Eric D. Snider

Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed (documentary)

Movie Review

Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed (documentary)

by Eric D. Snider

Grade: D+

Released: April 18, 2008

 

Directed by:

Cast:

"Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed" is crap, but it's well-produced crap. I'll give it that. It leads the choir gently by the hand and entertains it with snarky humor before settling in to preach to it.

I don't say the film is crap because I disagree with it. I say it's crap because it disagrees with itself. It teems with contradictions, false dichotomies, and specious reasoning. It has Ben Stein saying "I know that Darwinism doesn't automatically lead to Nazism" right after spending 10 minutes very strenuously implying that it does. It has a scientist saying there's no inherent conflict between Darwinism and belief in God, or else all scientists would be atheists -- and then takes several minutes to show that belief in evolution leads directly to atheism, thus negating that professor's statement.

I could go on and on. In fact, I will.

The documentary's central thesis is that there is a figurative wall in the scientific community that prevents scientists from even suggesting that Intelligent Design might possibly be a factor in the origin of life on Earth. (Later, this figurative wall is compared to the Berlin Wall, no joke.) Ben Stein, the former Nixon speechwriter, "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" teacher, and game show host, is our on-camera guide, talking to several scientists who have been pressured to resign or openly fired -- essentially blacklisted -- for daring to suggest such a thing.

The reason, the film says, is a misunderstanding. Many scientists equate Intelligent Design with Creationism, when the two are not the same thing. Creationism is essentially the belief that the Genesis account of how the world came to be is a true record of how it happened -- and yeah, there's not much a scientist can do with that. But Intelligent Design merely says that certain things about life on Earth are best explained by something supernatural. It does not necessarily specify that the Judeo-Christian God did it, only that it was some force beyond the normal scope of human knowledge.

So consider this. There is no scientific consensus on how, exactly, the first life on Earth came to be. We know there were elements and proteins and primordial soup, and that somehow, a single-celled living organism emerged from that. There are theories on what sparked it, some more fervently held than others, but nothing conclusive.

That's where the wall comes up. The party line is that we'll keep experimenting and researching and testing until we come up with a definitive answer. That's the usual scientific process. But some scientists say, "Well, on that part where we don't know what happened ... maybe it was Intelligent Design? Some kind of creative force or something? Maybe?" And that's when, according to the film, the blacklisting and name-calling begins.

I agree that it's unfair to malign a scientist simply for offering a place-holder answer to a currently unsolvable mystery. If you said, "I believe it was Intelligent Design that launched life, so we can stop researching now!," then I suppose that's a problem. That's not very scientific. But if all you're doing is suggesting the possibility, well, why not? Science can't prove the existence of God, but it can't disprove it, either. Why not offer this as one possible solution until we find a definitive one?

On the other hand, the religious explanation isn't much better. Even if you believe that God (or Someone) provided the initial spark that led to life on Earth, well, where did God come from? "He was just always there" isn't very satisfying, is it? Scientists and religious practitioners both ultimately reach the same dead end, where you just have to say, "We don't know." The only difference is that scientists keep looking, while people of faith leave it at that.

My point is that there is no inherent conflict between science and a belief in God. Plenty of scientists are religious, and plenty of religious people accept the basic ideas of evolution. Most people of faith figure God will explain everything eventually, and in the meantime, don't sweat it. It's the extremists on both sides -- the narrow-minded scientists and the fundamentalist religionists -- who muddy the waters and create a conflict where there shouldn't be one.

Among those is famed atheist and scientist Richard Dawkins, who says in the film, "Evolution is a fact, and therefore God doesn't exist." That is an egregious misuse of the word "therefore," especially for a scientist. Evolution's factuality or falseness has nothing to do with the possibility of a higher power. It might contradict Genesis, but not the idea of God altogether. Yet the film takes Dawkins' statement and runs with it, as if his attitude is representative of Big Science as a whole. The message: If you believe in Darwinian evolution, then you can't believe in God. And if you start out believing in God, the more you study evolution, the more atheistic you'll become. Scientists who underwent such a shift personally are cited as cautionary tales. Beware of Darwinism! It will destroy your faith! (Of course, you have to wonder how strong someone's faith was to begin with if it's annihilated that easily.)

Ben Stein takes a surprisingly Michael Moore-ish attitude in his on-screen demeanor. Knowing that the comparatively small Discovery Institute in Seattle is at the root of the pro-Intelligent Design movement, he makes a point of wandering the streets pretending not to know where their headquarters are. "It must be this entire building," he muses, since surely a group that has caused SUCH a ruckus must be a HUGE organization! Elsewhere, he pretends to think that "Intelligent Design is just reheated Creationism," which he knows full well it isn't. Those cloying tactics are annoying when Michael Moore uses them, and they're no less grating coming from Stein.

But the film really turns to crap in its second half, when Stein and Co. take pains to point out that Hitler was a Darwinist. The concept of eugenics, of purifying the human race by killing the weaker members, goes along with Darwin's "natural selection" theories. So the Nazis were Darwinists. Well, guess what? The Crusaders were Christians. Murdering 6 million Jews is no more a natural extension of Darwinism than killing unconverted Muslims is a natural consequence of Christianity. Evil deeds have been committed in the name of just about every belief system. And if you really want to go down THAT road, Ben Stein, more people have been killed in the name of religion than in the name of Darwin or science. So how about we not go down that road, OK?

The film's director, Nathan Frankowski, and co-writers Kevin Miller and Walt Ruloff know the buttons to push for their audience, which they know will be mostly fundamentalist Christians and Creationists. Planned Parenthood, which passes out condoms (!) and helps women get abortions (!!), was partially founded by Margaret Sanger, who believed in eugenics! Of course, Planned Parenthood today has nothing to do with eugenics (or atheism, or science, or anything else related to this movie), but why not take the opportunity to increase the audience's outrage anyway?

I find two quotes in the film to be particularly telling, in an ironic way. Bruce Chapman, the head of the Discovery Institute says, "People who don't have a good argument are reduced to throwing sand in your eyes." Indeed.

Then there's Stein himself. While decrying how staunchly anti-Intelligent Design most scientists are, he says, "Rational discussion is a nice thought, but it's virtually impossible in the current environment." This film is evidence that the ID crowd has given up on rational discussion and decided to be guilty of everything they accuse the other side of. It's always nice when a movie reviews itself right in its title, and "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed" does just that.

Grade: D+

Rated PG, some disturbing Holocaust-related images

1 hr., 40 min.

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This item has 163 comments

  1. Craig says:

    Why not offer [intelligent design] as one possible solution until we find a definitive one?

    The scientific method requires both falsifiability and testability, both of which any deity you care to mention as well as the supernatural and metaphysical in general are not. Considering any such theories to be science is fallacy, especially considering that there are already perfectly good fields that can contain them (i.e. theology and, to a somewhat lesser degree, philosophy).

    That the anti-science creationists (and I see no meaningful distinction between them and IDers) aren't content with those two fields, and instead are attempting to redefine a third according to their own standards, tells you everything you need to know about their motivations. It certainly doesn't involve veracity.

    And then there's this:
    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2008/03/expelled.php

    Synopsis: outspokenly anti-creationist professor is barred from entering an Expelled screening. Who's suppressing whom, now?

  2. C.S.Strowbridge says:

    "So the Nazis were Darwinists"

    Couple of points...

    1.) There's no such thing as Darwinists or Darwinism.Evolution exists outside of Charles Darwin.
    2.) Social Darwinism has nothing to do with Evolution. Natural selection and eugenics are contradictory.
    3.) The Nazis were Christians. Adolf Hitler said that killing the Jews was doing God's work.

  3. Nick says:

    Perhaps I've failed to recognize a parody, but I can't help but respond to Strowbridge's supposed points. I hasten to add that I'm not a creationist, nor have I seen this film.

    1- Yes, there is such a thing as Darwinism. It's the belief that evolution is driven exclusively by mutation and natural selection. One can believe in evolution and not be a Darwinist, though any contrary view of evolution is ill-defined at best, and probably reliant on the supernatural.

    2- Natural selection and eugenics aren't contradictory. How you could come to this conclusion is beyond me. They are both types of selection, and they are based on the eminently reasonable and correct theory that if you don't allow certain traits to be reproduced they will become less common. That said, I seriously doubt that Darwin was necessary for eugenics, as even w/o a full-blooded evolutionary theory I suspect a few people noticed that offspring tend to resemble there parents.

    3- No, Nazis weren't Christians, and to say otherwise is absurd slander. No doubt there were a few hopelessly confused individuals who tried to meld them, but the leadership and the bulk of the group as a whole were atheists. To the extent that religion was involved, they liked to draw upon Paganism, though that was for rhetorical purposes rather than a belief that these figures existed. Again, there are doubtless individual exceptions, but that was the overall trend.

  4. Dave says:

    No, Nazis weren't Christians, and to say otherwise is absurd slander. No doubt there were a few hopelessly confused individuals who tried to meld them, but the leadership and the bulk of the group as a whole were atheists. To the extent that religion was involved, they liked to draw upon Paganism, though that was for rhetorical purposes rather than a belief that these figures existed. Again, there are doubtless individual exceptions, but that was the overall trend.

    By all appearances, the Nazis were Christians. Not good Christians, obviously, but their motivations were overtly religious.

    Observe: http://www.nobeliefs.com/mementoes.htm

    Please consider that if calling Nazis Christians is "absurd slander," then foisting that blame onto atheists is equally bad. Thank you.

  5. Nas Dev says:

    "So consider this. There is no scientific consensus on how, exactly, the first life on Earth came to be. We know there were elements and proteins and primordial soup, and that somehow, a single-celled living organism emerged from that. There are theories on what sparked it, some more fervently held than others, but nothing conclusive."

    How the heck do you KNOW what was here in the beginning? This is exactly what the Inteligent Design debate is about. Darwinism is the "truth" that most scientists must believe in to advance their funding and research without any debate on the amount of order in this world that just doesn't seem to occur by chance to me.

    Nas

  6. Chris says:

    Nick-

    "3- No, Nazis weren't christians... but the leadership and the bulk of the group as a whole were atheists"

    From Talk Orgins:

    The Nazi Party in general rejected Darwinism and supported Christianity.

    In 1935, Die B?cherei, the official Nazi journal for lending libraries, published a list of guidelines of works to reject, including:
    Writings of a philosophical and social nature whose content deals with the false scientific enlightenment of primitive Darwinism and Monism (H?ckel). (Die B?cherei 1935, 279)

    On the other hand, an undated "Blacklist for Public Libraries and Commercial Lending Libraries" includes the following on a list of literature which "absolutely must be removed":
    c) All writings that ridicule, belittle or besmirch the Christian religion and its institution, faith in God, or other things that are holy to the healthy sentiments of the Volk. (Blacklist n.d.)

    Also, Hitlers acceptance of christianity is well documented with many examples.
    Again from talk orgins:


    "Hence today I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord" (Hitler 1943, 65).

    "[T]he task of preserving and advancing the highest humanity, given to this earth by the benevolence of the Almighty, seems a truly high mission (Hitler 1943, 398).
    A campaign against the "godless movement" and an appeal for Catholic support were launched Wednesday by Chancellor Adolf Hitler's forces (Associated Press 1933).

    The overall trend is undoubtably that Hitler rejected evolution and accepted christianity. This is not to say that christianity lead to the holocaust. As i think we all know, Hitler was a bad man, this i feel was the main cause.

  7. ck1 says:

    1. The only people who use the term "Darwinism" are creationists. Can you name even one self-described "Darwinist"? The theory of evolution includes multiple mechanisms in addition to mutation and natural selection.

    2. Use of selective breeding was practiced long before Darwin was born. It was even mentioned in the Old Testament.

    3. The belt buckles of those soldiers said "Gott Mit Uns". Not a motto for atheists or Pagans. How many times did Hitler reference the Christian God in his speeches? And did he ever mention Darwin, even once?

    Also, the appropriate placeholder in science is "I don't know" not intelligent design (i.e. a miracle).

    At the Dover trial, Judge Jones concluded that ID is, in fact, a form of creationism. You should read his decision.

  8. Vincent Truman says:

    Here ya go, Nick.

    "My feelings as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter. It points me to the man who once in loneliness, surrounded by a few followers, recognized these Jews for what they were and summoned men to fight against them and who, God?s truth! was greatest not as a sufferer but as a fighter. In boundless love as a Christian and as a man I read through the passage which tells us how the Lord at last rose in His might and seized the scourge to drive out of the Temple the brood of vipers and adders. How terrific was His fight for the world against the Jewish poison. To-day, after two thousand years, with deepest emotion I recognize more profoundly than ever before the fact that it was for this that He had to shed His blood upon the Cross. As a Christian I have no duty to allow my self to be cheated, but I have the duty to be a fighter for truth and justice? And if there is anything which could demonstrate that we are acting rightly it is the distress that daily grows . For as a Christian I have also a duty to my own people." ?Adolf Hitler, in a speech on 12 April 1922 (Norman H. Baynes, ed. The Speeches of Adolf Hitler, April 1922-August 1939, Vol. 1 of 2, pp. 19-20, Oxford University Press, 1942)

    Now, you can still assert that the Nazis weren't Christians, or maybe you can back pedal to 'I meant, not ALL Nazis were Christian', but that belief was most definitely part of the cleansing strategy.

  9. John Doe says:

    "It has a scientist saying there's no inherent conflict between Darwinism and belief in God, or else all scientists would be atheists -- and then takes several minutes to show that belief in evolution leads directly to atheism, thus negating that professor's statement."

    I don't think that this example shows contradiction in the show as much as it is meant to show contradiction in the scientific community. I have personally found more scientific people say belief in God (Christians/Muslims/etc) is just superstition and just keep that at home. It has no place among educated people, except as an emotional crutch, like the tooth fairy or Santa Claus.

    The problem that most religious folk have with science is that it wants to reduce humans to nothing more than a pile of chemicals. Even at BYU, there are many people who will tell you there is no such thing as free will, despite it being a main tenant of the LDS faith. Everything you do is because of the chemicals in your head or the manner you were raised. There is no room for the idea of a soul. Even the idea of a "mind" existing is a subject of heated debate, mostly rejected today. You have a brain run by chemicals. You never really make a choice in life, you merely react to the way chemicals in your body make you, or you react to the way your environment affects the chemicals in your body.

    This is quite offensive to many people the logical extension of these things are scary. If we are nothing more than a pile of chemicals, then there is no right and wrong, no good or bad. Hitler was only reacting the way the chemicals in his mind told him to react, and is not accountable for his actions. His followers did the same. Those who believe humans are a more noble creature capable of acting beyond self-interest merely have certain chemicals in their heads that act a certain way that cause them to believe this way.

    The problem with natural science is it believes there is no difference between man and a rock, besides a few chemicals. Making a third science that accounts for free will, the mind, God, miracles, and natural science isn't such a bad idea. In psychology there exists Phenomenology which is trying to account for such things. However, they are treated with contempt, as natural science rejects anything that considers man different from a rock with contempt.

  10. Christi says:

    And thus, Ben Stein proves that Godwin's Law applies to the real world as it does to the Internet.

  11. Chris mankey says:

    No, Nazis weren't Christians, and to say otherwise is absurd slander.

    No, to deny the fact that many Nazis also practised Christianity is absurd.

  12. Chris mankey says:

    No, Nazis weren't Christians, and to say otherwise is absurd slander.

    "My feelings as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter. It points me to the man who once in loneliness, surrounded by a few followers, recognized these Jews for what they were and summoned men to fight against them and who, God's truth! was greatest not as a sufferer but as a fighter." Adolph hitler

  13. V.B. says:

    Nick: Eugenics and natural selection are contradictory. In the case of eugenics, one trait is artificially selected and favored. The whole concept of natural selection is that multiple traits are present and that the most favorable trait will 'win' because it is favored by the environment and the species. If you select for a specific trait and get rid of all other traits, you aren't allowing natural selection to occur and you probably aren't picking the trait nature would have favored.

  14. Craig says:

    The problem that most religious folk have with science is that it wants to reduce humans to nothing more than a pile of chemicals.

    Two problems there (ignoring the "most religious folk").

    1) Strawman. What "science" wants is to understand the natural world and why it does the things it does, understanding gained through research and testing of ideas. Anything else can only be attributed to the individuals within the scientific community; applying suppositions on a larger scale commits the same error the movie does.

    2) Is-ought problem. Even assuming that people are nothing more than "a pile of chemicals," that doesn't imply we should act that way, or that people can't be held accountable for their actions. There are shades of the naturalistic fallacy in there too, which is equally untenable. After all, humans are animals, and it's the nature of animals to take whatever they need, be it food, shelter, or females. Funny how there aren't too many (any?) behavioral scientists claiming that theft and rape aren't crimes, let alone assault and murder.

    If we are nothing more than a pile of chemicals, then there is no right and wrong, no good or bad.

    Quoth Richard Dawkins himself:

    "...natural selection is a good object lesson in how NOT to organize a society. As I have often said before, as a scientist I am a passionate Darwinian. But as a citizen and a human being, I want to construct a society which is about as un-Darwinian as we can make it. I approve of looking after the poor (very un-Darwinian). I approve of universal medical care (very un-Darwinian)."?

    The Nazis were Christians. Adolf Hitler said that killing the Jews was doing God's work.

    Sure Hitler was Christian, in the same sense Stalin was Eastern Orthodox. Both considered the church another layer of control over their subjects, to be cast aside when it ceased to be useful (the same as pretty much everything else in the world). I'd call that an excellent lesson in why separation of church and state is so necessary, but little more.

    ? http://richarddawkins.net/article,2394,Lying-for-Jesus,Richard-Dawkins

  15. Alaska Boy says:

    I haven't seen Stein's film, (though I probably will at some point since I see most propoganda documentaries as great entertainment). It seems ironic to me, however, that you gave the tremendous intellectual dishonesty of "An Inconvenient Truth" a B+; but blasted "Expelled" for (apparently) committing similar errors. Maybe it's supposed to reflect some kind of difference in their respective entertainment values?

    As for the overall premise of the film, Stein is dead on. I switched out of bio-chem as a major partly because of the uber-atheism of so many of my professors. Blind adherence to dogma is a flaw we are all prone to, but it spells intellectual death in the realms of scientific exploration, and I wanted no part in it.

  16. Heli says:

    "1. The only people who use the term "Darwinism" are creationists. Can you name even one self-described "Darwinist"?"

    Richard Dawkins?

    "As I have often said before, as a scientist I am a passionate Darwinian."

    ^_~

    (Okay, okay, "Darwinian" isn't "Darwinist," but work with me for the laugh.)

  17. John says:

    Comment #13: "The whole concept of natural selection is that multiple traits are present and that the most favorable trait will 'win' because it is favored by the environment and the species."

    It is interesting that many see a conflict between natural selection and creationism. Natural selection is a process that occurs. The debate is origins of species. Did we begin with "soup" and natural selection improved upon it? Or did we begin with "perfection" and natural selection pulled out breeds from it? Or. . . there are many options. Intelligent design seems to be an option that is often ruled out because of its connection with creationism and so religion.

    Comment #1: "The scientific method requires both falsifiability and testability, both of which any deity you care to mention as well as the supernatural and metaphysical in general are not."

    Evolution and Intelligent Design both have the same dilemma--the scientific method cannot be directly applied. Though we can see natural selection taking place today, we cannot see origins of species. Both are belief systems and are based upon a person's faith--hence religion.

    Whether one favors creation, evolution, natural selection, Darwinism, or whatever label he or she chooses, it is important to keep an open mind and be careful that our box of understanding is not so small that we limit our options.

    And though Stein's film may be flawed, I believe this is the point he is trying to make.

  18. John Doe says:

    "What "science" wants is to understand the natural world and why it does the things it does"

    The problem with this idea is that natural science assumes that truth can only be found through the scientific method. A method which is not without critics, as it was founded on rational thought, not empiricist study. The scientific method used today must reject anything without empirical, measurable evidence. As such, metaphysical ideas such as right or wrong, love, hate, God, souls, mind, free will, etc. must be rejected as fancy and unscientific. Or such must be turned into an object, quantifiable idea. Imagine trying to quantify objectively how much you love your family using discriminate levels? There's something inherently flawed about that idea. We have to create artificial measures to make everything conform to natural sciences and reject anything that doesn't fit. That is pretty much the main argument against the scientific community as it stands.

    "...natural selection is a good object lesson in how NOT to organize a society. As I have often said before, as a scientist I am a passionate Darwinian. But as a citizen and a human being, I want to construct a society which is about as un-Darwinian as we can make it. I approve of looking after the poor (very un-Darwinian). I approve of universal medical care (very un-Darwinian)."

    There is hypocrisy here. Ontologically and epistemologically speaking, man either is a subject only to natural law and is determined by outside forces, or man is not. If man is the former, as natural science declares, then man cannot choose anything. Man can only react to stimulus. If man is the latter, capable of choice, then man transcends natural science. This is the inherent hypocrisy in the natural sciences, when applied to man. At least John Calvin and Thomas Hobbes were brave enough to admit that man merely reacted to external stimulus and had no free will. Dawkins contradicts himself.

    Put simply, if man is a rock, then that's what he is. To assume man is better than a rock and can make choices that a rock cannot is to go to the metaphysical realm. Natural science unequivocally declares that there is no difference between a man and a rock, besides a more complicated chemical composition.

    This debate is had by people more learned and skilled than us. I recommend reading "What's Behind the Research?: Discovering Hidden Assumptions in the Behavioral Sciences " by Brent D. Slife and Richard N. Williams &
    "The Phiosophy of Psychology" by Daniel N. Robinson. Other books by those authors are also useful to this idea.

  19. Steve M says:

    All of these are quotes from Adolf Hitler:

    From The book Hitler's Secret Conversations 1941-1944 published by Farrar, Straus and Young, Inc.first edition, 1953, contains definitive proof of Hitler's real views. The book was published in Britain under the title, _Hitler's Table Talk 1941-1944, which title was used for the Oxford University Press paperback edition in the United States.

    Night of 11th-12th July, 1941:

    "National Socialism and religion cannot exist together.... The heaviest blow that ever struck humanity was the coming of Christianity. Bolshevism is Christianity's illegitimate child. Both are inventions of the Jew. The deliberate lie in the matter of religion was introduced into the world by Christianity.... Let it not be said that Christianity brought man the life of the soul, for that evolution was in the natural order of things." (p 6 & 7)

    10th October, 1941, midday:

    "Christianity is a rebellion against natural law, a protest against nature. Taken to its logical extreme, Christianity would mean the systematic cultivation of the human failure." (p 43)

    14th October, 1941, midday:

    "The best thing is to let Christianity die a natural death.... When understanding of the universe has become widespread... Christian doctrine will be convicted of absurdity.... Christianity has reached the peak of absurdity.... And that's why someday its structure will collapse.... ...the only way to get rid of Christianity is to allow it to die little by little.... Christianity the liar.... We'll see to it that the Churches cannot spread abroad teachings in conflict with the interests of the State." (p 49-52)

    19th October, 1941, night:

    "The reason why the ancient world was so pure, light and serene was that it knew nothing of the two great scourges: the pox and Christianity."

