracket refuses to show up.

Works for me: <

Ok, I cheated. :-) I used &lt; (and for that I used &amp;&lt;)

Another approach is

<quote>stuff</quote>

For that I used <code><quote>stuff</quote></code>

Comment #58442

Posted by Morbius on November 17, 2005 6:14 PM (e)

The exponential element could be accelerated by starting with multiple cells.

Only by one or two generations. In exchange, a whole lot of additional mechanism is avoided.

Also, the idea of replicating every bit of information in every cell is wasteful.

It’s also wasteful to use off-the-shelf integrated circuits, but there are big advantages to doing so. There are even greater advantages when the components self-reproduce. In the embryo, differentiation doesn’t happen until its needed – it’s real handy to have the whole program available in every cell, and it’s done by the simplest duplication process – “dup all”. Anything else is likely to need much more mechanism. Imagine what it would take provide software CDs that contain all the different configurations that users need, rather than duplicating the whole CD and tailoring it once it is in situ.

Comment #58443

Posted by Katarina on November 17, 2005 6:22 PM (e)

This still overstates my position

I thought you would say that. I just can’t get it right. Your position as you have just explained it is indeed consistant with that of ts.

But Tim’s question was, how can people claim that science and religion can be consistent without being disingenuous.

That question is very relevant and important to this thread. This is the same question that I was interested in pursuing with ts.

The problem with defending the idea that religion is incompatible with science, at least on a site defending science and evolution, is that creationists use the same argument to back their position. I’m sure you’ve heard this before. This message tells religious people they have to choose between their religion and science, and that is a much greater leap than accepting science alongside religion.

Ts’s response to this was that it is more important to seek the truth of an argument than to appease creationists, or care about pr, or convert people to your side. And the truth is that while to you, the possibility of angels dancing on pins is irrelevant, to others it is the loophole that allows them to maintain their faith.

In the end, it is true to say that we really don’t know, and can’t know, whether or not there is a god/gods, and that therefore, religion and science can (even if only by the least requirements of logic) be compatible for anyone who cares to make it happen honestly. Whatever your personal take is on the probability or relevance of such a position, it seems we agree at least, that such a position can be intellectually honest, and defensible. Uh oh, have I misstated your position again?

just because he or I believe something doesn’t mean that someone who claims that it’s possible to disbelieve it isn’t being candid.

That sentence is confusing to me. Probably just perception agian, but could you put it another way for my sake?

Comment #58444

Posted by Morbius on November 17, 2005 6:23 PM (e)

Non sequitur. I just gave reasons why one would expect embryonic development to start with a single cell. Feel free to offer a rebuttal.

I can’t, which is rather the point. As Tim remarked, we are limited by our experience and imagination. Richard Adams’ puddle analogy comes to mind.

We are also limited by facts and logic. Saying that we mustn’t exclude any possibilities and then, when asked what was excluded, saying “I can’t think of anything” is a silly game, like the school child who gets the brilliant (to him) insight that he can respond to an question with “anything’s possible”. The advanced form of this is seen with biblical literalists who figure they can just make stuff up – hey, those dogmatic scientists lack imagination.

Comment #58446

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 17, 2005 6:51 PM (e)

I believe I’m right in saying that the US has the highest percentage of actively religious people of any developed country. I can’t help but feel one of the most effective strategies you could have for ‘defending’ science would be to lobby for teaching religion at school.

The fundies would kill it, very quickly. The LAST thing they want is to have their religious opinions compared and contrasted with other people’s religious opinions. What they want is for THEIR opinions to be taught, and nobody else’s.

I can imagine the reaction from fundies if their little darlings started coming home from school and saying “Guess what, Daddy! Today in school I learned about Mohammed and Buddha!”

Comment #58450

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 17, 2005 7:00 PM (e)

Ahh but it was the naturalism.org site that made me agree with Lenny. I cannot see how a statement like:

“By understanding natural causality in the light of science, this version of naturalism shows our full connection to the world and others, leads to an ethics of compassion, and gives us control over our circumstances. It therefore supports progressive and effective policies in areas such as criminal and social justice, addiction and behavioral disorders, environmentalism, and science education and awareness.”
follows from the fruits of the scientific method.

Indeed. Morbius/ts wants science to be a worldview/philosophy.

It’s not.

Science is a method. Science is not a way of life or a philosophy of life. And by trying to turn it into one, people like “naturalism.org” are abusing and mis-using science. Indeed, they are abusing and mis-using it in precisely the same way that the ID/creationists are —– they are attempting to claim that their religious/philosophical opinions are actually “science”. They’re not. (shrug)

If Morbius/ts is interested in conversation, I invite him to point out which of the above statements, specifically, he thinks is wrong, and why.

Does he think science is not a method?

Does he think science IS a way of life or a philosophy of life?

Does he think trying to turn science into a philosophy or way of life is NOT an abuse of science?

Does he think fundies are NOT attempting to claim that their beliefs are actually “science”?

Does he think that “naturalists” who assert that study of “natural causality in light of science” will lead to particular “ethics” and “policies”, are NOT attempting to claim that THEIR beliefs are actually “science”?

Comment #58452

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 17, 2005 7:07 PM (e)

The problem with defending the idea that religion is incompatible with science, at least on a site defending science and evolution, is that creationists use the same argument to back their position.

The bigger problem with such an argument is that it’s empirically easy to prove wrong. Most religious people see NO incompatibility with science.

The only way to maintain that there IS an incompatibility, in the face of declarations from religious people themselves that there is NOT, is to make the assertion that those religious people are … well . . just really really dishonest, or really really stupid.

And that is indeed the argument that ts/Morbius makes.

Coincidentally, it is also precisely exactly word-for-word the same argument that the ID/creationists make.

Both the ID/creationists and the “naturalists” a la Morbius/ts hold the same fundamental view (pardon the pun) — their particular (religious or anti-religious) opinion is actually SCIENCE, and anyone who doesn’t agree with their religious or anti-religious opinions is just (1) illogical, (2) dishonest or (3) stupid.

Comment #58453

Posted by improvius on November 17, 2005 7:11 PM (e)

The problem with defending the idea that religion is incompatible with science, at least on a site defending science and evolution, is that creationists use the same argument to back their position. I’m sure you’ve heard this before. This message tells religious people they have to choose between their religion and science, and that is a much greater leap than accepting science alongside religion.

As I was trying to point out earlier, these people are trying to trap God in a jar. They have constructed their own logical proof of God, and anything that challenges that proof must by default be wrong.

Of course, this is simply a wrong-headed approach to faith. In fact, it’s not faith at all. It’s blind acceptance. True faith requires a conscious choice to believe something that cannot be proven. It must be entered into willingly and knowingly. Creationists don’t seem to get that, as they have become obsessed with logically proving their belief. In my opinion, this actually shows a lack of faith. It seems to me that they are afraid that they may have made the wrong choice in accepting their religion. At the very least, they need to rationalize their belief. And that’s where they can start to break from reality. A person of strong faith does not need to go out and prove anything. A person without faith will desperately seek proof.

