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Phil's response to Michael Duffy on ID

Following on from Exposing intelligent design, Webdiary columnist Phil Uebergang responds to Michael Duffy. We've had our breather, so let the debate resume!


In his SMH article of 03/09/05 entitled Empty Lesson in Flawed Thinking, Michael Duffy opens by telling us that young Muslim men are flawed in their ability to rationalise. Surprisingly from this harsh opening, the reader goes on to discover that Duffy's ultimate intent is to publicly 'rubbish' Intelligent Design (ID) and its advocates.

The relationship he develops between Islam, terrorism and ID is not only insidious and unfounded, but a reflection of a dangerously intolerant mind and one that is itself rationally challenged. He associates ID directly with Christianity, and in doing so shows us that he regards all fundamental approaches to religion as irrational and a threat to society.

Duffy claims that in advocating ID, Education Minister Brendan Nelson has brought the education system into disrepute, and thus undermined public efforts to rationalise young Muslim men away from their apparently natural terrorist tendencies. Therefore both Brendan Nelson and ID should be considered a security risk to Australians, along with young Muslim men.

A group of conveniently accommodating imaginary 'experts' are invoked by Duffy, who claim that we are fighting a war against terrorism - a spurious claim in itself - largely for the sake of 'evolutionary theory'. Having mentioned the war for dramatic effect it is immediately discarded, to be replaced by a quote from a noted historian who supposedly legitimises the imaginary experts by claiming that Darwin's theory of evolution is the 'most important idea of all time'. Apparently it is more important, to Duffy at least, than the idea of brotherly love and tolerance.

Duffy then goes on to misrepresent ID with his own unsupported opinions, and with quotes from sources whose intent is to discredit the concept. Not a single defensive right-of-reply is allowed under Duffy's intolerant reporting regime. This is particularly poignant, given that the arguments he presents are tautological and have been rebutted on many occasions. The article is then concluded with a presentation of his unusual vision of a socio-fascist education system.

We must conclude then, that Duffy's style of journalistic commentary is to invoke evocative imaginary support for his ideas, suppress contradictory viewpoints and arguments, and misrepresent facts. Worse than this, he uses these methods to intentionally marginalize and demonise a social minority, demonstrating that his motivation is to force into the public domain his own intolerant views on race, religion, and freedom of thought.

We can reasonably assume that Duffy considers himself to be a voice of public rationalism, one of those that would lead our young Islamic men from their terrorist ways in spite of the undermining efforts of fundamental Christians disguised as ID advocates.

Rather than suggesting that ID and its supporters are driving terrorists to maniacal acts of destruction against evolutionary theory, George Negus in his book The World From Islam, concludes that the issue of Islamic terrorism is founded in the socio-political climate of Palestine. After extensive discussions and interviews in Arab Middle East, Negus suggests that if we clean up the Palestine mess, we will remove the source of terrorist recruitment. This would mean that Duffy's war on terrorism has nothing to do with the apparent irrationality of young Australian Islamic men, but that it is in fact based on racial hatred and intolerance.

There is some irony in the fact that Duffy's association of fundamental Christians with ID results in associating the concept with the Christian teaching, 'love your neighbour as you love yourself.' If intolerance is a root cause of terrorism, as Negus argues, then Duffy by inference becomes associated with the cause of terrorism, and should therefore regard himself as a security threat in his war against terror.

Is ID a security threat to Australia in the purported war against terrorism? From Duffy's spurious arguments the answer is inconclusive, at best. According to Negus, it would seem unlikely. The public would be better advised to decide for itself, rather than being influenced by a journalist who expresses what is possibly the root cause of terrorism - intolerance.

 


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ID and H5N1

But for the fact of genetic mutation, there would never be any new viruses for us to have to deal with. But with the H5N1 strain of avian flu virus, we have the prospect of a pandemic which will possibly kill millions of people worldwide. For this to occur, the virus will have to mutate yet again into a form capable of being transmitted from human to human, after the manner of ordinary flu. (For more information, see Craig Rowley's posts on this matter elsewhere in Webdiary.)

Because of the unacceptably high probability of such a development occurring, health authorities across the world are doing what they can to prepare for it in advance. Should that mutation occur somewhere and a pandemic start, it will not only be tragic illustration of the mutation process itself, it will also demonstrate environmental selecting out of the virulent strain. This will be due to the simple fact that viruses (or any other parasites) of a strain deadly to their hosts work against their own long term survival. That they wipe out their hosts by the million (as virulent myxomatosis strains did with rabbits in Australia in the 1950s) is just part of that natural selection process, but a part that medical personnel will work against as hard as they can, while trying at the same time to defeat the virus in other ways.

Rather than deny the existence of the H5N1 strain, I assume that the Christian fundamentalists behind the "Intelligent Design" push would explain it as the Intelligent Designer's latest piece of work, and go on to give the same explanation for the pandemic strain if and when it appears. Nor, as propagandists (ie proponents of a doctrine with a concomitant political aim) could they reasonably be expected to be happy just if ID was included in science curricula in schools and the 'controversy' taught to the rising generation. Their aim is to convert the rising generation to their view, and to prevent exposure of the youth, as far as they can, to the neo-Darwinist paradigm now dominant in biology.

Ironically, if our medically trained federal Education Minister Brendan Nelson had his way, no opposition to the teaching of ID in science classes would come from his department. What downstream effects this might have would largely depend on how widespread the acceptance of ID doctrine became. If generally adopted and successful in its stated aim of overthrowing neo-Darwinism from it present dominant position in biology, the ID push could have catastrophic effects on the outlook of those students unfortunate enough to be presented with ID as 'science'. Conceivably, this push could in time lead to outbreaks of mediaevalism in university faculties covering the training of doctors, medical scientists, virologists, vets, immunologists and other specialists. How this would affect humanity's ability to cope with or prevent pandemics is hard to say, but I doubt it would improve the situation.

The nice thing about Intelligent Design...

The nice thing about Intelligent Design is that it necessarily gives us a nice clear picture of God himself, as he made Man in his own image (Genesis Ch 1 Verse 27).

So under Intelligent Design, God is a deliciously crotchety old bloke, deaf as a beetle, with terrible teeth, arthritic joints, an enlarged prostate and (provided his retinas haven't detached, or he hasn't got cataracts or glaucoma) a pair of good strong glasses. And he's pretty forgetful too, which goes to explain quite a lot, eh.

He's very old but still with us thanks to Relativity, sitting there at the Centre of the Universe, aging very slowly at a Redshift so big its down by the Cosmic Microwave Background.

Oh, and he'll need a good big hat and a good glug of the 30+ in 20bn years or so. The next Big Bang will be pretty bright, but no doubt he's thought of that. Written a little note to himself probably – you would, wouldn't you!

Judge says ID is not Science

See here.

re: Phil's response to Michael Duffy on ID

Good post regarding tolerance, however ID is still worth less than my navel fluff in terms of scientific theory.

I tolerate ID in the same way that I tolerate other religious beliefs. I do have a problem with teaching it in science classes. To do so would mean that we have to open science classes up to other completely silly creation myths.

re: Phil's response to Michael Duffy on ID

So Duffy's a wanker. OK, we get that. Still doesn't make ID a legitimate area of scientific debate.

ID is unavoidably linked with fundamentalist US 'Christian' creationists. That's the undenaible truth, where it's come from and why it exists.

re: Phil's response to Michael Duffy on ID

Phil, most of this article is about ID and I have to say I agree with what Duffy says on that.

The first paragraph of the article however where Duffy castigates Nelson on what Duffy thinks should be happening with young Muslims is the more important of the paragraphs and is indeed open to debate.

Duffy writes:

"These are troubled times. Young Muslims have to be encouraged to respect Western traditions, such as the reliance on evidence in public debate and the separation of politics and religion."

So where is his evidence that:

a) Young Muslims do not rely on evidence in debate?

b) Young Muslims do not respect the idea of the separation of politics and religion?

Why would he attempt to conflate the issue of ID with the issue of "young Muslims"?

Perhaps the clue is in the last paragraph where he says:

"Schools are not about choice, they're about discrimination, about using limited time and resources to teach children what our society regards as most important."

So having castigated the fundies he is now prepared to commit the very sin he accuses them of committing.

re: Phil's response to Michael Duffy on ID

Not just to other creation myths Michael Watson why not throw in evil spirits as the cause of diseases, along side the germ theory of disease? It’s an alternative hypothesis that cannot be disproved. Maybe we should talk with the Raelains and get them to provide a CD and circulate that with the ID CD as another alternative.

Let them try and sneak their ‘God’ as the default designer into the science classroom, they will find it a Trojan horse with all the other faiths and pseudo-science jumping a ride as well.

re: Phil's response to Michael Duffy on ID

You're tying yourself in knots here Phil. Aren't there other faith-based issues you're interested in? The current review of federal legislation on human embryo research, for example.

re: Phil's response to Michael Duffy on ID

This is a difficult topic to comment upon without viewing the contentious DVD, which is at the heart of the issue. Are the Nelson and Duffy comments underpinned by prior actual viewings? Both these are most dubious sources.

Phil, didn't read a lot of that previous thread. One suspects the underlying notion of ID, as employed and presented in the DVD concerning its validity as education material has not been defined and described for the purposes of a public debate. A bit like, how do you know a movie like Lolita is offensive without actually viewing it.

Two ideas seem to require a winkling apart.