    21st October, 1941, midday:

    "Originally, Christianity was merely an incarnation of Bolshevism, the destroyer.... The decisive falsification of Jesus' doctrine was the work of St.Paul. He gave himself to this work... for the purposes of personal exploitation.... Didn't the world see, carried on right into the Middle Ages, the same old system of martyrs, tortures, faggots? Of old, it was in the name of Christianity. Today, it's in the name of Bolshevism. Yesterday the instigator was Saul: the instigator today, Mardochai. Saul was changed into St.Paul, and Mardochai into Karl Marx. By exterminating this pest, we shall do humanity a service of which our soldiers can have no idea." (p 63-65)

    13th December, 1941, midnight:

    "Christianity is an invention of sick brains: one could imagine nothing more senseless, nor any more indecent way of turning the idea of the Godhead into a mockery.... .... When all is said, we have no reason to wish that the Italians and Spaniards should free themselves from the drug of Christianity. Let's be the only people who are immunised against the disease." (p 118 & 119)

    14th December, 1941, midday:

    "Kerrl, with noblest of intentions, wanted to attempt a synthesis between National Socialism and Christianity. I don't believe the thing's possible, and I see the obstacle in Christianity itself.... Pure Christianity-- the Christianity of the catacombs-- is concerned with translating Christian doctrine into facts. It leads quite simply to the annihilation of mankind. It is merely whole-hearted Bolshevism, under a tinsel of metaphysics." (p 119 & 120)

    9th April, 1942, dinner:

    "There is something very unhealthy about Christianity" (p 339)

    27th February, 1942, midday:

    "It would always be disagreeable for me to go down to posterity as a man who made concessions in this field. I realize that man, in his imperfection, can commit innumerable errors-- but to devote myself deliberately to errors, that is something I cannot do. I shall never come personally to terms with the Christian lie. Our epoch Uin the next 200 yearse will certainly see the end of the disease of Christianity.... My regret will have been that I couldn't... behold ." (p 278)

  20. Craig says:

    Though we can see natural selection taking place today, we cannot see origins of species.

    See this: http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CB/CB901.html
    "Microevolution has been observed and is taken for granted even by creationists. And because there is no known barrier to large change and because we can expect small changes to accumulate into large changes, microevolution implies macroevolution. Small changes to developmental genes or their regulation can cause relatively large changes in the adult organism (Shapiro et al. 2004)."

    ...and this: http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CC/CC200.html

    Hell, just skim the entire site, or at least the index of creationist claims.

    The problem with this idea is that natural science assumes that truth can only be found through the scientific method.

    Correction: scientific truth can only be found through the scientific method. Religion is not, nor should it claim to be, scientific. Call it an extension of Gould's non-overlapping magisteria.

    A method which is not without critics, as it was founded on rational thought, not empiricist study.

    I honestly don't know whether to call that semantics or a Freudian slip.

    We have to create artificial measures to make everything conform to natural sciences and reject anything that doesn't fit.

    Again, you're assuming some sort of scientific takeover where none exists. Biology, psychology, philosophy, and theology are separate schools of thought for a reason.

    There is hypocrisy here...

    Again with the is-ought fallacy.

  21. eric says:

    "We know there were elements and proteins and primordial soup, and that somehow, a single-celled living organism emerged from that."

    I'm curious how we "know" this. Because you saw it on the History channel. Or read it in you 1970's 7th grade science book.

  22. Wanda Sue says:

    Wow, this is the best comments I've read!!!

    You guys are stuffed with intelligence.

    I still believe in the Spaghetti Monster, though. ARRGH!!!


    :-)

  23. Doug says:

    I saw the movie Sunday night with some other folks and the general feeling was that the movie is warranted, the reason being: this is not just a scientific issue; it is a philosophical issue.

    In his book, The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins (interviewed in the movie), like Snider, tries to compare the Crusades with Nazism. The Crusades are a stain on Christendom, and that cannot be denied. But to suggest that more people "have been killed in the name of religion" is not only historically wrong, it misses the point that Stein makes in the movie. In an interview with Ben Stein, David Berlowitz (can't remember exact name and spelling) makes the comment--rough quote--that "Darwinism was not a necessary commitment of the Nazi worldview, but it was an essential one." What he means by this is not that Darwinism necessarily led to Nazism, but that it essentially propped it up, which brings me to the bone of contention that I have with the stereotypes hurled against all religions without due consideration of history: it is absurd to say that more people have been killed in the name of religion than have simply lost their lives in the twentieth century alone under "Godless" political regimes. There were not simply 6 million Jewish people killed under Nazism (as if this were not bad enough), and for the record, Hitler was not a Christian (Jesus said you'll know them by their fruits), but millions and millions killed under communism. And it just so happens that Darwin's ideas were conviently used by both Marx and Hitler in the propagation of their idealogies. This illustrates Berlowitz's point, and it is undeniable if one reads Marx and Hitler.

    One of the challenges of ID posed to Darwinism is that it is an unguided and essentially "Godless" explanation for the cosmos. What is so wrong with challenging this? It seems implicit, if not explicit, that IF God created the world, his fingerprint should be there. This is exactly the thing that Darwinism, controlled and propagated by the powers that be, has not, for the most part, permitted.

    As I left the movie, I felt affirmed in my spirit, because, I get tired of the marginalization of the religious worldview. It is the height of arrogance, on the one hand, to suggest that a worldview cannot be employed at all since it is presuppositional. But, on the other hand, a religious worldview is no more presuppositional than functional atheism (often at work in much science today). This, BTW, is another relevant point made in the movie: it is misguided to assume that worldviews are not part of the matrix of interpretation; they clearly are. There is a double standard at work, and this is extemely hypocritical. I don't know--because I'm not a scientist--if ID is good science or not, though some who are qualified say that it should AT LEAST be considered (another point of the movie), but I do see the obvious philosophical inconsistencies.

    One of the problems that the scientific enterprise cannot address is/are the prescriptive "why" question(s). While science can tell us to no end (in theory) how things work, it can describe them in meticulous detail and bring about wonderful discoveries for the betterment or destruction of the world, it cannot give a fully orbed explanation to the all important "why" questions. Why am I here? Why should life be valued? Why should I be full of hope? These are metaphysical questions that must first be answered philosophically, and dare I say it, biblically.

    Science, by itself, will never have these answers. As such, it needs to see its own philophical tendencies and limitations rooted in scientism, and admit, humbly admit, that it is not qualified to even answer such questions. It oversteps its bounds when it attempts to do so. This is exactly why Dawkins and others are flustered in the movie when asked why we are ultimately here (two bizarre postulated answers: we come on the backs of crystals and the cosmos was impregnated by aliens). Wow! No wonder Ben Stein is baffled at the overly authoritarian attempts to exclude ID.

  24. ExoditeTyr says:

    I think its important to correct the false assertion that ID (as the discovery institute's creation, not the older references of the term) isn't creationism. The origin of ID follows the Edwards v. Aguillard (1987) case in which Creationism was found to violate the separation of church and state, thus dooming creationism to be taught in public schools.

    Following this court decision, the creationist text book 'Biology and Creation' was heavily changed in drafts. Over one hundred uses of the root word "creation", such as "creationism" and "creation science", were changed, almost without exception, to intelligent design. The new draft was renamed 'Of Pandas and People' (published in 1989) and became a centerstage item in the Dover trials, after having been given to the school district as a donation bought by funds raised by a local church.

    In the 'Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District' case (2005) a Bush-appointed, church-going judge John E. Jones III stated "we conclude that the religious nature of ID would be readily apparent to an objective observer, adult or child".

    So while you can say that ID is not the same thing as creationism, you'd be wrong to assume the most common usage of the term ID isn't.

    ID also serves no function in scientific discourse, as it does not predict anything, provide any evidence, nor is it falsifiable. Science is a process more then a subject, but scientific understanding itself needs not to name every aspect that is not understood. Intelligent design as a term would be extraneous, as it already is defined under Abiogenesis. When placeholders are used, its terms like 'Dark Energy' not theologically loaded terms like Intelligent Design.

  25. John Doe says:

    "There is hypocrisy here...

    Again with the is-ought fallacy."

    Let me put it this way: Saying that man is a rock and ought to act differently than a rock is like saying a rock ought to choose to act differently than a rock. See the hypocrisy? See how ludicrous the statement is?

    I can re-write Richard Dawkins quote to show you how silly his statement is:
    "...[inanimate rocks are] a good object lesson in how NOT to organize a society. As I have often said before, as a scientist I am a passionate [natural scientist]. But as an [inanimate rock], I want to construct a society which is about as [non-conforming to natural law] as we can make it. I approve of [rocks] taking after the poor (very un-[natural scientific]). I approve of [rocks choosing to provide] universal medical care (very un-scientific)."

    Choice, or free will, is not scientific. It contradicts natural law. To say people are natural objects like rocks and then ask they act non-naturally is a contradiction.

  26. Leah Jane says:

    I've been hearing about this movie for months now. Thanks for the review, Eric, I was waiting for your review of it specifically. I wish you had mentioned the upcoming lawsuit, where Stein is being sued by Yoko Ono for using "Imagine" in the film without her permission. That alone provides a lot of comedy fodder, not even touching on the film itself yet.

  27. Craig says:

    Let me put it this way: Saying that man is a rock and ought to act differently than a rock is like saying a rock ought to choose to act differently than a rock. See the hypocrisy? See how ludicrous the statement is?

    Oh, it's ludicrous, just not for the reason you think.

    I cannot think of anyone (less you) who has ever told me that every aspect of a being (human or otherwise) is entirely immutable. Certainly...oh, the entirety of psychology disagrees. If a personality could never change, there'd be no parenting, no prisoner reform, and no animal domestication (unless said animal just happened to automatically do something useful to us). I suspect religion would never have existed outside of simple tribalism. Certainly, Christianity would be pointless, focusing as it does on altering a person's nature.

    Yes, "ludicrous" is entirely apt.

    Choice, or free will, is not scientific.

    That the "nature vs. nurture" debate exists at all is proof to the contrary.

    To say people are natural objects like rocks and then ask they act non-naturally is a contradiction.

    I say this as a declarative statement, not an ad hominem: you have absolutely no idea what you're talking about.

  28. Chris says:

    Eric:

    I'm curious how we "know" this. Because you saw it on the History channel. Or read it in you 1970's 7th grade science book.

    Unfortunately not everyone on the internet is an evolutionary biologist specializing in abiogenesis and the conditions of early earth. As such not everyone on the internet is as familiar with the primary literature as I'm sure you must be.

    As such many of us do gain knowledge from text books (it's how they teach people in universities, don't you know?). As long as these textbooks have verifiable sources back to primary literature they are no less valid.

    Earth's early atmosphere - JF Kaskin (1993) is a good place to start for a summary of the various gaseous conditions, specifics on evidence for indivdual gasses can be garnered from the articles referencing this one.

    Is real research good enough? Or do you require a first hand account?

  29. Chris says:

    Apologies, name error in the last post, must make sure JF Kasting gets his deserved recognition

  30. Dave says:

    Actually instead of the Yoko Ono lawsuit I wish Eric would have mentioned this (from the Skeptic's Dictionary Newsletter Vol. 7, No. 4, April 6, 2008):

    "Stein and producer Mark Mathis apparently think they are doing God's work by lying and trying to deceive us about the content of their film and about the way in which they produced it. They lied to several people that they were doing a documentary on science and religion called "Crossroads." Those on record as having been lied to are Richard Dawkins, PZ Meyers, Allen MacNeill, and Eugenie Scott. The Expelled folks used a shell company to produce the film and owned the domain name expelledthemovie.com months before interviewing real scientists whom they planned to make look foolish by systematic editing."

    Or this (from the same above-mentioned source):

    "[Mark Mathis'] people set up a screening of Expelled at the Mall of America in Minneapolis and used the Internet to have people sign up to attend. Those who signed up could bring several guests. Evolution blogger PZ Myers signed up and said he'd bring four friends. When he got there he signed in and he and his friends showed IDs. Mathis sent a security guard to remove Myers. Yes, the guy who made a movie claiming his fellow Christians are being expelled from academia and denied their right to free speech expelled Myers from the theater even though Myers was in the movie and is acknowledged in the credits. Myers's guests were allowed in, however. After the showing, Mathis took questions. One of Myers's guests asked why Myers was expelled. The guest was Richard Dawkins who was in town to speak at an atheist gathering. Mathis told Dawkins that the show was by invitation only (which was not true) and that Myers wasn't invited (which was true because nobody had been invited). Dawkins thinks he got in because Myers's name was on a list of those who signed up on the Internet. Guests' names were not on any list and neither Mathis nor his goons recognized Dawkins, who had shown his British passport as identification. Mathis now claims that Dawkins "crashed" the showing.

  31. John Doe says:

    "That the "nature vs. nurture" debate exists at all is proof to the contrary."

    Neither nature nor nurture account for free will. When you ask why someone did something, nature vs nurture only asks: Did he do it because his biology made him do it, or did he do it because external forces caused him to do it? Free will is nowhere in the equation. Never does someone ask if he chose to do it. They ask which external force outside of the subject's control caused him to do it. Even Freud's subconscious ideas ignore free will, as the subject is acting without choosing the action.

    The fact that you don't know this tells me you have a poor understanding of the fundamentals of psychology or philosophy. As my social psychology professor declared: "We assume determinism in social psychology." As my neurology professor said, "There is no such thing as free will. We can manipulate the chemicals in your body and that's what makes you do things." As B. F. Skinner said "Give me a child and I'll shape him into anything." Social psych and behaviorism believe nurture is the deciding factor in all things. They assume determinism, not free will. Neuroscience believes nature trumps all, and they also reject free will.

    The idea that people can change does not assume free will. A rock falling down a hill changes position and shape. Someone throwing a rock causes it to hit someone, which can change the rock. I can strike a rock and sculpt it. The rock changed, but there is no free will involved. By the same token, psychology believes you can manipulate someone's nature or environment and cause them to change. Nowhere is free will ever discussed. Unless you study Jungian psychology, or phenomenology, both of which reject the reductionism of the natural sciences and are mocked for doing so.

  32. Tom Williams says:

    "So consider this. There is no scientific consensus on how, exactly, the first life on Earth came to be. We know there were elements and proteins and primordial soup, and that somehow, a single-celled living organism emerged from that. There are theories on what sparked it, some more fervently held than others, but nothing conclusive."

    No, we don't know this. This is exactly what is being contested, and not just on religious grounds but on scientific grounds. An almost universally accepted scientific principle is that all things that had a beginning had a cause. Either you believe that matter existed eternally without a cause (which fewer and fewer scientists are able to believe), or you believe this scientific law was bypassed (which is unscientific and arbitrary), or you believe in a Creator who existed eternally without a cause (which many scientists refuse to believe on philosophical rather than scientific grounds.)
    Another important foundation of the I.D. position is the scientifically valid tenet that information only comes from information. Even the simplest one-celled living organism cited by the reviewer contains highly organized information. I.D.'ers are not inserting religion into the gaps in scientific knowledge. They are simply trying to be true to the scientific laws that are already firmly established.

    "And if you really want to go down THAT road, Ben Stein, more people have been killed in the name of religion than in the name of Darwin or science. So how about we not go down that road, OK?"

    This is an extremely common error. It's forgiveable that the reviewer has not gone to the trouble of calculating how many people have been killed in the name of religion. How many of us have? Some people have calculated the number, however, using population studies and records of wars through history. I don't have the numbers at my fingertips but I do remember noting that the number of people killed in the name of religion is a tiny fraction of the number killed through atheistic regimes such as those of Stalin and present communist China.
    Granted, atheism may not be necessary to Darwinism, but Darwinism is definately necessary to atheism and provides the evil minority with logical justification for many inhuman atrocities. For example, one of the killers at Columbine was fond of wearing a T-shirt with the slogan, "Survival of the Fittest"?

  33. Davey says:

    Being killed by atheists is not the same thing as being killed *in the name of* atheism.

  34. Allister McBurton says:

    Wow. I'm glad that the comments have decided to focus on the two sentence mention of Nazis as opposed to how the article pointed out what an awful movie this was.

    That said, I'd like to make a few points.

    The Nazi party, while probably made up mostly of Christians, and certainly occasionally using twisted Christian theology to justify their actions, should not be taken as a good representation of Christianity, any more than Loud Obbs should be considered a good representation of Republicans.

    It doesn't matter if you're a believer in Intelligent Design or not, associating your opponents with Hitler is a low blow.

    This movie obviously took the FOX News approach to fair and balanced.

    I don't think Eric was trying to come down on either side of the Intelligent Design/Darwinism fence. In fact, I believe he maintains that there is no such fence ("My point is that there is no inherent conflict between science and a belief in God." etc.) He does, however, appear to be firmly in support of the "this movie is a load of bullocks" party.

    I can do this too!

  35. MattP says:

    John Doe:
    You seem to be really upset about the potential ramifications of a purely deterministic universe. Surely you realize the negative implications of a concept do not constitute evidence against the the validity of the concept.

    There is nothing hypocritical about having the opinion that the Universe is most likely deterministic and, at the same time, believing that we should behave as if it isn't. Heck, if it really is deterministic, you don't have any choice but to behave as if it isn't. :)

    The fact of the matter is that even if every single movement of every single atom could be determined if one could know the initial state of the universe and factor in all the variables, the world still *appears* to allow for something that seems pretty much like free will. The number of variables involved is so astronomically huge that, from our perspective, we may as well continue to treat it the way that we perceive it - as a world where we can make meaningful choices.

    Also, given how many people actually do believe in a deterministic universe, but continue to raise families, go grocery shopping, play racquetball, and not kill puppies, it seems like being some sort of amoral monster is not a necessary response to that philosophy, though I suppose it would kind of screw up a number of religious ideas, like eternal reward/punishment based on accountability.

  36. MattP says:

    Dangit Allister, you left your bold tag open!

    Hopefully that fixed it.

  37. Clumpy says:

    I like arguments like this because blanket statements keep me warm at night.

  38. Clumpy says:

    Waaaait a minute - leaving a bold tag open on some forums bolds future comments? Excuse me while I unleash a webwide world of havoc.

  39. Chris says:

    Tom Williams:

    No, we don't know this. This is exactly what is being contested, and not just on religious grounds but on scientific grounds. An almost universally accepted scientific principle is that all things that had a beginning had a cause. Either you believe that matter existed eternally without a cause (which fewer and fewer scientists are able to believe), or you believe this scientific law was bypassed (which is unscientific and arbitrary), or you believe in a Creator who existed eternally without a cause (which many scientists refuse to believe on philosophical rather than scientific grounds.)

    We do know this, at least to a degree, see my above post for some literature on the subject. However, this is not the point of my post. You seem unfortunately to be confusing Abiogenesis and Evolution (wiki if you need to). Abiogenesis is an unknown, scientists admit this. Evolution however is an observable reality.
    Next, the argument from first cause has it's counterarguments that i won't express here, however this too is irrelevant to evolution and ID and thus to this film. Evolution deals solely with organisms that already exist and the forces that act on them to produce new organisms. No "creation" involved. The matter is already there before evolution kicks in.

    Another important foundation of the I.D. position is the scientifically valid tenet that information only comes from information. Even the simplest one-celled living organism cited by the reviewer contains highly organized information. I.D.'ers are not inserting religion into the gaps in scientific knowledge. They are simply trying to be true to the scientific laws that are already firmly established.

    Information is a poorly designed and not very useful concept in biology. Most often it is used to mean complexity and organization and as "organized information" is what you address it is what i shall speak on. Complex organization can be found in many structures. Snow flakes and particularly crystals have incredibly complex structures organized in a regular matter. However, nobody would seek to promote a view that God (or aliens, we're not really religious at all, promise) made snowflakes. Information provides an appearance of design, certainly not evidence of it.

  40. John Doe says:

    MattP:

    Thank you for illustrating the hypocrisy of natural scientists. I'm not saying a deterministic world is good or bad. I have no problem embracing a completely deterministic world. However, the contradiction inherent among natural scientists is what I'm unhappy with. On one hand, they will tell you that there is no free will, God and religion is superstition and should have no place in intelligent discussion (which is one of the points of the movie from my understanding), and then fully embrace metaphysical ideas that they agree with. It is hypocrisy to declare that the metaphysical ideas you like should be followed, while everyone should renounce metaphysical ideas they don't agree with. They use science to tell religious folks they are superstitious, but they ignore science when they refer to their own metaphysical ideals. It is one or the other. Either man is a rock and only empirical science should matter and all metaphysical ideas should be followed by the caveat "this is my personal superstition" or all metaphysical ideas should be treated equally.

    As I said before, this debate is had by people more intelligent than us. Refer to the books I referenced earlier because they are more qualified to explain it than I, and they are real scholars, as opposed to anonymous guys on the internet.

  41. Tomkins says:

    John:

    When you refer to the "metaphysical ideas" of scientists, which specific beliefs are you referring to? Are you referring to hypothesis (hypothesii?) and theories?

    Wikipedia explains that a theory:

    *is tentative, correctable and dynamic, in allowing for changes to be made as new data are discovered, rather than asserting certainty, and

    * is the most parsimonious explanation, sparing in proposed entities or explanations, commonly referred to as passing the Occam's razor test.

    Thus, "intelligent design" is not a theory because it doesn't solve the problem of where the "intelligent designers" came from. It just adds a step and puts us back at square one. You're right that this doesn't necessarily rule it out. I think scientists reject intelligent design because so much of it is merely a philosophical backdoor to creationism which they oppose.

    In a nutshell, evolution has real-world verifiable proofs to it (micro-evolution), and the macro-evolution side of things is an inference based on small trends multiplied over a period. Intelligent design is a theory as well, but relies on assumptions and, no offense, wishful thinking that make scientists uncomfortable. Making @#$! up is an alternative to science, and the fact that the @#$! is unprovable and by extension can't be disproven doesn't make it right or wrong. On the other hand, I'm a proud Creationist myself, with highly personal reasons and experiences behind my belief that I value as highly as any objective study.

    I think my debate degree has fast become useless in five years, but I hope I made some sort of sense here.

