PvM posted Entry 1824 on December 22, 2005 09:14 PM.
Trackback URL: http://www.pandasthumb.org/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.fcgi/1819

It seems that Dembski has decided to ‘decisively’ move the goalposts of ID further out and although in earlier writings he did mention the possibility of ‘front loading’, he also considered such possibilities to be unlikely and ‘deistic’ in nature.

Now he may have clarified his position:

Dembski wrote:

Let’s cut to the chase: Is the designer responsible for biological complexity God? Even as a very traditional Christian and an ardent proponent of ID, I would say NOT NECESSARILY. To ask who or what is the designer of a particular object is to ask for the immediate intelligent agent responsible for its design. The point is that God is able to work through derived or surrogate intelligences, which can be anything from angels to organizing principles embedded in nature.

For instance, just because I hold to both Christian theism and ID doesn’t mean that God directly designed and implemented the bacterial flagellum by specifically toggling its components. It could well have happened by a process of natural genetic engineering of the sort envisioned by James Shapiro. The design would be no less real, but God’s role in the design would be distant, not proximal.

Philosophers have long distinguished between primary and secondary causes. The problem is that under the pall of methodological naturalism, secondary causes have been identified with purely materialistic processes. But it’s perfectly legitimate for secondary causes to include teleological processes. I develop all this at length in THE DESIGN REVOLUTION.

Anything from angels to organizing principles, I clearly see the scientific value of ID here. And the logical conclusion from Dembski’s admissions about front-loading is that natural explanations would be able to explain the origin of such features as the bacterial flagellum. Thus, lacking any further evidence, science would be unable to reach a conclusion of ‘intelligent design’ as the evidence would be hidden beyond our observations. In other words, Intelligent Design has moved itself further into the realm of scientific vacuity.

Not bad for a days work though. Boy do I wish Dembski had testified at the Dover trial.

I find it fascinating that Dembski on the one hand seems to be arguing that complex specified information requires a supernatural origin while on the other hand arguing that CSI can in fact be explained by natural law alone. Whether or not a supernatural designer was responsible for the front loading is a question science cannot answer.
Which is exactly why Intelligent Design makes for poor science and good apologetics. As such, I start to understand more and more why Dembski has returned to apologetics.

Given the recent scientific progress, it may not come as a surprise to see ID proponents retreat to front-loading.

It’s however quite educational to see what Dembski has written on this topic in the past and how various ID critics have pointed out the problems involved with such arguments:

In earlier writings, Dembski wrote:

When humans, for instance, act as [embodied] intelligent agents, there is no reason to think that any natural law is broken. Likewise, should an unembodied designer act to bring about a bacterial flagellum, there is no reason prima facie to suppose that this designer did not act consistently with natural laws. It is, for instance, a logical possibility that the design in the bacterial flagellum was front-loaded into the universe at the Big Bang and subsequently expressed itself in the course of natural history as a miniature outboard motor on the back of E. coli.

Thus returning to the distinction between apparant and actual CSI, an issue raised by Wesley Elsberry and which Dembski has yet to fully address.

Howard van Till exposes the flaws in Dembski’s stance

Elsewhere in No Free Lunch, however, Dembski makes it abundantly clear that he is no friend of this “front-loading” hypothesis. Dembski’s Intelligent Designer is one who interacts with the universe in the course of time. The design action posited to actualize the bacterial flagellum, as we shall see, is an action that occurs long after the Big Bang. Furthermore, since Dembski argues vigorously that the assembling of E. coli’s flagellum could not have come about naturally, the question is, How could the Intelligent Designer bring about a naturally impossible outcome by interacting with a bacterium in the course of time without either a suspension or overriding of natural laws?Dembski could argue here that the natural assembling of the first flagellum is not absolutely impossible, only highly improbable. While that might be technically true, the whole of Dembski’s argumentation…Natural laws (which entail the probabilities for various outcomes) would have led to the outcome, no flagellum. Instead, a flagellum appeared as the outcome of the Intelligent Designer’s action. Is that is not a miracle, what is? How can this be anything other than a supernatural intervention?

Source: Link

And Jack Krebs points out that:

Krebs wrote:

Dembski also dismisses “front-loading,” - the idea that somehow all the information necessary for life was pre-existent at the Big Bang and then mechanically worked itself out at the proper time. He considers this a “logical possibility”, but later dismisses it as deistic.

Source: Link

See also Dembski: The displacement problem and the law of conservation of CSI

And although Dembski allows for the possibility of front-loading he also seems to reject it based on various reasons.

But simply to allow that a designer has imparted information into the natural world is not enough. There are many thinkers who are sympathetic to design but who prefer that all the design in the world be front-loaded. The advantage of putting all the design in the world at, say, the initial moment of the Big Bang is that it minimizes the conflict between design and science as currently practiced. A designer who front-loads the design of the world imparts all the world’s information before natural causes become operational and express that information in the course of natural history. In effect, there’s no need to think of the world as an informationally open system. Rather, we can still think of it mechanistically–like the outworking of a complicated differential equation, albeit with the initial and boundary conditions designed. The impulse to front-load design is deistic, and I expect any theories about front-loaded design to be just as successful as deism was historically, which always served as an unsatisfactory halfway house between theism (with its informationally open universe) and naturalism (which insists the universe remain informationally closed).

Source: Link

And of course an ironic comment:

Take the Cambrian explosion in biology, for instance. David Jablonsky, James Valentine, and even Stephen Jay Gould (when he’s not fending off the charge of aiding creationists) admit that the basic metazoan body-plans arose in a remarkably short span of geological time (5 to 10 million years) and for the most part without any evident precursors (there are some annelid tracks as well as evidence of sponges leading up to the Cambrian, but that’s about it with regard to metazoans; single-celled organisms abound in the Precambrian). Assuming that the animals fossilized in the Cambrian exhibit design, where did that design come from? To be committed to front-loaded design means that all these body-plans that first appeared in the Cambrian were in fact already built in at the Big Bang (or whenever that information was front-loaded), that the information for these body-plans was expressed in the subsequent history of the universe, and that if we could but uncover enough about the history of life, we would see how the information expressed in the Cambrian fossils merely exploits information that was already in the world prior to the Cambrian period. Now that may be, but there is no evidence for it. All we know is that information needed to build the animals of the Cambrian period was suddenly expressed at that time and with no evident informational precursors.

While at the time Dembski wrote this, there was not much evidence that there were informational precursors, science has since then shown in exquisite detail how evolution ties together the Cambrian explosion. In other words, recent research on the Cambrian may help explain why Dembski may be abandoning his earlier stance on front loading but such a move also serves to further undermine the scientific relevance of ID. Valentine, who is quoted by Dembski, now admits that natural selection very well may explain the Cambrian explosion.

Valentine wrote:

The title of this book, modeled on that of the greatest biological work ever written, is in homage to the greatest biologist who has ever lived. Darwin himself puzzled over but could not cover the ground that is reviewed here, simply because the relevant fossils, genes, and their molecules, end even the body plans of many of the phyla, were quite unknown in his day. Nevertheless, the evidence from these many additional souces of data simply confirm that Darwin was correct in his conclusions that all living things have descended from a commmon anscestor and can be placed within a tree of life, and that the principle process guiding their descent has been natural selection.

The data on which this book is based have accumulated over the nearly century and a half since Darwin published On the Origin of Species, some gradually, but much in a rush in the last several decades. I have been working on this book for well over a decade, and much of that time has been spent in trying to keep up with the flood of incredibly interesting findings reported from outcrops and laboratories. I am stopping now not because there is a lull in the pace of new discoveries (which if anything is still picking up), but because there never will be a natural stopping place anyway, and because the outlines of early metazoan history have gradually emerged from mysteries to testable hypotheses.

(Valentine On the origin of phyla 2004, preface)

Of course Dembski’s solution to God imparting information into His Creation? Using an infinite wavelength (can anyone tell us what’s so obviously wrong with this?)

How much energy is required to impart information? We have sensors that can detect quantum events and amplify them to the macroscopic level. What’s more, the energy in quantum events is proportional to frequency or inversely proportional to wavelength. And since there is no upper limit to the wavelength of, for instance, electromagnetic radiation, there is no lower limit to the energy required to impart information. In the limit, a designer could therefore impart information into the universe without inputting any energy at all.

Or as RBH observes

That is, Dembski invokes a zero-energy (and therefore zero channel capacity) infinite wavelength (and therefore unfocusable) communication channel. One also wonders what sort of modulation of a zero-energy infinite-wavelength signal would encode the ‘information’.

His colleague Behe is far more forthcoming as to the nature of the “ID hypothesis”

On November 11, 2002, Larry Arnhart reported on a lecture by Behe at Hillsdale:

At Hillsdale, after his public lecture, I challenged Behe in a small-group discussion to give us a positive statement of exactly how the “Intelligent Designer” creates bacterial flagella. As usual, he was evasive. But I didn’t let him get away. And finally, he answered: “In a puff of smoke!” A physicist in our group asked, “Do you mean that the Intelligent Designer suspends the laws of physics through working a miracle?” And Behe answered: “Yes.”.

Original source. The date on this quote has since been confirmed by Larry Arnhart. It occurred in discussion after Behe’s talk at Hillsdale College, which was having a series of talks on the “Intelligent Design Debate” [1]

Source: Link

It should be clear by now that the ID argument that God could have front-loaded His Creation saves ID from the embarassment of flawed predictions but also renders it scientifically useless.

Commenters are responsible for the content of comments. The opinions expressed in articles, linked materials, and comments are not necessarily those of PandasThumb.org. See our full disclaimer.

Comment #64289

Posted by PuckSR on December 22, 2005 9:54 PM (e)

Wow….from my previous experience with Dembski and his followers…I was under the impression that they had “disproven” Deism. I cannot believe that he is now supporting front-loading.

What is wrong with this picture? The evolution of a scientific principle should not directly parallel the evolution of theological principles. Maybe next Dembski will suggest that the design itself is “God”. (Pantheism)

Comment #64290

Posted by djlactin on December 22, 2005 9:59 PM (e)

Dembski is not just ‘moving the goalposts’, he’s dragging them down into a hole after himself, and burying them in manure.

Comment #64293

Posted by Norman Doering on December 22, 2005 10:17 PM (e)

Wait, hasn’t he backed the goal posts right into the area now claimed by the “anthropic principle”?

Comment #64295

Posted by PaulC on December 22, 2005 10:23 PM (e)

The only question I have about Dembski is whether he has always been dishonest or whether he only started backpedaling when it became clear to him that his mathematical arguments were not going to give him the result he wanted.

If you believe that front-loading is sufficient to result in the ultimate development of sentient humans following natural laws (I believe it is sufficient but not necessary) then you’re left with the possibility that the right information was front-loaded due to chance.

At this point, even a very small probability won’t give you a reasonable conclusion of implausibility unless you also make assumptions about the number of statistical trials involved. Now, the best cosmology may tell us that the universe is a certain size and that the big bang happened exactly once and will be followed by continued expansion. In this case, you might conclude that the probability of a certain event happening anywhere is vanishingly small. Still, this conclusion is made based on what we can observe. Add one very simple (unfalsifiable) hypothesis, such as the existence of other universes with their own big bangs and random initial conditions, or universes that bifurcate as in the “many worlds” interpretation of quantum events, and now the statistical arguments have no power at all: if only one out of a zillion to the zillion universes produce sentient life, these are still the only ones that intelligent life will exist to observe. Thus, there is no great surprise that we live in one.

It’s dangerous to bring up the above point, since it distracts from the sound evidence showing that evolution works nothing like a “tornado in a junkyard producing a 747” and in fact proceeds through a series of reasonably probable beneficial mutations. My guess is that a wide class of complex dynamic systems allowed to run long enough would exhibit something like evolution and produce sentient life with probability close to 1. Our universe just happens to be one from this class. So-called “fine-tuning” may be needed to support human-like beings, but other systems could support other forms of sentience. But even if I’m wrong, and what you need to get intelligent life is for reality to be much larger in scale than what we are able to observe, this seems more parsimonious than the idea that it is fundamentally different in kind from what we observe, containing beings of great mysterious power who capriciously violate uniformity.

My conclusion is that Dembski understands the vacuity of his life’s work (or of the past decade anyway) and its inability to disprove much of anything despite his most strenuous use of probabilistic formalism.

Comment #64297

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 22, 2005 10:27 PM (e)

Hey, if Dembski is gonna go with the “frontloading” thingie, then I wanna ask HIM to show me a frontloaded gene for cobra toxin in a garter snake.

Or a frontloaded gene for chlorophyll in any animal.

Blast made an awful mess of it. Let’s see if Isaac can do any better…

Comment #64299

Posted by PaulC on December 22, 2005 10:38 PM (e)

Hey, if Dembski is gonna go with the “frontloading” thingie, then I wanna ask HIM to show me a frontloaded gene for cobra toxin in a garter snake.

I don’t think it yields a falsifiable proposition like that.

I think all you’d need to get any kind of frontloading is the proverbial butterfly flapping its wings a certain way at the time of the big bang. The effects could propagate subtly through the universe giving you “tornadoes in a junkyard” at just the right moments. The resulting genes might be indistinguishable from those produced by regular evolutionary processes.

Hmm… I guess quantum effects would cause a problem here, since the frontloading is likely to be overwhelmed by true randomness. A slightly more sensible alternative to front-loading would be the notion that God occasionally steps in and fixes the outcome of quantum events.

Comment #64301

Posted by k.e. on December 22, 2005 10:41 PM (e)

NEWS FLASH Dembski’s new book “THE CONFUSED DESIGNER” -life described as a confusion of ideas… designer seen running around without clothes…does not know he is _alive_. Broken eggs trying to be remade into the Holy Trinity, not sure if he will ever wake up …boo hoo hoo.

Comment #64305

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 22, 2005 10:51 PM (e)

I don’t think it yields a falsifiable proposition like that.

Oh, I’m quite sure it won’t yeild any falsifiable proposition AT ALL. Dembski learned his lesson. The hard way.

Maybe IDers *are* as bright as earthworms, after all.

Comment #64314

Posted by RupertG on December 23, 2005 12:12 AM (e)

The point is that God is able to work through derived or surrogate intelligences, which can be anything from angels to organizing principles embedded in nature… It could well have happened by a process of natural genetic engineering…

That natural genetic engineering and these organizing principles of which Dembski speaks - they couldn’t be mutation and natural selection with common descent, could they? And the front loading just the initial state of the universe?

In which case, er, we’re done here. (Ah, if only…)

R

Comment #64330

Posted by Carol Clouser on December 23, 2005 1:47 AM (e)

Setting aside the issue of Dembski’s and/or Behe’s vascillations and evasions, which in the larger scheme of things is really unimportant, the bottom line is that the designer could have performed the design with no suspension of the laws of nature in one of two ways: Either pushed the design back in time to, say, before the big bang (so called “front loading”) or intervened later in a manner that did not require the suspension of the natural order of things. This latter scenario could occur in one of two ways - the designer’s making choices where quantum mechanics provides for multiple outcomes with various probabilities or by acting as an agent of nature much as would a person who puts together a car without suspending the laws of nature.

In any event, nothing in this conflicts with science, and is admittedly scientifically useless. But two points need to be emphasized. One, these ideas are NOT based on religion. One could argue that if no religion had ever appeared on earth, and if the notion of God or gods were entirely unheard of, the ID arguments leading to a designer could still be made persuasively. True, the product of these ideas is coicident with a key religious idea, the existence of the designer, but so what? The process of arriving at the designer is different, so ID is NOT religion. Two, the fact that these ideas are not useful to science does not at all imply that they are not useful to humanity in other ways. They may even be powerfully helpful. The mere notion that there may be a purpose, a plan, a goal to our misreable existance may provide much comfort to some. Even that minimal contribution to humanity is valueable.

So here is a platform upon which all folks of good will can agree. So why not cease this mutual ridiculing and nit-picking and instead get together and clear the air.

Comment #64333

Posted by sir_toejam on December 23, 2005 2:03 AM (e)

So here is a platform upon which all folks of good will can agree

Carol, scientists didn’t start this fight, and if you take a look at what Richard Land had to say, I doubt there is much good will to be had.

you are being simplistic. stop it.

Comment #64339

Posted by Registered User on December 23, 2005 2:17 AM (e)

Carol

One could argue that if no religion had ever appeared on earth, and if the notion of God or gods were entirely unheard of, the ID arguments leading to a designer could still be made persuasively.

One could argue that the answer is an orange because a vest has no sleeves. It’s just as persuasive as your argument, Carol.

You keep mentioning “design” as if a lot of thought went into making 16S rRNA.

Why do deities need to think to create anything, including universes? I didn’t know deities were limited that way. Where do you get your information?

I was reading that thread over at Al Altschuler’s blog and this woman Deborah Spaeth was talking about “enterocraftic theory” which is an alternate theory to “ID” theory but without all the baggage associated with “purposes” and “plans.”

I don’t remember if your name came up or not, Carol. You might want to check it out.

Comment #64345

Posted by Mel on December 23, 2005 4:17 AM (e)

Spreading ID all over existence (the Big Bang, quantum mechanical probabilities, and the creation of composite existents) doesn’t change a thing. Whether one thinks that god(s) messed around in the Big Bang or is keeping my computer going at this very instant, it’s still religion and it’s worse that useless to science; it’s dangerous to science.

As for religion itself, I think it’s
basically preposterous and dangerous junk.
Faith is not a virtue; it’s a vice! So,
this person of good will isn’t going to
buy into any platform to push religion
into the public schools.

Comment #64346

Posted by limpidense on December 23, 2005 4:20 AM (e)

What? I don’t care to look for myself. but is that pompous blowhard Carol at the bottle again! Why does anyone bother to respond to her, since she is not equipped with the facility to understand, well, anything?

Comment #64348

Posted by Registered User on December 23, 2005 4:55 AM (e)

is that pompous blowhard Carol at the bottle again

You should party with her sometime. When she gets a little buzzed, she starts imitating her favorite sound: the cash register. A real hoot.

Comment #64363

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 23, 2005 7:33 AM (e)

Setting aside the issue of Dembski’s and/or Behe’s vascillations and evasions, which in the larger scheme of things is really unimportant

BWA HA HA HA HA HA !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! So lying is unimportant? Well, Carol, there are a boatload of fundies out there who would agree entirely with you. (snicker) (giggle)

Carol, your apologetics are on about a par with your science.

I suggest you give up on both of them, and just go back to shilling Landa’s book.

By the way, is it your opinion, or is it not, that your religious opinions ought to be accepted as “scientific evidence”?

Comment #64364

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 23, 2005 7:35 AM (e)

One could argue that if no religion had ever appeared on earth, and if the notion of God or gods were entirely unheard of, the ID arguments leading to a designer could still be made persuasively.

(yawn) Tell it to the judge.

Oh wait, IDers already DID. He thought it was a big steaming pile of stinking cow cakes. (snicker) (giggle) (howls of laughter)

ID shot its load, Carol. ID lost. Get used to it.