Are we confronted with the worst of American exclusivist fundamentalist dogma; the religious equivalent of Duffys secularism, or the sophisticated and historically and philosophically intriguing and satisfying ideas involved in the origin and apparent fact of reality/'creation' that will always occur eventually to the mind of anyone who is not a moron.

Duffy' s comments are certainly offensive. So much that they and the attitude responsible for them seem to be atavistic remnants of the less savoury aspects of the nineteenth century and deserve be treated with suspicion.

But how can you trust anything Nelson says either?

As usual no doubt, any data that is relevant will be suppressed in the interest of whichever vested interest becomes dominant in the prior lobbying. I should think broad discussion of ID will occur as long as people lie down at night, gaze at the stars and wonder and talk among themselves concerning the wonder of the miracle of it all. And in this sense it will a consideration of any intelligent teacher any way.

The trouble is there is that there few courses that encourage interest in an organised way concerning the junctions between theology, ontology, metaphysics, epistemology, and social theory and politics. The ones that are available are largely limited to universities probably because people get scared or uncomfortable with the underlying subject matter; as in the Middle Ages. That is, both in the abstract or even esoteric abstract sense ivolving implications of: life, death, 'good', 'evil', origins, infinity- and concerning applications of abstract ideas and normative schemes to the here and now. They consequently bicker amongst themselves as to which idea or set of ideas is finally more valid than any other and end up having wars over it, usually based on their individual or collective fears of disempowerment.

But suppressing these things won't do either.

For a start, if people don't have religion and politics to quarrel over, they will certainly find some other excuse if history is any indicator. Suppression OR imposition of dogma or ideological viewpoint, or even positions between are futile and irrelevant. You can't stop people being people either way and curiosity in the individual doesn't die 'til the individual herself dies, in some meaningful sense.

re: Phil's response to Michael Duffy on ID

Phil, since you persist in revisiting this subject, I'm going to persist in asking you for an answer to my earlier post in the previous thread on this subject. Here it is:

Phil Uebergang, in Crikey on Thursday, 25 Aug 2005, you wrote:

"ID is an effort by an ever growing SCIENTIFIC community to come to terms with the paucity of evolutionary theory, when compared with empirical knowledge. Insidious doctrine, my arse – these guys hate the idea of God as much as evolutionists."

Some interesting assertions here. There is the ludicrous implication that evolutionists "hate the idea of God" - a vast number of theists and deists, perhaps even the majority, accept evolutionary theory, after all. And there's the curious notion that those evolutionists who are not theists and deists "hate" the idea of God. (As an atheist and an evolutionist, I don't 'hate' the 'idea' of your god any more than I hate the idea of anyone's gods. I just find them singularly uncompelling and logically unnecessary notions.)

But that's not what interests me. I'm curious as to know who, exactly, comprise the 'ever increasing numbers' of members of the scientific community who "hate the idea of God". One can only assume that they're not theists or deists (unless they believe in a God but hate the idea of it, a position that I guess might just exist...) So, we are left with an ever-increasing collection of atheist scientists who "hate the idea of God" but subscribe to 'intelligent design'.

I presume you can name at least twenty. Care to?

re: Phil's response to Michael Duffy on ID

Come on Phil, this is the fifth bite of the cherry on this topic. Do you intend to win the argument by outliving the rest of us?

Let's recap the previous debate.

You proposed that we teach ID in science classes because you consider it a legitimate alternative to evolutionary theory.

Dozens of posts explain that ID does not fit the criteria of a scientific study.

You ignore them and refuse to justify your belief in ID as science, while continuing to maintain some spurious nonsense about ethical conflicts.

How about we do it all again.

re: Phil's response to Michael Duffy on ID

Phil; "Michael Duffy opens by telling us that young Muslim men are flawed in their ability to rationalise."

Duffy; "Young Muslims have to be encouraged to respect Western traditions, such as the reliance on evidence in public debate and the separation of politics and religion."

No mention of men at all, although they crop up frequently in your piece Phil. I just have to wonder what that says about your own preconceptions.

I would also have thought that the encouragement of Western traditions, inside a Western culture, for those who may not have been exposed to them before would be entirely unexceptional. Except perhaps for those who find the very concept of the separation of politics and religion disagreeable.

Phil; "The relationship he develops between Islam, terrorism and ID is not only insidious and unfounded, but a reflection of a dangerously intolerant mind and one that is itself rationally challenged."

How you get to that statement from Duffy's comment is hysterical, in all senses of the word.

Phil; "He associates ID directly with Christianity, and in doing so shows us that he regards all fundamental approaches to religion as irrational and a threat to society."

Duffy; "It (the ID DVD) is being distributed by fundamentalist Christians in Australia, some of whom are keen to get it into schools."

Duffy; "Intelligent design is a conspiracy by some fundamental Christians to undermine the theory of evolution."

So he actually associated it with fundamentalist Christians, not with Christianity as a whole as you suggest.

Surely we aren't going to argue about the rationality or otherwise of fundamentalist Christian belief. Shouldn't we leave just a little room for faith in religion?

Phil; "A group of conveniently accommodating imaginary 'experts' are invoked by Duffy, who claim that we are fighting a war against terrorism - a spurious claim in itself - largely for the sake of 'evolutionary theory'."

Duffy; "If you were to ask a group of experts to draw up a list of "what we are fighting for" in the war against terrorism, the theory of evolution would be near the top."

Not quite the same thing, is it? Apparently the Theory of Evolution isn't even at the top, only near it.

Anyway, the Theory of Evolution frequently tops the polls for best idea of all time. You may be correct in thinking that it is not quite as good an idea as "brotherly love", perhaps most people accept that one as a given anyway. At least I hope so.

Phil; "Duffy then goes on to misrepresent ID with his own unsupported opinions, and with quotes from sources whose intent is to discredit the concept."

It was an opinion piece, so it's probably a bit much to expect footnotes, but I suppose we could always ask next time.

Since the point of the piece was to discredit ID, one can hardly quibble with using quotes to support one's self, can one?

As to whether he misrepresented ID, I'm afraid it will take more than your mere assertion to convince most of us. Tell us why you believe this.

Phil; "Not a single defensive right-of-reply is allowed under Duffy's intolerant reporting regime."

Right of reply inside an opinion piece is an interesting concept, could you expand on it? I don't think I saw any such "right-of-reply" in support of Duffy inside your own piece, was this an inadvertent omission?

Phil; "We must conclude then, that Duffy's style of journalistic commentary is to invoke evocative imaginary support for his ideas, suppress contradictory viewpoints and arguments, and misrepresent facts."

Well he appears to be in good company, doesn't he.

re: Phil's response to Michael Duffy on ID

Hello Webdiarists,

Ahh, this debate brings back memories. I read a lot of the posts in the blog “Exposing Intelligent Design”, and came to the conclusion that the ID arguments, if any, were very weak. I also believe many of the “evolutionist” arguments were just a bunch of scientific terms which the average person would not understand. For that reason, I have chosen to write a brief, yet concise perspective of why I do not believe in “evolution”. I would also like to convey that yes, my perspective is clouded with bias and subjectivity (I am a devout Muslim), but this bias is something I welcome. Unfortunately, I can never comprehend the idea of the “weak dieing” or the belief that my ancestors were once apes. Or semi-apes! But, with these prejudices, I hope to give you a perspective that has merit and substance, not just standard and impulsive comments based on hearsay or out of context statements. Here goes!

First and foremost, I would like to convey an often evaded fact. Evolution and Monotheism is very similar. Although evolutionists denounce religion as a farce, the similarities between them is quite striking. For starters, both ideologies core beliefs have never actually been witnessed. No man has seen evolution (please do not use the fruit fly as an example of evolution, that’s being disapproved), and no man has ever seen god. There is no “concrete” evidence to support either ideology, as there has NEVER being a vertebrate found that indicates a process of evolution. And for religion, well it is simply built on faith, or “assumed” signs (although ALL Muslims, including I, would contest what I just said, but I am writing to a largely non-Muslim faith-based audience). But, the problem is when you asses evolution you begin to find thousands of contradictions or assumptions that simply have no merit whatsoever.

The NAS (National Academy of Sciences) suggest that mutations provide the necessary genetic variation for evolution, and refers to them as follows: “they may or may not equip the organism with better means for surviving in its environment” (Science and Creationism, p.10). However, contrary to this belief, mutations do not lead to beneficial characteristics, and all experiments and observations on this subject have confirmed this fact. Mutations are almost always harmful, and this can be witnessed with humans and the diseases such as cancer that alter the DNA.I will borrow a quote from Professor Michael Pitman’s book Adam and Evolution:

“Morgan, Goldschmidt, Muller, and other geneticists have subjected generations of fruit flies to extreme conditions of heat, cold, light, dark, and treatment by chemicals and radiation. All sorts of mutations, practically all trivial or positively deleterious, have been produced. Man-made evolution? Not really: Few of the geneticists monsters could have survived outside the bottles they were bred in. In practice mutants die, are sterile, or tend to revert to the wild type”. (p.70)

The mutation of the fruit fly is often heralded by evolutionist as evidence of evolution. Although, evolutionist are reluctant to make clear that these flies mutations often handicap the fly. An example is a fruit fly which developed an extra pair of wings. These wings have no flight muscles, and therefore represent a serious obstacle to the insects flying at all. Hence, these extra wings handicapped the insects, rather than improve them.

