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Monday, July 17, 2006

N.Y. Post: Mushnick: WRIGHT STARS IN AD FOR FAITH HEALER (RR)

To live, I’d drink even the liquid of feces!

So it’s Saturday afternoon and we’re watching the Mets on Ch. 11. They’re playing the Cubs in Wrigley, when, during a commercial break, David Wright, in his Mets uniform and standing in Shea, pops up to tell us:

“Hi, I’m David Wright. I invite you to the ‘Salvation Miracles Revival Crusade’ with Dr. Jaerock Lee, at Madison Square Garden, July 27, 28 and 29.”

...Sorry, boys and girls, while we mean no offense toward anyone’s spirituality and religious devotion - Wright’s included - that was the weirdest player/team-connected TV ad we’d ever seen within a telecast of a big league game.

And are Mets telecasts and Mets dressed in their Mets uniforms now available to help deliver religious come-ons of any and all kinds?

Repoz Posted: July 17, 2006 at 11:18 AM | 462 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: international, mets

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   401. J. Cross Posted: July 21, 2006 at 05:43 AM (#2106257)
If you mean that talk of why certain traits were selected for and which traits for selected for (and which were byproducts) is partly just story telling, I agree with you and so would Gould.

My point is just that it's fairly easy to come up with a plausible story that explains the existence of consciousness and thus it is not a paradox or something that draws natural selection into question.
   402. Srul Itza At Home Posted: July 21, 2006 at 05:44 AM (#2106259)
You're basically claiming that arguably the constitutive feature of humanness is an evolutionary byproduct that persists despite its apparent lack of utility and possibly even disutility?

1. Why do you posit that is the constitutive feature of humanness? Are you absolutley sure we are the only self-aware species?

2. Why do you posit a lack of utility? Self-awareness may be necessary part to abstract thought, which can be very useful in adapting to new conditions.
   403. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: July 21, 2006 at 06:02 AM (#2106267)
And as 2Alous pointed out long ago, what the Discovery Institute says does not represent the sum total of thought. You can actually have ID that is consistent with an atheistic point of view. Anti-ID proponents make this look like excuse mongering.
I hate to repeat what others have said before, but no, you can't. ID is theism. (Actually, ID is the Discovery Institute is Creationism, no matter how many times you want to abstract away from the actual ID theory while still calling it ID. But even if we go along with your decision to use the label of ID to describe some sort of more general Paleyesqe natural theology, it's still theism.) There is no intelligent design without a supernatural intelligent designer, and that is god. It may not have to be the Judeo-Christian god, or any specific religion's god, but it is god. And that's theism.

If all that's bothering you is that some people (Dawkinsians, for the lack of another term) go around claiming there's no god, then we can have common ground; that's not science and doesn't belong in science class either. The fact that we don't need a supernatural explanation to explain a particular phenomenon is not the same as arguing that the supernatural doesn't exist.
   404. Andere Richtingen Posted: July 21, 2006 at 01:33 PM (#2106387)
Another stronger reply is Behe's argument from irreducibility: some things (e.g. bacterial flagella (?)) exhibit irreducible complexity - they had to come into existence as a whole and not in parts (else they wouldn't work). If irreducibly complex organisms exist, there must be a designer, they exist, therefore....

The irreducily complex examples given, however, don't hold up to scrutiny. Time + extremely strong selection + sloppy replication can yield some crazy cool stuff, either additively or not. You've read Allan Orr's New Yorker article?
   405. JC in DC Posted: July 21, 2006 at 01:44 PM (#2106396)
Gee: I'm not sure I understand your response. I'll grant your rejection of the particular ostensibly IC examples. But the point is that there may be IC things. If there are, that is, if there are things that "at bottom" (in Kevin's terms) are IC, then how'd they come to be? If time + strong selection... is necessary for crazy cool stuff, what if you have crazy cool stuff that appeared w/o time? (Or am I invincibly ignorant?)
   406. Andere Richtingen Posted: July 21, 2006 at 02:33 PM (#2106438)
Gee: I'm not sure I understand your response. I'll grant your rejection of the particular ostensibly IC examples. But the point is that there may be IC things. If there are, that is, if there are things that "at bottom" (in Kevin's terms) are IC, then how'd they come to be? If time + strong selection... is necessary for crazy cool stuff, what if you have crazy cool stuff that appeared w/o time? (Or am I invincibly ignorant?)

Well, there are definitely IC things (i.e., if you remove the lens from an eye it no longer works) but the question is whether they could have evolved gradually and in steps only with the aid of inheritance (Mendelian or not), mutation, selection and drift, with enough time. I do not deny that there could be some biological structures that cannot be explained by those forces alone, but it seems like there are no solid examples of it, including those proposed by Behe.

Time is not a necessary component but it certainly helps. Each generation is a turn at the slot machine. And of course time applies differently to different organisms: a generation for a bacterium is 20 minutes, for a human 20 years.

Anyway, trying to take the standpoint of someone who believes in a Creator, I don't see why it matters. If a believer sees evidence (non-scientific) that a deity had a role in shaping life, that's fine. Just don't tell me that the Darwinian, Neo-Darwinian and molecular evolutionary factors that have been figured out over the last two centuries are not in effect, because the evidence for it is staggering. The problem is where ID makes claims that certain biological phenomena cannot be explained by purely naturalistic forces, and this is what some people are trying to get into the biology classroom, again clearly as a front for hard creationism.
   407. Guapo Posted: July 21, 2006 at 02:38 PM (#2106446)
Finally, everthing seems hopelessly complex and elusive until you get to the bottom of them. Then, looking back, with the facts in hand, the answers seem so obvious, one is compelled to ask oneself why it couldn't have been seen before. That was the scientific reaction to both Darwin's treatise on natural selection and Einstein's paper on relativity.