Comment #64366

Posted by David Heddle on December 23, 2005 8:12 AM (e)

If you buy that God used evolution as a secondary cause, i.e., theistic evolution, it may indeed mean you have abandoned hope to find any proof of ID in the diversity of life question. (I don’t that that is Dembski’s position–or if it is even close.) However, it does not, I suspect, mean that biological ID is dead. It may be more fruitful for IDers to concentrate on the origins of life question. In seems to me that IF the following turn out to be true:

1) Complex, intelligent life is carbon based and requires liquid water—because of the exceptional advantages of carbon chemistry with water as a solvent

2) Earthlike planets are exceedingly rare

3) The origin of life is rare, even for favorable conditions such as we have on earth

Then, again IF these all are true, there is a fascinating “improbability” problem, worthy of scientific research, very similar to the fine-tuning issue in physics.

It also seems to me that point one is on reasonably solid ground. Point 2 also has some evidentiary support—but is nowhere near a closed question, and Point 3 is completely up in the air.

I think it is great that Harvard is funding origins research.

Comment #64368

Posted by Steve LaBonne on December 23, 2005 8:38 AM (e)

Dembski is not and never has been a serious person- isn’t it time for serious people to start paying a lot less attention to him?

Comment #64369

Posted by KL on December 23, 2005 8:55 AM (e)

“Setting aside the issue of Dembski’s and/or Behe’s vascillations and evasions, which in the larger scheme of things is really unimportant,”

These are NOT unimportant. In the realm of scientific discourse, honesty is EVERYTHING. IF these guys are the “representatives of this idea, they are obligated to be transparent. In the realm of religion, it is also important. Either way, these folks should be dismissed until they OWN up to their deception, and even then, should not be taken seriously until they earn the trust back.

Comment #64371

Posted by Shirley Knott on December 23, 2005 9:17 AM (e)

Mr. Heddle, do you understand the difference between improbable and impossible?
Do you understand that the probability of any specific bridge hand is vanishingly low?
Do you understand that, post occurence, the probability of any occurence is 1?
Arguments from improbability are indistinguishable from arguments from incredulity, and thus may be ruled out on purely logical grounds.

hugs,
Shirley Knott

Comment #64372

Posted by David Heddle on December 23, 2005 9:33 AM (e)

No Shirley, you are wrong. When, in certain circumstances, scientists encounter something that is strangely improbable, they do not dismiss it as nothing more than an equally unlikely draw. It should be so painfully obvious that I don’t know how a rational person could make the claim you are making. Virtually all of cosmology and a lot of high energy physics is presently motivated by a scientific search to explain the anthropic coincidences. According to your logic, they should all move on to something else since, after all, the post-probability that we are here is 1, ergo the problem, according to Shirley Knott, has been forever declared uninteresting and solved. You should inform them that they are wasting their time. Start with Lenny Susskind.

All I stated in my post, is that it is possible biology could find itself in the same situation. But maybe not–maybe the origins research will demonstrate how, given the conditions of the early earth, life was not at all improbable. We will just have to wait and see how the science plays out.

Comment #64373

Posted by Ogee on December 23, 2005 9:36 AM (e)

Heddle is right: the argument from incredulity is probably just as applicable to biology as it is to cosmology.

Comment #64375

Posted by yellow fatty bean on December 23, 2005 9:52 AM (e)

Carol Clouser wrote:

One could argue that if no religion had ever appeared on earth, and if the notion of God or gods were entirely unheard of, the ID arguments leading to a designer could still be made persuasively.

Heh.

If the theory of evolution was NOT in conflict with the literal interperation(s) of the creation myth(s) laid out in Genesis, noone would have bothered to manufacture the notion of ID.

Comment #64383

Posted by Carol Clouser on December 23, 2005 10:30 AM (e)

Shirely Knott,

Taking your bridge hand analogy to its logical conclusion, if you were playing with someone who repeatedly keeps getting a highly improbably but very winning hand (I don’t know bridge, so whatever that hand is), would you not seriously consider that he/she was cheating and that you ought to take your playing elsewhere? In other words, would you not suspect DESIGN?

If an individual would win the lottery again and again and again, say 100 times in a row, would the authorities not launch a truly serious investigation? Better yet, would that not constitute a prima facia case for criminal charges? Would any sane person doubt DESIGN in this case?

Comment #64384

Posted by Ed Darrell on December 23, 2005 10:33 AM (e)

You know, Dembski hasn’t really changed anything. There is the one ringing consistency through all his rants: “To figure out what is going on, you must buy one of my books,” he says.

Do you think the seminary is paying him on a commission basis?

Comment #64385

Posted by Bob O'H on December 23, 2005 10:40 AM (e)

David Heddle wrote:

1) Complex, intelligent life is carbon based and requires liquid water—because of the exceptional advantages of carbon chemistry with water as a solvent

David Heddle wrote:

It also seems to me that point one is on reasonably solid ground.

Rubbish. I wish people wouldn’t extrapolate from a sample size of 1. We simply have no idea that this is true unless we either disprove it (by finding or creating life from something else), or if we observe several independent origins of life. Points 2 and 3 are also questionable at the moment, for similar reasons (i.e. lack of data).

In fairness, a lot of proper scientists make the same mistake, but that doesn’t make it right.

Bob

Comment #64386

Posted by noturus on December 23, 2005 10:41 AM (e)

Heddle said:
“In seems to me that IF the following turn out to be true:
1) Complex, intelligent life is carbon based and requires liquid water—because of the exceptional advantages of carbon chemistry with water as a solvent
2) Earthlike planets are exceedingly rare
3) The origin of life is rare, even for favorable conditions such as we have on earth
Then, again IF these all are true, there is a fascinating “improbability” problem, worthy of scientific research, very similar to the fine-tuning issue in physics.”

We can’t tell yet about #s 1 and 3 but all the evidence we do have on #2 is that Earthlike planets are quite probably common. And soon we will be able to tell if #3 is true by checking for the spectrum of free oxygen in the atmosphere of those planets once found. So what you should be asking yourself is: IF #2 is false, and IF #3 is false, will it change your mind one iota? If not you have what is known as an unfalsifiable hypothesis.

Comment #64388

Posted by Ed Darrell on December 23, 2005 10:55 AM (e)

David Heddle said:

If you buy that God used evolution as a secondary cause, i.e., theistic evolution, it may indeed mean you have abandoned hope to find any proof of ID in the diversity of life question.

Or it may mean that we’ve adopted a more wait-and-see view, an “agnostic” view of what is going on. It may mean that we’re content to contemplate awesome mysteries and see what we can learn.

Such a view appears incompatible with the God-surely-didit-myway crowd’s views. Too bad. Tough luck. There are more mysteries in nature than your philosophy can imagine, Heddle. The universe is not only queerer than you imagine, it is queerer than you can imagine. Letting God be God is far from “abandoning hope,” but is instead the beginning of learning, especially in science. Regret you disagree.

Comment #64392

Posted by David Heddle on December 23, 2005 11:09 AM (e)

noturus,

but all the evidence we do have on #2 is that Earthlike planets are quite probably common

Really? I’m not aware of any such evidence. Yet you say “all” the evidence? Where is this evidence? Do you have any references? (peer-reviewed, not popular science)

Bob O’H,

About the carbon based requirement, just because you declare it as rubbish, it doesn’t make it so. It is not just IDers who have concluded that complex, intelligent life requires complex chemistry that can support large molecules as building blocks and for information storage. It is not just IDers who then say that the best possible candidate for that role is carbon based chemistry and liquid water. Your cavalier dismissal carries no weight–unless you have a theory of complex life without complex chemistry. Otherwise, your are just preaching a sermon that contains no science.

Comment #64395

Posted by Ogee on December 23, 2005 11:26 AM (e)

Heddle wrote:

Really? I’m not aware of any such evidence. Yet you say “all” the evidence? Where is this evidence? Do you have any references? (peer-reviewed, not popular science)

Hmm… where are those (peer-reviewed, not popular science) references for the “evidentiary support” you claim for “Earthlike planets are exceedingly rare”?

[you] are just preaching a sermon that contains no science.

Where have we seen that before?

Comment #64397

Posted by steve s on December 23, 2005 11:36 AM (e)

Comment #64366

Posted by David Heddle on December 23, 2005 08:12 AM (e) (s)

…However, it does not, I suspect, mean that biological ID is dead. It may be more fruitful for IDers to concentrate on the origins of life question. In seems to me that IF the following turn out to be true:

Then, again IF these all are true, there is a fascinating “improbability” problem, worthy of scientific research, very similar to the fine-tuning issue in physics.

ID is an improbability problem? I’m so confused. Creationists always send such mixed messages. Why, just the other day I heard that probabilities aren’t relevant to ID…

Comment #48005

Posted by David Heddle on September 14, 2005 06:42 AM (e) (s)

Aureola,

Sigh. The value of the constants, or indeed how likely those values are, is irrelevant. It is their sensitivity that is important. Otherwise it would be a God in the Gaps argument, and it isn’t.

If a given constant has to be within a certain (constrained) range for life to exist, it doesn’t matter whether its probability is essentially zero (meaning, perhaps, we don’t know why it has its value) or one (some new theory has shown why it has to have that value.)

Comment #64400

Posted by Wislu Plethora on December 23, 2005 11:57 AM (e)

I think Saul Bellow must have had Heddle in mind when he wrote:

A great deal of intelligence can be invested in ignorance when the need for illusion is deep.

Comment #64401

Posted by Aureola Nominee, FCD on December 23, 2005 11:58 AM (e)

People,

am I the only one to see that Mr. Heddle is, once again, playing a fast one with words and probability?

2) Earthlike planets are exceedingly rare

What the heck does “exceedingly rare” mean? One in one hundred? One in a million? One in a billion? How do you compute that: by counting how many planets exist in our universe and how many of them have “earthlike” conditions and expressing this as a probability?
Our solar system includes at least one planet with “earthlike” conditions out of 9 (so far, and discounting recent controversies over the “planethood” of one or more celestial bodies in our neighbourhood). What does that mean, Mr. Heddle? That we can expect earthlike planets to be 1 in 10?

On the other hand, what if one solar system in a billion included an earthlike planet? Our galaxy is estimated to include at least 200 billion stars; let’s be generous and assume that the average is of two stars per system, that leaves us with at least 100 billion systems, and 100 earthlike planets in our galaxy alone.
Is this “exceedingly rare”?

It’s still far, far too common, I’ll bet, for people who’ve decided that our planet must be unique in the universe…

Comment #64402

Posted by yellow fatty bean on December 23, 2005 12:01 PM (e)

Well, the fraction of space in the universe occupied by earth-like planets is 1

Does that help?

Comment #64416

Posted by Tice with a J on December 23, 2005 12:47 PM (e)

Aureola Nominee, FCD wrote:

On the other hand, what if one solar system in a billion included an earthlike planet? Our galaxy is estimated to include at least 200 billion stars; let’s be generous and assume that the average is of two stars per system, that leaves us with at least 100 billion systems, and 100 earthlike planets in our galaxy alone.
Is this “exceedingly rare”?

If you consider the number of galaxies out there, and the fact that a lot of them are probably a lot like our galaxy, then, even if you reduce the number to one in a trillion, then you get a staggeringly huge number of earthlike planets. Why, even if only one in a thousand galaxies contains just one earthlike planet, and the rest have none at all, you still get about a billion earthlike planets in existence. I find that comforting for religious reasons; I believe that God created ‘worlds without number’.

In fact, the number I gave is really a low bound. There could be thousands of life-supporting planets in our galaxy alone. Our astronomy is only good enough to detect gas giants and massive rings of dust. Earthlike planets could be a dime a dozen, and we still wouldn’t see them.

I believe that the scope of God’s work is beyond our ability to detect, and that the number of planets on which he has raised up or will raise up intelligent life is a really big number. For that reason, I disagree with the ‘rare-earth’ hypothesis, and I feel that the vastness of the universe is evidence in favor of this hypothesis.

Comment #64418

Posted by PaulC on December 23, 2005 12:48 PM (e)

Taking your bridge hand analogy to its logical conclusion, if you were playing with someone who repeatedly keeps getting a highly improbably but very winning hand (I don’t know bridge, so whatever that hand is), would you not seriously consider that he/she was cheating and that you ought to take your playing elsewhere? In other words, would you not suspect DESIGN?

I’ve noticed some confusion from both sides on this kind of thing. You can indeed apply statistical inference to such cases, and if done properly, this is a standard tool of scientific discourse. However, you cannot make such an argument about a particular outcome assuming (as in card hands drawn from a newly shuffled deck) that all outcomes are equally probable. You need a way of grouping them to distinguish between the outcomes that your hypothesis predicts and those explained by the null hypothesis of chance. This is the point where you have to stop yammering and pause to do some math, which is why I suspect people find it difficult.

One commonly used tool is the p-value. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P-value Once you understand this, you can begin to see how statistical inference works for some things and indeed can rule out the hypothesis of pure chance in a rigorous way, but still tells you absolutely nothing about the existence of a “designer.”

Let’s illustrate this by example: assume I have a friend who likes to decide things using coin flips and always calls heads; assume further that the coin comes up heads “suspiciously often.”

… OK, stop right there. What does that mean? Nothing prevents the coin from coming up heads, so why should I have grounds for suspicion? An outcome of HHHHHHHTHHHHHHTHHHHHHHHHHHH (H=heads, T=tails) is as likely as any other outcome. To get anywhere, I need to group the results.

I do this by asking, for instance, what is the cumulative probability that given 100 coin flips that k or fewer of them come up tails (k varies between 0 and 100). I call this P(k). Now, given a particular outcome, I can count the number of tails. I substitute this value for k and calculate P(k). This is my p-value. It is interpreted as follows: if the value is close to 1 (as it will be if k is higher than 50) then I have not ruled out chance; if on the other hand, the p-value is very small, then chance is not considered a compelling explanation. (Note that the above test is one-sided in that it won’t tell you anything about a coin biased towards tails.)

The rigorous interpretation (from the above link) of p-value is “the probability that, given that the null hypothesis is true, T will assume a value as or more unfavorable to the null hypothesis as the observed value.”

In other words, the null hypothesis is that the coin is fair. I group outcomes as unfavorable to this hypothesis inasmuch as the number of tails is smaller than the mean value of 50. If, for instance, all 100 coins come up heads, I compute a p-value of P(0) or 2^(-100). Now I say “if the null hypothesis were true, then the probability of getting no tails at all is vanishingly small.” This is considered strong statistical evidence that the coin is not fair. If you don’t like that kind of conclusion, then you’re in the minority among scientists, who publish such inferences in peer-reviewed journals on a regular basis.

Note (and I recently got into kind of a spat over this, so it may not be widely known) you can apply this argument to randomness testing in general. Suppose my friend has a habit of mailing me sequences he claims to be getting from a fair coin and I think I “see patterns” in them. In this case, you run into questions of “cherry picking” and “overfitting” which are legitimate objections. I can see a pattern in anything if I look hard enough. Yet sequences like HTHTHTHTHTHTHT or HTHTTHTTTHTTTTHTTTTT an so forth really seem to include simple patterns. There’s a point where it strains credulity to believe these came from coin flips. But how do we make that argument.

In this case, we refer to the compressibility of the sequence. Almost all sequences generated randomly are incompressible in the sense that the shortest way to represent them is to write them out in full. But the examples I gave above appear to be compressible. The one is just HT repeated a certain number of times. The other is H followed by a certain number of Ts that increases each time. If these strings were sufficiently long, then their description could be made much shorter than the string itself. The concept of compressiblity is made rigorous using Kolmogorov complexity, which is roughly the length of the shortest computer program needed to generate the string.

There is nothing to stop me from basing my p-value on Kolmogorov complexity. I can write P(n,k) meaning the probability that a sequence of n Hs and Ts from a fair coin has Kolmogorov complexity k. For values of k significantly less than n, this probability is very small, and according to statistical inference, I reject the null hypothesis as a compelling explanation.

Thus, using a general randomness test based on compressibility, I can apply statistical inference to reject my friend’s assertion that his sequences come from flipping a coin without making any particular a priori hypothesis about how the sequences are generated. If the sequences are highly compressible, I can reject randomness as a compelling explanation.

I emphasis the above, because it is not what you learn in school about having to make a specific a priori falsifiable hypothesis. The only hypothesis is that there is some kind of pattern, and the tools used to define what that means are relatively new (20th century mathematics). However, it is sound statistical inference, and in fact the basis of the rigorous peer-reviewed field of randomness testing.

Unfortunately for Dembski, none of this helps his desperate rearguard action. The best this argument will get you is to reject the hypothesis that the human species sprung spontaneously from a sequence of uniform random events. But nobody holds that hypothesis. A reasonable hypothesis is that I’m human because my parents were and with probability close 1, a member of a given species begets a member of the same. This is far from uniform probability. With some smallish, but not vanishingly small probability, its offspring may be a slightly different species. Thus, I have an ancestor who was not a member of homo sapiens, and yet who was not very different for all that. Going back further, I have ancestors who diverge even further.

The process of evolution, which brought me from those ancestors to who I am, looks no more like a series of random coin flips than does the working of my car’s engine. It is, rather, a sophisticated distributed process of adaptation with some random elements on the one hand, and many “basins of attraction” on the other hand that result in a wealth of staggering dynamic equilibria leading not only to self-replication but to sentience. One can use randomness testing to reject the hypothesis of randomness. One cannot use it to reject the hypothesis of evolution, because evolution is NOT randomness.

Comment #64424

Posted by steve s on December 23, 2005 1:02 PM (e)

PaulC, I have a 9 day vacation starting tomorrow, and have been trying to figure out what to read. So far I’m going to reread the classic Bevington error analysis book, reread the excellent “An Introduction to Information Theory: Symbols, Signals and Noise” by Pierce, and for the first time read the well-regarded book about the NSA “The Puzzle Palace : Inside America’s Most Secret Intelligence Organization”, but your post has now got me thinking about p-values and Kolmogorov complexity. Got any suggestions on good books in that area?

Comment #64426

Posted by PaulC on December 23, 2005 1:03 PM (e)

Carol Clouser wrote:

In any event, nothing in this conflicts with science, and is admittedly scientifically useless. But two points need to be emphasized. One, these ideas are NOT based on religion. One could argue that if no religion had ever appeared on earth, and if the notion of God or gods were entirely unheard of, the ID arguments leading to a designer could still be made persuasively.

Well, I’m with you on the “useless” part. Glad to find some common ground. However, I don’t see how you get a designer who is not a “god” by any reasonable definition–or if the designer is natural, you need either some natural process to produce the designer or else a designer’s designer. Unless your final explanation is “turtles all the way down” you need some foundation for your turtle tower. If it’s not science, as you admit, it seems more likely to be religion than anything else. Do have a name for some third alternative?

Comment #64433

Posted by Steviepinhead on December 23, 2005 1:18 PM (e)

Ah, the holidays always cast me into a reflective mood.

Why, I remember way back when Carol first arrived here, in her pro-science drag, allowing as how all those Christian fundamentalist nutjobs (notice, please, that I did not say “all Christians”) could be reconciled to science if only they would each go out and buy the *TRUE* translation of Genesis.

Then it turned out she was just a shill.