Comment #58455

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 17, 2005 7:23 PM (e)

Ignoring all of Morbius/ts’s silly dick-waving ….

And as for whether science can tell us whether abortion is wrong: many people feel

Interesting word choice.

“Many people FEEL that … “

Doesn’t sound much like “science” to me …. . Sounds more like … well . . subjective non-scientific FEELINGS.

that it can tell them, because whether it is wrong or not hinges, for them, on what attributes the fetus has when aborted.

Since this decision “hinges” upon something that is not science and not scientific, I am wondering why you think “science” is any more valid in this “hinge” than someone else whose decision “hinges” on “what my pastor says” or “what my grandmother says”.

It is not “science” that has “decided” anything. It is the *person* who has decided (using, as you note, how they FEEL about it), and uses “science” to justify a decision that he or she has already made. That does not make that decision “science” or even “scientific”. Science may be able to tell this person every possible attribute of the fetus from conception right up to the moment of birth. That doesn’t “decide” anything. It’s still up to the person to decide which attributes matter and which don’t. And once again, that is not “science”. Science *can’t* tell us which attributes matter and which don’t. WE decide that, ourselves, using FEELINGS – subjective NON-SCIENTIFIC judgement.

You seem to have decided, a priori, that your particular “hinge” is the only valid or correct one, and conveniently enough, you’ve also decided that science helps you justify that “hinge”. But why is your “hinge” intrinsically or scientifically any better than anyone else’s? Other than your own (non-scientific) FEELING that it is?

Can you use science to demonstrate that your decision is better than anyone else’s decision, or that the criteria by which you base your decision are any better than anyone else’s criteria? No? Then in what way is this decision or those criteria remotely “scientific”?

Comment #58459

Posted by Morbius on November 17, 2005 7:35 PM (e)

Ts’s response to this was that it is more important to seek the truth of an argument than to appease creationists, or care about pr, or convert people to your side.

Well, again, this is your perception of the response, but it may not be accurate. I would say that it depends on the context. If trying to establish your own views on a matter, I would certainly say that it’s wiser to believe what’s true than what’s popular. But if the goal is to change the world, then strategy matters. However, it is not necessary that every comment on this board be crafted with an eye toward optimally affecting science education, much as that fantasy is sometimes used on this board as a club against people who stray from the politically correct agenda.

And the truth is that while to you, the possibility of angels dancing on pins is irrelevant, to others it is the loophole that allows them to maintain their faith.

This mixes things up. I didn’t say the possibility is irrelevant, I said that I think that such language is incoherent. Of course it’s relevant that people think that way, but these are two different subjects. It isn’t that such issues matter more or less than whether the language is coherent, it’s that they don’t determine whether it’s coherent.

In the end, it is true to say that we really don’t know, and can’t know, whether or not there is a god/gods

But that is not what I have said – that statement already assumes that “god” is a coherent notion, that “there is a god” means something. Just as it’s not true to say that we really don’t know, and can’t know, whether horses are “really” unicorns because they have undetectable horns. What we can know is that the question is meaningless.

therefore, religion and science can (even if only by the least requirements of logic) be compatible for anyone who cares to make it happen honestly.

Not “therefore”. Nor does it even take honesty. People can compartmentalize, and make the most ridiculous arguments for or against religion (e.g., science disproves the existence of God), and still do good science. We talk about whether those compartments tend to leak, but that discussion becomes very contentious, as we’ve seen.

Whatever your personal take is on the probability or relevance of such a position, it seems we agree at least, that such a position can be intellectually honest, and defensible. Uh oh, have I misstated your position again?

The position that science can be compatible with religion is defensible, but I’m not so sure about individual arguments for religion. It’s my experience that, at some point, people avoid the truly hard challenges and say “faith”. I don’t consider that to be a defense. Whether it’s intellectually honest – well, if the person acknowledges that it’s not a defense, that “faith” is not a reason for belief, that it’s belief without reason, at least that’s honest, but I have a real hard time reconciling believing things for no reason with intellectual honesty. I have one acquaintance who admitted to me that he simply chooses not to be intellectually honest about some things – he believes them because he wants to, and nothing will sway him. I appreciate the straightforwardness, but I can’t think well of the choice.

just because he or I believe something doesn’t mean that someone who claims that it’s possible to disbelieve it isn’t being candid.

That sentence is confusing to me. Probably just perception agian, but could you put it another way for my sake?

Nah, I stated it very poorly.

Tim suggested that it’s disingenuous – not candid – to claim that science and religion are compatible. The reason he gave is, in essence, that religion is unbelievable; it is inconsistent with observation. But that’s what he thinks; other people obviously don’t. And since they don’t, their claim of compatibility is genuine. They might be mistaken, but that’s different from being dishonest.

Comment #58460

Posted by geogeek on November 17, 2005 7:35 PM (e)

…whether science can tell us whether abortion is wrong: many people feel that it can tell them, because whether it is wrong or not hinges, for them, on what attributes the fetus has when aborted. That doesn’t mean it can tell “us”, as a matter of objective fact, because whether it is wrong is a function of both facts and values, not values alone. But for a given set of values, a set of facts can be determinative.

Your last sentance quoted here is the reason that science is not the determinative factor in whether or not abortion is wrong. The problem is that science can tell us the measureable attributes of a blastocyst/embryo/fetus, but cannot tell us which of those attributes determine whether abortion is moral or not. The values of an individual or group determine what decision they make about the moral meaning of the data. The data do not determine the values of the individual or group making the decision.

Comment #58464

Posted by Morbius on November 17, 2005 7:46 PM (e)

Ignoring all of Morbius/ts’s silly dick-waving … .

Every time you write that you show what a dick and a hypocrite you are.

that it can tell them, because whether it is wrong or not hinges, for them, on what attributes the fetus has when aborted.

Since this decision “hinges” upon something that is not science and not scientific,

What attributes a fetus has, such as the state of its brain development and how reactive it is to pain, are scientific findings. And that’s what I was referring to – those attributes that can be objectively determined. Those actually matter to some – not all – people.

You seem to have decided, a priori, that your particular “hinge” is the only valid or correct one

I didn’t even comment on what my hinge was, only some people’s hinges are. But you’ve got your strawman to flail at. You should follow your own words and stop being such a pathetic hypocrite and ass:

But, the last time we had this conversation, it led to a big dick-waving contest that didn’t help anyone.

I have no interest in waving my dick, and no interest in seeing you wave yours again. So I’ll drop the matter.

You may, if you like, have the last word.

Or are you just a liar, Lenny?

Comment #58465

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 17, 2005 7:47 PM (e)

Your last sentance quoted here is the reason that science is not the determinative factor in whether or not abortion is wrong. The problem is that science can tell us the measureable attributes of a blastocyst/embryo/fetus, but cannot tell us which of those attributes determine whether abortion is moral or not. The values of an individual or group determine what decision they make about the moral meaning of the data. The data do not determine the values of the individual or group making the decision.

Exactly.

That is precisely the problem that ANYONE will run into when they try to turn “science” into an ethical system or a way of life, or try to claim that their particular ethical system or way of life is “scientific”.