One species that continues to amaze me personally is the Ants. The ants are a species that demonstrate amazing sacrifices for the colony. Charles Darwin suggests that the basic motivation of the process of evolution was that of staying alive. In Darwin’s view, when individuals of a species acquire traits that increase their chances for survival, those individuals have an advantage, due to this advantage, they survive and produce relatively more living offspring, thus eventually spreading the trait throughout their species. Evolution therefore, would be expected to favour self-preservation, not self-sacrifice (The insects, Peter Ferb p.170).

An example of sacrifice by the ants which cannot be explained by “natural selection” or “evolutionist socialization process” are the workers of a species of Camponotus of the saundersi group living in the rainforest of Malaysia. These ants destroy their enemies by committing suicide to defend their colony. These ants are anatomically and behaviourally programmed to be walking bombs. Two huge glands, filled with toxic secretions, run from the bases of the mandibles all the way to the posterior tip of the body. When the ants are pressed hard during combat, either by enemy ants or an attacking predator, they contract their abdominal muscles violently, bursting open the body wall and spraying the secretion onto the foe (O.Wilson Journey to the Ants, p.70).

There are heaps of examples of Ants and other animals sacrificing themselves, which cannot be explained by Darwinism. But, time is not friendly. I would like to make a point about the myth of horse evolution. Until recently, an imaginary sequence supposedly showing the evolution of hoeses was advanced as the principal fossil evidence for the theory of evolution. Today, however, many evolutionist themselves admit that the scenario of horse evolution is bankrupt. Evolutionist Boyce Rensberger quotes:

“The popularly told example of horse evolution, suggesting a gradual sequence of changes from four-toed fox-sized creatures living nearly 50 million years ago to today’s much larger one-toed horse, has long been known to be wrong. Instead of gradual change, fossils of each intermediate species appear fully distinct, persist unchanged, and then become extinct. Transitional forms are unknown” (Houston Chronicle p.15)

The well-known palaeontologist Collin Patterson, director of the Natural Museum in London where “evolution of the horse” diagrams were on public display. She quotes

“There have been a awful lot of stories, some more imaginative than others, about what the nature of that history (of life) really is. The most famous example, still on exhibit downstairs, is the exhibit on horse evolution prepared perhaps fifty years ago. That has been presented as the literal truth in textbook after textbook. Now I think that is lamentable, particularly when the people who propose those kinds of stories may themselves be aware of the speculative nature of that stuff” (Harpers, February 1984, p.60)

This leads me to another point, the Evolution forgeries. There has been many famous forgeries, but I will just illustrate one, The Nebraska Man. In 1922, Henry Fairfield Osborn, director of American Museum of Natural History, declared he had found a fossil molar tooth belonging to the Pliocene period in western Nebraska. From this single tooth, reconstruction of the Nebraska man’s head and body were drawn. Moreover, the Nebraska man was picture along with his wife and children, which illustrated him very much like an ape. Yet, in 1927, other parts of the skeleton were found, and according to William Gregory, the tooth was neither human or ape-like, but belonged to an extinct species of wild American pig called Prosthennops. After this, all the drawings of the Nebraska man were hurriedly removed from evolutionary literature.

To end my piece, evolution has no evidence, and will remain a theory to the end of times. Evolutionist have never discovered a single fossil that indicates evolution. A single fossil! In fact, evolution isn’t a modern phenomenon, but historians such as Plato believed that certain species evolved. Ancient Egyptians also believed in some life-forms evolving. In the end, evolution is a dangerous ideology that teaches man to be violent, just like the Spartans. They strived on the idea of the “Survival of the fittest”.

Recommended reading:

Evolution Deceit and The Errors of the NAS: A reply to the National Academy of Science Booklet, Science and Creationism. Author Harun Yahya.

His books are available from the internet FOR FREE so if your facing financial troubles, you could read it for free on his website www.harunyahya.com.

re: Phil's response to Michael Duffy on ID

Michael Watson, scientific theory is worth less than my belly button fluff in terms of insight.

I tolerate science the same way as I tolerate fundamentalist religious belief, or absolute rule of any mode of thought, to the exclusion of every other.

re: Phil's response to Michael Duffy on ID

Just to clear matters up for everyone out there who intends to, and already has taken a cheap shot at me for this article, the idea of writing it was not mine.

I understand that for some this is your usual style of argument, and as usual it is false and disingenuous.

re: Phil's response to Michael Duffy on ID

Look we're done here. The last thread ran to over 200 comments. The previous three efforts probably had as many each, and now here we go again.

There may have been as many as 400-500 comments in total asking you to explain how this met any definition of science. Readers have cajoled, yelled, pleaded, whispered, linked, abused and patted... all towards getting you to make even the basic effort to understand the tenets of what makes a theory science and what makes it not-science.

You have refused to make this basic effort.

Whilst you never swear or make attacks on other Webdiary readers, I am beginning to find your unwillingness to address the serious comments of thoughtful respondents quite rude. You are occupying increasing levels of mental bandwidth with white noise. Why Webdiary feels that ID deserves the proportion of 'air-time' it receives is a complete mystery to me.

No advancement or possibility of advancement exists where one of the axioms of the 'theory' is that no fact can disprove the hypothesis. By definition we already have all of the ID information we will ever need – Webdiary need cover the subject no further, we will remain up-to-date with it for the remainder of our lives without investing any further effort.

Phil, I have found your contributions to other Webdiary debates both useful and entertaining but please accept that you have discharged whatever missionary zeal has possessed you and move on.

re: Phil's response to Michael Duffy on ID

Hello Webdiarists,

I was re-reading what I wrote and forgot to add an important factor. I could write hundreds if not thousands of scientific evidence that disputes Darwinism, but, like I said in my previous post, time is not friendly to me.

The Probability of a Protein Being Formed by Chance is Zero:

The probability of an average protein molecule made up of 500 amino acids being arranged in the correct quantity and sequence in addition to the probability of all of the amino acids it contains being only left-handed and being combined with only peptide bonds is one over 10^950. We can write this number which is formed by putting 950 zeros next to one as follows:

10^950 =
100.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.
000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.
000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.
000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.
000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.
000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.
000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.
000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.
000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.
000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.
000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.
000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.
000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.
000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.
000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.
000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.
000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.

As can be seen above, the probability of formation of a protein molecule made up of 500 amino acids is one over a number formed by placing 950 zeros next to one, which is a number incomprehensible for the human mind. This is a probability only on paper. Practically speaking, there is zero chance of its actually happening. As we saw earlier, in mathematics, a probability smaller than one in 1050 is statistically considered to have a zero probability of occurring.

A probability of "one over 10^950" is far beyond the limits of this definition.
While the improbability of the formation of a protein molecule made up of 500 amino acids reaches such an extent, we can further proceed to push the limits of the mind with higher levels of improbability. In the "haemoglobin" molecule, which is a vital protein, there are 574 amino acids, which is more than the amino acids making up the protein mentioned above. Now consider this: in only one out of the billions of red blood cells in your body, there are "280,000,000" (280 million) haemoglobin molecules.

The supposed age of the earth is not sufficient to allow the formation of even a single protein by a "trial and error" method, let alone that of a red blood cell. Even if we suppose that amino acids have combined and decomposed by a "trial and error" method without losing any time since the formation of the earth, in order to form a single protein molecule, the time that would be required for something with a probability of 10^950 to happen would still hugely exceed the estimated age of the earth.

The conclusion to be drawn from all this is that evolution falls into a terrible abyss of improbability even when it comes to the formation of a single protein.

re: Phil's response to Michael Duffy on ID

Mahmoud Tlais, thank you for your post containing so many zeros, it was most instructive.

Unfortunately proteins are not formed by chance, they are formed by RNA, and so your probability estimates are nonsense.

re: Phil's response to Michael Duffy on ID

Simon J Moffitt, while we’re about it, why not blame evil spirits for all the world’s ills directly attributable to its modern obsession with all things scientific? I haven’t heard of spiritual beliefs destroying anyone’s environment. I haven’t heard of E=mc2 serving any useful purpose.

Question: why is science so insecure that it sees every challenge to its cultural hegemony as a Trojan horse?

re: Phil's response to Michael Duffy on ID

As far as the sacrifice with ants you’d better do some more research as that’s an easy one for natural selection as it's on par with why bee workers do all the hard work but don’t breed. You see because both with bees and ants, the workers and the queens are sisters and they share such a large amount of genetic material there is still a good chance of the sacrificed ant's genes being passed on through the queen.

Hi Bill, why not blame evil spirits for all the World’s ills directly attributable to its modern obsession with all things scientific? I haven’t heard of spiritual beliefs destroying anyone’s environment.

That would be like blaming capitalism for all the poverty and environmental woes Bill. In themselves there isn’t a problem; it’s the motivations of the people who use them who are at fault.

Bill: "I haven’t heard of E=mc2 serving any useful purpose."

In and of itself... hmmm... maybe not, but splitting the atom and all the other benefits that come from scientific investigation of the World; would you pass them up so you can keep a literal interpretation of the Bible?

Bill: "Why is science so insecure that it sees every challenge to its cultural hegemony as a Trojan horse?"

It’s not, it just deals with things that are amenable to investigation and leaves out the things that are not.

Religion, Bill is dying the intellectual death of a thousand cuts, science is slowly undermining it but I think a critical analysis of religious pluralism will finish it off. Then it will be on par with astrology and rabbit feet. Try religious humanism if you want to keep evidence based rationality and the good parts of your religion.

