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Jonathan Witt holds a Ph.D. in Literary Studies from the University of Kansas. Before joining the antiscience think-tank called the Discovery Institute as Writer in Residence, Witt served for nine years as the head of creative writing at Lubbock Christian University, and has published fiction and creative non-fiction in addition to his scholarly articles. Doctor Witt's role at the Discovery Institute seems to be a behind the scenes writing/editorial advisor. But he also composes a few articles and essays reviewing bullets points in the Intelligent Design Creationism Public Relations Campaign and, as such, he's an author the average reader might come across in a non-science publication or in an op-ed column.

He's a useful example for the epistemology angle endlessly recycled by too many IDC lobbyists and pitchmen these days. Readers of those arguments are treated to the incessantly repeated claim that science equals philosophical naturalism (Also conflated with materialism, atheism, Darwinism, and at times even Communism or Fascism) with the puzzling implication we've seen in the writing of Phillip Johnson furtively hiding in the foreground; that by not considering supernatural events and magical processes which have never been observed or defined, science is hopelessly, philosophically, barren.

How exactly science is supposed to include phenomena which have never been observed, defined, or even precisely stated, or the consequences on the utility of Creationism in making useful contributions to our knowledge of the cosmos by filling in that gaping, alleged shortcoming, is a methodological vacancy IDCists never bother getting around to filling.

The political movement we refer to as Intelligent Design Creationism (IDC) boils down to a one underlying theme: Rejection of common descent. Let's be crystal clear about that lest there be any confusion. But that recurring objection to common ancestry comes disguised in a bewildering variety of sophisticated, disingenuous, formats.

You'll have appeals to religious prejudice; conflation of one field of study with another, or one concept with many; distortions and misinformation running barefoot through every field of science; all kinds of ad hoc and non-sequitur bullshit; logical fallacies galore; and frankly plenty of outright big, juicy, whoppers. It's routine for IDCists to throw up a virtual haze of pseudoscientific chafe using every one of those techniques and then some in a few short sentences, and it often demands fairly detailed rebuttal to straighten the whole stinking mess out. But no matter how removed the discussion gets from science, in the end it all reduces to casting doubt on common descent by hook, by crook, or by ignorance; be it willful or not. If you keep in mind that discrediting common ancestry of species is the ultimate end-goal IDCists are herding their listeners to with every misinformed word they stroke or speak, it will all make sense. In my view DR Witt's IDC material is no exception (Bearing in mind the ultimate goal is to destroy science itself with evolution acting as the thin edge of the wedge).

So, while his essays are well composed, reflecting a polished, professional author, the scientific content, or rather the lack thereof, is in my estimation both abysmal and all too predictable.

DR Witt trots out the same old tired Creationist Strategem; Portray or contrive a problem in biology as intractable, manufacture or enhance any controversy, tar every aspect of evolutionary biology as a consequence, assume Intelligent Design wins by default, employ lots of big scary words with multiple meanings to add to the confusion, and challenge the "Darwinian Lobby' to 'own up' to this heretofore barely whispered discrepancy, or to teach both 'sides' in the interest of accuracy.

For those of you who wish only a synopsis, I'd say that DR Witt's essays are riddled with the same distortions and deliciously vague, archaic, terminology commonly used among creationists we've reviewed in the past. In his case the writing style is fine, it is the analysis and conclusions that leave much to be desired. Panda's Thumb contributor Nick Matzke, among others, has done a far better job addressing DR Witt's confusion over various aspects of evolutionary biology  than I could. So, I'm going to limit my remarks to a couple of exhibits of his broader conflation[s]. A choice that will no doubt elicit an obligatory, reflexive rebuke from IDCists, that I'm 'ducking the data and attacking the man'.

Exhibit A: Solipsism. DR Witt echo's the IDC dogma that 'believing in' science is merely a form of faith, one more or less on par with religious doctrine, and he questions the physical existence of an objective reality in the process. For example he says "Belief in the scientific method is faith, in the sense that there are a number of unprovable axioms that must be accepted: 1) There is an objective reality ..."

I really don't wish to sound sarcastic, because I'm being sincere on this point; I sometimes find myself feeling empathy for anyone tasked with presenting a case in which their argument is so bereft of rationale and evidentiary support, that they're reduced to claiming that the universe might not be 'real', or that factual observation shouldn't count in weighing the merits of an explanation for observed natural phenomena, because by golly we can't be certain the universe exists! It reeks of desperation, and it's almost too easy to take apart, even using their own sloppy methods. Just as an aside, following Philip Johnson's novel lead, IDCists often erroneously compare the validity of scientific explanations to a case before a Court of Law. So let's extend that here: Can you imagine the reaction if some poor schmuck representing an accused murderer caught on videotape killing his girlfriend, based his defense on philosophical disagreement over the existence of objective reality?

"Ladies and Gentlemen of the Jury, before you can even think about convicting my client, you must first answer a question the oppositon would rather you didn't know about, but upon which the entire foundation of this case rests ever so precariously ... does the universe really exist? Isn't that really a matter of blind faith? Has the Materialist Prosecution proven to a metaphysical certainty that you're even here in this Courtroom or that the alleged evidence isn't a figment of your imagination? Has the wholly unwarranted assumptions of secular naturalism unjustly robbed the defendant of the legitimate possibility that a supernatural malicious fairy disguised himself as my client and committed this egregious act or that an unknown, non-naturalistic force, might in some, unknown, way explain the alleged evidence? If the answer to any of that is 'no', then you must acquit ... ".

Yeah, it's that lame. I truly feel sorry for someone who's boxed in so tightly by empirical observation, that they feel no recourse available outside of begging the listener to seriously consider the possibility that the universe might not exist and so they should disbelieve their lying eyes. It has just got to take a toll on a man's dignity to lower himself to such an absurdly inane level of special pleading. And yet these clowns seriously want to teach this drivel as legitimate science to impressionable school children ...

Outside of the schadenfreude I garner at the expense of those cornered into pitching existential nonsense on roller-skates, I can only reply that equating science with faith comes up short of even possessing the essential basic similarity requisite to forming a useful analogy. Does science require that you believe anything for it to work? Nope.

Science will work the same for you whether or not you accept the methods of science, or 'believe in the objective universe'. For that matter, you can completely reject science in every way or reject the universe's existence. You can ridicule science, ignore it, or even work very hard to destroy it, and science is unperturbed. You can call science a religion, a philosophy, or a contact sport involving dwarf cheerleaders, and still enjoy every gift science bestows while doing so.

Exhibit B: Darwinism. Judging by frequency of usage, DR Witt, along with every other IDCists on the planet, seems enamored with that word. I asked him recently what he meant by Darwinism, and he replied in part "I use the term to refer to a person who believes that natural selection working on random variation produced all the diversity of organic life we see around us." DR Witt is entitled to speak for himself, but I work with biologists every day as part of my ongoing battle with creationisim, and I haven't met one yet who refers to himself as a Darwinist, or his field of research as Darwinism. At best it's a quaint older term which is no longer used among biologists and hasn't been for decades. At worst, it's intentionally chosen to present evolutionary biology as a rival ideology to theism by hired guns marketing Intelligent Design Creationism to the Christian laypublic, and Darwin's name is used specifically to nurture latent resentment, and to conjure up the ever present book-burners and witch-burners who still lurk among the lucid, among that grass roots demographic.

Worse still, DR Witt's straightforward answer does little to reassure me of his probity: In the very same venue where I asked that question, DR Witt had used the term Darwinism to clearly refer to a school of thought in philosophy, as for example when he said "Thus, in practice the materialist/Darwinists' fourth ... " and this is just one of many such statements threatening the consistency of his self professed definition.

As best I can tell, Darwinism as used by IDCists can mean pretty much anything the IDCist wants it to mean. They can and do use it to refer to common descent and all modes of speciation/diversification, abiogenesis, cosmology or most any field of science. But it's by no means limited to science. It's bandied about in contexts of abstract philosophical claptrap; metaphysical naturalism, materialism, secular humanism, all of which are often nothing more than covert references to atheism. If it served the IDCist purpose in discrediting science, Darwinism could probably mean Killers of Small Furry Animals.

To wrap it up, this fellow and his ilk should not be viewed as scientists or researchers, although they may try and portray themselves that way at times. These are PR writers, adman, and lobbyists. Accuracy is no more important to them than it is to a firm hired to market a soft drink: All that matters is market share.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Sat Feb 25, 2006 at 09:33 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Ah... screw science and evolution and all that... (4.00)
    I put my faith in the Flying Spaghetti Monster, myself. He will save us.

    Renewable energy is homeland security!

    by lil bird on Sat Feb 25, 2006 at 09:46:22 AM PST

    •  No, but seriously... (none)
      good diary with some good points.

      Darwinism indeed. I had a friend once who was in the habit of calling evolution that. He was right-wing and fundamentalist Christian, but otherwise quite a nice and decent guy.

      Boy, did we have some interesting conversations, though, where he would try to win me over to his point of view. I remember one conversation in particular in which he argued to me that evolution couldn't possibly be real, because it was internally inconsistent. I asked what he meant. He replied that Darwin's theory said that Darwin preached survival of the fittest, and since lions were the strongest animal, and since male lions were more powerful than females, if Darwin was correct then all that would be left on the face of the Earth would be male lions. And he pulled out various books and other publications to prove to me that he was right.

      As a student of evolutionary biology at the time, I was rather amazed by so ridiculous an argument. But there it was in print, so it must have been true - or so he seemed to think.

      Renewable energy is homeland security!

      by lil bird on Sat Feb 25, 2006 at 09:56:57 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Darwin's theory said that Darwin preached... (none)
        about what Darwin said about... bleh, I should proofread before posting. :P

        Renewable energy is homeland security!

        by lil bird on Sat Feb 25, 2006 at 09:58:49 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  so strength equals fitness? (none)
        a budding republican to boot!

        I wonder if he ever played rock-paper-scissors

        •  Heh, "rock-paper-scissors" (none)
          I bet my friend had never even considered the possibility that something like that could be possible.

          I do have another friend, though, who was doing his doctoral work at Santa Cruz on those same lizards. I remember when he first started describing the red, yellow and blue morphs of the species, I thought he was pulling my leg - it sounded so textbook, and so fantastic, that I didn't even believe him. Hmm... I wonder whether he's finished his degree yet? Thanks, HiBob, for reminding me about an old friend I haven't spoken with for years... I think I'll drop him an email...

          Renewable energy is homeland security!

          by lil bird on Sat Feb 25, 2006 at 10:42:59 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  wow (4.00)
            Was he working with Sinervo?
            I read about his work when it hit the pop-sci outlets a few years ago. Like you said, it sounds like it came out of a textbook (population genetics or even differential equations, come to think of it) but it really captures the imagination. I wonder if business consultants or sales managers put it on power point presentations these days during the "think outside the box" bit.

            my last brush with evolution at work was when I was doing phage display during grad school, a technique that evolves bacteriophages to be better at certain chemical tasks. The sort of stuff ID'ers sneer at and say "well, microevolution, sure but ..."

            •  Don't you just love "microevolution"? (none)
              I want to see some theories -- nay, incontrovertible PROOFS! -- explaining how evolution is physically and exclusively limited to "micro" changes. To be convinced, I will need the exact -- certainly we can't settle for approximate -- material criteria by which to distinguish "micro" changes from possible "macro" changes. How can even the most self-assured IDC researcher know, in a reproducibly testable way, that we're only seeing microevolution?

              I'm waiting...

              Still waiting...

              Hullo, IDCers....?


              I thought not.

              Thank you. Case closed.

              Catch you later; I'm off to do a little recombination (emphasis on little; don't want to do anything macro).

            •  I don't know whether he was working with Sinervo (none)
              but it's entirely possible. I can't imagine that more than a couple of labs would be involved with those lizards at a single university.

              Renewable energy is homeland security!

              by lil bird on Sat Feb 25, 2006 at 04:57:41 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

      •  ahhhh....Darwin *preached*? (4.00)
        I think that rather, Darwin used reason to come up with a workable theory to explain what he was observing.  I think that would be INDUCTIVE reasoning?

        In any case, I thought your use of the word "preached" in this context was quite interesting.

        John Locke: "All just power is derived from the consent of the governed."

        by billlaurelMD on Sat Feb 25, 2006 at 11:15:22 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Well, naturally (none)
          I was paraphrasing, since this happened years ago and not in the presence of a tape recorder.

          However, from what I remember of my friend's general tone, that could very well be what he said. He seemed to regard science and religion as two alternatives that were equivalent, since they were both essentially a matter of opinion (except that the latter was right and the former wrong, of course). Since religious leaders preach, in his view the scientific ones probably did as well.

          Renewable energy is homeland security!

          by lil bird on Sat Feb 25, 2006 at 05:10:03 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  And based on so many false assumptions (none)
        Sensitivity is a valued trait in some species, apparently.  

        Caution: link contains graphic invertebrate sex (like so much else at Pharyngula).

        "I don't bear a grudge. I have no surviving enemies."

        by usagi on Sat Feb 25, 2006 at 11:34:51 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  thanks (none)
        Best laugh I've had in a while...

        Francine Busby for Congress! (CA-50)

        by reid fan on Sat Feb 25, 2006 at 11:55:46 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  re; (none)
    The only serious questions about evolution is not IF it happens, but rather how and when.

    That's pronounced "Douche Lowbrough".

    by polymath22 on Sat Feb 25, 2006 at 09:51:12 AM PST

  •  This is brilliant (none)
    I love your essays, but this one is particularly wonderful.  You use cold logic as the refiner's fire.  What pleasure this is to read.  Many thanks.
  •  never been observed or defined ??? (none)
    you don't trust Jimbob and Bubba ???

    I'm telling you, the UFOs exist, and Jimbob and Bubba were kidnapped by em

    you don't think jimbob and Bubba spent those three days in a pup tent together, do you ???

    /stuff like tha

    •  reproduction (none)
      There's a lot of stuff that's been observed that can't currently be replicated in controlled settings, so it stays outside of scientific belief. Heck, scientists used to claim with confidence that meteorites couldn't exist because the heavens were perfect so nothing could fall from them -- and those were regularly observed.

      Many people have had telepathic or clairvoyant experiences that were so specific and detailed that they are incontrovertible proof to them. But it's proven damn near impossible to get more than faint (and debatable) statistical trends regarding such experiences in the laboratory.

      Of course, many people claim experiences of God (or gods) too. But unlike telepathy or clairvoyance, you can't individually test such an experience by going and interviewing the person you thought you were receiving telepathy from, or viewing the scene you thought you were clairvoyant about.

      Personal verification is the very essence of science. What science claims, any person properly equipped can verify with real evidence. I don't see how you can get even personal verification of God, let alone scientific — you can have the experience, but there's nothing to check it against. You're likely deluded. But other things that are mysteries to science you damn well can personally verify, even if they aren't things you can verify for the wide world by dragging them into the laboratory for reproduction.

      As quantum physics seems to show (in the laboratory!) the paths of existence have a primary dependence on personal experience. So I'd say: Trust yourself first; trust science second; trust gods not at all. However, in trusting yourself you're likely to learn of real things that are still outside of science. But without people trusting themselves (that is, trusting when verified against reality) there'd be no science at all; it's paradoxically an anti-scientific attitude to put faith in science ahead of faith in your own capacity to discern.

      Thus you have, for instance, people who can easily discern their own fundamental freedom who, from misplaced faith in science, fall into belief that the world is deterministic, with no hope of breaking out of that. Coincidentally (?) the Darwinian Dan Dennett is also a prime proponent of free will as "illusion."

      Ironically, the early (and many modern) Christians believed that we owed it to God to renounce free will; now it seems we owe it to science. Science is perverse, limited, incomplete, and represented quite often by fools; it's just a far sight better than any of our monotheistic religions (although in many ways it's a continuation of them).

  •  Thanks DS (none)
    for this continuing series, it's really interesting.

    As I've read about each of these men, I've often wondered if they truly believed what they "preached"  or if they were in it for some other reason.  I think your last paragraph answered my question!