Now, she’s either telling us something that even the most committed and irrepressible atheist-evolutionary-scientists already know (take it from PZ Myers, for example!): that there is no necessary incompatibility between belief in God and agreement with the findings of evolution science…

Or else she’s telling us that science is OK, and the scientists may keep on working, so long as all the defenders of science clearly understand that evolution must not controvert what for Carol is the *One True Fact*: that the Universe was designed, and the designer intervened–somehow, somewhen–to bring our present ineffable selves about.

In case one, stretch, yawn, ho hum.

In case two, Carol reveals yet another layer of her shilliness–having come here claiming to be down with science, Carol is naught but another troll, convinced she is being oh-so-stealthy and clever.

Oh, Carol! Do you really think we’ve never heard this raga before.

Carol’s willingness to excuse the dishonesty of ID’s main proponents has been thoroughly dissected already, but let me lay it out as plainly as a pinhead can: Carol, if there actually IS a “big picture,” if there truly IS an awesome designer-of-all who is intimately concerned with the way we conduct ourselves whilst we shuffle this mortal coil, then whether or not those who claim to believe in Her conduct themselves with impeccable integrity is CRUCIAL.

If not, of course, then the blitherings and bleatings of Behe, Dembski, and Nelson–while regrettable–are, indeed, of little long-term consequence.

(The stunningly hypocritcial amorality of these “moralists” never fails to depress, even as it amuses.)

And, Carol, while we’re at it, didn’t you claim to have had, um, physics training? After reading this statement–

[T]he bottom line is that the designer could have performed the design with no suspension of the laws of nature in one of two ways: Either pushed the design back in time to, say, before the big bang (so called “front loading”)…

–I simply can’t refrain from asking:
Carol, what planet did you say you earned your physics degrees on again?

Time “before” the Big Bang! Sheesh!

Comment #64434

Posted by steve s on December 23, 2005 1:21 PM (e)

David Heddle said

blah blah blah Krauss blah blah

or words to that effect.

The earliest mention of Krauss by Heddle on PT I can find is September 3, 2004, 477 days ago. On Sept 4, 2004, PvM told him to stop beating a dead horse.

So I present a philosophical question to ponder over the holidays. If a freshly killed horse is beaten for 477 consecutive days, at the end of that process, do whatever bits of matter remain still constitute a dead horse?

Comment #64437

Posted by Arden Chatfield on December 23, 2005 1:22 PM (e)

Um, yes, as annoying as I find Heddle, k.e. really needs to cut it out, not least because the moderators of this site want it to be fully accessible to public school science students. Using words like that (aside from being rather pointless on a science site) will get PT blocked by obscenity filters.

Comment #64438

Posted by Aureola Nominee, FCD on December 23, 2005 1:23 PM (e)

So, Mr. Heddle.

Thank you for admitting that you haven’t the faintest idea of whether earthlike plantes are “exceedingly rare” or “fairly common”.

I notice a pattern in this: you often make high-sounding claims of “extreme improbability” that you are, unfortunately, utterly unable to substantiate.

…the science needs to be done.

Indeed. Preferably before voicing strongly-held but weakly- or non-justified opinions, like you tend to do.

Comment #64440

Posted by PvM on December 23, 2005 1:26 PM (e)

Ok guys, cut it out, my patience is quite limited. k.e. clean up your ‘act’ or move out.

Comment #64443

Posted by Arden Chatfield on December 23, 2005 1:32 PM (e)

Besides, if you just want to slap Heddle around, back him into a corner with his rather, uh, flexible standards of logic. I did it to him recently and he ran away and stayed away for at least a week. It’s more satisfying, it makes a better impression on others, and it doesn’t get PT banned from obscenity filters.

Comment #64444

Posted by David Heddle on December 23, 2005 1:32 PM (e)

PvM

I believe my original post was completely on topic.

Steviepinhead,

Why

Time “before” the Big Bang! Sheesh!

Time before our big bang is not an unheard of concept.

Aureola,

I remind you again I said IF, but of course you can’t say–Oh, yes you did sorry. Now let’s move beyond that and look at the post on its merits.

What I tried talking about, but you didn’t get it, is that if it turns out that complex life must be carbon based and if erathlike planets are exceedingly rare and if abiogenesis on even a life-friendly earth-like plane is rare THEN you have a very scientifically interesting situation that, unless your approach is Shirley’s (We are here, so the probability is one) would raise at lot of interesting questions. But the science, particularly on abiogenesis, needs to be done.

You recognize that what I am saying is independent of ID? No, of course you don’t.

Comment #64446

Posted by Ogee on December 23, 2005 1:37 PM (e)

Everytime you post.

Ah, the “I know you are…” response. Aren’t you supposed to be a writer?

As for exceedingly rare, it is trivial. There are ~ 10^22 planets in the observable universe. It all comes down to how the probability of a planet being earthlike compares to 10^-22. If it is much bigger, they’ll be lots of earths. If it is much smaller, then earthlike planets will be exceedingly rare. That is what exceedingly rare means.

As for actual evidence, there is none.

Wait, I thought you said there was “some evidentiary support” for “Earth-like planets are exceedingly rare”? Can’t you at least keep your nonsense self-consistent?

Regardless, we have two Earth-like planets in our solar system alone. One of these one still bears life, and the other had (and may still have) conditions considered favourable for organic life.

These “probabilities” you keep mewling about are not panning out in your favour, I’m afraid.

In fact, from extra-solar planetary searches we see mostly Jupiter-like planets that are either too close to their sun and/or have orbits that are too eccentric to accommodate earth-like planets in those systems.

That’s weird; it’s almost as if we’re seeing primarily those planets that are possible to detect with current telescopes*. I suppose that wouldn’t stop a statistical savant such as yourself from extrapolating directly to “Earthlike planets are exceedingly rare”.

*very large, have short “years” and are at least sometimes very close to their stars

Comment #64447

Posted by Ogee on December 23, 2005 1:41 PM (e)

I remind you again I said IF, but of course you can’t say—Oh, yes you did sorry. Now let’s move beyond that and look at the post on its merits.

A ridiculous strawman. No one is claiming you didn’t say “if”; they’re demolishing your claims about the level of support for the conditions.

Comment #64448

Posted by j-Dog on December 23, 2005 1:41 PM (e)

Hey, HEDDLE started it with his usual smarmy comments!! Tell HIM to cut it out! Can you please disenvowel him again? Come on… It’s Christmas! Nothing says Christmas like a little disenvoweling of Panda’s Biggest Glutius Maximus oriface!

Comment #64449

Posted by Stephen Elliott on December 23, 2005 1:43 PM (e)

Steviepinhead,
I think you was a tad harsh on Carol just then.

Time “before” the Big Bang! Sheesh!

Should the p brane hypothesis have merit, then time must exist prior to the big bang.

I find it hard to think in just 4 dimensions. Gets really weird when trying to visualise things such as multi-dimensional string theory, p Brane scenarios, indivisible plank time and distance or even space actually being something.

I find it all very counter-intuitive. I am not saying it is all wrong, just that I have difficulty visualising it.

Comment #64450

Posted by Andrew McClure on December 23, 2005 1:44 PM (e)

PaulC wrote:

I think all you’d need to get any kind of frontloading is the proverbial butterfly flapping its wings a certain way at the time of the big bang. The effects could propagate subtly through the universe giving you “tornadoes in a junkyard” at just the right moments. The resulting genes might be indistinguishable from those produced by regular evolutionary processes.

But hey, at least front loading theory isn’t a tautology, like Evolution is. Right? …Right?

Comment #64451

Posted by PaulC on December 23, 2005 1:47 PM (e)

steve s wrote:

but your post has now got me thinking about p-values and Kolmogorov complexity. Got any suggestions on good books in that area?

Unfortunately, no. I picked up both of these concepts separately: p-values on the job, and Kolmogorov complexity out of a general interest in computability theory. I’m an expert on neither, but my arguments above are quite elementary.

I think p-values ought to be covered in a standard text on statistical inference. Kolmogorov complexity is usually treated as an advanced topic, and I suspect that its treatment in graduate textbooks and monographs is likely to be bewildering. There ought to be popular treatments out there (it’s one of those “Wow, dude…” topics like Godel’s theorem) but I don’t know of any published books.

There are actually a good deal of resources about both topics on the web if you want to do a google search. If you’re willing to print some PDF files, these might be what you’re looking for. One related paper that looks readable at least in parts (but I have only skimmed) is Ray Solomonoff’s “The Discovery of Algorithmic Probability” http://world.std.com/~rjs/barc97.pdf

Comment #64452

Posted by Ogee on December 23, 2005 1:49 PM (e)

Moreover, Heddle is being disingenuous when he claims to have simply mentioned it as an interesting gee-whiz-what-if science problem. He pretty clearly suggested it as a viable “improbable, therefore Goddiddit” argument for “biological ID”, akin to his similarly fallacious cosmo-ID silliness.

Comment #64453

Posted by David Heddle on December 23, 2005 1:50 PM (e)

ogee,

There is support–work on habitable zones has eliminated vast regions of space from having earthlike planets. And the planetary searches so far indicate that a solar system with a gas giant from from the sun with a nearly circular orbit is–from early indications, rare.

And there is only one earthlike planet in our solar system. But even that is beside the point–if solar systems that can support earthlike planets are rare, then in some sense the most likely place to find another earthlike planet would be in our system, given that we know it can already support one.

That’s weird; it’s almost as if we’re seeing primarily those planets that are possible to detect with current telescopes*.

That is not weird at all, and you bring it up, I suppose, to pretend that I said earth-like planets are rare because we haven’t seen earth-like planets. I know they are too small ogee!!!! The point is, we can see gas giants, are we are not seeing them in a position where they would permit an earthlike planet in their system. I know it is a little subtle…

Comment #64456

Posted by k.e. on December 23, 2005 1:54 PM (e)

OKOKOKO Arden PvM
Philosophical nonsense I don’t think counts as revealed truth.

From the Butterfly collector
himself

In response to an American critic who characterized it as the product of a “love affair with the romantic novel,” Nabokov writes that “the substitution of ‘English language’ for ‘romantic novel’ would make this elegant formula more correct”

Is there a word for “language idolatry”

Comment #64457

Posted by steve s on December 23, 2005 1:55 PM (e)

Computability theory sounds interesting. I’m not looking for popular treatments, just maybe something a little milder than an evil yellow Springer book. Maybe there’s a good textbook you can point me to?

Comment #64462

Posted by Aureola Nominee, FCD on December 23, 2005 1:59 PM (e)

Mr. Heddle,

your “ifs” and “buts” are completely immaterial, because you studiously avoided giving a definition for your term.

I remind you that my remark was

What the heck does “exceedingly rare” mean?

Now, saying (as you did) IF earthlike planets are exceedingly rare and NOT SAYING what “exceedingly rare” means is disingenuous.

“Oh, but I said IF” is no defence. Sure you did, and it changes exactly nothing.

When, after I pointed out your usual sloppiness with words, you trotted out your “number of planets in the observable universe” (which, you admit, we are almost completely guessing out of very thin observations); you still failed to tell us what “exceedingly rare” would mean.

This is very, very, very similar to your constant blathering about how “unlikely” our universe is, and betrays exactly the same comprehension flaws.

Also, I’ve always recognized that this pathetic “privileged planet” tangent you offered here (with an IF, of course) is not the same thing as DHID (David Heddle’s Intelligent Design), just as much as it is not the same thing as biological ID (or, for short, “ID”, as this shorthand is used by everybody else).

Last time I checked, it was you who conflated all these different fairytales under a single banner, for instance by equivocating between HDID (which you claim is falsifiable) and ID-as-a-general-concept.

Bu of course, you will never admit that.

Comment #64467

Posted by Ogee on December 23, 2005 2:06 PM (e)

That is not weird at all, and you bring it up, I suppose, to pretend that I said earth-like planets are rare because we haven’t seen earth-like planets. I know they are too small ogee!!!! The point is, we can see gas giants, are we are not seeing them in a position where they would permit an earthlike planet in their system. I know it is a little subtle

Apparently a little too subtle for some. Why do you think I mentioned orbit in addition to size? These are exclusively gas giants whose orbits are either so small, or so eccentric, that they will be constantly por periodically close enough to their stars to be detected by present methods. That, by necessity, excludes solar systems (like ours) in which the gas giants’ positions permit stable life-friendly orbits for smaller planets.

Comment #64470

Posted by David Heddle on December 23, 2005 2:25 PM (e)

Aureola

The number of planets in the observable universe is a guess out of thin observations.

Not true. It is from ~100 billion galaxies and ~100 billion stars per galaxy and a few, on average, planets per star. The are all reasonable numbers, which give the 10^22 planets estimate. Use 10^24 if you like. 10^22 is a generally accepted guestimate.

So “exceedingly rare” has a clear meaning, imprecise to be sure, but completely understood to any scientist who isn’t just looking for words to pounce on–that if the probability for an planet to be earthlike is much less than 10-22, or much less that 10^-24, or one over whatever number of planets you like, then they will be exceedingly rare.

These discussion have nothing to do with cosmological ID. I had a very simple post, that said if these three things turn out to be true biology will be in a similar situation to cosmology. And so lets do the science, especially the abiogenesis. Nobody has commented on that–all you can do is attack the messenger.

But if you want to attack any possible flaw in the language, let me recast it this way, trying to be very careful:

If scientists come to agree that:

1) Complex, intelligent life is almost certanly carbon based

2) There are not very many earthlike planets in the universe, in fact the number “1” cannot be ruled out

3) Abiogenesis under conditions of the early earth is resisting explanation

then we have a very interesting puzzle on our hands. Therefore, I applaud efforts to research the abiogenesis question.

Is it possible, even if I have not removed all possible ambiguities in the language, to accept the spirit of what I am trying to say and argue on its merits, or lack thereof, rather than its semantics?

Ogee,

A fair point (since we must see the gas giants in transit.) My apologies for misunderstanding the telescope comment.

Comment #64474

Posted by Bob O'H on December 23, 2005 2:39 PM (e)

PaulC -

I’m a bit sceptical of your idea about compressibility, because I can make sequences of the same length that are more compressible by adding randomness. To whit:

I can generate this sequence:
HHTTTTTTTHHHHHHTTTTHHHHTTTTTTTHHHTTHHHHHHTTTTTTTT
by drawing the length of each run from a Poisson distribution (with mean 6 in this case). You can compress it to 2764473268 (plus a rule “alternate HT”).

Alternatively, I can draw a sequence like this:
HHHTTTTTTHHHHHHHHTTTTTTTTTHHHHHHHHTTHHHHHHTTTTTTT
by allowing the mean to be drawn from a gamma distribution, rather than be constant. This is more compressible (it becomes 36898267), but is, to me, even more random.

I don’t know if my argument generalises: I’m a statistician not a computer scientist, so it takes me longer to count up to 10.

Bob

Comment #64475

Posted by Engineer-Poet, FCD, ΔΠΓ on December 23, 2005 2:45 PM (e)

No, we don’t have to see the gas giants in transit (though it has happened); the Doppler method only requires that the star have enough velocity about the barycenter to create detectable red/blue shifts.  The velocity is inversely proportional to the orbital period (favoring tight orbits) and proportional to the planet’s mass.  We see the fraction of that velocity along our line of sight, so a planet in an orbital plane face-on to us would not be detectable that way.

Solar systems with big planets in tight orbits aren’t conducive to Earth-like rocks in the liquid water zone, but that’s what we’re able to see at the moment.  Other things can only be inferred, like gaps in dust rings (shown by the IR emissions) which points toward a planet clearing a lane.

Comment #64476

Posted by Registered User on December 23, 2005 2:46 PM (e)

Heddleweddle

we have a very interesting puzzle on our hands

I agree David. The statues on Easter Island are interesting too. In 2005, how many professional anthropologists believe that mysterious alien beings created them “somehow” “from scratch”?

Seriously. Your best guess.

There are not very many earthlike planets in the universe, in fact the number “1” cannot be ruled out

Yeah right. What does it mean “earthlike”? Which part of the earth?

Abiogenesis under conditions of the early earth is resisting explanation

What were those conditions, exactly?

Creationists and their lack of imagination are so tiresome.

When David Heddle thinks “life” he thinks “Ned Flanders.”

Abiogenesis is likely happening on the earth right now, somewhere.

Perhaps David Heddle would like to tell us you go about detecting that.

You see, before abiogenesis happened the FIRST time, there weren’t a billion other organisms on earth competing with the proto-life forms for food, or looking for proto-life forms to eat.

It’s a bit different now. Isn’t it David?

So how do we go about proving that abiogenesis isn’t happening somewhere on earth right now, David? I mean, as we speak? And if is happening and the proto-life forms are being eaten, how would we know.

I think it’s just as likely abiogenesis is occuring right under our noses, so to speak, as not. But detecting it is another matter.

What science needs is a clever person to start formulating the possibilities of what the proto-life forms look like and then searching for evidence supporting each of those possibilities in what are perceived to be “likely” places.

Note that I said “scientists.” As always, you won’t find ID promoters like yourself joining in – you’d have to actually wash doo-doo off your hands for the first time in, what, twenty years?

Comment #64477

Posted by sir_toejam on December 23, 2005 2:47 PM (e)

@Heddly:

I think it is great that Harvard is funding origins research.

did you look at the list of who received that funding?

Any DI folks on that list?

no?

Comment #64478

Posted by Steviepinhead on December 23, 2005 2:52 PM (e)

Thanks, Stephen Elliott, and, uh, Merry Whatever, David.

Certainly one can “talk” about time before the Big Bang, and it may yet turn out to be true that under some meta-theory (for which there is as yet no firm evidence) our “universe” may be embedded in some greater and stranger reality.

But, correct me if I’m wrong, doesn’t the current consensus evidence-based Standard Big Bang Model still hold that both time and space came into existence simultaneously? That they are sibling dimensions, connected from birth?

Realizing that most of what follows won’t mean much to David……but, before we allow Carol to fly off on another of her religion-driven evidence-free flights-of-fancy that a pre-Bang-time designer set the whole thing in motion, doesn’t she need to start with where the evidence and scientific consensus is currently at, then tell us how, and under what circumstances of evidence and theory, she proposes to take us along to her imaginary realm where her Designer might have acted, all without, um, disturbing any of the current evidence and best-fit-theory of same?

Otherwise, isn’t she just blathering beyond even her usual foaming-at-the-mouth standard, and ought she not–as a self-proclaimed physicist–be called upon to produce the particular engineering with which she proposes to bridge hyperspace, p-branedom, or whatever?

I mean, at least as well as we expect our better sci-fi writers to do?

Simply waving her hands and summoning forth Carol Swift’s HyperBrane Kerbobbleator doesn’t do much to advance what one would hope would be a reality-based discussion. But maybe I’m just being a grinch…

As for David…nah, it’s a time of goodwill to all men, whether possessed of vowels or not, so I’m not going there.

Comment #64480

Posted by Ogee on December 23, 2005 2:57 PM (e)

Heddle wrote:

And there is only one earthlike planet in our solar system.

Nonsense. Mars is Earth-like by any relevant definition of the term - and is a credible candidate for past or present extraterrestrial life.

Comment #64481

Posted by David Heddle on December 23, 2005 3:01 PM (e)

registered user,

Abiogenesis is likely happening on the earth right now, somewhere.

Go find it, document it, and wait in Sweden to receive your Nobel Prize.

sir_toejam,

did you look at the list of who received that funding?