BTW the next time you are sick let us know how it went with the local witch-doctor, since you would seem quite happy to have that on the same footing as the germ theory of disease. ;) Humour.

re: Phil's response to Michael Duffy on ID

Phil Uebergang (at 16/09/2005 11:29:07 PM) wrote: Just to clear matters up for everyone out there who intends to, and already has taken a cheap shot at me for this article, the idea of writing it was not mine.

Even if the "usual style of argument" for some of us is to take "cheap shots" (whatever they are) at friend Phil (for whom we all deep down have brotherly love and tolerance - albeit of a very tested and stretched kind), us cheap shooters are none the less perplexed.

Most of us learn as kids when caught out in some way, that "I was put up to it" is not much of a defence. The reason is that it amounts to a plea of irresponsibility, palpably self-interested, from an otherwise and apparently responsible person capable of making intelligent choices. My interpretation: Phil is saying here that though he cannot answer points made against ID by Graham McPherson and others, they should not criticise him for it. Because, although the ideas in the lead article were clearly his, the idea of writing them out on Webdiary was not. He was put up to it.

So whose idea was it to have this indefensible stuff written out like that, and to have Phil yet again mount this poor old ID racehorse of his for yet another dismal run on the Webdiary track? And why hasn't that manipulative victimiser come out from whatever rat hole they are hiding in and copped all the falsehood and disingenuity, rather than leaving it to rain down on poor Phil? Us cheap shooters demand an answer!

Unfortunately, one of the requirements Christianity makes of its adherents is that faith prevail over reason when the two are in conflict. Read Billy Graham on the subject. But reason, unlike faith, cannot be abandoned without rather disastrous consequences. So it is just put to one side from time to time, in bits and pieces as small as possible. But doing that also creates problems for faith holders.

re: Phil's response to Michael Duffy on ID

Bill you may have a sanguine view of the godly but the ID proponents as I pointed out some time back are just the tip of the ice-berg.

I don't know if you have children or not but already in the US pseudo science is in danger of penetrating the curriculum in the less cosmopolitan and more conservative areas, to the extent that promising students seeking to undertake further study in science, or in a science-related field at the better colleges and universities will not be able to. Many of those kids will be, because of the demographics involved, rural kids, immigrant kids and black kids.

So does your tolerance for diversity in learning extend to a deliberate denial of educational opportunity to disadvantaged groups? It is a tough enough haul in the US financially for these kids to go on to tertiary education, and scholarships and endowments are based on both grades, SATs and a testing regime.

All this so an ultraconservative religious minority can push their questionable agenda into the hitherto untouchable public schools.

Pseudo science is not going to develop cures for deadly diseases, it will not conquer cancer, it will not make the benefits of information technology available to millions, it will not develop solutions for environmental degradation, it will not develop sustainable agriculture to feed people in Africa.

Only science can do those things.

re: Phil's response to Michael Duffy on ID

Simon J Moffitt, I do blame the obsession with capitalism for poverty and environmental woes. It shares the blame with scientific obsession. Your argument that its misuse by people is to blame reminds me of the ARA’s slogan “Guns don’t kill people, people do”. Perfectly true, but not at all helpful.

I would pass up the splitting of the atom at the drop of a hat, and celebrate—what sane person wouldn’t—but I care not two hoots for literal interpretations of the Bible. But the literal interpreters are merely a nuisance when they come knocking at the door; they are no threat to the survival of the world as we know it. Nor, as far as I know, are they trying to have science banned from schools. To their credit, they are sufficiently secure in their beliefs as to not see science as a Trojan horse, and insist that it be kept outside the gates. So my question stands: why is science so insecure?

I don’t see any signs that spiritual ways of regarding reality are dying any kind of death. Rather the contrary: as science more and more reveals its feet of clay, people are turning to speculation along other lines of thought. Science has proved itself to be a false and dangerous God who has no ultimate answers and needs to be put in his place.

Germs, by the way, are not theory—they can be seen. Quite unlike evolution. And on the unseen, what is the scientific theory of acupuncture? The traditional explanation is dismissed as unscientific; but aside from making scientists uncomfortable, it seems to bring comfort to the people who use it. So it is with many threats to scientific hegemony, some of which work, and some of which don’t. “It hasn’t been scientifically proven,” the scientists cry. “It’s not ours, and we have no theory to explain it! Keep it out! It’s a Trojan horse!”

re: Phil's response to Michael Duffy on ID

Bill Avent said: "I do blame the obsession with capitalism for poverty and environmental woes. It shares the blame with scientific obsession." Your argument that it's misuse by people that is to blame reminds me of the ARA’s slogan, “Guns don’t kill people, people do”. Perfectly true, but not at all helpful.

I thought of that too Bill, but you have to take it into a wider context which I don’t believe you can do with guns but can with both science and ethical/sustainable capitalism.

What you see as obsession is due to realisation of the requirements and limitations on verifiable knowledge. It would be like criticising the courts for having an obsession with objective evidence and the ‘truth’; it’s a functional necessity.

Bill: "but I care not two hoots for literal interpretations of the Bible."

I don’t often come up against an evolution skeptic that isn’t also a literalist so my apologies there. For the record do you have any other scientific theories you have a problem with, 3.4 billion yr old Earth, plate-tectonics etc?

Bill: "So my question stands: why is science so insecure?"

I’m not sure anything I will say in this regard will sway you Bill. Others have talked about the scientific method etc and what science can and cannot do. Basically you cannot test ID in any way and something that cannot be tested isn’t science. It’s as simple as that. Put ID into meta-physics and you have a perfect fit.

Bill: "I don’t see any signs that spiritual ways of regarding reality are dying any kind of death. Rather the contrary: as science more and more reveals its feet of clay, people are turning to speculation along other lines of thought. Science has proved itself to be a false and dangerous God who has no ultimate answers and needs to be put in his place."

I said dying intellectually Bill as can be seen by the growth of charismatic churches - no intellectual rigor there just a feel good group.

Bill: "Germs, by the way, are not theory — they can be seen." Quite unlike evolution. And on the unseen, Can evolution be seen?

Bill: "...what is the scientific theory of acupuncture? The traditional explanation is dismissed as unscientific; but aside from making scientists uncomfortable, it seems to bring comfort to the people who use it."

I've been waiting for the West to do a scientific investigation of Chinese medicine, that would see whether it has more of a foundation than just the placebo effect which can have a substantial effect.

Bill: "So it is with many threats to scientific hegemony, some of which work, and some of which don’t. 'It hasn’t been scientifically proven,' the scientists cry. 'It’s not ours, and we have no theory to explain it! Keep it out! It’s a Trojan horse!'"

This is actually the strength of science, keeping out just any theory until it has been verified. Science may get it wrong some of the time, and be slow to change but it is self-correcting and is objective, with any scientist worth his salt changing his theory to suit the facts not change the facts to suit theory like some people.

re: Phil's response to Michael Duffy on ID

Bill Avent: "To their credit, they are sufficiently secure in their beliefs as to not see science as a Trojan horse, and insist that it be kept outside the gates."

So I take it that we will soon see Darwinist thought taught in fundamentalist Sunday Schools across the country. Then again perhaps not.

"Nor, as far as I know, are they trying to have science banned from schools."

Not yet. However, what they demand is to have science redefined in terms acceptable to themselves. In effect, define science out of existence.

"So my question stands: why is science so insecure?"

What makes you you think that it is?

Ask yourself instead, why is it that a particular branch of religion feels so threatened by the materialistic worldview expressed by science, that it needs to have science redefined in its own image?

"Science has proved itself to be a false and dangerous God who has no ultimate answers and needs to be put in his place."

And we need to stop using evil apparatus such as computers, cars, airplanes, dialysis machines, televisions, mobile phones, and smoke detectors. Obviously the science that produced them is false and dangerous.

Science has proved to be an uncommonly useful tool for answering all sorts of questions. So much so that our civilisation is based upon its technical developments.

That it can't provide your 'ultimate answers', whatever they might be, right at this moment is a great pity. Stick around and maybe it will, but there are no guarantees. Science makes no such claims.

re: Phil's response to Michael Duffy on ID

Dee, even if it is an ultraconservative conspiracy — and you haven’t shown it is, only suggested it — that is no reason to deny all of us the right to assert that a view of reality outside of science’s way of looking at things should not be suppressed. Science should NOT be sacrosanct, as religion was in its day; and ways by which the prevailing scientific world view may be modified should NOT be limited to ones of which science happens to approve.

I fail to see how allowing consideration of ID ideas alongside evolution theory in schools could further disadvantage disadvantaged kids who want to take up a career in science, or for that matter any other discipline. I am not advocating denial of educational opportunity. That argument, to whatever extent it exists, is altogether outside of my scope.

It should be remembered that science in its time was used to justify the segregation and relegation to disadvantaged status of black people. Misapplication of religious beliefs may also be blamed for that; but most thinking people justified their prejudice by means of reference to so-called scientific principles.

Is science going to conquer cancer? I think a case may be made for science’s having altered our environment in ways that make us more susceptible to it. Like, where did that hole in the ozone layer come from? It, and all that radioactive stuff we breathe and eat, can’t be blamed on religion. Science’s main raison detre seems these days to be finding solutions to problems its own devotees have caused. And absolving the scientific community of blame for the way their discoveries are used just brings us back to the 'guns don’t kill people' argument.

re: Phil's response to Michael Duffy on ID

Phil, ad hominem is not a valid argument. :)

re: Phil's response to Michael Duffy on ID

Bill, the whole of the built environment is predicated on a science of some sort, even if it is engineering. This is the experience of most people in Australia anyway. I cannot speak for those living in cultures anywhere who may or may not have a non-scientific world view because I am not one of them.

