May 5, 2009

Do you ever get the feeling that the Establishment Clause...

... violates the Establishment Clause?

143 comments:

Dale said...

Please, Ann.

You have stated several times that you want a strong liberal on the Supreme Court.

In which religious liberty cases involving the Establishment Clause has any liberal Supreme Court Justice - since the Warren Court - EVER voted against any religious expression restrictions?

You know what you will get with ANY "strong liberal". Strong liberal is code for "never met a restriction of religion expression they didn't like."

Ann Althouse said...

Breyer in Van Orden, for starters.

Dale said...

Breyer did so only because the monument had been there 40 years - which is punting, frankly. Meaning if it had been 20 years, he would have happily reverted to "strong liberal" anti-religious expression form.

lyssalovelyredhead said...

You know, I've never understood the view that evolution and creation necessarily have to conflict- loosen up your reading of Geneses and interpret "days" broadly and I think that they work together pretty well. Like basically everything else in the world, God set it into motion, using a scientific process.

The Catholic Church's position is that maybe there was Darwinian evolution, maybe there wasn't, but either way, God guided it. (http://www.catholic.com/library/Adam_Eve_and_Evolution.asp) I think that works well, and it's unfortunate that so many other people on both sides of the debate have refused to make even the most basic attempt to understand the other side and see where they may have some common ground.

Chris said...

It's always seemed to me that the neutrality rule of the Establishment Clause is applied non-neutrally.

traditionalguy said...

Good posting exposing the irony of using the Consitution's restriction on State Schools from teaching Religion to also restrict those schools from calling legitimate science inquiry a Superstition (religious accusation) when it simply exposes that Darwin's Theory has unanswered questions that need answers.

sean said...

I take it that Prof. Althouse's point, expressed non-paradoxically, is that Establishment Clause jurisprudence is self-contradictory and unworkable. I'm inclined to agree. The incoherence of modern Establishment Clause jurisprudence isn't a liberal or a conservative creation.

kynefski said...

This seems not far from the John Calvert claim that science itself expresses faith in naturalism/materialism, and therefore should not be taught without reference to design alternatives.

Chris said...

Traditionalguy: does it matter to you whether or not ID or creationism is a legitimate inquiry. I think someone who wants creationism taught probably doesn't want to get bogged down into what is and is not a legitimate inquiry into evolution and it doesn't appear that the court is saying anything on the subject. I totally agree with you on the irony of the ruling although I think it is wrong no matter which way it cuts.

Bissage said...

With a little bit of practice, just about anybody can straddle a fence and obtain a perfect symmetry.

You won't go anywhere, of course, but some people want to stay right where they are.

Chris said...

Didn't Dante have the fence sitters one level up from Judas? There are also more practical dangers involved.

peter hoh said...

Dude is totally dissing my belief in unicorns.

Robert Cook said...

lyssalovelyredhead said: "You know, I've never understood the view that evolution and creation necessarily have to conflict-"Well, they don't, necessarily, have to conflict. When I was still a believer in god, I always accepted Darwinian evolution as the way life appeared and developed.

However, this is not really the problem: one can personally believe in evolution and have a religious faith, but one cannot teach as science the proposal that life was initiated by a deity. It cannot be proven or demonstrated, and no evidence can support it.

In teaching science, we try to explain that which we have learned about physical processes through the geological record. Once one invites in speculation about supernatural origins, one has left science behind because such speculation cannot avail itself of scientific examination.

Chris said...

Ergo the teaching of science violates the Establishment Clause.

Robert Cook said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Robert Cook said...

No, because science is not and does not claim to be a religion. One can do science, can teach science, or can learn science and there is no necessary conflict with one's own chosen faith or lack of faith.

kynefski said...

No, because science is not and does not claim to be a religion.

How convenient.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

However, this is not really the problem: one can personally believe in evolution and have a religious faith, but one cannot teach as science the proposal that life was initiated by a deity. It cannot be proven or demonstrated, and no evidence can support it.

The problem is that the government controlled schools are trying to split hairs and be involved in things that they have no business. Endorsing religion or denigrating religion or picking one religion as better than another. Preaching global warming. Homosexual marriage. Political points of view. None of these things belong in a public school.

I've said it before, teachers need to leave their personal beliefs at the door. Teachers should ONLY address the topics that they are teaching. There is no need to mention George Bush or Iraq in an english literature course or browbeat the students who don't adhere to the teacher's liberal beliefs. Same thing goes for the conservative teacher and the liberal students.

The teachers are paid to teach their topic and the students are there to learn that topic.

If the teacher in this case doesn't believe in Creationism, he/she should not address the topic or explain that it isn't a part of this particular course and will not be disucssed.

Instead of teaching the subjects, public schools, however, have an agenda to indoctrinate students into "correct thinking"

As one commentor on the posting said. What about Sharia Law? would a teacher verbally opposing it be in violation of the establishment clause? And as the Professor said. Voodooo? can we say as a teacher that it is supersition? or would that violate the establishment clause.

This is the problem. The government started interfering in the free expression of religion when it began deciding which established religions, religious beliefs or supersitions it would subtly endorse or insult.

TMink said...

The BIG problem with evoloution is the whole spontaneous generation aspect. The scientific community gave that up in the 1600s, well, except for evoloution. 8)

There are many problems with current evoloutionary theory, most of the scientifically cogent critiques that I am familiar come from mathmaticians and microbiologists, non-believing folks if that matters.

Having said that, it is very Christian of me to believe that I am grossly fallible and fallen, and my skepticism of evoloution may be just another example of my sinful and clueless nature.

Trey

rhhardin said...

Theories combine at random until you get better ones suited to the political needs.

Pogo said...

"It cannot be proven or demonstrated, and no evidence can support it".
Science can make no remark on it either, lacking evidence for or against. It can only describe what, but why is well beyond its grasp.

What the teacher said was anti-religious, without doubt. If science teachers require their students to believe that all religion is "superstitious nonsense" then we are establishing humanism as the offcial state religion.

Quayle said...

Science is founded on no less of a leap of faith than is religion.

The most fundamental principles of science can never be proved, and are merely assumed.

Examples of these include (1) that space and time actually exist and are measurable in any constant way, (2) that what you are able to observe in a local place is constant over all space and time, (3) that man's measuring or probing of matter does not alter that matter, and the list goes on.

The scientific process is greatly flawed in that, at any juncture of theories (i.e. descriptions of what is being observed), it always takes the path that seems most likely or best fits, and abandons the others, when the path that least fits or is less likely may be the one that leads to a more full understanding of the matter.

Science does not produce truth, it only produces better explanations that it once had. Whether those better explanations are at all significantly approaching an absolute truth can never be known.

BTW, your tiny cell phone and the NMR scanner down at the hospital are not the product of science. They are the product of engineering - which is not science in any form. Science proposes explanations for “what is.” Engineering is “trial and error until it works.”

Further, “what is” in science is what most scientists say it is. Not all scientists agree – it is a bell curve of opinion, so any tipping point is arbitrarily assigned. Further, the process by which scientists arrive as a belief of “what is” is a very complex sociological process, which has nothing to do with the science itself.

Science is a fundamentally flawed regime, also, because it honor scientists that believed things that nobody now believes, and it rewrites its own history with each new change in belief, to appear as though it had always been marching to the very point where it now stands. The truth is that science stumbles and bumbles to every new explanations.

So science is just as much a religion as is religion. It is grounded on faith and the truth of its work can never be ultimately known.

But somehow we've been duped into thinking that science is so more objective and should be taught in schools as something different than religion.

What a load of crap.

Big Mike said...

I sometimes use the following to see who understands science and who can only parrot what they hear in class.

Which of the following theories could possibly be valid?

(1) Darwinian evolution as originally promulgated in The Origin of Species and Descent of Man.

(2) Creationism.

(3) Intelligent Design.

The surprising answer is #2. Bear with me! One of Darwin's tenets was "natura non facit saltum" (nature does not make leaps). In other words, species should be constantly evolving. But the fossil record shows species staying essentially unchanged, sometimes over millions of years. But Darwin himself showed that #3 has to be wrong -- look for the oddities, the animals that are strangely adapted to their ecological niche. The panda, for instance, which needs an opposable thumb to grasp bamboo, but uses an elongated wrist bone instead of an adapted finger. Or the Woodpecker Finch on the Galapagos islands, which occupies the same niche as a woodpecker elsewhere in the world, but has to use a cactus thorn to pry out the grubs and insects because its beak, tongue, and cranium can't handle the pounding and probing of a normal woodpecker.

And #2? If there was an omniscient and omnipotent creator (which I doubt, atheist that I am) then he (she? it? Could a creator have gender?) could salt the landscape with rocks cleverly shaped to be just like bones and configured so that no matter what form of test for age we applied (including tests we have yet to invent) the results are consistent with each other and with greater age than truly exists.

The problem with Creationism is not that we can prove it wrong -- how can you prove an omniscient and omnipotent being wrong? It's that as a scientific theory it takes us nowhere. We can make no predictions -- how can a mere human predict, or even grasp, the will of an omnipotent creator? We can make no testable assertions -- an omnipotent creator can always rig the results of the tests.

So we can go nowhere with "Creation theory" and it makes sense to try something that does let us make predictions and form testable hypotheses. Like the "punctuated equilibrium" theory of evolution put forward by Gould and Eldredge.

At this point I imagine I've angered both the devout Christians and my fellow atheists. What a great way to occupy a mid-morning coffee break!

garage mahal said...

I think God made it all look like we evolved from apes just for a good laugh. Ha!

Dust Bunny Queen said...

I think God made it all look like we evolved from apes just for a good laugh. Ha!

Or possibly to keep us from overweening hubris.

Robert Cook said...

"Science does not produce truth, it only produces better explanations that it once had".

No good scientists would claim otherwise; this is the definition of what science does, and this is why there is never any "final answer" to the questions science asks, but only "better" answers.

It is religionists who claim to have the final answer, the ultimate truth, and who, moreover, seem to need that.

Pogo said...

Or to keep us from finding out we were evolved from cockroaches, snakes, weasels, pigs, and skunks. No puppies or kittens or fluffy bunnies at all.

kynefski said...

In 2005, Donald Kennedy, then editor-in-chief of Science, wrote an essay entitled "Twilight for Enlightnment." I remember thinking that this was a great example of hysteria, along with a New Scientist headline, "The End of Reason." Surely, thought I, these people are self-serving nuts. They seemed to regret their absence in the 19th century, and I remember printing a little banner, I ain't gonna work on Huxley's farm no more.

Subsequent events, starting with the 2005 Kansas science education hearings, have led me to feel embarrassment for my naiveté.