    GWB: best argument I know of to refute "Intelligent Design"

    by Pandora on Sat Feb 25, 2006 at 10:04:42 AM PST

  •  Social Darwinism (none)
    is probably what the IDC'ers want to drag in with their Darwinist label.  Just a wild guess.......

    I have been hearing about the Creationist drivel for a long, long time.  Since Duane Gish was the patriarch of the movement. I grew up going to Catholic Church and the creation story wasn't really pushed that hard, but I quickly realized something wasn't on the up+up.

    I got a Bachelors in Genetic Biology as the Creationist frenzy seemed to be peaking. It went underground into some hibernation phase like the Loch Ness Monster or something like it.

    Now it is back with a vengence and I think the whole thing terribly sad. Wasting human potential with fairy tales.  

    If you're not OUTRAGED You're not paying attention.

    by FuddGate on Sat Feb 25, 2006 at 10:09:14 AM PST

    •  Catholics (none)
      I grew up going to Catholic Church and the creation story wasn't really pushed that hard

      Same here. The Catholic Church seems intelligent enough to acknowledge that much of the Bible is not literal. The whole transubstantion thing never made sense to me, though.

      Now it is back with a vengence and I think the whole thing terribly sad.

      It does go to show that a small group of determined people can make a difference. Unfortunately, it's not always a good thing.

      •  Munching Jesus in cracker form - (4.00)
        You can't buy that?
        •  that was unncessarily harsh (none)
          I'm not Catholic and I don't believe in transubstantiation (sp?) but I still find that offensive.

          Francine Busby for Congress! (CA-50)

          by reid fan on Sat Feb 25, 2006 at 11:51:48 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I thought it was very funny! (none)
            Even if very shallow. I love what I've found in the metaphor of sharing Jesus' body and blood, even if I don't believe in the fairytale part of it.
            •  different takes on it (4.00)
              I realize there are different takes on things. That's why I tend to disagree with words instead of ratings. To me, that was a zero, but I'd rather say my piece than take away your right to read it.

              Francine Busby for Congress! (CA-50)

              by reid fan on Sat Feb 25, 2006 at 12:05:57 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Yes, words, not zeroes (4.00)
                (I hope this isn't a re-post; I seem to have lost the last attempt.) Words do have meaning and can do damage, but we're all grownups here of our free will, none of us particularly susceptible to others' opinions, and as a group, pretty darned irreverent, sometimes breathtakingly so.

                I don't like troll rating anybody for a hipshot, even people who mean to be outright evil, unless they attempt to dominate a thread with multiple posts of ceaseless -- worse, UNFUNNY -- spew. I very much enjoy our community's responses to trolls and assholes, both the carefully reasoned and poetic replies and those drenched in righteous, rabid spittle.

                As someone who has too many hard edges, a quick fuse, and a pedestrian approach to thinking, I find great hope and inspiration in deeply compassionate responses to hatred, incisively intelligent responses to stupidity, and outrageously creative responses to the mundane.

                I like us, trolls, assholes, and all, and I hate disappearance-by-zero. Thanks!

          •  Join the reality community (4.00)
            Why should the patently absurd be treated uncritically? Do you afford a special license to religion?

            The dogma of the Trinity was bought by Constantine at the Council of Nicaea to get some domestic peace so he could fight the barbarians. It has very little to do with theological "truth" and a lot to do with political coalition building.

            Do you want so more examples of theological absurdity? If so, go read some stuff by Sam Harris, Charles Freeman, or, for that matter, Thomas Paine.

            •  what? (4.00)
              Who said anything about uncritically? My point is just that there is a difference between what the parent post's parent post said:

              The whole transubstantion thing never made sense to me, though.

              And what the parent post said:

              Munching Jesus in cracker form

              Both are critical. But one is offensive and one is not. There are Catholic Democrats (a certain presidential candidate comes to mind) and Catholic kossacks. Seems like we can think what they believe is nuts without saying it in a way that might make them feel disrespected here at dKos. Or would you rather they run for shelter in the GOP (like many already have)? Seems like you could use a lesson in "political coalition building."

              Francine Busby for Congress! (CA-50)

              by reid fan on Sat Feb 25, 2006 at 12:33:05 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  I'm Catholic (4.00)
            and I thought that comment about munching on Jesus in cracker form was pretty funny.

            I say stuff like that all the time.

            But I would like to thank all the non-Catholics who are eager to hop in and be offended for me and all the other Catholics. Your heart's in the right place.

            America: It's a good IDEA for a country ...

            by Tony Seybert on Sat Feb 25, 2006 at 12:52:33 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  You probably have to be Catholic (none)
            To think it is funny.  Or Lutheran.  Maybe Episcopals, too...can't remember.
        •  Criticism taken, A little flip sorry - (none)

          Tell you what - you can make fun of the inherent worth and dignity of all human beings and I promise not to get offended.
      •  The Vatican has panned ID (none)
        At least at some levels of their hierarchy, they still remember Galileo.

        Do take heart. Many/most reasoning people of my acquaintance compartmentalize the parts of their faith that require magic (which is not always a bad thing; for instance, we political activist types daily use magic thinking to transform our anger into constructive action). In doing so, they get to have the best of both worlds.

        Although we should steadfastly combat the sociopolitical enshrinement of anti-science and other forms of ignorance as a matter of principle and practicality, note that people whose parents and churches have taught them that evolution is false eventually come to rely on its functional principles whether they realize it or not -- they worry about bird flu "jumping" to humans, adopt a Golden retriever instead of a beagle (a choice that definitely bespeaks intelligence and reason), plant Better Boy tomatoes instead of Beefsteak, etc., etc., etc., etc., etc.

        The truth is everywhere and resistance is ultimately futile. (And I inherited my optimism from my mom's side of the family.)

  •  Do one on David Berlinski sometime (none)
    He is -- apparently -- a bona fide mathematician and sometime scientist, but is in the 'Discovery Institute' team
  •  Another nice essay on Intelligent Design (none)
    One thought: I am a bit of a postmodernist sometimes, so I feel that its actually legitimate to question the "truth" of some conclusions of scientific observation.

    For instance- Newtonian Physics, which is taught in every high school in America, has been shown to be, in some ways, incorrect in its portrayl of the way that the universe works. But we teach it anyway- because its useful.

    I'll be damned if I know whether evolution is actually 100% "the truth" (I dont quite know what that term means) but Id have to be a massive fucking idiot to not accept all of its implications on my life.

    Momma, who are we voting for? Big momma gon' vote for Rod Blagojevich.

    by your friend steve on Sat Feb 25, 2006 at 10:28:57 AM PST

    •  Sure (none)
      it's legit to question anything in science, that's the life blood of new discovery.

      But to contrast the methdology therein, Einstien didn't lobby local school boards to include relativity in kiddies science textbooks. He published in peer reviewed journals and his ideas made testable predictons which were subsquently observed. Over time, his work and other work in that field built up a theoretical framework with empirical support to the point that it became overwhelmingly  accepted. These guys on the other hand are doing seminars in local chucrches and passing out kits on how to take over school boards and put intense pressure on textbook publishers and K-12 public schools without bothering with any of those silly ole formalities. And that's the critical difference.

      Read UTI, your free thought forum

      by DarkSyde on Sat Feb 25, 2006 at 10:35:10 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  questioning a theory is not synonymous w/pomoism (none)
      It's not that it is illegitimate to question the truth of a scientific conclusion, but that it is illegitimate to question the truth of a scientific method without using the scientific method--testing your hypothesis, something that IDers are homogeneously afraid to do.

      Hell, we all still use the Flat Earth model when we pull a road map out of the glove compartment.

    •  Scientific truth as good enough (none)
      Newtonian physics is good enough for engineering and celestial mechanics on a local scale. It's not good enough for atomic and subatomic phenomena, nor is it good enough for large-scale celestial phenomena.

      That's that way it is in science. Your wouldn't want to use quantum mechanics or the general theory of relativity to build a bridge or to predict eclipses. You wouldn't want to use Newtonian mechanics to design a nuclear reactor.

      •  This is key. (none)
        People outside the sciences don't understand what's intended by "scientific truth."  It isn't Platonic; it's pragmatic.  It changes.  

        If there is anything in science close to truth, it's theory.  And theory is like a map: bounded, approximate, full of error, and changeable.

        If we science types could do one thing for humanity, I think the best we could do would be to get them to let go of a Platonic notion of truth as correspondence.  Once you let go of that, things start to work.  Otherwise, you can't even get started.

        -9.25, -7.54

        I have little use for ponies, but much use for beers.

        by Marc in KS on Sat Feb 25, 2006 at 02:39:20 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  That's because scientists keep saying it (none)
          Scientists perpetuate the idea by using the term "truth," even though they know better.  At least some of them do.  I've talked with more than a few who have heard it enough from their professors and distinguished scientists that they believe it, too.
          •  The problem isn't that scientists (none)
            use the word "truth" -- the problem is that not too many people who are not scientists understand what they intend when they use it.  I think most of us know what we mean when we say something is "true," but I also think most of us know that most non-scientists don't use the word "true" in the same sense.

            This is a bigger issue than your garden-variety popularization of science; this is a fundamental, heritage-from-the-Greeks, Western bias.  It'll take a long time to overcome it.

            I use the word all the time, but I understand it to mean "tentatively demonstrated," and I hammer that into my students.  Maybe in another five or six generations it will have percolated throughout this bastard Platonic-Aristotelean culture we have in the west.

            -9.25, -7.54

            I have little use for ponies, but much use for beers.

            by Marc in KS on Sat Feb 25, 2006 at 08:32:08 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I try not to (none)
              I agree that is a bigger issue, but I've become sufficiently sensitized to it that I try to not use "truth," "prove," or "disprove."   And I'm pretty careful about "fact," too.  And I stay way clear of "believe."
              •  Ah, but (none)
                I there are scientific facts -- they're just tentative empirical generalizations.  And we can disprove a theory (or at least get very close to it) with a counterexample (although in practice it doesn't quite work that way).  And we do believe things -- it's just that science requires evidence-based belief.

                But I'm completely with you on the "no proof in science" deal.  Science is at root inductive, and so must remain tentative.

                -9.25, -7.54

                I have little use for ponies, but much use for beers.

                by Marc in KS on Sun Feb 26, 2006 at 05:29:12 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Facts (none)
                  Agreed.  But it's still another term that scientists use in a way that people don't understand and which leads to confusion about what science is and what you can expect to accomplish with science.

                  More important, it reinforces what I consider to be a dangerous in which you are "right," because your opinions are based on "facts" that you "know" are "true," because they've been "proven."  It is a mindset I encounter all too often on the left side of the political spectrum.  I see it as identical to the mindset of the religious fundamentalist in all the ways that count, and the one scares me just as much as the other.

                  •  There is one aspect of (none)
                    science that no other way of coming to know (or "fixing belief") has: it has an arbiter, and that arbiter is the way the world actually works.

                    I have absolutely no trouble calling something "true" as long as it fits the observations and can be tested against observation.  That's exactly what set science apart from religion.

                    So if I say that something is true I mean that it fits the available data, and that if you don't like it, you can go and see if you can generate data that would show me wrong.  The data remain the final arbiter in cases where people disagree.  This is what makes science different from religion.

                    -9.25, -7.54

                    I have little use for ponies, but much use for beers.

                    by Marc in KS on Sun Feb 26, 2006 at 12:26:51 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  I choose my words...and audience...carefully (none)
                      Unless I am certain the person I am talking to understands what I mean when I use this word, I do not use it.  I talk to communicate, not to speak words that I am comfortable using.  If the words I use mean something different to the person with whom I am trying to communicate than the meaning that I intend to convey, I am failing in that effort, no matter how comfortable I am with those words.

                      To me, one thing that distinguishes science from religion is that science is about questions, not answers.  All science is tentative, eagerly awaiting new data.  But more than continues to question accepted interpretations, even in the absence of new data.  Science is about thinking, not about what you think.  Religion, on the other hand, is about answers, not questions.  Its answers are permanent and absolute, from the alpha to the omega.  For this reason, I think the term "truth" is more appropriate to religion, because, to me, "truth" has a very permanent feel to it.  Perhaps that is one reason I have such an aversion to it.

                      A conclusion is the place where you got tired thinking.
                      Martin H. Fischer

                  •  Scientific facts can be demostrated (none)
                    in repeatable experiments. That does not mean the they are in any sense absolute, but that they are reliable bits of information on which one can build a hypothetical edifice.

                    By contrast, religious fundamentalists present no facts that correspond to repeatable experiments. All they can point to are circular arguments and obedience to authority.

                    If it weren't for the fact that their bizarre assertions have acquired social sanction, they would probably be confined in asylums for their own protection.

                    •  That was not my experience (none)
                      I posted elsewhere on this thread about attending a debate between a leading creationist and some university science faculty.  These were not guys from leading research institutions, just plain-vanilla state universities, but they were research faculty, all the same.  I attended the debate because, although I've always been a big fan of Darwin, I had not kept up with the latest and greatest in evolutionary theory and thought I might learn something.  I also expected to be mildly amused by the creationist. It didn't turn out that way.

                      This was in the 80s, so I can't speak to what they are using for "facts" today.  However...the creationist in this debate seemed to be relying mostly on data collected by mainstream science.  He just interpreted it differently than mainstream science does.  What impressed me was that the university scientists did not seem to have much argument with his data, only the theory he presented to account for them.  As far as I could tell (not being an expert in any of the sciences under discussion), he had his data pretty well in hand.  His theory may indeed have been bizarre, but any interpretation based on actual data is a scientific theory.  It might be a really bad scientific theory, but it's still a scientific theory.

                      I am not sure what you mean by "repeatable" experiments within the context of evolution.  If you mean experiments like those showing that genes do in fact mutate, or that some mutations are more viable than others...those show that life could have evolved as described by Darwin's theory.  However, the only way I can think of to "prove" that the evolution is "true," even within the limited scientific definitions of those concepts, would be to cook up a batch of primordial slime, devise a way to protect it from intelligent intervention, and then check back in a billion or so years to see if life as we know it did evolve.  If so, you could start over with a second batch to repeat the experiment.

                      But even if you did all that, you will still be proving only the theory that life can evolve in this manner.  Short of time travel, I can't think of any way to prove that it did.

                      •  Repeatability (none)
                        Sorry, I'm coming at this from physics. I recognize that biology has some more difficulties that physics and chemistry with repeatability, but I'll take a cue from the Dawkins' "The Selfish Gene", which I'm reading at this moment.

                        I notice that Dawkins repeatedly makes hypotheses about evolutionary results in animal behavior and says, in effect, "Do we see that in nature?" I some cases he says, "Somebody should go out and look for this in nature."

                        In the edition I'm reading, which came out perhaps two decades after the original book, the footnotes contain a number of, "Lo and behold, somebody went out and found that in nature." Or, "I wasn't aware at the time I surmised that somebody had already found that in nature." To my mind, these occurences, hypothsize, then search the animal kingdom for examples, bear a fairly close resemblence to repeatable experiments, which are based on hypothesis, not just random tinkering.

                        •  Predictability is much stronger evidence (none)
                          Predictability and repeatability are very different.  I think predictability is a much stronger test of a hypothesis than repeatability.  And much the stronger case for evolution.

                 doesn't matter.  My original point was that, while the Dems could easily defuse this issue...and thus totally undermine the people who are trying to use it to control the misguided religious right, the Dems will never do this, because, as partisans, they are driven to fight, to beat the other side, to win, and to divide us, rather than to reach out and unite us, to be right.

                          On that point, I think this thread makes my case for me.

                          I learned an important lesson in another high school class...driver's ed, of all places.  The patrolman who was teaching it gave an example where the law regarding right-of-way seemed clearly wrong.  Many students argued vehemently that the law wasn't "right" in giving right of way to the other car.  The patrolman didn't try to persuade them otherwise.  He nodded sagely and said, "Yes, you are right.  So it's up to you...obey the law or not, cede right-of-way to the other car or not. If you choose to plow on through the intersection, I'll make sure they put that on your tombstone:  "I was right."

                          I don't think whether the theory of evolution is right or wrong is anything like the most important issue facing this country (or the planet) at this point in history.  But you guys just keep arguing with the Republicans about this and every other hot-button their leadership (and yours) dangle in front of you to keep us divided against ourselves, and I'll make sure they put that on America's tombstone:  "The Democrats were right."