Scientists are the last people to think they are sacrosanct. They are constantly testing theories and hypotheses and measuring and observing. New discoveries do not automatically overturn theories: in most cases they enhance theories.

I seem to remember that eugenics and its underpinning racism was in turn driven by religious belief.

For instance science means I know how my car works and if something should go wrong I have a pretty good notion of what causes it, so I either fix the problem or get a mechanic to do so.

For most people the practical and everyday realm is where they see science working. They know that when their car does not start on a cold morning it is not caused by evil demons or the misalignment of the planets, and that incantations will not get the thing going again.

Your disenchantment with science (which logically extended must include any sort of equipment and machinery such as motor vehicles as well as the computer with which you post to Webdiary) is not shared by the vast majority of educated people. Are you then going to say to someone, for instance a child, wondering how these things work, that they are somehow driven by animal spirits?

That is the engineering equivalent of explaining speciation and natural selection using ID.

re: Phil's response to Michael Duffy on ID

What a poor effort, Bill Avent, to attack Dee Bayliss for suggesting that those seeking to return us to the Dark Ages are responsible for an 'ultra conservative plot'.

Neo-Macarthyist smear to suppress a questioning of the disturbed mentalities of cranks denying humanity a chance for cures for cancer and other diseases should be beneath you, Bill. It's a variation of the 'anti-American' nonsense that is employed to stifle exmination of US policy.
Or don't you believe tolerance should extend to those whose beliefs allow them a different 'take' on reality, including involving science, than fundamentalists?

Remember, Bill, secularists are not trying to ban religion - no genuinely rational individual would bother.

It is true that Duffy is the secular version of fundamentalism. Metaphysics, including resulting religious systems based on contemplations and experiences of life are integral to what it is to be consciously human. Indeed, religious concepts and the systems that house them are fine for further detailed consideration in places appropriate for, and to, religion such as seminaries, religious colleges and synagogues, once literacy and social communiction skills have been obtained. Anyway, enough schools have time set aside for 'Religious Instruction', for those interested. Besides, force-feeding religion is ineffectual - me and my mates bridled at it at Sunday School and the like.

The basis of a real rationalist's thinking (not an IRrationalist like Duffy) is knowing that interfering with people's rights to think and be is not only wrong, but impossible, although history demonstrates much strenuous coercion has been used, from crosses to bonfires (including for book burnings - refer 'revisionism' elsewhere), to concentration-camps.
Rationalists don't try to stop people coming to their own conclusions concerning metaphysical issues, as I said in an earlier post. As if that could be accomplished any way.

But school is a place set aside specifically for methodical instruction concerning the material world, including and using methods of logic and observation and including both science and 'humanities'.

If you don't like science, leave schools alone, the same as if you don't like religion, leave those who do alone, to commune with their god(s).

Anyone 'conscious' can ponder reality, or then seek anwers in religious texts. But if those 'answers' involve the irrational disrupting of learning and science; of others, then others have the right to expose subsequent ultra con plots to impose this, when they are detected.

Science needs a SPECIFIC environment to continue; to acheive more of those things it has acheived over recent centuries.

If religion should not have to stand aside for superstition (and I use this word intentionally, in the context of this issues involving fundamentalism rather than rational Christianity), then there is even less reason why freedom of expression and enquiry should have to step aside for life-negating fundamentalism (not genuine spirituality), which is the truth concerning this specific case.

To disrupt science teaching in schools is for the civilised person the equivalent of burning scripture for religious. Both are illegitimate responses. And disrupting schools with pseudo-science is just this, by a back door method that subverts the science taught.

Rationalists don't want to burn Bibles; nor do they seek to rewrite them say, casting Lucifer in the role of Christ. Why would they do such an offensive thing to a fellow citizen?

But this is the equivalent to what fundamentalists seek to do with scientific texts.

I might add here that, after reaching adult, and seeking my own answers, I read most of the Bible, and (hopefully) drew on the better parts of it in developing my own version of of a philosophy or way of seing things. You see, I am secure enough now, because any god of my understanding, precisely because of the spiritual nature of God, would have better things to do with his time than run round bullying me because I pick up a science book to solve a material problem. I can't forgive or love effectively, God can - that's the significant difference, at least as far as my personal scaffolding informs me.

Otherwise I would't be 'here'. And if there is no god, then I have no need of a grudge against him anyway. God's ok allready, in my scheme, there is nothing I can really do to disturb him that he can't cope with because its in his nature to cope, unlike unwise me.

He knows if the writer is 'right' or 'wrong' and even if He doesn't, I do, because god or no god, I am saddled with a 'conscience'. And if I walk along the street on a nice day and look upwards and share my good fortune with any Creator who also happens to be about with a respectful "well, you sure got this right", that's my business, too. And that includes if it 'costs' me in some way or another.

So why do I agree that fundamentalists want to effectively ban science through the premeditated inclusion of manifestly-disproven pseudo-science, as well as teaching it in those few places which are for sciences, when those of science would not dream of ramming THEIR subject down the necks of the religious?

I suggest it is because scientific explanations challenge certain (fundamentalist) readings of scripture (newsflash?).

And if people are not going to accept a literal interpretation of scripture, due to a possible challenge or refutation by science then fundamentalism is faced with a challenge that makes fundamentailsts decidely uncomfortable and desirous of the removal of the refutuation, or 'profanity'- science can't be right; God says the world was created in seven days. See, scripture says so!

It disagrees with the 'truth' eg scripture; it is at best false and mistaken; refute with creationism. If that fails, either ban it, or if too many sinners stop this, then subvert it by ruining educational practice - after a while, the heresy will just 'disappear'.

How much faith must you have in your beleifs if you have to 'rub out' alternatives?

re: Phil's response to Michael Duffy on ID

Bill: "Dee, even if it is an ultraconservative conspiracy — and you haven’t shown it is, only suggested it — that is no reason to deny all of us the right to assert that a view of reality outside of science’s way of looking at things should not be suppressed."

No-one is suggesting suppression of anything, Bill. Calm down. The fact is that ID is not science.

BA:"Science should NOT be sacrosanct, as religion was in its day; and ways by which the prevailing scientific world view may be modified should NOT be limited to ones of which science happens to approve."

If you want to have something considered as science, to be taught in science class, why then denigrate science? And no-one is suggesting that science is sacrosanct. All the scientists that I've met are big kids: they're still fascinated by the world, and a lot of science can be expressed by the statements "Why does it work like that?" and "What happens if I poke it?" They constantly come up with possible explanations for something, then keep themselves busy trying to disprove each other.

If a statement cannot possibly be disproven, then it's not a scientific statement. No-one is suggesting that it's sacred. No-one elevates science to a pedestal. It's just a way of investigating the world. And if you want to play in science's sandpit, you have to play by their rules. Your approach is like saying "Well, I don't see why I can't join the soccer team and play hockey". Science is science, economics is economics, literature is literature, and religion is religion. Why pick on science?

BA: “I fail to see how allowing consideration of ID ideas alongside evolution theory in schools could further disadvantage disadvantaged kids who want to take up a career in science, or for that matter any other discipline.”

Because it's not science, Bill. It's religion. Would you like to put ID in the economics curriculum? That's the world's religion these days, you know. The almighty dollar is what most governments worship, and it's what our whole society is structured around. Why not stick ID there, if you want to take on the big boys?

BA: “It should be remembered that science in its time was used to justify the segregation and relegation to disadvantaged status of black people. Misapplication of religious beliefs may also be blamed for that; but most thinking people justified their prejudice by means of reference to so-called scientific principles.”

People used some junk science to justify their prejudices. They still are: look at the US government, going like the clappers to remove real scientists from government organisations and install faith-based junk scientists in their place. The CBR regime (Cheney - Bush - Rumsfeld) wants to excise real science on climate change, the environment, women's rights, and a host of other things.

And the science of the day was used to demonstrate that the world was flat. Then that was disproven. That's the thing about science, Bill: nothing is fixed. Every theory stands a chance of being disproven after a while, and that's what science means: gaining a greater insight into how the world works.

BA: “Is science going to conquer cancer? I think a case may be made for science’s having altered our environment in ways that make us more susceptible to it. Like, where did that hole in the ozone layer come from? It, and all that radioactive stuff we breathe and eat, can’t be blamed on religion.”

Yes, science, or rather the application of science, has caused some serious problems. But that's not a good reason to abandon science, which is one quest for better understanding, in order to retreat to a simplistic "God dunnit" worldview. And rather than blame scientists, I believe there's a case for blaming militaristic world leaders who don't care what horrors they visit on other people. I'd say there's also a case for blaming apathetic, self-centred Joe Public for not thinking about anything. We all share some of the responsibility, Bill. It's not the fault of some evil cabal of scientists secretly running the world.

Remember, "science" covers a lot of territory. There's the basic disciplines of physics, chemistry, and biology. There's boggins of sub-disciplines. They all have different methods and procedures. None of them claim to be superior to anything except ignorance.