It ain’t. It CAN’T be. Science is a method. Nothing more, nothing less, nothing else.

Comment #58468

Posted by Flint on November 17, 2005 7:52 PM (e)

Morbius:

This is pure sophistry, along the lines of arguing about the number of teeth in a horse’s mouth without bothering to examine any horses. Such attitudes do change in practice, despite your bizarre misreasoning about it.

Sorry, but you are incorrect. Our ability to determine facts has in fact improved quite strikingly as forensics has improved. But surer knowledge and clearer understanding of the facts has not altered our attitudes toward justice. Indeed, the LACK of alteration is remarkable in and of itself. We have not changed the punishment we administer as a function of our certainty about whodunnit or how.

I guess you just don’t know what a strawman is.

I guess after you don’t get it enough times, we can conclude that you just don’t FEEL like listening. I won’t waste your time trying to explain once again. Believe what you want.

no one has suggested that as a form of science addressing questions of moral rectitude. And beyond that, addressing “moral rectitude” was never the issue at all.

The point was, science is not competent to evaluate moral questions. This was the assertion. Nobody is saying that science *claimed* such competence. The observation was that science lacks this competence, not that anyone claimed otherwise. However, this observation about science was MADE the issue, simply by making the observation. If YOU don’t WANT it to be the issue, so what?

And as for whether science can tell us whether abortion is wrong: many people feel that it can tell them, because whether it is wrong or not hinges, for them, on what attributes the fetus has when aborted.

I granted that science can tell us *everything there is to know* about the fetus at any given time. So let’s grant (as an example) that there is *absolutely no question* that a fetus is viable, and can survive abortion. Let’s go further, what the hell, and grant that science learns how to extract a blastula and grow it into an adult, reliably, in an artificial environment fabricated for the purpose. Fair enough?

Now, is it wrong to abort? In granting all this knowledge and capability, are we ANY closer to answering that question? Here is my position in general: facts do not alter values, they only help apply values more accurately.

But for a given set of values, a set of facts can be determinative.

The facts aren’t determining the values, the facts aren’t changing the values. You have inverted the claim being made. Here’s an example: let’s say you wish to correct an error you think someone else has made. It’s one of your values that errors should be corrected. But DID someone else make an error? If you don’t know, you might very well apply your correction improperly. So knowledge of who made what error will help you target your corrections with greater accuracy. It will NOT alter your basic value, that errors should be corrected.

Now, perhaps you might argue that the knowledge that incessant attempts to correct errors fails to cure those you regard as error-prone, might cause you to decide that the attempt at correction isn’t worth holding as a value. I’ll let you reflect on that…

Lenny:

Both the ID/creationists and the “naturalists” a la Morbius/ts hold the same fundamental view (pardon the pun) —- their particular (religious or anti-religious) opinion is actually SCIENCE, and anyone who doesn’t agree with their religious or anti-religious opinions is just (1) illogical, (2) dishonest or (3) stupid.

I thought Mike Rogers was fairly clear in calling this attitude “scientism” defined as “taking knowledge obtained by scientific methods to be the only valid or reliable sort of knowledge.”

What I find irritating about Morbius/ts is that you make a statement clearly laying out a valid position, he decides that HE thinks YOU should have said something else, and when you won’t budge, he accuses you of moving the goalposts! “*I* wanted the goalposts over HERE. In moving them back where you put them, you are being *intellectually dishonest!* And furthermore, YOU made a claim I didn’t make. So I will pretend you made that claim to counter something nobody said, so I can accuse you of erecting a strawman. This is what I call “Queen of Hearts syndrome” - What do you mean, you’re going YOUR own way? ALL the ways around here are MY ways!

And he prattles about intellectual dishonesty! Feh.

Comment #58469

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 17, 2005 7:53 PM (e)

If Morbius/ts is interested in conversation, I invite him to point out which of the above statements, specifically, he thinks is wrong, and why.

Or are you just a liar, Lenny?

Well, I tried. (shrug)

Morbius is more interested in waving his dick. I’m not even remotely surprised.

I’m done with him.

Comment #58470

Posted by Morbius on November 17, 2005 7:55 PM (e)

But for a given set of values, a set of facts can be determinative.

Your last sentance quoted here is the reason that science is not the determinative factor in whether or not abortion is wrong.

But the sentence says it’s not determinative! Suppose that you think that torture is wrong, but you don’t know whether Dick Cheney has done anything wrong. Then advanced scientific technology provides spy pictures that show Dick Cheney torturing someone. Given that you think torture is wrong, the science is determinative that Dick Cheney did something wrong. But science cannot, by itself, determine such things. I wrote

whether it is wrong is a function of both facts and values, not values alone

Likewise, of course, it’s not a function of facts alone. Where the heck are we disagreeing?

Comment #58471

Posted by Tim B. on November 17, 2005 7:57 PM (e)

Morbius wrote:

To me it’s like pan-dancing-angelism. It is beyond me how someone as brilliant as Chalmers (encounter him in person and you’ll know this immediately) can indulge in such drivel, other than that our minds are feedback systems, and he applies that brilliance to spin out explanations and rationalizations for a view that is, at bottom, incoherent.

Chalmers argues against consciousness (subjective qualia) being an emergent physical property, and among some other ideas, explores how it might be a foundational physical property, itself, like gravity or electromagnetism. My opinion is that a cavalier dismissal of the hard problem of mind is unjustified. Feedback system or no, the loop enters back in through the looking-glass pane of experiential distinctness. The experience of being, whether instantiated on wet synapses or not, is (I merely assert) of a different order entirely than the neurological. Mind emerging from meat via some chaos-complexity threshold or something fails to close the logical gap, per Chalmer’s coneivable reportage of zombies. Nagel calls the problem a permanent mysterium. As opposed to the wait-and-see attitude of the neurologist, who seems to think that if he looks hard enough, he’ll spot his own eyes.

Interesting that MIT didn’t consider Skrbina’s book Panpsychism in the West to be drivel:

http://ndpr.nd.edu/review.cfm?id=4681

Comment #58473

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 17, 2005 8:12 PM (e)

Where the heck are we disagreeing?

You tell me. You’re the one who went apeshit. (shrug)

Comment #58474

Posted by Morbius on November 17, 2005 8:14 PM (e)

I thought Mike Rogers was fairly clear in calling this attitude “scientism” defined as “taking knowledge obtained by scientific methods to be the only valid or reliable sort of knowledge.”

Yeah, I guess hearing it from your grandmother is just as valid and reliable.

But in fact we have other sorts of knowledge – for instance, I know when I’m in pain. I know my own name and address. I know that 1+1=2. So an argument against scientism is an argument against a strawman.

In any case, this slides goalposts around – having such epistemological views isn’t the same as treating science as a “worldview” or “philosophy”.