And DIPS theory
   408. Francoeur Sans Gages (AlouGoodbye) Posted: July 21, 2006 at 03:37 PM (#2106505)
Dialing a bit, I'd like to discuss whether we've seen one species "emerge" from another i.e. speciation. The answer is yes, but despite what some here would have you believe, it really doesn't prove much. Basically you cannot divide the creatures of the world neatly into species, which is a shame but it would actually be remarkable if you could, given the way that the term is defined.

What we have seen is a class of organism A give rise to classes of organism B and C, where B and C cannot reproduce satisfactorily with each other. Which is nice, but an ID proponent is well within his rights to be utterly unimpressed. There's nothing about this to suggest "macro evolution" as (I think) JC in DC implied. Of course, as was mentioned earlier, biologists don't like to talk about "micro" and "macro" evolution - they say this is a matter of degree - not qualitative but quantitative. Which is fine.

The thing that we would like to see, but we haven't seen, is information gain. We've seen plenty of mutations that simply flick a switch or something like it (e.g. reducing height) but what we haven't seen is mutations that add information to the DNA structure. This is the key issue.
   409. Gaelan Posted: July 21, 2006 at 04:05 PM (#2106531)
This has been an interesting thread. The largest difficulty is that the version of intelligent design being defended here is a wholly imaginary one that exist only in this place.

In the real world intelligent design is a political program designed to produce things like this.

Now I know that no one here is suggesting that we teach kids in grade five that evolution is false because "My uncle is a man named Steve (not a monkey)" but that is not only the practical result of the intelligent design movement but its intended purpose.

That being said I have a lot of sympathy with BL's argument against science. It is very remiscent of Heidegger and is, in my view, certainly true. What surprises me is that this line of reasoning leads him to support even a sanitized and purely theoretical version of intelligent design as an alternative. The opposition between a naturalistic ontology and a non-naturalistic ontology is either hopelessly vague (non-naturalistic ontology can mean anything) or dangerously specific (Creationism).
   410. Francoeur Sans Gages (AlouGoodbye) Posted: July 21, 2006 at 04:06 PM (#2106533)
I also think that the anti-macro people put an artificial constraint on the need for eyewitness testimony to macroevolution happening before one's eyes. I mean, nobody alive today witnessed the Peloponnesian War but we have no doubt that it actually happened. Demanding that something be able to be completed and witnessed within the lifespan of a human being for it to be believable is an artificially imposed constraint not supported by reason and logic.
Oh, I agree entirely. I'm just pointing out the issue. I don't have a problem with mainstream evolutionary theory (although I do believe that many scientists pay insufficient attention to the social structures of organisms and how these may have influenced evolution).
Of course we have. When you were a child, I'm sure you got chicken pox. Do you realize that the genome of that chicken pox virus is permanently residing, and is transcriptionally active, in certain somatic cells of your body? Chicken pox virus contains around 70-100 genes, all of them just sitting there waiting to be activated and expressed. There is good evidence that entire blocks of genes can be moveed from one orgqanism to another. That's the beauty of biology. At the chromosomal level, DNA is all pretty much the same and large chunks of it can be swapped around in any number of ways, between species of vast difference. And there are plenty of extant mechanisms by which that occurs. Viruses are a particularly prolific mechanism by which this occurs but by no means are they the only way. Mobile genetic elements are everywhere, doing their thing in all kinds of interesting and unpredictable ways.
This is not information gain, this is information transfer.
   411. Francoeur Sans Gages (AlouGoodbye) Posted: July 21, 2006 at 04:15 PM (#2106544)
In the real world intelligent design is a political program designed to produce things like this.
Is that site for real?
   412. Mefisto Posted: July 21, 2006 at 04:17 PM (#2106547)
Basically you cannot divide the creatures of the world neatly into species

There certainly are cases where the distinction is hard to draw, but most of the time it's pretty clear. Nobody has any difficulty distinguishing people from chimps, bears from raccoons, or redwoods from firs. Remember that Linneaus was classifying species long before Darwin.

More importantly, evolution expects that species will be a bit fuzzy around the edges. It's "special creation" which insists on clear demarcations between species. The very fact that it's sometimes hard to distinguish two species is evidence in favor of evolution.

What we have seen is a class of organism A give rise to classes of organism B and C, where B and C cannot reproduce satisfactorily with each other.

There are also cases where B and C cannot reproduce with A.

There's nothing about this to suggest "macro evolution" as (I think) JC in DC implied.

The examples above are what people usually mean by "macro" evolution. If someone is using it differently, I missed it.

The thing that we would like to see, but we haven't seen, is information gain. We've seen plenty of mutations that simply flick a switch or something like it (e.g. reducing height) but what we haven't seen is mutations that add information to the DNA structure. This is the key issue.

Biologists see this all the time.
   413. Mefisto Posted: July 21, 2006 at 04:27 PM (#2106559)
Just to add to kevin's last point, Barbara McClintock won a Nobel Prize for her work on transposons, which do exactly what TwoAlous is asking for.

Just to be clear, when a sequence of DNA gets dupllicated within the genome, that DOES add information. The reason it does is that the order in which genes are expressed is an essential part of development. Changing the order of expression is therefore a very important change in information.
   414. Gaelan Posted: July 21, 2006 at 04:37 PM (#2106573)
Is that site for real?


I looked around for a while and I couldn't find any reason to think it was a joke. But maybe I'm just gullible.
   415. Guapo Posted: July 21, 2006 at 04:40 PM (#2106578)
Is that site for real?