  42. Jacob says:

    Let me see if I can sum up the comments on this board:

    1. The Nazis were bad atheists and worse Christians.
    2. Some people believe in Intelligent Design and some people don't.
    3. Every person is absolutely positive that he or she is right and people who disagree are . . . well, stupid.

    I will now offer my point of view:

    1. The Nazis were bad. I learned this from Hogan's Heroes and Indiana Jones.
    2. People will never agree on the whole ID/Creationsim/Science thing.
    3. Anyone who is not me is probably at least a little stupid.

  43. MattP says:

    However, the contradiction inherent among natural scientists is what I'm unhappy with. On one hand, they will tell you that there is no free will, God and religion is superstition and should have no place in intelligent discussion (which is one of the points of the movie from my understanding), and then fully embrace metaphysical ideas that they agree with.

    What scientists say is that metaphysical ideas do not have any place in the work of science, which is a study of the physical world. They don't say that only *their* metaphysical ideas should have a place at the table. For instance, a neuroscientists' personal opinions on the existence of free will should not influence their research into the mechanisms employed in the brain during decision making. We're a long way from having a comprehensive understanding of the brain, so it's way too premature for such opinions to even matter when it comes to the hard science.

    Scientists don't care whether you embrace their personal philosophies or not, they just ask you to do good science - Create a hypothesis based on observations, perform experiments which could falsify the hypothesis, modify the hypothesis based on the results of the experiments, retest to confirm the new hypothesis, then subject this new theory to critical peer review. It's hard work, so they understandably object when a politically-motivated group tries to skip all the work and go straight into high school science classrooms through lobbying of state legislators and local school board members who have no science background.

    I know this gets beat to death, but ID is just not a scientific idea. They sort of have a hypothesis, but they have no experiments, no peer review - nothing. The Templeton foundation offered to fund grants into ID and no one from the ID camp even applied for these grants. They couldn't even come up with scientific program worthy of a grant proposal. This foundation is immensely pro-religion, and their whole purpose for existing is to fund research on the intersection of science and religion and even they have concluded that there's nothing to ID as a science at this time and are no longer offering to fund ID research. When pseudo-scientific ID papers were scoffed at by mainstream scientists, they produced their own journal in which a review board composed of sympathetic ID supporters. After publishing a handful of papers that have already been thoroughly refuted, they ceased publication. I think it's been two years since their last issue. Even the poor attempts at something that sort of looked like science have stopped. Several of the big names of ID now largely make a living publishing popular books (and movies!) and lecturing at churches about their persecution.

    Science is not afraid of new ideas, but when your new ideas are dramatically at odds with well-supported theories, it's not unreasonable to expect a "put up or shut up" response from the establishment. If you can actually demonstrate that your theory is superior and completely overturns the status quo, that doesn't get you expelled, it gets you a Nobel Prize! As it stands, ID is not even a theory.

  44. notJoeKing says:

    microevolution implies macroevolution. (Shapiro et al. 2004)."

    Thanks for the laugh... Scientist make that jump because they can't prove macroevolution. It's their very own version of religion and makes as much sense as saying "Our existence implies the existence of Diety"

  45. Chris says:

    notJoeKing:

    Thanks for the laugh... Scientist make that jump because they can't prove macroevolution. It's their very own version of religion and makes as much sense as saying "Our existence implies the existence of Diety"

    1st, i take it you didn't read the paper? Just laughed at the title? Wow, an informed opinion you have.
    Microevolution does indeed imply microevolution. Microevolutionary changes will over time logically add up to a large change. Or is there some maximum amount of microevolution that occurs? Stopping just before it meets your arbitrary "macro" limit? If so i would be fascinated to read your discovery.

    More importantly it is somewhat irrelevant as to whether microevolution implies macroevolution. This is because macroevolution can be directly observed.
    Macroevolution is defined as the evolution at or above the species level. Thus one species becoming another is macroevolution. Speciation events are very well documented in the literature. As a single example the london underground mosquito works well.

  46. lw says:

    "Thanks for the laugh... Scientist make that jump because they can't prove macroevolution. "

    Maybe this works better if you give the full quote:

    "And because there is no known barrier to large change and because we can expect small changes to accumulate into large changes, microevolution implies macroevolution. Small changes to developmental genes or their regulation can cause relatively large changes in the adult organism (Shapiro et al. 2004)."

    The point being that, as commonly used, microevolution is nothing more than a snapshot of macroevolution in action. Given our puny human lifespans, that's all we get to see directly.

    The attempt to divide evolutionary process into "micro" and "macro" is a recognition that it's really hard to disprove that evolution is observable, since people tend to drop dead on a regular basis because of its effects. So, we need to segregate the observable, fatally palpable evolution into its own little pocket. Now we can attack evolution by saying "no one can prove macroevolution", which is nothing more than argument from personal incredulity, since there is a ton of evidence documenting evolution in the large as well as in the small.

  47. MattP says:

    microevolution implies macroevolution. (Shapiro et al. 2004)."

    Thanks for the laugh... Scientist make that jump because they can't prove macroevolution. It's their very own version of religion and makes as much sense as saying "Our existence implies the existence of Diety"

    Of course there is significantly more evidence from which to infer macroevolution than an inference from microevolution. Note that there are no standard scientific definitions for "microevolution" and "macroevolution" - these terms are used more in anti-evolution arguments than in the publications of evolutionary biologists. Additionally, once you grant that microevolution, however you define it, is a demonstrable reality, then macroevolution, again however you define it, becomes a reasonable hypothesis upon which to base further research.

    The inability to induce in the lab speciation on the level of, say, reptile-to-bird is not an indication of the failure of evolutionary theory any more than the inability to create a supernova in the lab is an indication of the failure of astronomical theory. It does, however, require that other lines of evidence be explored. Fortunately, there are several very convincing and well-studied sources.

    The study of molecular phylogeny provides some of the most compelling evidence for common descent, though it's a very technical field that is difficult to succinctly explain to laypersons. The fossil record is also very good, though creationists are quick to make terse assertions like "there are no transitional fossils" which, again, take considerable effort and domain knowledge to refute effectively.

    This the major problem faced by science advocates - their creationist/ID opponents rattle off strings of false or uninformed assertions, many of which seem, on their face, to be reasonable to those who do not understand the science. As soon as one claim has been answered, the creationist jumps to the next, and the next, never acknowledging the earlier answers or shrugging them off as insufficient without providing any substantive rebuttal to them. There's even a term for this, the "Gish Gallop", named after one particularly pernicious user of this "debate" technique.

    I think you'll find that all of the arguments you've heard against evolution have already been answered in considerable detail and, if you approach a scientist in the appropriate field with remaining questions, that you'll find them quite willing to answer them. Scienceblogs.com is a good place to find working scientists that regularly blog on their fields of study. Of course these are human beings and have a variety of temperaments, but I've seen even the most "strident" of the atheists, P.Z. Meyers, politely respond point-by-point to questions or criticism of evolutionary theory from those who don't share his worldview. For instance, there's a great article explaining how species could have evolved with different numbers of chromosomes, posted just a day or two ago: http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2008/04/basics_how_can_chromosome_numb.php

  48. stephkitten says:

    Lol - Jacob, I think you summed it all up very nicely. While I do appreciate the overall level of intelligence demonstrated by the comments on this article, and the discussion is genuinely interesting overall, I pretty much have to agree with you on all points.

  49. MattP says:

    3. Every person is absolutely positive that he or she is right and people who disagree are . . . well, stupid.
    For what it's worth I'm not absolutely positive that I am right, though I'm reasonably confident of the fact, otherwise I would have changed my mind by now. :) Not having an opinion either way is also an option, of course, but I've spent enough time on this subject that I sort of feel obliged to have one.

    Also, I don't think anyone here is stupid. I wouldn't bother trying to educate people if I felt they were incapable of learning. My assumption is that people, in general, are not stupid, though we all lack knowledge in areas where we haven't dedicated any serious study. There is no shame in that. I would just hope that people can acknowledge their own biases and try to "think around them" when approaching ideas which they disagree with. This is difficult to do, and I struggle with this myself, but I think it's a worthwhile effort.

  50. Tomkins says:

    I just have to point out the contradiction in my previous statement before somebody else does. In one paragraph I said that ID is not a theory, and in the next I say that it is. I meant to say "hypothesis" in the second paragraph.

  51. Jeff says:

    "What scientists say is that metaphysical ideas do not have any place in the work of science, which is a study of the physical world."

    Let me quote Daniel Dennett: "Scientists sometimes deceive themselves into thinking that philosophical ideas are only, at best, decorations or parasitic commentaries on the hard objective triumphs of science, and that they themselves are immune to the confusions that philosophers devote their lives to dissolving. But there is no such thing as philosophy free science; there is only science whose philosophical baggage is taken on without examination."

    Scientists do metaphysics ALL THE TIME. There is no such thing as science without metaphysics. That's why its hypocritical to tell people that their metaphysical ideas have no place in science, while they ignore the metaphysical assumptions they themselves unquestioningly embrace.

    The natural sciences are laced with theological assumptions:

    1) the processes of the natural world happen autonomously, independent of God.

    2) the processes of the natural world can be studied autonomously, without reference to God.

    These two assumptions have their roots in Deism, a particular theological position I strongly disagree with. I'm not going to argue against it here, but merely make the point that Deism is as much an unproven metaphysical/theological/cosmological position as an reference to contemporary divine intervention. You can't dismiss a cosmological position merely because it's theological, metaphysical, or philosophical, considering that the dismissal can only be made on theological or metaphysical grounds (the assumptions listed above).

    I explain it better on my blog: thaynebrain.blogspot.com

  52. MattP says:

    1) the processes of the natural world happen autonomously, independent of God.

    2) the processes of the natural world can be studied autonomously, without reference to God.

    I think it's more appropriate, and illustrative, to compress these statements to "The processes of the natural world should be studied independent of considerations of the supernatural."

    This is not an anti-God position. This is just an admission that the study of the natural world, from a purely natural perspective, has been fruitful and that introduction of supernatural concepts into otherwise scientific studies have frequently resulted in unnecessarily complex ideas at best, and just plain bad science at worst.

    Science is a study of the natural world - the examination of the behavior of matter and energy, with different branches of science evaluating specific niches that involve particular assemblages of matter. To say that science insists that the processes of the natural world are independent of God is like a road paver saying that the process of concrete curing is independent of God. In the area of his expertise, the concept is not explicitly rejected, it just doesn't come up, regardless of his personal religious disposition. Taking a step back to the scientist who developed the cement compounds that make for the most durable roads, again he's only concerned with how the chemistry works and how to apply that knowledge to building better cement mixtures.

    Where we run into trouble is when science investigates topics which have already been answered by religion such as how did we come to be what we are? The scientists again charge in, following effects to causes and following those causes to previous ones. They analyze the evidence, develop a hypothesis and perform tests to verify for falsify it. As the hypothesis stands up to testing a theory comes to exist. It's not perfect, but it's the best we've got. If you have an idea for how science can accommodate the supernatural while still being reproducible and predictive, I'd be interested in hearing it.

    God isn't explicitly ruled out, He just isn't necessary for answering every one of these type of questions any more. We no longer believe that lightening bolts are an expression of a God's wrath, or that tornadoes are punishments for our sins, at least most of us anyway, but there are still areas where science concedes a present lack of knowledge.

    You are free to give God credit for those gaps of knowledge, as many theistic scientists do, but just positing God whenever the answer is "I don't know" is not a scientific position. It's not testable, it provides no predictions, and it's not subject to objective analysis. It's not necessarily a wrong position, it's just not scientific.

  53. Jeff says:

    I think it's more appropriate, and illustrative, to compress these statements to "The processes of the natural world should be studied independent of considerations of the supernatural."

    My point: this is a theological/philosophical position. I'm not saying it's anti-God; I am only saying that it is a philosophical claim that the universe is composed in such a way that it can be studied without reference to God. This is a pre-empirical philosophical assumption made and defended on philosophical grounds.

    You cannot dismiss alternative cosmological assumptions on a scientific basis, but on a philosophical one. Go ahead and dismiss them; that's fine. Just be aware that it's a philosophical claim, not an empirical one.

    Gadamer is well known for making this claim. Richard Williams summarizes his point: “Methods do not establish truth. Rather, presuppositions about truth – and the nature of the world – influence, and, therefore, end up instantiated in methods. Thus at some level and to some degree, any methods will reflect back to those who employ them something of the presumed nature of truth and the world that influenced their creation and deployment”

    again, a more detailed explanation is on my blog.

  54. MattP says:

    My point: this is a theological/philosophical position.

    *shrug* I think it's just a practical position. Is it even possible to do science if you allow for supernatural influence? What does that look like? How do you create experiments for it?

    Science studies that which can be studied. If it has a measurable effect in the natural world, science can measure it. Unless you posit a God that has no effect, science doesn't preclude God from study, though if a God phenomenon is ever observed by science, it may end up falling under some other moniker, like "quantum randomness."

    You say that perhaps God used evolution as a tool, where the scientist simply states that evolution apparently occurred. Whether there was no God, or God set the universe in motion and let it go from there, or God guided every single mutation, all that science can say is that evolution happened. That is not a metaphysical or even philosophical position. However, stating that, absent supporting evidence, God's hand guided evolution clearly is.

    Of course there are individual scientists that say evolution = no God, but you'll never find a scientific publication by even the most strident materialist atheist activist scientist that expresses that as a professional opinion because it is a conclusion only of their personal philosophy, and not a condition of the epistemology of science. Saying there is no God adds no more illumination to an otherwise perfectly sound theory than saying there is.

  55. John Doe says:

    I have nothing further to add to the debate. Only wanted to say I don't see anyone here who has said anything really stupid, has acted immaturely, or resorted to ad hominem attacks. Except maybe the person who said we did. People can disagree without thinking those who disagree are stupid and I think this board is an example of that (so far).

  56. Jeff says:

    John Doe, I might know you... link to my blog (earlier post) and say hi! we'll talk.

  57. Tomkins says:

    @Jeff:

    "The natural sciences are laced with theological assumptions:

    1) the processes of the natural world happen autonomously, independent of God.

    2) the processes of the natural world can be studied autonomously, without reference to God."

    You're using "theological" as a dirty word, attempting to color scientists as merely religionists of a different color. But you're using it incorrectly. Any dictionary defines theology as the study of God. Some make the religious connection even more explicit. As we do not yet have microscopes and telescopes that can see God, and probably never will, not a single one of the assumptions you mentioned is/can be theological in nature. That doesn't mean it's atheistic - it just means that we'll go ahead and do our own research, and those of us who believe in God will take what we feel He gave us. Otherwise we'd be paralyzed. If I transcribe all happenings directly to God, then why bother to invent anything? After all, if the Good Lord had wanted us to fly, we would have been born with wings.

    Your Deist connection is also about as hilarious as atheists saying that the Abrahamic God came from monotheism, which evolved from the concept of patron deities, which came from polytheistic paganism, all the way back to one unusually-intelligent ape who tried to explain a meteor shower to his comrades. Colouring Christianity with paganism attempts to marginalize religion in general, and your attempt to associate the scientific method with Deism smacks of an uncle marginalizing his successful nephew by reminding him of his toilet training. I don't care how a philosophy started if it's practical. Most assumptions go back to some philosophy (you might want to go further back to Aristotle), which doesn't prove their veracity or falsehood.

    I'll proudly do my part to achieve a smaller ratio of movie review to commentary if you're all still game.

  58. John Doe says:

    "You're using "theological" as a dirty word, attempting to color scientists as merely religionists of a different color."

    I disagree with Jeff's use of the phrase "theological assumptions", but that's one of the problems with the internet. You want to be pity without a lot of jargon. I would say there are philosophical assumptions in empirical science as it stands today which cannot be neutral. Either there is a God or there isn't, and science must reject the existence of God. Most people do not understand the philosophical foundation of this idea. For example, there is the debate still going on today about ontology and epistemology. Are we dualists (is there something beyond matter) or are we monists (there is no difference between a man and a rock). Natural, empirical science today assumes man is a rock, without a mind (but with a brain), without a soul, and without free will. Science doesn't know where life came from, doesn't know where instinct comes from, and doesn't know where intelligence/consciousness came from. Are we born with ideas in our head? If so, what caused that? There was a time when science said everything was an instinct. It's not much better today since natural science must assume materialism, that we are what we are because it's somewhere in our brain. Science doesn't know where these parts of the brain are yet that give us these instincts, thoughts, or ideas yet, but by golly it's got enough faith that it's true that it puts religious fanatics to shame.

    Circular reasoning is also a problem. "Mr. X has self-esteem issues. Why? Because he's sad. Why is he sad? Because he has self-esteem issues." "Religious folks have a 'religion center' in their brain that makes them religious. How do you know? Because they are religious, and everything we are is in our brain." Yes, science works hard to solve these problems, but it hasn't brought forth many answers in these areas.

    However, we are on the internet. To disrespect someone's ideas and opinions because they aren't writing scholarly articles to defend their beliefs is hardly fair. The only thing we can do here is say "this is what I believe." To respond with "you're wrong and you better explain it better" or "let's debate" is silly. Just read the board here and see if the other person does have a point you can respect. Scholars of natural science, philosophy, psychology, and a host of other fields have debated similar ideas for years and have not found the truth of the matter. To believe that by belittling another's ideas on a movie review board somehow makes your position the superior one is childish at best. That's my opinion at least. Rather than try to have a scholarly debate about something we'll never agree on, see if you can respect the other person's perspective.

    I believe in God and believe the natural sciences have shut out the metaphysical in an unfair manner. However, I respect the dilemma of trying to integrate the metaphysical because natural laws don't work as laws when there isn't a constant present. Psychology is considered a "pseudo-science" mostly because there are no universal laws for humans, unlike physics where you can apply laws and things work the way the laws say. That doesn't mean those who think we can integrate the metaphysical should be laughed at or scorned when they try to make it work. I don't have much opinion about ID as it currently stands, but I do believe the truth of the matter is that there is a God who created all things. I reject the idea that humans can be reduced to a pile of chemicals. I reject the idea of tabula rasa. I believe the natural and metaphysical can co-exist in science, there just needs to be more effort in the area. Maybe I'm wrong, and I'm not going to force anyone to teach ID or believe in God. Things as they stand aren't bad, but it could be better. You can mock or disagree, but this debate is not going to be won on a message board about a movie review. Either you can respect my thoughts and ideas, or you can't. That's all there is to.

  59. notJoeKing says:

    1st, i take it you didn't read the paper? Just laughed at the title? Wow, an informed opinion you have.
    Microevolution does indeed imply microevolution. Microevolutionary changes will over time logically add up to a large change. Or is there some maximum amount of microevolution that occurs? Stopping just before it meets your arbitrary "macro" limit? If so i would be fascinated to read your discovery.

    More importantly it is somewhat irrelevant as to whether microevolution implies macroevolution. This is because macroevolution can be directly observed.
    Macroevolution is defined as the evolution at or above the species level. Thus one species becoming another is macroevolution. Speciation events are very well documented in the literature. As a single example the london underground mosquito works well.

    I did read the website you keep linking to as "proof" and its just about as intelligent as using LDS.org to prove that the Book of Mormon is true.

    Of course there are variations in the species but the most that any scientist could ever do regarding the past is absurd and far from prove. That's the whole point, they can guess and even test their guesses but that doesn't equal proof. The London Underground Mosquito? What a joke. That's like saying humans are proof of evolution because we are thought to have decended from chimps. The hilareous thing will be when alien scientists 1000 years in the future find the skeleton of a European, an Asian, and an Afican in the same reagion and deduce that they are links in the Evolutionary chain that have evolved into each other... or better yet, when they find the skeleton of someone with elephantitis and add them in as just another step in the evolutionary chain...

    You want to convice me? Give me a scientist that doesn't assume evolution happened and then goes looking for proof of that... that's the importance of something like ID, being able to say: "hey we don't know exactly what happened so we aren't going to look for proof of that thing, instead we are going to with the belief that we just don't know." ID does take it too far if they say, it is unknowable so we'll stop trying to find out but evolutionists are just as wrong in saying that they know what happened so now is the time to find proof of their "best guess".

    Again, thanks for the laugh.

  60. Jeff says:

    "I disagree with Jeff's use of the phrase "theological assumptions", but that's one of the problems with the internet. You want to be pity without a lot of jargon. I would say there are philosophical assumptions in empirical science as it stands today which cannot be neutral. Either there is a God or there isn't, and science must reject the existence of God."

    John - An assumption that makes a claim about God is a theological assumption. You've just agreed with me here.

  61. Chris says:

    notJoeKing

    I did read the website you keep linking to as "proof" and its just about as intelligent as using LDS.org to prove that the Book of Mormon is true.

    I have not linked to a website, I mentioned Talk Origins when discussing Nazis as it was a decent summary and provided it's references to the original text. No link was given however.
    I mentioned wikipedia also, in saying that someone may want to check the distinction between abiogenesis and evolution there. Again no link was provided.
    Finally I recommended a piece of scientific research. No link was provided yet again, but even if it had been i don't quite see how you could dispute it's accuracy it documents repeatable experiments that have been used to draw conclusions.
    Perhaps you were confusing me for someone who linked to talk origins.

    Of course there are variations in the species but the most that any scientist could ever do regarding the past is absurd and far from prove. That's the whole point, they can guess and even test their guesses but that doesn't equal proof. The London Underground Mosquito? What a joke. That's like saying humans are proof of evolution because we are thought to have decended from chimps. The hilareous thing will be when alien scientists 1000 years in the future find the skeleton of a European, an Asian, and an Afican in the same reagion and deduce that they are links in the Evolutionary chain that have evolved into each other... or better yet, when they find the skeleton of someone with elephantitis and add them in as just another step in the evolutionary chain...

    Mostly nonsense, but some of it makes enough sense to address. The London Underground mosquito is not an inference of evolution. It is a documented case. Since the construction of the London Underground a species of mosquito has emerged that is only found there. Either the "Intelligent Designer" decided to update the species list a little and threw together a new model... or this is macroevolution.

    You want to convice me? Give me a scientist that doesn't assume evolution happened

    Scientists assume that evolution happens because all the evidence says it does. If evidence is found to challenge this, and the problem cannot be reconciled then evolution will be rejected as an adequate theory. This is how science works.

    that's the importance of something like ID, being able to say: "hey we don't know exactly what happened so we aren't going to look for proof of that thing, instead we are going to with the belief that we just don't know."

    Unfortunately for ID when they don't know exactly what happened they don't go looking for proof of anything at all. They consider job done because there only interest is in getting God into schools (see wedge document).