Quayle's comments reminded me of this. Chilling.

Robert Cook said...

"Intelligent Design" is simply a rebranding of "Creationism," in an attempt to make the supernatural underpinnings of it appear more scientific. There's no distinction between them.

Joan said...

Big Mike: don't flatter yourself.

chickenlittle said...

"The word “science” comes from the Latin word sciens, which means 'knowing.' Followers of scientism are called 'scientists,' a term which was first used by William Whewell in 1840. The study of science began as a hobby among Greek intellectuals. For centuries those who acquired scientific knowledge kept it a secret and although this practice is less common today, there are many scientists who believe that their knowledge would be misused if it were spread to noninitiates. From a small sect, scientism has risen to the heights of respectability and its basic principles are taught to schoolchildren thoughout the world.
Scientists believe that the order of the universe can be determined by systematic study and analysis. They believe that theirs is the only true path and that other paths are 'mere superstitions.’ Over the years scientism has split into over 1,200 different sects or ‘fields,’ each with its own sacred texts.
It is estimated that the worldwide scientific community has over 3 million members, although the number of believers is much greater.

from The People’s Almanac, David Wallechinsky and Irving Wallace, 1975

Big Mike said...

@Quayle, at the time I wrote my comment yours hadn't yet been posted. Did you get a chance to look at what I wrote, particularly about testable hypotheses and predictions? Try reading Richard Feynman's 1974 Cal Tech commencement address if you want to understand a little bit more about how science really works.

@Robert, you were okay in your 10:09 comment, though a little snarky in your last paragraph. I was starting to have hope for you. But your comment two minutes later is demonstrably wrong. While both Creationism and Intelligent Design are based on an omnipotent creator, the latter theory is is falsified by the examples I pointed out, and numerous other ones. By Creationism cannot be falsified, for the reasons I stated. But it's not a scientific theory, not because it is based on religion but because it cannot be falsified. You might also want to read what Feynman wrote.

@Joan, I don't get your comment, but something I designed got built and so far today is passing its tests. So I am feeling very full of myself, thank you.

@chicken, Feynman spoke in June of 1974 and I see that David Wallechinsky and Irving Wallace wrote their screed in 1975. Hmm. Now I see why Feynman felt as strongly as he did about what he called "cargo cult science" and today we call "junk science" but it still doesn't make testable hypotheses or predictions that can be used to go do something.

Chip Ahoy said...

Conflict between science and faith is entirely contrived. Scientific inquiry is present in the minds of the individual religionists and faith is alive and well in the experience, of the practicing scientist.

Is global warming not a faith, a veritable near new religion, based on a few observable facts? And is that new faith not being presently linked with government?

Observation: the universe appears to be expanding. Conclusion: it all began with a cataclysmic explosion. It takes something of a leap of faith to arrive at that conclusion. It makes just as much sense to conclude the universe is respiring.

If science is left to what you can see and otherwise sense and from that what you can intelligently deduce or induce, then at some point the scientist relies on faith. For example what happens to sub a atomic particle when it apparently disappears from space and then apparently reappears, while still maintaining the conservation of matter? Sub atomic particles cannot be tracked although their probability of appearing can be estimated.

Science tells you, or tries to tell you, reliable fact about the universe you live. Religion conveys values -- what you should do with all that. These two areas of human experience do not necessarily conflict.

Moreover, religious thought evolves. The earliest objects of worship were rocks. Rocks would appear in the soil after a field had been plowed that appeared as if by magic or by divine sources. Especially highly regarded were rock that fell from the sky. To this day Islam reveres a meteorite thought to have been built into the corner of Abraham's herding domicile. Humanity evolved to worshiping mountains, especially active mountains that held sway over their existence. We evolved from human sacrifice to animal sacrifice to no sacrifice. (Or as substitute sacrifice, if you must.)

To answer the posted question, the establishment clause violates the establishment clause depending on the interpretation given it, even that evolves.

rhhardin said...

Science is characterized by curiosity.

That's not the cable news version. They use a lab coat criterion.

A lot of money has been spent recently on lab coats.

garage mahal said...

Is global warming not a faith, a veritable near new religion, based on a few observable facts.

No. It a collection of thermometer readings around the globe.

traditionalguy said...

Robert Cook...I am really happy with anyone teaching Darwin as a good Theory to explain origins. What I do not understand are the automatic attacks on legitimate inquiries into intelligent design conundrums. I do not fear the facts.The latest theory to synthesize the theory and the facts points to a visit from outer space to bring the complex DNA codes into this 4.5 billion year old earth. Why is that thought a forbidden religious Trojan Horse? The real art of science is to admit we may be wrong when the latest discovered facts come back in different. Be strong and of good courage.

Bissage said...

A more sensible jurisprudence would presume that government action comports with the Establishment Clause unless it can be shown by clear and convincing evidence that the interdenominational rioting is getting out of hand.

Pastafarian said...

Quayle -- your comment is so riddled with errors that I'm not sure where to start.

The three axioms or assumptions you've listed are no such thing -- physicists don't assume that space and time "actually exist"; they don't assume that physical laws remain constant throughout the universe, or among possible universes; and your axiom number three appears to be the Heisenberg uncertainty principle.

And your description of engineering as mere trial-and-error -- wow. You must have been a design engineer for AMC (remember the Pacer?) Quite a bit of science and mathematics goes into the design of most products before the reach the prototype stage, dude.

Such a nice, bright sunny day, to have it spoiled by a rant against reason itself. This is the lasting legacy of the Global Warming hoax -- it's convinced otherwise rational people that all science is pseudoscience.

John Althouse Cohen said...

Quayle: Sure, science is flawed. But in science, a basic goal is to minimize those flaws. Sure it's not perfect, and sure people will make mistakes. But it's at least an attempt to minimize error. And any decent scientist would be willing to engage you in a discussion about the potential shortcomings you point out. When a religion makes implausible claims about the physical world (I'm sure I don't need to be specific here -- we all know them), it's not even trying to minimize the level of error. And most people who assert such claims actively disapprove of having them subjected to rational scrutiny.

TMink said...

Big Mike, you did not anger this devout Christian. Excellent post.

Now as an Evangelical, I have no trouble with the world being millions of years old, the people who believe that are the Fundamentalists. They might be right, who knows!

The other limiting aspect of science is that it is inherently materialistic. At the same time, it is the strength of science and what keeps it from being theology. Back in the day, the two were much closer subjects and disciplines.

But great post pal.

Trey

TMink said...

Robert wrote: "It is religionists who claim to have the final answer, the ultimate truth, and who, moreover, seem to need that."

Let me quibble a bit. It is not I who have the ultimate truth, but God who has revealed it.

And yes, I do need that.

Trey

Quayle said...

One thing is for sure, scientists take their science very seriously, and yet all scientific theories must remain tentative forever.

So, one must ask: what are scientists so serious about? The substance of science?

The substance can come crashing down at any moment. Just as Albert Michelson and Edward Morley. They though they had the experiment to put the finishing touches on the subject matter, and instead, the entire structure came crashing down around them.

So it must be the process that scientists are so serious about? But that process is not unique to measuring the physical world.

Religion too can and does make claims that can be verified. Religion states that if you live according to principle A and principle B, then C and D will happen in your life.

Are these any less scientific claims, or is this a less scientific process, than propositions made about the physical world by scientists?

For example: Christ said “My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.”

If one actually does what Christ taught, and then experiences and testifies that they do know it comes from the father, is that any less valid a claim or result than what science purports to do or produce?

Is not that a claim that can be validated by anyone that will try, just as you claim scientific postulates are?

Dale said...

The arguments between "science" and "creationism" don't bother me at all.

What scares me is having a Supreme Court controlled by Ann's "Strong Liberals", who will certainly outlaw and penalize the having of that discussion as much as they possibly can.

When the good professor Althouse cannot show ANY religious liberty cases where the liberal court members did not show antipathy towards religious expression (including Breyer in Van Orden - read his "troubled" concurence), it is already time to be very afraid.

The Best predictor of future performance is past performance. We get a liberal majoeity Supreme Court, and you will will see religious freedom restricted in ways your mind can't even imagine today.

New Timon said...

The problem is that education is inherently a religious matter. It is not merely a question of disseminating certain facts and formulae, which government could have no justification for demanding(or shall we be fined and imprisoned for bad grammar and little geography), but directing habits of work and thought. What is a soul meant to be, if not the thing that knows and remembers, and thinks?

Why not be a little liberal about it: let teachers teach what they want, principals pick the teachers, parents choose the schools?

Quayle said...

When a religion makes implausible claims about the physical world (I'm sure I don't need to be specific here -- we all know them), it's not even trying to minimize the level of error. And most people who assert such claims actively disapprove of having them subjected to rational scrutiny.I agree.

“If religion has any peculiar way of salvation to offer it can be only because it brings to light certain facts of vital importance which would otherwise be ignored, or because it suggests better adaptation to facts. We believe that religion at its rare best does both of these and hence does offer a peculiar way of salvation; and that without it men are lost.”

“But for the most part religion has not done either of these two things. Most religion most of the time, both within Christendom and without, has blinded men to facts, has magnified illusion, and has hindered men from making adaptation to things as they are.”

“We believe that nothing has so persistently and effectively blocked the way to salvation as religion, because nothing has done so much to confuse and darken the discernment of cold, hard facts."

Henry Nelson Wieman
The Wrestle Of Religion With Truth pg. 1

mariner said...

Robert Cook:

In teaching science, we try to explain that which we have learned about physical processes through the geological record. Once one invites in speculation about supernatural origins, one has left science behind because such speculation cannot avail itself of scientific examination.

Bullshit.

Kids today are being taught that life on Earth began by random chance.

That is not proven. No known process explains it, and there is exactly as much evidence for it as there is for the view that "God did it" -- none.

I am not aware of any repeatable experiment in which ANY form of life has been created from non-living matter. Until that happens, the view that life "just happened" is an unproven assertion that should not be taught in a science classroom (any more than creation should).

Evolution is a religion; atheists have simply substituted their own supernatural explanation for the Judeo-Christian one.

Just remember, whatever atheists believe is "science". Whatever anyone else believes is "religion" and shouldn't be mentioned in school.

Big Mike said...

@Trey, thanks. Coming from a person whose comments are as often insightful as yours are, that's quite a compliment.

Now if only I can explain to Quayle that a competent engineer does not rely on trial and error, but on mathematical models of the forces that are brought to bear on their designs. And these mathematical models are derived in turn from other mathematical models that are called the "laws of physics." We believe those laws, not because they were voted on in some heavenly legislature, but because they continue to be confirmed by testing (counting bridges that stay up, airplanes that fly, etc., as tests).