No, but it's very well, and elaborately done. I love "Pine Cones are Complicated."
   416. DCA Posted: July 21, 2006 at 04:43 PM (#2106584)
Our brains grew in order to be able to solve some problem that would increase our chances of survival (I don't know what problem this was and I'm not sure what the theories are). As an unintended consequence our brains became capable of contemplating our own existence. Definitely magical to think about.

Yes, but an odd concession. You're basically claiming that arguably the constitutive feature of humanness is an evolutionary byproduct that persists despite its apparent lack of utility and possibly even disutility


In this particular case, I believe the most compelling theory is that people (at the time, H. habilus, I think) developed larger brains in order to protect against heat stress. Our bodies are designed for distance running, I don't if there's any other creature than can run for 80 hours without stopping. Because our body design already favored dealing with heat stress, the extra brain gave redundant capacity under environmental duress, which benefit (we hunted by running down animals and then bashing their heads in when they collapsed of exhaustion) outweighed the drawbacks of extra weight and blood/oxygen consumption. It took about a million years of growing the brain for heat stress benefit before the fossil record shows the tool-making and ingenuity takeoff (H. erectus, I think).

Glad this thread has continued. A good conversation. I thought it was over on p. 3, but it's got legs.
   417. Mefisto Posted: July 21, 2006 at 04:54 PM (#2106592)
when a sequence of DNA gets dupllicated within the genome, that DOES add information.

Here, for example, duplicating the letter "l" added the information that Mefisto didn't proofread his post very carefully.
   418. Chris Dial Posted: July 21, 2006 at 05:18 PM (#2106612)
I believe you can. There are exceptions to the rule but, in general, speciation works quite well.

It works pretty daggone good in botany. My Red book does just fine with straightforward questions - although I can't ever get Taraxacum.
   419. Backlasher Posted: July 21, 2006 at 05:28 PM (#2106616)
I also think that the anti-macro people put an artificial constraint on the need for eyewitness testimony to macroevolution happening before one's eyes. I mean, nobody alive today witnessed the Peloponnesian War but we have no doubt that it actually happened. Demanding that something be able to be completed and witnessed within the lifespan of a human being for it to be believable is an artificially imposed constraint not supported by reason and logic.


Kevin, I don't think any of the three persons that have defended the concept of ID take that position. I don't have specific doubts about the occurence of the Peloppeaneasian War, or even the victors. I might find more than one historian has a plausible inference on the cause of the Peloppeanasian War, but I'm ignorant on that subject matter.

But that is not the argument being put forward. The Dover decision, and the strong anti-ID proponents in this thread have expressly stated "But not in a science class" And we ask them to define what is included in a science class in a non-circular matter (IOW, don't use science in the definition, or if you do, define science).

The Pelo War isn't going to be taught in that science class either. And in the history class that it is taught in, when you have multiple plausible causations, its likely that many are going to be studied, contrasted, etc.

That does not a priori lead to reduction ab absurdum. If someone has an economic cause theory, the class isn't going to have to go to "Well what is economics" And with any ontological subject when abstracted far enough you will have First Mover(s)/Original States which you either have to say is persistant or admit agnosticism.

What surprises me is that this line of reasoning leads him to support even a sanitized and purely theoretical version of intelligent design as an alternative. The opposition between a naturalistic ontology and a non-naturalistic ontology is either hopelessly vague (non-naturalistic ontology can mean anything) or dangerously specific (Creationism).


I guess I should first clarify, I'm not lead to anything as being "truth". I am lead to conclusions about polity, namely that the state should not indoctrinate children against the belief system of their families; that parents do have franchise in the education of their children; and that educational curriculae should be no more hostage to a atheistic or naturalist philosophy than it should be to a theistic, non-naturalist philosophy.

No matter how many times others may say it, you can have non-theistic ID, and you can have it just as much as you can have theistic evolution. Most everyone wants to believe the latter is logically possible, and therefore is treated as operably true for rhetorical purposes; and the former is practically untrue, therefore treated as operably false for rhetorical purposes. This is arguing out of both sides of you mouth.

Practically, ID has a theistic connotation. Practically, evolution has an atheistic connotation. Logically, neither require theism or atheism. John Jones and has disciples always ignore the part that doesn't advance their argument.

But I agree with your latter point. Specialized ID can pose a problem if it establishes religion, specifically a canonized religion. That should not be in the public schools. But our jurisprudential system has moved from "establishment of religion" to "theism" to "anything that has a penumbra that might make somebody think about God."

Stip away the meaningless recent history, while ignoring the long history, that is the objection present in Srul's argument. Somebody might think about God because they logic leads to God as a possible endpoint and its the most popularly known endpoint.

When I discuss problems with specialized methods like DIPS, I receive scores of arguments that "we moved past that assertion"; "you make mistakes along the way"; etc. Yet when they want to attack A FIELD of thought (not just a specific instantiziation), they want to hopelessly chain you to the persons that have made mistakes in implementation.

As for it being hopelessly vague, that is not true. What we are talking about is conceptual. An actual curriculae can be developed that is not vague. We can study complexity and information theory. It can be done in a waterred down middle skill way right through a calculative means in HS.

That would not be allowed, but we will have libraries full of textbooks on past life with details filled in by guesses or mathematical reconstructive algorithms.

So all the definitional stuff seems misplaced to me. I can use the same bag of tricks, produce new data and discoveries, produce data and discoveries that are part of the useful arts, use the same processes, etc. But that gets classified as "not-science" FOR NO OTHER REASON THAN THE PEOPLE DON'T LIKE SOME OF THE PEOPLE'S INITIAL PREMISE OF THE PEOPLE WHO PROMOTE THE ART.