                          •  Very important remark (none)
                            "I don't think whether the theory of evolution is right or wrong is anything like the most important issue facing this country (or the planet) at this point in history."

                            I disagree with you on philosophical grounds but recognize that the here-and-now is also important. The real problem we have in America, which makes it possible for the extreme right to find a significant audience is this: people are not properly equipped to think critically. They are handicapped by their adherence to a belief system that opposes rational thought. Faith and reason live in different universes. If one predominates, the other is forced from the field.

                            The glaring example of that is the millenium-long dark ages that faith imposed on European scientific progress. Had it not been for the totalitarian triumph of faith in the late Roman Empire, we would probably have had the internet in about the year 1000.

                            That battle, for reason over faith, is a long-term fight, which we must fight. In the meantime, we have to win short-term battles to gain space for the long-term. It's a tricky balancing act, not an either/or situation.

                            There will always, until we win our compatriots over to reason, be those who will say that now is not the time for that confrontation. Of course, there were people during the civil rights movement who said that we should go slowly and not demand too much.

                          •  On a couple of points I agree (none)
                            people are not properly equipped to think critically

                            Last year, I sat down with another independent...someone I'd been in touch with via email, but never met before, to talk over our experiences and insights gained from the last election cycle.  The first thing I said was, "There don't seem to be any critical thinkers in this crowd."  To which she replied, "No kidding."  Only thing is...the crowd we were talking about wasn't the extreme right.  It was the left.  Extreme or not, I don't know.  A partisan is a partisan.  I think maybe it's a lot like being are or you aren't.  As it turns out, it's less a question of whether people are equipped than whether they do.  Partisans don't.  They are driven more by faith than reason:


                            Faith and reason live in different universes
                            That battle, for reason over faith, is a long-term fight

                            I was surprised to find there were people still trying to fight this battle.  You are right...they are in different universes.  It is pointless for one to try to triumph over the other. They will both exist for as long as humankind exists.

                            In the meantime, we have to win

                            I agree, you do have to win.  I wish you didn't, but I can't see any help for it.  I have decided that this is what defines a partisan. Partisans are people who take one side over another so they can fight, because they have to win.

                            In particular, they need to win short-term battles.  Theoretically, this is to gain space for the long-term, but I don't buy it.  You partisans have been fighting short-term battles for a long time now, and all that time...that is, over the long term...things just keep getting worse and worse.

    •  Not True, but... (none)'s not whatever else, either.  I've been hearing the dogmatics defend evolution as the Absolute Truth for decades now...and all the while, they keep revising it because new data don't fit.

      What implications do you see it as having on your life?  I've always thought it was perfectly irrelevant to mine.

  •  Oddly enough, (none)
    when 'Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone' was released in the US, they changed the name to 'Sorcerer's Stone,' which means nothing.  

    They figured Americans wouldn't get it.  

    This is how the Brits see America's little creationist infestation.  These people are a disgrace.

    •  I just watched part one of (none)
      Dawkin's Root of All Evil, (the second link in Grand Moff's comment)
      and I was really disappointed with the debate. My opinions on science coincide with those of Dawkins, but if all you knew about  Dawkins and pastor Haggart was that one of them is world famous for his attempts to convince people of the truth of his convictions, and the other preaches to a rural flock of the already converted, after watching that debate you'd make the wrong guess as to which is which. Dawkins starts off with an ad hominem attack that is easily laughed off by Haggert, who then makes ad hominem attacks that stick (Dawkins IS really arrogant). Dawkins comes across as flustered and contemptuous, while Haggert keeps his cool and stays polite.
      I don't expect an atheist to convince anyone of anything in that sort of situation, but he at least should have been able to control the debate and make a few zingers if he's going to televise it.
    •  Name Change: (none)
      "...because the publishers were concerned that the title would not instantly give the book an impression of magic and fantasy to the American public"

      They probably thought that Americans wouldn't get it because Americans would be afraid to refer to something as "unscientific" and mystical as alchemy and the philospher's stone in a science class, even though it is an important part of scientific history.

      It is probably now carefully relegated to philosophy classes.  And, it's true, Americans don't study much philosophy.

  •  Thanks for the exposition, DS (none)
    I've thought and written about subjects along these lines for some time. The conclusion I've come to is that science is at a disadvantage in public discourse - especially where there is a strong anti-intellectual tendency abroad - because the very term "science" is actually a reification, that is, an abstract referent that is dressed up as a material thing.

    Let me explain why I think that is, and why it leads to relative rhetorical weakness as we work to explain, defend, and justify social investment in scientific work and education from those who would, like Dr. Witt (snappy name, huh?) make it no more than another "religion" competing for acolytes in the "marketplace of ideas."

    At its root, the scientific approach is about evidence derived from well-defined - and therefore replicable - methods. The basic claim is "I do X, Y occurs fairly reliably." Consequently, what we typically call science is actually 10,000 different things - each "science" or "field" defined by practices and practitioners who share methods and results.

    Certainly scientists practice "theory building" - which is the work of abstracting across specific findings to explain a body of results from a range of methodologies, using the tools of mathematics and formal arrangement of findings as implications as seen in scientific papers and textbooks.

    The thing is though, these theoretical findings are always tentative - thus the supposed chink in the scientific armor that Witt types seek to exploit rhetorically. In fact, we know that the tentativeness of scientific theory is its greatest strength. What I call the "axiom of openness" is, I think, what makes science an exciting pursuit as a life's work. All else is technical application and exploitation of findings, which most basic scientists treat like a nice little brother - he's there, but we don't want him in the way too much. As well, once a set of findings become "settled knowledge" in science, most scientists find them boring.

    With a few exceptions, like Carl Sagan, most scientists are not interested in being lobbyists for their common endeavor at truth finding - in fact, "politics" is generally considered to be a nasty word among the scientific community.

    I'll close with a quote from John Dewey's Quest for Certainty that expresses the main point we need to keep uppermost, I think, in our battles with obscurantism of the Witt variety:

    The conditions and processes of nature generate uncertainty and its risks as truly as nature affords security and means of insurance against perils. Nature is characterized by a mixture of the precarious and the stable. This mixture gives poignancy to existence. If existence were either completely necessary or completely contingent, there would be neither comedy not tragedy in life, nor need of the will to live. The significance of morals and politics, of the arts both technical and fine, of religion and of science itself as inquiry and discovery, all have their source and meaning in the union in Nature of the settled and the unsettled, the stable and the hazardous. Apart from this union, there are no such things as "ends," either as consummations or as those ends-in-view we call purposes. There is only a block universe, either something ended and admitting of no change, or else a predestined march of events. There is no such thing as fulfillment where there is no risk, and no defeat where there is no promise of possible achievement.

    The name is not the thing named, the map is not the territory. -- Gregory Bateson

    by semiot on Sat Feb 25, 2006 at 10:34:53 AM PST

    •  you hit the nail on the head (none)
      with this:

      With a few exceptions, like Carl Sagan, most scientists are not interested in being lobbyists for their common endeavor at truth finding - in fact, "politics" is generally considered to be a nasty word among the scientific community.

      While I know there are lots of scientists that lobby Congress, for money, most remain silent. They have a laissez faire attitude about it.

      Most of them (us, I should say, I'm a scientist) simply think "those people [fundies/IDCists] are stupid. We're right, they're wrong, therefore I'm not going to mess with them and be dragged into their nonsense".

      And that's the wrong attitude. The IDCists also think "we're right, they're wrong" but they dive head-on into battle. To the people on the sidelines it looks like our side is either weak and outgunned or we're afraid to confront them for fear of being exposed as frauds. Much like pleading the fifth in court. You may not be guilty but it sure as shit looks like it!

      Hopefully this grassroots, blog-fueled, progressive movement that is building will nudge scientists into the political arena. I may or may not ever run for office but I'm sure as hell going to be vocal, combative, and active.

      when a conservative needs an opinion on a subject he gets it by calling himself from another line and when needs multiple opinions shouts the question in a cave

      by agentcooper on Sat Feb 25, 2006 at 11:38:02 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  With good reason (none)
        "politics" is generally considered to be a nasty word among the scientific community

        I think this is because they understand that politics is just another form of religion (all about what people believe), and the last time it got mixed with science, a lot of people ended up being "scientifically" disposed of.

        •  not really (none)
          the scientists I know that are not involved politically are really like many of those who are left-of-center: they are of the opinion that it doesn't really matter if they get involved. A "my vote won't matter" attitude.

          I'm hoping that they will change their attitude because if they (the IDC crowd) gets control of funding (as they are pretty close to now), then science and science education will go the way of well, the dinosaur.

          when a conservative needs an opinion on a subject he gets it by calling himself from another line and when needs multiple opinions shouts the question in a cave

          by agentcooper on Sat Feb 25, 2006 at 09:35:18 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Worth looking at pedigrees (none)
    Your example of Dr. Witt and his "scientific" essays is a cautionary one.  Whenever reading any article that claims to be science, I find it worthwhile to find out the background of the writer, where the think tank funding comes from, etc.  

    This kind of chicanery goes on in the global warming debate as well, with think tanks funded by the fossil fuel industry cranking out dubious papers.

    Unfortunately, the same is true for some environmental groups, which distort science in pursuit of an agenda. Or their paid consultants do.  Such documentation does not stand up to scientific review and does not earn the respect of the scientific community. And unprovable claims won't hold up in environmental lawsuits. The result:  a dismissive attitude toward all environmentalistic endeavors.

    I suggest that believers in creationism (that's what ID really is) take a pledge to avoid the fruits of Darwinism.  To avoid any therapeutic treatment with isotopes, because their existence reveals radioactive decay, and radioactive decay indicates that the world is 4.5 billions years old.  And believers should avoid flu shots and other medical interventions based on the understanding of evolution and mutation.

    We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them. -Albert Einstein

    by Plan9 on Sat Feb 25, 2006 at 10:43:32 AM PST

    •  The problem I see is that scientists respond (4.00)
      to guys like this by simply reiterating what science is, whereas this guy is trying to address what he considers a broader context. Nietszche for instance attacks science in a similar manner (though with more elegance and panache) in order to draw conclusions about botht he natural world and the disappearance of God in the world. This fellow is just a poor mixed-up philosopher. I'd like to see the philosopher's attack him, together with the scientists. He missed one too many classes, I'd say.

      There is indeed a way that rhetoricians have thoughtfuly question the funamental precepts of science, but it's not as crude and reductive as this fellow's version. He's actually hitting ona fundamental "weakness" and strength of the Left: our openmindedness. We're simply open to challenges likes this because we fundamentally believe that ideas (even scientificones) should be challenged. But the challenge has to be intellectually honest, and this one obviously isn't.

      Look at these people! They suck each other! They eat each other's saliva and dirt! -- Tsonga people of southern Africa on Europeans kissing.

      by upstate NY on Sat Feb 25, 2006 at 10:53:06 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  the label of "Darwinist" (none)
    You did a great job with this, and I think it should be used more as a debate tactic: the use of the label "Darwinist" or "Darwinism" is an attempt to deceive the target.

    It's dishonest because it attempts to portray those who follow the evidence as those who blindly follow a man.

    It also is dishonest because "natural selection working on random variation" doesn't explain a LOT of evolution. For example, we now know that drift explains a lot of evolution, and Darwin has nothing to do with that. For those of you unfamiliar with drift, it is random variation that becomes fixed (or creates divisions) for reasons other than selection.

    This is a fairly simple reason why labeling any competent biologist as a "Darwinist" is a polemic lie, designed to deceive the reader.

  •  Oh good grief (none)
    Not another anti-science think tank with a spin-doctored name that makes it sound like it's legitimate science (the "Discovery Institute") . We need to come up with a list of these front-groups.

    Another one for you Darksyde - Steven J. Milloy and his (although he's more into debunking global warming than anti-evolution and ID).

    •  Discovery in Seattle; belief in science (none)
      The Discovery Institute is based here in Seattle; the "Seattle Weekly" ran a big spread on them a couple of weeks ago called, Discovery's Creation" ("The Plot to Kill Darwin" on the front page.)

      The, "You don't need to believe in science for it to work," statement of Bruce's is a bit off.  What I think he's trying to say is that you can believe whatever you like about science and still benefit from technology, i.e. the fruits of science, but that is a different statement.

      But if you're actually trying to practise science of course you have to believe in--well, have some trust in--the methods.  There are many ways not to have that trust, both religious and not.  A possible non-religious example:  you're so committed to obtaining a predetermined set of results from an experiment that, when you don't get those results, you choose to believe that the experiment is flawed or biased or whatnot instead of the actual results.  So, yeah, you need to believe in science to be a good scientist, i.e. for your science to work.

      By the way...

      ...intellectual chafe...


      "It has been said of chess that life is not long enough for it, but that is the fault of life, not of chess." A fan of fur

      by Ernest Tomlinson on Sat Feb 25, 2006 at 11:31:50 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  No belief necessary, really (none)
        "you're actually trying to practise science of course you have to believe in--well, have some trust in--the methods"

        No, actually, you just have to practice it.  The scientific method is clearly spelled out, anyone can do it if they want to, even a fundamentalis preacher.  Someone who believes in science can bias an experiment just as easily as someone who doesn't.  Maybe easier.  The biased scientist rarely believes they are biased, nor that their bias has affected their research.  They believe in science...that if they just follow its rules, it can protect them from their biases.  But it can't.

        Many people would say that it's necessary to believe/trust in science in order to want to try to practice it, but...that's them.

      •  My never-ending shame (none)
        I am deeply ashamed that this place is based in Seattle. Ugh. Did they choose the location for the irony?
  •  Speaking as a grad student (4.00)
    in philosophy . . . let me say something.

    In real philosophy, the words "materialism," "physicalism," "naturalism," and so on, have extremely specific meanings.  Philosophers will often start an article by very carefully explaining what they mean when identify themselves with any of those terms.

    No serious philosopher since, oh, 1910 or so, wants to say anything inconsistent with current science.  Our job is to construct a world view within science.  And that obviously includes common descent.  

    Now, does that mean philosophers think life is "materialist" as you probably understand the term?  No, of course not.  Some do.  Some think that we're basically mechanical robots.  But some don't.  And the struggle is, to find a way to tell a human story within science.

    Sorry, Darksyde.  I know you weren't trashing my profession.  I just wanted to be clear about that.

    "In the beginning the universe was created. This has been widely criticized and generally regarded as a bad move." -- Douglas Adams

    by LithiumCola on Sat Feb 25, 2006 at 10:55:37 AM PST

    •  Watching What You Say (none)
      "No serious philosopher since, oh, 1910 or so, wants to say anything inconsistent with current science."

      Why not?

      •  Because the last (none)
        movement in philosophy that had nothing to do with respect for science was phenomenology.  Husserl was a very smart man, but his first concern was not respect for science.  He wanted to start with "mind", and how consciousnes works.  He didn't particularly care if what he said agreed with science.  Also, here, Brentano.

        Now, there were later philosophers who used some of what Husserl said.  Heidegger, Sartre.  Heidegger is a special case.  He's so weird I don't know what to say about him.  Sartre certainly did not want to go against science.

        Part of what you need to understand here is the rise and fall of psychology.  As a medical science, psychology is still fine (even if psychoanalysis is not) . . . but no one thinks psychology will answer the Great Questions of Life anymore.  There was about a 50 year period when people thought that.  Nowadays, philosophers are trying different projects.  

        "In the beginning the universe was created. This has been widely criticized and generally regarded as a bad move." -- Douglas Adams

        by LithiumCola on Sat Feb 25, 2006 at 04:43:38 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Let me amend that (none)
          The "psychology" movement actually started with Kant.  He was the first one to decide that BIG QUESTIONS should be decided by the way the mind works.

          "In the beginning the universe was created. This has been widely criticized and generally regarded as a bad move." -- Douglas Adams

          by LithiumCola on Sat Feb 25, 2006 at 04:46:21 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Sounds Typical (none)
          Try something once, it doesn't work, run for the lifeboats.