Quayle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dust Bunny Queen said...

The problem is that education is inherently a religious matter.
It is not merely a question of disseminating certain facts and formulae, which government could have no justification for demanding(or shall we be fined and imprisoned for bad grammar and little geography), but directing habits of work and thought.
No. It is not. Education, especially publicly funded mandadory education, should deal with the subjects at hand. Nothing more and nothing less.

There should be no direction of thought other than to learn the subject matter and work habits to learn to study. Non judgemental teaching and non judgemental learning.

If you want Sunday school or to be taught moral codes, fine. Put your kids in a private school or religious school. Have discussions about these things at home and teach your OWN children your own moral code.

The function of mandatory public schools should be to turn out citizens who have the ability to function in society. Read, write, math, history, some basic science knowledge. The function of public school is NOT to indoctrinate.

What is a soul meant to be, if not the thing that knows and remembers, and thinks?

Why not be a little liberal about it: let teachers teach what they want, principals pick the teachers, parents choose the schools?
What a soul is meant to be is none of the business of tax payer funded schools. Neither is it the business of schools to teach morality, religion or political points of view.

Why not let the schools teach what they want? Because they are funded by tax dollars. MY tax dollars and your tax dollars and we have different ideas. If I pay more taxes than you, does that mean I get to decide?

Also, choice is something that is denied to many people, especially those in rural or poorer areas. Since Obama has killed voucher progams in order to protect the teachers union, we can assume that the level of choice going forward will be less.

Choice for some and servitude for the rest.

Quayle said...

And your description of engineering as mere trial-and-error -- wow. You must have been a design engineer for AMC (remember the Pacer?) Quite a bit of science and mathematics goes into the design of most products before the reach the prototype stage, dude.While I do have a science degree, and a minor in history and philosophy of science, I admit I may not be as certain of my knowle as others here.

History clearly shows that science has almost always followed the technique, not led it.

The cathedral builders knew how to build an arch well before any mathematician or physicist knew how to model the forces of an arch.

And that is a usual path. Science is a follower of technique, because science relies on and is limited by the engineering that enables its measurements.

Another flaw of science is its insistence on a formed paradigm to enable its work.

According to its own method, the LAST thing that science should be pronouncing upon is the origin and structure of anything, but what science has not succumbed to the flaw of STARTING with a paradigmatic explanation of origin and structure? Indeed, without those assumed paradigms, science could do nothing that could be considered progress.

mariner said...

TMink:

Now as an Evangelical, I have no trouble with the world being millions of years old, the people who believe that are the Fundamentalists. They might be right, who knows!

I suspect you meant people who believe otherwise.

When I went to church it was a Southern Baptist church, which is the face of Fundamentalism to many Americans. Even there most people didn't believe in that "young Earth" nonsense.

In fact, one of my pastors was a consulting geophysicist.

The idea that large numbers of conservative Christians reject natural selection (and science in general) is a myth of the secular Left.

Big Mike said...

@mariner, hardly anything you wrote is completely true. Numerous laboratory experiments have demonstrated the ability to create amino acids from precursors that are not entirely organic (e.g., Miller and Urey in 1953).

Keep in mind that there are really two laws of large numbers. The more famous version says that the more samples we get the more likely the average approximates the true average. The other version says that if we do enough trials we can see anything. Want to see a run of 1000 consecutive heads from an unbiased coin toss? Try tossing that coin several million times.

Getting back to how life began, all we need to do is (1) realize that molecules on the early earth were being combined millions of times a minute (and still are, for that matter), and (2) once a molecular structure was created that was stable and self-replicating, we had life.

Or, an omnipotent Creator could have said "let there be life."

My point is that one does not need to posit a Creator for life to have happened.

mariner said...

DBQ:

The function of public school is NOT to indoctrinate.

Would that you were correct.

In fact, the function of public school is (and always was) to indoctrinate. That's the reason it was made compulsory.

If I can find some links quickly enough I'll post them.

Michael McNeil said...

The BIG problem with evoloution is the whole spontaneous generation aspect. The scientific community gave that up in the 1600s, well, except for evoloution. 8)

In the first place, evolution as a theory has nothing to say (at all) about, nor does it include, the origin of life in the first place — all it deals with is how life has changed since it began, however it began. The origin of life is a separate issue that some scientists investigate, but it ain't evolution.

Secondly, the reason spontaneous generation of life was abandoned by science as something that goes on today is because it's never been observed to occur. As for why that is, however, Darwin himself explained why we'll never (except in artificially isolated environments) see it occur on this planet:

“It is often said that all the conditions for the first production of a living organism are now present, which could ever have been present. But if (and oh! what a big if!) we could conceive in some warm little pond, with all sorts of ammonia and phosphoric salts, light, heat, electricity, etc., present, that a proteine compound was chemically formed ready to undergo still more complex changes, at the present day such matter would be instantly devoured or absorbed, which would not have been the case before living creatures were formed.”

As Darwin notes, such a factor forestalling the spontaneous generation of new life of course would not have been present before life came into existence in the first place.


There are many problems with current evoloutionary theory, most of the scientifically cogent critiques that I am familiar come from mathmaticians and microbiologists, non-believing folks if that matters.

In other words, these supposedly “scientifically cogent critiques” come from people who don't know and aren't qualified to opine about evolution, and thus produce wholly invalid and defective opinion pieces on the subject.

mariner said...

BigMike:

Numerous laboratory experiments have demonstrated the ability to create amino acids from precursors that are not entirely organic (e.g., Miller and Urey in 1953).

NO experiment has demonstrated the creation of life from non-life. That's what I wrote, and it's 100% true.

Until that changes, your belief that it could happen is faith, not science.

Interesting that you mention Miller and Urey. You left out the fact that scientists were unable to stimulate the creation of more complex molecules and this work was eventually abandoned.

Your reply is an example of the kind of sophistry that makes honest discussion about the origins of life so difficult.

mariner said...

Michael McNeil:

In the first place, evolution as a theory has nothing to say (at all) about, nor does it include, the origin of life in the first place — all it deals with is how life has changed since it began, however it began. The origin of life is a separate issue that some scientists investigate, but it ain't evolution.

It may not be YOUR evolution, but it IS part of the evolution that is taught in public schools today.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

"The function of public school is NOT to indoctrinate."

Would that you were correct.

Correction, I should have said the function SHOULD NOT be to indoctrinate. Unfortunately, I agree with you. Schools have become mandatory tax paid indoctrination by liberals, and it is getting worse all the time.

I had to constantly fight to de-program my daughter and teach her critical thinking skills to counter the absolute crap they were teaching her in school. Political junk in addition to just out and out wrong information. For instance did you know that according to her teachers that the captial of Texas is Houston? And that California was a "slave state" because the Missions had Indians working for them? And that Arnold Schwartenneger wanted to take away her pencils and books?

An Edjamikated Redneck said...

I am always struck by how parallel Genesis and ‘Big Bang’ are, except for the time lines; Genesis takes a couple of thousand years; ‘Big Bang’ a couple of billion, but who is to say if the ‘day’ in Genesis is an actual day or an allegorical construct?

Also, although Creationism cannot ‘prove’ the interaction of a Deity, Darwin cannot disprove the interaction of one either.

Our only proof that the world is billions of years old is a scientific estimation, based on a guess as to the timing of various occurrences. Even carbon dating is suspect for anything over 100 years old, unless we have a proven item we can use as a control. Otherwise, it is an observation of the decay of the carbon in an item, and that decay is considered to be consistent over a period. But unless we have tested an item at various, consistent stages for 10,000 years, we are only guessing, based on best evidence that the decay is consistent.

I was watching one of the channels on cable (Discovery, NatGeo, Science Channel or similar) the other night and they were touting the ‘New Man’ recently discovered. They have constructed a whole story for this species (?), based on half a dozen bones from one individual. Yes, it’s all based on previous work for the dating and such, but still the scientific world is blaring their suppositions like they are carved in stone facts.

I find it all to be a big circle, in that we have a few facts, several suppositions based on those facts, and a whole pyramid of theory based on those suppositions.

Shouldn’t creationism, intelligent design and Darwinism all be taught equally, in a school paid for by the state, as all citizens hold at least one of these beliefs? He who pays the piper calls the tune; if you want a single tune, pay your own piper.

rhhardin said...

The cathedral builders knew how to build an arch well before any mathematician or physicist knew how to model the forces of an arch.

The strapless evening gown had to wait for the invention of quantum mechanics.

Pogo said...

Bastiat, on education controlled by the state:

"It seems that the conclusion to draw from this is that a nation that does not want to be the prey of political parties should hasten to abolish public education, that is, education by the state, and to proclaim freedom of education. If the educational system is in the power of the government, political parties will have one more reason for seeking to gain power, since, by the same token, they will have control over the educational system, which is their foremost objective. Is not the ambition to govern inspired enough by covetousness already? Does it not provoke enough struggles, revolutions, and disorders? And is it wise to arouse it further by the lure of such a potent influence?
9.208

And why do political parties aspire to take over the direction of education? Because they know the saying of Leibnitz: "Make me the master of education, and I will undertake to change the world." Education by governmental power, then, is education by a political party, by a sect momentarily triumphant; it is education on behalf of one idea, of one system, to the exclusion of all others. "

Revenant said...

It is a sorry state of affairs when making a provably true statement like "Creationism is superstitious nonsense" is held to violate the Establishment Clause. :)

Michael McNeil said...

Quayle sez:
The most fundamental principles of science can never be proved, and are merely assumed.

Guess what? Nothing in science (outside the realm of abstract mathematics) can be proved, in the absolute sense that your use of the word presumes!

(On the other hand, mind identifying for me where any “proof” lies in religiously inspired works like the Bible?)

Jacob Bronowski in his superb video series (and book) The Ascent of Man discusses this very topic, devoting an entire episode/chapter to the subject of “Knowledge or Certainty.” As he wrote:

“One aim of the physical sciences has been to give an exact picture of the material world. One achievement of physics in the twentieth century has been to prove that that aim is unattainable. […]

“But what physics has now done is to show that that [imperfect, uncertain, tentative approach of the artist] is the only method to knowledge. There is no absolute knowledge. And those who claim it, whether they are scientists or dogmatists, open the door to tragedy. All information is imperfect. We have to treat it with humility. That is the human condition; and that is what quantum physics says. I mean that literally.”

Quayle sez more:
Science does not produce truth, it only produces better explanations that it once had. Whether those better explanations are at all significantly approaching an absolute truth can never be known.

Bronowski quite disagrees (and I agree with him) that this process of science doesn't involve arriving at real truth. But real, however, doesn't mean absolute. There is no absolute truth the one can sensibly arrive at, at least not without faith banishing any kind of rational inquiry into the matter — and of course lots of people have believed lots of very different contradictory things as a matter of sheer faith and intuition.

mariner said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mariner said...