Its 180 degrees from a millenia ago. People have been bringing up the Galileo's like science has an entitlement because its practitioners were once shunned by the church which in part may have been for reasons of polity.

Now, if anything involving the church presents a new idea, or a different way to arrive at truth, its going to be shunned, because "they are those wackos that believe in God." Its treated as heresy to their naturalistic religion.

And as a matter of polity--you have not just some little fringe group--you have a very large majority that has some supernatural belief. You have a significant number where the supernatural belief is central to their being, the most important thing in their life, why they are; and who above all else feel it is their right, duty, and obligation to teach that to their family and children.

It is anathematic to me for the state to indoctrinate their children against what may be their most principal desire and fundamental right. If there is a curriculae option that does not require naturalism, is valid, produces utility, is desired AND DOES NOT ESTABLISH RELIGION, why would it be shunned.

Its like making a person cover their ankles because it may lead to thoughts about sex. Do we want to hide away everything from children than has a distant downstream effect that they might think about ontology.
   420. Francoeur Sans Gages (AlouGoodbye) Posted: July 21, 2006 at 05:52 PM (#2106632)
OK, if you want information gains, how about the mechanisms of duplication, truncation and insertion events? Those all havethe capacity of creating new genes.
AND
Just to be clear, when a sequence of DNA gets dupllicated within the genome, that DOES add information.
In a technical way you're right, but I wasn't talking about adding information in a strict information theory sense. I was talking about it in the sense of adding novel meaningful code. Now, I agree with Kevin in #415, because I don't think this is necessary, and it's unrealistic in expectation - after all, Mendel was working 150 years ago, and DNA was discovered a little over 50 years ago. Evolution, on the other hand, is by its nature a process that works in the much longer term.
   421. J. Cross Posted: July 21, 2006 at 06:01 PM (#2106642)
practically, evolution has an atheistic connotation.

only to fundamentalists. before the comeback of fundamentalism this wasn't an even an issue. I don't think we should stop teaching science because a quarter of the country just went nutty.
   422. JC in DC Posted: July 21, 2006 at 06:11 PM (#2106658)
practically, evolution has an atheistic connotation.

only to fundamentalists.


Patently false. Absolutely false. You're either ignorant or disingenuous on this point. It was Dawkins, not a fundamentalist, who claimed that evolution (or Darwin) made atheism respectable. It is Dawkins and Dennett and their ilk that claim to believe in something nonnatural is primitive and stupid. It is NOT the fundamentalists alone who are the problem here. In fact, they're less the problem as their views don't currently inform our curricula and our federal funding of science.
   423. J. Cross Posted: July 21, 2006 at 06:15 PM (#2106662)
It was Dawkins, not a fundamentalist, who claimed that evolution (or Darwin) made atheism respectable.

So because one notable evolution scientist is an atheist, evolution has an atheistic connotation? That's your argument? Also, contrary to the way he seems to be potrayed in this thread I think Dawkins is best known for his selfish gene theory than his atheism.

In fact, they're less the problem as their views don't currently inform our curricula and our federal funding of science.

Thank goodness. When they do, it will be time to hit the road.
   424. JC in DC Posted: July 21, 2006 at 06:18 PM (#2106665)
Has anyone noticed an extremely annoying buzzing sound that comes through BTF?
   425. JC in DC Posted: July 21, 2006 at 06:21 PM (#2106669)
So because one notable evolution scientist is an atheist, evolution has an atheistic connotation? That's your argument? Also, contrary to the way he seems to be potrayed in this thread I think Dawkins is best known for his selfish gene theory than his atheism.


You're wrong on both points. It HIS argument that evolution connotes atheism and he's not alone. And, at this point I'd say Dawkins is known for his attacks on religion.

Thank goodness. When they do, it will be time to hit the road.


IOW, when it's ideology you favor, the fundies have to deal w/it; when it's not, you bail.
   426. J. Cross Posted: July 21, 2006 at 06:21 PM (#2106670)
yes, it's the bees banner on top of some of the pages. very annoying.
   427. JC in DC Posted: July 21, 2006 at 06:22 PM (#2106673)
yes, it's the bees banner on top of some of the pages. very annoying.


You've got to be ####### kidding me. I hate Furtado and Zim more than ever now.
   428. J. Cross Posted: July 21, 2006 at 06:25 PM (#2106675)
You're wrong on both points. It HIS argument that evolution connotes atheism and he's not alone. And, at this point I'd say Dawkins is known for his attacks on religion.

It's his argument and therefore it must be correct? Even though Darwin, Gould and many other feel strongly that this isn't the case? I think you're wrong here.

Perhaps he's only best known for attacks on religion by the few that actually care about Dawkins' opinions on religion. He's a scientist and therefore most people are more interested in what he has to say about science. Just as most people would be more interested in what Joe Morgan has to say about playing baseball and not what he has to say about statistics. Only on this site would people care more about his thoughts on statistics.
   429. Dan Turkenkopf Posted: July 21, 2006 at 06:27 PM (#2106676)
yes, it's the bees banner on top of some of the pages. very annoying.

You've got to be ####### kidding me. I hate Furtado and Zim more than ever now.

JC - Jim's apparently on working on cleaning up the ads, per this thread.
   430. DCA Posted: July 21, 2006 at 06:27 PM (#2106677)
But that is not the argument being put forward. The Dover decision, and the strong anti-ID proponents in this thread have expressly stated "But not in a science class" And we ask them to define what is included in a science class in a non-circular matter (IOW, don't use science in the definition, or if you do, define science).