Any DI folks on that list?

And that is somehow relevant for to my post?

steviepinhead,

The point is really twofold–(1) there are quite a few theories that have pre big-bang time, and (2) I think Carol was talking of a transcendent God who is outside of time–and the language “before the big bang” is just a way of expressing that. To pounce on it as a scientific faux pas is simply weak.

Ogee,

Mars is NOT a credible candidate for intelligent, complex life, which what I specified in my post.

Comment #64482

Posted by Bob O'H on December 23, 2005 3:02 PM (e)

David Heddle wrote:

1) Complex, intelligent life is almost certa[i]nly carbon based

2) There are not very many earthlike planets in the universe, in fact the number “1” cannot be ruled out

The “almost certainly” in (1) is an improvement on what you wrote before, but why do you need (2)? You seem to be assuming that life must have originated on earth-like planets. In order to make this assumption you have to show that the sort of complex structures needed can only appear on earth-like planets, but I’ve never seen that shown. The only argument there seems to be is that only carbon can form the skeleton for these complex structures, but this we surely haven’t explored all possible conditions under which such structures could have formed. Unless you can demonstrate that it’s impossible for any sort of complex structures to form under any other condition, your argument still boils down to n=1.

Bob

Comment #64483

Posted by sir_toejam on December 23, 2005 3:03 PM (e)

And that is somehow relevant for to my post?

you’re kidding, right? do you really need me to justify that with an answer?

Comment #64485

Posted by PaulC on December 23, 2005 3:08 PM (e)

Bob O’H

I’m a bit sceptical of your idea about compressibility, because I can make sequences of the same length that are more compressible by adding randomness.

The linkage between randomness and incompressibility is not mine, but that of Kolmogorov and other mathematicians who were a lot better at this than I am. Advanced textbooks have been written covering this linkage. See e.g. http://homepages.cwi.nl/~paulv/kolmogorov.html (steve s: you can have a look, but warning, it’s a Springer book).

And, no, you cannot increase compressibility by “adding randomness” though clearly random processes have some small probability of generating highly compressibly sequences due to chance.

My long posting above is the best I have managed so far to make this kind of point using elementary arguments. I would suggest that if you find it unsatisfying that you first do some research into these topics. It will not be resolved by debate.

Comment #64487

Posted by David Heddle on December 23, 2005 3:13 PM (e)

Bob O’H

By earthlike I mean they are rocky planets that can, among other things, support liquid water. There are other aspects of earth that may be crucial for complex, intelligent life–such as a thin transparent atmosphere and perhaps even a magnetic field.

sir_toejam,

I have no idea why it is relevant. I am not a spokesman for the DI. I am delighted with the Harvard initiative. Why is it relevant to my post who is being funded, as long as they are doing good science? So by all means explain what seems to be obvious to you.

Comment #64488

Posted by Aureola Nominee, FCD on December 23, 2005 3:17 PM (e)

Mr. Heddle:

So “exceedingly rare” has a clear meaning, imprecise to be sure, but completely understood to any scientist who isn’t just looking for words to pounce on—that if the probability for an planet to be earthlike is much less than 10-22, or much less that 10^-24, or one over whatever number of planets you like, then they will be exceedingly rare.

“Exceedingly rare” means absolutely nothing. “Much less than 10^-22” also means nothing (hint: “much” is the problem here), although it is a step in the right direction; it only includes one undefined word.

When will you stop juggling words, Mr. Heddle? Remember: sloppiness with words breeds sloppiness with concepts.

Let me try and give a semblance of rigour to your sloppy use of language:

2) IF the earth turns out to be THE ONLY place where life COULD develop, then we might have an interesting philosophical problem, i.e. the anthropic principle.

That’s all. I still recommend that you use words with much greater caution, Mr. Heddle. “Much more”, “quite enough”, “almost certainly”, “exceedingly rare” and the like are rhetorical flourish and nothing more.

Comment #64491

Posted by David Heddle on December 23, 2005 3:29 PM (e)

Aureola,

If you think language such as “much less than” has no place in scientific discussions, you would flip out at your everyday garden vareity physics seminar. People say things like “a is much less than b” all the time, without being hammered for being imprecise.

Comment #64493

Posted by Steviepinhead on December 23, 2005 3:37 PM (e)

And if Aureola can call David on his rhetorical flourishes–perfectly fair, when we’re in real-science discussion mode–then I’m certainly going to call Carol on hers.

And, in that real-science mode, David, I’m unable to discern any rigorous content whatsoever in the phrase “a transcendent God who is outside of time.”

Despite which, Davey, I still wish you an entirely non-ironic Merry Christmas! May your joy over the holidays be exceeding non-rare, in space and in time.

(Santa, bring that crusty old dude a few vowels!)

Comment #64495

Posted by PvM on December 23, 2005 3:43 PM (e)

So Heddle is back with his argument from ignorance. Nice…

Comment #64497

Posted by David Heddle on December 23, 2005 3:51 PM (e)

Sigh.

Merry Christmas to all.

CYA in January.

Comment #64499

Posted by Ogee on December 23, 2005 3:55 PM (e)

Heddle wrote:

Mars is NOT a credible candidate for intelligent, complex life, which what I specified in my post.

Sorry, not good enough. You’re going to have to go ahead and provide a rigorous definition of Earthlike.

Of course, assuming you manage to do so in a manner that includes Earth and excludes Mars, you will then have to show that there is no possibility of intelligent life developing on Mars (not just that it didn’t, but that it couldn’t have).

If you define planets like Mars as non-Earthlike, but can’t show that intelligent life cannot emerge on planets like Mars, your definition of “Earthlike” is worthless to the exercise you propose.

Of course, even if one can prove that only water/carbon can produce intelligent life AND that Earthlike planets are “exceedingly rare” AND that there can be no scientific explanation for abiogenesis, it does not support ID (as you implied in your original post).

Not that I expect you to admit it, as your cosmo-ID “theory” relies on the exact same “improbable, therefore Godddiddit” argument from incredulity.

Comment #64500

Posted by Aureola Nominee, FCD on December 23, 2005 4:01 PM (e)

Mr. Heddle:

I’m sure of it. I’m sure that people constantly make an imprecise use of words.

I’m also pretty sure that that happens because when talking about things that nobody seriously challenges the need for rigorous language is not as strong.

But you barge in here, trying to derive highly disputable logical consequences from vague remarks lacking any rigour, and expect not to be called on them?

How… naive.

Comment #64501

Posted by Stephen Elliott on December 23, 2005 4:04 PM (e)

Posted by Steviepinhead on December 23, 2005 02:52 PM (e) (s)

Thanks, Stephen Elliott, and, uh, Merry Whatever, David.

Certainly one can “talk” about time before the Big Bang, and it may yet turn out to be true that under some meta-theory (for which there is as yet no firm evidence) our “universe” may be embedded in some greater and stranger reality.

But, correct me if I’m wrong, doesn’t the current consensus evidence-based Standard Big Bang Model still hold that both time and space came into existence simultaneously? That they are sibling dimensions, connected from birth?

Yes. In the “Big Bang” model, time only starts at the “Big bang”.

However In the “Brane Theory” model, there has to be “Time” before our universe comes into existense.

I have no idea which model/hypothesis is true.

Physicists/cosmologists have lots of ideas about the start of this universe. They are all pretty wierd.

Comment #64503

Posted by Alienward on December 23, 2005 4:09 PM (e)

David Heddle wrote:

If scientists come to agree that:

1) Complex, intelligent life is almost certanly carbon based

2) There are not very many earthlike planets in the universe, in fact the number “1” cannot be ruled out

3) Abiogenesis under conditions of the early earth is resisting explanation

then we have a very interesting puzzle on our hands. Therefore, I applaud efforts to research the abiogenesis question.

From New Scientist (http://www.newscientistspace.com/article.ns?id=dn8507)

The first evidence that some of the basic organic building blocks of life can exist in an Earth-like orbit around a young Sun-like star has been provided by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope.

The detection supports the widely held theory that many of the molecular building blocks of life were present in the solar system even before planets formed, thus assisting the initial formation of complex organic molecules and the start of life itself.

What IF scientists come to agree that:

1) Carbon based complex life can result from natural processes (oh wait, they already do agree about that)
2) Not only are there many earthlike planets in the universe, the building blocks of life are often around even before the earthlike planet is formed
3) Abiogenesis under conditions of the early earth is explainable.

Then do we still have an interesting puzzle on our hands? And do you still applaud efforts to research the abiogenesis question?

Comment #64504

Posted by Ogee on December 23, 2005 4:09 PM (e)

If you think language such as “much less than” has no place in scientific discussions, you would flip out at your everyday garden vareity physics seminar. People say things like “a is much less than b” all the time, without being hammered for being imprecise.

Only when there is context for such relative terms. No one can tell if your “much less than” means less than half, or one percent, or one-trillionth (or less). I have been in plenty of seminars and defenses, where the speaker has been challenged (or excoriated) for inappropriately loose language.

In this case, it’s apparent that vague language is being used to disguise the fact that your criteria are completely arbitrary.

Comment #64505

Posted by Stephen Elliott on December 23, 2005 4:10 PM (e)

Mr./Dr, Heddle.

If complex/inteligent life, has to be carbon based.

Does that require God to be Carbon based?

If not, then why?

Comment #64508

Posted by Registered User on December 23, 2005 4:25 PM (e)

Heddle

Go find it, document it, and wait in Sweden to receive your Nobel Prize.

Hahahhaa. Sorry Dave. I earn enough now that I could go out and buy one of those medallions for myself if I wanted to. And I’m not really interested in notoriety of any sort.

Unlike, uh, you.

Comment #64510

Posted by PvM on December 23, 2005 4:30 PM (e)

IS Heddle letting his ignorance conclude that life has to be carbon based?

If the argument is that God front loaded the universe then one would find sufficient planets to sustain life for life to arise at least somewhere, lest the whole experiment would be a great disaster.

In other words,if one were to argue front loading one also cannot argue that life in the universe is implausible.

Then of course we are back to interventions but that reduces ID to the same flawed arguments as found in biology.Either way, as I see it, Heddle seems to have a problem.

Comment #64511

Posted by PvM on December 23, 2005 4:30 PM (e)

IS Heddle letting his ignorance conclude that life has to be carbon based?

If the argument is that God front loaded the universe then one would find sufficient planets to sustain life for life to arise at least somewhere, lest the whole experiment would be a great disaster.

In other words,if one were to argue front loading one also cannot argue that life in the universe is implausible.

Then of course we are back to interventions but that reduces ID to the same flawed arguments as found in biology.Either way, as I see it, Heddle seems to have a problem.

Comment #64518

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 23, 2005 4:44 PM (e)

Hey Heddle; do you, or do you not, think that your religious opinioins should be considered as “scientific evidence”?

And why, again, should anyone think that your religious opinions are any more authoritative than, say, mine or my next door neighbor’s or my car mechanic’s or the kid who delivers my pizzas?

Maybe your pal Carol can help you answer. (You might want to ask her what she thinks about the authority of the New Testament first, though).

Comment #64519

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 23, 2005 4:46 PM (e)

Another question for you, Heddle. Since you agree that ID is not science, I’m assuming that you don’t have any problem with Judge Jones’ decision. Right?

Comment #64530

Posted by Ubernatural on December 23, 2005 5:16 PM (e)

David Heddle wrote:

If scientists come to agree that:

1) Complex, intelligent life is almost certanly carbon based

2) There are not very many earthlike planets in the universe, in fact the number “1” cannot be ruled out

3) Abiogenesis under conditions of the early earth is resisting explanation

then we have a very interesting puzzle on our hands. Therefore, I applaud efforts to research the abiogenesis question.

I’m going to try and argue the merits here David. I also applaud efforts to research abiogenesis, but some of those are some pretty big ifs.

We have a big puzzle indeed, but I see an enormous pile evolutionary puzzle pieces of evidence that are more compelling to be used in an explanation than the concepts of your conditions.

As others here have argued, it’s hard to rule out the possibility that there could be any non carbon based intelligent life out there somewhere. Heck, I think there is a strong probability that we will be unleashing some intelligent silicon and steel based intelligent life forms sometime in the relatively near future.

Abiogenesis hasn’t been figured out yet. I don’t know why this is something that’s surprising.

Here’s what I don’t get about your possibility number of there being “earthlike” planets. I’ll accept the reasonable and easy numbers of 100 billion galaxies each containing 100 billion star systems each containing a planet. I just don’t see how you can just say that the vast majority of those planets aren’t earthlike without actually looking at a significant fraction of them. And even if, somehow, we develop the ability to actually look at all of the 100 billion planets in our galaxy, and to my amazement you are right and we’re on the only “earthlike” planet in our galaxy, you might be able to say “look how improbable we are, we’re one in 100 billion!” At that point I would say that the going rate of earthlike planets is 1 per galaxy, (we can’t say for sure that they aren’t there) of which we have 100 billion galaxies, therefore we are just one of 100 billion other earths. How plain. I’ll start to worry about being on the only habitable rock after we’ve scoured 50 billion galaxies.

Comment #64533

Posted by Lenny's Pizza Guy on December 23, 2005 5:39 PM (e)

Yeah, just thinking about 100 million planets–where they don’t have pizza yet!–is almost enough to make me want to move up into pizza management or marketing

Well, as soon as you science types come up with the workaround for that whole speed-O’-light deal.

Comment #64538

Posted by Steve S on December 23, 2005 7:04 PM (e)

Here’s what I don’t get about your possibility number of there being “earthlike” planets. I’ll accept the reasonable and easy numbers of 100 billion galaxies each containing 100 billion star systems each containing a planet. I just don’t see how you can just say that the vast majority of those planets aren’t earthlike without actually looking at a significant fraction of them.

Uber, Heddle concludes that the universe is unlikely based on having seen one of them. Concluding that one type of planet is unlikely based on seeing 9 of them is rock solid by comparison.

Comment #64656

Posted by Registered User on December 24, 2005 2:51 PM (e)

Steve S. – right on and funny as hell.

Comment #64691

Posted by Robert Landbeck on December 24, 2005 5:51 PM (e)

A real monkey wrench is about to hit all sides in the ID vs Evolution debate. There is a wholly new interpretation of the teachings of Christ, the first for two thousand years and contained within the first ever religious claim and proof that meets all the criteria of the most rigorous, testable scientific method, published and circulating on the web. It is titled The Final Freedoms. So while proponents of ID may have got the God question right, all their religious teachings are wholly in error, and the proponents of evolution who have rightly used that conception to beat down the credibility of religious tradition, but who have also used it to deny the potential for God, are in for a very rude shock.

It is described as a single Law or Torah and moral proof, one in which the reality of God confirms and responds to an act of perfect faith, with a direct intervention into the natural world, providing a correction to human nature [natural law], a change in consciousness and human ethical perception, providing new, primary insight and understanding of the human condition.

The goal posts of history may have been moved?

However improbable, this is no joke, no hoax and not spam!

Check this link: www.energon.uklinux.net

Comment #64704

Posted by Carol Clouser on December 24, 2005 7:43 PM (e)

Steviepinhead,

I am sorely tempted not to respond to your foul-mouthed arrogant posts and thereby leave you in your ignorance of basic cosmological physics. But for the benefit of others here some points need to refreshed.

First let me point out that in talking about “front loading” to “before the big bang” I was not really intending to get into the nature of time at all, just that the universe was programmed by design right from the get-go, for whatever - we don’t yet know exactly for what, although we like to think of our “advanced” lives as at least one of the main purposes. But that may yet turn out to be mere wishful thinking.

Talk about physical models, such as the standard model, with time appearing together with space and other dimensions, refers to “quantifiable and measureable time”, that is time with concomitant physical consequences that can be quantified and measured. That does not mean that the words “before the big bang” cannot be uttered. It just means that you cannot distinguish between, say, one hour and two hours before the big bang. To go further than that is to get into the realm of silliness. If there is no before, than the event did not occur. By the way, a similar point holds for relativistic time after the big bang.

Also, if a designer is postulated and its existence is incorporated into the universe, it may be necessaary to adjust our cosmological models accordingly and this MAY require that time, that is quantifiable and measureable time, be introduced to the pre-big bang time frame. As scientist we cannot allow our models to take on a life of their own. They are always subject to adjustment and revision.

Comment #64711

Posted by sir_toejam on December 24, 2005 8:10 PM (e)

To go further than that is to get into the realm of silliness

ah, but the role of science is to constantly change the realm of the silly into the realm of the known and predictable.

It’s you who prefer to exist in the realm of silliness, Carol. Enjoying your stay there yet?

Comment #64712

Posted by sir_toejam on December 24, 2005 8:13 PM (e)

There is a wholly new interpretation of the teachings of Christ, the first for two thousand years…

uh, you mean other than all the other interpretations like mooneyism, mormon, etc etc etc….

thanks for the preach-in.

bye now.

Comment #64714

Posted by Steviepinhead on December 24, 2005 8:17 PM (e)

Excuse me? “Foulmouthed?” Gee, Carol, but I am quite aware that home schoolers, public school students, libraries, and the like link to this site. Somehow I missed your blockquote documenting that I had used anything approaching foul language.

Let’s see: you claim to have physics degrees, but manage to confuse the most basic physical notions of time and space.

You claim to have a fresh new approach to Biblical interpretation, but it turns out you’re merely shilling your employer’s books.

You came here claiming to support evolution, yet more and more you seem to be trotting out the same old tired, religiously-motivated arguments for ID.

And now you have come up with your own personal definition of “foulmouthed” that, big surprise, doesn’t seem to square with any facts that you can point to…

Are you trying your best to transform yourself into just another troglodytic troll?

Or do you have some other fancy rationalization for your ongoing disconnect from truth and reality?

Comment #64716

Posted by sir_toejam on December 24, 2005 8:23 PM (e)

And now you have come up with your own personal definition of “foulmouthed” that, big surprise, doesn’t seem to square with any facts that you can point to…

i was kinda wondering about that comment of Carol’s myself. I think her imagination is running away with her again (not for the first time).

Comment #64719

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 24, 2005 8:30 PM (e)

I am sorely tempted not to respond

Please, Carol. Tempt yourself harder.

to your foul-mouthed arrogant posts

“Foul-mouthed”? Where?

“Arrogant”? IIRC, Carol, *you* are the only one here who is arrogant enough to speak on behalf of God.

(Well, I’ll correct myself —- Heddle is that arrogant too — but his opinions don’t agree with yours, for some odd reason …. )

and thereby leave you in your ignorance of basic cosmological physics.

(yawn) Yeah, right, whatever.

Do you, or do you not, Carol, think that your religious opinions should be considered as “scientific evidence”. Should your religious opinions, or should they not, be incorporated into “basic cosmological physics”.

No one here seems very interested in your preaching, carol. Perhaps you’d do better with it somewhere else.

Comment #64722

Posted by Carol Clouser on December 24, 2005 8:42 PM (e)

Well, let’s see here, Steviepinhead,

“Christian fundamentalist nutjobs…”

Carol’s Shilliness…”

“blitherings and bleatings of….”

All from just one post! (#64433)

These may not be “profane” but they certainly are “foul”.

One other point. ALL my posts here since I first came here a few months ago are consistent and I stand by every one of them. You have just not been paying attention. And that is your loss.