          I guess that 50-year period was before my time.  As far back as I can remember (and I was around in 1970 when 50% of all freshman entering college nationwide declared themselves to be psychology majors), psychology has always been the study of human behavior, not about answering any great questions of life.  Maybe it was the 50 years before that.

          Psychology as a medical science?  What kind of voodoo is that?  You mean Prozac?

          •  Umm . . . (none)
            I'm not sure what you want from me.  I was not trying to explain the history of philosophy.  I would charge money for that, and it would take weeks.

            When I said psychology was fine, what I meant was, yes, exactly, medicine.  I'm not a psychologist.  I was telling you that for a long time (roughly Kant-Husserl, or 1800-1910) people tried to take the questions of metaphysics out of the world and put them in the human mind.

            What is metaphysics, you might want to know?  That's hard to explain.  In modern philosophy, "metaphysics" involves questions that would bore most non-philosophers to death.  What is an object?  What is persistence?  What is personal identity?

            You really want me to bore you with this?  I doubt it.

            "In the beginning the universe was created. This has been widely criticized and generally regarded as a bad move." -- Douglas Adams

            by LithiumCola on Sat Feb 25, 2006 at 06:40:10 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Not boring at all (none)
              I'm particularly interested in the question of personal identity.  I just saw a periodical on the shelf (Science?) that made reference to a neurological basis for personal identity.  Know anything about that?

              Warning:  I'm not going to pay you and I'm interested, but not weeks' worth!

  •  The irony is.... (none)
    that while the Creationist attack Darwin and his theory, they embrace its cultural/social ramification of Social Darwinism and ally themselves with those forces that enforce it upon society.

    And the end of the day, the true enemies of the Creationist are not the scientist like Darwin but the philosphers like Voltaire, who dare imagine a society where superstition and the Church did not rule absolute. Thus they use evolution as the strawman to burn down the barriers between the secular and the religious and thus paving their way to their rise to power (or cosolidation there off) by dismissing and destroying anyone who would challenge their "myth" narrative. Thus we are flung backwards to a time before the Age of Enlightment, where reality was a maleable concept at the hands of the religious/political elite.

    "Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful." Seneca

    by Ralfast on Sat Feb 25, 2006 at 10:56:09 AM PST

  •  In re: Exhibit A (4.00)
    As someone who has taught evolutionary biology to college students, I have to say I have no problem owning up to the Materialist Assumption of Exhibit A.  "I am explicitly assuming that the universe exists, and that we can make sense of it." Everything else about our description of the world can and has been rigorously tested with experiments based on that assumption.

    The second part of the phrase is necessary because I cannot rule out that the universe is all an illusion -- but until I have reason to believe that my senses are lying to me, I am going to assume that what I sense is actually there.  If it is an illusion, I am requiring that it must be possible, in some way, to detect it.

    (There's a useful pop culture reference that the students usually get -- I am explicitly assuming we are not living inside The Matrix, at least until the point that Lawrence Fishburn shows up and offers me the choice of Nyquil or Dayquil.)

    Phillip Johnson's cardinal sin is conflating the Materialist Assumption with the Naturalist Hypothesis -- the latter being: that the laws of physics are sufficient to explain everything about the universe that we see, from the origins of the big bang to the formation of the earth to the spontaneous origination of live to the evolution of human beings. By claiming that science declared at the outset that god does not exist, PJ is claiming that science is hiding from the truth.

    Unfortunately, that's not what is assumed at all. The Materialist Assumption in no way requires that the Naturalist Hypothesis be true.  Just to give a few examples:

    • It's possible that our Carbon-14 dates would never get older than 4004 BC. (But they do.)
    • It's possible that our Electron Microscopes could allow direct enumeration of the number of dancing angels per pinhead. (Well, they do, but the answer has always been Zero.)
    • It's possible that our phylogenetic trees, revealing the origins and relationship of species, never resolve to a single root, and that each "kind" had a separate origin that happened around the same time. (But they do show common descent.)
    • It's possible that our studies of human history revealed we sprang into being fully formed, instead of descending from other species of primates. (But evidence overwhelmingly classifies us as primates.)
    • It's possible that the study of the universe would have revealed that we are at the center of it. (But we aren't.)

    You're absolutely right that the creationists trump up some controversy within the scientific literature, and then turn around and conclude that evolution must be false.  It's like looking at the controversies surrounding the Kennedy assassination and concluding that JFK was not actually shot.

    •  Ah but the electron microscope and angels (none)
      on the head of a pin is a trick question.  The correct answer,a according to Aquinas, is either zero or infinite number depending on how you look at it, because angels are pure spirits and do not take up space....some of the old scholastics had a dry sense of humor

      The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

      by irishwitch on Sat Feb 25, 2006 at 11:54:01 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  There is plenty of evidence (none)
      "until I have reason to believe that my senses are lying to me"

      That's the kind of tautology others on this thread are using to attack creationism as not being "scientific."  You can't know if your senses are "lying" or not, because you have no other means of discerning the reality that your senses are supposed to be telling you about.  Nonetheless, there is a ton of evidence to to support the hypothesis that our senses "lie" to us on a regular basis.

      But I see you are still trying to believe something.

  •  Could a monkey tapping keys type the bible? (4.00)
    Absolutely! If only the fit version survives and passes on its letters to its progeny. "In the beginning" should take less than 1,000 taps, but only if you allow for divine intervention to hold down the shift key on the first letter.
    •  Nice sense of humor.... (none)
      Actually, after reading Carl Sagan and watching one of his movies...this "agnostic" or "atheist" or whatever he was probably, sadly, typified one of the greatest true "Christ figures" of the last century.

      What they have against Darwin is his Eugenics slant. With that, I agree.

      Science is both yin and yang, a beautiful construct and an ugly reality. And the most meaningful, least "aesthetic" part of it deals with medicine, where we still show we are not among the heavens in our minds,demi-gods, but giant fuck-ups who win a few and lose a few.  Just look back one century for what we will look like in a hundred years.  Great Shamans, we are...

      God, I need to take my prozac...;)

      Channeling for Miss Emily Litella since 1999!

      by rosabw on Sat Feb 25, 2006 at 11:48:38 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Democratic Reactionism (none)
    You guys get what you deserve on this one.

    There is no reason creationism shouldn't be taught in school.  I was taught three theories of creation: Darwinian evolution, Lamarckian evolution, and what is now being called "intelligent design," but was simply that the world was created all at one time, rather than evolving.  Our teacher presented them as scientists should:  All as theories, along with the evidence supporting each theory...or should I say, with evidence supporting the first two and acknowledging that, while no evidence had come to light to support the third, lack of evidence did not disprove it. Because science cannot disprove anything.  

    It was an excellent lesson in what science is all about, and, most especially, that science is not about finding the truth.  We all took it as such and...gasp!...the world did not end. Nor were any minds changed.  The kids who believed that a deity created the earth in 6 days still believed that, while those who believed it evolved over eons, still believed that.  And those of us who were not believers still did not believe any of the three theories. Hopefully, these we were the kids who went on to become scientists.

    If Democrats were smart, they would make this issue their own, and insist on having creationism (and any other fool theory the Republicans want) taught in the any other theory, not as The Truth.  For once, the Democrats could really cut the legs out from under the fundamentalists.  I would so love to see how the Republicans would react if the Democrats finally stopped being against what Republicans are for and do what the Republicans do to the Democrats time after time after time...reach out, grab one of their issues, and make it their own.

    But this will never happen, because Democrats don't believe in democracy either.  Or science.  Both of which require that you give people the theories, the evidence, and then let them decide for themselves.  Democrats, like Republicans, believe they should control what people think by keeping them ignorant of opposing views.  All either of you really seem to believe in is fighting each other.  And you both waste time on these kinds of silly arguments, rather than focusing anything really important.

    And then you wonder why we can't see any difference between you.

    As far as I can tell, the only thing that all Democrats have in common is their dislike of Republicans.  And vice versa.  Do you know what you call a group that is defined solely by its antipathy for another group?

    PS  For the record, Darwinian evolution is not just a theory.  It is one of the greatest theories of all time, along with Newton's theory of gravity, Einstein's theory of relativity, and Watson & Crick's theory of the structure of the DNA molecule.  But it is most definitely a theory.  It is not fact...theories are supported by facts, they are not facts themselves.  And science is not related to truth in any way shape or form.  Science not only won't find the truth, it isn't even a search for the truth.

    PPS  And documentaries are absolutely, positively not supposed to be biased.

    •  I went to a CAHTOLIC (none)
      school and we were taught evolution.  

      Apparently you re unfamiliar with the first amendment.  Creations science is the creation myth of three religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam.  Despite what you freepers think, there are plenty of other religions int he world which get equal time according to the constitution.  ALL religions must be treated with equal neutrality, according to that first amendment.  If you teach the A rahamic religions' myth, you are re obliged to deal with pretty much every other myth.  

      Guess we'd be teaching Native American myths (and there are as  many as there are tribes).  And Greco=-Roman myths. And Buddhism and Hindu myth.

      Creation science is a MYTH. It cannot be proven via the scientific method, any more than Hindu myth can.  It is not science, and has no place in a science classroom. Now if you want to mandate a course in comparative religion, in which we teach the mythology of many faiths, I'd agree with you--but don't call it a science class.

      The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

      by irishwitch on Sat Feb 25, 2006 at 11:47:46 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  It has no place as "science" (none)
        It has no place being taught as science, but it's an extremely valuable tool for explaining what science is.  One reason people with a lot eduation are ignorant in a very fundamental (no pun intended) way is that our institutions box things up in neat little packages so that never the twain shall meet.  So, for example, they understand a lot of mythology and a lot of science, but they seldom grasp the difference between the two.

        All of which goes to show that scientists can be stupid too.
        James Watson

        •  As a pure philosophical pursuit.... (4.00)
          yes it is intriguing and worth the study (as a Philosophy minor I should know). But I guess you are missing the point. These creationist fellows are not saying "lets study all forms of philosophy or the history of the bible or the development of Christianity, etc." they are saying science is bad, blind faith is good.

          Lets say that their where classes on comparative religion, ones that for example would compare the rise of the megachurches in the U.S. with the great cathedrals of Europe. Or a full and honest discussion about the Iquisition(s) and how the Church dealt with "heresies" (and what exactly these heresies involved). Or perhaps allowed students to read Apogrypha and debate why these books where not included in the Western Christian Cannon. Or the weakness in the concept of "Biblical truth." If anyone where to suggest that, these creationist would be up an arms that we were attacking their religion and some such. They merely want control, nothing more and nothing else.

          "Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful." Seneca

          by Ralfast on Sat Feb 25, 2006 at 12:24:49 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  No, that is EXACTLY my point (none)
            Democrats get sucked into endlessly fighting "these creationist fellows" instead of taking the issue and making it their own, even though doing this would leave these fellows up the creationist creek without a paddle.  Moreover, as long as Democrats position themselves as being against the teaching of intelligent design as a scientific theory, rather than for teaching it as it should be a scientific theory that has (thus far) little to no factual evidence to support it, they are being controlled by these fellows, exactly as these fellows intend for them to be.  That is their point.
            •  But ID is not a scientific theory (none)
              It doesn't in the slightest way even make it out of the scientific starting gate. Just for baby-beginner starts, it's not a model against which predictions can be made and tested. Lamarck was 'waaaay ahead of IDC. In its present form, IDC merely puts forth an assertion.

              If I follow your line of argument, I can equally assert that I COMMAND THE UNIVERSE IN ITS ENTIRETY!!!, call that a "scientific theory," and demand that it be taught in science classes nationwide.

              I agree with you that IDC should be given mention rather than ignored, ridiculed, or outright suppressed. It can be handled in the first five minutes of class:

              1. We are embedded in the universe with no window looking out, no outside frame of reference. Therefore, science can say absolutely NOTHING about where the universe came from or why we are here. SCIENCE IS ABOUT ALL THE MATTER/ENERGY THAT'S HERE, AND ITS METHODOLOGY WORKS EXTREMELY WELL ON MATTER/ENERGY. When we use this methodology to try to extrapolate back to the universe's zero-point, most of us arrive, at present, at the Big Bang theory (although there are less accepted but no less rigorous alternative theories). But no matter how much supercomputer time and human mind we throw at it, we cannot even begin to explain where all this stuff came from.

              2. IDC does not in the slightest way tell us HOW matter/energy works, and has no methodology. Therefore, it is not susceptible to science and has no place in the science classroom.

              The two subjects are completely, entirely, and incontrovertibly DISJOINT.

              Or sumpin like that.

        •  Speaking of which... (none)
          What is it about creation science that makes you think it cannot be "proved" via the scientific method?  And what do you think it means to "prove" something with the scientific method?
          •  You can not prove or disprove.... (none)
            the existence of God, which is a matter of faith.

            What experiment would you propose to prove/disprove an Intelligent Designer?

            What faculties, rules or laws of physics demand/ingnore that their be a creator?

            If this Creator was such a high intelligence (a must to wield such great power, at least at the planetary level) why all the vestigeal organs and round about ways of different species?

            ID is not science, is was never ment to be science, it merely cloaks itself in scientific bable (and barely so) in order to displace science as the backbone of our understanding of the universe, thus leaving the door open to mythological explantions.

            They say "Darwin is wrong, We are right!" but offer no proof (that is no proof that would stand scientific scrutiny) for their conclusion.

            Science its the only body of knowledge that is based on questioning said knowledge: it says "This is true, unless you can prove otherwise, and we want you to try, no really we do."

            Religion says: "This is the truth, because we say so. To question IT (whatever it was, is or  could be) is to be thrown into the lake of eternal fire."

            "Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful." Seneca

            by Ralfast on Sat Feb 25, 2006 at 02:13:48 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  What is intelligence? (none)
              What experiment would you propose to prove/disprove an Intelligent Designer?

              I've never given the matter any thought, because there has never been a single moment in my life when the means by which man or the universe was created had any importance to any choice I had to make.  Thus, I have had no motivation to ponder how to investigate one theory or another.  But, having given it a moment's thought, I think it will remain difficult, if not impossible, to investigate this hypothesis scientifically until we have a better understanding of intelligence.  The answer to this question would seem to be the same as the answer to the question "what experiment would you propose to investigate intelligent life on this planet?  Or any other planet, for that matter.  We are hamstrung in this endeavor by the fact that we do not know what intelligence is.  When that day comes...if it ever does...then we will be in a position to investigate both questions scientifically.  Until then, it seems unlikely.  Until then, I remain open-minded on the subject and cheerfully acknowledge that I don't know whether all of this occurred by intelligent design or not.  Or whether I will end up in a lake of eternal fire or not.

              no proof that would stand scientific scrutiny

              Ah, but that is a matter of opinion, not science.  In the 80s, there was a brief hooplah over creationism in the Arkansas/Oklahoma/Texas area...why I do not know.  Maybe it was one of Rove's earlier works.  Anyway, I was doing research in that part of the country at the time, and, not having kept up with the sciences involved, was curious as to how things stood. So I went to a "debate" between some leading creationist and some university faculty from some of the applicable sciences.  

              I was in no position to evaluate the "proof" offered by the creationist, but what surprised me was that none of the scientists on the panel seemed to be in that position either.  He presented actual data that they did not seem to dispute...only his interpretation.  I didn't hear one impressively effective argument against anything the guy said during the entire discussion.  I did not come away believing in creationism as a result of this experience, but I did come away with more evidence to support my already-growing suspicion that many scientists have not a clue.  

              Later I discussed my experience with a scientist who had a background in a relevant area.  She opined that, really, the reason biologists are so attached to the theory of evolution is that, "without evolution, biology goes right out the window."  All biological data are currently organized according to the theory of evolution.  (As I said earlier, a theory is a means of organizing data.)  They would have to throw out all of their species, phyla, orders, varieties, etc, and start from scratch.  I can certainly understand why they wouldn't want to do this, but that doesn't make a theory "right."  Or not to be questioned.

              •  Intelligence.... (none)
                Not easy but lets try:

                The ability to problem solve;
                Awareness of the Other in relation to the Self;
                and so on.

                Now proving the superiority of human intelligence or its uniqueness, that one would be hard enough indeed.