Has no one done this yet? It seems pretty straight-forward to me. We ought to discuss the best available theories (based on observed fact) of those disciplines relating primarily to the natural world, their historical development, and philosophical and practical applications, as well as any alternative theories if they are approximately as credible (I remember learning several theories of mass extinction of the dinosaurs because at the time the evidence didn't support one theory as significantly more than another; I'm not sure if this is still the case).

It would also be negligent for us not to teach the children that by the time they are thirty, we will know more about these topics and perhaps have a different better explaination.

The focus on best available theories based on actual observation would exclude any form of ID. Because the available evidence strongly supports a theory of evolution (though the details are muddled) and does not support ID (unless by ID you mean ID by means of evolution which even in possibly the most liberal public high school in the country, less than a mile from possibly the premiere scientific research university in the world, I learned was a perfectly acceptible interpretation of evolutionary theory, and in fact many leading scientists believed it to be so). But that's not what ID is.

I can't see how ID would fit into this or any other accepted definition of science class. Unless you use JC's definition of science which strips the world of it's modern and appropriate contextual meaning. And is, though he protests, only semantics. A rose by any other name ...
   431. chris p Posted: July 21, 2006 at 06:35 PM (#2106685)
dennett refers to daniel dennett, right? what's your problem with him?
   432. Francoeur Sans Gages (AlouGoodbye) Posted: July 21, 2006 at 06:36 PM (#2106686)
Additionally, there are some things in life that are basically non-negotiable. We can debate the merits of whether insider trading should be illegal or not. But we shouldn't waste time debating whether murder should be legal or not. That's what introducing ID into the classroom is doing as an alternative to natural selection, debating the merits on whether murder is really wrong or not. It's a waste of time. That ship has already sailed.
But "murder" is a value-loaded word, it basically means "killing that I don't like." And we do debate what killing should(n't) be illegal - see, for instance, the debates on abortion, euthanasia, the death penalty, self-defence, just war, collateral damage, etc etc etc. In fact, without exception, people on one side of the debate classify the other side as supporting "murder."
   433. J. Cross Posted: July 21, 2006 at 06:39 PM (#2106691)
abortion, euthanasia, the death penalty, self-defence, just war, collateral damage, etc etc etc.

Am I in the minority in that I see none of these things as murder? Is there anyone here who sees ALL of them as murder. I think that would be unusual.
   434. J. Cross Posted: July 21, 2006 at 06:45 PM (#2106704)
abortion, euthanasia, the death penalty, self-defence, just war, collateral damage, etc etc etc.

Granted that I feel that two of these 6 things should be illegal and the rest are certainly undesirable. Still, I would question someone who calls any of these murder.
   435. Backlasher Posted: July 21, 2006 at 06:46 PM (#2106706)
Has anyone noticed an extremely annoying buzzing sound that comes through BTF?


I get that in my email from time to time too.

only to fundamentalists. before the comeback of fundamentalism this wasn't an even an issue. I don't think we should stop teaching science because a quarter of the country just went nutty.


And that is absurd and exactly what I am trying to illustrate. The point of decision on this with most people is "what I believe". The other side is nutty because _______. And then its a circle, because they don't have the same beliefs, or if you prefer "Operating Assumptions".

I'll provide a quote, at least one person should recognize it:

"Rather than speaking of the theory of evolution, we should speak of (various) theories of evolution"

These rather bening statements are what are being pointed at as "nutty" or "loony". And you just casted a huge net over a lot of the world population as 'nutty' if this fits the defintition. And what is being described as science are variations of:

"Well even if the chance is infintesimally small in a universe of infinite size, it was bound to happen"

If you didn't know the speakers or the ramification of the choice, I doubt many choose the supposedly "scientific" one in this case as their own operable assumption.

Or to stabilize it a bit, when you have something of infinitessimally small probability to practially be zero as an answer, or the realization that you might need to go look at some new things as the other answer, which do you choose.
   436. J. Cross Posted: July 21, 2006 at 06:51 PM (#2106712)
Well, BL, it's people who claim that dinosaurs never existed or that the earth is only 10,000 years old that I'd describe as nutty. My uncle thinks that aliens must have helped build the pyramids and I'd call that nutty as well. I think your trying to paint the fundamentalist crowd as being much mroe reasonable than it actually is.
   437. Biscuit_pants Posted: July 21, 2006 at 07:16 PM (#2106726)
ID = creationism

Despite what a judge may have said this is not true. It may look true from a 10,000 foot view in the same way that Christianity/Islam/Judaism are all the same from that level but they are different. The biggest difference for this discussion is that Creationist believes that the Earth was created in six days like the Bible says anything else is a lie. ID states that the Earth is billions of years old and everything happened pretty much as science explains it but it is all by design. The fact that both beliefs have God at the root does not make them the same thing. The Judge is wrong if that is what he is saying. I think he is making a statement that says that ID is creationism rewrapped meaning it is an attempt by fundamentalist Christians to get God back in school.
   438. Biscuit_pants Posted: July 21, 2006 at 07:25 PM (#2106742)
The irreducily complex examples given, however, don't hold up to scrutiny. Time + extremely strong selection + sloppy replication can yield some crazy cool stuff, either additively or not.
While not an expert on this subject I am not a huge fan of the "just add time" reasoning. That to me is not very different than "just add God". While time is necessary for evolution to occur saying the with time IC stuff just happens doesn't work.

I tend to think that Kevin is closer to correct that just because we don't understand it doesn't make it understandable. But I do not dismiss the fact the IC examples may also be a sign of a creator. I don't except that as a final answer but I don't dismiss it.