Comment #64725

Posted by sir_toejam on December 24, 2005 8:47 PM (e)

One other point. ALL my posts here since I first came here a few months ago are consistent and I stand by every one of them. You have just not been paying attention. And that is your loss.

well, Carol, if you’ve never changed your mind in the face of evidence, perhaps you are done preaching to us then? That’s exactly what you’ve been doing, you know.

Perhaps you just should become an ordained minister and be done with it, eh?

Comment #64731

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 24, 2005 9:02 PM (e)

You have just not been paying attention. And that is your loss.

I’m pretty sure that I speak for everyone when I say, “I think we can live with that loss.” (shrug)

Are you done preaching for now, Carol? Would you like to go back to shilling Landa’s book for a while?

Comment #64732

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 24, 2005 9:05 PM (e)

Carol, if you’re gonna keep preaching at us (whether we like it or not), could you at least explain to us all why you think the New Testament is full of crap? Then, at least we could be entertained with a good old-fashioned religious war between you and Heddle.

Comment #64733

Posted by sir_toejam on December 24, 2005 9:06 PM (e)

Here, we’ll make it easy for you:

Who is Landa, Carol?

I really don’t know.

Comment #64744

Posted by carol clouser on December 25, 2005 12:00 AM (e)

Nice try mischievous gentlemen, but alas it will not work.

And, Rev. Lenny, if any “preaching” has been going on here, it is yours, persistent, ad nauseaum, repetitive, vacuous preaching. Don’t you ever do anything else? Get a life!

Comment #64745

Posted by carol clouser on December 25, 2005 12:22 AM (e)

PaulC,

You ask (#64426) if ID is not science nor religion, do I have a name for a third alternative? And if the designer is God, does that not make it religion?

It seems to me that ID ought to be catagorized as a philosophy in progress as it attempts to secure a strong foundation for itself in mathematics. Since it arrives at the designer concept without basing its analysis on religious assumptions, it ought not be viewed as religion.

Comment #64746

Posted by gregonomic on December 25, 2005 1:12 AM (e)

Carol Clouser wrote:

Since it [ID] arrives at the designer concept without basing its analysis on religious assumptions, it ought not be viewed as religion.

Hahahahaha. Heeheeheehee. Oh yeah, that’s a good one Carol. Funniest thing I’ve read since “breathtaking inanity”. Merry Kitzmas, Carol.

Comment #64758

Posted by snaxalotl on December 25, 2005 6:38 AM (e)

“I can make sequences of the same length that are more compressible by adding randomness”

it can be shown that most numbers are not compressible (since you can’t represent 2^N states with less than N bits), and it can be demonstrated that number X can be compressed to M bits with an example algorithm, but there is no process for discovering the best compression for X (brute search doesn’t work because of the halting problem), and so it generally can’t be demonstrated that X can’t somehow be compressed to even less than M bits.

Comment #64763

Posted by sir_toejam on December 25, 2005 7:41 AM (e)

It seems to me that ID ought to be catagorized as a philosophy in progress as it attempts to secure a strong foundation for itself in mathematics

uh, please note that we don’t teach philosophy in science class. that’s why the Dover school board decided that if anything, ID should be taught in social studies.

Still havin’ problems graspin’ that ‘ol science concept i see, carol.

Keep trying, at the rate you’re catching on you should have a relatively coherent grasp of it in a year or two.

Comment #64764

Posted by sir_toejam on December 25, 2005 7:54 AM (e)

BTW, Carol, the reason Lenny sounds like a broken record to you is that you keep seeming to entirely miss his point. It’s most remarkable, your ability to completely miss the whole point of the simple definition of what science is and how the scientific method actually works.

Lenny says “this is science”

you say, uh huh, i already know this…

then commonly proceed to completely contradict your apparent knowledge in your very next post thereafter.

amazing stuff, denial. Your a textbook case.

I feel like Quatto in that dumb Arnold movie:

“Open your miiiiiinnnnddd, Carol, oooppppennn your mmmminnnndddd”

Comment #64769

Posted by snaxalotl on December 25, 2005 8:58 AM (e)

suppose the (ludicrous) creationist fantasy were true that you can’t get to B without some physically possible but statistically impossibly mutation, and B exists. one possibility is that god waved his wand and made that mutation directly through his mysterious supernatural powers. but what does the other possibility - goddy frontloading - look like? presumably all particles are set up just so in the beginning, and ten billion years later this mutation occurs taking us from A to B, i.e. it would look just like it happened by chance apart from it being so damn lucky (imagine engineering a snooker break to happen backwards by carefully arranging for all the balls to meet with the right velocities so they come to a halt except for the cue ball which shoots out the top of the pack - atoms would APPEAR to be buzzing randomly until out of nowhere the mutation occurred). Surely this looks exacly the same as the first sort of miracle - at the appropriate time a mutation occurs which is so unlikely that it proves the existence of god. so why are people making a fuss about front loading? it seems to be an exactly equivalent amount of goddy intervention with no discernable difference.

Comment #64783

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 25, 2005 10:54 AM (e)

And, Rev. Lenny, if any “preaching” has been going on here, it is yours, persistent, ad nauseaum, repetitive, vacuous preaching.

That’s pretty funny, Carol.

Now answer my question. Do you think your religious opinions should be accepted as scientific “evidence”, or don’t you.

Since it arrives at the designer concept without basing its analysis on religious assumptions, it ought not be viewed as religion.

So “God” is not religious?

How silly you are, Carol.

By the way, you still have not told us yet why you think the New Testament is full of crap. I’m quite sure you have lots of “evidence” and “data” from Mr Landa to show us on this question.

After all, both you and Mr Heddle are here claiming to speak on behalf of God, and yet one of you says that the New Testament is the word of God, and one of you says it isn’t.

One of you must be wrong.

Which one?

I would like, very much, to sit back, crack open a Viking Piss, and see “ID” turn into a good old-fashioned religious war. I would like, very much, for all the lutkers out there to see, with their own two eyes, what will happen if ID manages to gain real political power.

Comment #64896

Posted by Carol Clouser on December 26, 2005 1:23 AM (e)

Lenny,

I would expect you to appreciate more than most the crucial importance of methodology, with all your preaching, ranting and raving about science being “a method”.

A concept derived via appeals to authority, such as the claimed revealed words of the Bible, is justifiably described as “religious”. A concept derived via the scientific method becomes part of the body of knowledge described as “science”. And a concept arrived at philosophically is supposed to be described as “philosophical”.

Now I know that the philosophically derived conclusion of the existence of a desginer is anethema to the very core of your being, your denials not withstanding, and by describing it as religious, a term that in your mind denotes disdain and ridicule, you get to feel like you have leveled some serious argument against it, but that is your problem, of your own making. You are not interested in being consistent within your own thinking, you just care about the end result - attack ID’s designer idea by calling it “religious”. Your mind is closed as a trap door on this subject and that is that.

Comment #64904

Posted by KL on December 26, 2005 3:54 AM (e)

You are not interested in being consistent within your own thinking, you just care about the end result - attack ID’s designer idea by calling it “religious”

I know Rev Dr Flank can defend himself, but if ID had stayed in the realm of religion/philosophy (and to be sure, I have no expertise in either so find the line between them I cannot) and not tried to pass itself off as science the debate would have never come to PT’s attention. That is where ID proponents lost credibility. (that, and trying to hide their religious motivations by lying)

Comment #64919

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 26, 2005 5:40 AM (e)

Now I know that the philosophically derived conclusion of the existence of a desginer is anethema to the very core of your being, your denials not withstanding, and by describing it as religious, a term that in your mind denotes disdain and ridicule

You seem to think that I’m an atheist, Carol. You are quite wrong about that. I treat YOU with disdain and ridicule, Carol, not “religion”. Don’t be so arrogant, self-righteous and holier-than-thou (literally) as to confuse the two.

But I take it that your answer (finally) is “yes, I *do* believe that my religious opinions should be treated as scientific evidence”. Right?

So now that we know that science can safely ignore everything you have to say, how about answering my next question:

You still have not told us yet why you think the New Testament is full of crap. I’m quite sure you have lots of “evidence” and “data” from Mr Landa to show us on this question.

After all, both you and Mr Heddle are here claiming to speak on behalf of God, and yet one of you says that the New Testament is the word of God, and one of you says it isn’t.

One of you must be wrong.

Which one?

Comment #64921

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 26, 2005 5:45 AM (e)

I know Rev Dr Flank can defend himself, but if ID had stayed in the realm of religion/philosophy (and to be sure, I have no expertise in either so find the line between them I cannot) and not tried to pass itself off as science the debate would have never come to PT’s attention. That is where ID proponents lost credibility. (that, and trying to hide their religious motivations by lying)

Indeed. Science is science. Religion is religion. Science is not religion. Religion is not science.

If Carol would simply keep that clear in all her preaching, she and I would have no gripe (other than Carol’s incessant impulse to preach whether people ewant to hear it or not, and her slavelike shilling of Landa’s Holy Book).

I’m a little puzzled why Carol would WANT to preach in support of demonstrated dishonest liars, but hey, it’s her credibility, not mine. (shrug)

But if Carol is gonan preach at us incessantly, whether we like it or not, I wish she would at least establish her authority to do so, first. After all, Heddle ALSO preaches at us incessantly whether we like it or not, and Heddle says different things than Carol does. So they need to establish between them which is the True Preacher™© before anyone should listen to either of them.

Carol? Heddle? Which is you preaches the True Word™©, and how can the rest of us tell?

Comment #64943

Posted by k.e. on December 26, 2005 11:34 AM (e)

Lenny I presume they would both agree that God is a “He” and He is infallible.

The fact that he *IS* infallible can be the only possible explanation why they both think each other is wrong and why are both wrong….. oh wait they both believe in slavery and the both believe killing in the name of god is OK so maybe god is a “She” after all.

That would also explain why they like the idea of an Intelligent Designer God……. totally sexless,androgynous and hermaphroditic at the same time,a god who would give his right arm to be ambidextrous, a convenient god who can take out the garbage, lie,fix the court system,take oxywhatsit,run PR companies to spread lies Propaganda etc etc.

Comment #64970

Posted by Carol Clouser on December 26, 2005 1:41 PM (e)

KL,

“I know Rev Dr Flank can defend himself, but…”

I disagree with you about that. Lenny is totally incapable of defending himself. He would not know where to begin to mount an effective defense as these posts of his amply demonstrate yet again.

Comment #64975

Posted by Andrew McClure on December 26, 2005 2:00 PM (e)

Carol Clouser wrote:

I disagree with you about that. Lenny is totally incapable of defending himself. He would not know where to begin to mount an effective defense as these posts of his amply demonstrate yet again.

Since I feel quite confident you are roughly the only person on this site who feels this way about either Mr. Flank in general or this discussion in specific, I feel it is safe to say your statement says more about your perceptions of the world than it does about Mr. Lenny Flank.

Comment #64976

Posted by KL on December 26, 2005 2:05 PM (e)

“I know Rev Dr Flank can defend himself, but…”

“I disagree with you about that. Lenny is totally incapable of defending himself. He would not know where to begin to mount an effective defense as these posts of his amply demonstrate yet again.”

Do you disagree with the rest of my post?

Comment #64986

Posted by sir_toejam on December 26, 2005 2:56 PM (e)

You are not interested in being consistent within your own thinking, you just care about the end result - attack ID’s designer idea by calling it “religious”. Your mind is closed as a trap door on this subject and that is that.

Carol here exhibits a classic case of projection. As I have mentioned countless times now, this does seem to be a very common, if not all pervasive, psychological dysfunction amongst creationists.

I have yet to see even ONE creationist come on this forum who did not exhibit severe projection disorder.

Not surprising, i guess, since projection and denial would be the natural psychological defense to trying to maintain an illogical viewpoint in the face of overwhelming evidence.

It’s just interesting to note. I think they should teach the whole ID movement as being a large-scale case of projection in psychology classes.

Comment #64993

Posted by Stephen Elliott on December 26, 2005 3:53 PM (e)

Posted by sir_toejam on December 26, 2005 02:56 PM (e) (s)


I have yet to see even ONE creationist come on this forum who did not exhibit severe projection disorder…

I beg to disagree.

I know of 1:
Myself.

I first arrived here as an ID supporter. That is no longer the case. I now consider the whole ID movement as a complete sham.

The honesty and intellectual rigour of evolution supporters helped, as did the exact opposite traits of the main ID proponents.

Funny old thing. It was ID that encouraged me to “follow the evidence no matter where it leads”. It lead to believe (eventually) that the whole ID argument is disingenuous and corrupt.

I was using the exact same arguments as Larry is and actually thought they were “new”. Amazing!

Strange thing was. My first impression of the hostile reaction I received, was that evolution really was on the ropes. It was only by sticking around and trying to argue (honestly), that I realised it was the IDists that where dishonest.

It might be usefull to realise that not everyone who intitialy turns up spouting ID arguments is unconvertable. Some of us where/are just dupes and open to reasoned argument.

Comment #65004

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 26, 2005 4:36 PM (e)

I disagree with you about that. Lenny is totally incapable of defending himself. He would not know where to begin to mount an effective defense as these posts of his amply demonstrate yet again.

How dreadful. I notice, though, that you STILL have not answered my simple queswtions. I’ll ask them again, just to give you yet another opportunity to, uh, mop the floor with me, Carol. Right here in public. Right in front of everyone. Come and get me. Grrrrrrrrr.

Do you, or do you not, think that your religious opinions should be accepted as scientific “evidence”? Yes or no, Carol.

And you still have not told us yet why you think the New Testament is full of crap. I’m quite sure you have lots of “evidence” and “data” from Mr Landa to show us on this question.

After all, both you and Mr Heddle are here claiming to speak on behalf of God, and yet one of you says that the New Testament is the word of God, and one of you says it isn’t.

One of you must be wrong.

Which one?

But if Carol is gonna preach at us incessantly, whether we like it or not, I wish she would at least establish her authority to do so, first. After all, Heddle ALSO preaches at us incessantly whether we like it or not, and Heddle says different things than Carol does. So they need to establish between them which is the True Preacher™© before anyone should listen to either of them.

Carol? Heddle? Which is you preaches the True Word™©, and how can the rest of us tell?

(sound of crickets chirping)

Yep, Carol —- that’s what I thought. All mouth and no action. (shrug)

Comment #65006

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 26, 2005 4:38 PM (e)

I was using the exact same arguments as Larry is and actually thought they were “new”. Amazing!

Dude, those arguments weren’t even “new” when the creation “scientists” were preaching them almost 40 years ago.

:)

Comment #65008

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 26, 2005 4:40 PM (e)

Why oh why why why don’t fundies ever answer my simple questions . .?

Comment #65009

Posted by KL on December 26, 2005 4:43 PM (e)

I thought my question was even simpler, but I didn’t get an answer. I haven’t been at this as long as you have though, so I guess I won’t take it personally.

Comment #65010

Posted by Stephen Elliott on December 26, 2005 4:46 PM (e)

Posted by ‘Rev Dr’ Lenny Flank on December 26, 2005 04:38 PM (e) (s)


Dude, those arguments weren’t even “new” when the creation “scientists” were preaching them almost 40 years ago.

:)

Yes I know….…….now ;)

I do believe some originated from ancient Greek philosophers.

Comment #65037

Posted by sir_toejam on December 26, 2005 8:56 PM (e)

Stephen -

you weren’t a creationist by the time I started participating on the forum. ;)

I applaud your honesty and your posts. I do hope that any lurkers out there that think the issue as intractable as I do take heart from them.

However, it does seem that for every one like yourself willing to actually learn about the facts behind the issue, there are a hundred more who prefer to stick their fingers in their ears and yell, “LALALALLALALALALA”. like lalalalarry.

Comment #65042

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 26, 2005 9:41 PM (e)

However, it does seem that for every one like yourself willing to actually learn about the facts behind the issue, there are a hundred more who prefer to stick their fingers in their ears and yell, “LALALALLALALALALA”. like lalalalarry.

I’ve been fighting creationists/IDers for almost 25 years now.

During that entire time, I can count on the fingers of one hand all of the creationist/IDers I’ve seen who gave it up.

It’s why I simply don’t spend any time or effort trying to “convert” them. The payoff simply isn’t worth the effort. And, as you note, for every one that leaves, there are a gazillion more waiting to take their place.

I prefer to focus my efforts on the fence-sitters, the lurkers who come in here not knowing any more than they see in the papers but who are curious to “see what all the fuss is about”. And I want those lurkers to see that every IDer who comes in here, every single one of them, without excpetion, is a dishonest evasive deceptive liar who refusesto answer even the most basic of questions.

And that is precisely why Judge Jones concluded that not only is ID impermissiable religion in the public schools, but ID supporters were flat-out lying to him, deliberately, calculatingly and with malice aforethought, when they told him it wasn’t. Just like they do here.

Not very Christian of them, if you ask me.

Comment #65047

Posted by jim on December 26, 2005 10:18 PM (e)

Lenny,

I started following the talk.origins news group on & off again since ~1988. I discovered talkorigins.org several years ago and only found PT a few months ago. I’d have to say I only started “fighting” since September or so.

I’ve personally converted two “non-believers” to evolution :), however, this occurred in 1989.

One was my wife. The other was her best friend. It took a lot of discussion, a lot of personal interaction, and even some Bible study.

Although many of these people “read” the Bible, they depend very heavily on their preacher’s “authorized” interpretation. Just showing them some Biblical contradictions (both self contradictory and contradictions to the “official” interpretation) really helped to start the break down of some of the impenetrable wall of ignorance.

It took many months after that of answering their questions and posing (loaded) questions. Interestingly in both cases they completely renounced their faith (not my goal!), to the point where they’re both very anti-Christian now. I found the whole thing very odd because I am a Christian. However, I *can* understand their revulsion for their former faith after they discovered how they were being lied to and used.

In summary it can be done. It took me a lot of work. I don’t think I would want to undertake the process again until/unless it’s someone I know and like a lot.

Comment #65048

Posted by sir_toejam on December 26, 2005 10:23 PM (e)

. I don’t think I would want to undertake the process again until/unless it’s someone I know and like a lot.

You don’t happen to know Larry by any chance?

Comment #65049

Posted by Carol Clouser on December 26, 2005 10:41 PM (e)

KL,

Sorry for not answering sooner. I was preoccupied with a Hanukah ceremony/party.

I assume you refer to #64904. Yes, I basically agree with the balance of your post there. But I don’t consider that important. The personalities in this debate and their conduct, on either side, is not of interest to me. And I would urge others not to lose sight of what is truly important in all this. And that is: Does the argument have any validity? Is it strong, weak or indifferent? Why? What is the truth as best we can ascertain it?

Now, KL, do YOU agree with this?

Comment #65050

Posted by jim on December 26, 2005 10:41 PM (e)

STJ,

Nope. I don’t know anyone here :( .

Comment #65051

Posted by Carol Clouser on December 26, 2005 10:49 PM (e)

Lenny, Oh, Lenny,

Perhaps you never in 25 years saw a fundamentalist “give it up” because of your ineffecive tactics. Which may also be why your questions don’t elicit any responses. You just don’t discuss/engage at all; you merely toss empty words around, at best, and ignore, insult, and ridicule your interlocutors, at worst.