    Science does not claim to know exactly what happened, it can never be proved definitively. However as for the moment evolution fits every bit of available evidence it is fair to use it as the working theory. All acknowledge that it is not the final answer, it will undoubtably be refined as the years pass. However, it is wrong to say that "we don't know". We have a pretty good idea (as i say, it accounts for everything, pretty good in my book).

  62. Eric D. Snider says:

    Please don't use HTML tags unless you know what you're doing. If you feel you must put something in bold type, you start it with <strong>, and then you must end it with </strong>. When you omit the slash in the closing tag, it screws everything up.

  63. Andrew says:

    Just for those creationists/ID supporters who are getting carried away with the Darwin->Hitler link.

    1) Almost all creationists and ID supporters, even Young Earth Creationists (YECs), accept microevolution (evolutionary change within species). Eugenics is concerned with effecting artificial change within species. Therefore, even YECs accept the very science they say leads to genocide like the Holocaust.

    2) Darwin's breakthrough was to realise that the selective actions of humans in artificial selection, that had been known for centuries, could also be carried out by nature. Eugenics is the opposite (attempting to "aid" natural selection by carrying out artificial selection).

    3) Darwin is on the record as saying that although putting aside our morals and attempting to interfere with human reproduction could lead to benefits for the species as a whole, to do so would be **evil**. Evolution is descriptive, not prescriptive.

    4) The veracity, or lack of it, of a theory cannot be determined by the uses it's put to (or the habits of whoever came up with it). Claiming that evolution leads to eugenics, and is false as a result, is equivalent to claiming that a belief in gravity leads to suicides from the tops of buildings (and therefore should be discarded as well). The same goes for if Darwin was a genocidal baby-eater.

  64. notJoeKing says:

    Scientists assume that evolution happens because all the evidence says it does. If evidence is found to challenge this, and the problem cannot be reconciled then evolution will be rejected as an adequate theory. This is how science works.

    Seriously? Science works by assuming something to be true and then looking for evidence? If evidence, that they aren't even looking for, arises and they can't find some way to discredit it, then they will change their minds? You think that is the best way to find the truth?

    I completely agree that this is how evolutionary scientists are approaching their job, assuming something is true and waiting for incontrivertable disproof, but so are the people who believe in God.

    So in the end it is an even playing field with scientists and their faith in evolution being no different than theologians and thier belief in God. The only difference is that the scientists get to teach their assumptions, through text books, to kids in public schools.

  65. MattP says:

    Seriously? Science works by assuming something to be true and then looking for evidence?

    You are jumping on a bit of semantic laziness here and pretending that he's arguing a position that he doesn't hold. It's clear from the context that he meant that Scientists conclude that evolution happens because all the evidence says it does.

    Scientists constantly test their theories with new evidence. The scientific process is more about attempting to disprove a theory rather than justify it. The broad theory of evolution is so well supported by so many lines of evidence that it's unlikely to ever be falsified, however theories about individual mechanisms of evolution are regularly updated, rejected, and replaced as new evidence is discovered.

    You seem to have a very naive understanding of both the scientific process in general, and the theory of evolution in particular. We teach students about the theory of evolution for the same reasons we teach them about the germ theory of disease, plate tectonics, and gravity theory - the evidence overwhelmingly supports these theories. If you want to teach religious creation stories, that can be done in a philosophy or theology class. You can even use textbooks.

  66. Chris says:

    Matt P:

    Thank you, conclude is a much better word. It's a shame however that my error gave notJoeKing an excuse to avoid the rest of my, or anyone else's posts.

    notJoeKing:

    If evidence, that they aren't even looking for, arises and they can't find some way to discredit it, then they will change their minds?

    This is the straw man in the statement. Every piece of biological knowledge uncovered by scientists is essentially checked against evolution. Immunology, how did the immune system evolve? Antibiotic research, how do bacteria evolve resistance? Taxonomy, how do these species fit together in the tree of life with common decent? etc. etc. etc.

    Scientists aren't out there trying to prove evolution wrong, in this you are correct. But they are trying to increase understanding of how life functions. And they are trying to fight disease. And if a discovery in any of the fields of biology were to contradict evolution... then it would be questioned.

    Scientists conduct research and any issues thrown up are addressed.
    That is not to say that ID scientists are not free to find their own evidence, in this case it will certainly be considered.
    The fact that ID advocates are unable to do so, accompanied by the fact that no evidence against evolution has been found by the scientists working in their fields and that all evidence supports the theory, is the reason that scientists conclude that evolution is a correct theory

  67. notJoeKing says:

    Ah the strawman... you type something, I restate what I believe you are saying and why I disagree, you then are caught looking stupid so... time to bring up strawman, nazis, or some other lame redirect...

    I'm not going to spend hours responding to everything you (and everyone else) types because it all comes down to the same thing: The majority of scientists, from far before they start researching anything, start with a faith in Evolution. After that point, when they "discover" something, they have to make it "fit" into evolution. Its the same way with religion.

    Wording doesn't change the fact that evolution is what they are assuming/theorizing/concluding happened. What also doesn't change is the fact that if a human being goes into any situation, including an experiment, with an expectation, they are far more likely to walk away from that having validated their belief. Its just another form of closemindedness and the only cure is to approach everything with an attitude of "I don't know yet". By assuming evolution happened, they taint eveything they do and say from that point on.

    In the end the only thing that differs between scientist and theologians is in what they place their faith.

  68. ClobberGirl says:

    Guys, Hitler was a politician. He talked out of both sides of his mouth on the subject of Christianity, and just about everything else for that matter... you know, he voted for it before he voted against it.

  69. SDGal says:

    Scientists begin with an understanding of the process of evolution. Faith is not involved. Any evidence uncovered during the process of scientific exploration that seems to refute the scientific understanding of evolution is re-examined for validity.

    Science also does not attempt to find "truth", but rather seeks to understand.

    I think this is the most common error in attempting to equate religion with science. Religion relies on faith, and seeks truth. Science relies on evidence and seeks understanding. They can easily co-exist, or not, as the individual chooses, but one does not necessarily negate the other.

  70. MattP says:

    In the end the only thing that differs between scientist and theologians is in what they place their faith.

    Really? What about these other differences?:

    * Science is falsifiable. Regardless of how biased individual scientists may be, it's always possible to falsify a scientific theory with new evidence. For instance, finding fossil rabbits in the Cambrian would really screw up several aspects of evolutionary theory. You can claim that scientists would ignore or distort this evidence, but you haven't provided any evidence that this is actually how scientists would respond. In any case, theology does not even provide a mechanism where someone can demonstrate the falseness of a given theological claim to another person. It's not even possible in principle to falsify a religious doctrine.

    * Science develops consensus. The vast majority (99%+) of working biologists believe evolution to be at as well supported as any other well-established scientific theory, such as the theory of gravity. Only a tiny fraction consider ID to be a valid scientific idea at this time. What portion of theologians agree on, just for a few examples, how the earth was created, how man was created, or how many gods there are?

    * Scientific consensus is developed independent of, or despite, individual ideology. Consider the number of different religions and philosophies that are represented within the ranks biological scientists - there are Muslims, Jews, Christians, Buddhists, Atheists, Hindu, you name it. Many of them have creation stories that, when taken literally, disagree with evolution. The evidence has convinced these people that their creation stories are metaphorical, simplified, or the merely the work of human authors taking liberties to postulate the process that occurred absent actual revelation.

    * Science is merit-based. Anyone can publish a scientific paper and if it meets the standards of the journal and passes review, it will be published. No scientists other than a few noisy IDists are complaining that their ideas are being suppressed because they conflict with orthodoxy. There are few enough of these IDists attempting to be published and they are complaining loudly enough that their specific work has already been soundly demonstrated to be scientifically vacuous. Their ideas have been given a fair hearing. There is no overriding authority on scientific theory. No one has the power to say "no, you're wrong" without considering the evidence. Theologians are often subject to strict hierarchies of authority. Doctrine is established in a top-down fashion with only the highest-ranking theologians having the authority to alter existing canon. There is no official canon of science - the "doctrine" of science is the sum off all of the published research, from thousands of scientists spread out over the globe and over the ages.

    It's notable that the largest organization of "creation scientists", Answers in Genesis, requires its members to sign a Statement of Faith that includes this statement: "No apparent, perceived, or claimed interpretation of evidence in any field, including history and chronology, can be valid if it contradicts the Scriptural record." It's not even *possible* to argue against their faith, regardless of the evidence - they explicitly prohibit it.

    Yes, humans have biases and scientists are human but beyond this simple observation there is no comparison with religion, regardless of the truth of any particular expression of it. The ideal of science, as defined by the scientific method, is to subject new ideas to harsh scrutiny to weed out the bad ones. Mechanisms exist to overturn previous scientific conclusions, but this requires extraordinary evidence. IDists have thus far done a very poor job at providing such evidence. If you disagree, please point to the most compelling evidence for ID that you are aware of and I'd be happy to discuss it.

  71. Chris says:

    notJoeKing:

    Besides looking poor at grammar i don't think that i have looked too stupid. At least I don't support a theory for which there is no evidence. I'm sorry not to remain civil but as soon as a board deteriorates into name calling it becomes difficult to continue.

    Strawmen, Nazis and other lame redirects? Nazis are indeed a poor way to argue. perhaps inform Ben Stein? The only reason Nazis were brought up here is to refute the rubbish that he spouts in this "documentary".
    Straw men are a logical fallacy. You take your premise and use it to reach your conclusion. However, your premise is incorrect. It is not how things in science actually operate, thus you are attacking a false image of science. One easier to ridicule. This is a strawman.

    The way you have pounced on the word assume is regrettable. There is a massive difference with conclude. With conclude, the evidence clearly comes first.
    And yes, people have their biases, same as any ID supporter does not do an experiment with "i don't know" in their minds, they are fervently hoping to discredit evolution.
    This is why double blind trials are used in medical research. In scientific research, the methods used must be submitted along with the results to peer review. And here, scientists regularly criticize bad methodology that could have led to false results and interpretations.

  72. Justiss says:

    "The problem with this idea is that natural science assumes that truth can only be found through the scientific method. A method which is not without critics, as it was founded on rational thought, not empiricist study. The scientific method used today must reject anything without empirical, measurable evidence. As such, metaphysical ideas such as right or wrong, love, hate, God, souls, mind, free will, etc. must be rejected as fancy and unscientific. Or such must be turned into an object, quantifiable idea. Imagine trying to quantify objectively how much you love your family using discriminate levels? There's something inherently flawed about that idea. We have to create artificial measures to make everything conform to natural sciences and reject anything that doesn't fit. That is pretty much the main argument against the scientific community as it stands."

    You're missing one word in your opening line: "objective" Science seeks an objective (i.e. measurable, observable) truth which is pretty much why scientific method relies on objective criteria. A mechanism for finding "truth" based upon what you or I believe, is pointless, at least at our current level of development. Perhaps someday we'll have a method of discerning which belief system is "true", but, for now we pretty much do it by numbers - 100 million people believe in the saving power of Jesus Christ while only a few million believe in the saving power of the Easter Bunny. Guess that means Christ is "true", at least until majority opinion shifts. Right now the ID crowd seems intent upon shifting prevailing belief systems away from evolutionary evidence in order to create a "truth" by numbers.

    Also, saying that man is no different than a rock certainly indicates much about the level of your thinking on the issue. This magical soul you espouse does not eliminate the chemicals that enable our minds to communicate and think.These chemical processes are objective fact. They (in complex combination) also make us different from a rock or a chicken or even each other. The ideas of "mind" and "soul" are certainly intriguing fodder for conversation, but, again, the "truth" of these concepts cannot currently be demonstrated except through numbers of believers.

    Let's that I believe Earth revolves around the sun, while you believe the sun revolves around Earth. Prior to Copernicus your view would be "true" since the majority of people believed it. After Copernicus, my view trends toward "true" as more and more people are exposed to the contradictions to your belief raised by objectively observed data. Does this mean that you are wrong in some absolute sense? Not necessarily. Maybe the sun did revolve around Earth until majority belief shifted or maybe it still does and we are blind to it. These are faith or philosophy-based arguments. In an objective sense, however, one has to conclude that currently, according to the evidence of our senses, Earth does revolve around the sun. That is a science-based argument, just as evolution is a science-based argument.

    Which is more useful in planning your everyday life? Which is more helpful in settling social disputes? Why should demonstrated fact be irrelevant to settling disputes between factions? Don't we both exist in this observable world? Should not evidence before our eyes be a common ground? I may not share your belief in heaven and you may not share my jihad, but we do share the sensate world.

    Scientific method serves us in a practical sense, while faith may very well serve us in a personal sense. As long as both are confined to that appropriate sphere of political/social decision-making (reason dictating social rules, faith dictating personal ethics), I have no problems.

    Once we move beyond this world, I wish you the best in whatever direction you choose to go. For now, let's agree that the Earth revolves around the sun.

  73. FinalElysium says:

    This movie got me thinking of another documentary i saw on TV a while ago: Jusdgement Day: Intelligent Design on Trail

    If I recall correctly, I think they proved in court that to the Discovery Institute, that atleast to them, Intelligent design is thinly veiled Creationism. I turned out that the books they were trying to introduce to Dover school system (see: Wikipedia article) the initial version was a Creationist book, and the later versions simply have a the word Creationism replaced with Intelligent Design (they caught them because one of the copy and pastes as bad so the words got merged pretty awesome!)

    All I have to say is that the Discovery Institue, at least how it is protrayed in the Judgment Day doc, is shady. Since I'm idealic, I'd like to think that this is a documentary and re-enactment of an actual court case, rather than a send-up documentary just to make ID look good and villify scientific reluctance to accept it, that it carries more weight than this (though I haven't seen it this movie so take that statement with a mountain-size grain of salt.)

    Either way I would totally recommend Judgement Day: Intelligent Design on Trial in lieu of or along with this movie, if only because of the possibilty to put perspective on both docs.

  74. mommy says:

    I was raised by a scientist who made it a point to show me the scopes trial quite young and continually discuss issues that make macro evolution problematic. Perhaps here is a place to ask, how do scientists deal with macro evolution problems such as...

    How would part of an eye be helpful? Or if I grant you the whole eye ball in a neato jump...what about the optic nerve? Then what about the receptors with the brain? Does macro evolution cover how this would happen twice-with eyeballs appropriate distances from each other?

    Of course I could also get into how part of a heart would be helpful...or once you have the whole heart how part of a vein -say in your lower leg...would be helpful...

    My dad's favorite was baleen.

    It could all boil down to me wondering why we ever evolved beyond cockroach?

    I get micro evolution..but macro evolution-even within a species-to me is nothing short of a leap of faith. I would just like permission to make a similar leap in another direction without "academia" crying foul.

  75. MattP says:

    mommy,

    Your questions about evolution have been answered many times over. If you really are curious about the answers to these questions, just Google them. Googling the phrase "what use is half an eye" will yield several sites that provide a lot of information on how evolutionary theory addresses the question of how the eye evolved. Briefly, part of an eye incredibly useful - a single light sensitive cell is useful for detecting a passing predator or prey. A cluster of such cells allows for some directional sensitivity. An indentation in the skin containing a cluster of cells provides better directional sensitivity. A thin membrane of translucent cells over the light sensitive cells provides protection as well as the ability to favor certain wavelengths of light. That membrane can become more clear and taken on the properties of a lens and muscles can form to allow the cell bundle to be aimed. All of these forms and many more, essentially every basic form that could be useful between a single photocell and a fully developed eyeball, exist in different species today. Several creatures get along just swell with what is essentially "part of an eye".

    I get micro evolution..but macro evolution-even within a species-to me is nothing short of a leap of faith.The fact that you are not familiar with the science behind evolutionary theory does not mean that a leap of faith is required to for scientists, or even lay persons willing to do some study, to consider to correct.

    Is it a leap of faith to believe that the sun's core fuses hydrogen into helium? Should a theory that says it does not be presented to students in science class without any evidence to support the claim? What if the theory is that there is a supernatural force in the core of the sun that creates helium and that fusion of hydrogen is not required for this to occur? If solar scientists object to this evidence-less competing theory being granted a place in the science curriculum, are they being oppressive scare-quotes "academics" or are they trying to advocate for good science?

    ID is not just a "similar leap" in another direction. It's a philosophical proposition with no evidence available to support it. The "crying foul" is not over the leap being made, but by the attempt to teach this leap as science.

  76. Joshua Steimle says:

    I'm a Christian. I grew up in Los Angeles. The schools I went to taught evolution without any reference to ID or God, while my parents and my church taught me the earth and everything on it was created by God. I don't remember there being any conflict, perhaps because my parents said "Maybe evolution is God's way of creating things" and left it at that. I'm not sure where all this hoopla came from. If the schools teach my kids something I disagree with, then that gives me the opportunity to have a discussion with my kids about it, and if the schools are able to convince my kids of something I strenuously disagree with then I figure either my kids are going to believe that regardless, or maybe what I believe really is wrong, or maybe I'm not a very good parent and haven't spent much time with my kids.

    Like Eric says, I think the argument here is between the extremists on both sides, and somehow the rest of us are getting involved in something that shouldn't even be an issue in the first place.

  77. MattP says:

    Like Eric says, I think the argument here is between the extremists on both sides, and somehow the rest of us are getting involved in something that shouldn't even be an issue in the first place.Yes and no. The ID advocates are attempting, through a PR campaign and legislative lobbying, to skip the scientific process which vets new ideas. They couldn't present any valid science, so they are using the legislature, curriculum committees, and school boards to try to force their philosophy into the science classes directly by convincing people who have no particular expertise in the subject but which have the political power to specify what curriculum is permitted. The people on the other side of that battle are working scientists that object to this end-run around the scientific process and corruption of science education. These people aren't extremists - they are run-of-the-mill biologists and science teachers.

    The anti-religion atheist scientists, like Richard Dawkins and PZ Meyers, are only involved in these issues as commentators. They blog and speak about the issue, but they aren't involved in drafting legislation, they don't show up at curriculum meetings, and have no direct influence. Pointing at these non-actors as examples of the atheist scientific menace is a red herring and it's unfair to brand the long suffering scientists and teachers that are attempting to maintain the integrity of US science education as extremists.

  78. Eric D. Snider says:

    #77: Richard Dawkins' emphatic declarations in the movie that belief in God is a delusion and that an understanding of science can only lead one to atheism make him, in my opinion, an extremist. Those are extreme opinions.

  79. MattP says:

    #78 Oh absolutely. That's why I was trying to make the point (apprently poorly) that the "talking head" atheist extremists like Dawkins were not representative of the "other side" - these people are no more involved in the real work of defending science education at a state and local level than Anne Coulter is involved in drafting conservative legislation.

  80. John Doe says:

    "Don't we both exist in this observable world? Should not evidence before our eyes be a common ground?"

    Haven't read any of the works of Socrates (or Plato's account of him) have you? Even Descartes and his cartesian world view rejects that the observable world is the only important world.

    By the same token, do you quantify everything you do? Can you objectively measure love? Compassion? Mercy? Happiness? Equality?

    And where did the scientific method come from? Who empirically found it in the observable world? Can you heft the scientific method with your hands? Can you observe it with your eyes? The scientific method is an extension of philosophy. Has anyone empirically measured the scientific method? What did they measure it with? What did they compare it to?

    "Which is more useful in planning your everyday life? Which is more helpful in settling social disputes? Why should demonstrated fact be irrelevant to settling disputes between factions? Don't we both exist in this observable world? Should not evidence before our eyes be a common ground? I may not share your belief in heaven and you may not share my jihad, but we do share the sensate world."

    The empirical world declares there is no such thing as right and wrong, only pleasure and pain. Might makes right. Survival of the fittest. It doesn't advocate these actions, but dispassionately states they are the most effective ways to live, avoid pain, and gain pleasure. Machiavelli's "The Prince" explains it all perfectly. Psychology and sociology tell us that we are self-interested creatures and altruism does not exist. I think, when settling social disputes or faction disputes, the idea that free will does exist is important. That people can be altruistic and work beyond self-interest. Something beyond the discrete, empirical world must exist to have meaningful relationships in this world. I can't see how telling fighting factions that ideas like love, mercy, and justice are fancies can help the situation. I acknowledge that just because science declares these things to be fancies doesn't mean we ought to act like they don't exist. However, it's a lot harder to convince people that selfless sacrifice and mercy are good ideas when empirical science tells them it benefits them most to act as greedy and oppressive as their power will allow them.

  81. MattP says:

    Even Descartes and his cartesian world view rejects that the observable world is the only important world.

    Which doesn't answer the statement you were replying to:

    Should not evidence before our eyes be a common ground?

    And this is what science is - an objective common ground. A mechanism where we can examine the tangible evidence and develop provisional theories to explain it and guide further investigation. This doesn't mean that science encompasses all that there is to know and that nothing else is relevant, just that science is well defined and that definition is useful for its purposes. Science cannot define or measure love - no argument there. In principle, might it? Perhaps, but we don't know enough yet to determine that and we may never. I think that's wonderful!

    The empirical world declares there is no such thing as right and wrong, only pleasure and pain.

    No it doesn't. Empiricism declares what is observed and what is not, and emphasizes sensory observance. Pleasure and pain are the measures by which philosophical utilitarianism determine what is right and what is wrong. Science does not address things in such ambiguous terms.

    I can't see how telling fighting factions that ideas like love, mercy, and justice are fancies can help the situation. I acknowledge that just because science declares these things to be fancies doesn't mean we ought to act like they don't exist.

    Science says no such thing. The most that science can do is analyze how these concepts manifest themselves through some crude measurements of brain activity and social dynamics. Beyond that science just shrugs it shoulders and says "I don't know, but I'll keep thinking about it." There are a number of theories regarding how these traits may have evolved, but I'm not aware of any scientific publication suggesting that they don't exist or don't matter. Stating that love is just a fancy is particularly non-scientific idea - how do you quantify a "fancy"?

    However, it's a lot harder to convince people that selfless sacrifice and mercy are good ideas when empirical science tells them it benefits them most to act as greedy and oppressive as their power will allow them.

    Again, science doesn't say this. There are theories about how altruism may have evolved as an evolutionarily advantageous trait. It would be hard to justify such theories if the conclusion of science was that altruism was useless and that greed and oppression were more objectively useful traits.

  82. ID-Dave says:

    Stating that love is just a fancy is particularly non-scientific idea

    Omgzzzz!!!1!11!!
    He MiSsed Teh "a".
    It shud say "Stating that love is just a fancy is a particularly non-scientific idea"

    WHat teh n00Bzz!11!!!eleven!!
    Lolz.
    Inteligent Design is teh win! EVILution man cant even use teh english proper.

  83. John Doe says:

    MattP

    I noticed you ignored the origin of the scientific method and the problems there. Care to take a stab? Or is your objective scientific method just philosophy put into practice?