                As for evolution, you would also have to dismiss geological time, the fossil record and other factors. And ID does not fill in the gap nor does it provide a rebuttable better answer. It is merely and ideological instrument for social/political control for people that don't like the world as is and want to turn back time to some non-existing golden age.

                "Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful." Seneca

                by Ralfast on Sat Feb 25, 2006 at 04:34:11 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Fossil Records and Fossilized Politics (none)
                  I will decline to address the question of what is intelligence on a blog.  A lot of serious scientists have been working on the question for decades and have made little progress.  I doubt we are in any danger of doing so here.  ("...intelligence, whatever that is." Jared Diamond, in Guns, Germs, and Steel.)

                  Last I paid attention (which was long ago), the answer to the fossil record seemed to be something on the order of god was covering his tracks.  I thought this made perfect sense.  If I were responsible for this mess, I wouldn't want anyone to know about it either.

                  "people that don't like the world as is and want to turn back time to some non-existing golden age"

                  Ah, yes.  I've seen a lot of that in the last couple of years:  the Golden Age of FDR, the Golden Age of JFK (the real one), the Golden Age of Jimmy Carter, the Golden Age of Clinton.  The Golden Age when the Democratic Party was...well, something other than what it is now.  The age when the people who are trying to take it back used to have it.

                  •  God was trying to cover up his tracks..... (none)
                    That makes him a very powerful, but not as smart as he should be, this is after all the supposed creator of the universe.

                    And we all suffer from the Golden Age syndrome, never claimed that the ID folks where the only ones doing it.

                    Again, by your lattest answer, which is rather convuluted, its all about belief and ideology and not science.

                    You want to discuss who, what or if there is a creator(s) do it in a class about philosphy, religion, metaphysics, etc. But don't use the Lord good name to bash children into ingnorance.

                    "Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful." Seneca

                    by Ralfast on Sat Feb 25, 2006 at 05:06:25 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

            •  Ahem (none)
              Historically, most philosophers (including the "natural philosophers" who today are called "scientists") held that the existence of God was the one thing you can prove. This wasn't just where Descartes started, it was also fundamental to Newton, and just about everyone of any stature at all up until about 1800. And it was a central tenant of the churchmen too.

              So this whole "it's a matter of faith" and "you can't prove it" thing is totally a fallback position, a newly invented way to cover for the fact that most all the foundational people in philosophy and science seem to have turned out to be wrong — that there are myriad things we can pretty solidly prove, and God isn't even to be glimpsed among them.

              To repeat, the earlier scientists held that the only thing that science could be 100% certain of, and prove by its methods, was the existence of God. They largely knew they weren't there yet, but all of them assumed their work would go towards establishing that irrefutable proof of God.

              To say it should just be "faith" taken without proof is a travesty of what science and religion held as their common claim about this subject until the very recent event of science not finding proof of God after all. We really need to get this central fact about the history of science (and of religion) into the high schools.

      •  Provability isn't a requirement (none)
        "Creation science is a MYTH. It cannot be proven via the scientific method, any more than Hindu myth can.  It is not science"

        From NASA's website:

        The Big Bang Theory is the dominant scientific theory about the origin of the universe....

        ...Although the Big Bang Theory is widely accepted, it probably will never be proved; consequentially, leaving a number of tough, unanswered questions.

        •  Impirical Observation.... (none)
          of various natural phenomena let to the development of the Big Bang Theory, not the simplistic "well gee golly this way to complicated, thus somebody must have made this."

          "Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful." Seneca

          by Ralfast on Sat Feb 25, 2006 at 04:27:52 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I believe you have it backwards (none)
            My understanding of the basic tenet of intelligent design is the exact opposite:  This universe is too complicated to have evolved on its own; someone must have designed it.

            This is, in fact, pretty scientific.  The statistical probabilities have got to be way out there.  Way, way more than anything involving exit polls in Ohio.  That's why I've always said that Dolly Parton is the best evidence I know of for the existence of god.

            •  Because she got tits (none)
              designed to break a woman's back? She may have a great sense of humor, but that about it! BTW, I like Ms. Parton, in all her well endowed glory.

              First this idea of the universe been to complicated, complicated compared to what? Most of the universe is gas, plasma, suspended in near vaccum. What so complicated about that?

              And again, who designed it? The theory of evolution speaks to how species relate to each other, adapt to their enviroments and survive. Inject an intelligent designer (whoever he, she, they or it are) and you start asking yourself why is the universe so screwed up! Why I am not imortal? Why have dinosaurs, I mean if it is so intelligent, why not start with humans. I could go on, and on, and on.....

              "Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful." Seneca

              by Ralfast on Sat Feb 25, 2006 at 04:47:47 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  I was speaking statistically (none)
                That face, that body, those brains, that voice...all coming together in one person?  Statistically impossible.  God must have done it.  Or maybe it was that other guy, lol.

                There is nothing complicated about gas, plasma vaccuum.  The complicated part is getting from there to humans.

                That was my point earlier about god covering his tracks.  Maybe he isn't so intelligent after all.

                Start with humans instead of dinosaurs?  I dunno, maybe they were just practice.

                Really, don't look to me to justify creationism.  My position is merely that I have no problems with it being taught in a science class, and that can see some value in teaching it.  More important, that it would be quite a coup for the Dems to snatch this issue from the Republicans. Every time I think of how the Republicans would react, I can't help but grin from ear to ear.  (I dream that GW's snacking on a pretzel when he gets the word.)

                But, as I said, it will never happen.  Too bold.  Too risky.  Too open-minded.  Too impure.  Not enough fighting.

                •  I think this debate... (none)
                  ...actually works really well to highlight the different methodologies involved. Both IDC and for-reals science start with the observation that the universe is way complicated. The point where they diverge is on the matter of how we should cope with all this deeply complicated stuff. One side (for-reals science) opts to try to figure out how some of the complicated stuff might work, with the understanding (given how complicated it is) that we'll never really be able to explain all of it -- but with a sense that, even so, it's worthwhile to try. The IDC methodology is to instead insist that, since the universe is complex and since complete explanations are impossible, one should just pick whatever arbitrary explanation one pleases and declare it true. It is, more or less, "Math is hard!" enshrined as a way of thinking about the universe.

                  The scientific way to explain the existence of (delightful) anomalies like Dolly Parton is to first assume that it's possible to find a solution, and then work toward that while always acknowledging that your solution is incomplete I'd postulate that in this case, given the number of humans on the planet, it's a statistical inevitability that eventually someone possessing Dolly Parton's level of attractiveness and talent would exist. Nevertheless, if more data comes in (for example, signs of aliens with advanced technology and a love of country music), I'm willing to take that into account. Presumably the IDC methodology would be to announce that the mere possibility of country-loving aliens, or of God, invalidates statistics as a field.

                  Incidentally, a while back I had an idea that struck me, and still strikes me, as absolutely brilliant. It goes as follows:

                  A split single.

                  On side 1, Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton singing David Bowie's "Space Oddity". Kenny would be Major Tom, Dolly ground control.

                  On side 2, David Bowie singing both parts of "Islands in the Stream."

                  Nobody lends money to a man with a sense of humor -- Peter Tork, "Head"

                  by Field Marshall Stack on Sat Feb 25, 2006 at 08:09:12 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

          •  Isn't this the text... (none)
            Isn't the text being quoted the exact part of NASA's web site that the 24-year-old who claimed to have a journalism/communications degree from Texas A&M dictated be changed?

            I don't have a link right now, but I'm sure someone can beat me to it. The stories about this young man and his resignation all included references to his specific dictates that the word "theory" be added to all references to "big bang" on the NASA web site.

            I see it hasn't been fixed. Does anyone know whom to see about taking care of that?

            PS -- Ralfast, your excellent points are being wasted on this person.

            •  Possibly (none)
              I don't know.  It was just the first of a long listing of references (including several from some major research universities) that said basically the same thing.  I'm not quite sure of your point, but I've never seen it referred to as anything but the Big Bang Theory, so if that was what the young man was trying to do, he was being perfectly reasonable (and "scientific") in my opinion.
    •  asdf (none)
      wow. where should I begin. First of all you, like most people, foolishly continue you talk about "believing" in science. Science is not something you believe in. You either accept it or you don't. To believe in something is to take its existence without facts.

      Science is a tool! A tool for understanding the universe, whether it be the structure of the cosmos, the emergence of disease, the expression of genes, or the morphology of the earth. In other words it is a tool for discovering the truth. Yes, the truth. If you want to argue epistemology, this isn't the place.

      Do you believe in a hammer? Do you believe in a drill press?

      You said you were taught three theories of creation, yet two, Darwinian and Lamarckian address evolution, not creation. A huge distinction. Maybe you misspoke, but I doubt it. You clearly know nothing of science, and if you were taught these theories in a science class your teacher is an idiot.

      And here's another thing, calling evolution a theory is like calling the earth a rock. I insist on calling it the Principles of Evolution, because too many knuckleheads think that just because the word theory is in there that it means evolution is just some idea some scientist jotted down on the back of an envelope! Plus Pricinples is more accurate and decsciptive.

      You and your teacher have fallen for "their" crap. Give IDC equal time and let the people decide. School isn't a grocery store. You can't just choose whatever you want to learn. By your logic, we should allow the Flat-Earth theory to be taught and the arguments against the germ "theory" and heliocentrism. Hell, let's just stick in the Flying Spaghetti Monster too, because you can't disprove it.

      As a society we all agree, implicitly by maintiaing our citizenship, to some basic fundamentals: Political representation proprtional to population, taxation, free-speech, etc., etc. And this includes the teaching of facts about the universe learned throught the application of the tools and processes of science.

      If you want to have your little utopic schools where you're taught that the Earth was created in 7 days 3000 years ago and that weightlifting will endow your children with massive biceps, go right ahead, but not in our (read public) schools. And when the rest of civilization has discovered the cure to cancer, aging, and light-speed travel feel free to die of lyphoma at 35 years old, on Earth. We'll check in on you from Horsehead Nebula.

      P.S. the scientific process is to disprove things. It disproves things every fucking day. There are lots of scientists on this site, myself included, don't make statements about science that make yourself seem uneducated. We'll call you on it.

      when a conservative needs an opinion on a subject he gets it by calling himself from another line and when needs multiple opinions shouts the question in a cave

      by agentcooper on Sat Feb 25, 2006 at 12:39:44 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  By reading my post more carefully? (none)
        wow. where should I begin

        Well, you seem to have begun with not reading what I said:

        you, like most people, foolishly continue you talk about "believing" in science. Science is not something you believe in.

        This is your response to my post, in which I said quite clearly, I think:

        And those of us who were not believers still did not believe any of the three theories. Hopefully, these were the kids who went on to become scientists.

        What is it about this statement that suggests I think that science is something to believe in?

        three theories of creation, yet two, Darwinian and Lamarckian address evolution, not creation

        No...all three are theories of how life as we know it today was created.  One of the meanings of the word "create" is "To give rise to."  Sounds very much like Darwin's theory of evolution doesn't it?  Genetics and the environment gave rise to the current forms of life we know today.  Some other definitions, such as "to bring into existence" sound more consistent with ID, but in fact none of the definitions of "create" make any reference to the force by which something is brought into existence.  

        Darwin and Lamarck theorized that our current forms of life were created through the transformation of earlier forms of life via a very slow process over time in reaction to their environment.  That was the force that brought them into existence. That created them.  This is why they call it "evolution"...because the term describes the means by which they posited that life was created; it is not an alternative to it's being created.  If life as we know it today hadn't been created by one means or another, it would not exist.  Because it would not have been brought into existence.

        The creationists theorize that current forms of life were brought into existence by an intelligent entity.  Science fiction writers have theorized the same thing, only that the intelligent entity was an extraterrestrial being, not a deity.  I would be delighted to see this theory taught also.

        the scientific process is to disprove things

        No.  It is a fundamental principle of the scientific method that you cannot prove a negative.  The idea of "proving" or "disproving" a hypothesis comes from the simplifications of popular science.

        You clearly know nothing of science

        My credentials as a scientist are that I have been extensively educated in the scientific method, I have conducted scientific research, published in peer-reviewed scientific journals, and been a peer reviewer.

        Do not confuse an education in the scientific method with an education in a science.  Many scientists have been taught a body of information that has been acquired via the scientific method (a science, such as biology) while having gotten only a bare-bones education in the method itself, not that far off of what you read in popular science.  

        What the scientific method actually does is "accept" or "reject" hypthoses, it doesn't really "prove" or "disprove" anything.  A theory is a means of organizing data.  That is absolutely all a theory is.  The theory that is "currently accepted" by scientists is the one that can be successfully used to organize the most data at that point in time.  That's it.  Nothing about truth.  Nothing even about fact...just data.

        If you want to have your little utopic schools where you're taught that

        Yes, I do long for my little utopic schools.  But they are not schools where people are "taught that..." anything. At my utopic little schools, people would teach instead of teach that.  Teaching is the methodology of intellectual inquiry.  Teaching that is the methodology of perpetual dogma.

        A few random points:

        Until I saw Ripley in Aliens, Darwin was my only hero, and he still is one of my few heroes.  Another is James Watson, not because of his theory of the DNA molecule, which was a wonderful feat, but because he not only recognizes that scientists can be stupid too, he was willing to say so...and in writing, no less.

        I was taught creationism back in the glory days of the Democratic Party, before the Republicans came into power via their infamous Southern Strategy.

        My original area of science (I've worked...and several areas now) was human cognition, same as George Lakoff, and I started around the time he joined the faculty at Berkeley.  Which means nothing.. it's just been interesting to see George pop up in some other area of my life, all these years later.  Quite a nice little gig he's got going, too.

        •  Scientific method (none)
          Brilliant statement, but when you say "What the scientific method actually does is 'accept' or 'reject' hypthoses" aren't you likely to confuse people who mistake "the scientific method" for science itself? For example, the theoretical physicists developing string theory and other such elaborate hypotheses are way ahead of the scientific method, formally defined as you have it, yet their method in developing those hypotheses is still a part of the method of science — they aren't doing religion, they aren't doing poetry, the are doing a lot of math, but even the methods of math are not "the scientific method" as you'd have it — the theorists are  way out ahead of any prospect of rejecting or accepting their hypotheses by anything other than intuition (or at least have been so far; maybe a revealing experiment is being performed even today somewhere that will sort these hypotheses out).

          So the answer, confusingly it would seem, to the question, "By what method does one be a scientist?" is not "Why, but the 'scientific method' of course!" That method (however defined, and there's contention there, right?) is but one tool among others (including skepticism, a foundation in forms of logic, familiarity with the history of science, a certain spirit of approach and exploration, careful observation ... and perhaps a facility with the sorts of frames and metaphors that Lakoff and his colleagues have shown to be the very grounding of scientific and mathemetical understandings...).

          Guess I'm suggesting that science as found in the wild is no simple application of a cleanly-defined method; rather it's a whole stew of stuff, and depends especially on the aptitudes and attitudes of the particular people practicing it, especially on the front lines where new science is made.

          Too often it seems that we try to sell science to the public as just a simple, clean machine with a crank on the side, which will give clear results to anyone who cranks it, depending in a neutral way on what "data" is poured in the top. Far from it. The real scientists I know are as much involved in conjuring up the right spirit with which to move forward as has ever been any priest or shaman. The good ones do a wonderful job of it too — great company.

          •  It's just confusing (none)
            I despair of ever finding our way to a place where we won't be confusing somebody, because the history of science, religion, philosophy, etc, are so bound up in each other that is very difficult for most people to sort them out.  Many early scientist were fundamentalists searching for proof of god.  Scientists are as likely to believe in god as anyone...Einstein was very devout.  

            This is one reason I believe that trying to study science in isolation from not-science is like trying to explain "dry" by carefully excluding any reference to "wet."  When my high school biology teacher explained the three theories of creation, I got it.  A lot of other kids in my class did too.  It was a great class, which is why I remember it all these years later.  I worry that these rabid anti-creationists don't get it, and never will. And I am flat-out terrified of people who seem to think science is an alternative to religion as a way of finding The Truth.