Why should anyone who disagrees with you do anything other than ignore you?

Comment #65058

Posted by KL on December 27, 2005 12:02 AM (e)

“I assume you refer to #64904. Yes, I basically agree with the balance of your post there. But I don’t consider that important. The personalities in this debate and their conduct, on either side, is not of interest to me. And I would urge others not to lose sight of what is truly important in all this. And that is: Does the argument have any validity? Is it strong, weak or indifferent? Why? What is the truth as best we can ascertain it?

Now, KL, do YOU agree with this?”

Scientific validity? Educational validity in the realm of science? If you are talking about ID, the answer is No on both counts. I am not in a position to judge it by any other criteria. However, if it were being debated as something other than science, it would not have come to my attention at all. As far as I know, it is a non-issue in the Episcopal Church, and has been declared pretty poor idea theologically. Why, I have not the training to say. My daughter, who is preparing to be ordained, might have an opinion, but then again, she might not.

Comment #65085

Posted by sir_toejam on December 27, 2005 3:54 AM (e)

Sorry for not answering sooner. I was preoccupied with a Hanukah ceremony/party

I just heard on NPR that the official spelling of the holiday this year is:

Chanukkah

get with the program.

Comment #65086

Posted by sir_toejam on December 27, 2005 3:56 AM (e)

Carol spouted:

The personalities in this debate and their conduct, on either side, is not of interest to me

and immediately followed in her next post with:

Lenny, Oh, Lenny,

Perhaps you never in 25 years saw a fundamentalist “give it up” because of your ineffecive tactics. Which may also be why your questions don’t elicit any responses. You just don’t discuss/engage at all; you merely toss empty words around, at best, and ignore, insult, and ridicule your interlocutors, at worst.

Why should anyone who disagrees with you do anything other than ignore you?

sounds like denial to me, Carol.

Comment #65090

Posted by Registered User on December 27, 2005 4:37 AM (e)

Carol the Notorious Book Promoting Fraud writes

You just don’t discuss/engage at all; you merely toss empty words around, at best, and ignore, insult, and ridicule your interlocutors, at worst.

Lenny, I think this is Carol’s way of asking you for a Christmas kiss.

Comment #65093

Posted by Stephen Elliott on December 27, 2005 6:08 AM (e)

Posted by jim on December 26, 2005 10:18 PM (e) (s)

It took many months after that of answering their questions and posing (loaded) questions. Interestingly in both cases they completely renounced their faith (not my goal!), to the point where they’re both very anti-Christian now. I found the whole thing very odd because I am a Christian. However, I *can* understand their revulsion for their former faith after they discovered how they were being lied to and used…

This reaction is the fault of organised religion.

Most Christians base their faith of on preachers, bishops, priests etc. Rather than Christ himself.

So when it turns out that their “leaders” are liars, they automatically assume the same thing applies to Christ.

Comment #65094

Posted by k.e. on December 27, 2005 6:15 AM (e)

So carol you decide on the value of words before you decide on the value of an object do you ?
In my book that is a very debased form of truth.
Your values are just an option for you, something you can take or leave depending on how you ‘feel’.
Totally removed from objective reality.

RU that observation while describing the root of the problem; I suspect would produce a wry smile on the face of a reasoning person able to maintain a clear mind, an unlikely prospect in this case, or this
http://www.ibiblio.org/wm/paint/auth/munch/munch.scream.jpg

Comment #65095

Posted by Stephen Elliott on December 27, 2005 6:21 AM (e)

Posted by k.e. on December 27, 2005 06:15 AM (e) (s)

RU that observation while describing the root of the problem; I suspect would produce a wry smile on the face of a reasoning person able to maintain a clear mind, an unlikely prospect in this case, or this
http://www.ibiblio.org/wm/paint/auth/munch/munch…

Aaaaagh! I hate that picture. It sends a primordial scream right down my spine.

No doubt the artists intent. But, ugh!

Comment #65102

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 27, 2005 8:08 AM (e)

Why should anyone who disagrees with you do anything other than ignore you?

Please do. (shrug) See, my dear Carol, my questions make their point whether you answer them or not. I don’t need your cooperation.

But I’ll ask again, just to make sure all the lurkers get the point about you:

Do you, or do you not, think that your religious opinions should be accepted as scientific “evidence”? Yes or no, Carol.

And you still have not told us yet why you think the New Testament is full of crap. I’m quite sure you have lots of “evidence” and “data” from Mr Landa to show us on this question.

After all, both you and Mr Heddle are here claiming to speak on behalf of God, and yet one of you says that the New Testament is the word of God, and one of you says it isn’t.

One of you must be wrong.

Which one?

But if Carol is gonna preach at us incessantly, whether we like it or not, I wish she would at least establish her authority to do so, first. After all, Heddle ALSO preaches at us incessantly whether we like it or not, and Heddle says different things than Carol does. So they need to establish between them which is the True Preacher™© before anyone should listen to either of them.

Carol? Heddle? Which is you preaches the True Word™©, and how can the rest of us tell?

(sound of crickets chirping)

Yep, Carol —— that’s what I thought. All mouth and no action. (shrug)

Comment #65103

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 27, 2005 8:20 AM (e)

So carol you decide on the value of words before you decide on the value of an object do you ?

Words are holy, ya know.

And she has the wonderful infallible Mr Landa to tell us what the holy words all REALLY mean.

Comment #65116

Posted by KL on December 27, 2005 10:51 AM (e)

A response to Carol:
The description on the main page of Panda’s Thumb reads:

“The Panda’s Thumb is the virtual pub of the University of Ediacara. The patrons gather to discuss evolutionary theory, critique the claims of the antievolution movement, defend the integrity of both science and science education, and share good conversation.”

My point in my previous post is that, if ID was purely a philosophical debate (even if it was awaiting “mathematical” description, though I believe so far the mathematical basis has been shown to be wanting by people who do that sort of thing all the time) it would have not been an issue discussed on this website. However, it has been presented as science, and not only has been found lacking a scientific content, it has been shown through various forums to have its roots in religious belief. Even if you personally can separate ID from religion and call it philosophy instead, it is clear that the original idea sprang from religious discomfort with the ramifications of evolutionary theory. Had the proponents followed their own plan in the Wedge document, there would have been no Dover trial. It would be, to use a capital campaign analogy, still in the “silent phase”, trying to do legitimate science before going public. The fact that these guys would say, “aw, never mind-let’s move on”, shows that the motivation was not scientific. (Of course, the wedge document certainly made that clear.) So, what was the motivation? The vast majority of discussions about intelligent design are from the context of religion, plain and simple. (No, whoops, not plain and simple-add in the political effort, of which ID is a part, to impose a set of morals on our society) Your willingness to find non-religious explanations for design does not change what it is for everyone else. “A rose by any other name…”

Comment #65121

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

Well Landa the righteous reader of poetry as fact(really….really god honest true)must be about as “tuned into” the “Music of the Spheres” as one is through that great mind numbing substance….opium ….gives you a nice feeling and “clear view”..everything seems right ….you can’t feel the ground….. but the “vision” is nothing more than pipe dream
Coleridge gives the game away.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Apologia pro Vita Sua

The poet in his lone yet genial hour
Gives to his eyes a magnifying power :
Or rather he emancipates his eyes
From the black shapeless accidents of size–
In unctuous cones of kindling coal,
Or smoke upwreathing from the pipe’s trim bole,

His gifted ken can see
Phantoms of sublimity.

Comment #65131

Posted by k.e. on December 27, 2005 11:56 AM (e)

Stephen Elliott you said:

Aaaaagh! I hate that picture. It sends a primordial scream right down my spine.
No doubt the artist’s intent. But, ugh!

Hehehe Stephen count that as a ‘real experience’

That is the beauty of the Art…. To shake the ego and reveal the unknown. Artists are the itinerant explorers of dream and Mythos. Some can chart what is hidden to the ego and roam the badlands outside the circle of dogma and connect directly to the psyche. But all is not hidden to mere mortals (such as me) the investigation of symbols and meaning in art provide a short cut or a skeleton key to what goes on inside the collective being and the individual.
Have a look at this
Salvador Dali
Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee Around a Pomegranate, A Second Before Waking Up

Joe Campbell does an interesting analysis on this and many other symbols from Mythos in his Video series strangely titled er .. The Joseph Campbell’s Mythos, Vol. 1: The Shaping of Our Mythic Tradition Series.

VS. Ramachadron the nueropsychologist uses art to help map the mind.
“Phantoms in the Brain: Probing the Mysteries of the Human Mind”

http://www.amazon.com/gp/reader/0688172172/ref=sib_fs_top/104-5039699-7876725?%5Fencoding=UTF8&p=S00R&checkSum=eh%2B6jl1ufDSIaoC0qub4zcXjamn7sBTnp3IKrLKqAjM%3D#reader-page
Quote from Amazon re above
Perhaps most disquieting are beginnings of proof that much brain activity, including what we like to think of as uniquely human behavior, happens unbidden. There may be no escape from the un-Western conclusion that self is only a limited illusion. “De-throning man,” as the author points out, is at the heart of most revolutionary scientific thought

If you are ready for *that* then you are ready for this
Joseph Campbell - Mythos, Vol. 2: The Shaping of the Eastern Tradition

Comment #65212

Posted by AC on December 27, 2005 6:43 PM (e)

I’m late to this party as well, but I have to ask:

Carol wrote:

…the designer could have performed the design with no suspension of the laws of nature in one of two ways: Either pushed the design back in time to, say, before the big bang (so called “front loading”) or intervened later in a manner that did not require the suspension of the natural order of things. This latter scenario could occur in one of two ways - the designer’s making choices where quantum mechanics provides for multiple outcomes with various probabilities or by acting as an agent of nature much as would a person who puts together a car without suspending the laws of nature.

Even assuming the existence of an additional, orthogonal time-like dimension in which a transcendent god could “front load” our universe before our time dimension expanded, how could said god use quantum superposition to do so without “suspending the natural order”? To collapse the wavefunction(s) and realize specific states, the universe/particles have to be interacted with in a physical way. The natural order would be for them to not collapse at all, or to collapse solely due to internal interactions.

Comment #65219

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 27, 2005 7:05 PM (e)

To collapse the wavefunction(s) and realize specific states, the universe/particles have to be interacted with in a physical way.

Quite aside from the question of why science should give a flying fig about Carol’s (or anyone else’s) religious opinions:

I’m rather interested in knowing what observer collapsed the designer’s wavefunction …… ?

I’m also still interested in how Heddle and Carol can both claim to speak on behalf of God, yet they both say different things…. ? One of them, apparently, is BS’ing us.

Carol, is it you?

Heddle, is it you?

Comment #65324

Posted by carol clouser on December 28, 2005 1:29 AM (e)

KL,

You seem to miss my point. Everything you say about the motivations of various ID proponents may be true to the smallest detail and it matters not in the least with regard to the possible validity (that is, correctness) of the argument they make. And that “bigger picture” is what I focus on and expect serious minded folks to likewise focus upon. The rest is all “fluff” and armchair entertainment of rather poor quality.

And absent the discovery by the Dover judge that the board members pushing ID were lying to cover their true religious motivation, the decision may very well have gone the other way. The finding that ID is not science does not, in and of itself, make it unlawful to be discussed in science class. Somewhere, sometime and somehow this will get to another court in another district, where the board members’ motivations will either be different or not so transparent, and the ruling will go the other way. ID is an idea. Ideas are not killed by force, courts, governments or by killing the messengers. Ideas can only be killed by better ideas. Heard any better ideas on this blog lately?

Lenny,

Go right ahead, suit yourself. See if I care. But I will tell you this. I have seen much more success in persuading fundamentalists to reconsider their views in the last two years (via the impact of one particular book) than you seem to have had in a lifetime (by your own admission). And the reason is clear, as I described in my previous post. Enough said.

Comment #65328

Posted by carol clouser on December 28, 2005 1:54 AM (e)

Stephen Elliott,

I completely agree with you about the role of religious leaders and what happens when they are found wanting.

A point I wish to add, if I may. A key difference between Judaism and mainline Christianity with regard to religious education is that, unlike most Christian denominations (not all, by any means), in Judaism every adult and child is encouraged to read, study, question, debate, consider and analyze on their own. Leaders are there to help not to replace, to guide not to authoritatively conclude. In contrast, there are millions of Christians whose familiarity with the Bible is limited to the few areas about which they have repeatedly heard sermons, and their understanding/interpretation of those areas is further limited to their preachers’ understanding/interpretation. I never cease to be astounded at how little so many Christians know about major religious doctrines, including that of their own faith.

Comment #65354

Posted by KL on December 28, 2005 8:21 AM (e)

“And absent the discovery by the Dover judge that the board members pushing ID were lying to cover their true religious motivation, the decision may very well have gone the other way. The finding that ID is not science does not, in and of itself, make it unlawful to be discussed in science class. Somewhere, sometime and somehow this will get to another court in another district, where the board members’ motivations will either be different or not so transparent, and the ruling will go the other way. ID is an idea. Ideas are not killed by force, courts, governments or by killing the messengers. Ideas can only be killed by better ideas. Heard any better ideas on this blog lately?”

I disagree that this was the only reason the decision went against the school board, but I guess I cannot understand why a non-scientific idea would be discussed in a science class. Why would a school board mandate reference to a book that is not approved for the cuuriculum? If my school mandated that I mention an alternative to atomic theory and suggested students read a book on magic provided by an anonymous donor, it would be pretty silly. I would have to wonder why on earth anyone would do such a thing. In the end, the motivation of the school board was key in showing that ID was exactly what the plaintiffs suspected-religiously motivated. As I mentioned before, if this idea was introduced in philosophy or humanities I am not sure there would have been any protest. (there might, but the school board would have had a leg to stand on, especially if the class already discussed a variety of philosophical or religious traditions, and it could be shown that ID was part of a well developed curriculum on this type of study) To partially quote many posters to this website: why is evolution singled out as problematic? Why not atomic theory, gravity, thermodynamics, kinetics, equilibrium, etc. ? Why on earth would anyone want to introduce a shaky “alternative” to kids, when there is insufficient time and resources for the basics? It defies reason until you understand what is behind it.

I would love to ask the Dover school board: Why didn’t you add this idea to the Humanities curriculum? It might have been accepted by all and would have been an interesting addition. (although Pandas had some real mistakes, given that it was trying to be “scientific”; I suspect I would hold out for a better text, which was sure to come along soon if there was growing interest). The Discovery Institute would have been using their resources wisely to approach ID in this way, rather than as science. If they had followed their Wedge document as written, and they had found the science wanting, then they could have stopped, regrouped, and tried a philosophical approach. Because they did not, I am suspicious their motivations.

Oh well, sorry for the ramblings. My two cents worth, as an educator…

Comment #65356

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 28, 2005 8:26 AM (e)

Somewhere, sometime and somehow this will get to another court in another district, where the board members’ motivations will either be different or not so transparent, and the ruling will go the other way.

Go ahead and hold your breath waiting, Carol. (shrug)

Lenny,

Go right ahead, suit yourself.

Carol,

Go right ahead, and answer my goddamn questions.

Once more:

Do you, or do you not, think that science should consider your religious opinions as evidence? Yes or no.

Quite aside from the question of why science should give a flying fig about your (or anyone else’s) religious opinions:

I’m rather interested in knowing what observer collapsed the designer’s wavefunction … … ?

I’m also still interested in how Heddle and Carol can both claim to speak on behalf of God, yet they both say different things… . ? One of them, apparently, is BS’ing us.

Carol, is it you?

Heddle, is it you?

Comment #65363

Posted by Stephen Elliott on December 28, 2005 9:08 AM (e)

Posted by carol clouser on December 28, 2005 01:29 AM (e) (s)


And absent the discovery by the Dover judge that the board members pushing ID were lying to cover their true religious motivation, the decision may very well have gone the other way. The finding that ID is not science does not, in and of itself, make it unlawful to be discussed in science class. Somewhere, sometime and somehow this will get to another court in another district, where the board members’ motivations will either be different or not so transparent, and the ruling will go the other way. ID is an idea. Ideas are not killed by force, courts, governments or by killing the messengers. Ideas can only be killed by better ideas. Heard any better ideas on this blog lately?…

Carol,
Why should ID be taught in a science classroom? I know you used the word discussed, but teaching it was the primary drive from the ID movement until they got caught.

Why is it that ID/Creationism is the only subject that claims to be science and yet wants it taught before it does credible research and wants it taught to non-experts first? Why does that not seem to set your alarm bells ringing?

I have no problem whatsoever with people having religious opinions. The problem comes when someone wants religion taught as science at taxpayers expense. That stinks.

I have lived in some countries that have theistic government and do not like it. When a government is religious in nature it has no problems at all in interfering in almost every aspect in peoples lives. Declaring what clothes you wear, banning women from driving etc.

I believe in freedom, people should be able to do anything that does not harm others. Millions of my predecessors died for that right. I would hate to see it thrown away.

Comment #65365

Posted by KL on December 28, 2005 9:17 AM (e)

“I have no problem whatsoever with people having religious opinions. The problem comes when someone wants religion taught as science at taxpayers expense. That stinks.”

Even when it is taught without taxpayer funding it stinks, because it is misleading and deceitful and can shatter one’s trust in their teachers, their parents, their pastors and priests. (I’ve seen it happen, especially when a student is homeschooled and then attends university; they discover that they had been lied to while they were growing up. BTW, please don’t take this as my condemning homeschooling. It’s a great idea for a lot of reasons.)

Comment #65517

Posted by carol clouser on December 28, 2005 8:55 PM (e)

Stephen and KL,

I am for “discussion” of ID in Biology classes because it is the big elephant in the room, because students know about it anyway and are probably fed much misinformation about it by ascientific types, and because we are hiding our heads in the sand ostrich-like if we pretend that it will simply go away if we ignore it. What has the status-quo in education, that is the side that won in Dover, wrought for us? Study after study shows that at least half of americans today believe that life in all its diversity appeared suddenly a few thousand years ago. You know where this achievement of the educational status-quo comes from? I have a theory. It comes from ignoring the big elephants in the room while outsiders bash science and ride those elephants with impunity.

Why scientists wish to ignore the data, hide their heads in the sand and celebrate the victory of the educational status-quo is beyond me.

Before others distort my position yet again, let me emphasize again - I am not for “teaching”, that is enthusuastically advocating, ID or creationism. I am for analysis, comparison of methods and subsequent evaluation. Let the science teachers do their jobs. The students will then do just fine.

Comment #65519

Posted by PvM on December 28, 2005 9:07 PM (e)

Before others distort my position yet again, let me emphasize again - I am not for “teaching”, that is enthusuastically advocating, ID or creationism. I am for analysis, comparison of methods and subsequent evaluation. Let the science teachers do their jobs. The students will then do just fine.

Why science teachers? Why do you believe science teachers are able to address the scientific vacuity of ID in sufficient detail?
Judge Jones’ ruling could be helpful here as it provides a concise overview of what is wrong with ID, from a scientific perspective

Comment #65520

Posted by Alexey Merz on December 28, 2005 9:15 PM (e)

What has the status-quo in education, that is the side that won in Dover, wrought for us?