    My point overall is that science is not the be-all, end-all that many make it out to be. Those "sciences" that accept love, mercy, etc. are called pseudo-sciences for a reason. They aren't really scientific. They have as much place in science as belief in God. You can't measure love and quantifying it is more difficult than you let on.

    I still don't understand your thoughts on right and wrong. If it's a philosophical issue, then so is God. Science takes the same stance on God as it does all moral issues. Or do you disagree? I do find it interesting you use the term "concepts" to describe the subject. Is a concept empirically measurable? Where do my senses find these "concepts" in the object world? I have never walked down the street and seen a concept laying on the ground. I doubt anyone has. Notice all these non-scientific, subjective terms you must resort to despite saying that science does consider these things.

  84. MattP says:

    I noticed you ignored the origin of the scientific method and the problems there. Care to take a stab? Or is your objective scientific method just philosophy put into practice?

    Of course it's just a practical philosophy. Universities teach semester long courses on the "Philosophy of Science." I didn't comment on this because I don't strongly disagree with it. The scientific method is the result of analysis of the way we obtain and interpret data and an attempt to create a formalized system for determining objective truth while minimizing the affect of the various cognitive biases that we are subject to.

    My point overall is that science is not the be-all, end-all that many make it out to be.

    Then I think you are arguing with a vary narrow segment of people, none of which are likely participating here. I certainly don't think science is the be-all, end-all, but I do think it's the best way to understand the natural world. Whether God(s) is cranking the machine or not, science does a pretty darn good job of explaining how that machine works.

    Those "sciences" that accept love, mercy, etc. are called pseudo-sciences for a reason. They aren't really scientific.

    Which sciences are you referring to? I'm not aware of anything that's commonly referred to as a pseudoscience that you may be referring to here except, perhaps, astrology. Most pseudoscience attempts to address the physical world and doesn't invoke ephemeral concepts like "love". ID certainly doesn't talk about love. Even creation science doesn't talk about love.

    They have as much place in science as belief in God.

    I'm not sure I'm following. Are you saying that pseudoscience should be embrace by science and so should God, or neither?

    You can't measure love and quantifying it is more difficult than you let on.

    I just finished saying that it was not currently possible and possibly never would be. How can I reasonably express it as being any more difficult without making a baseless assertion that it definitely never would be?

    I still don't understand your thoughts on right and wrong. If it's a philosophical issue, then so is God.

    I'm haven't discussed my thought on right and wrong. My only reference to right and wrong was to correct your assertion about certain Utilitarian language being applied to the practice of science. Science is about the "is" not the "aught" and, for the domain of knowledge available to science, "aught" just doesn't come into the picture.

    Science takes the same stance on God as it does all moral issues.

    I suppose so, with the caveat that if God actually influences the physical world, then that influence can be observed, while "moral issues" don't have a physical manifestation.

    Notice all these non-scientific, subjective terms you must resort to despite saying that science does consider these things.I making concessions to succinctness and communication, and making an apparently unwarranted assumption that people will be able to understand my meaning based on context.

    What I meant is that, to the extent that people are able to describe their personal experiences with abstractions such as love, some level of scientific analysis can be done. For instance, someone can be asked to think about someone they love while performing an FMRI scan. Comparing such scans across several subjects, including some who were instructed to think of a neutral topic, perform math, or otherwise imagine a non-love-related though, can show if there is any unique brain activity associated with that type of thought. Many other related experiments can be conducted to further refine how the experience of love, as described by participants in the experiments, manifest in the brain. Note that I did say that at present science has only a crude ability to analysis such abstractions. The point is that even these very subjective experiences are not entirely beyond the scope of scientific inquiry.

    Consider the question "Do subjects who claim they are thinking about someone that they love show any common brain activity that is not seen in subjects who claim they are thinking about staplers?" That's a perfectly scientific question which can be easily answered with the tools that are currently available to us.

    Contrast with the question "Does subject A love his wife?" Not a scientific question, as far as we know. Cannot be answered with currently available tools. May not ever be answerable scientifically.

  85. Kaydria says:

    I find it difficult to believe that a movie that inspires this much debate should deserve a D+. I actually really enjoyed it. I thought it was entertaining and provocative. As long as you keep in mind that it's obviously biased propaganda, there's nothing stopping you from doing your own research and coming to your own conclusions.

    Also, someone should tell Ben Stein that it's a terrible idea to just keep walking in Seattle until you find what you're looking for. I was lost on foot for two hours once. Not cool.

  86. Tim says:

    I was waiting for this review, especially since the movie's been advertised on Eric's site for a long time.

    I think Eric gives good reasons for why he gave it a D+. It's possible for a movie to be crappy and still get a lot of debate.

  87. Martha says:

    I did not from from a monkey or an ape. I am GOD's creation and my ancestor, Adam, was created in his image. Because of sin, we are now in Adam's image.

    Hitler may have seen himself as a Christian as did his misguided followers. Nobody has the right to totally enialate a group of people in the name of religion. My GOD teaches love. It is not my job to judge people and be the judge and jury, that is GOD's responsibility. My purpose while on Earth is to be more and more like Jesus everyday and to pray for those in need. Unfortunately some just don't get it and they will burn in Hell for eternity. What a shame, because GOD's gift of salvation is free!!!

  88. Bob says:

    "At the Dover trial, Judge Jones concluded that ID is, in fact, a form of creationism. You should read his decision"

    Wasn't that the logical strategy of the lawers? The courts had already judged creationism as not allowed in public schools, so to stick the label of creationism on ID was the easy road to getting it their way. The real points of ID weren't argued. They kept hammering on the beliefs of the witnesses, but not the science they were supposed to be examining. The real issue is that there are scientific observations that evolution can not explain. ID if nothing else reveals that evolution is deficient. Certainly evolution explains the variation we see, but does not convince me by any scientific evidence of common descent. It devolves into story telling. I find it interesting that in the Scopes trial, the ACLU was pushing to have competing theories laid out in schools. Now the argument is that only one is allowed. The courts have even blocked the teaching of the problems and inconsistencies of evolution. [Georgia textbook stickers] Michael Behe's book "The Edge of Evolution: The Search for the Limits of Darwinism" does an excellent job of showing some examples of why evolution is deficient. You should read it. It's amazing to me how many scientific journals simply find ID as off limits - politically, not on the scientific evidence. I have a copy of Archeaology in which a scientist goes to extreme detail in complaining about all of the problems. Problems in the fossil record mostly. Rather than having the freedom to investigate whether another mechanism might explain his observations, he concludes that evolution must have worked a different way, and goes on to explain punctuated equilibrium. On and on it goes. Science needs to apply the scientific process honestly and recognize that at the heart of science is the notion that as new evidence is revealed theories can be disproved and new ones accepted. Somehow we gotten to the point of having the courts decide these things and not the evidence.

  89. Phil Cardenas says:

    I notice that we haven't discussed a few important themes from the film. The "genesis" for Expelled is that people who were generally AMAZING scientists were castigated because they dared question some theory that science hasn't fully explained yet. Let's face it, to be denied tenure, fired, or ostracized because someone might think that God did it, is horribly, horribly unfair and makes all empowered scientists in academic authority look bad. What might have been dismissed by a colleague saying, "Oh, there goes Caroline again, bringing Diety into it," becomes something that ruins a person's career.

    Let's talk about the extremes. There are people in the world who believe that God is impassible, that He created the world (and man) ex nihilo in six 24 hour days, and that man is predestined to a particular fate (extremely Calvinistic, yes, but some people are still of that mentality). And there are athiests like William Provine (featured in the film) that believe God, free will, and creation are wrong, wrong, wrong. I'm almost sure that none of us on this thread fall into these categories, but if we did we would have the strongest and most vehement arguments to defend our positions. But after all was said and done, arguing these things would only serve to make us look bad because we could never come to agreement (or maybe even common civility) on anything. Yes, the film has a point of view and it's weighted; Ben Stein never shows the extremes of the dogmatic Christian evangelist (perhaps because that wasn't the gist of his movie), but he certainly does show how extreme and dogmatic Dawkins, Provine and others are. There is no questioning. Resistance is futile.
    Richard Von Sternberg, Caroline Crocker, Robert Marks, and Guillermo Gonzalez weren't extreme. They are not extreme by any standard of the word. Why are they suffering the most?

    One last thing. By using the scientific method, I have come to know for myself that the teachings of Christ are effective and are in agreement with happiness. Anyone that makes a habit of sharing their substance, visiting the less fortunate, serving others, praying to the Father, practicing humility, love and charity will eventually find himself very happy indeed. Dawkins and other athiests have used science to dismiss the Christian God completely. I don't know them personally, but they came off as arrogant, egotistical and very sad figures indeed.

  90. MattP says:

    "At the Dover trial, Judge Jones concluded that ID is, in fact, a form of creationism. You should read his decision"

    Wasn't that the logical strategy of the lawers?

    To be fair, it was the ID lawyers that asked Judge Jones to rule on whether ID was science. The ID side pulled some of their more prominent witnesses prior to the trial, which was a silly move for them to make if they really were confident in their claim to a sound basis in science. Poor Behe was practically on his own in defending ID, through no fault of the prosecution.

    There are good reasons for concluding that ID is a form of creationism. Again, read the transcripts. After creation science became illegal to teach, a creation science text book had every instance of "creation" replaced with "intelligent design" before being put forth as the premier textbook for intelligent design. They even made a mistake at one point during their search/replace where the term "cdesign proponentsists" appears. A transitional form!

    They kept hammering on the beliefs of the witnesses, but not the science they were supposed to be examining.

    I've read all of the transcripts from that trial and they clearly did address the science. The ID "science" consists only of arguments against evolution, such as the concept of irreducible complexity. Behe acknowledged on the stand that he had not read most of the available research regarding the biological structures which he deemed to be irreducibly complex. In any care "irreducible complexity" is an argument from ignorance fallacy, equivalent to saying "I can't imagine how this could have evolved, therefore it didn't."

    The real issue is that there are scientific observations that evolution can not explain.

    No complex theory is complete, otherwise there would be no point in continued research. The lack of an explanation for a phenomenon in one theory is *not* evidence for the truth of another. Even if evolution were completely discarded, that doesn't make the concept of ID any stronger. ID needs to present it's own case, which it simply hasn't done.

    Michael Behe's book "The Edge of Evolution: The Search for the Limits of Darwinism" does an excellent job of showing some examples of why evolution is deficient.It does a horrible job. It's because his ideas don't stand up to critical scrutiny that Behe has been forced to publishing popular literature. Behe makes fundamental errors in his book, such as stating that chloroquine resistance in malaria required two specific simultaneous mutations, which is indeed somewhat unlikely. Had he actually read the relevant research, he would have been aware that one of those mutations alone provided some level of chloroquine resistance and strains of malaria have been found containing just that one mutation. The fact that those mutations happened separately, and not simultaneously as he claims, blows his mathematically probability argument out of the water. He made similar errors - making assertions that are directly contradicted by available research - regarding the development of new genes in HIV. He says it hasn't happened and the research clearly show that is has.

    This is why peer review is so important - it's not hard to publish something that sounds reasonable to those who are predisposed to your conclusions, but few people have the background to refute false claims in such esoteric fields as molecular biology.

  91. MattP says:

    Let's face it, to be denied tenure, fired, or ostracized because someone might think that God did it, is horribly, horribly unfair and makes all empowered scientists in academic authority look bad.

    Indeed. Fortunately, it seems unlikely that this has actually occurred in the cases cited in the film, at least not nearly to the extent that Stein portrays. For instance, Gonzales and the DI *suspect* that his ID views were the major factor in his denial of tenure but they have zero evidence to support this claim. On the other hand, his ability to bring in grant money and the trend in his publications record, two of the major factors in tenure reviews, were not favorable.

    Start by reading the refutations to these claims at www.expelledexposed.com. Clearly there is some disagreement on the details and even generalities of these claims. Many of the facts of these situations, especially regarding the Sternberg situation, can be verified independently. You don't have to take my word for it - look it up yourself.

  92. whome says:

    Nobody is pointing out the opposite problem -- that "Science" is what is really being misunderstood in this debate.

    Scientific theories do not deal in truth, they deal in validity. When a scientist observes some data or some phenomenon, they try to describe it with a mathematical equation. This equation is called a scientific law. Then, a bunch of these laws are combined in a framework intended to model the nature of the world. This framework is called a scientific theory. When this theory makes predictions about experiments that can be reproduced or predictions about future measurements or findings that are then observed, we say we have found evidence for the validity of the theory. When we discover findings that contradict the theory, we call it an anomaly. If the anomaly persists, a new theory is needed to explain it, but that new theory must also be validated.

    Intelligent Design is not a scientific theory. It is an assertion that there is a reason behind the start of life. This has no equations, no structure, nor is it verifiable. It should not be held up as an alternate scientific theory, since it is nothing of the sort. Nor should science have anything to say on the subject, since the reason behind the origin of life is not the kind of question science can ask. Science is a wonderful tool to ask certain types of questions, but trying to use science to verify or disprove the existence of God is like using a hammer to screw in a delicate light bulb. The tool simply doesn't work.

  93. whome says:

    Both sides seem to misunderstand science. Many people want to believe in Science as an alternative to Religion -- these people basically say that if science cannot ask and answer the question, then the question is irrelevant or meaningless. They have total blind faith in the universality of science.

    On the other hand, many people have based their faith in God on some philosophy like Platonism (truth is found by looking away from the physical world). This was, in fact, what the great apologists of the third through fifth centuries did. The philosophy in the Roman Empire was so staunchly Platonic that Christianity was changed to conform to it, and thus it survived and eventually thrived. We ended up with weird things like the Nicean Creed with its mysteries. Now the philosophy in vogue is Aristotilian (truth is found by observing the physical world) and Christianity is again trying to change its principles to fit the philosophy of Science. And you get other weird things like ID.

    In the Bible, religion only conformed to Direct Revelation from God to Prophets and Apostles, not to the prevailing philosophy of the day.

  94. hecowe says:

    Eric gave An Inconvenient Truth a B+?

    Talk about your garbage disposal of science! I'm so disillusioned...

  95. Queen of Everything says:

    Ok, it's getting late and I got halfway through this discussion and I had to stop...

    It seems to me that there's quite a bit of bickering, unnecessary ad hominem logical flaws in people's reasoning, on both sides, and then there is the general modernist view coloring absolutely everyone's opinion.

    Perhaps it's because I have a high respect for my philosophy instructor, and perhaps its because I hate modernist views inherently, but I will make my argument (and if someone already said this in the last half of this discussion, sorry).

    Natural law of its ancient meaning is forgotten, generally, in our society. When it is brought up, it's wearing many different costumes of various religions, which our modernist view balks at, since they aren't quantifiable and can't be empirically tested or proven to be true. No man can soak his lipid skin in them, therefore, they are ignored. Or, I should say, natural law is ignored.

    While I personally love science and its method and what all it has done for us as a society, I can't help but wonder a few things: if the scientific method allows for us to put up questions of why and how and shatter ancient theories, then shouldn't it stand up to its own test? So, I question science to its very roots; whence came such an idea? How solid is it? What makes us, as the contemporary world, so certain that we now have more answers than anyone before us? Is the scientific method a panacea to divining truth? Are we beings with divine origins and metaphysical counterparts or are we chemical soups with little or no free will?

    I guess I don't know the answers to these questions, but what little quantifiable evidence does exist that might prove the existence of natural law settles my personal feelings on the matter. The Chinese believe in a Tao, or a force greater than anything. The Hindus believe in rta, or actual truth. The Jews believe in a separate, steady, underlying and permeating truth. Ancient Greeks believed their own Deities sprung from a life-source much greater than themselves ("Chaos" in the book I read). Several of these cultures had these ideas deeply ingrained in themselves long before any of them contacted each other. Aristotle hadn't heard of a Jew, he didn't borrow Moses' special stone tablets, but he himself in his ethics said that adultery, envy and murder were inherently wrong and could never be considered right according to this mystical "law" the Greeks spoke of, that Moses mentioned, that the Chinese knew and that Indians and Native Americans and Russians and pygmies and all of them somehow "knew."

    I think our problem is that we put our scientists, judges and doctors up on pedestals, worship them as the enlightened gods of our time, and get cranky when something comes up that might contradict what they have to say. What makes them so perfect intellectually? Why should we follow what they say? What makes Charles Darwin or Marx or Freud or Skinner or anyone who followed after this "Godless" (non creationism) or coldly scientific view, to the belief that earth is a seething mass of chemical reactions and nothing more, the "enlightened"? That if we follow after this pattern of thinking, we now know more than anyone before us?

    Hey, if natural law could govern mankind for millenia, why can't it do the same now? Volcanoes erupted then, volcanoes will erupt now and kill with the same ferocity, since people then were stupid enough to live near a volcano, and people now are stupid enough to live near a volcano. Can science now stop a volcano from erupting and killing all those people and saving their money-raking ski lodges, or can it just help to rebuild afterwards, or try to predict the eruption, just like ancient people did?

    I guess I just want to say that their poop stunk back then, and all up until now, and our poop still stinks. We now know more about why it stinks, but it doesn't change the fact that it does stink. I see no distinction in that example to any other, and if someone can come up with an explanation that can change my mind, an explanation that doesn't attack me as a person or a thinker, then please respond.

    garg. fingers are blistering.

  96. MattP says:

    I guess I just want to say that their poop stunk back then, and all up until now, and our poop still stinks. We now know more about why it stinks, but it doesn't change the fact that it does stink. I see no distinction in that example to any other, and if someone can come up with an explanation that can change my mind, an explanation that doesn't attack me as a person or a thinker, then please respond.

    I'm not sure what you're getting at. Science doesn't have all the answers, it merely has theories that are consistent with the available evidence. If you've got a theory that is better at explaining the evidence and makes more accurate predictions than one that currently has prominence, present it and the old one will be discarded. Other than a few quibbles about vocabulary, I think the post above regarding "validity" is a satisfactory answer to your questions/concerns/complaints.

  97. Queen of Everything says:

    Hehehehehe, see, I was pretty doggone tired when I wrote that...but yes, I do understand what you are saying.

    I was trying to get at the fact that despite all of our technological advances and the knowledge garnered from nature, we really aren't that different from ancient people. And as far as validity goes, yeah. I just looked through this again, and I think that SD Girl (Comment #69) definitely says things in a lucid manner as far as that's concerned. Science seeks to understand, but I think that when it understands how something works, it has found a truth. The problem lies with people who believe that the scientific method is the ONLY method of finding truth or understanding, and religion is outdated, antiquated, and therefore quite useless. My point was that religion, by itself, doesn't have all the answers, but it worked for millenia. Now that we do know much more about the natural world around us, thanks to the scientific method, we should now, more than ever, be looking to religion for the things that science cannot quantify, the questions that science cannot answer. The problem, as I said before, is the attitude that many people have nowadays, which is that science is the answer, that the world is completely quantifiable, but as each person individually finds out, there are just some things that cannot be quantified, yet still exist.

    So, that's what I was getting at.

    As far as theories about big questions go, I have little to offer, since there are people out there who are far smarter (obviously) than I am and people who are far more inspired than I am, and all I can do is read or listen to what they say, and then test what they have to say for myself, or research it further to see if there is a large and general consensus and continuity. All I wanted to say was that science isn't God (figuratively speaking), scientists are smart people who are genuinely interested in seeing how things work, but religion should not be ignored,even in our time of technological enlightenment. It worked for a long time in answering people's questions, though some of their answers for natural phenomena were found to be quite mystical, and over the past few centuries we have made a little switcheroo in our thinking to almost purely a scientific mode of thought, convincing ourselves that everything that is real can be measured, and this flies in the face of the metaphysical truths that were discovered a long time ago, though we still pretty much lack complete understanding of them.

    I think this point has been made several times.

    And I was excited for this film when I heard about it, but I worried it would turn to propaganda. Thanks, Eric, I don't think I will even bother to see it now.

  98. Bill says:

    Long and interesting discussions. Claiming Hitler was a Nazi? (Good quotes by SteveM #19. Whether Hitler's actions, including honesty of speech, are consistent with the New Testament answer this). Regretting the existence of "information". Quoting words "separation of church and state" which are not in the Bill or Rights (actual non-myth verbiage includes Congress shall pass no law prohibiting the free exercise of religion). Claiming a theory of origins with no deity, nothing to say on the thereafter, no prescribed mores of conduct is a religion (ID)?