Revenant:

If it were actually PROVABLY true, you would be right.

But it isn't.

Michael McNeil said...

Quayle also assserts:
BTW, your tiny cell phone and the NMR scanner down at the hospital are not the product of science. They are the product of engineering - which is not science in any form. Science proposes explanations for “what is.” Engineering is “trial and error until it works.”

Wrong. In the first place, engineering isn't just a matter of “trial and error” — and even to the extent that it is, calling it testing and experimentation would be more apt.

But way beyond that, the engineers would have had nothing to work with had not scientists discovered the existence and properties of such things as radio, electricity, the properties of solid-state elements and materials, and host of other facts.

New Timon said...

DBQ,

Wow. I don't think I wrote what you think I wrote.

Revenant said...

I am always struck by how parallel Genesis and ‘Big Bang’ are, except for the time lines; Genesis takes a couple of thousand years; ‘Big Bang’ a couple of billion, but who is to say if the ‘day’ in Genesis is an actual day or an allegorical construct?

First of all, the "Big Bang" didn't take millions of years, it took exactly zero seconds. It is the name for the starting point of the universe, not the name for the theory that the universe is billions of years old. The universe is billions of years old whether or not there was a big bang at the start of it.

Secondly, Genesis doesn't just get the time scale wrong, it also gets the sequence completely wrong. Genesis lists creation occurring in this order:

- Earth
- Sun
- Sky
- Oceans/Land
- All plant species, including domesticated ones
- Sun, Moon, and stars
- Birds and ocean-dwelling creatures
- All other non-human species
- Humans

The ACTUAL order is:
- Stars
- Sun
- Earth/Dry land
- Atmosphere
- Oceans
- Many ocean-dwelling species
- Plants
- Many land-dwelling species
- The first birds
- Humans
- More animal species
- Domesticated animals and plants

In short, saying that Genesis parallels the accepted theories regarding the origins of Earth and the evolution of life is flat-out wrong.

Oligonicella said...

An Edjamikated Redneck --


"Shouldn’t creationism, intelligent design and Darwinism all be taught equally, in a school paid for by the state, as all citizens hold at least one of these beliefs?"

Why, yes they should. Creationism and ID in a theology class and Darwanism in a science class. By the way, Darwanism is 150 yrs old. A whole hell of a lot of information on genetic evolution has occurred since then. It's just called evolution now.

Revenant said...

If it were actually PROVABLY true, you would be right. But it isn't.

The Biblical story of creation has been proven wrong. The only thing it gets right is that the Earth exists, and frankly we knew that already.

That doesn't mean that the theory of evolution absolutely must be correct. It could be that the correct explanation for the existence of Earth and the life on it is something quite different from the accepted scientific theories. But we know, with as much certainly as we know that the Earth revolves around the Sun, that no matter what the real explanation is, Creationism isn't it.

Michael McNeil said...

I am always struck by how parallel Genesis and ‘Big Bang’ are, except for the time lines; Genesis takes a couple of thousand years; ‘Big Bang’ a couple of billion, but who is to say if the ‘day’ in Genesis is an actual day or an allegorical construct? It isn't just a matter of adjusting the length of a “day” to, say, millions or billions of years. The order of days in the creation myth of the Bible is inconsistent with modern knowledge. The account in Genesis has God separating the land and sea and stimulating the Earth to produce growing things, plants that bear seeds, and trees bearing fruit all on the third day of creation, whereas the Sun, Moon, and all of the stars in the sky weren't created until the fourth day — an enormous, nine billion year discrepancy between the words of the Genesis and what this enormous universe that we see around us informs us really occurred — that things actually took place in the reverse order.

Revenant said...

Shouldn’t creationism, intelligent design and Darwinism all be taught equally, in a school paid for by the state, as all citizens hold at least one of these beliefs?

It is not true that all Americans hold at least one of those beliefs. There are many other religious belief systems beyond creationism and intelligent design, and there are scientific theories other than "Darwinism". In point of fact, "Darwinism" is a belief system held by relatively few, as most modern theories of evolution are different from Darwin's.

But in any case, schools shouldn't teach every belief held by every ill-educated American. Do we want the 9/11 "Truther" theories taught in US History class? Why not, they're widely-believed in, and the arguments against them are actually *weaker* than the arguments against Intelligent Design.

Revenant said...

The idea that large numbers of conservative Christians reject natural selection (and science in general) is a myth of the secular Left.

Can you cite a poll which supports your claim?

Smilin' Jack said...

Michael McNeil said...

There is no absolute knowledge.


Are you sure about that?

All information is imperfect. We have to treat it with humility. That is the human condition; and that is what quantum physics says.

And that is absolute bullshit. Quantum mechanics is the most accurate and rigorously tested physical theory that has ever existed. Nuclear weapons are designed in precise accordance with its dictates, and if you are in the vicinity of one when it goes off, you will be exactly, not approximately, dead.

Michael McNeil said...

If there was an omniscient and omnipotent creator (which I doubt, atheist that I am) then he (she? it? Could a creator have gender?) could salt the landscape with rocks cleverly shaped to be just like bones and configured so that no matter what form of test for age we applied (including tests we have yet to invent) the results are consistent with each other and with greater age than truly exists.

Sure, if one worships a Creator who's basically the “Great Deceiver,” lying from one of the cosmos and the planet to the other just to convince his hapless creations that he doesn't exist and instead all was produced by naturalistic means such as mutation and evolution.

Such a Lying God isn't any deity that I'd be willing to embrace, and I suspect most Christians and other theists would agree.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

But we know, with as much certainly as we know that the Earth revolves around the Sun, that no matter what the real explanation is, Creationism isn't it.

And yet several centuries ago we knew with enough certainty to kill people over the idea, that the sun revolved around the Earth. Go figure.

I'm not arguing for Creationism or Intelligent Design, mind you. I'm just poking fun at the certainty of the scientific view that you/they have all the answers when, it is not a certainty and it has not been "proven" that some scientific theories are any less faith based than Intelligent Design or man caused Global Warming.

Wouldn't you be surprised to find out that there really is an intelligent controlling force in the Universe? Ha ha joke on you.

TMink said...

Mike McNeil wrote: "The origin of life is a separate issue that some scientists investigate, but it ain't evolution."

Well said, I was in error. You are correct.

"In other words, these supposedly “scientifically cogent critiques” come from people who don't know and aren't qualified to opine about evolution,"

Here you are in error. 8)Microbiologists are the scientists who have brought up the problem of irreducible complexity. They are quite qualified to comment on incremental change and progression at the amazing level of cellular machines. It is a fascinating read, check it out.

And the mathmeticians have been the ones to critique the paucity of the fossil record. There are about 125,000 species in the fossil record. This is nowhere near enough to support cross-species evoloution.

Let's say it takes 50,000 changes for an animal to go from a land to a sea animal. This is not my number. For a single species to make the number of changes necessary to make a single meta-evoloutionary step like that would take up more than the entire fossil record. And much of the fossil record deals with plants. There is just not enough data to support the theory on the level that it is widely accepted. The numbers are not being cooked, they are spontaneously generated!

The critiques are brought by non-believers. You have been fed that evoloution is "the truth" or "a fact." Both interesting phrases that are not typical in the scientific method where we speak of theories and laws. But I digress. you have also been told that only religious extremists such as myself doubt the evoloutionary truth. Investigate for yourself the non-religious critiques of evoloutionary theory, it is mind rocking stuff, and none of the athiestic critics will bother you about a God who loves you or anything like that.

Trey - who would bother you about God loving you

Michael McNeil said...

“All information is imperfect. We have to treat it with humility. That is the human condition; and that is what quantum physics says.”

And that is absolute bullshit. Quantum mechanics is the most accurate and rigorously tested physical theory that has ever existed. Nuclear weapons are designed in precise accordance with its dictates, and if you are in the vicinity of one when it goes off, you will be exactly, not approximately, dead.


Bronowski's chapter discusses quantum physics in some detail in the context of that quote. You obviously don't appreciate that context, as it is not at all contradictory to the great scientific success of quantum mechanics. Hint: ever hear of the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle — part of quantum mechanics — which among other things ensures that one can never make a measurement that's absolutely precise.

Nor, despite the tremendous success of quantum physics, is that knowledge absolutely reliable. Just because experiments work today with great success doesn't mean they'll work tomorrow. We infer that they will, but there are no guarantees in this world.

Quayle said...

And that is absolute bullshit. Quantum mechanics is the most accurate and rigorously tested physical theory that has ever existed. Nuclear weapons are designed in precise accordance with its dictates, and if you are in the vicinity of one when it goes off, you will be exactly, not approximately, dead.woops!

By using the words accurate, rigogously tested, and precise, I assume you are ignoring the Castle Bravo test detonated on March 1, 1954, at Bikini Atoll.

There was nothing precise about it. The scientists way underestimated its energy production (using all their theories and calcuations), and it was a disaster.

Another example where engineering led the scientists - the bomb was huge, and the scientists thought it would be smaller.

Yes, the scientists updated their calculations and explanation of what happened, but that is the point - they followed, not led.

The hidden meaning of what scientists claim is that science is a very powerful way of knowing things, and also very accurate, because scientists continually update their theories and statements when proven wrong.

Wow. That's amazing.

NKVD said...

As someone who has built computer chips and houses, there is precise and precise enough.

And bigger bombs are always a good thing.

Michael McNeil said...

But we know, with as much certainly as we know that the Earth revolves around the Sun…

Actually, Revenant, we don't know that the Earth revolves around the Sun. According to Einstein's enormously successful (basically just as successful as quantum mechanics) theory of General Relativity, it's just as true to say the Sun revolves about the Earth as the converse. Both are equally correct descriptions of reality, and neither can be said to be preferred in any absolute sense.

mariner said...

Revenant:

No, I cannot cite a poll, but that doesn't mean what I wrote is wrong.

There are in fact several commenters who demonstrate my point.

mariner said...

Smilin' Jack:

And that is absolute bullshit. Quantum mechanics is the most accurate and rigorously tested physical theory that has ever existed.

I'll throw a flag on that.

I submit that Newton's laws of motion are at least as accurate and much more rigorously tested.

In fact they are still used (along with Kepler's laws) to calculate with great accuracy the motion of celestial bodies -- no quantum mechanics required.

It just happens that Newton's laws don't explain subatomic interactions and quantum mechanical theories do.

;)

rhhardin said...