Antibiotics, airplanes, computers, high-yield crops, the internets… things like those.

Study after study shows that at least half of americans today believe that life in all its diversity appeared suddenly a few thousand years ago.

Also that heat comes out of the radiator, electricity out of the wall, and food from the supermarket.

Why scientists wish to ignore the data, hide their heads in the sand and celebrate the victory of the educational status-quo is beyond me.

That is obvious.

Comment #65521

Posted by Flint on December 28, 2005 9:21 PM (e)

Carol:

Let’s grant that creationism is common enough in the US, and that evolution is taught poorly enough and rarely enough while creationists fulminate it vocally enough, that 9th graders are well aware that it’s a battleground. Your position seems to be that by teaching only the science and not the religious *objections* to science, public education is doing the students the disservice of pretending they see no battle.

So, what changes would you make? Would you like biology teachers to start their courses by saying “Look, students, we are well aware that many people for their own various reasons maintain that evolution doesn’t happen. At one time or another, people have resisted for their own various reasons quite a few of the explanations the scientific method has provided. We promise, as intelligent and dedicated professionals, that as soon as the very first smidgeon of evidence comes to our attention of some other mechanism for the changes in life forms over time, we will consider that evidence as carefully as we consider any other evidence. Since there is currently no such evidence whatsoever, there is nothing to discuss in science class. All we can teach about science is the actual science.”

Or let’s try another tack. First, spend a few sessions discussing the scientific method, how it works, what it requires, how propositions are formulated and tested. Then, spend two or three minutes pointing out that objections to evolution have NO hypotheses, NO tests, NO evidence, NO data, NO budget, do NO research, derive NO theories, publish NO studies, and the closest they come to anything resembling science is to misuse a couple of scientific terms. And I assure you, this is a complete and accurate “comparison of methods and subsequent evaluation.”

But notice, the teacher in both of these approaches can’t even *mention* that he’s talking about creationism, because as a government representative, he is just as prohibited from criticizing a religion as he is from preaching it. Since ID is religion, all religion, and nothing but religion, and the science teacher is forbidden to comment about religion, he would you “let the science teachers do their jobs”? I’m really curious.

Comment #65532

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 28, 2005 9:58 PM (e)

Carol, do you, or do you not, think that your religious opinions should be accepted as scientific “evidence”?

And why should science give a flying fig about your religious opinions anyway?

Comment #65539

Posted by sir_toejam on December 29, 2005 12:33 AM (e)

Carol, above, postulated that the current “status quo” for science teaching just aint workin’ given that:

Study after study shows that at least half of americans today believe that life in all its diversity appeared suddenly a few thousand years ago. You know where this achievement of the educational status-quo comes from? I have a theory. It comes from ignoring the big elephants in the room while outsiders bash science and ride those elephants with impunity.

Not to impinge on Flint, but let me borrow something he said in another thread:

…evolution is a real hot-button topic in much of the US. It seems that kids go home with the scientific view of life and confront their parents. As someone testified in Dover, the kids know that *somebody* is lying. Gradual development over tens of millions of years simply doesn’t reconcile well with “poof, 6000 years ago.” The parents angrily call the school administrators, who in turn call in their science teachers and “recommend” that evolution be de-emphasized. In plain words, don’t mention it, you guys. Got that? Surely you can find something important to fill up the 50 minutes a year you spend causing trouble with this evolution stuff, yes? And of course, plenty of important things clamor for the freed-up 50 minutes.

now Carol, given this very plausible scenario outlined by Flint (and supported by a long history of teachers documenting this very thing happening to them - I’ve talked to dozens who have stated this), what do you really think is going to be the more effective approach to changing that statistic (which is the highest anywhere in the western world, other than SA)?

Addressing creationism in science class (which has a proven track record of only confusing kids who hear it)? Or should we deal with the real problem, the intractable parents who refuse to listen and tell their kids their teachers are lying to them, then call the school board and complain.

THAT’S the “status quo” Carol, for dozens of years, ignorant parents have complained about evolution to their local school boards, which results in fewer teachers teaching it, which results in more parents with poor educations in the subject.

Check out the history of the furor over teaching sex ed in middle school and see the exact same patterns occurring. Bad sexual practices resulting from poor education because too many parents complained.

No, Carol, the way to deal with this issue isn’t to cave to the religious right and start addressing religious topics in science class, the way to deal with it is by school districts standing their ground in the face of ridiculous attacks by parents, and not refusing to teach one of the single most important theories in all of science because they want to avoid flak.

if all school districts emphasized teaching evolution and good science MORE, we would eventually see an end to this creationist nonsense as educated parents tend to have educated kids.

Dover tried to set this process back a hundred years. thank god (pun intended) they failed to do so. We still have a chance to teach the kids in Dover what real science is, and the value of evolutionary theory in it.

One thing i have seen time and time again tho, is requests from secondary schools for help on evolutionary theory from local university representatives. Many high school teachers really could use some feedback.

Since you have such a poor grasp of how evoltuionary theory, and the scientific method in general, work, i wouldn’t suggest you rush out and volunteer, Carol. However, I heartily suggest that anybody who feels competent get out there and at least attend a few school board meetings in your community. point them to some good sources of information like talkorigins or the berkeley site:

http://evolution.berkeley.edu/

lots of folks still don’t know these sources of information even exist.

we won’t solve this problem by placating to the ignorant; unless someone has come up with some way to subliminaly teach evolutionary theory through MTV, we still only have one approach that can work.

get out there!

Comment #65542

Posted by carol clouser on December 29, 2005 1:06 AM (e)

Flint,

Some years ago when I was the science supervisor of a school district I had the opportunity to observe a young science teacher up for tenure. She was teaching a Biology class to sophomores and the topic was evolution. At one point a student in the back of the room shouts out something to the effect that “you don’t really believe, Ms……, what you are telling us. You know it happened the way the Bible says it did” (not a precise quote but the gist of the remark). The teacher became flustered and mumbled something about “this (evolution) is just a theory and you are required to know it.”

When I reviewed her performance with her (in private of course, after the lesson) I asked her why she became flustered at that question and if in retrospect she thought she could have handled it differently. She told me that the whole issue is loaded with pitfalls and anything she says could get her into trouble one way or the other.

What we need, Flint, are guidelines and curricula for teachers. We need to get away from this notion that ID/creationism must not be touched with a ten foot pole. Teachers must be held legally and professionally harmless axcept for blatant violations of the guidelines. ID need not be presented as religion but as a philosophical opinion. It is possible to discuss the issues sympathetically and with respect for other peoples’ views (this blog not withstanding). And the law does allow for all this so long as the purpose is secular, to promote critical thinking and understanding of different views.

It might help if all schools adopted the Lederman approach of physics first for freshmen, followed by chemistry for sophomores, then biology for juniors. This way biology students will be two years older, more intelectually mature, and know much more about the scientific method. Or Earth Science for juniors and Biology for Seniors. (But not all states require three or four years of science, which they should!)

What teachers would do is describe the methodologies of the various approaches, the underlying assumptions, and the conclusions. The teacher should challenge the students to do some thinking on their own with his/her help. The teacher would be free to state his or her own view but not to bellitle, denigrate, ridicule or attack the motives of proponents of other views.

This way science would not be engaged in this battle with both hands tied behind its back.

This approach does admittedly still require some preparatory work, which has never been done (as far as I know) because of the atmosphere prevailing around this issue fostered by supreme court rulings and a trigger happy parent body ready to file an expensive lawsuit at the drop of a hat.

Comment #65545

Posted by sir_toejam on December 29, 2005 1:36 AM (e)

Some years ago when I was the science supervisor of a school district

after all the things you have said on this blog, that statement makes me shudder.

This way science would not be engaged in this battle with both hands tied behind its back.

the only thing tieing up science are ignorant creationists, Carol.

the scientists haven’t had problems being productive using evolutionary theory, and when it’s actually taught in school, most of the kids get the value of it too.

what your talking about is critical thinking, and should be taught in a critical thinking class, philosophy, or social studies.

There is as much point to spending time doing what you suggest as doing what you suggest is already being done

bellitle, denigrate, ridicule or attack the motives of proponents of other views

(which, btw, nobody does because nobody in science class wastes time on this drivel).

Where on earth did you ever see or hear of a science class that wasted time even denigrating creationism?

it’s total lack of scientific value warrant it to discussions outside of science class, period.

it’s amazing you can’t seem to get that through your head, Carol.

What teachers would do is describe the methodologies of the various approaches, the underlying assumptions, and the conclusions.

well, i can’t say that would waste much time, scince there are no alternative “methodologies” (i think you just mean to use the term methods, here) that have produced any relevant testable hypotheses.

why can you not get this, Carol?? please, for the last time, show us how any alternative method produces testable hypotheses, predictions, and results?

your triangle example ended up just showing us that science itself was the method used, so you’ll have to do better than that.

You simply want philosophy to be treated as a legitimate scientific method, and it just isn’t. why are you so desperate to have science, which has a fantastic track record using the method it uses, to be watered down with philosophy?? why can’t you just teach philosophy in philosophy class?

sigh

Comment #65546

Posted by carol clouser on December 29, 2005 1:37 AM (e)

While I generally do not respond to ignorant posters who think their arguments are enhanced by invective and insults, I do want to respond to post #65520 for the sake of others here. Said poster is obviously oblivious of how technological innovations are produced in the USA. Not only do the innovators represent a small portion of the population, they are increasingly foreigners whose formative education occured elsewhere. The number of american high school students who go on to become professional scientists is vanishingly small. But alas high schools are for the masses and we need to treat them as such.

Comment #65548

Posted by sir_toejam on December 29, 2005 1:44 AM (e)

as to how teachers should address creationist questions in science class…

how would you address a question about your sex life in english class?

same difference.

it’s off topic and should be addressed OUTSIDE of class. It’s really not that hard.

as to resources for teachers to be better prepared to actually TEACH evolutionary theory, plenty of those abound as well, as i rightly pointed out just above your last post.

your seriously deluded if you think your “approach” would help. I’ve personally seen the results of doing just that, and the majority of kids end up being more confused than when the issue was not addressed at all.

it’s simply a very poor idea.

like i said, Carol, if you really want to help kids learn science, point them to some decent SCIENCE resources and keep your philosophy to yourself.

If you want to help kids deal with philosophical issues, point them to some good sources for discussion in that vein.

When science questions are brought up in philosophy class, you should rightly tell the questioner to hold that thought until AFTER class, then point them to a science resource to answer their questions.

vice versa for philosophy questions in science class, or english questions in math class, or football questions in social studies….

get the picture??

Comment #65550

Posted by sir_toejam on December 29, 2005 1:53 AM (e)

The number of american high school students who go on to become professional scientists is vanishingly small

so teaching philosophy in science class is going to help that??

wow. that’s some serious delusional thinking there.

here’s an alternative hypothesis:

there are fewer science students because there is less money available to do science.

I know very few biologists who can claim to be well-to-do. in fact, there are a couple, but they didn’t get their money from doing biology.

Money is always a prime motivating factor in any given field of study, and as less and less money becomes available per researcher*, fewer and fewer students will be interested in becoming scientists.

Wanna help that, Carol? why don’t you do something productive and write your congressman and tell them you want more funding for general science at universities, and biological sciences in particular.

*(I have seen figures showing gross amounts actually increasing, but per capita the amounts are dwindling rapidly, as experienced in my own lab)

Comment #65551

Posted by Steviepinhead on December 29, 2005 1:56 AM (e)

Syntax Error: mismatched tag 'quote'

Comment #65552

Posted by Steviepinhead on December 29, 2005 1:56 AM (e)

Oh, Carol:

more intelectually mature

…and then, in senior year, we’ll tackle spelling and typing and proofreading.

Is anybody else besides Sir Toe and I just a little shaken by the notion that Carol was the “science supervisor of a school district”?

Eeeee.

Comment #65553

Posted by sir_toejam on December 29, 2005 2:00 AM (e)

Carol appears to be about as good a “science advisor” as the TMLC was a “legal advisor” for the Dover school board.

or maybe she was better, once upon a time, and the years have not been so good to her thought processes.

who knows.

Comment #65600

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 29, 2005 7:44 AM (e)

Some years ago when I was the science supervisor of a school district

Did Judah Landa write your lesson plans for you?

Carol, do you think your religious opinions should be considered as scientific evidence, or don’t you.

Oh, and I’m a little curious as to what you think of your fellow skeptic Larry’s “Holocaust revisionism” … ?

Comment #65622

Posted by Flint on December 29, 2005 10:16 AM (e)

Sigh. Anticipating what was coming, I was careful to write “ID is religion, all religion, and nothing but religion, and the science teacher is forbidden to comment about religion.”

Carol, true to form, read this and responded “ID need not be presented as religion but as a philosophical opinion.”

What can anyone say. ID is not a philosophical opinion. ID is creationism relabeled (sometimes clumsily) in the hopes of providing plausible deniability to a friendly judge. That’s ALL it is.

So we have two problems. First, Carol doesn’t wish to admit that creationism is creationism. And second, Carol thinks that science class is the appropriate place to discuss a “philosophy” which is pure creationism. Which is why I asked how it might be presented WITHOUT the teacher taking a religious position. As Judge Jones spent several pages explaining, even *mentioning* intelligent design takes a religious position, because ID is religion, all religion, and nothing but religion. Now, isn’t that where we started here?

When I reviewed her performance with her (in private of course, after the lesson) I asked her why she became flustered at that question and if in retrospect she thought she could have handled it differently. She told me that the whole issue is loaded with pitfalls and anything she says could get her into trouble one way or the other.

Absolutely true, unfortunately. When a student starts preaching in science class, the teacher’s options are pretty much limited to saying “this is a science class, not a religion class. Please express religious beliefs where they are appropriate. In my class, you will be learning science.” What the teacher can NOT do is imply, even indirectly, that the student’s beliefs are either right or wrong. The teacher can’t take a religious position.

And so, once again, it is not possible to discuss creationism, in science class or anywhere else, without discussing religion. Science class is supposed to be about science. Carol is simply repeating the DI’s dishonest rationale for sneaking their faith into science class any way they can - by relabeling it, by treating it as appropriate for a science class, by pretending it has any scientific validity, who cares if these misrepresentations are flagrantly dishonest, so long as we get religion into science class!. And I don’t believe Carol is just an ignorant dupe falling for this, either. She knows what she’s doing.

Comment #65661

Posted by carol clouser on December 29, 2005 2:44 PM (e)

Flint,

I must tell you, you are just plain wrong about what is and is not permitted to be said or done pertaining to religion in public school classrooms, science or otherwise. Yes, the issue is treacherous for schools and teachers, so they just stay away from it. But technically anything can be discussed IN ANY SETTING so long as the purpose is secular.

Your argument pertaining to ID being creationism repackaged is irrelevant to my comments since I am in favor of analyzing creationism too, and my previous post made that clear. I have no doubt that science will come out ahead in this game, but the game ought to be played instead of avoided.

And please do not impugn my motives. I am not part of any dark underground conspiracy to undermine anything. Just someone thinking out loud here.

Comment #65666

Posted by sir_toejam on December 29, 2005 3:02 PM (e)

so long as the purpose is secular

uh, what did Jones rule the purpose of ID was again Carol? Why did he rule that way?

gees your dense.

Just someone thinking out loud here.

there’s that denial raising it’s ugly head again.

someone who is thinking usually listens, you don’t. ergo you are preaching, not listening.

However, “fine” distinctions such as this don’t seem to be recognizable by you, so I guess i shouldn’t be surprised I’m typing yet another explanation for you.

We’ve addressed your “arguments” endlessly.

why do you persist?

Comment #65668

Posted by sir_toejam on December 29, 2005 3:05 PM (e)

Your philosophy of teaching everything in every class is kinda what we did in “homeroom” in elementary school.

It is simply a waste of time once you actually have compartmentalized course material.

I suppose you now think that it would be more efficient if we gave up specialized courses??

what ARE you smoking?

Comment #65673

Posted by PvM on December 29, 2005 3:15 PM (e)

But technically anything can be discussed IN ANY SETTING so long as the purpose is secular.

The legal landscape however is a little bit more complicated than this. For instance Lemon test

First, the statute must have a secular legislative purpose; second, its principal or primary effect must be one that neither advances nor inhibits religion; finally, the statute must not foster “an excessive government entanglement with religion.”

In other words, purpose, effect and entanglement.

O’Connor merged the purpose/effect prongs in her ruling

he Establishment Clause prohibits government from making adherence to a religion relevant in any way to a person’s standing in the political community. Government can run afoul of that prohibition…[by] endorsement or disapproval of religion. Endorsement sends a message to nonadherents that they are outsiders, not full members of the political community, and an accompanying message to adherents that they are insiders, favored members of the political community.

The proper inquiry under the purpose prong of Lemon, I submit, is whether the government intends to convey a message of endorsement or disapproval of religion

Since the legal landscape, especially on the purpose prong is quite ‘unstable’ it is important for courts to look at all prongs and tests.

Justice O’Connor noted in one of her concurring opinions that “[e]xperience proves that the Establishment Clause … cannot easily be reduced to a single test,” and that different cases “may call for different approaches.”1 In cases involving “government actions targeted at particular individuals or groups, imposing special duties or giving benefits,” O’Connor seemed to indicate that the neutrality test should be used, while the endorsement test would more appropriate in cases involving government speech on religious topics.2 However, she cautioned the Court against using a single unified test for evaluating all Establishment Clause claims, stating that such a test could “do more harm than good” and that a single test “risks being so vague as to be useless.”3 An examination

Link

In McCreary we find

Ever since Lemon v. Kurtzman summarized the three familiar considerations for evaluating Establishment Clause claims, looking to whether government action has “a secular legislative purpose” has been a common, albeit seldom dispositive, element of our cases. 403 U. S., at 612. Though we have found government action motivated by an illegitimate purpose only four times since Lemon,9 and “the secular purpose requirement alone may rarely be determinative … , it nevertheless serves an important function.”10 Wallace v. Jaffree, 472 U. S. 38, 75 (1985) (O’Connor, J., concurring in judgment).

In Santa Fe the court ruled

“When a governmental entity professes a secular purpose for an arguably religious policy, the government’s characterization is, of course, entitled to some deference. But it is nonetheless the duty of the courts to ‘distinguis[h] a sham secular purpose from a sincere one’ “;

I believe that denigrate and disparage should be considered in this context.

The establishment clause however is still a tricky subject and the Judge correctly presented a full evaluation of the tests and prongs.

Comment #65717

Posted by carol clouser on December 29, 2005 5:49 PM (e)

PvM,

Thanks for the thorough analysis you presented.

You seem to be saying that a program along the lines I outlined in #65542 could be designed and implimented to be perfectly lawful.

Flint, are you listening?

The bottom line is this: Handling these issues with all the “tests” imposed by the courts can be treacherous for schools and teachers. That’s why schools and teachers avoid the topic like the plague. And that’s why I proposed carefully designed guidelines and curricula for teachers and preparatory work needs to be done (see #65542). But it can be done. My point then is - it is in our interest and the interest of science education that it is done!

PvM, I would appreciate your comment on this.

tojam,

Will you please stop posting your irrelevent nonsense. You are becoming a annoying nuisance with nothing serious or meaningful to contribute.