I believe that through social evolution we will see the death of religious mysticism but never the death of God.
   439. Andere Richtingen Posted: July 21, 2006 at 07:59 PM (#2106771)
Basically you cannot divide the creatures of the world neatly into species, which is a shame but it would actually be remarkable if you could, given the way that the term is defined.

I believe you can. There are exceptions to the rule but, in general, speciation works quite well.


I agree too. The thing is, boundaries are not black and white, and you have to allow for some leakage (i.e., hybridization) between species boundaries. I think it was Dobzhansky who pointed out that biological diversity is obviously divided up into discrete units, which is hard to argue with. It's more of a continuum than Linnaean taxonomy accounts for, but it's not a complete continuum. And species can hybridize with one another, and for the most part maintain their distinct identities.

Just to be clear, when a sequence of DNA gets dupllicated within the genome, that DOES add information.
In a technical way you're right, but I wasn't talking about adding information in a strict information theory sense. I was talking about it in the sense of adding novel meaningful code.


You've missed his point then. When a gene is duplicated it is not going to be exactly like its parent, because it is going to be in a different place on the chromosome, even if it's right next to its parent, which means it is probably going to be in a completely new regulatory context. It is also likely to end up rearranged internally somehow in the process, or perhaps truncated, or perhaps it will insert in another gene and affect it. Most of these events are going to generate pseudogenes bound to decay away, but every once in awhile you end up with something novel. Comparative genomics is showing that processes like these are the meat and potatoes of evolution.
   440. Andere Richtingen Posted: July 21, 2006 at 08:01 PM (#2106774)
I don't if there's any other creature than can run for 80 hours without stopping.

Clearly you don't have a 9-month old.
   441. JC in DC Posted: July 21, 2006 at 08:07 PM (#2106776)
Clearly you don't have a 9-month old.


I laugh at this. Wait til the kid is three. Everyone ####### about the twos, but in our experience, it's the threes (and fours). Really the late twos - fours. BTW, it's about time you and the wife announced that you're expecting number 2. Don't wait too long, you'll regret it.
   442. FJ Posted: July 21, 2006 at 08:10 PM (#2106780)
Pracically, ID has a theistic connotation. Practically, evolution has an atheistic connotation. Logically, neither require theism or atheism. John Jones and has disciples always ignore the part that doesn't advance their argument.


I dispute that. Some specific theories of evolution has an atheistic connotation, just like most specific "theories" of ID has a theistic connotation. However, most theories of evolution do not pre-suppose or imply a non-existence of god in their theories. In fact, most just ignore that question all together.

If you want to term that atheistic, well, I'm just going to have to disagree with that.

So all the definitional stuff seems misplaced to me. I can use the same bag of tricks, produce new data and discoveries, produce data and discoveries that are part of the useful arts, use the same processes, etc. But that gets classified as "not-science" FOR NO OTHER REASON THAN THE PEOPLE DON'T LIKE SOME OF THE PEOPLE'S INITIAL PREMISE OF THE PEOPLE WHO PROMOTE THE ART.


I disagree (but then, again, I'm one of the supporters of the definitional stuff). It is getting classified as "not-science" because NO ONE HAS PRODUCED THE DATA USING THE SAME PROCESSES AS SCIENCE IS. I'd really love to see a theory of ID that fits the description of science. In fact, if it was developed and did pretty well with the mounds of data that we have accumulated, I suspect that it might have a decent amount of support in the scientific community.

Even if it contradicted some data, it STILL might have some support in the community. Not all theories are discarded even when proven wrong (cf. Newton's laws, particle version of atoms, etc.).

But the problem is that we have to argue conceptually, because NO ONE HAS COME FORTH WITH SUCH A THEORY.

We don't reject ID as science because we are "disposed to dislike other people's initial premises," but because we START OFF WITH THE INITIAL PREMISE OF WHAT SCIENCE IS and then go from there. If something fits the definition, we accept it as science. If it doesn't, we don't. If it has quite a few of the characteristics of science, but not all, then, we argue about it (e.g., psychology).

But it seems sophistic to say that we are using this definitional stuff as a front to reject something we don't like.

And as a matter of polity--you have not just some little fringe group--you have a very large majority that has some supernatural belief. You have a significant number where the supernatural belief is central to their being, the most important thing in their life, why they are; and who above all else feel it is their right, duty, and obligation to teach that to their family and children.

It is anathematic to me for the state to indoctrinate their children against what may be their most principal desire and fundamental right. If there is a curriculae option that does not require naturalism, is valid, produces utility, is desired AND DOES NOT ESTABLISH RELIGION, why would it be shunned.


Ok, so like Srul Itza said, why not do that with ALL science where not everything is explained? Why not devote half of the few hours a week that children get to study the sciences to all these "non-naturalistic" explanations? Why not have a "intelligent designer that is in the cracks" explained for every single possible thing that has some amount doubt in all the science?

Why limit it to evolution? Let's expand it to quantum mechanics, the dual-like nature of particles, and black holes!

Quantum mechanics doesn't explain everything? Some intelligent designer made it that way!

Black holes don't make sense to use? Hey, an intelligent designer sucks up all that light just to make you think something like a black hole exists!

Of course, I'm exaggerating, but I really don't see much difference from what your proposing and what I just suggested.

I would probably feel differently if a SCIENTIFIC version of ID were shown, but then, you think it's misplaced to look at that, I guess.

F
   443. mdrinen Posted: July 21, 2006 at 09:27 PM (#2106829)
The philosophical discussion is interesting, but old. I believe that the various viewpoints have been well hashed out by philosophers for a long time (though I am not an expert on such matters). This thread has little discussion about what is actually taught in schools and what the actual proposals are for inserting ID into curricula.