            I agree about the selling of science.  And I am appalled that many scientists who know better are not willing to stand up and say that there is nothing true, right, or correct about the theory of evolution, because they are worried about the impact that this might have on sales.

            •  The Truth, (none)
              but dear Free Spirit, we already found the Truth, is just that no two people can agree what that Truth is.

              Again, the goal of the proponents of ID was not, is not to prove or disprove their "theory" (or teological schema, philosophical contruct, strict logical proof, etc.) but instead is to attack, and ultimatley sieze the nations ideological grounds, mostly the minds of the children. If you want relgion, which is what all of the Creationist that DarkSyde has presented over the past few months, do it in Sunday School and leave the Public School alone.

              "Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful." Seneca

              by Ralfast on Sat Feb 25, 2006 at 09:43:58 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Now who's being supernatural (none)
                The goal of the proponents of ID cannot be known to you by any natural means.

                I do not want religion myself.  I am not a believer.  This is one reason I will never join a political party.

                •  Errm....whaaaat? (none)
                  Now if your talking about mind reading, I gues your right, but I judge them by their words and actions (wait that sounded a bit  biblical, locking the vault full of stones). I am merely stating my understading of these words and acts.

                  "Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful." Seneca

                  by Ralfast on Sun Feb 26, 2006 at 07:47:45 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

          •  Gave this some more thought (none)
            So the answer, confusingly it would seem, to the question, "By what method does one be a scientist?" is not "Why, but the 'scientific method' of course!"

            I am not sure there is a clean answer to the question you pose, but I think the question that belongs with your answer is:  By what method does one evaluate a theory scientifically?  I focused on the scientific method because the main topic of discussion here was not really what science is, but what it can terms of proving, disproving, confirming facts, finding the truth.  To me, that part is all about the scientific method, strictly defined.

            You are talking about the part that is upstream from all of that, about how theories get...dare I say it?...created.  I don't think a lot of people in this crowd want to hear about that part. As you point out, that part gets a lot closer to the domain of the priest and shaman than they want to think about.  I think this is why they reject ID so aggressively, even though everything about this amazing creation practically screams "intelligent design," whether there are "facts" to support it or not.  Whether it was designed by an intelligence or not.

            I have always considered myself to be an apathist, as described by Eric Hoffer in his classic, The True Believer: "The opposite of the religious fanatic is not the fanatical atheist, but the gentle cynic who cares not whether there is a god or not."  Granted, I sometimes fall a bit short on the "gentle" part. :-)  If I were to try to characterize "scientific" theorizing, I would be tempted to say it is there somewhere...the open mind, the non-believer, the intellectual curiosity.  And that this is what distinguishes the scientific theorizer from the priest and the shaman.  But this would most likely be only in theory (no pun intended).  I suspect a lot of scientific theories have been generated by true believers, and that many priests and shaman don't believe.

        •  it's late but I have to respond (none)
          you, like most people, foolishly continue you talk about "believing" in science. Science is not something you believe in.
          This is your response to my post, in which I said quite clearly, I think:
          And those of us who were not believers still did not believe any of the three theories. Hopefully, these were the kids who went on to become scientists.
          What is it about this statement that suggests I think that science is something to believe in?

          Are you serious? Can you not read what you wrote? You said "And those of US [this includes you because you were talking about something YOU were taught] who were not believers STILL DID NOT BELIEVE any of the three theories [there you are saying that you didn't believe in that what the scientific community has concluded].
          I think it's pretty clear what I read and what you said. Maybe you misspoke, maybe we're parsing words but that is what you said. When the scientific establishment concludes something that is the best explanation available. You can either accept it or not. Believing in it is not an option. You may believe in science's ability to answer a particular question but that involves an unknown variable and if something is unknown you can believe all you want.
          three theories of creation, yet two, Darwinian and Lamarckian address evolution, not creation
          No...all three are theories of how life as we know it today was created. One of the meanings of the word "create" is "To give rise to." Sounds very much like Darwin's theory of evolution doesn't it?

          Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection does NOT address creation! You are taking the word "creation" waaaaaayy out of context. Let it be clear, in the discussion of evolution, natural selection and common descent "creation" is not addressed in a manner that results in a conclusion. Never has been in any anthropology class. No legitimate, honest anthropologist will address evolution by talking about creation. That is because the term "creation" is couched in religious significance. If a scientist discusses "creation" as a scientific concept then we are talking about "the Big Bang". Just because we evolved through natural selection over billions of years originating from matter than had long been condensed from the initial "bang" does NOT mean that we were "created" in the matter you are meaning. That is specious logic. It is like saying that: I eat beef. Cows eat grass. Grass grows from the ground which contains lots of recycled cow shit. Therefore I eat cow shit. There's a linear connection between the two but the beginning does not logically connect (directly) to the end.
          Darwin and Lamarck theorized that our current forms of life were created through the transformation of earlier forms of life via a very slow process over time in reaction to their environment. That was the force that brought them into existence. That created them. This is why they call it "evolution"...because the term describes the means by which they posited that life was created; it is not an alternative to it's being created. If life as we know it today hadn't been created by one means or another, it would not exist. Because it would not have been brought into existence.

          It is intellectually dishonest to conflate "evolution" and "creation" in this manner.
          The creationists theorize that current forms of life were brought into existence by an intelligent entity. Science fiction writers have theorized the same thing, only that the intelligent entity was an extraterrestrial being, not a deity. I would be delighted to see this theory taught also.

          You would be delighted to see that? Is there any nonsense you wouldn't like being taught in schools? Maybe you think it's ok to teach Sir Fred Hoyle's "theory" that HIV came from outer space? Where do you end with the nonsensical teachings that have no scientific merit?
          the scientific process is to disprove things
          No. It is a fundamental principle of the scientific method that you cannot prove a negative. The idea of "proving" or "disproving" a hypothesis comes from the simplifications of popular science.

          You are simply mistaken. I am a biological scientist. I study protein modifications that regulate gene expression. I am a bench scientist (full disclosure, a PhD student, I should be graduating in the next six months). Every day I work with hypotheses and theories. RIGHT NOW I am attempting to falsify a hypothesis I have about a modification I am studying. It's quite simple, I have a hypothesis that: X modification represses expression of gene Y through a specific DNA element of gene Y's regulatory sequence (BTW, Y is not the name of the gene). I am RIGHT NOW attempting to prove this wrong. It's quite simple. I conduct the experiment I've designed and if the results are that in the presence of this modification expression of gene Y is NOT repressed through the specific DNA element, that is I see expression of gene Y, then that FALSIFIES my initial hypothesis and the repression via X modification is through another element or is general represson of gene expression. Then I have to rework the hypothesis, new experiments, etc. As it stands the first experiment did falsify my hypothesis. I am repeating it to see if it is reproducible. If I get the same result a second and third time then it demonstrates that in the experimental system I am using X modification does not repress gene Y via the DNA element in question (and of course a group of my peers has to agree with the conclusions and be published in a scholarly journal before it can be considered evidence).
          I'm not certain where you get the idea that science doesn't disprove anything. Science disproved my hypothesis and I just disproved your claim.
          You clearly know nothing of science
          My credentials as a scientist are that I have been extensively educated in the scientific method, I have conducted scientific research, published in peer-reviewed scientific journals, and been a peer reviewer.

          Sir Fred Hoyle was a scientist (he's dead now). But he was an astronomer. As such he has no credibility as a virologist or biological scientist even though he was very well respected in his field of Cosmology. And outside of that he was considered a bit of a loon.

          Do not confuse an education in the scientific method with an education in a science.  Many scientists have been taught a body of information that has been acquired via the scientific method (a science, such as biology) while having gotten only a bare-bones education in the method itself, not that far off of what you read in popular science.

          Science is a tool. The scientific method is how to use that tool. It is quite simple really, the scientific method. It requires no deep philosophical thought, no training in epistemology, just logic. If a scientist is successful and builds and refines hypotheses into theories and it withstands the rigors of scrutiny of the mind and further, more refined, experimentation then they are skilled in the scientific method. The goal, in essence, of a PhD education is to teach the scientific method. Every (PhD) scientist is therefore trained in the scientific method. I've never heard of a class called "The Scientific Method" but every day in class and lab I sure as hell have learned and am still learning it.

          If you want to have your little utopic schools where you're taught that
          Yes, I do long for my little utopic schools. But they are not schools where people are "taught that..." anything. At my utopic little schools, people would teach instead of teach that. Teaching is the methodology of intellectual inquiry. Teaching that is the methodology of perpetual dogma.

          Teaching without facts is like eating without nutrition. Either way you become malnourished. Teaching that is the foundation of inquiry. You must have a reference point for everything, regardless if you accept the information you are given. But I agree that you must instill in children the sense of wonder with a dose of skepticism. But there is skepticism then there is tin-foil hat skepticism. Your way seems more like the hippy-dippy homeshcool nonsense I saw when I lived in New Mexico and California.

          when a conservative needs an opinion on a subject he gets it by calling himself from another line and when needs multiple opinions shouts the question in a cave

          by agentcooper on Mon Feb 27, 2006 at 06:49:29 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Well enough put, except for the horsepoop part (none)
      You were doing right well up to "But this will never happen...," then you picked back up pretty nicely after "...antipathy for another group?"

      I'm too busy and tired to try to pick the pennies and quarters out of your horsepoop, particularly because you sound much too dogmatically glued to your position to make any concessions my way. But the rest was close enough.

      Allow me to suggest that radical skepticism can be just as biasing as radical embrace. There's not a thing in the world wrong with believing something to be true as long as one maintains (1) enough dispassion and intellectual honesty to recognize facts that don't fit one's theory and (2) enough humility to adjust one's model accordingly. Properly employed, belief forms the basis of a hypothesis -- the alpha, of course, of inquiry, be it scientific or spiritual.

      Your pride in your disbelief strikes me as being just as ridiculous and potentially constraining as the mindsets of the "believers" you deride.

      •  Oh, poop! (none)
        I would love to hear your thoughts on the matter.

        But I can address two statements:  

        "Your pride in your disbelief."  

        I am not sure what it is you think I disbelieve. I agree with the other is not about believing.  Nor disbelieving.  It doesn't belong on that continuum at all.

        "belief forms the basis of a hypothesis"

        Unfortunately, this is true, which is why so much science is biased and worthless.  It is because believers get involved in science and try to use it to confirm their beliefs, instead of generating hypotheses logically (i.e. scientifically).

        •  What's your area of research (none)
          just out of curiosity? I'd also be interested to learn what bodies of scientific research you find so biased and worthless.

          Now, worthless -- in the sense of being "unfascinating to me" -- I can sort of understand. For instance, I myself am not particularly rivited by polyploidy in daylilies, the ectoparasites of lobsters, or the characterization of promoter regions in corn genes. (But don't get me started on DNA/protein interactions -- WOO HOO BABY, NOW YOU'RE TALKING!!!)

          But biased??

          You don't talk about science as if you've done formal research. But if you are indeed a lab rat, I wonder if you haven't had one or more grant applications rejected...?

          So: what's this "bias" contention about?

          •  Hmmm (none)
            Nor am I riveted by my misspelling of riveted.
          •  Human Cognition (none)
            Sort of like Lakoff, although he specializes in linguistics, where I studied human memory and perception.

            I posted earlier that I've conducted formal research in more than one area, published in peer-reviewed journals, and been a peer reviewer.  This was all long ago.  If I were a cat, I'd have died a half dozen lives back already.

            I didn't mean to besmirch any particular area of science.  I meant that a significant percentage of the scientific research published in journals is bad research.  I do have my biases in terms of thinking some fields are worse than others (including a one or two where I swear they cannot think their way out of a paper bag), but I don't wish to engage in that focused of an attack.  I think it's a problem found broadly, not in any particular area or areas.  

            If you disagree with me, I suggest you consider how many different journals are out there, in how many different fields, plus how many different types, sizes, and qualities of research institutions are out there.  If ou work among the competent, you tend to forget how much junk is out there.  (I'm not at all sure about The Truth, but The Junk is definitely out there.)

            A significant source of bias is thinking you know the answer before you start out.  A lot of scientists are out to prove their hypotheses, not to objectively evaluate them.  They want to be right.  Then there is the desire for professional recognition, to say nothing of promotions, tenure, and occasionally fame and fortune.  Careers in the balance, and all that jazz.  Mix all that in with mediocre training in the scientific method, little understanding of statistics, got a big bunch o' bad research.

            My interest in DNA/protein interactions isn't boundless, but it's there.  I've read a lot about The Long Emergency on leftie blogs and such, and they all seem to be written in absolute isolation from what biotech is doing in energy and environment.  I'm no expert in this area myself, but I think it would be a very informative exercise to take some of the projections on oil depletion and global warming and track them against the projections for advances in biotech.  Will the biotech cavalry arrive in time to save the day?

            But I'm thinking your interest is probably more on the technical details and less on the big picture?

            No, I've never had a grant application rejected, that I recall.  I don't recall writing any to fund my personal research...usually they were for a large research program that I might or might not work on if the funding came through and I was still around by then.  I was quite the little nomad in my early days.  My blogname was not casually chosen.  At my 20-year high school reunion, I won the prize for Most Jobs Since High School.

            •  Oy vey. (none)
              This is a late post that few if any will see, but I'm posting anyway because I'm even more frustrated now than I was with your original assertion.

              First you toss out a flame about how much "worthless" and "biased" science is out there, and now you won't back up your assertion, choosing instead not to "besmirch" a particular field. Nor will you attempt to tell us how you performed your own research, which presumably you did in a fashion FAR superior to all the bad old "junk" science that so plagues the world today. I'm sure lots of us could have used the edification. What are your criteria and/or process by which "unbiased" scientific inquiry can be reliably recognized?

              While I'm frothing in frustration at your refusal to back up your claims, pray tell me why anyone would spend their adult working life fighting for grant money, wrangling staff members, tolerating university politics, trying to live on a paltry university research salary, etc., etc., etc., if they had absolutely no belief or thought beforehand about the subject of their research, no prior understanding and/or hypothesis.

              Are you suggesting that the only way "real" or "objective" science can be done is by choosing a random subject out of a hat, then diving into its study with a random hypothesis drawn from another hat? (Subject: photonics; hypothesis: cows are round.) This is indisputably an OBJECTIVE way to do science. But is it reasonable? More to the point in this day of lousy funding for obscure/unpopular subjects, is it an efficient expenditure of resources?

              If, after our initial inquiry based on this random -- but OBJECTIVE! -- process, we begin forming an idea/belief/opinion/model about our results and wish to pursue it (which is how I always thought the scientific method was supposed to work), is our time is up <buzz!!> because we've now demonstrated a "bias"? To avoid Scientific Error, do we have to go back and draw another random topic from the hat? (And do we have to draw another random hypothesis or can we use "Cows are round" again?)

              •  Yes, I am assuming (none)
                This is a late post that few if any will see

                ...that this is now just a discussion between the two of us.

                presumably you did in a fashion FAR superior

                God I hope so.  I know I took it seriously.  But in truth, whenever a paper got accepted for publication, I used to lie awake nights worrying I'd gotten something terribly wrong.  I didn't have that much faith in the peer review process to catch it if I did, although I think that the reviewers in my field were, by and large, pretty good.  But maybe that was just me being young and naive back then.

                pray tell me why anyone would spend their adult working life fighting for grant money, wrangling staff members, tolerating university politics, trying to live on a paltry university research salary, etc., etc., etc.,

                Because it's so much fun?

                I'm frothing in frustration at your refusal to back up your claims

                Why don't you just zap me an email?  I will be happy to back them up in painful detail.

                •  And you think the others didn't worry? (none)
                  You won't catch me saying there aren't mediocre researchers out there, or cynical ones gaming the system, or those who are just trying to hang on in quiet desperation until they retire. And I definitely won't say it doesn't occasionally cost millions of valuable research dollars and a few years to disprove the hunches and wise pronouncements of Nobel laureates (e.g., Pauling and Crick, respectively).

                  This is to question your initial, startling vehemence about all that worthless, biased science out there, followed by all of the "painful detail" that you STILL will not post where the rest of us have at least the chance to see it (did I miss your diary containing it? if so, how about a link?).