Comment #65718

Posted by Steviepinhead on December 29, 2005 5:58 PM (e)

Oh, Carol:

Will you please stop posting your irrelevent nonsense. You are becoming a annoying nuisance with nothing serious or meaningful to contribute.

Funny how the lack of anything serious or meaningful to say never stops you from posting your irrelevant nonsense…

Comment #65721

Posted by Stuart Weinstein on December 29, 2005 6:20 PM (e)

Carol writes:

“In any event, nothing in this conflicts with science, and is admittedly scientifically useless. But two points need to be emphasized. One, these ideas are NOT based on religion.”

Again given those who are pushing it, the above can’t be taken seriously.

“One could argue that if no religion had ever appeared on earth, and if the notion of God or gods were entirely unheard of, the ID arguments leading to a designer could still be made persuasively.”

And dismissed as scientifically irrelevant, and it does not mean the previous statement is true.

“True, the product of these ideas is coicident with a key religious idea, the existence of the designer, but so what?”

THe problem is in the above scenario, nobody would claim ID is a scientific theory. THe only reason, in the contemporary situation, that ID is being pushed as science is because a segment of the population wishes to push their religious beliefs into the class room.

You can argue that ID is simply coincident with a theological viewpoint all you like, but one cannot divorce themselves from the observation that the theory is virtually exclisively being pushed by folks grinding a theological axe.

Take Big Bang for example. In the West, it was developed by a Jesuit, and there were some intial criticisms of being a “religious theory”. However, it made testable predictions, and is embraced by the scientific community, not merely on the Christian Broadcasting Network.

Comment #65727

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 29, 2005 6:42 PM (e)

So we have two problems. First, Carol doesn’t wish to admit that creationism is creationism. And second, Carol thinks that science class is the appropriate place to discuss a “philosophy” which is pure creationism.

Carol wants her religious opinions (or Judah Landa’s, more precisely) to be accepted as scientific evidence. (shrug)

Comment #65728

Posted by Alexey Merz on December 29, 2005 6:44 PM (e)

Carol wrote:

While I generally do not respond to ignorant posters who think their arguments are enhanced by invective and insults, I do want to respond to post #65520 for the sake of others here. Said poster is obviously oblivious of how technological innovations are produced in the USA.

Obviously, since said poster (that would be me) is a working research biochemist, whose father, father-in-law, and brother-in-law are all professional engineers, and whose spouse is also a working scientist.

Not only do the innovators represent a small portion of the population, they are increasingly foreigners whose formative education occured elsewhere.

1. This is a bald assertion made without reference to any data, by a poster (Carol) who has shown repeatedly that she has at best a tenuous grasp of the empirical.

2. If one allows (for the sake of argument) that the above assertion is correct, is Carol arguing that it is a good thing?

The number of american high school students who go on to become professional scientists is vanishingly small. But alas high schools are for the masses and we need to treat them as such.

I have no idea what Carol is getting at here. Perhaps she will enlighten us.

Comment #65740

Posted by Flint on December 29, 2005 7:54 PM (e)

Carol:

Yes, I’m listening. And yes, I agree that creationism is perfectly fair game within the proper context - a discussion of various religious doctrines and viewpoints. Science class, however, is not the place for such a discussion. Now, you have two choices (and you damn well know it, so please quit pretending).

First, you (as the teacher) can make it clear that you are (hopefully temporarily) suspending any discussion of science, so that the class can be devoted to comparative religion. This is perfectly acceptable, and equally irrelevant to science. If you think science class is the appropriate forum for comparative religion lectures, I can only say we will never agree.

Or second, you can *pretend* that “intelligent design” has something to do with science, making the class appropriate. And THAT is flat false, dishonest, and illegal. ID is religion, all religion, and nothing but religion. As I wrote earlier (and you demostrated that you aren’t listening, whether or not you CAN listen), ID has “NO hypotheses, NO tests, NO evidence, NO data, NO budget, do NO research, derive NO theories, publish NO studies, and the closest they come to anything resembling science is to misuse a couple of scientific terms.” And no, it is NOT “in the interest of science” to discuss religious doctrine in science class. It is inappropriate and irrelevant.

In fact, I’d consider it dicey at best to even try to suspend science to discuss religion in science class. The very fact that it IS science class, however clearly the teacher makes it clear that the discussion has nothing to do with science whatsoever, works against this. “What did you learn in science class today, junior?” So please, don’t play games with us.

Comment #65744

Posted by limpidense on December 29, 2005 8:20 PM (e)

Alexey,

Carol C. is likely one of the neo-bigots, not that she would admit (actually, be capable of even seeing) the fact, that distort to uselessness whatever value the conservative viewpoint might otherwise possess.
She is not worth reading, much less responding to, since anyone, even a very innocent lurker, would find her “views” as well as her tone repulsive after only a few tastes, should any fragment of honesty lurk in their consciences.

And she represents the “best” of this sort of useless, empty type of “true” American.

Comment #65747

Posted by Alexey Merz on December 29, 2005 8:43 PM (e)

Oh, and one other thing.

Carol wrote:

While I generally do not respond to ignorant posters who think their arguments are enhanced by invective and insults

I was not making an argument. I was mocking you for acting as though you were making an argument (see #65517) and not doing so.

Comment #65763

Posted by carol clouser on December 29, 2005 9:55 PM (e)

Flint,

I was advocating something along the lines of your first option. But I would not dignify the diversion from strict science as a lesson in “comparative religion”. I would describe it as a lesson in “let us face the big elephant in the room” for two or three days.

I assume you are aware of the latest buzzword in education in the USA, namely “interdisciplinary”. The latest fad, one encouraged by various scholars in the field, brings history into English class, art into Physical Education, Mathermatics into Foreign Language (whatever it is) and so on. This is viewed as a way of integrating the areas of study and build well rounded individuals who can discern connections between seemingly disparate areas, thereby mutually re-inforcing each other. So my proposed program in not so out of line with what is going on today out there “in the field”.

You say we will never agree. Perhaps. But I disagree with you respectfully (unusual here). On your side are all the folks who fashioned the status quo in education, which in my opinion has turned out to be a disaster for science. Perhaps you disagree with that too.

Comment #65779

Posted by Flint on December 29, 2005 10:33 PM (e)

Carol:

I would not dignify the diversion from strict science as a lesson in “comparative religion”. I would describe it as a lesson in “let us face the big elephant in the room” for two or three days.

Come on now. ID is religion, all religion, nothing but religion. Discussing ID is discussing religion. Period. The “big elephant” is religious doctrine that conflicts with scientific evidence and theory. Facing the big elephant means facing religious doctrine. It means nothing else. Do you think, like the creationists, that if you change the name from creationism to “big elephant” it stops being religion? Do you think we can’t see through this by now?

I agree that the status quo in science education is very lousy. I just think bringing in religion would make it worse. Interdisciplinary studies are intended, at least in principle, for knowledge in tangentially related fields to add depth to a given field. For example, in English much of the literature is historical, and of course a great deal more depth can be extracted from the literature of a period, from knowing the history of a period. I find reading a well-annotated Gulliver’s Travels (detailing all the little political issues and personalities of the day that are actually being satirized) adds a lot.

Perhaps along these lines, it might conceivably be possible to bring ID into a science class to demonstrate everything that science is not, and cannot be. As Judge Jones said, the religion cannot possibly be uncoupled from ID, because there is no science of any sort in ID. But if this were your actual goal (as opposed to the obvious creationist goal of preaching their religious doctrine by pretending it’s science when it is not), then I submit that ID is probably the worst pedagogical vehicle you could possibly select. It’s a hot button, Carol. Some of the parents out there are actually rabid creationists, some of their children pound bibles for lack of any genuine education, and for many people, evolution is the devil’s own propaganda.

So perhaps some ancient, currently powerless religious “way to knowledge” could be used, like the Greek, Roman, or Norse pantheons, to show the important distinction between basing conclusions on evidence, and basing evidence on conclusions. And this might indeed serve to add insight into the scientific method, illustrating it by contrast with what it is not.

But creationism remains too virulent for such an approach to have the slightest scientific pedagogical value. It’s qualitatively different to say “Most Greeks believed that the head god Zeus mated with a mortal to produce the demigod Prometheus” and to say “Most Americans believe that their head god mated with a mortal to produce the demigod Jesus.” The qualitative difference is, today some people actually believe the latter myth, while nobody believes the former anymore (unless the names are changed, of course).

So back to the subject at hand: The purpose of science class is to teach science, so that the students understand how science works, what its strengths and limitations are, what the process is, and what knowledge that process has produced. I still don’t understand how you would organize your lesson plan to address your big elephant. Yes, creationists reject evolution. Most of them, by ample demonstration, really have no clue what evolution even IS, they only know it’s wrong. And we should waste time in science class discussing religious doctrine rather than teach them what evolution actually is? The Discovery Institute must just love you.

Comment #65781

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 29, 2005 10:35 PM (e)

Carol, do you, or do you not, want your religious opinions to be accepted as scientific evidence.

Comment #65838

Posted by carol clouser on December 30, 2005 1:12 AM (e)

Flint,

You have some good suggestions there for possible links between the science and the diversion. I would frame the diversion in terms of “opinion formation”. How do people form opinions? What assumptions go into the process? What methods are used in going from assumptions to conclusions? Can we compare and contrast the various approaches people have taken? How is the scientific method different from each of the others?

I would broaden the subject to include not only ID and creationism but also such things as astrology, telekinesis, diet fads and such. But I would not get into Greek gods, as you propose, since that is not current, is not of interest and would necessitate too much of a diversion. A few days out of 180 is all I am willing to set aside for this important diversion.

Because the issue is, as you say, “hot button”, teachers will need to be held harmless except for blatant and willful disregard of the guidelines (as in my post #65542). Those guidelines will be carefully drawn up by a team of science and social studies edicators. I think it best to make it voluntary on the part of the teacher, at least in the beginning.

And you know what, if this were implemented as I envision it, it would not at all be to the liking of ID folks, creationists and religionists of all stripes, especially after its effects are discerned over the course of time. I think it would tend to encourage students to be more questioning and skeptical. And that is good for science in the long run.

Then the program will be attacked by these folks and scientists will be fighting to maintain it.

What a fantasy! But somebody needs to think out of the box!

Comment #65840

Posted by carol clouser on December 30, 2005 1:13 AM (e)

Flint,

You have some good suggestions there for possible links between the science and the diversion. I would frame the diversion in terms of “opinion formation”. How do people form opinions? What assumptions go into the process? What methods are used in going from assumptions to conclusions? Can we compare and contrast the various approaches people have taken? How is the scientific method different from each of the others?

I would broaden the subject to include not only ID and creationism but also such things as astrology, telekinesis, diet fads and such. But I would not get into Greek gods, as you propose, since that is not current, is not of interest and would necessitate too much of a diversion. A few days out of 180 is all I am willing to set aside for this important diversion.

Because the issue is, as you say, “hot button”, teachers will need to be held harmless except for blatant and willful disregard of the guidelines (as in my post #65542). Those guidelines will be carefully drawn up by a team of science and social studies edicators. I think it best to make it voluntary on the part of the teacher, at least in the beginning.

And you know what, if this were implemented as I envision it, it would not at all be to the liking of ID folks, creationists and religionists of all stripes, especially after its effects are discerned over the course of time. I think it would tend to encourage students to be more questioning and skeptical. And that is good for science in the long run.

Then the program will be attacked by these folks and scientists will be fighting to maintain it.

What a fantasy! But somebody needs to think out of the box!

Comment #65841

Posted by carol clouser on December 30, 2005 1:14 AM (e)

Flint,

You have some good suggestions there for possible links between the science and the diversion. I would frame the diversion in terms of “opinion formation”. How do people form opinions? What assumptions go into the process? What methods are used in going from assumptions to conclusions? Can we compare and contrast the various approaches people have taken? How is the scientific method different from each of the others?

I would broaden the subject to include not only ID and creationism but also such things as astrology, telekinesis, diet fads and such. But I would not get into Greek gods, as you propose, since that is not current, is not of interest and would necessitate too much of a diversion. A few days out of 180 is all I am willing to set aside for this important diversion.

Because the issue is, as you say, “hot button”, teachers will need to be held harmless except for blatant and willful disregard of the guidelines (as in my post #65542). Those guidelines will be carefully drawn up by a team of science and social studies edicators. I think it best to make it voluntary on the part of the teacher, at least in the beginning.

And you know what, if this were implemented as I envision it, it would not at all be to the liking of ID folks, creationists and religionists of all stripes, especially after its effects are discerned over the course of time. I think it would tend to encourage students to be more questioning and skeptical. And that is good for science in the long run.

Then the program will be attacked by these folks and scientists will be fighting to maintain it.

What a fantasy! But somebody needs to think out of the box!

Comment #65844

Posted by carol clouser on December 30, 2005 1:17 AM (e)

Sorry about the multiple entries.

Comment #65851

Posted by Flint on December 30, 2005 1:44 AM (e)

Carol:

I would say you have touched on a few of the topics that might be covered in an undergraduate (but not introductory) course that might be called “philosophy and practice of science.” I think that would be the very earliest that the students could be expected to understand and thoughtfully consider questions about the underlying socialization of opinion formation that goes into establishing biases and preferences, and how science recognizes and attempts to neutralize those inevitable but not insuperable obstacles. Certainly 9th grade biology isn’t the place!

And I suppose somewhere in that (I’d say junior-in-college level) course might be considered some of the pseudo-science mumbo jumbo that superstitious minds concoct - things like ID, UFOs, astrology, paranormal abilities, faith in “stuff” (like homeopathic medicine, acupuncture, dowsing, opposition to vaccines, or whatever). Any of these might be a springboard to a useful discussion contrasting the scientific method with the “fiat because I WANT it to be so” method.

At least in private colleges, it should be possible to actually use for pedagogical purposes, examples of idiotic or mendacious beliefs that some people actually hold. I would think that where the instructors/professors are NOT acting as agents of the State, it would be most illustrative (even galvanizing) for students to see that some among them actually believe that crap; that what’s being discussed isn’t some sort of rare pathology occasionally reported from Darkest Slobovia, but rather real live virulent nonsense right there in the classroom.

In fact, as I understand it, college-level courses in comparative religion already regularly rely on that sort of experience as a teaching tool – that SOME of the students in the class can be relied on to object that THEIR faith isn’t myth and cant, but Real Truth. And that’s where the class gets interesting; where (as I alluded to above) a Believer is challenged to explain how HIS god mating with a mortal to produce a demigod is Truth, whereas the ancient Greek gods doing something indistinguishable is mere myth and stories.

However, back to the reality of 9th grade, we’re talking here about 14-year-olds, who lack anywhere NEAR the background, knowledge, or maturity to handle the sort of material you seem to want them to cover. In terms of relative sophistication, this is much like having a couple of classes discussing matrix operations on non-Abelian groups in 9th grade algebra classes. In other words, your recommmendation isn’t a bad idea in the right time and place. But for kids 14 years old, what they learn in school is taken as rote fact, and is going to be taken that way for another several years at least. They lack the neurological organization necessary to USE the material you are suggesting be dumped on them at that age.

At 14, you don’t ask for the history of a controversy so that you can weigh the various views and factors, you ask who’s telling the truth. The DI knows this, I know this, and I’m quite sure YOU know this. My estimate is that you are approximately six years premature in presenting this material.

Comment #65992

Posted by Carol Clouser on December 30, 2005 12:33 PM (e)

Flint,

Waiting to age 20 is a losing proposition. You would lose the millions who do not attend four year universities and the many more millions who will not elect to take such an elective course. Biology courses in high school are practically required of all teenagers passing through public (and private) schooling. It is truly a course for the masses, taken by 14, 15, 16 and 17 yeard olds. My experience in public education tells me they are a resilient bunch, capable of far more than adults usually give them credit for. And the material can be condensed to their level and yet convey the key ideas. This is where the action is.

Comment #66000

Posted by Flint on December 30, 2005 12:49 PM (e)

Carol,

My point, which apparently requires endless repitition, is that religion is not biology. Biology class is not an appropriate forum to discuss religious doctrines. So once again: the problem here is that evolution is not being properly taught, NOT that the classes are failing to address creationism, but that they are not even happening in much of the country. Teachers are reluctant to cover the topic because of the hassles this entails. The “big elephant”, at least as I understand it, is that this essential scientific discipline is getting intimidated right out of the curriculum. And the solution is to bring it back, not to associate it with religious beliefs. Any competent teacher should be able to deflect religious objections because they ARE religious, and emphasize that this is a *biology* class, where all focus is on the facts and the science.

Bringing creationism into science class, on ANY pretext, effectively undermines what the class is all about.

Comment #66007

Posted by Alan Fox on December 30, 2005 12:57 PM (e)

repitition?

Comment #66214

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 30, 2005 9:04 PM (e)

Carol seems quite oblivious to the simple fact that her approach is, now, illegal.

Comment #66217

Posted by Flint on December 30, 2005 9:12 PM (e)

Alan:

Oops, sorry about that. I wonder what there is about a system that doesn’t let you edit posts but only preview before posting, that no amount of proofreading can catch errors which are immediately howlingly obvious as soon as there’s nothing you can do about them anymore. My mistake.

Lenny:

Carol’s goal is to find some excuse, ANY excuse, to get religion into science class. It’s a relative of the P.T. Barnum maxim that any publicity is good publicity. Even getting ID into science classes as the perfect example of what science is NOT and how to get it totally wrong, gets it into the classroom. Once the foot is in the door, we’ll take it from there…

Comment #66304

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on December 31, 2005 12:07 AM (e)

Carol’s goal is to find some excuse, ANY excuse, to get religion into science class.

Worse than that – she wants science to accept her religious opinions as “evidence”.

Comment #66309

Posted by Sir_Toejam on December 31, 2005 12:17 AM (e)

How do people form opinions?

this is an advanced science topic usually reserved for freshman psych classes or sociology classes, not 9th grade biology classes.

the only thing i could possibly think ID would have any value in is in a critical thinking class as a great counter example.

however, I can’t think of any high schools that even have a critical thinking class.

perhaps you should focus your efforts there, Carol?

Comment #76403

Posted by Antonious the Anonymous on January 31, 2006 8:49 AM (e)

Being an Atheist I will therefore provide the oportunity of finding an Answer in inanimate objects. Matter being all related, it would effectively mean that any Grand Design would not manifest itself in just “intelligent life” as we call ourselves, even though there is plenty more intelligent life in plants, insects, mamals, fish and so on. Instead it would manifest in everything, all matter.

To achieve even in a godless universe, a complete plan of the randomization of particles, the movements of planets, the itrocacies (sorry if I spelt that wrong, I am only 17. Really, I am. I just have a bit of common sense) of evolution at every level. There are just too many chances that all this didn’t happen, or did in a completely different way.

The variety of life on this planet is vast enough, just think about all the possible life that virtually has to be there in the rest of the Universe. It’s just conceited of us humans to think otherwise. If we take the idea that all this happened randomly, as just a series of coincidences, Life evolving becomes quite possible, along with the whole Universe. Formulating through Chance.

Thank you for allowing me to view my idiotic thoughts and hope you all enjoy continuing this debate. It certainly has kept me harmlessly entertained for a half hour.