Note that I don't include maths. I think you cited maths as a science in the previous thread, and I think that's wrong. From one point of view, maths is an intellectual exercise wherein mathematicians try to formulate self-contained, self-consistent universes, then play with them. From another point of view, maths is a different way of looking at the world. From yet another, maths is a toolbox of techniques and processes that can be used in many other sciences, as well as engineering, industry etc.

But nowhere is there mathematics that can be tested empirically, as a scientific theory can. A mathematical description of something, say the behaviour of a system, can be tested, but that's not the maths, it's the application of an existing (and hence mathematically proven) mathematical tool.

Trust me, I know whereof I speak. I get a great deal of amusement from making outrageous statements at parties, then responding to the inevitable doubting looks with "Trust me, I'm a mathematician".

re: Phil's response to Michael Duffy on ID

Bill Avent: "Science, to be useful, needs to be the study of phenomena; not merely the study of science itself. It should not be allowed to set the aganda strictly according to its own terms, as religion did for so long."

I'm sorry Bill, but you seem to be peddling a brand of logic that this mere mortal is unable to follow.

How about we save a lot of bytes and I try to summarise what I think is your argument, or at least that part of it that is still on-topic. You can then feel free to tear strips off me for my impertinence.

ID is rubbish.
Evolutionary theory is rubbish.
Both should be taken out of science class and taught as social studies.

Now isn't that easier.

re: Phil's response to Michael Duffy on ID

Cut the crap people. I'm not going to name anybody. Most people here are being ridiculous.

Philosophy, as I have thought forever, SHOULD be taught in schools.

re: Phil's response to Michael Duffy on ID

Alison Jobling, your “Trust me, I know whereof I speak” sounds a lot like “Trust me, this is a good used car. Its wheels are not wobbly. That’s just your imagination.”

Science or not — and I never said it was science, so I don’t know why all you science devotees keep throwing that tired old chestnut at me — intelligent design applies itself to the same questions as does evolution, and that is why the two should be considered alongside one another. I repeat, for the umpteenth time now, I never said I wanted it taught as science. Considering what a shonky theory it is, one could ask how evolution should be taught as science anyway.

I’ll forget the specious, facetious or whatever it’s supposed to be nonsense about putting ID in economics classes. Both ID and evolution theory belong in natural history classes. If you are afraid to come out of science’s little sandpit, I’m perfectly happy to leave you there, searching in vain for that scientifically supported flat earth theory you seem to imagine to have existed some time in the past. You certainly won’t find that one on the history lawn. Certainly you will find a belief that the world was flat, but not a scientific theory.

Your explanation as to how allowing consideration of ID ideas alongside evolution theory in schools could further disadvantage disadvantaged kids who want to take up a career in science seems to be “Because it's not science, Bill”. Now that might explain something, such as how much the study of science is a navel-gazing study of itself, but it certainly doesn’t answer the question asked.

I have not called for science to be abandoned. What I do suggest is that it take a good long hard all over look at itself — not just at its navel — and come to realise its inherent limitations. Good evidence that it has done that will come when its automatic reaction to other ways of looking at the world is no longer the pointless, “But it's not science, Bill”.

re: Phil's response to Michael Duffy on ID

Dee Bayliss: "I seem to remember that eugenics and its underpinning racism was in turn driven by religious belief."

This is a large concept for a 'seem to remember' to be based on. Actually eugenics has nothing to do with Christianity. I'll let others speak for Hindu and Confucianism, etc if they wish.

Eugenics can, however, sit comfortably with humanism, and it is ably assisted by evolution (some 'human species', eg - Aryans, are more highly evolved than others, and since we have no god to answer to, the superior have the right to do as they humanly please with the lower races). Do a check on the influences behind the ideas of Joseph and Adolf.

Certainly some eugenecists, such as the KKK, will twist a Bible verse or two to suit their will, but this does not make religion their foundation.

While some in the Christian church were complicit in Australian genocide, they were siding with the popular political and social opinion of the time rather than looking to their theology for guidance. Many others within the church have tried to protect Aboriginal communities from such destruction, and are largely responsible for the fact that they are still with us today.

Indeed the Genesis and creationist message is that we are all descended from one human couple, and thus are all racially equal. Obviously evolutionary theory distorts this message.

re: Phil's response to Michael Duffy on ID

Graham McPherson, just back from Sunday school, where I have been teaching the kids they’ll go to hell and be tormented by the devil if they don’t believe in Jesus. Doctrinaire as a scientist, I am, sometimes.

But hey, we are talking about mainstream education here, not Sunday school. At least, that is what I have been talking about. With all the red herrings you attempt to introduce, I am left to wonder what you are talking about. What have Sunday school or mobile phones or dialysis machines got to do with evolution anyway? People were inventing things long before science became the new religion, which in the true tradition of religions now tries to push all other modes of thought aside.

Simon J Moffitt, life is not a courtroom. A courtroom is a mere human construct, very limited in its scope. So, I’m afraid, is science. When it comes to evolution, the jury should still be out. Instead, science treats as heresy any challenge to its case, and tries to have it relegated to some other, lesser forum. Sunday school, someone here suggests. Hence my question: why is science so insecure? If it as as secure as it claims to be, why the Trojan horse analogy? Since we now have a courtroom analogy, why should the jury (let’s say a science class) only be allowed to hear one side of the case, and not the other? Science, to be useful, needs to be the study of phenomena; not merely the study of science itself. It should not be allowed to set the aganda strictly according to its own terms, as religion did for so long.

Just because we cannot examine the idea of intelligent design according to scientific method should not mean that such ideas must automatically be dismissed. 'Scientific Method' is not the god scientists seem to think it is. It is just as limiting to insight as was, in its day, the injunction that everything had to be accepted or rejected depending upon whether or not it accorded with prevailing theological belief.

That latter, of course, had its downside. But so does science. I would as soon have a witch doctor chant his incantations over me as have his more modern scientific counterpart pierce my vein and let my blood flow into a bowl to cure me of what ails me. And let’s not forget those scientists who recommended that everyone smoke tobacco to rid their lungs of bad bugs, when they discovered germs. What stupidity, I wonder, is science guilty of today? Only time will tell.

Dee, you seem to think we are living in a machine. I disagree. While the workings of a machine may be understandable by means of scientific considerations, I don’t see how that can be extended to understanding of life itself.

Anyway, we had machines long before the notion that everything had to be capable of examination according to 'Scientific Method' in order to be accepted as real. The same can be said of engineering. Consider the pyramids in Egypt and Central America; the Great Wall of China; Stonehenge; Carnac. Or the boomerang. The people who created those things may be said to have used science, but they gained their inspiration from something higher.

It is not scientists I derisively call sacrosanct. It is science itself. I deride the modern worship of science. My disenchantment with science is a relative thing. You speak of computers and such; I speak of language and mathematics. I could live quite happily without computers. The whole world did, for millennia. What use would computers or anything else be without language and numbers? Where did those things come from? Not from any scientific age, that’s for sure. Without them, how could computers ever even have come into existence, and what use would they be?

Since you mention your car (I don’t think your mechanic would consider himself a practitioner of science, by the way) that machine could, in a manner of speaking, be said to be a product of evolution. Example: the quite prestigious modern Jaguar car we know today could be said to have evolved from a funny looking little down-market motorised conveyance that existed back in the early 20th Century. It had evolved from a motorcycle sidecar, product of the Swallow Sidecar Company. That company went on to produce the quite nice little SS saloon, which in one of its manifestations became a sports roadster named the SS Jaguar. Very elegant it was, too, by then. Aesthetic and engineering similarities with the subsequent XK series and C, D and E Types are there to be seen, if one looks for them. But with the war the letters “SS” came to have Nazi connotations, and so were dropped, and these subsequent models were known only as Jaguars, from the Jaguar Car Company.

Of course, these cars and others are not the product of evolution at all; they are the product of a series of design and development teams. Nowhere between specific models can be found intermediate examples, except perhaps in the form of prototypes in some museum somewhere. Ford’s first car, the Model A, followed by a number of experimental models, became the successful Model T, and then the second Model A. Quite distinct; nothing in between. So it seems to be with animal species: the modern horse is said to have evolved from Eohippus; but as someone else here has noted, nowhere can be found evidence of gradual development from that creature to the horse we know today. All signs point to development from intelligent design. Why is science so intent on denying the obvious?

Paul Walter, me, attack Dee? That is not what’s happening here. I am not here to attack anyone. At least not anyone who writes rationally and sensibly.

Your whole post, it seems to me, supports what I have been saying. I had to read it twice to be sure that was not your intention. It took a bit of effort to make sense of it. Your putting inverted commas around 'humanities' gave me my best clue as to where you’re coming from.

Questions:

Given that secularists are not trying to ban religion, why do they insist that consideration of phenomena be limited to scientific precepts? What else can it be than the insecurity to which I have alluded?

Why do they insist that what you call metaphysics be kept separate from consideration of scientific beliefs? How can things be compared, when they are kept separate? What purpose can separation serve, except to save one from critical analysis of the other, and how can critical analysis be bad?

Why, if I don’t like science, should I leave schools alone? Do you know how much you sound like a middle-ages Pope telling someone who doesn’t like his religion to leave schools alone?

What is 'rational' about Christianity? Exactly what does 'superstition' mean to you — just anything you don’t believe in? How does it feel, to be so constricted?

What the hell are “ulra con plots”?