According to Fred Hoyle, the ridiculed epicycles correcting circular orbits are the Fourier coefficients for elliptical motion.

kynefski said...

traditionalguy said,

What I do not understand are the automatic attacks on legitimate inquiries into intelligent design conundrums.

I used to feel exactly the same way, around the time Michael Behe's Darwin's Black Box was first published. Although I wasn't impressed with Behe's arguments, It seemed unfair that these guys would be under attack for being theists. Louis Pasteur was a devout Catholic, for Christ's sake. When was it decided that only naturalist theories were acceptable?

Here's the thing, though: "These guys" have never offered an alternative explanation, natural or otherwise, for the macro-evolutionary process. Never. In fifteen years and more, not the teensiest bit of speculation about what might be the process of descent with modification. Not a whisper about mechanisms of speciation. Volumes of argument against existing theory. Not a sentence - not a clause - of new theory.

ID scientists do not intend to explain. They intend to deceive. You may find the deception useful in the struggle against materialism, and that's fine, but please do understand the attacks.

Sofa King said...

Humans are evil bastards to claim that a god is all-powerful when it is impossible for a male queer god to give birth to a baby or breast-feed it - a power that only a Mother posseses. Humans are Evil bastards to claim that a god is all knowing - when the queer bastard is too stupid to comprehend that 4 simultaneous corner 24 hour days and 4 Earth rotations occur within a single 24 hour rotation of CubedEarth.
It is impossible for an academic deified Queer ONE god to give birth to, or breast-feed a Baby. Bible fraud will destroy fools, and they will eat one another. Adam and Eve never existed.
Without profit, there is no god. Believers will actually eat dung before they will ever measure their queer Godism for Cubic Creation Truth. Just the other Day in the NEWS, they were
worshipping their god image in Vomit. Is there no limit to just how putrid their godism mentality will dwell in stupor. Forced integration created a
new race of human - a light black race bridge from the black-black to the white-white. Doom descends upon Whites
as with all past civilizations. Like a God- like a Queer. You think trained dog Oneism.
I have SuperNatural Wisdom. NO God mentality can Know my 4 Day Cube. No Bible Word equals my TimeCubed Earth. How Stupid - Pay to worship Queer as a God.
Mom and Dad created you as a Trinity, the Mirror of opposite brain meld into "We" Ego. Your body is of their Creation, honor "We".

Dr. Gene Ray, Cubic and King of Genius.

Smilin' Jack said...

Michael McNeil said...
Hint: ever hear of the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle — part of quantum mechanics — which among other things ensures that one can never make a measurement that's absolutely precise.


The experimentally measured electron g-factor (the ratio of its magnetic moment to its spin) is -2.002 319 304 3622. This is in agreement with current QM calculations. As instrumentation and computers improve, both the experimental and theoretical results will be extended to more decimal places. QM places no limitations on the accuracy of either the measurement or the calculation. The uncertainty principle does not mean what you think it does.

mariner said...

I submit that Newton's laws of motion are at least as accurate and much more rigorously tested.

In fact they are still used (along with Kepler's laws) to calculate with great accuracy the motion of celestial bodies -- no quantum mechanics required.


No quantity in astronomy has ever been measured as accurately as the electron g-factor mentioned above. Furthermore, Newton's laws were superseded by Einstein's general relativity because the Newtonian theory did not correctly predict the precession of the perihelion of Mercury. Nowadays general relativity is essential to GPS positioning systems--if Newtonian physics were used, the systems would not work.

Joe said...

Quayle, your ignorance of the scientific method astounds. Even more amazing is the failure to recognize that engineering IS science. Many call it applied science, but it's still the same thing. A very important observation is that engineering isn't merely trial and error; it uses the scientific method. Rather than explain it, here is a good web page that explains in terms your wee little mind will understand:

http://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project_scientific_method.shtml

Joe said...

The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle states that certain pairs of physical properties, like position and momentum, cannot both be known to arbitrary precision.

Wikipedia may be a lousy source for some things, but is pretty good for things like this:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uncertainty_principle

Quayle said...

Here's the thing, though: "These guys" have never offered an alternative explanation, natural or otherwise, for the macro-evolutionary process. Never. In fifteen years and more, not the teensiest bit of speculation about what might be the process of descent with modification. Not a whisper about mechanisms of speciation. Volumes of argument against existing theory. Not a sentence - not a clause - of new theory..

I'm not really an ID advocate.

But I would ask: how come when an engineer reuses prior designs and materials, it is considered efficient engineering - the highest form of the art - but if God were to reuse designs and material, it must be evidence that God didn't create it and it had to have evolved?

I mean, if God intended to create all number of animals and species, given what we humans even know about good engineering, why wouldn't he create one kind of animal, then reuse that as a starting point to create another kind? (And I’m not talking about using the evolutionary process – I’m talking explicit reuse of prior thing.)

Further, we build self-healing networks, and self tuning cars, why is it unthinkable that god would build self tuning species?

Isn't god allowed to be as smart as even we humans are about how to build elegant things?

I dissent from the ID argument that such things are necessarily evidence of a God.

But I do believe that the evidence would also fit the scenario I have proposed, wouldn't it?

Quayle said...

No, Joe – despite your arrogance, certitude, and derision, I believe my assessment and understanding is correct.

And Dorn and McClellan’s excellent book lays the case out more fully, of which the book review in Nature said, “"This historical account achieves its basic aim of demonstrating that, with the exception of quite recent history, technology has always influenced science, not the other way round."

Sorry your understanding is shattered, Joe, but you simply must face up to the truth that your precious science isn’t the origin and citadel of all truth and objectivity that you might have once thought.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

No, I cannot cite a poll, but that doesn't mean what I wrote is wrong.

Then it means you made it up or it is just your uninformed opinion.

Revenant said...

And yet several centuries ago we knew with enough certainty to kill people over the idea, that the sun revolved around the Earth. Go figure.

The problem with that argument, Dust Bunny, is that the "we" in that sentence is religious people, not scientists.

mariner said...

TMink,

Thank you for the remarks about the paucity of the fossil record. Its completeness is grossly misrepresented by the evolution crowd.

Reading the theories of human origins and of the fossil record that supports them, it's striking to note that ALL of the current pre-Neanderthal fossils could fit in a single moderately-sized box.

For an archaeology final exam, my instructor superimposed a 10x10 grid over a prehistoric site. Students were allowed to select 10 squares; the instructor told each student the contents of the 10 selected squares.

We were to write a description of the site and of the people who inhabited it from the contents of those 10 squares. We could posit just about anything as long as it could be inferred from the evidence, but not contradicted by it. After the test was graded we could see the contents of the entire grid.

It was interesting to see how badly we extrapolated our 10% results to the entire site. Of course, even with access to an entire site, archeaologists can speculate about many things without being able to prove them.

Anthropologists constructed an elaborate theory of human evolution on the open plains of Africa, based on Lucy and other amazing fossils. The discovery of O. tugenensis caused a nearly-total rewrite of the theory. (Note the completeness of that skeleton.)

When later evidence requires a theory be rewritten, we know the earlier theory was not a good explanation, and we should be skeptical of our current theory's explanatory power as well.

I chuckle and wonder if scientists 100 years from now will regard us the same way we regard those 19th-century idiots who didn't believe micro-organisms caused disease. ;)

Revenant said...

Microbiologists are the scientists who have brought up the problem of irreducible complexity.

"Irreducible complexity" was a hypothesis put forward by Michael Behe, who was a biochemist, not a microbiologist.

Microbiologists were fairly quick to point out that his hypothesis was bunk. :)

Revenant said...

No, I cannot cite a poll, but that doesn't mean what I wrote is wrong. There are in fact several commenters who demonstrate my point.

Impossible. Your claim was that the existence of a large number of anti-evolutionist conservative Christians is a left-wing myth. Nobody here has cited any evidence in support of your claim, and the mere existence of SOME conservative Christians who accept evolution doesn't support it either.

Joe said...

Quayle, I never asserted anything about the unasailability of science. I simply pointed out that science and engineering follow the same methodology. Having read portions of the book you reference, it's quite obvious that the authors are being extremely pedantic in order to support their silly thesis that science and engineering are two entirely distinct things and not a continuum. They fail to appreciate that there isn't really any difference between creating technology and doing science.

We know, for example, that many engineers from centuries past build models of the things they were engineering. They adjusted those physical models using a deliberate process based on what they had predicted and then actually observed. They may not have explained WHY something behaved the way it did, but that didn't make it any less indistinguishable from what became science. (One of the great leaps forward in the past three centuries was to recognize this very fact and realize that understanding the WHY could help increase the accuracy of the hypothesis and analyze the results.)

Revenant said...

But I would ask: how come when an engineer reuses prior designs and materials, it is considered efficient engineering - the highest form of the art - but if God were to reuse designs and material, it must be evidence that God didn't create it and it had to have evolved?

You've got it exactly backwards. It isn't the "re-use" of common elements that argues against a designer. What argues against design is the MISUSE of common elements -- the inclusion of useless components, the use of mediocre substitutes (e.g. the panda's "thumb") where vastly superior alternatives (e.g. actual thumbs) exist, that sort of thing.

Nature is filled with "designs" that make absolutely no sense if you assume they were created on purpose. Intelligent design offers no explanation for this. The theory of evolution does.

Revenant said...

Anthropologists constructed an elaborate theory of human evolution on the open plains of Africa, based on Lucy and other amazing fossils. The discovery of O. tugenensis caused a nearly-total rewrite of the theory. (Note the completeness of that skeleton.)

Saying it caused "a nearly-total rewrite" of the theory of human evolution is a load of nonsense. The theory was, and is, that homo sapiens evolved from earlier primates. It is certainly true that once you go back further than around 3 million years or so there is disagreement as to which primate skeletons are ancestors and which aren't -- but that's to be expected, since the further back you go, the less difference there was between apes and "humans". The difficulty in distinguishing ancient human ancestors from ancient ape ancestors doesn't undermine the theory of human evolution. It supports it!

Dust Bunny Queen said...

The problem with that argument, Dust Bunny, is that the "we" in that sentence is religious people, not scientists.

The problem with your argument is that the definition of scientist or science, as we know it today, is a very new concept and is determined by the society at the times. You might be able to use the same term to apply to alchemists in the middle ages or astronomers and astrologists who viewed the heavens as a direct reflection of God.

They probably considered themselves on the forefront of "science" in those days and yet still held beliefs that have been proven incorrect, while at the same time old wives tales that were considered superstition and migical have been proven to have scientific merit. The idea that religion and science have to be divorced is also a 'modern' concept.

Mathemeticians, you can't get a more cut and dried science than that, are 2 1/2 times more likely to believe in God than biologists.