    Well, on the root topic addressed by the film: I just wanted to add that in addition to an explanation of origins which has no answer on origins, the theory of evolution fails to take it from there. Both components of the supposed mechanism are not suited for what they are expected to accomplish.
    Natural selection (specialization) decreases information, this is well documented and consistent with the 2nd Law of Thermo. It is ironic that a phenomena which decreases information would repeatedly be forwarded as the best evidence for a hypothetical process to do the opposite of creating (increasing) it. There is no shortage of examples that genetic mutations are always harmful. Invariably somebody puts forth something like sickle cell anemia and malaria. An upward movement (improvement, increase in complexity) must benefit the organism overall. Yes, you don't have to worry about a car which lost a wheel having a flat tire. If that is an improvement everybody should volunteer to get sickle cell anemia, yet there are organizations to help these poor people deal with the preponderance of detrimental effects. If that is an improvement, we should keep the sun-screen off and ingest industrial waste so we can get more of those beneficial genetic mutations. As well, random genetic mutation is abandoned by those trying to pose an explanation for say the bombardier beetle. "First you get a sphincter muscle similar to such and such, then you fill a cavity with hydrogen peroxide similar to such and such". Wait. That's not the theory being defended. An intelligence could select the components they need off-the-shelf and assemble them for a purpose in mind. The evolution illustration should go like it claims: random, first a cavity with ammonia like such and such - no, acetic acid like such and such - no, blood plasma like such and such - no, amniotic fluid like such and such - no........... This is giving the theory the benefit of the doubt. Actually, before each of these components could even arise the partial coded acids in the genome for them would be eliminated by natural selection, having no survival benefit but detriment. What if we copy whole lengths of code? By chance? Does the capture of a random portion of information and its copying to a random location within the genome increase information? Down's syndrome. Trisomy. It is not information because what it did was not understood by an intelligence and it was not manipulated in a knowledgeable way to accomplish an identified purpose.
    So what? Resort again to more time? That has long enjoyed it's psychological appeal. "In enough time anything could happen" Actually, in large amounts of time rare, not impossible, things can occur, and be undone many times over by the common events. But evolution is not slow, but lightening fast. Let's say there were 5 billion years (though all methods of geochronometry but radioisotope dating with tailored assumptions say thousands), and evolution spanned them all (I think the party line is several million years) for the 3.8 billion base pairs to write themselves. That is over a base pair each year, to appear, and propagate across the entire human genome (how far on the way are we to blacks and whites being homogeneous for an idea of the later). Wow! By the time we finished the human genome project what we were transcribing should have had about 17 new base pairs randomly added throughout.
    But time is the enemy of evolution. The things we know most in science have climbed the ladder from hypothesis to theory to law. To reach this status they can be demonstrated any day in the lab and not one valid experiment has every disproved them. Laws are foundational, the equations of physics we use are derived from them, and theories which contradict them are be thrown out. The 2nd law of thermo states that entropy in a closed system (no flow of entropy across the system boundary) always increases. Entropy is the ability of energy to do work, and comes from there being gradients within it. An example are areas of differing electrical charge which can flow a current, difference in temperature which can drive a carnot engine (memory wire wheel is a great example), differences in pressure which can cause movement. When something is ordered many of these gradients exist. Humans are great at packing large gradients and many gradients in small spaces (batteries, microchips). The human body is the pinnacle of these, especially differences in chemical potential, the propensity of different elements and compounds to bond to each other and react in various ways. The theory of evolution claims the opposite, that the entropy on earth actually decreased from before there was life to after, without an entropy flow out of the system (i.e. a closed system). Invariably somebody says "the sun shining on the earth provided the entropy flow out". No, that is an energy flow in. That is literally like taking a mixture of nitrogen and oxygen in a bottle and saying by shining a flashlight on it the nitrogen will migrate to one side and the oxygen to the other. You can't miss an entropy flow out. Here is an example what it looks like. Someone reaching into a bottle with a pair of tweezers and assembling a ship. They are an intelligence, with an end goal in mind and knowledge how to accomplish it. Design is not a matter of just separating one gas from another. Many, many things need put in order. The panels selected for the right location, glue applied, held in place until it dries. Piece after piece. When they are done the entropy is less than when they started. When they are done, they put in the cork and walk away, and in the absence of intelligent intervention decay begins. Some years later the mast falls down, the fabric of the sails gets brittle. Thus with earth. Many, many animals have become extinct, no replacements. Our health continues to decay from our as-created state (with its designed mechanism for heredity, carrying non-expressed information which nobody can see, including natural selection which can't act upon it). More people with eyesight correction, respiratory problems, crones, diabetes, asthma, continuously we hear about it

  99. MattP says:

    Ugh. Ok, I'm just going to take a couple of these right now to see if you're really interested in discussing this subject or if you are merely repeating creationist talking points.

    Natural selection (specialization) decreases information

    Please define "information" so I can either a) demonstrate that you are incorrect or b) show that your definition of "information" is meaningless. There's also a possibility of c) I can acknowledge that you are correct, but I've seen this argument many times and it's never backed up with a rigorous definition of information. You might as well say "Natural selection decreases glopvoloop."

    This is a common canard of anti-evolution rhetoric but has no basis in reality. For every meaningful, precise definition of "information" the processes of evolution unquestioningly have the capacity to increase it.

    For example. Suppose this is a sequence of DNA: CCTAAG

    Now, suppose that we duplicate this sequence. Gene duplication is an observed phenomenon. We then have: CCTAAGCCTAAG Is this more information or not? Depends on your definition.

    OK, so that's just two copies of the same information, perhaps you'd argue that it's not technically an increase in information.

    Again hard to tell without your definition, so let's introduce a mutation. We now have CCTAAGCCTACG. Does this contain new information? If not, then why not? It's certainly different from what we started with and it contains nucleotides that we didn't begin with. If any of these changes confer a benefit, then the changes will be preserved by natural selection. If they don't, then they will tend to be quickly discarded (if harmful) or will possibly slowly degrade (if neutral).

    So, if you can provide your definition of information, we can move forward in determining whether this represents an increase in information and, if not, what *would* provide such an increase according to your definition.

    There is no shortage of examples that genetic mutations are always harmful.

    Another common and manifestly false assertion of creationists. Most mutations are neutral, some are harmful and a few are beneficial. It's the process of selection that allows for the few beneficial mutations that occur to be winnowed out from all of the neutral or harmful mutations. A mutation that makes you a little faster, a little stronger, a little taller, or a little more resistant to disease may increase your likelihood of reproducing and therefore will increase the likelihood of preserving itself within a population. On the other hand, harmful mutations decrease the chances of reproducing, which tends to decrease the number of such mutations surviving in the population.

    We have measured the rate at which mutations normally occur in sperm and egg cells and based on that information it has been determined that, on average, every human being has over 100 individual mutations. If they were always harmful, then we'd each in a world of hurt. Fortunately, that's not the case.

    For details, see: http://sandwalk.blogspot.com/2007/07/mutation-rates.html

    I'll take on the whole entropy issue another time. Suffice to say it's no more substantive an argument against evolution than these others.

  100. ID-Dave says:

    ID Dave, you just made me lol all over the keyboard.

  101. whome says:

    The Theory of Evolution has many problems with it, sure. For example, the rate of change possible with random mutation and survival of the fittest is exceeded many times in the geologic record, and even in some modern experiments.

    For example, at the very beginning of the tertiary period, life off the Florida coast was entirely killed. Yet within 5000 years, bio-diversity was up to about the same level before the mass destruction. This kind of change is litterally thousands of Darwins (the Darwin is the unit measuring rate-of-change of organs over time) which is not possible with random mutation and survival of the fittest.

    So this is an anomolous result, and new models and laws can be developed to describe them. (I'm not fond of Darwinist evolution, I like the catastrophy-adaption models better).

    In any case, ID is not a scientific theory. It just says, "evolution can't explain everything so why can't we just explain it by saying it was a higher power." That's not a scientific theory, that's an excuse.

    And remember, the universe does not conform to science, science is an attempt to describe the universe (using the language of mathematics).

  102. MattP says:

    For example, at the very beginning of the tertiary period, life off the Florida coast was entirely killed. Yet within 5000 years, bio-diversity was up to about the same level before the mass destruction.

    Could you cite a source for that? I'm a little suspicious of the generalities here. Specifically, how was it determined that life was "entirely killed" in that area at that time?

  103. whome says:

    At the K-T boundary (the boundary between the cretaceous and tertiary periods in the geologic record) was a mass extinction that killed roughly 75% of species and 90% of the bio-mass on earth. A crater in the Yucatan area 180 km across is the remnant of an asteroid or comet impact that is the prime suspect (though some think other factors may have been greater). There is a veritable encyclopedia of research on this particular event and it shouldn't be hard to find. Wikipedia has a nice introduction to the event. Look up Cretaceous-Tertiary Extinction there.

    I've been looking for the article about the extinction in Florida for over an hour hand have not found it. So I can't confirm that my memory is totally accurate. However, there are other evidences for super fast evolution. For example, see the research on lizards planted on Carribean islands. There are loads of articles about this. One such is here:
    http://www.dinosauria.com/jdp/evol/lizard.html

  104. LvB says:

    Hitler and the leading Nazis were not Christians. Priests and Christians were hauled off to the camps and gulags due to their Christian beliefs. A whole block at Dachau was for Catholic priests. Same with Stalin. Both repudiated there upbringing. So the bloodiest century of all time, the 20th, had atheists causing the carnage! When people lose there belief in God, they also lose there belief in the inherent dignity of man.Man becomes an object to be manipulated and controlled. Look at atheistic China and how they treat their own people.

    Planned Parenthood continues its eugenic programs aimed at killing black and minority children before birth. Their centers are almost always located in minority neighborhoods. Blacks account for a third of the abortions even though they only constitute 13% of the population. Margeret Saenger wanted to use birth control and abortion to rid the human race of undesirable people, like the feeble-minded and Negros, as she called them. PP is still proud of Margeret Saenger's beliefs and policies.

  105. MattP says:

    LvB,

    It's clear that you do not have many atheist friends. People are capable of being good or evil independent of their belief in a God or the lack thereof. Some of the kindest people I know are atheists and the religion most inmates in our prison system proclaim is Christianity. I don't think that says anything about the relative value of Christianity or atheism, but I think it's a pretty clear indicator that you're trying to justify your beliefs rather than attempting to understand the real motivations of people like Hitler and those that control the government of China. You've found some bad people which may also be atheists, and are attempting to then blame atheism for their evil deeds. That's a non sequitur.

    Blacks get more abortions because poor people get more abortions and blacks are more likely to be poor. Also, Planned Parenthood caters to people who do not have the means to pay for contraceptives or otherwise obtain reproductive health services, so again they will tend to be over-represented in poor neighborhoods. I imagine there are also more WiC offices and Food Pantries in poor neighborhoods as well. Are those also racist organizations?

    Blacks also commit more crimes. By your logic that's an indicator that blacks are inherently more criminal in nature. Do you agree with that position? There is plenty of data on these issues and it's possible to determine the true causal relationships by controlling for confounding factors if your desire is to understand rather than to convince.

  106. Adam says:

    #15 & #89,

    I'm having a hard time understanding how the term "dogmatic" is applied to science, even scientists like Dawkins with extreme views. There is no dogma in science, at least as I understand the term. There are theories and ideas that are very well established and would take a herculean effort to overturn, but if you have enough evidence, science will change.

    The scientific idea that God does not exist is prevalent only because there is no scientific evidence for the existence of God, at least not yet. But this is not dogma. As soon as someone shows up with sufficient evidence to overturn this idea, it will be overturned.

    It may be Dawkins' personal belief that it is extremely unlikely that such evidence will ever emerge, but that is not make it "dogma." There may be other scientists who believe that scientific evidence for God is just around the corner. To each his own.

    Is it the belief of those who accuse scientists of being dogmatic that there is scientific evidence for God, and that scientists are simply choosing to ignore it because of said dogma? That seems unlikely, considering:

    1) that there are many scientists who do believe in God, and would presumably welcome evidence confirming that belief, and

    2) there are other ideas that many scientists probably very much want to be true (things like perpetual motion or cold fusion) that are sitting on the shelf right next to God, waiting for sufficient evidence.

  107. Alex says:

    Hey Ericdsnider,

    i want you to go into a office and say something about God you will soon see that almost everyone will stop talking to you. but if you talk about Darwinism they start asking questions. Ok Ericdsnider i want you to get out a $1 bill there something wrote there. Something that deals with.....GOD not Darwin. Maybe Everyone needs to remember what our fore-fathers based America on.

  108. MattP says:

    Alex,

    You seem to have your history a little confused. "In God we Trust" didn't appear on dollar bills until 1957. The founding fathers were conspicuously silent on the topic of God when it came to the official structure and instruments of our government. Though as president, John Adams did sign a treaty in 1797 that included the following: "...the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion..." It was read aloud in congress and approved by unanimous vote.

    I have no doubt that the religious convictions of the founding fathers influenced how the federal government was structured, but I think it's a bit of a stretch to say that it was "based on" a given religion or God rather than established principles of sound governance.

  109. Dave S says:

    I have been reading through the comments and although there are many very persuasive arguments in favor of the theory of evolution I haven't heard many arguments defending our loving Creator who is the original and ultimate scientist.

    All anyone has to do is go to the bible and see for themselves that creation and science go hand in hand. For instance in the book of Job in the 27th chapter it speaks of the one who "Hangs the earth upon nothing" also in the book of Isaiah in the 40th chapter it speaks of the"One who is dwelling above the circle of the earth".

    And for all you would be scientists out there and I do say that respectfully because you folks are very smart. These writings were set down in the case of the book of Job around the year 1473 BC quite a few years before we had spaceships to take us to the moon and inspire the astronauts to speak of the earth as a jewel hanging in space. There are many more ways to prove through God's word beyond any doubt that He does exist and that these arguments for or against creation or evolution are useless. Just take one look at the incredible diversity of life on this planet and the awsome beauty of creation and as the apostle Paul said in Romans it is inexcusable to believe otherwise. The apostle Paul also said that faith is the assured expectation of things hoped for, the evident demonstration of realities though not beheld, and that faith has to be founded and based upon accurate knowledge of God and his purposes for this earth and those living on it.

    I'm sure those of you who believe in evolution are probably saying here is another one of those creationists, but you can be sure that I don't believe that so-called creationist ideas should be taught in the public schools. But I also don't believe that theories should be taught as facts either. The scientific community has a long way to go before they can prove for a fact we evolved from an ameba in some primordial soup.

  110. MattP says:

    Dave S,

    Many religions pick and choose verses from their scriptures which don't appear to be in direct contradiction with scientific knowledge and attempt to use that as proof for the divine inspiration of their book. I hope that you can appreciate that any volume the size of the Bible is likely, based on chance alone, to contain a few verses which appear to reveal some scientific truth which could not have otherwise been known at the time of their authorship. There are Muslim prostelytisizing materials that contain page upon page of "proof" that the Koran contains scientific knowledge and must therefore represent genuine revelation from God to Mohammed.

    Your example from Job is not very convincing. In other places in the chapter it refers to the "edges" of the earth, which seems odd if the author is aware of the earth being a sphere - a shape with no edges. Additionally, there was a perfectly good Hebrew word for a sphere or ball so the statement that the earth was a circle implies that the author thought the earth was a flat circle, not a spherical shape. There are also references to being able to see all of the world from a sufficiently tall mountain or tree - something that would be impossible if the earth were a sphere.

    What may be seem self-apparent to someone who holds a particular worldview is not necessarily self-apparent to those who do not. The awesome beauty of creation that you refer to also includes such "beautiful" things as malaria, debilitating birth defects, and HIV. Given that the beauty of the natural world, from an objective standpoint, seems a little hit and miss, I don't think that coming to a different conclusion about the development of life is as inexusable as you and Paul would like to assert.

    Finally, the fact/theory dicotomy is a false one. In scientific terms, a theory is the best explanation we have for a set of phenomena. There is nothing stronger in science than a theory and a theory doesn't at some magical point graduate to being a fact. The germ theory of disease, the theory of gravity, the theory of relativity - all of these are theories which, like evolution, are facts of science. The evolutionary biologist and science historian, Steven Jay Gould, explains:

    Moreover, 'fact' doesn't mean 'absolute certainty'; there ain't no such animal in an exciting and complex world. The final proofs of logic and mathematics flow deductively from stated premises and achieve certainty only because they are NOT about the empirical world. ...In science 'fact' can only mean 'confirmed to such a degree that it would be perverse to withhold provisional consent.' I suppose that apples might start to rise tomorrow, but the possibility does not merit equal time in physics classrooms.

  111. Dave S says:

    MattP,

    I guess I'm addressing you, you do seem to be the unofficial spokesman for these disscussions. Yes it's true the bible is not a science book, that was not God's purpose when He inspired it to be written. But anyone who is determined to prove something wrong will find something wrong with it no matter how minute, (maybe even twist the facts a little) to try and prove their point. For example stating that theories like evolution stands up to the law of gravity and known causes of disease (kind of a leap there hoss). Like I said before, there are so many more ways to prove God is real those two scriptures just barely scratch the surface, and you know, science doesn't have a lot to do with it although it does play a part.
    I guess the most important thing that God's word can do for us is answer those questions so many of us want to know like; What is the purpose of life? Why are we here in the first place? Why do we grow old and die? Is this life all there is? If God is love why does he permit all the suffering? And of course how did it all start in the first place? There are many more questions but anyone can find very satisfying and most importantly real and solid answers that will give them the comfort and peace that only God's word can. Try to find those answers under a microscope! In order to find those answers it takes dedicated study and proper guidence to point you in the right direction so you can find out for yourself.
    I have to admit I was wrong when I first stated that no one was defending our Creator, He doesn't need defending, the natural laws he set in motion many many eons ago, the incredibly vast universe with the earth and all it's vast diversity speak for themselves.

  112. MattP says:

    [quote]But anyone who is determined to prove something wrong will find something wrong with it no matter how minute, (maybe even twist the facts a little) to try and prove their point.[/quote]

    I suppose so. I try to gently correct such people when I see it, but we all have our biases, so there's only so much you can do. This phenomenon is prevalent enough amongst Christian activists that those who oppose such dishonest rhetoric have coined the phrase "Liars for Jesus" to note the irony. Fortunately this is limited to a relatively small subset of vocal individuals. Most of the false statements I encounter represent genuine misunderstanding, not deliberate deception or distortion.

    [quote]For example stating that theories like evolution stands up to the law of gravity and known causes of disease (kind of a leap there hoss).[/quote]

    Oh. You were talking about me! Well enlighten me then. What leap have I made? Evolutionary theory is every bit as supported by evidence as any other major theory of science. Unfortunately, the implications of this theory are so disturbing to the religious preconceptions of some people that they've declared a priori that it cannot be true and have proceeded to devoting tremendous time and energy to finding contradictions or flaws in the theory. Despite 150 years of such attacks, evolution remains the best explanation for the evidence as agreed by the vast majority of life scientists, regardless of their individual religious affiliations and new evidence continues to support the theory.

    I have to admit I was wrong when I first stated that no one was defending our Creator, He doesn't need defending, the natural laws he set in motion many many eons ago, the incredibly vast universe with the earth and all it's vast diversity speak for themselves.

    I'm confused as to why the topic of defending the creator even came up. Evolution doesn't disprove God, it just shows that a number of ancient creation myths are likely not literal accounts of historic events. This should not be surprising as, at best, they are second hand retellings by people who had very little understanding of the potential processes involved.

  113. SDB says:

    Thank you, MattP, for your clearly-explained and infinitely-patient defense of evolutionary theory and the scientific method! Job well done.

  114. Dave S says:

    I never had any intention of minimizing the importance of science or of the wonderful advances in the understanding of our universe and of our biology and all of the things that make our modern life so amazing. Certainly there are many observations that back up the ability of different species to adapt to the many changes that happen in the enviornment, right down to the cellular level. But for one species to change into another species, that's a little too much of a leap for me, especially when the bible clearly states that animals (including mankind) would reproduce only according to thier kind. Anyway with all the many hours of research that go into the study of the many different theories and facets of science I am sure in time the answers will ultimately point to our Creator and glorify him when all the facts are on the table. And MattP I appologize if I insulted you it certainly does take a lot of patience to share your knowledge with people like myself, your a lot smarter than I am.

  115. MattP says:

    But for one species to change into another species, that's a little too much of a leap for me, especially when the bible clearly states that animals (including mankind) would reproduce only according to thier kind.

    Even that scripture isn't really at odds with evolution. There is no magical moment when one species poofs into another. Finding evidence for such an event would contradict evolution, not confirm it. Rather it's a very slow, gradual process. Every incremental step along the way is arguably the same "kind" as the one just previous, so there is no clear point at which two non-dogs produce a dog or two non-humas produce a human.

    A thought experiment:
    Imagine you have a drawing of a triangle, a drawing of a circle, and 10,000 other drawings representing every transitional form between those two shapes, with the sides of the triangle slowly bulging out and the corners lowly rounding in a smooth continuum from the first drawing to the last. Do you think you could determine at which point in that continuum that the drawing stopped being a triangle and starting being a circle? Do you think that ten different people are likely to pick the same points as you? The difference between any two adjacent pictures will be negligable so how could you determine that the next one was a different "kind" than the previous? Isn't it reasonable to call those two adjacent pictures the same "kind", even if the kind there is slightly different than the kind of the first or last picture?

    Every species does, in fact, reproduce only according to its kind, it's just that the kinds can slowly change and diverge from one another.

  116. Me says:

    I see Ben has done the job he set out to do, that is getting people talking. Funny thing is, in this thread I see people arguing I.D. vs Evoution, vs Creationism, vs Darwinism. But very few are arguing the main point of the movie, that is their needs to be an open decussion on the main points in the world of academia. There are many other movies etc that you can watch on both side of the debates that bring compelling arguments for both sides. Expelled simply did not touch on the details of the debate, his focus was that any one that dared talk about I.D. would face the possabilty of being blacklisted. This point has been argued as well on the anti expelled website.

    Ben now has people talking. that was his goal, on that he was sucessful.

  117. Old Man says:

    Crap is not exploring an idea that is foreign to your belief or learning. Crap is thinking you have digested ever thing there is to know.

  118. MattP says:

    Expelled simply did not touch on the details of the debate, his focus was that any one that dared talk about I.D. would face the possabilty of being blacklisted.

    And in making this case, he relied on lies, unsupported inferences, distortions, and slander. That people like myself feel compelled to point this out does not earn him credit for getting people talking. Lots of people saying offensive and stupid things get people talking, but that's not a credit to those spouting the nonsense.

    During a promotional tour for the movie, Ben Stein said "Love of God and compassion and empathy leads you to a very glorious place, and science leads you to killing people."

    He doesn't care at all about open dialog. He just wants his religious views to be given special privelage in the scientific community without having to, you know, do science.

  119. MattP says:

    Crap is not exploring an idea that is foreign to your belief or learning. Crap is thinking you have digested ever thing there is to know.

    Absolutely! This is why ID concepts like "irreducible complexity" are so frustrating. It's the same as saying "I can't imagine how this could have possibly evolved, therefore it could not have." It's only a valid statement if you believe your imagination to be so vast as to encompase everything that is currently known or can ever be known about the structure under consideration. Each time that Behe, the most prominent voice of the concept of irreducible complexity has indicated a structure to be irreducibly complex, scientists have proceeded to find plausible pathways by which it may have evolved or they have found simpler (reduced) versions of these structures elsewhere in nature.

  120. David says:

    Dave S: "But for one species to change into another species, that's a little too much of a leap for me, especially when the bible clearly states that animals (including mankind) would reproduce only according to thier kind."

    Evolution of species is a fact. There is no scientific debate on this issue. That this concept is too much of a leap for you is your problem, not a problem for science. The evidence for the evolution of species is so overwhelming that no serious scientist rejects it. Even Michael Behe, an ardent supporter of ID, recognizes that the evidence dictates common descent of species as an inescapable conclusion.

  121. David says:

    MattP,

    Excellent posts. Not only is irreducible complexity false on the facts, as you have noted, but it also fails logically because it assumes that all essential components of a molecular machine or pathway have always been essential. A new component might be added that is initially only helpful to the function, but which later becomes essential through further remodeling and refinement of the whole. In this way, even a biological machine that is, in fact, irreducibly complex (i.e. there are no simpler forms of the machine among living things) has an evolutionary path through which to reach this state. For these reasons, scientists regard irreducible complexity as an intellectually bankrupt notion.

  122. David says:

    whome: "at the very beginning of the tertiary period, life off the Florida coast was entirely killed. Yet within 5000 years, bio-diversity was up to about the same level before the mass destruction. This kind of change is litterally thousands of Darwins (the Darwin is the unit measuring rate-of-change of organs over time) which is not possible with random mutation and survival of the fittest."