What I find irritating about Morbius/ts is that you make a statement clearly laying out a valid position

Well gee, since your statements are a priori valid, I guess there’s just no point in discussing them.

he decides that HE thinks YOU should have said something else

This isn’t intellectual dishonesty, it’s flat out dishonesty. What really goes on is that you have some point you want to make and you make a number of statements about it, some of which lead to tangential discussions, but you treat any statement not directly related to the original point as if it contradicted the point. In other words, you do exactly what you are accusing me of.

Anyway, since you think I’m an ass and I think you’re one, there’s little point in investing more time in this discussion.

Comment #58475

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 17, 2005 8:15 PM (e)

The most wasteful part of sex is the male contribution.

Speak for yourself. (grin)

Comment #58476

Posted by Morbius on November 17, 2005 8:16 PM (e)

I’m done with him.

Liar and jack ass.

Comment #58477

Posted by Flint on November 17, 2005 8:21 PM (e)

I’ll give it one more shot.

Suppose that you think that torture is wrong

Then you think torture is wrong.

but you don’t know whether Dick Cheney has done anything wrong.

This is an entirely independent question. Torture is wrong (in this value system) regardless of what Dick Cheney may have done. If he tortured, he did wrong.

Then advanced scientific technology provides spy pictures that show Dick Cheney torturing someone.

In this case, Dick Cheney did something wrong. I hope we all notice, class, that the value “torture is wrong” has not changed ONE IOTA.

Given that you think torture is wrong, the science is determinative that Dick Cheney did something wrong. But science cannot, by itself, determine such things.

Sigh. Science did not contribute in any way whatsofriggenever to the value that torture is wrong. It can’t. All science did was to show that Dick Cheney violated this value. But the discussion here is about the value itself, not whether or not some case is an instance of its violation.

Let’s examine a slightly different case: torture is still wrong, but the individual being tortured is a masochist - he LOVES the pain. For him, it’s not torture at all. Is causing him pain still wrong? Let’s presume that science can (in principle, anyway) assure us the “victim” does not consider his situation to be torture. So is it wrong to cause him pain? If his torturer thinks it’s torture and he does not, and science can assure us this is the case, then how do we apply our value? We may decide that the intent to torture is the sin, or we may decide that the experience of torture is determining. But once again, our value hasn’t changed. Torture is STILL WRONG. Science can help us accurately target our values. It can’t DECIDE our values.

Comment #58478

Posted by geogeek on November 17, 2005 8:22 PM (e)

(Morbius) …whether science can tell us whether abortion is wrong: many people feel that it can tell them,

(Morbius) But science cannot, by itself, determine such things

(Morbius) Where the heck are we disagreeing?

I’m not necessarily disagreeing, I’m trying to clarify by dividing what seem to me to be two different things. So, whether the issue is Cheney or abortion, I don’t see anything in either of your descriptions to say that more data leads to a different moral position. All I see is the “better” data allowing more information to go into making a moral decision in any individual case. Thus, science does not tell someone _how_ to make a moral choice. Is this what you meant? Or were you going somewhere else with it?

Comment #58479

Posted by Morbius on November 17, 2005 8:23 PM (e)

per Chalmer’s coneivable reportage of zombies

The conceivability of zombies is simply the conceivability that physicalism is false; it’s a circular argument, as even Chalmers has admitted.

The notion of philosophical zombies was invented by Robert Kirk 20 years ago as a challenge to physicalism. Here’s what he says today:

http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/philosophy/staff/robert-kirk.htm

His book Zombies and Consciousness (Oxford: Clarendon Press, forthcoming) will to some extent atone for his error in having defended the possibility of zombies in articles in 1974. (For more about zombies, see his entry in the online Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.)

Comment #58481

Posted by Flint on November 17, 2005 8:27 PM (e)

And back to Conservativeman, he is stating values. Granted, he has fabricated some scientifically faulty ir not outright nonsensical justifications and rationalizations in support of those values, but the values themselves are not based on evidence. And this is why we can demonstrate in unassailable detail the incorrectness of everything he says, and not disturb him in the slightest. Facts don’t change values.

Comment #58482

Posted by Morbius on November 17, 2005 8:30 PM (e)

I don’t see anything in either of your descriptions to say that more data leads to a different moral position.

This is a different issue, which I already touched on in regard to free will. There’s an extensive argument at naturalism.org that findings about the brain and behavior undermine the notion of libertarian free will that underlies the idea of retributive justice and the idea that people “deserve” punishment, as opposed to seeing punishment as a means of controlling or altering undesirable behavior. It’s a complex issue that can’t be waved away just by applying labels like “scientism” or “worldview” or likening people exploring these issues to fundies.

Comment #58485

Posted by geogeek on November 17, 2005 8:43 PM (e)

(Flint) Facts don’t change values.

I generally agree with you, but I have one counter-example. As an undergraduate at a western state school, I was a member of the student LBGTQ group who volunteered to visit a variety of classes at the request of the professors. Our reason for putting up with the same weird-ass questions time after time was that we (and the professors) saw some of them change their values about LGB people. Some decided (or were more inclined to allow for the possibility) that we were human beings entitled to general human respect and dignity (and, who knows, after a couple of years of mulling it over, maybe legal rights?). They were desperately short of facts about gays. We supplied some. Some of them changed their values, however incrementally.

Comment #58486

Posted by Morbius on November 17, 2005 8:44 PM (e)

Worth repeating:

Renier wrote:

I used to be a fanatical fundie for many years. I used to think evolution implies God is not needed, and I fought it wherever I could. Ignorance was my biggest mistake…. My point is that what people really need is knowledge…. Science can make one free, in a certain way. During my religious times, it was always a battle to “do this” and “not do this”. Constant strain to try and make sure one stays within God’s will. I realised after throwing off the yoke of religion that I can just be myself and do what I want. Guess what? It turns out that I am not a bad person after all. I have more respect for nature, see every person as an individual and appreciate the “here” and the “now” much more…. It was not just evolution [that led to atheism]. I think evolution might just have triggered the whole thing because it contradicted my literal understanding of the bible.

Comment #58489

Posted by Morbius on November 17, 2005 8:55 PM (e)

They were desperately short of facts about gays.

There are former racists who are now fierce egalitarians due to personal experiences with people of other races. One can try desperately to argue that values haven’t “really” changed, but at that point it’s an unfalsifiable position.

Comment #58490

Posted by Morbius on November 17, 2005 9:03 PM (e)

In this case, Dick Cheney did something wrong. I hope we all notice, class, that the value “torture is wrong” has not changed ONE IOTA.

And, for members of the class who actually examine the context in which my comments were made, that wasn’t the point here – that addresses a different issue. Here, again, was the context:

Your last sentance quoted here is the reason that science is not the determinative factor in whether or not abortion is wrong. The problem is that science can tell us the measureable attributes of a blastocyst/embryo/fetus, but cannot tell us which of those attributes determine whether abortion is moral or not. The values of an individual or group determine what decision they make about the moral meaning of the data. The data do not determine the values of the individual or group making the decision.

That’s what I responded to. That does not address the question of whether facts can affect values – a different question. Question one: do facts determine moral judgments? Answer: only in conjunction with values. Question two: can facts affect values? Answer: yes, they can.