                  This is to question what sounds as if it could be supreme arrogance -- which surely cannot, by the extremely rigorous standards of dispassion and objectivity I infer from your posts, be an acceptable foundation for reasoned scientific inquiry.

                  So you couldn't trust your "by and large, pretty good" colleagues to critique you to your own, unforgivingly exacting standards? You couldn't risk being a little off in your reasoning, perhaps making an outright mistake, or allowing less-than-completely-perfect work to slip past "by and large, pretty good" but still untrustworthy peer reviewers?

                  To do so might invite someone to try to reproduce and/or expand on your work. That might expose your reasoning and/or that of your reviewers to scrutiny, correction, even gainsaying. That might actually put the regulatory mechanisms of the living, breathing scientific method into action. And that might make you like the rest of us merely human bozos on the research bus.

                  •  As I said... (none)
                    If you want to know send me an email. Otherwise, this is the DailyKos, not the New England Journal of Medicine.  I didn't come here to persuade anyone to my opinion on this matter, and I'm certainly not going to start attacking specific disciplines, institutions, or researchers just to satisy your curiosity or to soothe your wounded professional pride.  If the shoe doesn't fit, don't cram your foot into it and then demand that I do something to make it stop pinching.
                    •  I made my predictions about you (none)
                      tested them, and my predictions were right.

                      Science works.


                      •  Just goes to show (none)
                        Science may work, but it ain't infallible.
                        •  That was precisely my point (none)
                          And that's what the scientific METHOD is for. It is not for instantaneous discernment of the truth, it is a PROCESS. You sound very disillusioned or embittered perhaps because you do not wish to participate in the sausage-making part of the process. Unfortunately, you're stuck with it.

                          But I accurately predicted that, while you were willing to spew against Democrats in this public forum, you would not be willing to substantiate your rant publically and would demand a private audience, which I have no intention of entertaining.

                          Rave on, but do it publically, and expect continuing challenges to your humanly infallible exposition of ideas.

                          My model also predicts that you must have the last word in this, so please help yourself to the bottom. I'm done with you.

                          •  Democrats??? You've been asking about scientists! (none)
                            You have been insisting that I justify my statements about science and scientists, not Democrats.  That's a completely different topic, one I'm more than happy to rave on about, and justify my ravings.  But now that you've wasted all that space going on about scientists, there isn't nearly enough room left on this narrower and narrower thread to do this topic justice.  

                            Here are two short lessons about Democrats I took away from my time with them during the last election cycle:

                            When Democrats talk about "The Democrats," they do not mean themselves.

                            Democrats can't. I know this because they told me so...over and over and over again. By far the single most common statement I heard from Democrats in the last election cycle was: "I can't." Turns out, they were right. They couldn't.

                      •  As I said... (none)
                        A lot bad science comes from scientists who are trying to "prove" their hypotheses are right, not to objectively evaluate them.

                        For my part, I had two hypotheses about you.  One was that you were legitimately interested in why I thought there was a lot of bad science out there.  The other was that you recognized yourself on my list of biased scientists.  

                        Since you seem biased toward attributing my perspective to some bad experience I must have had as a scientist, I now have a new hypothesis about you:  This isn't the first time someone has spoken to you about the conflict between scientific objectivity and the need to be right.

            •  Of course, you are right. Did you see the (none)
              article in the NY Times in mid-January about the failure of the peer review system and why there's now a lot of interest in open review?

              IMHO, the peer review system is just terrible.  It's standard advice in any field I know that even very good research can't count of acceptance at a journal, getting the grant.  Because of the way the peer review system is misused.

              Meanwhile I'm waiting to hear whether I get the $4 million grant I'm in for, and hoping I don't go ballistic when I read the peer reviews.


              -5.75; -7.44

              by JPete on Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 04:44:22 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Gee, I'm starting to worry about you. ;-) (none)
                I did not see the article, but I've seen enough publications go through the system to know it is at best, not reliable and, at worst, downright counterproductive when it comes to selecting good research and rejecting bad research.

                I am not familiar with the idear of open review, but I'm predisposed to like anything where openness is involved.  When I left my "career" science behind (as I've stated earlier, that was a long time back and most times I was lucky to squeeze a job out of it, much less anything resembling a career, in part because I never felt moved to go beyond an undergrad degree), my biggest beef was that reviewers weren't given enough information to evaluate the research in a meaningful way.  Everything was taken mostly on faith...which is one reason I have to shake my head when I hear people lauding the virtues of science over faith.  While I may be kindly disposed towards open review, I'm not quite sure how it might address that issue.  At least not directly.  Indirectly...maybe.

                hoping I don't go ballistic when I read the peer reviews

                :-) I always say that getting back a reviewer's or editor's comments usually sets off the five stages of grief:  denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance.

                •  yes, I don't get the science is the pure pursuit (none)
                  of truth view either.  

                  Open peer review involves having articles accepted with minimal review and then letting the community comment on it. Almost like posting a diary here.  The main person interviewed in the NY Times article talked about a number of the petty things that go on in peer review.  I recently had a review from someone who went on and on about how I didn't understand a certain technique and in so doing showed she (I'm pretty sure) hadn't a clue what she was talking about.  Turns out she had a friend in for the grant....


                  -5.75; -7.44

                  by JPete on Wed Mar 01, 2006 at 03:08:53 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Sounds great, but... (none)
                    Couldn't that make it almost impossible to keep up?  Sort of like the challenge of trying to monitor all the diaries on dKos to find the "good" ones.  Yes, I know, the peer review process doesn't succeed at that either, would be nice to have a process that made everything a little more manageable, maybe.  Also...if the volume gets out of hand, then people might do what they do here on dKos...ask their friends to go read/rate their posts, which puts you right back to some of the problems with "peer" review.

                    I assume you are talking internet publishing, since surely the printing costs would make it impractical to adopt this approach for paper journals.

                    I'm afraid I do get the "pure pursuit" view.  I think it is held by people who have been educated enough that they can no longer believe in a deity, but still need a religion and have not been educated enough to understand that science isn't one.

    •  You are mistaken... (4.00)
      in suggesting we don't believe in democracy because we don't believe in presenting all competing views into the science class room.

      The fact is, science is not a democratic process and it should not be. Next time you get on an airplane, would you rather the airline take a vote on how much fuel they should put in the plane, or would you rather they do the math and figure out how much you need?

      The simple truth is that there are no theories in competition with evolution which qualify as good science. It matters not one bit how popular or truthy the other theories seem to the general populace. If they are not science, they are not worth mention in the science classroom.

      •  Democracy (none)
        I think we've pretty much beat the question of what is and is not science to death on the rest of this thread, so I'm going to decline to repeat myself and others.

        As for suggesting Democrats don't believe in democracy because they don't believe in presenting all competing views in the science class room, I won't quibble.  I have plenty of other reasons for thinking that Democrats don't believe in democracy; I don't need that one.  Nor do I think that progressives believe in progress.  I'm hoping to hang out with the Republicans in the next election cycle, just to see if they actually believe in a republic...I doubt it.  Just like I doubt that the fundamentalists fundamentally believe in god.

        One of the things I learned in the last election cycle is that, in politics, everything is not merely a lie, but a lie that is the exact opposite of what it says.

  •  I've yet to understand (4.00)
    why the ID and CS crowd hate science so much. After all, without it we wouldn't have the big SUVs they love to drive, nor the electricity that allows them to study the Bible at night without eyestrain or the penicillin that keeps them from dying from bacterial infections.  

    I guess maybe those inventions interfered with God's will somehow, and should be shunned?  

    The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

    by irishwitch on Sat Feb 25, 2006 at 11:50:25 AM PST

    •  cognitive dissonance is bliss (none)
      engineering (of SUVs, not stem cells, mind you) good: science bad.
      illegal immigrant labor good: illegal immigrant laborer bad.
      freedom to publish offensive cartoons there good: freedom to publish offensive cartoons here bad.
      The trick is, when you (the collective you, not you irishwitch :)) come across your own CD, does it paralyze you ?
      do you try to deal with it?
      or do you deny it loudly while shoving it into a box and hiding it under the bed?

      I like to think people on this site try to opt for door #2.

      •  I'll agree (none)
        with Door #2 forms Kossacks.

        I also think we are on average better educated and better read them sot fundies. Most of us have college degrees and read widely.  Many fundamentalists are high school grads, disdain higher ed (as my sis-in-law's first husband said, "M<y grand daddy didn't go to college and he did all right. My Daddy didn't go to college, and he did all right to. Why should I wanna go to college?") and don't read anything except Christian books.  </p>

        I';ve learned that when someone says something I don't believe to be true--to LOOK IT UP and check the accuracy. Most times I'm right and theya re wrong, but sometimes they are right, and I concede the point.  Fudneis NEVER concede a point--if a fact contradicts their beleifs, they just ignroe it.

        The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

        by irishwitch on Sat Feb 25, 2006 at 01:01:48 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Timely article in my local paper (none)
    " -- In the flagship lab of the National Center of Atmospheric Research, a dozen home-schooled children and their parents walk past the offices of scientists grappling with topics including global warming, microphysics, solar storms and the electrical fields of lightning.

    They are trailing Rusty Carter, a guide with Biblically Correct Tours...

    "Did man and dinosaurs live together?" Carter asked. A timid yes came from the students.

    "How do we know that to be true?" Carter said. There's a long pause.

    "What day did God create dinosaurs on?" he continued.

    "Six," said a chorus of voices.

    "What day did God create man on?"


    "Did man and dinosaurs live together?"

    "Yes," the students said.

    Mission accomplished for Carter"

    Wow, I never knew science was so easy...

    Red is the color of my car, not my politics.

    by redneonexpress on Sat Feb 25, 2006 at 12:19:24 PM PST

    •  PBS had a series on evolution a few years ago (none)
      the seventh episode, "What about god":]

      -there's a quicktime trailer for it at the bottom of the page-

      It spent a fair amount of time at Wheaton College, a christian college in Illinois. They focused on several geology students, raised as fundamentalists,   seeing with their own eyes evidence that directly contradicts the young earth belief. They went on to film one student's conversations with his family afterword. From what I remember, none of it was hotly confrontational, you just got to see bright kids struggling with what they should believe, and speaking honestly about it.

      on the other end of the educational funnel, my boss, a professor in chemistry and cell bio, lives near Poway CA, recently rated as one of the most conservative towns in the country. He completely avoids talking about work at BBQs, etc., so his neighbors won't shun him.

    •  scary, but sadly not unique (none)
      I wa sin the Denver museum on Natural Science a few weeks ago and and the end of the exhibits is an area where you can watch people extracting fossils from rocks. Meticulous people, with tiny drills, compressed air, and huge magnifying glasses.

      I asked one lady who was cleaning a fossil, and old crusty woman who had clearly seen a lot things in life: do you get many creationists coming here telling you that all this (the museum, science, etc.) is all hogwash?

      She said: yes in a manner of speaking, every few months groups come in and they politely go on the tour and they'll have one of their children go up to the docent and say to them that you're wrong, God put the bones in the ground to challenge your faith or that man and dinosaurs lived together so there is no way these bones are millions of years old.

      Shit like that.

      when a conservative needs an opinion on a subject he gets it by calling himself from another line and when needs multiple opinions shouts the question in a cave

      by agentcooper on Sat Feb 25, 2006 at 01:26:20 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Darwinism (4.00)
    Dark Syde,

    I read your diaries often and quite enjoy them. I find them to be extremely informative and topical.

    That said, I have a bit of a bone to pick with you. On several occasions you have insisted that there is no such thing as Darwinism. I don't understand why you feel compelled to insist that there is evolutionary biology but no Darwinism. Personally, I would prefer "Neo-Darwinism" or the "synthetic theory of evolution". But the description of the basic principles as random genetic mutation plus natural selection is essentially accurate-regardless of what it is called.

    Among those who write on the history and philosophy of science there has been an awareness now at least since Pierre Duhem (writing in the late 19th century) that observation terms and experiments rest on overarching theoretical principles. Kuhn formalized this concept and coined the term Paradigm, and since then it has developed into "Research Program" (Imre Lakatos) or "Research Tradition" (Larry Laudan). Numerous contemporary philosophers of biology use the term Neo-Darwinism (Michael Ruse, David Hull, Elliott Sober) and practicing biologists often use the term. Ernst Mayr certainly didn't shrink from using the term, though again, he might have preferred "synthetic theory" though he used Darwinism and Neo-Darwinian throughout his writings.

    The point is that all scientific research is in fact undergirded by ontological, epistemological and phenomenological pre-suppositions. Scientists use general theories to formulate hypotheses and use observation to test general theories. To say that people just do biology or just do evolutionary biology is naive. Evolutionary biologists do in fact work in a research tradition.

    The problem isn't that ID'ists/Creationists label that research tradition as Darwinism, the problem is that they misrepresent the nature of its empirical and theoretical robustness.

    Finally, let me also point out that while we are knowing our Creationists we should understand the ambiguities and tensions within the ID movement. Several of them have accepted common descent. What is at dispute is whether or not some form of teleology or overarching design explains this common descent. Then you have those in the ID movement who reject common descent. This simply illustrates how confused and inconsistent on basic principles the ID movement is.

    •  I (none)
      didn't really say there no such thing as Darwinism in that piece, I said "I work with biologists every day as part of my ongoing battle with creationism, and I haven't met one yet who refers to himself as a Darwinist, or his field of research as Darwinism. At best it's a quaint older term which is no longer used among biologists and hasn't been for decades. At worst, it's intentionally chosen to present evolutionary biology as a rival ideology to theism ... "

      And I stand by that.

      Read UTI, your free thought forum

      by DarkSyde on Sat Feb 25, 2006 at 02:44:08 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  So can we call Christianity "Jesusism"? (none)
      Yes, I agree that they misrepresent the foundation of evolutionary biology.  The objection to the term "Darwinism" is :

      1. It's another example of framing. Most "isms" have negative connotations, and the creationists know that. We should resist embracing the terms they impose on us.

      2. While there is that idea of a research tradition, "Darwinism" isn't used to communicate that; it's intent is to pin evolutionary biology to a single individual, to give that sense of authoritarianism or a cult of personality.

      3. Neo-Darwinism is distinct from Darwinism. Those of us in the discipline understand the distinction, but others, obviously, do not. Even "neo-Darwinism" is beginning to acquire some rather narrow connotations that many of us are trying to get away from.

      As a developmental biologist myself, I particularly object to the term Darwinist when it's applied to me. While Darwin acknowledged the importance of embryology, he had very little conception of it; the golden years of Entwicklungsmechanik occured after his death, and modern molecular genetics and development were beyond his imagination. I'll also note that development was consciously neglected in the neo-Darwinian synthesis, and some of us still bear a grudge.

      In a sense, "Darwinism" has become a specific term of art in the creationist movement. That's what we oppose.

      •  Darwinism (none)
        I agree that the creationists misuse and abuse the term. They often conflate a lot of things.

        If you want to invent a new term to describe the research tradition, I have no objection. The word Neo-Darwinist still seems to me to be aptly descriptive of a major research tradition. And I will grant you, though my own knowledge of the field is a bit scanty, those who do evo-devo might see themselves as refining or revising the tradition.

        But the fact remains: a significant number of scientists don't consciously set out to work in a research tradition. And no doubt, the subjective self description of research scientists is in fact quite likely to be "I have no research tradition...I just follow the evidence" or "I just do science". But I would no sooner rely on the subjective self description of science practitioners (emic descriptions) as a full account of what scientists do than I would rely on an emic description to decipher kinship rules. I would want to look at what people actually do.

        And that is the point. Science is based in philosophy and a whole network of assumptions. I count myself as a hard core partisan of science in the science wars. But it is because I think that network of assumptions and methods gains us reliable knowledge. So when we look at how science is practiced in a community and in an ongoing sense over time, we do see etically (the objective, outsider descriptions) that scientists do in fact have frames with which they work in.

        The term Neo-Darwinism (like Neo-Classical Economics, or General Relativity, or Cultural Materialism or Evolutionary Psychology or Sociobiology) allows us to have a common understood frame of reference of a set of organizing principles. Running from the fact that Neo-Darwinism exists as a sociological, epistemological and practical endeavor does not really help us make the point.