"What is it with God and mathematics? Even as science and religion have quarrelled for centuries and are only recently exploring ways to kiss and make up, mathematicians have been saying for millennia that no truer expression of the divine can be found than in an ethereally beautiful equation, formula or proof.

Witness, for example, such transcendent numbers as phi (not to be confused with pi), often called the Divine Proportion or the Golden Ratio. At 1.618, it describes the spirals of seashells, pine cones and symmetries found throughout nature. Other mysterious constants like alpha (one-137th) and gamma (0.5772...) pop up in enough odd places to suggest to some that they are an expression of the underlying beauty of mathematics, and to others that someone or something planned it that way."

Whether the above is true is unknown. Whether it is not true is also unknown.

The cocksure attitude that science today has learned everything and that there is no validity in other theories is a prideful thing that closes your eyes to other possibilities.

Do I believe that the universe was created exactly as it states in Genesis?. No. Am I arguing for ID or Creatonism? No. But, to flatly deny that there is nothing new in science, no merit in any other theory is counter to the scientific method. Until you can absolutlely prove a theory false, you must consider it, at least in some aspects. The refusal to do so merely indicates a closed mind similar to those of the religious fanatics and in the inquisition.

Michael McNeil said...

TMink says:
Here you are in error. 8)Microbiologists are the scientists who have brought up the problem of irreducible complexity. They are quite qualified to comment on incremental change and progression at the amazing level of cellular machines. It is a fascinating read, check it out.

You didn't include a link, but I've read about this supposed irreducibly complex issue, and — funny thing! — no truly irreducibly complex organs have ever been identified in living organisms. Certainly, the things that are usually touted in this regard, such as the bacterial flagellum, don't qualify.

The vast bulk of microbiologists, indeed, are fully in accord with evolution, as are their findings — such as the way that the recently-deciphered genomes of living organisms have been found to precisely follow the very same “branching tree” of divergence between related groups as evolution predicted from the fossil record starting 150 years ago.

TMink:
And the mathmeticians have been the ones to critique the paucity of the fossil record. There are about 125,000 species in the fossil record. This is nowhere near enough to support cross-species evoloution.

Let's say it takes 50,000 changes for an animal to go from a land to a sea animal. This is not my number. For a single species to make the number of changes necessary to make a single meta-evoloutionary step like that would take up more than the entire fossil record. And much of the fossil record deals with plants. There is just not enough data to support the theory on the level that it is widely accepted. The numbers are not being cooked, they are spontaneously generated!


This is completely invalid (any wonder that evolutionary scientists laugh at such out-of-their-field mathematicians?). There are millions of fossils that have been collected, and while the number of species that they comprise is less, still there's easily enough (and there was even a century ago) that science can get a broadly clear picture of the overall structure of what occurred in evolution, whilst many living and fossil groups offer quite detailed pictures of their evolution.

Your pointing to the transition between land and sea creatures is particularly ironic, as about a decade and a half ago Intelligent Design advocate Michael Behe published a supposedly penetrating piece about how the lack of known fossils of the precursors to whales (legless sea mammals) was powerful indication of “Intelligent Design” being afoot, so to speak, when mere months later the first of what are now several known early whale fossils — whales with legs! — turned up in the fossil record.

If whales were created de novo as native sea creatures — whether by God at the Beginning or later by an “Intelligent Designer” — then what are (early) whales doing with legs?

This, one might note, is (yet another) specific prediction that Intelligent Design (as opposed to evolution) might be expected to make — indeed, which was made by a prominent Intelligent Design advocate — and which has thereupon conspicuously failed as a supposedly scientific theory.

TMink:
The critiques are brought by non-believers. You have been fed that evoloution is “the truth” or “a fact.” Both interesting phrases that are not typical in the scientific method where we speak of theories and laws.

Wrong. I know very well the difference between a theory and fact. Theories, indeed, are more powerful and significant than mere facts (any of the latter of which are uncertain, potentially misinterpreted, or even fake).

Joe said...

The major criticism I have of the Science and Technology in World History book is that the authors mistakenly use the word "science" to cover mystical and religious studies and making observations. This simply isn't science and to pretend it is is extremely disingenuous and misleading.

If you don't follow the scientific method, what you're doing is NOT science no matter what flowery language you use. (And, I might add, the scientific method requires the use of provable hypotheses.)

Oligonicella said...

mariner -

"ALL of the current pre-Neanderthal fossils could fit in a single moderately-sized box."

So, to you a pickup truck is moderately sized?

You're also cherry-picking. That's a trivial portion of the literally dozens of tons of fossils we have of Earth's flora/fauna.

Trey --

"Let's say it takes 50,000 changes for an animal to go from a land to a sea animal. This is not my number."

Whoever's number it is, it's pulled out of a posterior. Let's say each change takes one generation and each generation takes 25 years. That's 1/4 million years. Plenty of time.

"For a single species to make the number of changes necessary to make a single meta-evoloutionary step like that would take up more than the entire fossil record."

Already shown incorrect on two counts.

"The numbers are not being cooked, they are spontaneously generated!"

Would that be the 50,000 or the 25 years?


DBQ --

"The cocksure attitude that science today has learned everything and that there is no validity in other theories is a prideful thing that closes your eyes to other possibilities.
...
But, to flatly deny that there is nothing new in science, no merit in any other theory is counter to the scientific method."

Two straws.

"Until you can absolutlely prove a theory false, you must consider it, at least in some aspects."

Excellent. You realize it's up to the promoter of the hypothesis to provide the manner of its testing? If it is incapable of being tested (creationism, ID), it is not science.


Cynodont. Very good picture of the evolution of the mammalian teeth, jaw and inner ear.

Big Mike said...

@rhhardin in your 12:31 post were you referring to this famous essay? Still hilarious after all these years.

@mariner, I think that this link seems to be a more balanced analysis of O. tugenensis (not to mention an eye-catching description of the politics that goes on behind the scenes in paleoanthropology). Without the distal end of the femur and the proximal end of the tibia bipedalism can only be conjectured. So "nearly-total rewrite of the theory" is quite a bit farther than 13 bones -- two of them proximal femurs -- including a a few teeth but no jaws can be pushed.

But your example illustrates an important point that eludes you, and a lot of other people. Science accepts new data, and adapts accordingly. No legislature produced a single scientific law, no courts enforce them, and, despite the efforts of a state legislature (Indiana, I seem to recall) to change the mathematical constant pi to be equal to 3.0, there is no legislature that can overturn them. New data comes in, theorists adjust their theories to accomodate it, and based on these adapted theories one can make new predictions and formulate new tests for the theories. Unlike Creationism, there are no final answers.

And I like it that way. But I make a living as a technologist, and I like that change is the only constant. Not everybody does.

Shanna said...

I think alot of problems would be solved if science teacher were not so dismissive of religion, as religion is not incompatable with science. I always like to think of science as the how and religion as the why. Which is not to say that science teachers should teach something like "creationism" because that would be idiotic. But they should teach students that there are some areas of science that are really good guesses, and are difficult to prove.

The idea that large numbers of conservative Christians reject natural selection (and science in general) is a myth of the secular Left.

Can you cite a poll which supports your claim?
.

I think there are a number of them who reject us coming from monkeys, and very few who believe in the so called “new earth” (which I don’t think is really what Genesis says anyway, as far as I recall), but that’s just a guess. Other science is not really in jeopardy.

Palladian said...

"Intelligent Design" is simply a rebranding of "Creationism," in an attempt to make the supernatural underpinnings of it appear more scientific. There's no distinction between them."

My favorite version of that statement is: "Intelligent Design" is Creationism dressed in a cheap tuxedo.

Oligonicella said...

Shanna --

"I think there are a number of them who reject us coming from monkeys..."

All evolutionists do.

Shanna said...

All evolutionists do.Excellent! Argument over :)

Dust Bunny Queen said...

If it is incapable of being tested (creationism, ID), it is not science.

Big Bang Theory? Been tested lately?

Big Mike said...

@Oli, you and I are coming from the same place -- go look at what I wrote at 9:52. If you can't make predictions from some theory -- and I think I've argued that Creationism doesn't allow for predictions because an omnipotent Creator could do anything at any time for any reason (or, to be more precise about it, for reasons that a mere human is incapable of grasping). And I and others have argued that ID has been falsified by animals that are adapted to their ecological niche in strange ways.

So let's get back to education. I think that hardly any teachers at the elementary, middle school, and high school level really "get" science. They treat science as though it's chiseled in stone for now and all time and assume that religion is the antithesis of science and must therefore be slammed at every opportunity. Nope. It's the ten commandments that were carved in stone. And until very recently science (1) didn't know why rubber bounced or (2) how bumblebees or hummingbirds were able to fly. But theories are formed and tested and eventually we get it.

What I'd like to see at the high school level is a curriculum that says "here is what it means for a theory to be a scientific theory, including the ability to make predictions and the ability to be falsified through testing" and then explains that Creationism could be 100% right, but there's no way to test it so we can't use it for science. Feynman had a few other qualifications, notably reasons why your theory might be wrong, but that will do for a start.

Heck, that would probably just anger more people than are already angry.

kynefski said...

My favorite version of that statement is: "Intelligent Design" is Creationism dressed in a cheap tuxedo.

I think that was Ken Miller.

Please don't characterize Intelligent Design as creationist, though. It's a refutable claim, at least on the surface, and its refutation is used to discredit opposition.

Folks underestimate the skills of confidence artists at their peril.

Big Mike said...

@Shanna, what Oli means is that modern evolutionary theory asserts that man and apes descended from a common ancestor. The molecular clock theory says that the last common ancestor of modern humans and chimpanzees was roughly 6.5 million years ago (6.5Mya). What's so exciting about O. tugenensis is that it seems to have human-like characteristics and is lived roughly 6Mya. But note that we are talking about 13 bones from 5 different individuals at 4 different sites. By contrast Donald Johanson found 40% of the A. Afarensis skeleton he names "Lucy" and then the next year he and his colleagues found bones from 13 different individuals at a single site. Monkeys and apes (including our own genus) split off way before 6.5Mya -- I think I read 13Mya but I can't confirm that.

@DBQ, the Big Bang provides hypotheses that we can test, and we do test them and so far no problems. We don't need to rerun the experiment from scratch to test it, any more than we have to destroy all life on earth to see whether humans would re-evolve after a few billion years.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

@DBQ, the Big Bang provides hypotheses that we can test, and we do test them and so far no problems

Really? So which universe have you created with the testing? How many planets, moons, black holes, comets, life forms, bacteria, trees (thank you Joyce Kilmer)? At what rate is your creation expanding or is it contracting at the moment. If you did this test and created the universe through the big bang method.....does that make you GOD?