Comment #58492

Posted by geogeek on November 17, 2005 9:34 PM (e)

Thanks - that’s the clarification I was seeking. I ceratinly agree - if we didn’t think facts could effect values, we wouldn’t go around trying to wave facts in ID and other creationist’s faces. We may not change _their_ values, but we hope at least to change the values of the audience.

The issue that then comes up is: What kinds of facts are most useful in doing so?

I have to say, though, that the number of students (and other people) whom I have encountered who are unwilling to change in the face of facts is pretty large…

Comment #58503

Posted by Morbius on November 17, 2005 10:34 PM (e)

You’re welcome. Don’t expect dogmatic ideologues like Lenny and Flint to budge, though.

As for what sorts of facts – see Renier’s posts, and the fine post by Mike Rogers.

As for people unwilling to change in the face of facts … indeed. This suggests that the younger people are exposed to the facts, the better. Then, as they ossify, at least it will be into the right shape. :-)

Comment #58505

Posted by Morbius on November 17, 2005 10:43 PM (e)

Going back to the question of what kinds of facts, and looking at Renier’s words, and thinking about my own experience, I suggest that facts that undermine the valuing of authority can lead to receptivity to other facts. Ask someone whether they would rather study the bible and watch Pat Robertson, or read one of PZ Myer’s articles about evolution. The answer to that question, which clearly depends upon what people value, can change with exposure to facts.

Comment #58508

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 17, 2005 10:55 PM (e)

Don’t expect dogmatic ideologues like Lenny and Flint

Welcome to the club, Flint. Now we can get called “dogmatic ideologues” by both the IDers *and* by TS/Morbius. I feel honored. :> But then, since I’m a commie and you’re (presumably) not, I am a little puzzled as to what ideology we are both supposed to be dogmatic about …. ?

I notice, too, that he swears at me a lot more than he does you. Why do you suppose that is?

Comment #58509

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 17, 2005 10:59 PM (e)

Registered User write:

Oh, that guy morbius and Lenny Flank

Morbius write:

dogmatic ideologues like Lenny and Flint

Geez, if everyone is gonna lump me with everyone else, could y’all at least be consistent about it …. ?

:>

Comment #58510

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 17, 2005 11:00 PM (e)

The issue that then comes up is: What kinds of facts are most useful in doing so?

I’m pretty sure that “Religious people are all stupid or sick in the head” isn’t going to change very many minds.

Whaddya think?

Comment #58514

Posted by Morbius on November 17, 2005 11:15 PM (e)

But then, since I’m a commie and you’re (presumably) not, I am a little puzzled as to what ideology we are both supposed to be dogmatic about … . ?

The ideology that facts can’t change values and that “scientism” is akin to fundieism. Communism? “Religious people are all stupid and sick in the head”? With such a poor ability to comprehend, it’s no wonder you are puzzled.

Comment #58517

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 17, 2005 11:26 PM (e)

The competition between sperm from one male is a waste. I don’t see it contributing much to the evolution of the final product, a human child. If the male produced fewer sperm and added nutrient contributing cells to replace some of those sperm he could add some energy investment to the growing embryo and repeat that investment with each sex act.

But remember that humans are not naturally a monogamous species (no matter what the Good Book might say). So a guy’s sperm are also competing with OTHER GUY’S sperm. If you want *your* sperm to fertilize an egg and not the other guy’s, one good way to do that is to produce lots more sperm than he does, thus increasing the odds that it’ll be one of YOUR little swimmers that makes it all the way instead of one of HIS.

In addition, IIRC, there is some research showing that a portion of any particular male’s ejaculate serves the express purpose of delaying or entangling or slowing down sperm from any OTHER ejaculate. Sort of like little bitty offensive linesmen. Block that blitz!

I recall some other research that indicates that males, on average, release a larger amount of ejaculate if they have not seen their partner for several days than they do if they have. Presumably, this allows his sperm to overwhelm and outnumber sperm from any OTHER guy who might have done the deed while hubby was away.

Hubby may, of course, trust his wifey’s faithfulness entirely. But his gonads have been programmed by evolution to always assume that wifey has been fooling around while his back was turned. Of course, if you look at chimps, that assumption is usually true. And I suspect it’s true in humans in a far greater percentage than some of us might like to believe.

Comment #58519

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 17, 2005 11:28 PM (e)

You’re blithering again, Morbius.

Comment #58526

Posted by geogeek on November 17, 2005 11:47 PM (e)

I recall reading a book on human sexuality and evolution in high school (great stuff - I was already a geek-for-life). I think it was co-authored my Lynn Margulis, actually. One of the really interesting things to me was the discussion of pre-coital vs. post-coital competition: that is, that primate species can be divided into two groups, one with males who compete for sexual access to females by being big and beating on each other, and one with males who compete for access to females’ eggs by getting more of their sperm closer to the egg. Naturally, the 1st group has relatively small penises and the 2nd relatively large (so as to get that much closer to the egg). Lucky humans, we have a morphology more like the 2nd batch! I think that’s also the first place I saw any mention of bonobos.

Comment #58528

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 17, 2005 11:53 PM (e)

That works for the size of, uh, gonads, too. Some primates have small ones – they trust their partners (or they guard them really really well). Some primates have big ones. They, uh, DON’T trust their partners.

We, uh, have big ones.

Which means, biologically, we are built for outcompeting sperm from guys who are cheating with our wives.

One wonders what the IDers would have to say about that. How about it, IDers? Why did God – er, I mean, The Unknwon Intelligent Designer – give us big balls to outcompete cheater’s sperm?

Comment #58529

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 17, 2005 11:56 PM (e)

Hey, where is the Royal Foot Fungus? Here I am, being the perfect straight man by setting him up with lines about “big balls” and such – and he’s nowhere to be seen…. .

Comment #58531

Posted by geogeek on November 18, 2005 12:07 AM (e)

Actually, in a coming true of the Xtian Right’s worst nightmares, I was pretty exctied to find a possible scientific basis for polyamory (even though I hadn’t heard the word - I don’t know if was even invented at the time).

Is that anything like the Royal Smart Person?

Comment #58539

Posted by Anton Mates on November 18, 2005 12:27 AM (e)

Tim Hague wrote:

Well actual observable development from a single cell on this planet does happen in most cases. However we have exceptions to that rule for multicellualar organisms even on this planet. For example sponges, which are often hermaphrodites and also can reproduce asexually by splitting. Multiple cells, not single.

Of course the key adverb there is “asexually.” For asexual reproduction I’d agree that development from multiple cells makes perfect sense, and indeed it happens quite often as you say. But since sexual reproduction requires gamete fusion, and that’s unlikely to give you the same daughter genome twice, and (for whatever reason, probably the likelihood of auto-immune disorders and that sort of thing) obligate chimeras are very rare in nature, it seems like a better idea just to produce a single zygote, so the resultant offspring won’t be a chimera.

AFAIK all asexually-reproducing higher vertebrates still do it via a single zygote, but that’s probably because they’re working off reproductive machinery previously evolved for sexual reproduction.