        I think the point is in fact made much clearer by embracing the term and pointing to the progress in knowledge made by using Neo-Darwinism and pointing to the lack of progress made by ID. I think the point is better made by pointing to the fact that Neo-Darwinism is coherent and supported by empirical evidence, while ID is incoherent and is unsupported by empirical evidence.

        But I know of nobody who "just does science" absent some sort of frame.

  •  This sentence... (4.00)
    How exactly science is supposed to include phenomena which have never been observed, defined, or even precisely stated, or the consequences on the utility of Creationism in making useful contributions to our knowledge of the cosmos by filling in that gaping, alleged shortcoming, is a methodological vacancy IDCists never bother getting around to filling.

    Is absolutely magnificent.  And the idea behind is powerful.

    Thanks for a great read.

    •  Good catch on this one. (none)
      Science indeed is neither meant nor equipped to include phenomena which are non-observable. That is, until a way to measure it comes along. This pins down my favorite point on the IDC subject, which is the debate itself is apples to oranges (ie. belief vs theory, faith vs science) This notion can easily diffuse the heat of the debate, which is by definition non-winnable by either side.

      This sentence also nails the foundation of science fiction. When scientists have run an inquiry as far as it can go, the rest is left to imagination. In some cases, the "what-ifs" by scientists lead to further the boundary of a spent inquiry. In others we get the Martian Chronicles".

      I guess if a scientist feels strongly enough about one conjecture or another, it is equivalent to faith, though not necessarily religious. For the IDC-ists, faith is their space; they are just looking to back-fill the science to match.

      Somebody give him a blow-job so we can impeach him, already!

      by Iguanamon on Sun Feb 26, 2006 at 08:16:37 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I really like what you said here: (none)
        "For the IDC-ists, faith is their space; they are just looking to back-fill the science to match."

        Back-filling the "science" to match is exactly the right way to phrase this.  They comb through data looking for anything (even things that have been discredited by science) or order to beef up their faith with "facts".

        It is indeed a non-winnable debate because each side uses a basis for argument that the other side finds baffling.


  •  "Rejection of common descent..." (4.00)
    ...and then there's all that smoke and mirrors (and huffing and puffing) to bolster the belief that God pulled the heavenly equivalent of "Whoomp, there it is!" and it was good, yo.

    And it's just that - a belief, not a theory. Just as Darwin believed he was on to something after observations made in the Galapagos. Observations that would later be the foundation of the theory of evolution.

    It was earlier pointed out (correctly) that a theory cannot be proven. This nugget is unfortunately at times used to equate theory with belief, but that igores the rest of the scientific method. A theory cannot be proven; however a theory can be  tested and possibly disproven through observations to the contrary. This scientifically puts Darwin's money where his mouth is, so to speak. It should be pointed out that it has not been disproven or discredited to this point. Darwin 1, Scopes 0.

    On the belief side, such as the belief in the creation story (now was that Christian? Aztec? Hindi?) Theories that can (or are allowed to) stand up to actual testing are hard to come by.

    Somebody give him a blow-job so we can impeach him, already!

    by Iguanamon on Sat Feb 25, 2006 at 01:30:12 PM PST

  •  Cretinism or Creationism? (none)
    I always get the spelling wrong


    Grassroots Organizing Should Be for The Community, By The Community - NOT for "Leaders"

    by rmdSeaBos on Sat Feb 25, 2006 at 02:20:06 PM PST

  •  Modesty (4.00)
    Darksyde and others may know my signature as supporting science, science education and against the teaching of creationism or ID as "science."

    But I feel strongly that those who support science and Darwinian evolution often overreach in their advocacy.  I believe a little more modesty is in order.

    A few brief assertions:

    In terms of current knowledge, science explains only a fraction of our world.

    Why? First, science is limited by our conceptual frameworks (or, if you will, our brains) formed if not governed by our particular senses and their abilities.  Many animals can sense what we do not.  We can not rule out that there are phenomena governing our world that neither we nor animals sense directly, or are currently equipped to interpret what we sense, with or without instruments.

    Second, western science has always been about doing and making, and understanding just enough to do and make.  Our science is about technology.  It is not embedded in any particular understanding or "philosophy" as are the sciences of the Chinese, for example, and Indigenous cultures.

    Third, scientists like all humans are imperfect.  All scientists know that theories that challenge accepted norms are considered heresies by those whose theories they displace, and there are long gruesome fights that have little to do with reason and more to do with pride, inflexibility, fame and money.

    Western science works in a very limited part of the spectrum.  Newtonian physics doesn't work in the realms of the very small and the very large.  Many tenets of neo-Darwinian evolutionary theory don't work as advertised in certain kinds of small organisms, etc.  

    There are lots of arguments within biology about Darwinian theories; whether for example they actually explain the origin of species.  And it is historically accurate to talk about Darwinian evolution or even Darwinism, because the idea of evolution has not been patented; it existed at least a century before Darwin (his grandfather was a proponent, and has a more general meaning.      

    Historically in the U.S. the revolt against Darwinism and "evil-ution" was linked to populism, and a partly a reaction against the misuse of Darwinian theory by people who claimed that eugenics was science, and that people like me were inherently inferior and ought to be kept in our place, if not eliminated.  

    Basically what I'm saying is all this is quite complicated, and even though a political fight turns everything into Us Versus Them, those who defend science should be more modest about it.

    The house of science is not without sin and human weakness. Science is not necessarily the ultimate answer to everything.  If it were we wouldn't be destroying the planet with its fruits, nor would there be enough destructive power in silos to destroy everything many times over.

    As for "magic," in my lifetime I've seen biofeedback and the ability of mind to affect body go from "magic" or "not science" to accepted if not understood.  I've seen the idea of eating natural foods go from being quaint backwoods superstition to science-based.  

    And as for objective reality, quantum physics and theories such as the holographic universe--all scientific theories with varying amounts of proof and support--call even that into question.

    What most science deals with is stuff we can do or make by following directions we develop from applying the scientific method.  It's little different from learning to make fire.  Nobody actually makes fire.  They know how to make it happen.  They know how to use what they observe is there.  That's it.  There are things on heaven and earth not dreamed of in our science.  

    I doubt that one of them is a bearded guy running things.  As was aptly pointed out, creationism is limited to an explanation by a small subset of religions: mostly "the desert religions" as Paul Shepard called them.  But the limitation of those metaphors does not invalidate the idea of forces and "laws" and "realities" we haven't touch with our small science, a product of a few hundred years in one culture at a particular point in human history.  

    Let's admit it, and work on what it's good for.  Kids who don't learn the "evolution" they can observe in fruitflies will be out of the mainstream of science and technology forever, and unless they become preachers or politicians, they'll be cutting themselves off from a lot of potential careers.  By rejecting science where it is demonstrably accurate and useful, they close their minds to everything but dogma.

    "The end of all intelligent analysis is to clear the way for synthesis." H.G. Wells "It's not dark yet, but it's getting there." Bob Dylan

    by Captain Future on Sat Feb 25, 2006 at 02:21:52 PM PST

  •  question (none)
    who said God won't support evolution?
    speak in favor of someone just because u want to get closer to him only means corruption, depends on different matters, I will support GOP or Dem based on the facts, not based on how much I can get paid from them!  Same to the churches.. look at urself, how corrupt u r..  
    May the Holy Spirit end u all! thus God's job as beginning and ending may be finished...

    we learn from mistakes

    by changemyname on Sat Feb 25, 2006 at 03:11:01 PM PST

  •  I heard (none)
    To wrap it up, this fellow and his ilk should not be viewed as scientists or researchers, although they may try and portray themselves that way at times.

     an extremely funny bit on AA today while driving home and looked it up as soon as I got here. Someone (I believe the Discovery Institute) came up with a list of some 800 scientists and engineers who doubted evolutionary theory in order to bolster their odd world view. Engineers. Oh, my.
    To no one's surprise there are few biologists on the list and the signatories were almost exclusively Evangelical Christians.
    The National Center for Science Education decided to honour Stephen Gould and create a list composed of scientists who support evolutionary theory and limit the signnatories to those with the first name of Steve or some variation of the name. Only 1.6 of the population is named Steve (They didn't go with something easy like John.) and according to the Steve-o-meter they are up to 720 names.
    I don't know about you guys but I intend to buy one of their t-shirts.
    My apologies if this has been blogged here before. I thought it was a project which effectively refutes any claims to authority by this pathetic pseudo-science.

    "...the definition of a gaffe in Washington is somebody who tells the truth but shouldn't have." Howard Dean

    by colleen on Sat Feb 25, 2006 at 03:37:25 PM PST

  •  Consider the institutional source (none)
    Years ago, I worked one floor up from the Disco Institute.  Back then 'moderate' was part of the GOP branding in Washington, and the DI was all elbow patches and fruity pipe tobacco.  Then Newtie announced his revolution and the grant money dried up.

    What do you know?  Chapman and the DI lost the pipes and the pensive moderation, and rightwing hacks like Rick White (one-term congressman) and Don Carlson (failed gubernatorial candidate and radio bloviator) started showing up in the cafeteria.

    These cynical camp followers are all about the benjamins.  This is their latest scam for grant money! - Kicking against the pricks since '98!

    by chuckvw on Sat Feb 25, 2006 at 03:42:11 PM PST

  •  Here is copy of email to nut case (none)
    At we don't get into ID except to show why the God of the Bible is not the one.
    Using the King David story we show that even though David broke God's law and should have been killed along with Bathsheba instead God who in Deuteronomy 24:16 said a son shall not die for the sins of the father, causes the death of David's son for just that reason. This very same God who is supposed to know future otherwise no prophecies smiles on Solomon, gives him everything only to have Solomon turn around and spit on him. While many say this story is about redemption, it really is a story that if you have an in with the judge you can break every LAW and not only get to keep the kingdom but the object of your crime, in this case Bathsheba. God's action in this case proves he is an inept lying baby killer not someone capable of being true Creator
    You are invited to show why what is posted at the above site is wrong. In fact there is an offer to closed site.
    Sample of things at site

    Many people believe that the Bible is the inerrant word of God, but that is a fallacy. How can I say that. Well, no other authority then Jesus said so. When Jesus talked about divorce he said " Moses gave that to you, that is not how it was from the beginning (Mark 10:2-9 & Matthew 19:7-8).
    The fact that Jesus disagrees with Moses blows the conception of many that while the Bible may have been written by men , they only wrote what God wanted. But with Jesus saying that Moses's decree was not God's, that argument goes out the window.

    Lets look at the following Hebrews 1 talking about
    Jesus v5 For unto which of the angels said he at any
    time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee?
    And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be
    to me a Son?

    As for the question in 5 above about
    father and son relationship let us look into the
    following which is what David was told when told that
    he could not build a Temple but it applies to Solomon
    and NOT Jesus as shown by:

    2 Samuel 7:12 And when thy
    days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy
    fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which
    shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish
    his kingdom.
    13 He shall build an house for my name,
    and I will establish the throne of his kingdom for
    14 I will be his father, and he shall be my son.
    If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod
    of men, and with the stripes of the children of men
    :15 But my mercy shall not depart away from him, as I took
    it from Saul, whom I put away before thee.

    Now some take this to be the Messiah; however, since it talks
    about if he commits inequity, I will chasten him, it
    clearly is not talking about Jesus but about Solomon
    which also is borne out in 1 KI 5:5 5
     And, behold, I purpose to build an house unto the name of the LORD my
    God, as the LORD spake unto David my father, saying,
    Thy son, whom I will set upon thy throne in thy room,
    he shall build an house unto my name.

    Continuing in Hebrews 1:13 But to which of the angels said he at any
    time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies
    thy footstool? Jesus is also quoted saying this in Matthew22 41-45; Luke 21:41-44, Acts 2:30-36

    The above 13 appears in Psalm 110: 1Psalm 110 Of David.
    1 The LORD says to my Lord: Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.

    So, NO He may not have said it to any angel; but he sure as Hell said it to DAVID according to the believers own Bible .

    As for {the Lord said to My Lord} Jesus also queried about that and Christians have interpreted that to be Jesus and that it was about Jesus. However, it is a Psalm of David about David. In that time Kings and even minor dignitaries were addressed MY Lord
    In fact the Talmudists in one of their attempts to justify the killing of Uriah said he disrespected David by Not addressing him as My

    But don't take my word for it let us see what it
    actually says in Psalm 110:1

    The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.

    2 The LORD will extend your mighty scepter from Zion; you will rule in the midst of your enemies.

    3 Your troops will be willing on your day of battle. Arrayed in holy majesty, from thewomb of the dawn you will receive the dew of your

    4 The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind: You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.
    5. The Lord is at your right hand; he will crush kings on the day of his wrath.
    6 He will judge the nations, heaping up the dead and crushing the
    rulers of the whole earth.

    You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.
    not God or Son of God but a priest in the order of
    Melchizedek. Not Lord or Greatest should be proof for
    Christians that the psalm was not about Jesus regardless of the
    Claim of Jesus.

    Christians point to Isaiah 53 as being a prophecy
    about Jesus but overlook the last verse
    Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he
    shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he
    hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was
    numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin
    of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

    So while God said he would divide the one talked about in 53 a portion with the great; it only makes him one of a group and NOT God or the LORD.
    But Christians misled by their teachers are taught otherwise. I was told that I was taking the last sentence out of context, as the important part was the beginning. Since what I said blew a preconceived notion, it looks to a believer that I played with the quotation. While it is true that there is a lot between the beginning which might look like Jesus and the last sentence, the last sentence is part and parcel of the prophesy and it would be out of context
    to leave it out. I neither added something that wasn't there or like the believer left anything out which would take it out of context.

  •  Common descent (none)
    Some of the most prominent IDers believe in common descent
    [quote]Personally I'm flabbergasted that in this day & age anyone could seriously question common descent. But that's not an opinion driven by Intelligent Design theory. That's an opinion driven by reproductive continuity, an almost universal genetic code, and mountains of secondary bits of evidence from the fossil record, molecular and anatomical homology, and etcetera. Not to get off on a rant about common descent again[/quote]

    That's from William Dembski, even though his blog is titled "Uncommon Descent"

    [quote]The theory does not challenge the idea of evolution defined as change over time, or even common ancestry, but it does dispute Darwin's idea that the cause of biological change is wholly blind and undirected.[/quote]
    Stephen Meyers, Senior Fellow at the Discovery Institute

    [quote]Further, I find the idea of common descent (that all
    organisms share a common ancestor) fairly convincing, and have no
    particular reason to doubt it. I greatly respect the work of my colleagues
    who study the development and behavior of organisms within an evolutionary
    framework, and I think that evolutinoary biologists have contributed
    enormously to our understanding of the world.[/quote]
    Michael Behe

    Astonishingly enough, they claim that their "scientific" theory takes no position on commom descent, anymore than it does on the age of the Universe- "somewhere between 5,000 and 15 billion"

    This is due to their "Big Tent"  stance; based entirely on politics- the more reasonable among them know how wacko the YECs are, but they need their support.

    •  The thing (none)
      is, that's an adjustment to getting asses kicked in Dover. Catch one of those PR hacks when they're talking to another audience and you'll hear the exact opposite. When they're talking to a secular audience, IDC is all about science and new discovery, when they're talking to educators, IDC is all about 'opening minds' and teaching both sides of the controversy, when they're talking to a scientifically literate audience, they 'believe in Darwinism, they just don't think it can account for every lil thang', when they're talking to a church crowd, it's full bore creationism and antievolution in the name of JC and YVWH. hen they're talking to a mixed audience of various kinds of faithful, it's a vague creator entity.

      Trust me on this; several of us are on double super secret e mail lists under various nome de DarkSyde's. Like any decent pitchmen, they tailor their spiel for maximum effect. When Billie quits the DI, admits it was all bullshit designed to fleece the faithful marks, and joins with the forces of decency and integrity, I might believe him, even though imo he's lied repeatedly for years now. Until then, I'm not buiying and I advise anyone else to do the same.

      Read UTI, your free thought forum

      by DarkSyde on Sat Feb 25, 2006 at 10:35:13 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

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