My memory of Junior high (early 80's, at one of the better public schools in Oklahoma) is that the evolution unit had heavy stress on explaining the reasoning behind the theory. The theory didn't get beyond the basic idea of natural selection and all the rest of the time was about here are some reasons why scientists think that this is true, and maybe here is how Darwin came up with the idea of natural selection. I quick browse of the California (where I currently live and teach math) science standards indicates that that is what they try to teach kids today. The California standards also have a bunch of "meta" standards concerned with a general understanding of the scientific method, making testable hypotheses, collection data to test them, and so on. I think that one of the reasons that evolution gets a prominent place in general science education is because of the subtlety and novelty of Darwin's reasoning. They present it as much as an example of useful reasoning as a useful set of facts about the natural world.

The CA standards for high school biology seems to get into lots of technical things about the interaction between genetics and evolution. There are also High School meta standards.

The only ways I can see to object to the content or to fit some sort of ID into them involve either nutty pseudo-science or adding a meta-meta layer where we force 13 year olds to think about the philosophical issues in this thread. Students do not have to read Dawkins, they are not presented with the proposition that all life must have evolved from randomness.
If a meta-meta discussion came up in class, a good teacher should be able to reasonably let the students know that it is beyond the scope of the current class, indicate when and where they can/will learn more about it, and maybe tell the students that there is philosophical disagreement on the matter.

That is what the situation on the ground looks like for administrators and probably the best teachers and their best students. Of course the problem comes with the less good students, and especially the less good teachers. My experience as a teacher indicates that most teachers don't get to all of the content that they want to, and too many of them are not comfortable with the material at a level much higher than what they are teaching. These teachers focus on the basic facts about the natural world, not so much about the meta stuff. When faced with questions beyond the scope of the present lesson they will not be able to refer the students to more satisfying answers. They may even give flat out wrong answers in these cases. Depending on the teacher and the neighborhood, there bad answers could piss of people on either side of the debate.

I'm not sure if I have anything to add about the less good students. Student hear all kinds of crazy things when you think that you have told them simple things in clear language. You could probably say "God caused evolution to happen" and have some student go home and tell their parents that you said you were an atheist because you mentioned evolution.

On the other hand, you could probably say "It is possible that some supernatural mover may have directed evolution" and have a student tell their parents that you were a fundamentalist preacher. I think that part of Backlasher's (and others') point is that we are more shocked by the first student (or the parents that subsequently sued).
   444. Andere Richtingen Posted: July 22, 2006 at 12:32 AM (#2106962)
BTW, it's about time you and the wife announced that you're expecting number 2. Don't wait too long, you'll regret it.

Well, we've already exceeded the time between my sister and me, but somehow I don't feel like I'm in much of a rush.
   445. Mefisto Posted: July 22, 2006 at 01:38 AM (#2107045)
I quick browse of the California (where I currently live and teach math) science standards indicates that that is what they try to teach kids today. The California standards also have a bunch of "meta" standards concerned with a general understanding of the scientific method, making testable hypotheses, collection data to test them, and so on. I think that one of the reasons that evolution gets a prominent place in general science education is because of the subtlety and novelty of Darwin's reasoning. They present it as much as an example of useful reasoning as a useful set of facts about the natural world.

I doubt CA is typical. Putting aside the issue of standards -- that's where ID tries to impose itself -- there is a great deal of anecdotal evidence that teachers in many places have been so intimidated that they barely mention evolution in biology class. We run the risk that many students will never encounter a fundamental theory of science. They may not even understand biology itself -- one of the greatest biologists of the 20th C said, "Nothing in biology makes sense except in light of evolution." Given how important evolution is to biology and how important biology is to our economy, we can expect to pay a very substantial price indeed for the ignorance which the ID movement and its political allies has tried so hard to enforce.
   446. Gaelan Posted: July 22, 2006 at 01:46 AM (#2107062)
Will someone explain to me how intelligent design is not creationism. I've heard many people claim this but I haven't seen any reasoning behind it.
   447. Andere Richtingen Posted: July 22, 2006 at 02:00 AM (#2107095)
I doubt CA is typical. Putting aside the issue of standards -- that's where ID tries to impose itself -- there is a great deal of anecdotal evidence that teachers in many places have been so intimidated that they barely mention evolution in biology class.

What's funny to me is that when I taught HS biology years ago -- albeit in a Catholic school -- I did mention some issues of ID (before people called it that) and told the students that these are issues to think about in a religious context. I think some brought it up in their religion classes and had good discussions about it. Basically, I left the issue of a guiding hand up to them, but we did discuss it. Pretending that there are no potential conflicts between evolutionary theory and their Christian training, even in a non-Fundamentalist context, makes no sense.

Given how important evolution is to biology and how important biology is to our economy, we can expect to pay a very substantial price indeed for the ignorance which the ID movement and its political allies has tried so hard to enforce.

This is stuff that kids tend to learn later on anyway. The cost will come when pressure is exerted on state governments to limit it at the university level, which I can see coming.
   448. Srul Itza Posted: July 22, 2006 at 02:20 AM (#2107114)
Will someone explain to me how intelligent design is not creationism. I've heard many people claim this but I haven't seen any reasoning behind it.

It is a matter of definition.

If you define creationism narrowly as the belief that life on Earth arose precisely as is stated in Genesis; and if you define intelligent design as the belief that life was guided into existence by an intelligent maker who perhaps is not God and perhaps took more than 6 days, then clearly they are different.