By the way, there is at least one instance of a sexually-reproducing animal which develops from two cells–the armored scale insect. The “usual” fertilized egg divides to produce most of the body tissue, while the normally-trashed polar bodies fuse into a cell which divides to produce the bacteriome, an organ which apparently “farms” beneficial bacteria. Wicked cool.

According to the PLoS Biology link above, “Obligate chimerism—the presence of two genetically distinct cell lineages in every individual at each life stage—is found in a few families of scale insects, but nowhere else in nature.” So if you’re interested in further looking into this, you might want to see if anything unique has been found about those critters’ evolutionary history.

It also mentions that “And the main things that humans eat are also quasi-chimeras: the seeds of flowering plants. In a grain of wheat, for instance, the germ, the endosperm, and the bran have three different nuclear genomes, and the conflicts between them may be similar in some ways to the conflicts seen in human pregnancy (Alleman and Doctor 2000; Santiago and Goodrich 2000).”

Comment #58552

Posted by Norman Doering on November 18, 2005 1:30 AM (e)

Morbius wrote:

It’s also wasteful to use off-the-shelf integrated circuits, but there are big advantages to doing so.

That comparison isn’t particularly meaningful. “Off the shelf” includes thousands of different kinds of chips. Chips are mass produced and if you design something new with off the shelf chips you can order special chips when you mass produce your product and that will be cheaper in many cases.

In the embryo, differentiation doesn’t happen until its needed —

What does that even mean? How do you know when differentiation is “needed”? Why grow a fetus at all, why not a blob of identical cells that on the last couple days of pregnancy differentiate and form a baby?

What’s happening in the womb has more to do with history than with necessity or design.

You’re speculating too, just like me. You don’t know when differentiation is really needed. And needed for what?

…it’s real handy to have the whole program available in every cell,…

Why? What’s it good for? Why does your skin cell need to have information for making a bone marrow or liver cell?

Is this god telling us that he wants us to practice cloning? That seems to be the only advantage to all that information being in a skin cell.

and it’s done by the simplest duplication process — “dup all”. Anything else is likely to need much more mechanism.

Differentiation requires mechanism, period. Since we don’t really understand the mechanisms of differentiation you can’t be sure that it would be more or less mechanism needed to edit DNA at cell division time.

We simply don’t differentiate as completely as is logically possible. Real differentiation would include different genomes for different cells. Cells that already have mechanisms for cutting and editing DNA sequences.

Things would be simpler if we were all sponges. Simplicity isn’t always the best solution for our desires.

There would be advantages to smaller skin cell genomes:
Faster healing.
Lower risk of cancer.
Less dead weight and more room for functional mechanism.
Smaller, stronger cells.

Comment #58561

Posted by Wayne Francis on November 18, 2005 2:36 AM (e)

One thing I’d like to mention about cells having all the genetic information for the entire organism is, like another poster put it, it is probably more efficient then having just the bits you need and some new mechanism that is responsible for deciding what bits need to go where. Also I don’t think it would even work if you could. Its not like the material for growing a finger is at position n on chromosome o and a toe is at position p on chromosome q. Development is a cascading series of signals.

Life is very interesting. Take Abigail and Brittany Hensel, a set of conjoined twins. Outwardly they look like a 2 headed girl. Realistically they are twins that share a single pelvis and set of legs but have many independent organs including 2 hearts, 2 sets of lungs and 1 over all circulatory system. During development the DNA of these girls didn’t say “OK I’m going to be a shoulder and I go here.” The cells developed and sensed other development going on and adapted. Their 2 heart don’t work against each other. The girls should be happy they basically have 1 spare heart. If one heart stopped working the girls would still live.

I am not trying to claim this is why it is the way it is. Abigail and Brittany are a rare exception but it does demonstrate that the current setup is very flexible as far as developmental pressures go. Remember too that it is quiet possible for a gene that might primarily deal with development of features in the head could in the future be used somewhere else in the body. If that gene was not there tho that new function may never have occured. Thus having every cell have all the genetic information aids in evolutionary development.

Comment #58565

Posted by Alan Fox on November 18, 2005 3:04 AM (e)

I response to my

… we can’t speculate on what we don’t know…

Norman replied

Oh, yes you can. That’s how you start learning those things you don’t know, by imagining things that might be. Then you test those speculations and call them “theories.”

Sorry, Norman, even as I read what I wrote after posting, I heard myself saying, why not. I should have unserted “usefully”. Theorising is not done in the abstract (usefully anyway), one at least begins by looking for a problem to solve. One is only speculating on the gap bounded by current knowledge, and building on that existing knowledge (shoulders of giants). You can, I concede, speculate on the unknown, by extending from the known, but I have seen nothing on this thread where anyone has come up with anything new. If you live in a 3- dimensional world, you are not well equipped to examine 4,5,6…

Comment #58566

Posted by Wayne Francis on November 18, 2005 3:04 AM (e)

The Bulletin is a magazine in Australia that announced it would offer a 1.25-million-dollar (Australian) reward for the capture of a live and uninjured animal. People had 3 months to find one….no one claimed the prize.

Comment #58568

Posted by Wayne Francis on November 18, 2005 3:15 AM (e)

woops posted to wrong thread

Comment #58572

Posted by Tim Hague on November 18, 2005 4:17 AM (e)

There’s some great stuff in the thread. Norman Doering has posted some interesting speculation and I find those armoured scale insects mentioned by Anton Mates absolutely fascinating.

I’m still working on some other ways we could organise human development that would be more efficient than growth from a single cell. I’ve come up with more stuff than I can reasonable fit on a discussion thread, so I’m going to stick it all on my blog and post some highlights. It might take a while, I have to work in the meantime as well!

Some of the background stuff I’ve been thinking about:

There are already multiple genomes in a human cell - the human genome in the nucleus, plus the genetic material in mitochondria and ribosomes as well. If you like, humans are ‘chimeric’. If we only exchanged genetic information from two nucleii we would not function - we need a large egg cell with mitochondria and ribosomes (that know how to replicate themselves) as well.

There is no ‘human genome’, because no two humans are genetically identical (apart from identical twins).

Why we reproduce in the first place. Essentially because we die. If we didn’t die we wouldn’t need to reproduce - but then where would we come from in the first place? (I’m not sure how productive this line of thought is going to be!).

All mechanisms so far are based on the cell as the basic unit of life. I’m also using DNA as my genetic material. These are implicit assumptions which I’m not going to deviate from (yet!).

Some of the other (potential) mechanisms I’m considering:

A ball of two hundred plus differentiated haploid cells with seperate (simpler) genomes. That would completely change the way we looked at a ‘species’ mind you! I’m not sure it would fly with morphological changes though because we could be changing more than tissue type at the same time (similiar problem to the one Wayne Francis has mentioned above).

Multiple nucleii in a single cell with a split up genome - one nucleus for basic ‘housekeeping’ genes, the others for differentiation. A germ cell could have them all, differentiated cells get only the nucleii they need. This is similar to red blood cells not getting a nucleus at all.

A viral form of reproduction rather than the exchange of two complete copies of the genome.