Are you trying to mess with my mind?

re: Phil's response to Michael Duffy on ID

Hi Graham, I appreciated your squintless post from that earlier thread and of course I noted the chess/monopoly analogy you made. However, if I can borrow from your words (if not entirely their essence) and direct us back a little closer to Lewontin's clearly controversial quote.

Now presumably you'd conclude that building an actual hotel on an actual chess square is unfeasible because such a construct would be "patently absurd"... But hang on a second, as a matter of utterly "unsubstantiated" fact, it "just-so" happened eons ago when...

Surely any fair and reasonable person, having heard occasionally "honest" Lewontin's amazing admission would want to ask something like "What?, you mean you'll continue to believe in the theory of energeticswampslimegivenenoughtimeandambitionandluckcanturnitselfintoNeilArmstrong even if the facts and reason don't support it? Is that what you're saying?" It would then doubtless follow that Lewontin would reply with "Yes, of course, as I've already told you, I'm completely philosophically biased! I'll lie, cheat and steal to keep alive the theory of energeticswampslimegivenenoughtimeandambitionandluckcanturnitselfintoNeilArmstrong - just like all of us leaders in objective 'materialistic' science will!"

And by obvious implication, a renowned Harvard Pro like Lewontin is certainly far more qualified and able to identify and speak on such things (ie "patent absurdities", "unsubstantiated just so stories" "bias" etc) than his devotees at blog level.

Actually further to that, I wonder how our most vocal and local theistic evolutionist and self proclaimed "brain-catcher" Cindy would reconcile Lewontins admissions. Indeed more to the point, I wonder how the Grand Wizards of materialism like Lewontin, Dawkins and indeed Charles himself would reconcile themselves with Cindy's theistic leanings... maybe they wouldn't bother (being well aware that evolution was dreamt up, at any and all costs, to deny, however ludicrously, the Truth or "Divine Foot")... they'd surely just scoff at her and her evolutionist God?

What does Cindy think about all this? Perhaps shes rushed back to the "library"? ...I cant understand why she'd continue to crave the acceptance of a naked and fading harvard haughtie... (lest anyone think we've been too friendly with Cindy P - we happen to believe that Cindy is a lovely name for a lady. And until she otherwise informs us, as per WD ethics, that's what we'll continue to respectfully call her).

Finally Graham, I think we can part ways here, as it seems (unless you were kidding) you're somewhat unwilling to question your faith, in spite of its "patent absurdity" and otherwise. (Although thankfully, as knowledge and understanding advances, many others are - hence we'll inevitably witness the complete uncovering and absolute demolition of one of the largest lies of all time. Also it would probably be best if no unsightly equivocation was seen from anyone. As of course we are speaking - as was Admiral goo-to-you Lewontin - about origins science NOT operational science).

Here's that quote again for those that missed it:

"We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is an absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door... Oh, and go the mighty Tigers"’

re: Phil's response to Michael Duffy on ID

Jannice Caldwell, "Cut the crap people. I'm not going to name anybody. Most people here are being ridiculous.

Philosophy, as I have thought forever, SHOULD be taught in schools."

I'll go along with the ridiculous part, but who here has said that philosophy should not be taught in schools?

re: Phil's response to Michael Duffy on ID

Phil Uebergang, "Actually eugenics has nothing to do with Christianity."

"Eugenics can, however, sit comfortably with humanism, and it is ably assisted by evolution"

This is a canard from way back. Eugenics no more sits comfotably with Humanism than it does with Christianity. Which is to say that both have dabbled in it, and left it open to the abuse of others.

For the influence of Christians on the development of eugenics, it is worth following up on the Social Gospel movement in the late 19th Century. Such leading christian lights as Rev SJ Burrows, Rev Oscar Carleton McCulloch and Richard Dugdale formed the core of the early eugenics movement in the US.

Darwin, a man of his time, nevertheless had this to say on the topic in The Ascent of Man:

"The surgeon may harden himself whilst performing an operation, for he knows that he is acting for the good of his patient; but if we were intentionally to neglect the weak and helpless, it could only be for a contingent benefit, with an overwhelming present evil. We must therefore bear the undoubtedly bad effects of the weak surviving and propagating their kind."

Eugenics is far more closely associated with Social Darwinism than with evolutionary theory.

Social Darwinisn itself is the appropriation of evolutionary theory, entirely without scientific foundation, for use as an analogy for human social development.

After all, Darwin wrote on the "Origin of Species", not the "origin of specie", and in Social Darwinism we find his "survival of the fittest" converted into "survival of the fattest".

I strongly suggest that eugenics would have been as anathema to Darwin as it was to the Darwinists who followed him.

To suggest that evolutionists are somehow responsible for eugenics and what flowed from it, is as unfair as ascribing the responsibility for the African slave trade to Christianity.

re: Phil's response to Michael Duffy on ID

"Indeed the Genesis and creationist message is that we are all descended from one human couple, and thus are all racially equal. Obviously evolutionary theory distorts this message."

And how does evolutionary theory suggest that human groups are not equal? I'm buggered if I know. That one group have evolved to be better at something than another group (like people of African ancestry being better at being immune to malaria, for example) doesn't suggest any sort of moral superiority. So what's the problem, Phil?

re: Phil's response to Michael Duffy on ID

"Eugenics can, however, sit comfortably with humanism, and it is ably assisted by evolution (some 'human species', eg - Aryans, are more highly evolved than others, and since we have no god to answer to, the superior have the right to do as they humanly please with the lower races). Do a check on the influences behind the ideas of Joseph and Adolf."

I don't know if you'll ever condescend to respond to my posts to you, Phil, but really: eugenics is no more the result of Darwinism and humanism than the throwing of rocks on people's heads is the result of Newton's theories of gravitation. Darwin himself distanced himself from Spencer's interpretations of his theories.

In any event to criticise evolutionary theory on the basis of the way that subsequent people have chosen to twist it to suit their ideological purposes is beyond irrational. You'll have to do better than that.

Oh, and evolutionary theory fits perfectly well with many theists, remember? (Oh, right. That's the post of mine you're ignoring...)

re: Phil's response to Michael Duffy on ID

"After all, Darwin wrote on the 'Origin of Species', not the 'origin of specie', and in Social Darwinism we find his 'survival of the fittest' converted into 'survival of the fattest'."

Just to clarify, Grahame, it wasn't Darwin who spoke of the 'survival of the fittest', but George Eliot's boyfriend, Herbert Spencer. Darwin was quite peeved by Spencer's misstatements of his arguments and the politicals ends for which he used them.

(By the way, you didn't live in Asquith as a kid, did you?)

re: Phil's response to Michael Duffy on ID

Peter Doyle: "being well aware that evolution was dreamt up, at any and all costs, to deny, however ludicrously, the Truth or 'Divine Foot'."

Wow. And I thought Christians were enjoined against bearing false witness. So much for that idea. It is funny that the only way that creationists can attack evolution is by lying about it.

By the way, the Lewontin quote is out of context and is doctored evidence, also a form of false witness.

re: Phil's response to Michael Duffy on ID

Bill Avent, continuing with the court analogy it would be like a defence attorney saying that because a butler could have done it, even though all the evidence points to the maid and no evidence to say he did, we should accept him as likely to be guilty as the maid. You are asking us to consider that the butler story be put along side the maid’s evidence even though there is no evidence to show that there was even a butler in the first place.

I’ve also raised the point in numerous blogs about science getting it wrong and institutional bias in the past, such in the case of eugenics and Victorian medical/psychological views that females were non-sexual beings and that masturbation and female sexual desire were symptoms of mental disease. Many anti-environmentalists use similar arguments of institutional bias against environmental scientists that say humans are having an adverse impact on the global environment.

I’ve yet to see any reply to my posts that answers why, if it has happened in the past, it couldn’t be happening now, so I do understand you and the anti-environmentalists point of view. From a lay point of view I think it is more likely to happen in the soft sciences that are more open to social bias contaminating their research or when scientists make premature pronouncements before they have enough information.

Even so Bill do you think we should question the heliocentric view; that maybe science has gotten that one wrong and we need more info or that we should consider the medieval Earth centered along side it?

But it is exactly the point that the hard sciences have changed their mind because of the weight of evidence over past erroneous views, and that it can make predictions, that we can afford it the authority the modern world does.

I’ve no doubt some paradigms will be overturned - especially the social ones - but like the heliocentric account others have become definitive.

re: Phil's response to Michael Duffy on ID

Peter Doyle, with regards to your Lewontin quote, it derives from a review of Carl Sagan's book The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark.

I wonder have you actually read the entire article, or did you do a cut and paste on the quote from a convenient creationist website?

If you haven't yet read it you can find it here.

By reading it you would find that the quote, as endlessly parroted in creationist circles, is curiously truncated.

Here is the paragraph in its entirety:

Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door. The eminent Kant scholar Lewis Beck used to say that anyone who could believe in God could believe in anything. To appeal to an omnipotent deity is to allow that at any moment the regularities of nature may be ruptured, that miracles may happen."

As is quite obvious by the context in which it is made, the quote is speaking of public attitudes to science.

For we scientific illiterates, science may seem counter intuitive, it may be difficult to understand, it may not deliver what we want when we want it, but in the deeper understanding of the material universe it is the only game in town. In order for it to work it must make materialistic assumptions, anything else and the system breaks down.

The supernatural on the other hand provides only for miracles, and miracles don't put dinner on the table.

That is what Lewontin is saying, he is of course not maintaining that he holds a position of deceit or anything like it. The suggestion is both stupid, and presumably to Lewontin, either insulting or amusing, perhaps both.