:-D

Big Mike FYI...long before I became a financial advisor, I was an anthropolgy major in college (with a minor in ceramics). I'm certainly not disputing evolution. In fact I'm a firm believer that species evolve and that man and apes (and even before that almost all life ....with the exception of jeremy) are descended from a common ancestor.

I'm merely poking at you guys for being so smug as to think that you have ALL the answers and that there is zero validity or worth in considering alternatives.

Big Mike said...

@DBQ, and here I was supposing that I'm humble and open-minded.

Just goes to show that Shakespeare was right: "Lord! What fools these mortals be."

At least about ourselves.

But one of your questions I can answer. Not even the family pets think I'm God. :-(

Revenant said...

Big Bang Theory? Been tested lately?

I don't think you quite get what "tested" means. It doesn't mean you have to replicate the event -- it means that you have to be able to run tests that can confirm or deny the implications of the theory.

For example, you find a person lying dead with a bullet in his head. You theorize that he was shot and killed. This is a testable theory, even though you can't resurrect the man from the dead and then shoot him to see if he dies. The reason is that it is possible to disprove the theory by experimentation -- you could, for example, discover that he was poisoned, then had a bullet surgically implanted in his brain after death.

The Big Bang theory is a testable theory not because we have the ability to create a new big bang -- although we might, at that -- but because it is possible to disprove it through experimentation. Intelligent Design is NOT testable because there is no way to confirm or deny any aspect of the theory. The whole basis of ID is a subjective opinion that organisms "look designed". How do you test for that?

Dust Bunny Queen said...

But one of your questions I can answer. Not even the family pets think I'm God. :-(

Oh, I don't know. My cat thinks I'm a Goddess when I have a can of cat food and a can opener. That worship lasts for very short time, however.

But, back to the establishment clause and the reason we are discussing this. The teacher, without any proof one way or the other because the theory is basically unprovable at this time, was discouraging the belief system of his student in a publicly funded classroom and since the government isn't supposed to promote or prevent religious expression....this may have been a violation of the statute.

Whether I.D. is valid wasn't for him to say, to discuss or to express an opinion on while in the capacaty of being a government official.

On his own time separate from his government capacaty....he can do what he wants.

Lawgiver said...

Rev,

On the one hand you say,

First of all, the "Big Bang" didn't take millions of years, it took exactly zero seconds.

And on the other you say,

That doesn't mean that the theory of evolution absolutely must be correct. It could be that the correct explanation for the existence of Earth and the life on it is something quite different from the accepted scientific theories.

You can't have it both ways Rev, is the Big Bang Theory scientic fact or is it an unproven theory that many people take as gospel?

Revenant said...

The teacher, without any proof one way or the other because the theory is basically unprovable at this time, was discouraging the belief system of his student"Intelligent design" is not disprovable because it consists entirely of the argument from ignorance fallacy. But most forms of Creationism are not merely disprovable, but disproven. The only one that can't be ruled out is the theory that a God created life on Earth and then faked the evidence so it looked like he didn't.

Whether I.D. is valid wasn't for him to say, to discuss or to express an opinion on while in the capacaty of being a government official.

The proponents of Intelligent Design deny that it is a religious belief; they claim it is scientific. So how can supporters of ID claim that referring to ID as "superstitious nonsense" violates the establishment clause? There's no Constitutional prohibition on establishment of a scientific viewpoint. The only way for ID supporters to lodge an Establishment complaint is to first admit that they lied about ID being scientific.

Piercello said...

On the education front, I suggest we indoctrinate our children with strong critical thinking skills.

Also, educators (and many others!) confuse the process of science with the body of knowledge that results from the practicing of science. Theories change, often over the vociferous objections of those who are emotionally invested in them, but the process remains the same.

Revenant said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Revenant said...

Rev, On the one hand you say, "First of all, the "Big Bang" didn't take millions of years, it took exactly zero seconds".

I was correcting Redneck's misstatement of the Big Bang theory.

"It could be that the correct explanation for the existence of Earth and the life on it is something quite different from the accepted scientific theories."

You can't have it both ways Rev, is the Big Bang Theory scientic fact or is it an unproven theory that many people take as gospel?

First of all, the Big Bang theory has nothing to do with either the theory of evolution or the scientific theories of how the Earth was formed. The Earth didn't form until ten billion years after the Big Bang, and life didn't form on it until billions of years after that. The Big Bang theory, the theories of the Earth's formation, the theories of abiogenesis, and the theory of evolution are four completely distinct things.

Secondly, I'm not sure what "two ways" you think I'm having it, since I said neither that the Big Bang Theory was a scientific fact nor that it was an unproven theory that people take as gospel. It is neither of those things. What it is, is the best existing theory explaining the facts we DO know. For example, we know that the universe is billions of years old and that the major structures in it are moving away from each other. So any theory of the origins of the universe needs to account for its age and behavior.

The "Big Bang" theory is a theory that explains these facts. It could be that there is an explanation for the origin of the universe that explains its structure, behavior, and age but doesn't involve the universe having had a common origin point. Some have been proposed, but so far none fits the facts better than the "big bang" idea.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

@Rev I suggest you read the actual case and the linked post. It really wasn't about Intelligent Design, it was about Creationism which IS a religious belief. It was also more about the teacher's actions that were a pattern of behaviour in denigrating religion and conservative principles.

If you guys want to argue about ID and whether some people believe it as a matter of religious faith or if others feel that there may be some merit in the underlying patterns of the universe (see my posting about the mathmatics of the universe),have at it.

The issue in the original posting is did the teacher in his capacaty as a government official violate the establishment clause.

"It stands to reason that if the question of whether a government activity
communicates endorsement of religion is primarily a legal question, then the
question of whether a government activity communicates disapproval of religion is
also largely a legal question.

It also brings up the question, why in the world was the teacher spout out all of this (Boy Scouts, homophopbia, George Bush, birth contral etc)in an advanced placement European History class in the first place?

Revenant said...

I suggest you read the actual case and the linked post. It really wasn't about Intelligent Design, it was about Creationism which IS a religious belief.

I only mentioned Intelligent Design because I was responding to your statement:

Whether I.D. is valid wasn't for him to say, to discuss or to express an opinion on while in the capacaty of being a government official.

It is entirely valid for a government official to express the opinion that a supposedly-scientific theory is hokum.

Whether he can express the belief that a religious belief is hokum is a tougher question. I think teachers have a duty to teach the facts, even if those facts are offensive, and most Creationist belief systems are demonstrably wrong. He certainly could have put it in a nicer way than he did -- but really, it is hard to tell someone that their religion is wrong without insulting them.

Big Mike said...

@Piercello, you said "On the education front, I suggest we indoctrinate our children with strong critical thinking skills".

That assumes that we could find a lot of teachers that themselves have "strong critical thinking skills." But hardly anyone has them, so where would we find the people who have them and are willing to deal with 21st century parents and administrators? Isn't it self-contradictory?

By the way is that you in the thumbnail? Tell me, is playing the cello the chick magnet that everybody says it is?

Revenant said...

It also brings up the question, why in the world was the teacher spout out all of this (Boy Scouts, homophopbia, George Bush, birth contral etc)in an advanced placement European History class in the first place?

I think the remarks were in the context of his role as adviser to the student paper. Having a boss who spouts left-wing political views is excellent job experience for any student hoping to become a journalist. :)

Revenant said...

That assumes that we could find a lot of teachers that themselves have "strong critical thinking skills."

It also assumes that most people are capable of acquiring strong critical thinking skills. Empirical evidence suggests that is not the case.

Eric said...

The establishment clause is another one of those bits in the constitution that courts distorted so much it completely lost its original meaning. It was only supposed to apply to the federal government, for one thing. There were states with official state religions for decades after the constitution was ratified.

How we got from there to federal courts telling state-funded schools they can't have a prayer in the morning is a long, sad tale of words being assigned new meanings.

Michael McNeil said...

Quayle sez:
I'm not really an ID advocate.

But I would ask: how come when an engineer reuses prior designs and materials, it is considered efficient engineering — the highest form of the art — but if God were to reuse designs and material, it must be evidence that God didn't create it and it had to have evolved?

I mean, if God intended to create all number of animals and species, given what we humans even know about good engineering, why wouldn't he create one kind of animal, then reuse that as a starting point to create another kind? (And I’m not talking about using the evolutionary process — I’m talking explicit reuse of prior thing.)

Further, we build self-healing networks, and self tuning cars, why is it unthinkable that god would build self tuning species?

Isn't god allowed to be as smart as even we humans are about how to build elegant things?

I dissent from the ID argument that such things are necessarily evidence of a God.

But I do believe that the evidence would also fit the scenario I have proposed, wouldn't it?



No. (Rev has already answered you on this point, but insufficiently in my view, so I'll reply too.)

You say, most concisely: “Isn't god allowed to be as smart as even we humans are about how to build elegant things?”

Indeed, God is allowed to be as smart as even we humans. However, one of the principal problems with so-called Intelligent Design is that God (or the ID'er) observably isn't as smart as any human designer would be as a matter of course.

A human professional (or even amateur) designer keeps a toolkit — a bag of technical “tricks” and tools that he or she uses whenever convenient. An automotive (or some other kind of) human designer also picks up ideas from competitors — even if protected by patent (a concept one wouldn't think would hinder alien “intelligent designers” of the Earth's biosphere) — but even in that circumstance, he'll figure out a way to introduce a concept (of automatic transmissions, say — even if originally invented elsewhere) across a diverse selection of vehicles in his firm's model lineup.

That sort of perfectly normal, human-designer methodology is not found — at all — in the history of life on this planet. Technologies (e.g., mammalian placentas, vertebrate backbones, avian feathers, octopus eyes, whale “sonar,” etc. etc.) invented amongst particular lineages of organisms (as evolution would regard them) stay allocated strictly among their descendants within that lineage in the future — just as evolution predicts.

This is completely unlike the behavior of all the (human) “intelligent designers” that we know of on this planet.

For a single discrete example of what I'm talking about, it would have been a cinch for some “intelligent designer” operating any time in the last half a billion years, to have taken the common bacterial capability to digest the prevalent plant material cellulose, by introducing — via the enzyme called cellulase — the means for a wide variety of animals including ourselves to directly digest grasses and even woody materials and gain useful sustenance from them.

Instead, we find that animals uniformly either forbear those sources of nutrition (or get little or no benefit if they do eat them) and very possibly starve to death as a result, or they do something like the ruminants and termites — evolve elaborate stomachs capable of culturing the bacteria that are the only way they “know” gain sustenance from cellulose — by digesting the end products of those bacteria.