However, if you look at the people who are in the forefront of the ID movement, what you see is the same people who were pushing creationism, and once you allow for the supernational, then the idea that Genesis is correct, and all of the evidence to the contrary is simply the residue of the flood and God's plan can be posited on an equal footing.
   449. Mefisto Posted: July 22, 2006 at 03:02 AM (#2107172)
Will someone explain to me how intelligent design is not creationism. I've heard many people claim this but I haven't seen any reasoning behind it.

Srul's post is essentially right. If you want more, the opinion in the Dover case explains the background in detail. It's linked in #367.
   450. Randy Watson and Sexual Chocolate Posted: July 22, 2006 at 03:21 AM (#2107216)
Will someone explain to me how intelligent design is not creationism. I've heard many people claim this but I haven't seen any reasoning behind it.


According to Dembski, the fundamental claim of ID is that "there are natural systems that cannot be adequately explained in terms of undirected natural forces and that exhibit features which in any other circumstance we would attribute to intelligence." That doesn't rule out the possibility of a purely natural intelligent being (e.g. hypothetical extremely advanced alien races) directing the creation of those systems. And it pretty much accepts the idea that higher beings evolved from lower ones, but argues that without active willful guidance from an intelligent being, the process could not have brought forth organisms of the complexity that we see today.

Creationism, on the other hand, pretty much by definition postulates that species were created supernaturally and that higher beings evolving from lower ones is an impossibility.

Scientists (including most scientists who are also religious believers, FWIW) overwhelmingly reject both ID and creationism because insofar as they make verifiable/falsifiable claims about the phyiscal world, those claims have pretty much been shot down. But creationism, by its very nature, is a fundamentally unfalsifiable notion -- if you believe that the entire universe is governed by an omnipotent, omnicient being outside of space and time, it logically follows that (the universe, the Earth, flatworms, me, Larry Bowa, whatever) could have been created in a flash of light 6000 years (or five minutes) ago and all the evidence to the contrary is a test of our faith or a ginormous practical joke or whatever. But those kinds of presuppositions pretty much short-circuit the very act of scientific inquiry, so they're not very interesting to talk about.
   451. Francoeur Sans Gages (AlouGoodbye) Posted: July 22, 2006 at 03:34 AM (#2107238)
However, if you look at the people who are in the forefront of the ID movement, what you see is the same people who were pushing creationism, and once you allow for the supernational, then the idea that Genesis is correct, and all of the evidence to the contrary is simply the residue of the flood and God's plan can be posited on an equal footing.
And representative democracy was first set up by a feudal lord looking to bolster support for his illegitimate regime. What the hell does it matter? If it's a good idea it's a good idea, and if it's a bad one it's bad. Given that the people in this thread are not (at least to my knowledge) creationists, then why do you keep bringing this up? It's very strange and - need I point out - an extremely unscientific way of attacking a position.
   452. Mefisto Posted: July 22, 2006 at 04:05 AM (#2107270)
And representative democracy was first set up by a feudal lord looking to bolster support for his illegitimate regime. What the hell does it matter? If it's a good idea it's a good idea, and if it's a bad one it's bad. Given that the people in this thread are not (at least to my knowledge) creationists, then why do you keep bringing this up? It's very strange and - need I point out - an extremely unscientific way of attacking a position.

I think you missed the point. The question to which Srul responded asked why creationism and ID should not be considered the same. The identity of the proponents and their motivations seems to me to be part of the answer to that question.
   453. Gaelan Posted: July 22, 2006 at 04:23 AM (#2107291)
According to Dembski, the fundamental claim of ID is that "there are natural systems that cannot be adequately explained in terms of undirected natural forces and that exhibit features which in any other circumstance we would attribute to intelligence." That doesn't rule out the possibility of a purely natural intelligent being (e.g. hypothetical extremely advanced alien races) directing the creation of those systems. And it pretty much accepts the idea that higher beings evolved from lower ones, but argues that without active willful guidance from an intelligent being, the process could not have brought forth organisms of the complexity that we see today.


Well while I see a technical difference here it still looks like a trojan horse argument. While I agree that science certainly doesn't have a monopoly on truth the suggestion that just because we are currently unable to provide a natural explanation for certain complex systems that they therefore must have been created by a higher being is insulting to the intelligence.

What really bugs me however about the current state of fundamentalism is how ignorant they are about the content of their own beliefs. The fundamental idea of Christianity is the fundamental distinction between creator and created, or in non-theological terms, the infinite and the finite. The critical point is that God, the creator, is not bound by his creation. He is infinite. We, as human beings on the other hand, live in the finite, material, world and are bound by creation. Since the purpose of science is to understand the rules of the material world and God is not bound by this world, science, by the definition of both science and religion, cannot say anything about God. Which is just another way of saying that it is impossible to know God. Science is, and must be, agnostic about religion. This is a very different position from atheism.

Conversely the implication that God is infinite and not bound by creation is that we should not expect to see evidence of God in the material world. To look even look for it reduces what is infinite and unknowable to the what is finite and knowable. It is for this reason that fundamentalist protestantism debases religion. By looking for God, or rather Christ, in the material world, and by interpreting religion literally, religion loses its majesty and becomes political ideology. If you listen to fundamentalists and evangelicals speak you find that, far from genuinely contemplating the divine, they are the most ardent materialists of all because the have reduced the spiritual world to the material. It is for this reason that fundamentalists hate science. Having lowered their sights to the material world they are engaged in a war for dominion.

This is also why the Catholic church doesn't have a problem with evolution. They remember the fundamental distinctions upon which Catholic theology was built. American christianity, on the other hand, has become a cult. Instead of investing the material world with the mystery of the divine they have reduced the divine to the everyday.
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