    This is a nonsensicle assertion. While geological dating methods are quite good, there is no way to determine the timing of events that happened 65 million years ago with a level of accuracy anywhere near 5000 years. We talk about events during that period with gradations of millions of years, not thousands.

  123. David says:

    MattP: "Had [Be]he actually read the relevant research, he would have been aware that one of those mutations alone provided some level of chloroquine resistance and strains of malaria have been found containing just that one mutation."

    I have found nothing to disagree with you about, until this. Actually, I have read the relevant research on CQ resistance. I presume that the mutation to which you refer is the K76T change in the PfCRT pump. Although it is pretty clear that this mutation is responsible for CQ resistance, and all resistant lines carry a mutaiton at this position, it is not at all clear that this mutation is sufficient by itself. This is because it appears to be lethal in isolation. Therefore, my understanding is that K76T is necessary, but not sufficient for drug resistance. It's possible that I've missed a study in my reading, and if so I'd be grateful for the reference that this mutation alone results in viable parasites and provides some level of CQ resistance. Alternatively, if you are talking about another mutation, I would like to know about that, too.

  124. MattP says:

    David,

    I admit my research on CQ resistence is limited to commentaries on the research and of behe's book which were prepared for lay audiences and I have likely misunderstood or simplified the conclusions of these commentaries. When I have some more time, I'll re-read that material and see where I may have gone wrong. Thank you for the correction.

  125. peptidefarmer says:

    Dave S wrote:

    "for one species to change into another species, that's a little too much of a leap for me, especially when the bible clearly states that animals (including mankind) would reproduce only according to thier kind"

    This is called the 'argument from personal incredulity', i.e. "I can't comprehend it, so it is not possible." It is considered a fallacy of logic.

    And I respect your right to appeal to the Bible for guidance in all matters, but may I suggest rendering unto Caesar that which is Caesar's and to God that which is God's. i.e., look to the Bible when you want to know whether to murder or steal, but look to a textbook on questions of speciation.

  126. Gary says:

    3.) The Nazis were Christians. Adolf Hitler said that killing the Jews was doing God's work.
    No C.S.Strowbridge, they weren't - Christianity is an observance - a behavior - a following after.. it is not what you say you are, it is what you do and are thus known for. Yea.. I know quite a stretch huh? People today in a nation where our sovereignty is non-existent due to the farce of political correctness have need to see that belief is incurred by action and aspiring after in deed. But then that is lost on people too arrogant to realize that pc removes the fact that love is a verb. PC actually removes action from all the now politically incorrect verbs like discipline.
    The one thing that no one will see till its too late is that truth is Owned or it wouldn't be. And it is Truth that sets nations free.

    I know - the one single thing >> that is the only thing left that is absolute >> is the absolute repulsiveness of a Christian who thinks he has an absolute.. Gary

  127. Bill says:

    The define "information" comment of #99 is revealing. Imagine you told a friend that you purchased a thumbdrive that can hold 16 gigabytes of information, and their immediate response was, "Hey. Wait a minute! What do you mean by 'information'?". Very strange response, because though we don't all have a degree in computer science, the layman understands the existence and reality of information. The bias of evolutionists is revealed in treating the same realities completely differently in different settings. If the thumbdrive response ever did occur, you could discern the friend was intimidated. Maybe they wanted to believe their thumb drive has the most capacity. It reminds me of the famous cartoon where in one frame a SETI scientist points to his antenna saying, "One day we will receive a regularly spaced pulse from space and know it is from life because only an intelligence like us can produce that." and in the next frame the evolutionary biologist points to the 3.8billion character double helix instruction to build and operate a human being saying, "We know that this code happened by chance". Evolutionists have a different definition for information in different settings, whereas my comments of #98 are acknowledging the existence and reality of information in a consistent, unbiased fashion.

    Concerning the CCTAGG -> CCTAGGCCTAGG -> CCTAGGCCTACG comment, this along with several other stated fallacies are already addressed in the original #98 entry. But I will paraphrase it another way. Let's apply the above example, only in a less abstract way:

    STOP. LOOK RIGHT. LOOK LEFT. IGH
    SQOP. LEOK RIGHN. LLOK LEPT. EGH
    KTOX. LDOS RIGHT. LOTK LEFT. GGH
    LTBP. WOOK PIGHF. LLOK LEXT. LGH
    SNTP. LOKK RZGBT. LAOK LEFT. OGH
    STOIQ LVOK RIG.T. LOOK SEFT. OGH
    ESEOP. LOPWNRIGHT. LOOCKLEFT. AGH
    QTOF. FORX RIGHTN NLOZK LPFT. PGH
    MZOPIP WOOM RZIHT. PLOCKWLEPT. KGH
    PTOPAA LCOK YIGHM.K LOCH LEFT. CGH
    SGOP.W LOZ RIPHT.X LO K LUFT. CGH
    WTOPV L OK WIGHT.Y LOZK GEFT. CWH
    STIP.M LOOKARIGTT. NLOOG LXFU. CNH
    LTOG.G LOWK RPGHTZ LJOK AEFJ. CSH
    TSP. EOOKBRI HT. GTOOKHLEFW. CAH
    PQOP.V L OK WIGH . HOOE LEZTF CYH
    YTOZ. VLDOKQRIGBT. OOB LEZT. CPH
    ITOK. RLWOKVRI HTT OOA LTFT. CDH
    NTSP WLOOMERIGCT.G LOBK VWFT. CZH
    ZTOV. BLTOKXRBGH . HOOQ NEMT. CXH
    STOG. WONK IGYT. BCOKJLEYT. CJH
    SCOPN LSOG RIGHV. OLOOBWLEFN. CWH
    SNOPZ RLOON RXGET. MLO.K EFT. CQH
    QTOS. VLROK NIGHZ.E LOMK WEFMV CIH
    ZTOO. SOO RI.HTD ROOV LXFRR CRH
    .TO .D LOGK WIGHTC LNOU LE T. CRS
    XTFP.B LOWK MICHT.N LO.K ZEFTL CRW
    RTGP.X EOOKNRICHW. VOOX LEFNN CRJ
    SBOPE LLOK .IGST. RLOOX EEFL. CRA
    ST.P.W LOCK TIGHB. XLOOO LENT. CRP
    DTCP. RLOVK RWGHC. YLOMK LZFT. CRE
    STOY. XLOOB RQGHTN XLEOKVLEFT. CRO
    SROP.H LBOK WIG T. JLOXK HEFP. CROT.
    ZVOE. BLOOX RIGHTM WOOKCLETTB CROT.
    ETOU.C LOGK CIWHT.M LOYKXLEFT. CROT.
    STCPW VOOKPPRIZHTM LWOX LEUT. CROT.
    PTQP. VLO K RI.HE. LXOKOLZFTI CROT.
    DTBP.. LWOZ RIGMTE LIOZ LEFYN CROT.
    STOPU ZOOK RQGNTC LOORFLEFC. CROT.
    STTS.V LOOX YIGHTV MLOOQ XEFE. CROT.
    PTOZS. LOOQ KIGHV.J LOSC LEYTK CROT.
    SCEP. BLKOK AIGCT.W LOOM LXWT. CROT.
    WTOD. HLVOK R GHT. .LOOX LWFT. CROT.
    STOE.B LO K R.GHW. LOTH LEXT. CROT.
    WTOB. .LOOK RI HT.W LXXK LERT. CROT.
    MTKP. XLOOKWRIXHT.Z LOOW LBFT. CROT.
    STVP. ZLOWK RI.HT.X LOWE LEVT. CROT.
    QTVP. XLO K .IGHTW VOOKXLEET. CROT.
    STGPX LWOKBNIGHTE LOCK LRJT. CROT.
    TTOPC OOKERICHT. FOOX LEFMI CROS.
    SSOP.W LO K EIBHT.Z LIOK . EFTS CROS.
    QTOM LEYK RZGHX. HLOOKPLEZT. CROS.
    STCP. QLOGK XIGYT.N LOSK LXFT.W CROS.
    QTOPF LOXK IGHW. LO.OKWLECT. CROS.
    RTOX. WOOK RYGHTC LOOW LEXT. CROS.
    PTOP.. LOOW RXGHT.R LOOX LEFY. CROS.
    CTOP. WLOOKZRIGHW. LO K LRFT. CROS.
    .T P. WOOK RXGHTE LOCK LEUT. CROSS
    STYP. LOOY RI HT. WLOOMNLEFTY CROSSO
    QTOPG LOON RIWHT. LDOK XEFT. CROSSO
    STOPG LOQK RIGHTN LOOK. LEWT. CROSSO
    QTOP.C LOWK VIGHT LCOKQLEMT. CROSSO
    STOW. LXOK RQGHTM ZOOK LYFTS CROSSO
    PT P. LOZK ROGHT. WLOOKMLEFA. CROSSO
    .TOW. LOCK RIGHT. LZOK LEF . CROSSO
    WTOP. VOOK RMGHTS LOCK LPFT. CROSSO
    STOZ. TLOOK VIGHW. LCOK KEFTZ CROSSO
    QTOPN DOOK RIGXT. L OK LEQTS CROSSO
    STOPU LOCK RQGHM. LZOKJLEFT CROSSO
    TOPW LOOC RIGTT. LMOK LZFT. CROSSO
    STOP. LOOK RIGHT. LOOK LEFT. CROSS.

    Now, adding one word is ludicrous in its simplicity compared to the information contained in the genes of humans. And I cheated by acting as an intelligence in three ways: making the three random duplications total a combined length equal to the word "cross" I was trying to write, suspending the mutations driving the whole thing in the last step so the original text would be discernable, and not subjecting the filtered newly written letters to the same mutation rate as everything else. Otherwise I tried to apply the same mutation rate consistently across the code. From this exercise we can learn a watered-down version of what evolutionist are expecting us to believe:
    1) At the same time natural selection has the power to hold in individual letters of a yet incomplete word, it does not have the power (part of the Down's Syndrome example) to remove the babble that this constitutes until the new text is completed, 70 times fails to do so in this simple example.
    2) The same mutation rate that writes on to the end of the code is not acting on the preexisting code (causing it to be garbled at any instant in time).

    The problem of point 1 is another layer of irreducible complexity, not at the organ level, but smaller code level. In order to have a benefit of function to lock it in, all letters of the words have to be present, and all words of the sentence have to be present. The power evolutionists ascribe to natural selection in this regard is amazing. An intelligence could look at an intermediate step of the new word forming and not be able to guess what the new word (more like sentences in reality) will be. Yet blind natural selection can read the intent of a non-existent author. What you really have by random duplication and mutation, in every sense of the word, is babble. Because sections are taken randomly in source location, length, target location, and mutate randomly, because there is no authorship intent, the result is random babble, with only detriment of function to be removed by natural selection like Down's Syndrome, or any genetic illness.

    As to detrimental mutations, the whole pursuit of gene therapy, folding proteins, etc. is maybe a wasted effort? And why did we transcribe the human genome? Without an agenda, nobody would question the existence of the mutations we intelligent beings are trying to fix, while at the same time acknowledging them in arenas that don't disprove our pet theory. If we apply our belief in evolution as a creative power, we should back out of these disciplines of medicine and let evolution fix them. The same is true for a lot of things. What we do everyday on the job is child's play compared to designing a human being. Have we succeeded at doing that yet? There is a reward and demerit system in place with our bosses. Why don't you just hand your boss random efforts, keep and add to what they say is good and throw out what they don't like. Put your money where your mouth is. I dare you. Or how about designing products? An electric can opener is a joke compared to the human body. Why not sell a box of random parts to the customer? The box they like best they will buy and the ones they don’t they won’t. Build on that by trial and error. In a few years you should have the best can opener imaginable. In our hearts we all know evolution is a farce. We would never have transcribed the human genome if we hadn’t known there is a solitary genome. The box of parts points out the fallacy of survival of the fittest. It is a relative measurement. What difference does it make if you out survive another organism when you are all decaying in compliance with the 2nd Law of Thermo? You have just climbed to the mast of a sinking ship, but the deck to the flag will all be under water. No customer will reward any box of random parts because it is a box of random parts; junk.

    The points of the movie "Expelled" have been well brought out in these discussions. A first grader can understand irreducible complexity, that all components must be in place and fully functional for the entire system to work. Like a mouse trap. To equate the refusal to deny that with a lack of blind faith to believe the theory of evolution reveals again bias. For evolutionist to call realities like information, irreducible complexity, the 2nd law of thermo "regretable" and "unfortunate" will not make them go away nor keep objective people from acknowledging them.

    #126. Can you imagine saying, "because you insist F=MxA rather than a variety of relationships, I find you repulsive"?

    I'd like to ask an evolutionist if they believe natural selection, biology, anything, can operate outside the laws of physics.

  128. David says:

    Bill: "From this exercise we can learn a watered-down version of what evolutionist are expecting us to believe:1) At the same time natural selection has the power to hold in individual letters of a yet incomplete word, it does not have the power (part of the Down's Syndrome example) to remove the babble that this constitutes until the new text is completed, 70 times fails to do so in this simple example. 2) The same mutation rate that writes on to the end of the code is not acting on the preexisting code (causing it to be garbled at any instant in time)."

    This post reveals your complete misunderstanding of how genomes and populations evolve. First, natural selection DOES have the power to remove the babble (deleterious mutations) that arises. Second, the same mutation rate DOES apply to pretty much all sequences. Your main conceptual error in this lengthy post is the failure to recognize that evolution sculpts populations not individuals in a linear fashion as your example suggests. When a mutation arises, it happens in one individual within the population. If it is deleterious, it is selected against, maintaining the status quo. If it is beneficial, it can sweep through the population in subsequent generations through its reproductive advantage. Mutations nearly always arise one at a time. They are 1) typically neutral, but 2) sometimes deleterious, or 3) rarely beneficial. The deleterious mutations are not fixed in the population as your example shows. They are efficiently removed--and are therefore, irrelevant to the process. This renders your example nonsense!

  129. David says:

    Bill: "I'd like to ask an evolutionist if they believe natural selection, biology, anything, can operate outside the laws of physics."

    Of course not. Your assertion that these things would have to simply speaks to your gross misunderstanding of both evolution and physics.

  130. David says:

    Bill: "In our hearts we all know evolution is a farce. We would never have transcribed the human genome if we hadn’t known there is a solitary genome."

    There is not a solitary human genome. Our genomes all differ from one another at approximately 1 million mutation sites (most of which are neutral changes). Yours and mine are different at roughly one position in every 3000.

  131. MattP says:

    The define "information" comment of #99 is revealing. Imagine you told a friend that you purchased a thumbdrive that can hold 16 gigabytes of information, and their immediate response was, "Hey. Wait a minute! What do you mean by 'information'?".

    The definition of information is implied in this context. Note that both a quantity - 16, and a unity of measure - gigabytes, are provided.

    In your case, you speak of information without providing sufficient context to determine what you mean by it. What unit of measure do you use to indicate the amount of information that occurs in a sequence of DNA? By what method to you determine how many of these units a given DNA sequence contains? If you can't provide the a way to measure it, then your claim that it cannot be increased is nonsensical. How do you know how much it started with? How do you know how much it ended with? You know neither yet you still claim it hasn't increased.

  132. David says:

    Bill: "As to detrimental mutations, the whole pursuit of gene therapy, folding proteins, etc. is maybe a wasted effort?...If we apply our belief in evolution as a creative power, we should back out of these disciplines of medicine and let evolution fix them."

    This is a joke, right? Your posts provide and endless supply of illogical statements and irrational thought. I'm having trouble deciding if you are truly as misguided as your posts suggest, or if you are presenting a good parody of a creationist who is so afraid of the implications of evolution that you will make up nonsense in an effort to misrepresent the facts. Who do you think you're fooling? Certainly nobody with functioning logic circuits.

  133. Keenan says:

    Earlier I noticed some people pointing to 1 quote by Hitler (taken somewhat out of context to say that he's a Christian.

    He didn't understand that Jesus had to die on the cross, to lie dead for days ,and to be risen. If that didn't happen, Christianity today would not even begin to make sense.

    He, for some reason, couldn't grasp that. He just saw that God's son, Jesus, died on the cross, and the people that pushed for it were the Jewish leaders inciting the Jewish people. Pilate actually didn't want to kill him, but didn't want a riot more. He had Jesus flogged, then brought out the worst prisoner he could find, and they wanted Barabbas released, not Jesus, who had been making claims to be the Son of God (blasphemy to the Jews). They were pissed, and wanted him to die (this was God's plan, and reason for Jesus to be acting the way He did in the Garden right before this went down), and they got their wish... sorta.

  134. Keenan says:

    another thing.

    it's not hard to see an anti-Christ movement in some of these posts... 125, 126.

    many people cannot comprehend an intelligent design (creationism) as much as i cannot comprehend evolution, the way Darwin puts it. i almost feel like you guys that believe in evolution have to have a stronger faith than I, who believes God made the world, and those things in it in a literal 6 days. if it weren't a literal 6 days, why would it be in there? God is outside of time... not finite. He used our sense of time when He talks of making the earth.

    a step of faith is required for both ideas. where you take that step is the difference. some people don't want to answer for things they do. knowing there is a God is not an option if they want to have 'fun' or 'live'. then they'd have to answer for all the stuff they do or have done. that's not a comfortable place to be.


    """""I know - the one single thing >> that is the only thing left that is absolute >> is the absolute repulsiveness of a Christian who thinks he has an absolute.. Gary""""""

    thank you for speaking your mind, now allow me.... or does the 'politically correct' nature of this country not allow mentioning God anymore? how about a 'family'... what is that? it used to be a mom, a dad (neither with a 'step-'), children, maybe a dog.

    now, due to the sinful nature of our country it's whatever the hell you want it to be. 2 moms, 1 dad with 8 moms, 2 dads, a step-mom with dad or a step-dad with mom. or a mom and her boyfriend that beats you while raping her and your sister. i mean, this stuff is sick. (not speaking from a personal experience, but i have seen stuff in the papers that makes me want to puke).

    your choice: to believe and live for whatever you want.
    my choice: I believe there is a God. He is just, but He is loving. I believe he made the world in 6 literal days, and took a rib out of Adam to make Eve. I believe marriage is between 1 man and 1 woman FOR LIFE. God sent His son Jesus to live a perfect life on this earth as 100% God and 100% man. God let His son Jesus be put to death on a cross for my sins and your sins. IF the story stops there, I would be a fool... but it doesn't. Jesus rose from the death, lived for about 40 more days on earth until he was ascended into the sky, and most likely, Heaven. The OT method of being right with God was to sacrifice animals, as a payment for sin. When Jesus rose from the dead, he defeated death... He put a stop to ritualistic sacrifices and enabled us to talk to God, without a priest or anyone else having to be a go-between.

    It's not a 'religion', it is a relationship, a lifestyle (worship). I am not perfect, but I do my best, and repent when I fall short (as everyone does).

  135. David says:

    Keenan: " i almost feel like you guys that believe in evolution have to have a stronger faith than I, who believes God made the world, and those things in it in a literal 6 days. if it weren't a literal 6 days, why would it be in there?"

    Uh... the obvious answer is that its because the Bible is not the inerrant word of God. Genesis was written by ancient people who knew very little about anything, and even less about the nature of the universe and man's place in it. You start with the assumption that it's inerrant. Therefore, any fact or observation that contadicts a literal interpreatation must be discarded. It's a terribly ignorant way to live.

  136. Bill says:

    ##128 "It does have the power to remove the BABBLE"

    The babble in the question you respond affirmatively to is the in-progress, partially-formed new sentence. Per your above confession, evolution doesn't have the power to write the 3.8 billion character human genome.

    "sweep through the population"

    The propagation of new information across the gene pool would be required, and is (with the problems thereof) neglected by evolutionists:
    1) DNA molecules combining that are of different lengths: adenine, thymine, guanine and/or cytosine dangling out there with no mate to actually form a base pair with
    2) Time for this propagation to every single organism in the entire gene pool (example: There are 6.8 billion humans on earth of a variety of discernible "races". They have been interacting freely with each other for thousands of years and are nowhere near a homogeneous "race". The time for this to happen illuminates how long it would take to propagate ONE addition of information across the entire gene pool.)
    3) During this lengthy * propagation there are multiple genomes out there: at least one old one on its way out and one new one taking over. And if there are evolutionary differences between races, that also would cause multiple genomes out there. However, there is one single genome for all humans. All have the same 3.8 billion character length, all humans are able to reproduce with each other, all genes are coded for the same organs and functions at the same location along the DNA molecule, but able to take on different values according to the device of heredity (black hear, blonde hair, etc.). We see the created genome, decayed over time per the 2nd Law of Thermo (i.e. accumulated mutations), with the device of heredity in use to cause the different appearances we refer to as "races" and additional person-to-person variations which are actually larger.

    * Remember, new base pairs must appear at a rate of one every 1.3 years, very fast if they could even magically propagate instantly across the entire gene pool.
    However, we don't want to evoke more time to deal with these dilemmas. As #129 will concede next, more time equals more decay. Time works against evolution per the laws of physics.

    #129 Evolution has entropy decreasing instead on increasing in a closed system. That entropy increases in a closed system can be demonstrated by experiment at any time, and nobody has constructed a repeatable experiment to the contrary. That is why it is a LAW of science, not a THEORY like evolution. I have seen amazing things in this regard. I often hear evolutionists say things like "but biology is different", or "the 2nd Law is just a theory". Amazing displays of creativity arise from the desperation. Things like "negative entropy", trying to claim that chaos and extreme order are the same thing. How blindingly strong the allure of the notion that we could be our own bosses, accountable to nobody. That is why I wanted to ask. Anyway, this supposedly naturalistic theory of origins (evolution) is based upon the supernatural. It is a belief that things happen contrary to the known laws of physics.

    #130 If there were not a discernable genome, it would be impossible for you to determine there are any mutations to it. A mutation is a variation from the correct singular code at that location. Remember, the theory goes, prior life forms were not mutations, they were inferior (lacked the survival advantage of the newest form).

    #131 The bias persists, and information exists, whether we like it or not. That won't change. What evolutionists forget is their theory must explain the writing of 3.8 billion letters from zero (unit of measure and change in quantity). If you can figure out a way to create and operate a human being using fewer base pairs, cool.

    #132 This is a great demonstration of the bullying and name calling tactics "Expelled" is about. It exemplifies the end of the spectrum that is purely that, with zero evidence mixed in to prove one's position.