Comment #58573

Posted by Alan Fox on November 18, 2005 4:24 AM (e)

Wayne makes my point for me here, Norman

I’m also using DNA as my genetic material. These are implicit assumptions which I’m not going to deviate from (yet!).

Comment #58574

Posted by Alan Fox on November 18, 2005 4:26 AM (e)

Apologies to Wayne.

Tim Hague is making my point for me.

Comment #58575

Posted by guthrie on November 18, 2005 5:40 AM (e)

Mr Hague-
It’s hard to think of any means of making humans that is more efficient than the current method. Start with something small, grow it, then let it go on its own. If you had to donate more of your own cells, then it would surely cost more to you because of the energy etc needs.

As for not dieing, it seems ot be an unavoidable consequence because of accumulation of errors in DNA etc. Yet other animals and cells manage not to accumulate so much, so theres clearly room for improvement.
ACtually I think i would like to try all this with a YEC or suchlike. I shall have to move over to your blog this evening and have some speculation.

Comment #58581

Posted by Tim Hague on November 18, 2005 6:46 AM (e)

guthrie wrote:

It’s hard to think of any means of making humans that is more efficient than the current method. Start with something small, grow it, then let it go on its own. If you had to donate more of your own cells, then it would surely cost more to you because of the energy etc needs.

Morbius has been saying the same thing. I have a sneaking suspicion that you are both probably right, however I think it’s an interesting subject to consider, so I’m going to bury that suspicion and work with the subject for a bit.

There are certainly some inefficiences in the current process as well - such as having to copy all that DNA every time (junk and all) and also the volume of sperm cells (energy investment) a human male produces every day, whether he needs them or not.

Comment #58583

Posted by Renier on November 18, 2005 7:12 AM (e)

Question. Who decides on what DNA is junk and what is not? How is it determined that a piece of DNA has mutated in a negative way and lost its function? Is the mapping of the human gnome 100% complete?

Comment #58612

Posted by Flint on November 18, 2005 10:24 AM (e)

geogeek:

I generally agree with you, but I have one counter-example.

Actually, I have a good many counterexamples, so the statement “facts don’t change values” is, as you say, generally the case, as a rule of thumb. But you don’t have to look very far to find a hefty sampling of genuine conversions, in (mostly, as I see it) cases where values and facts were in direct conflict, and where individuals elected to follow the facts. This happens often enough.

I don’t know if there are distinguishing characteristics involved here or not, and I would hesitate to say there are, because it would probably be special pleading. To me, the notion of abortion being right or wrong isn’t fact-based in any way, it’s a pure social protocol. However, the value that holds homosexuality as a sin *requires* that it be a choice - if you’re born that way, you didn’t sin. Perhaps this value is more sensitive to such a factual determination.

Perhaps there is a kind of statistical continuum here, where at one end certain values are loosely held and sensitive to facts, and at the other the values have nothing to do with the facts. And I visualize this sensitivity as being a function of BOTH the value and the person holding it. And I think it’s pretty well agreed-on (perhaps even correct) that people slide toward ossification as they grow older. The goal of both sides in the great evolution/creation debate is to get to children early enough to set their values as values, before facts can muddy the ideology. The very essence of creationism relies on rendering people unreceptive to facts BEFORE they encounter them. I agree this training doesn’t always “take” completely.

Comment #58617

Posted by Tim Hague on November 18, 2005 10:51 AM (e)

The very essence of creationism relies on rendering people unreceptive to facts BEFORE they encounter them.

I would add logic to that as well. Immunity to both facts and logic is a truly formidable combination.

Comment #58757

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 18, 2005 7:01 PM (e)

Take Abigail and Brittany Hensel, a set of conjoined twins. Outwardly they look like a 2 headed girl. Realistically they are twins that share a single pelvis and set of legs

(scratches head) If someone were to marry one of them, would he be guilty of bigamy?

Sorry, just thinking out loud.

Comment #58830

Posted by k.e. on November 19, 2005 8:41 AM (e)

Flint and Tim Hague


Immunity to both facts and logic is a truly formidable combination.

There is nothing new here, it is a perennial problem.

That’s why man created Myth so even those less able to deal with facts and logic can still understand themselves and infinity.

Through symbols with universal meaning a way of fulfillment and understanding other cultures and even more our own can be achieved.

Ignorance of Mans relationship with the universe can be programmed into children as we see now.

William Blake

Holy Thursday(Songs of Experience)
Is this a holy thing to see,
In a rich and fruitful land,
Babes reduced to misery,
Fed with cold and usurous hand?

Is that trembling cry a song!
Can it be a song of joy?
And so many children poor,
It is a land of poverty!

And their sun does never shine.
And their fields are bleak & bare.
And their ways are fill’d with thorns
It is eternal winter there.

For where-e’er the sun does shine,
And where-e’er the rain does fall:
Babe can never hunger there,
Nor poverty the mind appall.

God help us when those Myths and symbols are subverted for godless purpose.

William Blake

The Human Abstract(Songs of Experience)

Pity would be no more,
If we did not make somebody Poor:
And Mercy no more could be,
If all were as happy as we;

And mutual fear brings peace;
Till the selfish loves increase.
Then Cruelty knits a snare,
And spreads his baits with care.

He sits down with holy fears,
And waters the ground with tears:
Then Humility takes its root
Underneath his foot.

Soon spreads the dismal shade
Of Mystery over his head;
And the Catterpiller and Fly,
Feed on the Mystery.

And it bears the fruit of Deceit,
Ruddy and sweet to eat;
And the Raven his nest has made
In its thickest shade.

The Gods of the earth and sea,
Sought thro’ Nature to find this Tree
But their search was all in vain:
There grows one in the Human Brain

But then thats why Shiva created Lenny, (and all the rest helping here)

http://www.askasia.org/frclasrm/lessplan/l000052.htm

Science and Art and Myth can shine the light of Knowledge
-and keep in mind the Children for they are our future.

William Blake
Holy Thursday(Songs of Innocence)
’Twas on a Holy Thursday, their innocent faces clean,
The children walking two & two, in red & blue & green,
Grey-headed beadles walk’d before, with wands as white as snow,
Till into the high dome of Paul’s they like Thames’ waters flow.

O what a multitude they seem’d, these flowers of London town!
Seated in companies they sit with radiance all their own.
The hum of multitudes was there, but multitudes of lambs,
Thousands of little boys & girls raising their innocent hands.

Now like a mighty wind they raise to heaven the voice of song,
Or like harmonious thunderings the seats of heaven among.
Beneath them sit the aged men, wise guardians of the poor;
Then cherish pity, lest you drive an angel from your door.

If god were alive today he would be an Atheist
-Kurt Vonnegut.

Comment #58834

Posted by k.e. on November 19, 2005 9:27 AM (e)

Morbius
This goes back to your Revelation regarding naturalism and the effect it had on my ego.

I must say ‘I died a little death’ when I read that.
And I agree science will find the reward paths in the brain with regard to altruism/trust/guilt and other members of the ID which myth/religion attempt to decode and may provide help for the insane. Can science apply the ‘Nash equilibrium,’ to our personal and global dealings ?