Such complex bacterial-cultivation techniques that a few diverse groups necessarily utilize would have been obviated by a single “intelligent designer” over that immense span of time observing bacteria utilizing the cellulase enzyme — yet no such “designer” ever did so. Why not?

We humans can think of it, in just the flash of time on the geological time scale that we've been able to think of anything. If intelligent designers are supposedly so human in their design capabilities, then why do they act so utterly inhuman? And if non-human styles of intelligence are permissible for the supposed “intelligent designers,” why is evolution as a candidate, highly alien, form of “intelligence” — the favored scientific explanation for the advanced technologies and great variety of life — disallowed in the minds of so many?

My answer: so-called “intelligent design” proponents are really closet Creationists (or their dupes); thus evolution is ruled out by such folk a priori — hardly a scientific point of view.

Piercello said...

Revenant, critical thinking skills are in abundance (fortunately for civilization), but the habit of applying them consistently is not. Explaining why this state of affairs persists begins with a discussion of the relationship between intelligence, habit, and emotion...

Big Mike, that is indeed me in the thumbnail, and I can say that based on my experience playing the cello well does indeed seem to be effective!

I may have an opportunity to say more after some small people are in bed. 8-)

Lawgiver said...

Rev said,

What it is, is the best existing theory explaining the facts we DO know .

Hey, I'm just glad I got you to admit big bang isn't a fact but indeed an unproven (even if it's the best existing one) theory. That's more than you were willing to admit in previous posts.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

I think the remarks were in the context of his role as adviser to the student paper.

Read it.

Michael McNeil said...

I'm just glad I got you to admit big bang isn't a fact but indeed an unproven (even if it's the best existing one) theory.

Strawman. As I've noted before in this thread, no scientific theory is ever proven.

Revenant said...

Revenant, critical thinking skills are in abundance (fortunately for civilization), but the habit of applying them consistently is not.

That's why I said that the evidence suggests that most people can't learn strong critical thinking skills. Pretty much everybody can think critically some of the time, though, yes. :)

Revenant said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Revenant said...

Read it.

I did. Did you?

From the court papers:

Peloza apparently brought suit against Corbett because Corbett was the advisor to a student newspaper which ran an article suggesting that Peloza was teaching religion rather than science in his classroom. (Id.) Corbett explained to his class that Peloza, a teacher, “was not telling the kids [Peloza’s students] the scientific truth about evolution.” (Id.) Corbett also told his students that, in response to a request to give Peloza space in the newspaper to present his point of view, Corbett stated, “I will not leave John Peloza alone to propagandize kids with this religious, superstitious nonsense.

Revenant said...

Hey, I'm just glad I got you to admit big bang isn't a fact but indeed an unproven (even if it's the best existing one) theory.

Everything in science is an unproven theory. For example, it is just an unproven theory that smoking increases your risks of developing lung cancer. Like the big bang theory, however, it is an unproven theory which matches the available evidence.

Biblical Creationism, in contrast, is an example of a theory which has been proven to be false.

That's more than you were willing to admit in previous posts.

I have "admitted" it in every past discussion of this topic.

William said...

Ambrose Bierce said that the truth is a universally accepted lie.... All of this discussion is predicated on the foolish belief that students pay attention in class or, if they do pay attention, believe what they are taught.....People find their own truths/lies. Students with a scientific mind will absorb Darwin. Perhaps some student with a religious yearning will read a poem by Donne and discover God....As a general rule most students will doodle and go on to become tax accountants where their beliefs in God, the big bang. and evolution will have no bearing on their professional competence.....I have read about 2/3 of the comments here. They are uniformly thoughtful and iteresting. I can't help but think of the lines from the Rubyiat: "Myself when young did eagerly frequent Doctor and Saint and heard great argument about it and about: but evermore came out the same door wherein I went.'

Largo said...

"""
The strapless evening gown had to wait for the invention of quantum mechanics.
"""

rhhardin, a bon mot like that may cover a multitude of sins! :-)

Piercello said...

Good morning Revenant,

"That's why I said that the evidence suggests that most people can't learn strong critical thinking skills."If I could persuade you to drop the "can't" in favor of a "don't" we would then be in perfect agreement. 8-)

I find the "don't" version resonates better with both my ongoing cognitive/emotional studies and my professional experiences as a performing and teaching cellist, which is fortunate because the "can't" version has terrible implications for a free society.

William, my goal as a teacher is to place as much of what I teach as possible within the vastly larger domain of what they learn, venn diagram-style. This involves calling explicit attention to aspects of cello technique (and their complex relationships with each other) which can be analyzed through critical thinking, but it also involves making subversively implicit analogical connections between critical thinking and other experiences in their lives. So even when they are not paying full attention, things have a way of creeping in...

Granted, this is much easier to achieve when teaching private music lessons rather than in a classroom setting, both because the students are generally more highly motivated and because the one-on-one approach makes it much easier to individually tailor the presentation of ideas so that they target the strengths and weaknesses of incoming students.

This targeting process is decisively aided by my ongoing research into the relationship between emotion and intellect, which is aimed at explaining why it is that people can get emotionally caught up in ideology, even to the point of sticking with it when it no longer conforms to reality.

Revenant said...

If I could persuade you to drop the "can't" in favor of a "don't" we would then be in perfect agreement. 8-)

We'll just have to agree to disagree, then.

Piercello said...

Fair enough.

Michael McNeil said...

One more posting on this thread….

Dust Bunny Queen said:
Really? So which universe have you created with the testing? How many planets, moons, black holes, comets, life forms, bacteria, trees (thank you Joyce Kilmer)? At what rate is your creation expanding or is it contracting at the moment. If you did this test and created the universe through the big bang method… does that make you GOD?

Revenant has already replied on this, and while his response isn't bad, he too along with DBQ makes the same mistake of presuming that experiment is required (in DBQ's case, she apparently thinks that an entire new universe must be created in the lab via a redo of the Big Bang) in order to test and give any validity to the precepts of cosmological theories such as the Big Bang.

In actuality what's vital to science — any science — isn't experimentation in a laboratory, but rather observation. All a laboratory experiment is is a controlled environment, where extraneous factors can be mainly controlled, for obtaining observations — and there exist today a number of highly successful sciences (e.g., astronomy, geology, paleontology) where laboratory experiments for the most part are difficult or impossible to obtain (such as creating a whole universe or even just a star in the lab), but observations are quite feasible.

To test an astronomical or cosmological theory, for instance, astronomers need merely unlimber their telescopes and look — even though the events they witness via such means occurred (depending on their distance from us) thousands, millions, or even billions of years ago.

Thus, one can see far across the cosmos, and thereby witness events in the early universe, which — wha'd'ya know — is observably not like what the (recent) universe looks like surrounding us in our vicinity today.

DBQ:
I'm merely poking at you guys for being so smug as to think that you have ALL the answers and that there is zero validity or worth in considering alternatives.

Cosmologists have (and of course still do) considered alternatives. Before the discovery of convincing evidence making the Big Bang the predominant theory, a great many cosmologists preferred its early rival, the so-called “Steady State” theory, which holds that the universe has always existed in much the same form as we see today, and will similarly always continue to exist on into the unending future.

Unfortunately for that theory, it predicts that the universe in the past must have overall been much like it is today — and one can see quite easily nowadays that that's not the case.

As a review article just this week in the scientific journal Nature (“The formation of the first stars and galaxies,” Nature Vol. 459, Issue no. 7243 (7 May 2009), pp. 49-54) observes, astronomers can now directly see back “to a time when the Universe was less than one-tenth of its present age” of 13.7 billion years.

As one can readily discover, just by taking the trouble to review modern astronomical literature (which obviously few in this discussion take the trouble to do), the early universe was very different from what it is like today — thus contradicting fundamental principles of the Steady State theory.

Beyond the fledgling early stars and galaxies now directly viewable through telescopes, one can also observe the cooled-off remnant of the Big Bang itself, in the form of the cosmic microwave background radiation, whilst minor deviations from uniform homogeneity within that pervasive signal allow mapping of the early structure of the cosmos as it started taking shape.

Thus, a huge amount of testing of the Big Bang has taken place in the past and continues to occur today by cosmologists eager to further refine and test their theory against the real world.

Revenant said...

Revenant has already replied on this, and while his response isn't bad, he too along with DBQ makes the same mistake of presuming that experiment is required [...] In actuality what's vital to science [...] isn't experimentation in a laboratory, but rather observation.

You're making the beginner's mistake of thinking that "experiment" implies "in a laboratory". In reality, the act of gathering data through observation is referred to as "experimentation", especially in the field we're discussing (physics).

If you're going to make a habit of splitting hairs, take the time to learn what you're talking about.

Michael McNeil said...

You're making the beginner's mistake of thinking that "experiment" implies "in a laboratory". In reality, the act of gathering data through observation is referred to as "experimentation", especially in the field we're discussing (physics).

Glad you do understand it, Rev — and for your information, I also understand it very well (so I'm a “beginner,” eh?). An “experiment” is the final stages of an observation, at the point where the signal one is looking for, arriving potentially from across the cosmos, enters one's “experimental” apparatus.

However, your posting that I was replying to left nary a hint that that's what you were talking about — certainly you didn't explain the issue in such a way that others here not trained in science would properly understand your words — which is why I felt it important responding further.

While we're on the subject of that earlier posting of yours, however, I'll also take the time now to object to another of the statements you made at the time, to wit:

Intelligent Design is NOT testable because there is no way to confirm or deny any aspect of the theory.

Sure there is.

The whole basis of ID is a subjective opinion that organisms “look designed.” How do you test for that?

While Creationism and so-called “Intelligent Design” are quite poverty-stricken in the scientific predictions department — their answer to most any question being that “God (or the ‘ID-er’) did it” — they do make some testable predictions.

One I mentioned earlier in this thread: that (the lack of) technology sharing amongst different evolutionary lineages (as evolution regards them) is completely different from the modus operandi of any of the real (human) “intelligent designers” of which we know.

More fundamentally, however, Creationism and Intelligent Design both predict that transitional fossils (the remains of organisms bridging seemingly disparate groups, such as land and sea creatures, and even every separate species or genus according to some versions of the “theory”) do not exist. According to those “theories,” all such diverse groupings have been created de novo by a supposedly intelligent agent.

Thus, if one goes and looks for such bridging transitional fossils, according to Creationism as well as ID one should inevitably come up empty handed.

Yet, that's not at all what occurs in that situation — one does find transitional fossils quite closely bridging disparate groups such as land and sea mammals, or lobe-finned fishes and land “tetrapods” (e.g., amphibians and us) — thus transitional fossils indubitably exist.

As a result, both Creationism and “Intelligent Design” notably fail as scientific theories, and should thus be regarded as disproven.