  137. DaveS says:

    I never thought this thing would go on as long as it has, I guess the controversy will go on as long as God allows it to. I keep hearing that there is no proof of creation but I put to you the so called scientists and evolutionists that it is you that have no proof! You say in theory that we evolved from some kind of ameoba or ameno acid from a primordial soup or whatever. Well if you guys are so smart why can't you take that inanimate matter and make something "Alive" with it. You know zap it with lightning or heat it up and shake it real good and see what you come up with maybe you could use microwaves or radiation. It's because you can't and never will only the Almighty God knows how to create life! I believe it was MattP who said something about the "theory" of gravity. Here's something to try get up on the empire state building and jump off and use the "Law" of evolution to sprout a pair of wings so you don't splat on the sidewalk. This will be my last post, have fun folks.

  138. Eric D. Snider says:

    I'm glad he saved up his smartest, most compelling arguments for last.

  139. Everett says:

    Bill,

    It is a pleasure to read your posts. It is apparent that the blind faith of your critics here prevents them from seeing that you are the most logical poster in the thread. I especially appreciate the examples you laid out of how the evolutionist's actions are inconsistent with his worldview. Reminds me of the naturalistic scientists who champion endangered species. Thanks for your clarity and candor.

  140. David says:

    Bill #136. You talk a good game for those who are easily baffled, but none of your post makes any sense to those of us who actually understand evolution and the second law of thermodynamics. First, the reason that the the second law of thermodynamics does not apply to evolution (or to biology in general) is that the earth is not a closed system. The law states that entropy will tend to increase over time in a CLOSED system. The earth is not closed because of energy input from the sun. All one has to do to see the folly of your argument is to recognize the decrease in entropy associated with the development of a plant or an animal from a single cell supplied with nutrients. Does this violate the second law of thermodynamics? Of course not. Clearly, we are decreasing entropy in converting nutrients into living things. How is this possible without violating the second law of thermodynamics? Simple. Energy from the sun drives all biological processes. Living things use that energy to decrease entropy. Second, don't you imagine that if this old argument was valid, scientists would say, "Hey, wait a minute, this appears to be a problem." This is the sort of thing that scientists do on a daily basis. But, no. You think you're smarter than those who do this stuff for a living. How arrogant you are in your ignorance.

  141. David says:

    Bill: "A mutation is a variation from the correct singular code at that location. Remember, the theory goes, prior life forms were not mutations, they were inferior (lacked the survival advantage of the newest form)."

    What a crock! The correct singular code?! There is no correct singular code. There are variations within the population that arise over many generations. These are referred to as polymorphisms and there are a million of them between any two genomes.

    "DNA molecules combining that are of different lengths: adenine, thymine, guanine and/or cytosine dangling out there with no mate to actually form a base pair with"

    This does not present a problem. We observe pairs of DNA molecules recombining with many differences between them. It is true that as the level of similarity decreases, the efficiency of recombination decreases. But this is not a practical problem for sequences that are as similar as those between members of a single species.

    "Time for this propagation to every single organism in the entire gene pool (example: There are 6.8 billion humans on earth of a variety of discernible "races". They have been interacting freely with each other for thousands of years and are nowhere near a homogeneous "race". "

    Races arise as a result of geographic isolation. If such barriers to mating did not exist, we would see a homogeneous race.


    "And if there are evolutionary differences between races, that also would cause multiple genomes out there. However, there is one single genome for all humans."

    So, you imagine that the heritable differences between say, Japanese and Icelanders, is not a result of differences in their genomes?? Assertions don't get much dumber than that.

    You really don't understand this stuff.

  142. David says:

    Bill: "This is a great demonstration of the bullying and name calling tactics "Expelled" is about."

    There is no question that I'm slam-dancing with you. But it's not as though you're presenting sound scientific arguments, which would be worthy of consideration and discussion. You are presenting creationist nonsense for consumption by other credulous creationists. That "evolution violates the second law of thermodynamics" garbage is a perfect example. Scientists hear this assertion, immediately recognize why it's without merit, and shake their heads at the combination of intellectual dishonesty and profound credulity exercised by creationists. Bill, you have to ask yourself the following question: If this assertion was not a total crock of s**t, why are there no physicists making the argument? Scientists live to overturn paradigms. If evolutionary theory really violates this physical law, why has this never been argued by a physicist? If it was true, someone could make his/her name on it. The answer is not that physicists know that it's true, but are afraid to come out and say it. The answer is that they recognize how stupid the assertion is and understand that it's propagation outside the scientific community is a consequence of pervasive scientific illiteracy in the US.

  143. MattP says:

    I especially appreciate the examples you laid out of how the evolutionist's actions are inconsistent with his worldview. Reminds me of the naturalistic scientists who champion endangered species.

    This is/aught fallacy that you present is common in these discussions. Science identifies what *is* - that the species best suited to their environments tend to survive and those which are less well suited tend to not survive. That is a completely separate matter from what humans, whether scientists or not, aught to do about preserving species or allowing them to die.

    Presumably you believe that the nations with the most powerful militaries tend to win the wars they start. Does that mean that when two nations go to war that you should always support the more powerful nation? Or, does an ethical imperative or self interest sometimes compel a third nation to step in and ally itself with the weaker nation to increase its odds of defeating its stronger enemy? By your reasoning, anyone that believes that strong militaries dominate should never interfere in a war between two nations.

    Another example - bullies tend to beat up smaller kids. Do you believe that the only consistent behavior for someone who agrees with that statement is to allow the bullies to beat up the smaller kids? Is that the only way to be consistent with your "worldview" that bullies tend to beat up the small kids?

  144. David says:

    Bill: "Remember, the theory goes, prior life forms were not mutations, they were inferior (lacked the survival advantage of the newest form)."

    Is that how the theory goes? Your understanding of evolutionary theory is astonishingly shallow and twisted. You need to learn something about evolution from real sources of information. New species arise from old through reproductive isolation. This can happen in several ways. No evolutionist argues that the ancestor was necessarily inferior to the descendent form. There are many examples in the fossil record in which a new species arises and coexists with its ancestral species. Additionally, if the fitness landscape changes, a new species could experience a survival disadvantage as compared to its ancestral species. Finally, new forms often arise to exploit a new environmental niche. The new species may be inferior to its ancestor in the environment of the ancestral species.

    By the way, every species is a mutant form of the species from which it arose. Moreover, every individual is a mutant form of its parents as a consequence of replication errors. For example, every human gamete carries approximately 30 new mutations not possessed by the parent that produced it. You are playing semantic games with the concept of "mutation" because you don't like the connotation. We are all mutants.

  145. Everett says:

    MattP,

    Are you certain you read my comment carefully? The worldview in question is not the observable reality - natural selection or bullies tending to beat up smaller kids. We all agree to those facts.

    The worldview in question claims there is nothing outside the natural - no moral law-giver - no moral law. If that is my axiom then I have no compelling obligation to interfere with bullies or dominant militaries or natural selection - the is.

    All who hold that we are nothing but random processes live inconsistently with their own view. I thought you laid out your own inconsistency pretty well in #35.

  146. MattP says:

    The worldview in question claims there is nothing outside the natural - no moral law-giver - no moral law.

    That's a big leap from acknowledging the apparent natural processes of evolution to assuming that we therefore should not follow a moral code. This is just another restatement of the is/aught fallacy.

    All who hold that we are nothing but random processes live inconsistently with their own view.

    How so? Even if I concluded that the universe was purely materialistic and deterministic, how does it follow that I should have any particular opinion about morality? I may have a different basis for my morality in such a case, as I'd likely not believe that morality came from some supreme authority, but I don't see how it follows that I should have no morality at all or that the practice of my morality should be that much different from anyone else.

  147. Everett says:

    That's a big leap from acknowledging the apparent natural processes of evolution to assuming that we therefore should not follow a moral code. This is just another restatement of the is/aught fallacy.

    I never said that the naturalist shouldn't follow a moral code, I said he has no reason to do so from his own logic. Is/ought fallacy - You keep using that term. I don't think it means what you think it does since you keep accusing me of it and I haven't made it. I don't believe you can get an ought from an is either so we are on the same page there.

    How so? Even if I concluded that the universe was purely materialistic and deterministic, how does it follow that I should have any particular opinion about morality? I may have a different basis for my morality in such a case, as I'd likely not believe that morality came from some supreme authority, but I don't see how it follows that I should have no morality at all or that the practice of my morality should be that much different from anyone else.

    If you conclude that the universe is deterministic, what is the logical basis for your morality?

  148. David says:

    MattP,

    These guys have a lot of trouble with the notion that moral behavior is dependent on the existence of a supreme being. In fact, some of the most atheistic societies on the planet (eg. The Netherlands, Denmark, and Sweden, etc.) are among the most moral by many standards (eg. how they treat their poorest members, women's rights and other issues of equality).

    BTW, I have enjoyed your posts.

  149. Everett says:

    Sorry about that...used bold tags on the quotes....

  150. MattP says:

    I never said that the naturalist shouldn't follow a moral code, I said he has no reason to do so from his own logic.

    Please supply this logic then. I'm unfamiliar with the logical progression from a belief in materialism to the conclusion that there is no reason to follow a moral code.

    If you conclude that the universe is deterministic, what is the logical basis for your morality?

    Reader's Digest version: Because the universe, if deterministic, is still so complex that it is subjectively indistinguishable from a nondeterministic universe in which we are compelled to make choices, including moral choices, regardless of what philosophical musings we may have about the ultimate nature of the universe. Concepts like the Golden Rule work just fine without an ultimate authority dictating morality.

  151. Everett says:

    Because the universe, if deterministic, is still so complex that it is subjectively indistinguishable from a nondeterministic universe in which we are compelled to make choices, including moral choices, regardless of what philosophical musings we may have about the ultimate nature of the universe.

    You can't have it both ways. If you know the universe is deterministic but only appears nondeterministic and you base your morality on the subjective, what is its value? This is intellectually dishonest and your morality becomes a sham.

    Please supply this logic then. I'm unfamiliar with the logical progression from a belief in materialism to the conclusion that there is no reason to follow a moral code.

    If the universe is deterministic, there is no free will and thus no culpability for our actions. There can be no evil because one could not have done otherwise. If you have no evil, then you have no good and no standard to judge between the two. A standard cannot be derived from that which it judges. It must come from outside. You brought up the is/ought fallacy but here you are insisting just the opposite.

  152. MattP says:

    You can't have it both ways. If you know the universe is deterministic but only appears nondeterministic and you base your morality on the subjective, what is its value?

    Who said anything about knowing the universe is deterministic? You asked how someone who believed in a deterministic universe could be moral. The answer is that a belief in the determinism of the universe ultimately has no effect on how most people actually experiences the universe. Now you're moving on to the value of morality, which is a completely separate issue.

    If the universe is deterministic, there is no free will and thus no culpability for our actions. There can be no evil because one could not have done otherwise. If you have no evil, then you have no good and no standard to judge between the two. A standard cannot be derived from that which it judges. It must come from outside. You brought up the is/ought fallacy but here you are insisting just the opposite.

    You asked how naturalists justified morality, not determinists. You are now arguing against my response from a materialistic perspective as if I had been using a deterministic one. I'm finding this a little confusing. Perhaps we should stick to one philosophical position per post to avoid such confusion, or at least pay or attention to which philosophies are being addressed in each point. Given that materialists are not necessarily determinists, would you like to present a different logical progression?

  153. Everett says:

    Who said anything about knowing the universe is deterministic?

    Sorry - I should have chosen my words more carefully. I didn't mean know as fact. I meant for the sake of the argument. Allow me to resubmit it thusly: "if you hold the universe is deterministic..."

    The answer is that a belief in the determinism of the universe ultimately has no effect on how most people actually experiences the universe.

    We are in agreement here!

    You asked how naturalists justified morality, not determinists. You are now arguing against my response from a materialistic perspective as if I had been using a deterministic one.

    If you'll recall, you brought up determinism in your question to me in #146 and before that in #35. In #146 you said:

    How so? Even if I concluded that the universe was purely materialistic and deterministic, how does it follow that I should have any particular opinion about morality? I may have a different basis for my morality in such a case, as I'd likely not believe that morality came from some supreme authority, but I don't see how it follows that I should have no morality at all or that the practice of my morality should be that much different from anyone else.

    I then asked you to provide the basis for your morality in such a case. This is the crux as I do not argue that you should have no morality at all or that the practice of [your] morality should be that much different from anyone else. Of course folks abide by a moral code and have similar morality to others - this is what we are trying to explain. This goes back to our agreement above that one's beliefs do not affect their experience.

    We don't have to argue from a deterministic context if you want to concede that point or just leave it for now.

    You hold that you'd have a different basis for morality given materialism. I ask again - what is your basis?

  154. MattP says:

    Specifically, you stated "I never said that the naturalist shouldn't follow a moral code, I said he has no reason to do so from his own logic."

    I then asked you to provide what logic you believed this was. You then supplied a response in which a belief in determinism was an important justification ("there is no free will...").

    As I pointed out, a belief in determinism does not generally affect an individual's outlook on the world and how one should behave - it's more of a philosophical musing than an article of faith or doctrine. As such, it's not going to be a base premise from which any logical conclusions about individual or group behavior are derived.

    This is similar to the religious concept of predestination - even the religions that hold predestination as a doctrinal given do not counsel their membership to then determine that choice has no value. It's merely an explanation of the way they believe things work, not a prescription for how one should behave and few would argue that those who believe in predestination have a dramatically different morality than those who do not.

    The fact of the matter is that there are multiple non-teleological justifications for morality - there have to be, as once you reject that there is a single authority from which to draw, then one needs to look to other justifications, assuming one is inclined to look. It's been my experience that most people follow a moral code because they were taught to follow it and because their community encourages it, not because they are having any significant internal dialog about the basis for their morality. This applies to both theists and non-theists.

    I also suspect that much of the justification for morality is the result of working backward from conclusions. "I believe this is moral, therefore I derive this chain of logic, ending in these base premises." For the religious, the base premises include the concept of an ultimate authority declaring what is and is not moral. After that logical progression has been created once, it can then be taught to others who then follow it in the reverse order from premise to conclusion.

    For the non-religious, those base premises may end up being value judgments such as "life is valuable" or "suffering is bad", which are based on personal and group experiences. The morality of most nonreligious people that I know is primarily based on empathy rather than authority. How do I want to be treated? How should I behave to maximize the chance that I and those who I have an interest in are treated in that manner?

    The Golden Rule is self-sustaining and existed long before Christ shared his version of it. The major schools of philosophy which address morality do so, for the most part, without drawing upon the authority of a supreme being. They are able to support morality on its own merits.

    Morality can also be viewed as an evolutionary phenomena - that group behaviors have evolved along with physical attributes to maximize the survival of a species. Civil government occurs almost automatically once population size and density reaches a certain threshold. It's necessary for the population to continue to survive. It seems logical that behavioral government would similarly need to develop when faced with similar pressures of limited resources and increasing population. If one views morality as merely another attribute of biology, then one does not need any more logic to support moral behavior than one needs to support using one's legs for walking. The materialist might say that the religious observed morality and, being loath to leave a question unanswered, invented gods to explain it, just as they initially explained every other observed phenomena as being a the result of god or gods.

    I hope this gives you a flavor of some of the ways that morality can be justified absent a teleological perspective. As I said earlier, there are many paths there, but the fact that we so universally arrive at similar conclusions on the core elements of morality indicate that there is something innate about morality, whether we believe it comes from God or not. There is certainly no logical contradiction in the existence of moral behavior in an individual who does not believe in God.

  155. Bob says:

    >>In an interview with Ben Stein, David Berlowitz (can't remember exact name and spelling) makes the comment--rough quote--that "Darwinism was not a necessary commitment of the Nazi worldview, but it was an essential one."

    Right, since there was no conquering, no religious persecution and no presumptions of racial superiority prior to Darwin.

    Are you kidding me???

  156. szaleniec says:

    @Bob: Regarding racial superiority, if you read some creationist literature you'll find them blaming evolutionary theory for the slave trade. I could make the cynical but probably justified remark that much of the creationist core demographic would actually see this argument as a point in Darwin's favour. I wonder whether it was Darwin or the slavers who had the time machine, considering that "On the Origin of Species" was published in 1859, after most of the western world had abandoned slavery. The same goes for arguments that evolutionary theory inspired Communism (which don't make sense in any case - an economic system based on a supreme central authority surely has more in common with a hypothesis of origins that also posits a supreme central authority, i.e. creationism) because Karl Marx published "The Communist Manifesto" in 1848. (Besides, you'd have thought they'd have revised their arguments since 1989 to be a bit more topical. The Red Scare is hardly current.)

    @whoever it was talking about the second law of thermodynamics: Consider a DNA sequence that codes for a useful protein; let's call it X. Now consider a DNA molecule that consists of the same base pairs scrambled randomly, and call it Y. Which of these has the greater entropy? If you answered Y, then congratulations: you've just set off the QI klaxon. To the first degree of approximation they will have the same entropy, because the fact that it codes for a protein doesn't magically give it fewer accessible microstates. (A mixture of different DNA molecules will have a higher entropy, but then so does a mixture of nitrogen and oxygen vs. the same amount of both gases separately.) If you really want to know more about entropy and the second law of thermodynamics and how they actually work, there's no shortage of good textbooks out there.

  157. Fig says:

    This is hands down the most bizarre comment thread I've ever seen. And so much bold! I sure feel better knowing how many brilliant scientists I'm sharing the Internet with.

  158. Seripa says:

    Does anyone here actually believe that they will convince someone that their side of what has become a very black and white argument is the right one, and that they will "win" this discussion? Or does everyone just like to listen to themselves as they fight over something that will likely never, ever, be resolved?

  159. Brian Richards says:

    John Doe posted: "Even at BYU, there are many people who will tell you there is no such thing as free will, despite it being a main tenant of the LDS faith. Everything you do is because of the chemicals in your head or the manner you were raised. There is no room for the idea of a soul. Even the idea of a "mind" existing is a subject of heated debate, mostly rejected today. You have a brain run by chemicals. You never really make a choice in life, you merely react to the way chemicals in your body make you, or you react to the way your environment affects the chemicals in your body."

    As a graduate in science from BYU I find this comment interesting. I never found anybody at the university who believed that people's actions are simply the result of chemicals in their heads or the manner in which they were raised. They did think that they were directing their own lives either in accordance to God's wishes or against God's plans using their own free agency. I think John Doe is misinformed.

  160. Peter says:

    lol

  161. John Doe says:

    Brian Richards

    This is late in posting, but what the heck. Go have a conversation with Dr. Slife.

    At best, you will find psych professors (not all, but some) who find some convoluted way to assume there is free will and then there isn't free will. Yeah, I never understood it either. I file it under the same place I file the sociology philosophy that "treating someone differently because of the color of their isn't prejudice."

  162. Eric Herman says:

    Just watched the DVD... A few comments.

    I thought it was great in some respects, and very lacking in others. Inasmuch as the premise had nothing to do with the actual science involved, but with the idea of our scientific community keeping an open and accepting mind (or not) as far as new research and theories are concerned, then it generally succeeded. But in some other respects, it did not.

    The funniest part to me was the interview with Dawkins, where he suggests that maybe a superior alien race seeded life here on Earth. Wouldn't that be the same, from our perspective, as "intelligent design beyond our own"? Why is that not a premise to be ridiculed and thrown out, but to extrapolate that to possibly mean "God" is, even though it could be one and the same thing? And then when Stein asks where those intelligent aliens came from, Dawkins says that they must have come from some explicable means and couldn't have just spontaneously come into existence. But isn't life coming into existence spontaneously, per the protein pool theory or some other means, exactly what is required by the athiest? Maybe I misheard or misinterpreted what he said there, but it seemed very baffling and contradictary to Dawkins' beliefs.

    Science is firmly behind micro-evolution, and I don't think anyone in their right mind should disagree with that, and it seems to support macro-evolution very well, too. So, IMO, schools should teach that as the likely method for life. But of course that doesn't preclude the possibility that an intelligence designed it to happen that way. Do we not have "intelligence"? Do we not "design" things? Certainly, there is intelligent design active in life, the universe and everything. It seems logical to assume that some kind of intelligence was behind (and maybe is still behind) the incredible intelligence and design that exists in life, and if some scientists want to use that as a premise, so be it. There should be nothing wrong with asking "What if...?" and exploring the possibilities involved. Scientifically, I'm fine to let evolution be the main focus of research and education, but philosophically, I have to default to intelligence having played a part in it all. That may not have too many practical applications in science, but I think it is important as a society that we keep an open mind about that, lest we become intellectual jerks and hermits and elitists and egotists and potentially miss out on the bigger picture.

    And I do think there are positive applications for science and medicine when we look at the structure of cells from a "designed" viewpoint, as in the extra sequence on the DVD where a cancer researcher noticed that some cell process looked and acted almost exactly like a turbine. What if each cell itself has an "intelligence" that we could someday communicate with or understand in a deeper way? Think of the incredible applications that could have for medicine. From a creative thinking viewpoint, you can miss out on some great possible ideas and breakthroughs when you close your mind to things, just because they might seem absurd to you. I think some of our hardcore athiest scientists are doing that, as demonstrated reasonably well in this movie (though as others have said, they are the extreme examples). One thing I observed while watching the Universe series on cable recently was how often the expert astronomers and physicists said things like, "Twenty years ago we had a completely different understanding than we do now about how (some cosmological thing) works." My guess is that 20 years from now we'll see incredibly farther into the cell and know a lot more about DNA and how things like that work, and I only see that showing more complexity. I understand irreducible complexity as Behe has presented it has been countered and discredited, essentially, but I wouldn't put money on the general idea being so laughable in the future, once we see things even clearer.

  163. TruthHurts says:

    To those above who have stated that Nazis were Christians:

    Pray tell, which of the teachings of Christ permitted what Nazis did?

    If I go around murdering, and say I'm a Christian, you'd rather believe Christianity supports murder than believe I'm not really a Christian.

    Is a Christian defined by what he does, or by what he says he does?

    If Satan told you he was a Christian, would you taint Christianity with Satanism, or would you find him just a tad hard to believe?

    Goodness me you people are simpletons.

    If I say I'm a capatalist, but live in a commune and promote central control and totalitarian government, you don't believe that I'm a Libertarian now do you?

    So why do you adopt the opposite logic when it comes to someone who declares he's a Christian? Why implement a false division of "good Christian vs bad Christian"? How can you be a bad Christian, when any Christian is, by definition, someone who turns the other cheek and lived as Christ lived?

    So there is no such thing as a bad Christian any more than there is such a thing as a Libertarian Totalitarian. There are simply Christians, and people who call themselves Christians but who are anything but Christians.

    And therefore you people are full of twisted logic. But that is not the problem. The problem really is that you don't mind that you are full of twisted logic (it doesn't seem to bother you).

    But maybe that's because your worshipped "natural selection" has not selected against the gene in you which denies the obvious. Not yet anyway.

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