Ego is definitely something man must come to terms with however I very much doubt that science will find a way to explain it thoroughly , maybe I am wrong.

One of the real mysteries is why doesn’t Myth/religion answer this ?

Well this has to be one of the best kept secrets for 2500 years and is hidden behind words such as re-incarnation and Re-birth / Resurrection.

http://www.angelfire.com/electronic/bodhidharma/ego.html

Comment #58839

Posted by Alan Fox on November 19, 2005 10:34 AM (e)

If someone were to marry one of them, would he be guilty of bigamy?

Lenny, I am normally a great admirer of your posts, but this is in very poor taste. Furthermore, wouldn’t you need to marry both of them to be a bigamist?

Comment #58840

Posted by steve s on November 19, 2005 11:06 AM (e)

Speaking of poor taste, I’m going to have to stop checking PT from work because I don’t want Penetrating Shaft’s name raising alarm bells.

Comment #58852

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 19, 2005 1:48 PM (e)

Lenny, I am normally a great admirer of your posts, but this is in very poor taste.

None intended. I’m just curious (in a car-wreck sort of way) about how the legal system would deal with such a situation.

Furthermore, wouldn’t you need to marry both of them to be a bigamist?

Well, perhaps “adultery” would be more accurate than “bigamy”. After all, since they together have only one … uh… well, *you know*, then anyone who married one of them would have to . . uh … well, *you know* … with, well, BOTH of them at once. Aren’t there laws against that in some jurisdictions?

Suppose a child results —- who, exactly, would get listed as “the mother”?

Comment #58867

Posted by Alan Fox on November 19, 2005 4:33 PM (e)

Does DNA fingerprinting work with identical twins? Enough of these hypothetical questions; head explosion imminent!

Comment #58873

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 19, 2005 4:52 PM (e)

Does DNA fingerprinting work with identical twins?

They both have the same DNA. Unless they are not really identical twins but conjoined fraternal twins. But then, would not their immune systems recognize each other’s cells as “foreign” and try to destroy them?

Where’s Solomon when you need him?

Comment #58874

Posted by Alan Fox on November 19, 2005 5:04 PM (e)

Conjoined twins are invariably identical, so, one child has two mothers.

Comment #58876

Posted by Stephen Elliott on November 19, 2005 5:23 PM (e)

Quick question.
Do identical twins have the same fingerprint?
If not; where does the fingerprint “design” (ugh! couldn’t rhink of a better word) come from?

Comment #58880

Posted by Alan Fox on November 19, 2005 6:09 PM (e)

Quick answer:
Yes. The DNA is identical.

Comment #58890

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 19, 2005 7:08 PM (e)

No, I think Stephen is referring to finger fingerprints, not DNA fingerprints.

IIRC, fingerprints aren’t genetically determined, so I’d doubt that identical twins have the same fingerprints.

Anyone know anything more?

Comment #58891

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 19, 2005 7:10 PM (e)

Well, turns out that we weren’t the first ones to wonder, after all:

http://www.straightdope.com/classics/a980821.html

Comment #58901

Posted by Stephen Elliott on November 19, 2005 7:48 PM (e)

TY Lenny,
seems very similar to info at this site.
http://multiples.about.com/cs/funfacts/a/twinfingerprint.htm
Difference being; this deals with identical twins.
Can’t imagine quintuplets being identical. Hard to envision a human “egg” splitting into 5. Don’t suppose it is impossible though.

BTW. Used the quote, cos I don’t know how to do the blue writing link.

Comment #58902

Posted by Stephen Elliott on November 19, 2005 7:50 PM (e)

BTW. Used the quote, cos I don’t know how to do the blue writing link.

Oh! My bad…it worked through sheer luck.

Comment #58925

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 20, 2005 12:18 AM (e)

It’s automatic – anything that starts with http gets transformed into a link. :>

Comment #58933

Posted by Wayne Francis on November 20, 2005 1:44 AM (e)

Comment # 58757

'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank wrote:

Comment #58757
Posted by ‘Rev Dr’ Lenny Flank on November 18, 2005 07:01 PM (e) (s)

(scratches head) If someone were to marry one of them, would he be guilty of bigamy?
Sorry, just thinking out loud.

Actually that is interesting Lenny. Some of the laws these christian fundamental homophobic biggets are trying to bring in to “preserve the sanctity of marriage” from being corrupted by gay marriages will have far reaching effect. This is because of the way they are trying to define “Male” and “Female” to stop trans-gender people from also getting married. They are narrowing down the definition to chromosomal base on X& Y chromosomes. The problem is about 1 in 500 people have abnormalities with their sex chromosome that could render their marriage illegal under the proposed laws. I personally know a male with Klinefelter syndrome. By the definitions that some of these laws take he is neither male or female and would not be allowed to get married. Like wise XY females would be forced to stay single.

Comment #58959

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 20, 2005 8:26 AM (e)

So the fundies would have to pass the equivilent of the Nuremburg Laws, to decide who is and who isn’t, eh?

Comment #58966

Posted by Wayne Francis on November 20, 2005 10:06 AM (e)

Lenny, I my view….Yes. They are trying to define people they do not like as 2nd class citizens that are not worthy of the same rights they enjoy. People like Neurode (spelling) are all for this type of tactic. He’ll make claims that he has “gay friends” but I wonder how much these friends of his consider him the same if they knew how much of their rights he would gladly take away from them.

I joined the USMC because I feel strongly about what our founding fathers set up. All people are equal and deserve the same rights. Not just people that share a narrow view of a few religious biggits. When we start making specialized laws to restrict certain types of people then we are going down the road that will completely destroy what America stands for in my eyes. Bush and his political team make me sick from the torturing and killing of people to try to get confessions to the twisting and passing of laws that by pass the checks and balances and transparency that should make our legal system a model for the world. They don’t recognize human rights and due process and it makes me sick.

If it gets to the point where the US political system acts to much like the Nazi party then I would not hesitate to join others and rise up to protect that which made America great. I hope that the Judicial branch will keep this from happening. I would love for our system to self correct instead of requiring a new revolution.

Comment #58969

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 20, 2005 10:24 AM (e)

Amen, brother.

Comment #58973

Posted by Stephen Elliott on November 20, 2005 11:12 AM (e)

I wonder what makes a person fundamentalist.
Those Nazis trying to pass themselves off as Christian make my blood run cold.
I am starting to think that they have pretty reprehensible views in the first place; then twist the words of the Bible to suit their personal opinion.

Comment #58974

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 20, 2005 11:26 AM (e)

Now might be a good time to remind everyone just what the fundie agenda is, if they ever get real political power. They make no secret of it:

http://www.geocities.com/lflank/fundies.htm

Comment #59627

Posted by Leon on November 23, 2005 6:10 PM (e)

Wayne,

That’s “bigot”, not “biggit”. :) Just FYI. And I agree with your postings. Damn right-wingers.

Comment #59960

Posted by Wayne Francis on November 25, 2005 1:19 AM (e)

Leon, Thank you guess I should spell check things more.