But then this sort of thing is just what we have come to expect from the creationist misquotation factories.

re: Phil's response to Michael Duffy on ID

The 'RNA Hypothesis' is just another vain attempt by evolutionists to propagate a theory which has no substance. You evolutionists destroyed the beauty of science. And you continue to do it with your false illusions of evolution which are full of contradictions, gaps and assumptions, which are so strikingly similar to Christian faith. Below, I will demonstrate Graham McPherson's idea that proteins formed from RNA as a bunch of hot air. First though, I will give you a brief explanation of what RNA is for those who aren't familiar with it.

This scenario (RNA) proposed that, not proteins, but rather the RNA molecules that contained the information for proteins, were formed first. According to this scenario, advanced by Harvard chemist Walter Gilbert in 1986, based on a discovery about 'ribozymes' by Thomas Cech, billions of years ago an RNA molecule capable of replicating itself formed somehow by accident. Then this RNA molecule started to produce proteins, having been activated by external influences. Thereafter, it became necessary to store this information in a second molecule, and somehow the DNA molecule emerged to do that.

Made up as it is of a chain of impossibilities in each and every stage, this scarcely credible scenario, far from providing any explanation of the origin of life, only magnified the problem, and raised many unanswerable questions:

1. Since it is impossible to accept the coincidental formation of even one of the nucleotides making up RNA, how can it be possible for these imaginary nucleotides to form RNA by coming together in a particular sequence? Evolutionist John Horgan admits the impossibility of the chance formation of RNA:

"As researchers continue to examine the RNA-world concept closely, more problems emerge. How did RNA initially arise? RNA and its components are difficult to synthesize in a laboratory under the best of conditions, much less under really plausible ones." John Horgan, In the Beginning

Here are other evolutionists denouncing the crap of proteins forming because of RNA.

Probabilistic calculations of my previous post make it clear that complex molecules such as proteins and nucleic acids (RNA and DNA) could not ever have been formed by chance independently of each other. Yet evolutionists have to face the even greater problem that all these complex molecules have to coexist simultaneously in order for life to exist at all. Evolutionary theory is utterly confounded by this requirement. This is a point on which some leading evolutionists have been forced to confession. For instance, Stanley Miller's and Francis Crick's close associate from the University of San Diego California, reputable evolutionist Dr Leslie Orgel says:

It is extremely improbable that proteins and nucleic acids, both of which are structurally complex, arose spontaneously in the same place at the same time. Yet it also seems impossible to have one without the other. And so, at first glance, one might have to conclude that life could never, in fact, have originated by chemical means." Leslie E Orgel, 'The Origin of Life on Earth', Scientific American

The same fact is also admitted by other scientists:

"DNA cannot do its work, including forming more DNA, without the help of catalytic proteins, or enzymes. In short, proteins cannot form without DNA, but neither can DNA form without proteins." John Horgan, In the Beginning.

"How did the Genetic Code, along with the mechanisms for its translation (ribosomes and RNA molecules), originate? For the moment, we will have to content ourselves with a sense of wonder and awe, rather than with an answer." Douglas R Hofstadter, An Eternal Golden Braid

The New York Times science correspondent, Nicholas Wade, made this comment in an article dated 2000:

"Everything about the origin of life on Earth is a mystery, and it seems the more that is known, the more acute the puzzle gets." Nicholas Wade, Life's Origins Get Murkier and Messier.

Science writer Brig Klyce's 2001 article explains that evolutionist scientists are very persistent on this issue, but the results obtained so far have already shown that these efforts are all in vain:

"Research in the RNA world is a medium-sized industry. This research has demonstrated how exceedingly difficult it would be for living cells to originate by chance from nonliving matter in the time available on Earth. That demonstration is a valuable contribution to science. Additional research will be valuable as well. But to keep insisting that life can spontaneously emerge from nonliving chemicals in the face of the newly comprehended difficulties is puzzling. It is reminiscent of the work of medieval alchemists who persistently tried to turn lead into gold." Brig Klyce, The RNA World.

Evolutionist, why do you destroy science with your false depictions of the origin of life? Islamic faith commands the human race to explore science and use facts and reason to make healthy convictions of life, mammals and other science related issues. Evolution only seeks to undermine science by using assumptions and turning these assumptions to fact. Assumptions should never be the basis of science, for it then becomes a another ideology.

re: Phil's response to Michael Duffy on ID

Mahmoud, I took a look at all your references. Unfortunately none of them are argued rigorously (or convincingly for that matter) by anyone with any authority in the field of RNA.

Before you start accepting someone else's opinion on a piece of scientific research you should check that they actually have the credentials to be authoritative in the field.

Otherwise you are not going to make much headway with your arguments.

Can I suggest you read the discussion in the previous thread on ID as your conception of what science is and what it says about ID is plain wrong.

You appear to have a very confused idea of what evolution is as well and you would do well to note that evolution is not a theory concerning the origins of life.

Your comment, "Evolutionist, why do you destroy science with your false depictions of the origin of life?" is therefore complete nonsense.

Please take a look at the previous discussion for some definitions of evolution.

Graham, thanks for your insightful and well-put responses combating the same old arguments from the same old crowd who still haven't provided their definition of science - they clearly aren't working with the one the rest of the world uses.

re: Phil's response to Michael Duffy on ID

Margaret Morgan and others, including me, have constantly asked for examples of ID proponents in scientific circles outside of monotheistic religions and within atheistic traditions. Until such evidence is provided there can only be one conclusion, ie ID is a faith based Christian fundamentalist perspective masking as science. I am a Christian by choice of belief, interested in scientific advancement and not challenged by either Evolution or ID as scientific theories. I just want the debate to be beyond politics and fundamentalist zeal. Please help by answering the questions raised and justify ID as a valid scientific theory supported by a broad spectrum of scholars from all belief or 'unbelief' systems beyond monotheism. End of story.

re: Phil's response to Michael Duffy on ID

Mahmoud I forgot to point out in my previous post that you quote Leslie E Orgel completely out of context (did you do this deliberately or did you not bother to read the full article that you extract from?).

The original quote is a question raised by Orgel and in fact the full paragraph is as follows:

"Anyone trying to solve this puzzle immediately encounters a paradox. Nowadays nucleic acids are synthesized only with the help of proteins, and proteins are synthesized only if their corresponding nucleotide sequence is present. It is extremely improbable that proteins and nucleic acids, both of which are structurally complex, arose spontaneously in the same place at the same time. Yet it also seems impossible to have one without the other. And so, at first glance, one might have to conclude that life could never, in fact, have originated by chemical means."

And the bulk of the paper then follows and is Orgel's explanation of why current scientific thinking suggests there may be evidence to suggest that life could have arisen by chemical means - including references to the relevant scientific studies and other research.

To misquote Orgel so badly suggests to me that you are not actually researching this field independently but rather that you are reading material assembled by creationists designed specifically to give the view that Evolution is not a valid theory. Taking quotes out of context is a common technique of such writers.

Can I suggest that before you weigh into a debate like this one, that you actually check out the material you are referencing and make sure that the conclusions the author is drawing are actually based on valid research and not taken out of context, because you can be sure those of us who disagree with you will do just that.

re: Phil's response to Michael Duffy on ID

The reason ID isn't taught in science classes is because it's not science. It's as clear as that. I would agree that evolutionary theory should not be taught as the only factor (how could we prove that it was the only factor), but rather it should be taught as a theory that works.

Here's a relevant dream I had: Behind Bondi Junction Railway Station, an Asian man asks, "Where is the Atheist Centre?" I point to the corner and say, "Well, there's the Philosophy Centre." He asks, "But what about life after death?" I say, "Well, there's a (7th Day Adventist?) church opposite the Philosophy Centre." He asks, "But what about the truth?" I point to myself and say, "Here." Waking up I say, "You are the truth."

Bill Avent, A case could be made that the Bible saying that the land and the animals were for humans to use as they will has been the basis for destruction of the planet, not science. Regarding another point you made (I don't remember where or what), we have increased life spans due to science.

re: Phil's response to Michael Duffy on ID

Graham McPherson, your first paragraph, the one apparently beyond your capacity to comprehend, is more to the point that your list of conclusions. But then, it would be—it’s hard to get someone totally wrong when you quote his words verbatim. Comprehension would be served by reading what is actually written. You might even learn something.

To be accurate, your list should be:

I D is a concept worth bearing in mind when considering the natural world.
Evolution theory should not be taken as gospel, to the exclusion of every other idea.
Separating conflicting ideas central to the same subject and considering them each without allowing reference to the other is rubbish.

That rubbish is exemplified in the “But it’s not science” argument to which you and others have resorted in order to protect you precious and delicate evolution theory from fair challenge. Challenge, that is, from outside its own self-serving terms of reference.

Simon J Moffitt, a court analogy more relevant to what is under discussion here would come from a scenario in which the prosecution, objecting to the defence suggesting that the butler may have done it, appeals to the judge with “But he can’t present evidence for that here, Your Honour! This is a court! He can only say his stuff down at the pub or somewhere!”

That is exactly what the science lobby is doing when it insists that views alternative to its own should never be mentioned in its presence but instead taught somewhere else, such as Sunday school, or philosophy classes (do many high schools even have such things?)

The proper function of education should be to open minds, not close them. Young minds should be sent to school to grow; not taken to the laundromat to be forced to conform to the dogma of the day.

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